Category Archives: Cloud Computing

Should Your Business Be Using White Label Cloud Services?

Should Your Business Be Using White Label Cloud Services?

Should Your Business Be Using White Label Cloud Services?

White label refers to the concept of creating a product and selling it to multiple providers for rebranding and resale. After the strategy originally gained traction in the music and grocery industries, it is now being adopted by more and more companies in the online sector. What are the advantages of using a white label cloud service? Which sectors of the IT industry can gain benefits from using a white label offering? What should you look out for when choosing a white label provider? CloudTweaks investigates…

IT-Cloud

What are the benefits of using white label services?

White label’s principle benefit is allowing solution providers to deliver a variety of cloud services with their own company branding, but without the costs and problems of running their own data centre. It enables service providers to have access to efficient, innovative technology without having to make a large investment of their own or worry about ongoing maintenance, management, and upkeep of the equipment.

With an estimated 75 percent of American businesses now using at least one cloud application, reliability and quality are also high on the list. Even if a company decided it wanted to invest in its own data centre, the superiority of a third-party cloud’s service, security and quality is still likely to be way in excess of what a provider could achieve themselves.

The final major benefit to using white label services is the ability to grow your brand quickly and flexibly. As more businesses move their operations into the cloud, the ability to add an extra service to your business that can be modified, up-scaled and upgraded in line with client demand is an effective way to maintain and build upon your company’s market position.

Which IT sectors are well-positioned to take advantage of white label services?

In reality, white label solutions can be used for almost every business proposition imaginable. Whether you want to build apps, create a branded social community, add video services, or gamify your website, you will be able to find a white label provider.

Nonetheless, Chris Mederios, President of Canadian Cloud Backup, believes certain sectors of the IT industry are better placed than others to take advantage of white label’s offerings. His company is Canada’s premier white labelled offsite backup and branded offsite reseller program provider, and industry specific solutions are the backbone to their products.

The provider offers their clients the ability to choose their own resale value, to add 100 percent of their own company branding without any mention of Canadian Cloud Backup, and to use Canadian Cloud Backup’s data centre as if they was the client’s own. Add this to regular software updates, trial accounts, and web portals, and Mederios believes it becomes apparent that IT Service Providers, Managed Service Providers and Software Developers are in the strongest position to reap the rewards of white label cloud services.

How should you choose your white label provider?

There are a few key questions to ask yourself when choosing your white label provider.

Where is my data stored? In light of the recent US government spying allegations, companies should be more wary about where their data is stored and who holds jurisdiction over it. Data in the USA is subject to the complex Patriot Act and there are now high-level talks in both Europe and Canada about forcing domestic data to stay on domestic servers.

Am I reducing my carbon footprint? Data centres located in cold places such as Canada and the Scandinavian countries will typically use less energy to cool their servers than those in warmer climates. Examples of green data centres include the Uspensky Cathedral in Helsinki and the Green Mountain Data Centre in Norway.

How secure is my data? Your data should be protected by at least AES 256 Bit Encryption in the data centre servers, whilst physical on-site security is also a must.

A leading provider such as the aforementioned Canadian Cloud Backup will be able to answer all the above questions with a positive answer, whereas a less reputable provider may not be able to give you the same level of guarantees.

Conclusion

You still need to exercise caution when moving onto a white label provider’s service. It’s important to remember that you may have a lack of control over the thinking and decision-making behind alterations. If errors arise, new features are requested, or updates are needed you will need open and clear communication channels with your provider in order to safeguard your own clients against disruptions. Finally, you’ll need to think about what services you want your company to be offering in five years and check that your provider’s vision in sync with your vision.

What do you think? Do you see a use for white label cloud services in your industry? Do you already use a white label provider? Let us know in the comments below.

By Daniel Price

Post Sponsored By Canadian Cloud Backup

The Evolution Of Mobile Gaming

The Evolution Of Mobile Gaming

The Evolution of Mobile Gaming

Ever since the smartphone made its first widespread commercial debut close to the beginning of the last decade, one of its most enjoyable uses has always been its ability to play video games. With the subsequent drop in prices for the phones themselves, as well as the plans for the services used to run them, more and more younger people have become smartphone owners. This has led to a dramatic surge in the popularity of using these devices to pass the time with a little excitement and enjoyment.

With the mainstream introduction of tablet PCs over the last few years, mobile gaming has started to experience a noticeable uptick in the scale and quality of games that are available. Instead of simply being able to choose from basic and graphically-challenged offerings, more and more advances are being made, which are leading to an increased level of sophistication. While basic apps like Angry Birds are fun, having the option to play something similar to what you would find on a console or desktop PC has started to generate interest in mobile games as something more than just to kill time.

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The main cause behind this evolution is the increased speed and power that you will find in many of the newer tablet PCs. Quad-core processors, storage capacities in the scores of gigabytes and powerful graphics interfaces are all contributing towards making devices that can rival many desktops in game sophistication. In addition, the tablet PC’s larger screen size makes viewing more detailed games much easier, further contributing to the overall experience.

Historically, one of the primary obstacles to developing a mobile game that could actually compete with something similar to what you would see on a console or PC is the fact that tablets use touchscreen interfaces. Because most traditional games use either a keyboard and mouse or game controller to play them, finding a way to operate the game controls in a manner that would be easy for most gamers to adopt was a problem.One of the primary indicators of the probability of further innovations and enhancements being made in this market is the fact that top game designers for consoles and PCs are starting to bring many well-loved titles to mobile platforms. Huge hits like The Sims, Mass Effect and Dead Space are just a few of the titles that have been introduced for mobile platforms by industry leader, Electronic Arts. These games allow you to commandeer the lives of fantasy characters, save the universe or slay waves upon waves of frightening monsters, all from your tablet PC.

One of the most effective solutions for these input difficulties is the development and marketing of controllers that are designed specifically for tablet PCs. Because most tablets do not come equipped with many of the ports that a desktop has, existing controllers were not compatible with them. Instead of using these ports for connectivity, designers have instituted Bluetooth as the method of interface. This allows for a full gaming experience without any wires or cables necessary.

As with any developing market, mobile gaming is still fleshing itself out and building on the different ideas that show themselves to be worthwhile prospects. As this evolution proceeds, expect the future to bring even greater heights of usability and performance in the world of mobile gaming.

By Joe Pellicone

10 Green Cloud Computing Hosts To Consider

10 Green Cloud Computing Hosts To Consider

10 Green Cloud Computing Hosts To Consider

With the IT industry now accounting for more than ten percent of global electricity consumption, and data centres alone accounting for almost two percent, the pressure is on businesses to use the greenest possible cloud computing providers.  Here we look the green credentials of ten of the most environmentally friendly hosts available in no particular order:

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1. EVRY

This Norwegian hosting company is one of the largest in Scandinavia. It is also arguably the most environmentally friendly thanks to its use of the Green Mountain Data Centre. The data centre is the self-styled greenest data centre in the world, using hydropower to produce the required electricity and icy fjord water to cool the servers.

2. GreenQloud

Headquartered in Iceland, GreenQloud offers cloud computing services from data centres that are powered by 100 percent renewable energy sources – specifically hydropower and geothermal energy. Iceland’s geographic location also aids the company’s green credentials, with a year-round cold climate offering a natural coolant, and its mid-Atlantic position removing the need for multiple data mirrors. After being founded in 2010 the company has expanded to offer server hosting, online storage, backup, and cloud computing.

3. Google Compute Engine

Google’s data centres already use fifty percent less energy than a typical data centre by reducing their overhead energy (cooling, power conversion, etc.) usage to just twelve percent. Not only has the company made their own processes environmentally friendly, they also share information and best practices in a bid to improve the entire IT industry.

4. CloudSigma

Based out of Zurich in Switzerland, CloudSigma is plugged into one of the greenest electricity grids in the world – over 95 percent of Swiss energy is generated from nuclear and renewable sources. The company only uses certified carbon neutral cloud servers and has been recognised by Greenpeace for its dedication to environmental responsibility within the IT industry.

5. Dediserve

This Irish company has been pushing the green agenda since their founding in 2009. With seven data centres around the world they primarily offer hosting solutions to the European and North American markets. Their virtual servers consume less than 5 per cent of the power of a physical server, meaning just one Dediserve server rack is currently the same as 25 conventional server racks.

6. Windows Azure

Windows Azure is the Microsoft-powered cloud service. The company has been recognized as the second-largest green power purchaser on the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s Green Power Partnership list, and clients who use their data centres will see a 30 percent drop in their carbon footprint.

7. Apple iCloud

Perfect for individuals and small businesses, Apple’s iCloud uses some of the greenest data centres on the planet. The company uses 100 percent renewable energy across all its data locations, plus 75 percent at its corporate facilities. Its new North Carolina data centre is powered by a huge solar panel farm and even occasionally becomes a net power producer for a local utility company.

8. IBM SmartCloud

IBM Smartcloud offers a fully managed, highly secure IaaS cloud which is optimized for critical enterprise workloads. In 2012 27 IBM data centres were awarded ‘Participants in Data Centre Efficiency’ by the European Commission – the largest portfolio of data centres from a single company to receive the recognition.

9. Akamai

The US-based content delivery network is one of the greenest companies in its sector. For more than ten years Akamai have taken a leading role in minimizing the environmental impact of IT systems. With several initiatives in place that are continually improving efficiency, the company now boast a grade ‘A’ for Energy Transparency from Greenpeace.

10. Rackspace

Rackspace is one of the leading names in cloud hosting, yet they also have an excellent sustainability program. In 2014 their USA-based operations were named as ‘Green Power Partners’ by the Environmental Protection Agency for the second consecutive year, while their UK data centres and offices run on 100 percent renewable energy.

What do you think? Are there any green hosting companies we missed? Let us know in the comments below.

By Daniel Price

How To Develop ITSM Cloud Strategies – Part 2

How To Develop ITSM Cloud Strategies – Part 2

How To Develop ITSM Cloud Strategies – Part 2 (Part 1

You Want What? When?

IT directors are justified in being skeptical of a typical business user’s ability to make appropriate technical choices. But, as scary as allowing business users to request technical services on their own might be, a scarier thought is the world of “shadow IT” that enterprising users have found outside the firewall that surrounds your secure and protected IT environment.

You have to know by now that turning the tide back on the consumerization of IT (bring-your-own-device) trend is not an option. A comprehensive service catalog can get you out ahead of your users in this regard. By providing the services users need in your service catalog, you can provide automation, workflow and orchestration and establish an approvals process that is consistent with your IT strategy. Orchestration could involve getting technologists involved as needed to make the right choices and ensure that their request fits your IT strategy. By giving users what they need in your managed IT environment, you keep them from going off and doing something risky with your data on the Internet.

Best Practices

You don’t have to be afraid of not knowing how to implement an ITSM strategy. There are many sources of proven best practices you can use to build one of your own. The two primary sources are Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) which focuses on aligning the needs of the business with IT services, and Control Objectives for Information and Related Technology (COBIT) which has been described as the ITIL of governance and cost management.

The most common place to start implementing an ITSM strategy is with the these three ITIL best practices:

  • Incident Management, including help desk best practices to categorize issues and automate the workflow to resolve them.
  • Problem Management, including processes for pattern analysis that will help you minimize the impact of problems.
  • Change Management, to ensure that you have and can manage standards and procedures for making changes and supporting your end users.

These three best practices are a great place to start, but, a poor place to stop. Thinking you are done at this point would be similar to having the architectural blueprints and material to build a castle and then stopping after the foundation is completed. There are many layers of interdependent functions that need to be implemented to address the full scope of a comprehensive ITSM strategy.

I should add that the most common pitfall that organizations make is trying to design and implement their own unique ITSM processes. There are many established processes available that you can adapt to your specific requirements. It is not necessary to re-invent all those wheels.

Do I Know You?

Just as IT pros have misgivings about their business users’ ability to make appropriate technology choices, business users, in turn, are skeptical that IT is actually on their side. Many surveys have indicated that IT departments often simply do not know how to apply technical innovation to accomplish business objectives. It’s not in their traditional skill set. That’s going to have to change.

A key part of ITSM is enabling communication between IT and business, and IT needs to take the lead on this process. One way to do that is by training or hiring a business strategist – part technologist part business analyst – who possesses enough technical knowledge to work well with developers and bring business knowledge to IT projects. This is a new role for IT. It is not necessarily the CIO’s role to be the business analyst. It is the CIO’s role, however, to make sure that someone is working as a liaison between business and technology. As we move increasingly toward what’s being called a “service defined enterprise” (SDE), business leaders are going to participate increasingly in technology decisions. IT needs to anticipate business needs or risk getting run over or sidelined by the trend.

The Road Ahead

Many IT environments evolved over the years in response to the dictates of circumstance and short-term crises. Most IT organizations still spend more than 70 percent of the resources keeping the lights blinking and putting out fires. That’s not going to be good enough in the future. An effective ITSM strategy is the only way to know that the decisions you make this week aren’t going to lead to the next train wreck six months from now.

We are on the threshold of the day when the IT infrastructure can respond dynamically to change according to processes and parameters spelled out in advance in an effective ITSM strategy. As the pace of business and IT races faster and faster, the businesses that succeed are going to be those that use ITSM best practices to ensure that business and technology are pulling together in the same direction. Without an effective ITSM strategy in place, circumstance will continue to make your decisions for you.

mike-alley

By Mike Alley,

Mike Alley is the resident evangelist at Logicalis for ITSM solutions and has nearly 30 years of experience in the technology industry. Mike joined Logicalis in 2006 through the acquisition of Carotek, a top HP partner in the Southeast. Prior to Carotek, Mike worked as a consulting manager at HP. He began his career as a hardware design engineer and software developer at Martin Marietta Energy Systems.

Visit www.unlikeanycloud.com to learn more about the IT Transformation Journey

How To Develop ITSM Cloud Strategies – Part 1

How To Develop ITSM Cloud Strategies – Part 1

How to develop ITSM strategy that extends all the way to the cloud and drives business objectives as well as technology advances.

This is the first of a two part series on developing effective ITSM Cloud Strategies.

If you are like most IT organizations, you probably already have some kind of IT service management (ITSM) in place. You may have a ticketing system for incident management, maybe even the beginnings of a configuration management data base (CMDB). Your CIO might also have some cost management functions—it could be as simple as a spreadsheet he or she keeps up to date.

The good news is: you are not at square one. These are all valid pieces of ITSM. Too often, however, they are very disparate, depend on different toolsets that are not integrated, and, as a result, one hand is never really sure what the other is doing.

Basically, you’ve got the dots but not the big picture. If you want to be able to proceed along the IT transformation journey to cloud computing, you need to begin to connect the dots in some systematic way.

A Clear Vision

The first step in development of ITSM is a clear vision of where you want to go. ITSM can be your reliable GPS, but first you have to upload the data it needs to map your directions. A comprehensive ITSM strategy, as a result, needs to address:

1. IT operations and efficiencies that enable you to get the most from your current technology
2. Management functions that drive value with the organization; i.e., cost, finance and asset management.
3. Business enablement that aligns IT technology with business requirements and objectives.

I hasten to add: You don’t have to implement a comprehensive strategy all at once. In fact, defining a strategy allows you to address short-term pain points with the confidence that you are proceeding in the right long-term direction.

Once you have established a broad ITSM strategy, you need to select a toolset that offers the capabilities you will need to execute your strategy over time. Fortunately, there are many toolsets to choose from today that are comprehensive and fully integrated. Suffice to say: the days when adapting an ITSM tool meant fitting your business into the tool maker’s framework are at least a generation behind us. Toolsets have become so adaptable that they are being used in business units outside of IT as well. We recently helped a manufacturing client use ServiceNow to implement a supply chain operations application. They use it to manage their products and issues with their products the same way they would IT assets.

What Have you Done For Me Lately

A foundational component of an effective ITSM strategy is a service catalog which defines the IT services in enough detail to outline the technology and processes that are required to provide them. This, admittedly, is not a small task. In some organizations the service catalog can include upwards of 100 distinct IT services.

Describing all the services IT provides in a service catalog makes it possible to align IT services directly with the business services they support and has the additional advantage of helping IT show executive management all the valuable services IT provides the rest of the organization.

Development of a CMDB is also foundational. A CMDB allows the identification, management and tracking of the technology on which business services are built. A CMDB also allows you to determine what each service is costing you and identify the services — like service desk, select managed services, and cloud computing — that could be more efficiently handled by a qualified third party. Implementing an effective ITSM strategy, as a result, is both a requirement and an enabler of out-tasking and cloud computing. All the information a service provider needs to set up automation and orchestration parameters for a cloud solution is available in your service catalog and CMDB.

The service catalog is the primary interface between IT and business and allows business users to request specific services, everything from a new laptop, to servers and storage and a range of applications and services. Fully enabling this self-service capability is a major milestone on the IT transformation journey… Continued Part 2

My column next month will discuss how implementing ITSM empowers a closer alignment of business and technology throughout your organization. 

mike-alley

By Mike Alley, 

Mike Alley is the resident evangelist at Logicalis for ITSM solutions and has nearly 30 years of experience in the technology industry. Mike joined Logicalis in 2006 through the acquisition of Carotek, a top HP partner in the Southeast. Prior to Carotek, Mike worked as a consulting manager at HP. He began his career as a hardware design engineer and software developer at Martin Marietta Energy Systems.

Visit www.unlikeanycloud.com to learn more about the IT Transformation Journey

Google Drive Drops Prices: 100 GB For Just $2 Per Month!

Google Drive Drops Prices: 100 GB For Just $2 Per Month!

Google Drive Drops Prices: 100 GB For Just $2 Per Month! 

It was just recently that we were talking about cheap solutions for startups that want to move their file systems to the cloud. The conclusion was that Microsoft OneDrive was the cheapest solution out there, offering 50 GB for just $25 a year and 100 GB for just $50 a year. Google Drive came in a close second, by offering 100 GB for $4.99 a month, adding up to $55 a year, a mere $5 dollar difference from Microsoft’s solution.

It was just recently that the tables have turned when Google announced that they were dropping prices drastically. Apart from the 15 GB they are still offering for free, their 100 GB offer is now just $1.99.google-drive

They dropped the price by more than 50%, and by doing so they’ve moved into the lead which means excellent news for startups. The 1TB package is also down – and this has been less advertised by news outlets this week – to just $9.99 per month, down from $49.99 a month. This means that you can now get 1 TB of storage for the price you would have paid for 200GB just a week ago. All plans have been automatically adjusted to the new prices, so you don’t have to go asking for the price drop yourself.

The announcement from Google (available here) makes it all crystal clear:

We’ve lowered the price of our monthly storage plans to $1.99 for 100GB (previously $4.99), $9.99 for 1TB (previously $49.99), and $99.99 for 10TB, with even more storage available if you need it. How big is a terabyte anyway? Well, that’s enough storage for you to take a selfie twice a day for the next 200 years and still have room left over for… shall we say… less important things. Like before, storage continues to work across Drive, Gmail and Google+ Photos. And, of course, the 15GB plan remains free.

This might be seen as having two implications for the cloud storage solutions: first, this marks the lowest price for a terabyte of cloud storage seen so far. Secondly, this might hopefully inspire the other players to drop their prices as well, triggering a competition that would ultimately drive the prices lower and lower. The ball is now in Microsoft’s and Dropbox’s courts, and a market watcher would want to see their prices in the near future.

By Andrei Maguleanu

The Benefits Of Managed Cloud Services

The Benefits Of Managed Cloud Services

Managed Cloud Services

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Managed cloud services rest somewhere on the spectrum of secure, private cloud hosting and economical, public cloud hosting. Public cloud hosting is more oriented towards cost effectiveness, thus sacrificing availability and security along the way. On the other hand, managed cloud services put greater emphasis on high availability and security ahead of cost.

Public cloud servers have to be purchased by the hour. On the contrary, managed cloud services are purchased on monthly contracts, and are ideal for businesses that run critical, long term enterprise applications. There are many benefits of incorporating a managed cloud service in your business, some of which include:

Network and Data Security

Secured and dedicated VLANs, IDS/IPS and firewalls can be incorporated for any cloud server. This provides high security and a purposeful network environment similar to private cloud servers. Data can be hosted offsite where multiple copies can be maintained on regular compliance.

Higher Availability

Managed cloud servers are built around a readily available private cloud design. Thus, redundancy is built-in with SAN storage, network security and multiple hosts. This offers you the ability to upgrade and maintain hardware and protects you from failover without having a maintenance frame.

Associates with Physical Servers

Database engines and applications that do not meet the performance requirements on virtual servers or need a physical server to run on in order to access the hardware resources can use a shared cloud server network. This dedicated network creates a physical and virtual hybrid of servers in the same system.

Resource Balancing and Automatic Failover

Managed cloud servers are built on VMware Enterprise to balance the virtualization technology, resource balancing and failover between hardware hosts. This provides automatic handling at virtual levels, allowing your managed cloud server to take advantage of high availability in case any of the hosts fail.

Economical

Managed cloud services are more economical than private cloud servers. And with the monthly payments, they can even be as economical as most open, public cloud servers. Long term enterprise applications generally do not run on an hourly basis. However, not all applications are designed to work with optimum efficiency on managed cloud services. Research computing, development and test servers are prime examples of systems that are non-critical and work with optimum efficiency on hourly pricing in public cloud servers. But then, many businesses want security and availability of corporate data, which only managed cloud servers, or private clouds provide. For such businesses, managed cloud services are ideal as they provide availability and security of private cloud servers at a small portion of their cost.

By Chris Medeiros

President of Canadian Cloud Backup, Chris has a long history in delivering high quality technical products and services to businesses and individuals. With his main focus being service and support he is the perfect choice for running one of Canada’s leading white label cloud backup companies. His history in the Information Technology field is built solidly on 15 years of providing innovative and solid solutions to his clients in all areas from Servers and OS to Software, Networking and Global Communication. 

Cloud Infographic: A War Of Ideas – Apple vs Google

Cloud Infographic: A War Of Ideas – Apple vs Google

Cloud Infographic: A War Of Ideas – Apple vs Google

Each week CloudTweaks reviews a number of infographics and this particular infographic stands out due to the sheer popularity between the two companies. Many are adamant Apple fans while others align with Google with perhaps most people neutral in their alliance. Where do you fit?

This  infographic is provided courtesy of GreatBusinessSchools.org

google-vs-apple

Infographic Source: GreatBusinessSchools.org

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