Category Archives: Cloud Computing

HR, Payroll And The Cloud

HR, Payroll and The Cloud

Cloud systems have progressed from being the latest buzzword, to being an integral part of our day to day personal and working lives, changing the way we communicate not just with our loved ones, but our colleagues and business partners too. But more importantly, it’s changed the way in which we work, and this is especially important for those working in the HR and Payroll sectors.

Quipped by some HR professionals as the “next generation of HR” – cloud based HR and payroll software is where the industry is heading: for forward thinking HR and Software professionals that have already begun to embrace this technology that future is already here. But there is a problem in the UK of SME businesses being slow to connect to the cloud and harness the technology as a means to carry out their departments operations. It is, in many ways, a bizarre direction for the sector: it’s key to remember that HR has been quite responsive in embracing technology for many years- especially in the last decade or so, as automation has become more and more commonplace in areas such as performance management and learning and development. Furthermore, if there is one sector of business that attracts the greatest number of motivational speakers, consultants, life coaches, leadership experts, authors in best practice who impassioned about sharing their experience with you so you can (insert snappy get the best out of your business with my new fad /trend here), its HR – therefore you’d think they’d be the first to latch onto a new trend.

Perhaps they’ve grown wary of them and now move with caution, but the point here really is that businesses and HR professionals are still lagging behind when it comes to adapting to the cloud in a way that could prove detrimental to their businesses development potential to expand – primarily because of wariness about costs, but also because of fears over security too.

The first fear can be easily addressed – many providers of HR and payroll software packages offer the ability to “try before you buy” by offering free or discounted trials. Cloud technology is also beneficial for its efficiency – rather than buying an expensive package with applications that you won’t need, but will need to spend large of money and time maintaining and updating – investing in a cloud system means that you only pay for and retain those parts of the system that you’ll actually be using. Moreover investing in an HR package has positive repercussions for the whole business by e-enabling many elements of HR operations from recruitment and inductions to database and performance management – it makes sense for the whole business (especially for those living in areas or countries where tax codes are now in real time).

The second fear around security is a legitimate concern, and one that comes with most advances in technology. There are risks, but these are the same risks that come with any shared platform. But if we consider that HMRC have transferred the nation’s data and payroll processes to cloud systems, then we should in part be rest assured that the cloud offers advanced security benefits. Cloud services are run from off-site providers, as such offer much more complex, higher protective measures against attacks and hacking than standard security systems, and as such your data and information is safer in the cloud. Simply asking the right questions to the agencies when setting up your cloud service provider will also aid in working towards ensuring data security.

Perhaps most crucial of all though is the leveraging power that cloud technology gives to SME businesses. Once upon a time the case was that only businesses of a certain size could afford to invest in technology to effectively manage databases and key areas such as performance, meaning that smaller businesses would miss out on the benefits that such technology brings, but the cloud evens the playing field, as it gives SME business access to technology that would have previously been unaffordable.

By James McCaffrey,

Having previously trained as an accountant, James McCaffrey is now self-employed and writes about technology, marketing and business

Top European Cloud Startups-Prisync

Top European Cloud Startups-Prisync

Prisync: Finding the Business Cloud an Automated Solution to Break Even With Competition

Simultaneously keeping a business and tracking the competitive edge of rivals is something rather inconvenient. To express it inversely, Prisync, a cloud startup from Istanbul, Turkey, on the southern fringes of the European continent has braced up for showing companies exactly what their competitors are currently about. Before going further, here is a look at the beginnings of the business cloud startup: Prisync began in Turkey courtesy of the current Chief Executive Officer, Burc Tanir. Since then, it has amassed some a hundred thousand Euros worth of sponsorship funds courtesy of a scientific body in the country, as well as, fifty thousand Euros from ‘an angel investor.’

Even if the program launched a few months since, it is not until September 2013 that the startup will begin to offer automated solutions on comparing a business rival’s pricing strategy, real-time prices and the conditions of its stock. At its current phase, the company uses ‘manual’ means to trace, list and compare the market conditions of various sellers and suppliers. However, since this model may prove to drag, the company’s founder, Mr. Tanir, has intimated that by September, 2013, they will be ready to use infographics, as well as, algorithms to offer sharp, accurate pricing plans of others in the market.


he software that Prisync uses will offer a framework for alerts in case any new alteration has crept into the market. Notably, the cost and availability of the rival’s goods will be the center piece of this perpetual information.

This will help make the business of a competitor easier to keep abreast of in the most secretive and yet most glaring aspect: pricing. By appropriating the cloud as the background of finding the solutions they are after, companies will be thereby maximizing on the possible returns they can make. This is because ‘online’ is the new home of all major entities and if one does not locate a company there, then it needs not pose as competition.


Behind every novel idea, especially in relative fields like analytics and the cloud, there are always hidden possibilities, not least of which is how ahead of the competition the application itself can vaunt to be. Indeed, if one was to gauge the services of Prisync on a contemporary technology gauge, it would do well among startups. As the company’s Chief Executive, Burc Tanir says, most other e-commerce entities use the services of interns to compare prices but theirs is just to key in the data and then automate the result. The only drawback is that by the time of this review, the company had yet to introduce its algorithm that would remove any need for manual check up of pricing data.

Who Else Is Behind the Team?

The team that has introduced Prisync to the world has technology for pillow, meaning that they have each loved tech for most of their careers. They say that ‘we sourced all our expertise in e-commerce, business intelligence and big data applications,’ in order to apply or engender it in their new startup. Their earlier careers were all related to finding solutions for technical and entrepreneurial demands.

There is much behind the cloud-based dashboard of Prisync. Perhaps it might after all be the awaited magic wand that will make the difference for a customer who prefers a company over another because of its pricing insight.

By John Omwamba

Your Thousand-Foot View Of The Battlefield

Your Thousand-Foot View Of The Battlefield

Your Thousand-Foot View of the Battlefield

For decades, even before the age of the cloud or even of computers, people would look up at the clock and ask, “Where did the day go?” Sooner or later they would have to sit across from their manager and answer the same types of questions: “What are you doing with your time? Where are we making money? Who is costing us money? What is your department actually doing?” Such questions strike fear into all hard-working people especially when they do not have the answers.

But in an age where business moves by the second, and trends come and go with lightning speed, there is no time left to reflect and strategize once per quarter or once per year. Data is needed now, and the feed must be permanent.

The Art of War was written by Sun Tzu over two thousand years ago as a treatise on military strategy, and it has thrived in recent times as a manual for business strategy. One of its many pieces of wisdom is that every battle is won or lost before it is even begun, since a general must be aware not only of the strengths and weaknesses of his/her own army but also those of the enemy and of the battlefield itself.  This is the call that Volometrix seeks to answer.

On July 30, Seattle-based Volometrix released information about its new eponymous alignment tool, designed to answer the question, “VoloMetrix_Screenshot_ITDashboard” Their application extracts collaboration data such as email headers and calendars and merges the information to an organizational chart which draws an accurate picture of what an organization is focused on – from high-level to granular. In short, it calculates the connectedness between people, teams and tasks in a cross-functional way.

As Volometrix founder and CEO Ryan Fuller puts it, “incremental productivity gains aren’t enough to drive true innovation in today’s rapidly-evolving enterprise…CIO’s are challenged to reallocate resources to fuel real business growth.” What this means in practical terms is that certain vendors might be sucking up too much time or money from a department; or maybe they have too many points of contact within a company; or perhaps a team is spending too much time hand-holding a particular client while others go neglected. With continually increasing demand on people’s time and attention, it is very difficult to keep an eye on what is most important and where real improvements can be made. For that you need to get up out of the trenches and take a higher perspective.

The Volometrix solution appears as the missing link between the individual calendars and ToDo lists on employees’ computers and the strategic plans and financial projections in the corner office. This is the thousand-foot perspective that reveals the peaks, valleys, pitfalls and opportunities that no-one has the time to deduce on their own. As Fuller puts it, “Our analytics solution delivers actionable insights for senior IT managers, allowing them to diagnose inefficiencies and align their teams with the most important business priorities at the organization.

In terms of privacy, Fuller is careful to stress that the VoloMetrix solution aggregates and analyzes anonymous communication and collaboration data to unlock vital information that already exists on the corporate network. By synthesizing the data residing in internal email, calendar, social network, and instant messaging applications, VoloMetrix creates highly visual ‘maps’ showing where IT services are allocated. In this age of heightened sensitivity towards discreet surveillance of emails and phone calls, Volometrix records only overall traffic patterns to help, for example, identify which business groups are using the most IT resources, and where the true costs, in people and dollars are happening.

Fuller states, “For the CIO who is trying to be a strategic enabler for the entire business, this is a fantastic opportunity to get more value out of our data.”

Volometrix is a web based app. It offers a series of dashboard charts and metrics, at organizational, manager and individual levels, and seeks in each case to extract clarity from the complexity of modern-day business.

In a word,” Fuller says, “it’s about insights. Employees love getting this data. It is empowering to be able to go to a manager and observe what is happening with a department, and to ask that manager straight up, based on this data, which task should I be prioritizing as number one? Which should I be saying no to?

In an age where information overload has created gaps between people and had undermined their personal ability to both prioritize and communicate, the Volumetrix solution appears to offer a vital bridge.

By Steve Prentice

Cloud Player – Amazon’s Sound Play In The Cloud

Cloud Player – Amazon’s Sound Play In The Cloud

Cloud Player – Amazon’s Sound Play in the Cloud


Cloud is beginning to be perceived as a central component in business oriented environments keeping in view the corporate demands and needs of today’s enterprise. The virtualization and remote deployment of resource provided by Cloud is worth adapting at both the individual and enterprise levels There are some benchmark cloud infrastructures and services that are perceived as the benchmarks in the cloud computing domains because of their higher usability and robust solutions to the masses based on cloud computing. Among these benchmarks, Amazon’s EC2 cloud is one of the most colossal Cloud infrastructures which are regarded as of importunate importance in the modern world because of plethora of useful services it has given in the perspective of B2C side of the market.  Cloud player is one of the most important and befitting Cloud services that allow the users to host their favourite music items on Amazon Cloud play them wherever and whenever they want.  Cloud player is supported for many devices like tablets, iPhone and Android phone and is fully integrated into the all-new Kindle Fire and Kindle Fire HD. The power of Amazon EC2 Cloud is working at the back end behind this useful service.

Amazon’s Cloud services are working on distributed architecture in which each service before its start is pre-configured with the template Amazon Machine Image (AMI) to get up and running immediately for the dedicated user for example if a user is requesting to play the MP3 files from his Cloud then a dedicated session will be created allowing zero latency experience. Amazon services also create an AMI containing your applications, libraries, data, and associated configuration settings. Because of the web services oriented architecture of the Cloud player, you can schedule and fluctuate the deployed resources at runtime for example dedicated path in Amazon Cloud can use up to thousands of simultaneous threads. The Cloud based web service APIs in your application can automatically scale itself up and down depending on its needs. Cloud player play the songs and music in the form of instances.  Amazon Cloud player uses the Amazon VPA secure service for ensuring the security of the Cloud based resources. Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) in conjunction with the thread based service allows you to choose an IP Address from a pool of addresses each time at the start of an instance session thus making you anonymous on the Cloud. You also have access to console output of your instances with a secure mechanism. The security of the amazon Cloud lets the users to remotely access the Cloud based resources without any security vulnerabilities.

By Salman UI Haq

Cloud Networking – Scaling Up, Out And In

Cloud Networking – Scaling Up, Out and In

The Network is the Computer.

                  – John Gage, former Chief Researcher and Vice President at Sun Microsystems.

The above statement was adopted as the company tagline by the networking giant that recently merged with Oracle. However, perhaps this phrase is truer than ever before today due to the rise of cloud computing. Indeed, the Network has assumed extraordinary importance in the Age of the Cloud.

Whatever be the functionality of the servers that power the Cloud, without a robust network they are just disparate components that can never function as one. To use an analogy, without the nervous system, the individual limbs cannot function effectively. As this paper says, “IT managers should enforce these (cloud-compatible) requirements across all major datacenter components, not just the server infrastructure. This includes building cloud-like scalability into the network itself.”

In that regard, the network is an integral and necessary part of cloud computing that deserved as much attention as other infrastructure components. Networking leader Citrix has recognized this and developed TriScale technology to specifically address the demands of cloud computing.

The paper I quoted earlier is titled A revolution in cloud networking: Citrix TriScale Technology and is available for free download to our readers. While, like many other white papers, this has a definite slant towards the sponsoring company’s product, you will still find it useful because it throws light on one side of cloud infrastructure that is usually given little attention.

Also, if the benefits it promises to deliver are true, it’s certainly worth your time to read this paper. According to the paper, “With Citrix TriScale Technology, organizations of all types, sizes, and levels of cloud maturity can:

  • Scale Up – Increase network elasticity with up to 5x faster performance on-demand, without the need for additional hardware using NetScaler Pay-As-You-Grow licensing
  • Scale Out – Expand capacity up to 32x further with zero downtime and no idle network resources by leveraging TriScale Clustering
  • Scale In – Simplify application delivery support to more applications and business units and put an end to device sprawl by consolidating up to 40 NetScaler instances on a single hardware platform

Traditional networking solutions cannot compete with the breadth and depth of capabilities TriScale offers Citrix NetScaler customers. Fixed capacity network appliances provide zero elasticity, while expensive chassis-based solutions that require new blades every time more capacity is needed don’t deliver the flexibility and economics demanded by next-generation datacenters.

Download to know more.

By Sourya Biswas

A Comprehensive Guide To Corporate Travel Management

A Comprehensive Guide To Corporate Travel Management

A Comprehensive Guide To Corporate Travel Management

Yes, yes, we can certainly video conference, and I am one of the first persons to say that however, there are times we cannot do without actually traveling to the location and handling things in person. This article is for those times.

And yes, I realize it’s not really a technical paper as is the norm here at CloudTweaks. However, we have sometimes featured non-technical assets that we feel will benefit our business readership – on sales methodologies, human resources, etc. On that ground, this asset can truly be an asset to our readers. Also, we can’t escape the fact that travel today is highly technical; in such an environment, this guide can greatly improve an organization’s efficiency and effectiveness.


(Image Source: Shutterstock)

This guide, titled Global Corporate Travel Forecast: A Guide for Pricing and Negotiations in 2013 , has been developed after considerable research. According to the publishers Egencia, an Expedia company, “This guide is designed to help CFOs, CEOs, and anyone in charge of corporate travel understands industry pricing and negotiations for 2013.  We examine the supply environment at a market-level for over 50 destinations in North America, Europe, and Asia- Pacific. In addition, we share recommendations and best practices on how to manage travel programs, anticipate travel industry changes, and optimize business results amidst the 2013 supply landscape.”

What I like about this guide is that it’s comprehensive; it does not merely gloss over generalizations like “book airline tickets early,” but examines the current and projected airfare and hotel landscapes to deliver recommendations that are backed by data. For example, it identifies that in wake of the Olympics, London has a lot of excess hotel inventory that lends itself to aggressive negotiations. No wonder its 10 pages long. However, the content is well-written and does not drag.

Whenever you read a white paper or guide, you have to be cognizant of its publishers and whether the asset actively promotes specific products which may not always be beneficial to readers. However, this guide steers clear of such issues with no product recommendations at all. In conclusion, this is a guide that I believe decision-makers will definitely find useful and I can strongly recommend it to our readers.

By Sourya Biswas

The Growing Interest In Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)

The Growing Interest In Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)

The fact that large enterprises today have the ability to seamlessly move data all the way from manufacturing to human resources, and everywhere in between, is largely due to one of the greatest success stories in linking/ integrating cross-functions within companies: Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Systems. But as with many effective systems, ERP is not without its share of weaknesses.Back in the 1970’s, before commercial Internet and web-based communications, ERP made its entrance into the business world. At that time, vendors were still laboriously hand-keying, sending and receiving information on paper via internal systems. When the 1980’s rolled around, outward communications between manufacturers and trading partners was done through electronic data interchange (EDI) systems, requiring extensive testing to ensure security and integration viability to avoid risks.

With the speed that the market changes today, this approach is not only extremely difficult, but virtually impossible, and so it became natural for companies to look to their trusty ERP systems for assistance with their outside communication requirements.

Sadly, ERP is unable to deliver in the area of outside communications between manufacturers and vendors. Simply put, ERP was designed to excel at integrating everyone internally but did not address the need to communicate with the outside world.

Regions of the World

Most enterprises have had to look beyond their ERP system and search elsewhere for a solution to their outside communication needs. Many enterprises have chosen to use cloud-based providers to provide that solution, and open up a whole new world full of trading partners from all regions of the world.

Getting on board of a cloud-based system can be achieved in as little as a couple of weeks and in some cases several days. An enterprise can move into a prime position to exchange invoices, bills of lading, purchase orders and the like on a daily basis in a very short time.

For companies still using EDI systems to exchange information and documents, there are very real security concerns, requiring each business to deny trading partners and suppliers access to their ERP systems, making it cumbersome and limiting.

Information and data flows in from cloud-based and EDI systems to ERP via a secure application programming interface (API) directly to ERP and is controlled and managed by corporate IT.

The process appears to work well. The large number of enterprises that are considering, and those that have already done so, enhancing their ERP system with external systems to communicate with the world is proof positive.

The upshot of all of this for IT is that enterprises have found a way to run effective systems like ERP without trying to convert these systems to do what they were never intended to do.

It wasn’t too long ago that someone would try and find a way to convert an ERP system into one that would handle the outside processes of a business. Fortunately the ERP systems have maintained their integrity so businesses can they can be integrated with solutions to handle the need for communication with the outside world.

By Sam Michaels,

Sam is the managing editor and creator of Cloud Accounting Today. He holds a MS in Accounting and has over 10 years of experience in the field. He currently resides in Northern Virginia.

The Ways Cloud Is Powering Call Center Innovation

The Ways Cloud Is Powering Call Center Innovation

The Ways Cloud Is Powering Call Center Innovation

For any business owner, one of the biggest challenges associated with running a company is handling all of your communication needs. It can require a great deal of manpower to actually handle the inbound and outbound communications of your clients and also other businesses. If you aren’t equipped to handle these incoming calls, then it can reflect poorly on your business as a whole and it can cost you money that might have come about as the result of some sales. On the flip side, coming up with a plan to handle outbound marketing and communications is just as important, because it gives your company a face.

The big question then becomes, what is the most efficient way for a business owner to handle these communications needs? Since efficiency is the thing that will define the bottom line for any business, it’s imperative to handle communications in a way that saves the company money and gives the company an opportunity to handle things without issue. Cloud therefore is the answer.

One of the ways that business owners are making this happen is by using call centers to handle both their inbound and their outbound needs. Though you might not realize it, call centers actually offer quite a few different services for business owners, beyond the typical answering of telephones. So what are these services?


Direct response call handling

The cornerstone of any communications handling system is direct response. This type of call handling will help a company maximize their business’s economic capability by dealing directly with customers when they call. If people are calling, then they have immediate needs that need to be handled.

Cloud based tools

Cloud is something that no company can ignore any longer. It’s an important factor because it lowers costs, is safer to use and can allow for more flexibility. Tools which can be a great cloud addition as it helps the customer with their service needs as well as showing analytics for the call center. Many of the tools  in the cloud will guide users step by step with the help they need, in real time until their task is complete.

Order taking

How efficiently you take orders will define how many things you can sell. If people are interesting in buying a hot product that you’ve advertised, then it is in your best interest to have a call center take these orders for you.

Customer service

Employing a whole team of customer service reps for your own company can be costly, which is why many people are using call centers to handle their customer service. These call centers have people who are trained to handle customer needs and they will make sure that your clients are handled in a way that makes them remain their clients. Since it’s on the cloud, t means that the software can be accessed anywhere and this can mean lower costs.

Telemarketing and Telesales services

Getting out the message about your company is something that you have to be willing to do, but this can take a lot of time and it’s something that not everyone is comfortable doing. For that reason, one of the best outbound communications services offered by call centers is telemarketing and telesales. They will paint your business in a positive light, while giving potential customers the chance to consider what you’re selling.

Marketing research

Call centers do more than just handle the direct communication with your customers. In fact, they can often help with the big things like market research. The call centers can go out and gather the information that you need in order to determine costs, advertising needs, pricing requirements, and really anything else that falls under the scope of marketing.

The combination of qualifying outbound communications and inbound communications is what makes using a call center a good idea for companies that value efficiency and the bottom line. How you perform this seemingly simple task of customer support is the question.

By Stefanie Amini

Stefanie Amini is the Marketing Director and Specialist in Customer Success at WalkMe, the world’s first interactive online guidance system.  She is chief writer and editor of I want it now, a blog for Customer Service Experts. Follow her @StefWalkMe

(Image Source: Shutterstock)

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