Category Archives: Cloud Computing

Utilizing Digital Marketing Techniques Via The Cloud

Utilizing Digital Marketing Techniques Via The Cloud

Digital Marketing Trends

In the past, trends in the exceptionally fast-paced digital marketing arena have been quickly adopted or abandoned, keeping marketers and consumers on their toes. 2016 promises a similarly expeditious temperament, with a few new digital marketing offerings taking center stage. According to Gartner’s recent research into Digital Marketing Hubs, brands plan to increase digital commerce investment as they attempt to connect business revenue with digital marketing spend through “digitally led business models.” Thanks in part to the convergence of multimedia, superior machine learning, and the quest for more personalized marketing, this year’s trends and innovations promise even more excitement.

Digi_Mktg_Map_Final_April_2015

(Infographic Source: Gartner)

Custom-Made Advertising

A top-performing trend right now, advertising made to fit seamlessly into a website’s general content is more a necessity than novelty. The impact on user experience is significant, particularly when one brand purchases all of the advertising space in one area. But the concept often causes contention as ads often ‘trick’ readers into believing they’re part of the standard content. Furthermore, this type of advertising is often perceived negatively as paid endorsements. Objective media is likely to lose any credibility should their audience ever believe they are solely ‘in it for the money’, so the use of advertising that appears to be an extension of the publishing brand should always be executed prudently, if at all.

Personalization

digital-marketing

(Image Source: Shutterstock)

When driven by data, personalization allows marketers to better communicate with their audiences through especially relevant content. This promises greater response rates from correctly targeted consumers and fewer marketing withdrawals thanks to a drop in SPAM-like communications hitting the wrong people. Video portals is a particular area in which increasingly personalized experiences are being created, with some marketers dynamically reconfiguring videos based on a user’s activity. 2016 is sure to see the continued personalization of content marketing, web marketing, and video marketing, with vendors amalgamating trends and offering refined content.

Video: Interactive & Live

The use of interactive video is gaining momentum, allowing marketers the opportunity to develop one on one communications with prospective customers. Viewers have the chance to tailor their experiences, choosing preferred content paths, all the time increasing marketers’ insight. And live video is providing more intimate experiences for customers and companies worlds apart. Customers are provided more engaging and positive experiences with the brands they use, thus heightening the sense of personalization.

The Cloud & Marketing

As evidenced in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant, the top tools take into account today’s not-so-secret weapon: Cloud. Digital marketing in the cloud promises all of the essential digital marketing tools, but with the flexibility and speed to ensure to-the-minute solutions are always available and personally customizable. Though Adobe, Marketo, Oracle, and Salesforce dominate, competition in the sector is stiff, fortuitously guaranteeing today’s digital marketers user-friendly, cost-effective, and cutting-edge possibilities.

By Jennifer Klostermann

Hybridization: A Mindset Approach

Hybridization: A Mindset Approach

The Social Data Cloud

One of the most amazing attributes of the cloud and its related technologies is its sheer openness. New companies and ventures spring up daily, fueled, in some cases, by one single good idea. They launch first and then seek out operating capital through angels or crowdfunding afterward.

This is a whole new ballgame. In a similar vein, employees of established companies seek more flexible work hours, ask to use their own technologies, and turn to the cloud as the central place for meetings, communication and access to data. This too, is a whole new ballgame.

King Data

shutterstock_250632115

(Image Source: Shutterstock)

Organizations worldwide are learning that the hierarchies and silos of yesteryear are very quickly becoming redundant and obsolete. Data is king, and agility is essential. Such statements aren’t mere prognostications of a distant future; they are observations of an existing global marketplace, in which customers in both retail and industrial markets expect a complete and consistent experience across any channel they wish to use, from the desktop through to smartphone.

IT has always been in the middle of every corporate venture, but in this new age, it has become time to make a fundamental shift from focusing on IT to focusing on what can be done with IT. This is an amazing catharsis. It moves from physical, tangible elements to “ideas and potential.” Slowly, more and more organizations are recognizing that they must, and can, meet their strategic business objectives as well as provide better service to customers through an open concept approach, both inside and outside their walls.

Cloud Hybridization

The hybridization of the cloud is both timely and essential. Decision-makers must let go of the mindset of singularity, and the notion that they must constrain all data, all ideas, and all power inside a single building or department. Hybridization refers to a division of processing power, data storage, mission-critical applications and customer interaction between internal, private, and externally managed clouds.

merging

Many analysts point to success stories like Uber and AirBnB, as companies who essentially own no hard assets, but who have changed the face of business permanently. But many other organizations also exist as case studies, who have slowly and carefully embraced cloud-based applications for their field agents, and for their suppliers, while developing collaborative workspaces internally. These organizations exist in every single market sector, from construction and manufacturing through to retail and professional services.

Turning Your Back On Social Media

It is all a matter of mindset, and this springs in part from trust. For example, many decision-makers still distrust social media as an irrelevant and frivolous waste of employee time. They fail to observe its ability to reinforce one of the oldest and most stable concepts of business development: a direct connection to, and understanding of the customer. This same trust-challenge extends into enterprise-level problems such as determining the choice of cloud systems. It is very human to resist change, especially when the speed of change has increased from decades to months or even weeks. How can any executive group hope to create a five-year plan when the sands shift so frequently?

cloud_78

Although many companies are now working on their transition to hybrid cloud and virtual technologies as core business applications, many others still struggle with the decision. There is much to learn, much to test, and many miles yet to travel.

Those that have succeeded, even if that path to success include some stumbling and some failure, have recognized that in addition to breaking down the walls and silos of technology, one must also break down the silos and walls of human interaction. This means allowing representatives from every department, not only IT, to work together to identify challenges, discuss solutions and implement change.

The hybridization of business points not only to the choice of technology, but to a hybridization of mindset and attitude. That should be seen as a very exciting concept.

For more on this topic, go to businessvalueexchange.com, sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise.

By Steve Prentice

Enforcing Governmental Decryption

Enforcing Governmental Decryption

Governmental Decryption

Recent U.S. bills proposed in California and New York aim to implement a controversial governmental backdoor into mobile devices. The issue concerns forcing manufacturers to provide a mechanism for decrypting any device’s content, without the consent or presence of the owner of the device. But the police already have the right to take your phone and use it against you in the court of law. What good does it do for the manufacturers to be required to decrypt any encrypted content?

DataLock-cloudtweaks-comic

Backdoors for tyrannies

The fundamental argument against the governmental backdoor is that any backdoor will inevitably be exploited by other actors. To comply with the law, manufacturers and vendors create a technical means that can be exploited by anyone as an attack vector. Certainly that is one of the reasons for requiring a backdoor, as the usage pattern scenarios can be expanded rapidly from California and New York. Why would national security intelligence operators want to stay limited to these states? Instead, what they are aiming for is global coverage.

Indeed, the relevant mobile operating system providers are global, and implementing a backdoor will implement it globally, not just in one jurisdiction. The controversial bills include a financial instrument to enforce compliance from the operating system and device vendors—a $2500-per-device fine for any device sold in these areas that doesn’t comply. Surely any mobile device vendor will be more than happy to comply rather than let itself be driven bankrupt.

Good deeds uncovered

While the motivation for the governmental access has largely been justified by referring to petty crime and fighting terrorism, one can perhaps assume that the there is more to the story than just breaking up the encryption of a local drug dealer or global lone wolf. After all, the heaviest users of encryption are intelligence agencies, militaries, and corporations. Surely none of those would want their phone manufacturers to leave any kind of backdoor, even when a local cop had been issued with a search warrant.

mitigation-security

Given that law enforcement agencies around the world have invested hugely in targeted spyware, most of them are already able to intrude on and invade any device they want to. Whatever encryption is in place, they can circumnavigate it by gaining access to the user device before any encryption happens, e.g. by mirroring the screen for remote inspection and often as not permanent storage.

Hence, the question should be more about whether or not governmental access should be institutionalized. It is currently happening, but do we want to increase its use further? And indeed, do we want to throw more oil on the fire of the struggles between historic nation-states, and within the circles of privatized global security providers?

By Kristo Helasvuo

5 Exciting Startups From The Netherlands

5 Exciting Startups From The Netherlands

Promising Netherland Startups

The Netherlands, considered one of the most prominent startup arenas in Europe, provides an environment focused on strong education coupled with a formidable tech infrastructure, and both encourages and rewards entrepreneurs. Though the Dutch government recognizes the limits of their small country, it urges startups to dream big, develop their businesses in the U.S., and finally spread back through Europe. Says Neelie Kroes, special envoy for Dutch startups, “For quite some time we’ve had an open and very transparent attitude, being Dutch, because we are a tiny country.” This approach may encourage local startups to flee the Netherlands, but also instills a sense of loyalty in these aspiring entrepreneurs, as evidenced by Founded In Holland, a portal promoting innovative startups that are proud of their Dutch roots.

amsterdam
(Image Source: T.W. van Urk / Shutterstock)

5 Exciting Startups from the Netherlands

AppSignal

First on the list, AppSignal’s monitoring software helps users improve their own software and ensure customer satisfaction. This solution catches errors, enabling developers to fumigate bugs, monitors performance for detailed lag investigation, and tracks performance issues and queue times for Resque, Sidekiq, and Delayed Job. AppSignal monitors Ruby on Rails, Sinatra, Grape, and Rack, and further provides the option to create your own integration.

bunq

Resocializing money,” bunq promises that tech offers the solution to bad loans, empowering users to focus on what they do with their money. They believe that profiting on interest is ethically wrong, and ensure that all money is securely stored at the Central Bank. Their app lets users easily split restaurant bills with friends, link cards to team accounts when necessary, and all the app services are provided entirely free of charge.

Datatrics

The “affordable Data Nerd” that is Datatrics works around the clock to help organizations understand their customers, perform key actions immediately, and be more relevant. With detailed Next Best Actions, users need never miss a marketing opportunity, and the automatic personalized content ensures company relevance. Amplifying data with predictive properties, customer communication is improved and expanded.

Floown

Early access sign up is now open for this new social productivity tool. With tech and automation leaving user free to focus on less mundane tasks, get creative, and enjoy more private time, the Floown platform takes control of scheduling by sharing and synchronizing a user’s on and off hours with connected organizations. Instantly presenting a real-time overview of available connections, Floown makes scheduling a breeze.

Go Weekly

Transforming trends and ideas into tangible product concepts, this startup helps companies “innovate smarter”. The Go Weekly tool enables users to take advantage of promising ideas immediately, ensuring the necessary knowledge is acquired, and vital goals are set, before important branding and sharing go ahead. Says Alberto Savola, “Make sure – as quickly and as cheaply as you can – that you are building the right it before you build it right.

By Jennifer Klostermann

Smart Clothing: Designing With Aerogel

Smart Clothing: Designing With Aerogel

Designing With Aerogel

For many years now, clothing manufacturers have known about the remarkable properties of aerogel, a material consisting of little more than a foam substance of air, silica and carbon called aerogel which has incredible insulation properties. But aerogel has always proved to be too difficult to work with and manufacture commercially, and its viability has remained something of a pipe dream.

Now a new company called Oros has found a way to manufacture it in such a way that it doesn’t rub off on the skin. Oros recently launched a Kickstarter campaign where they are retailing a range of clothing that uses aerogel in jackets, gloves and hats and create a commercially viable product in the process.

Smart clothing is one of the most exciting frontiers in the manufacturing world today. New processes and new materials are being developed all the time that give designers countless new possibilities for garments that were previously only dreamed of. And as the “internet of things” becomes more and more a part of our lives, companies are racing to create textiles, fabrics and devices which can be worn seamlessly on the body to record and transmit reams of data back to the cloud for personal or commercial use.

Aerogel is not new. It was originally invented by NASA as far back as the 1930’s, and has been used extensively for space exploration, in particular for insulating things such as the Mars Rover. On its website, NASA explains the process of creating aerogels. “Aerogels are among the lightest solid materials known to man. They are created by combining a polymer with a solvent to form a gel, and then removing the liquid from the gel and replacing it with air. Aerogels are extremely porous and very low in density. They are solid to the touch. This translucent material is considered one of the finest insulation materials available.”

Solarcore

The version of aerogel developed by Oros is called Solarcore, and it’s ‘”the first aerogel suited for apparel with its incredible flexibility, hydrophobicity, durability, sound absorbency, and breathability all while maintaining the incredible insulation that aerogels are known for.”

Aerogel

Ironically, one of the problems faced in the use of solarcore is that it insulates too effectively. Oros had to cut back on the amount of aerogel they were using, due to overheating that wearers were experiencing, even in extremely cold temperatures.

The company recently conducted a test where they used liquid nitrogen to bring the temperature down to -321 degrees Fahrenheit, while the temperature inside the solarcore clothing remained a remarkably balmy 89 degrees.

The new clothing range from Oros is branded as “the Orion series” and includes hats, beanies, pants, gloves and jackets. Pledges from $40 upwards get to experience the effects of aerogels in a beanie hat, while the cost of a jacket comes in at $275.

Smart clothing is on the brink of a major breakout into popular culture, and soon it is likely that we will be wearing things that we could not have imagined only a few years previously. The Orion series feels like a large step into that future.

By Jeremy Daniel

SAS Celebrates 40th Year of Record Revenue — US$3.16 Billion In 2015

SAS Celebrates 40th Year of Record Revenue — US$3.16 Billion In 2015

SaS Record Revenue

Risk, Fraud and Security Intelligence Influence 40th Consecutive Year of Growth

CARY, NC–(Marketwired – February 02, 2016) – Growing customer demand for risk, fraud and security intelligence analytics strongly influenced SAS’ 40th consecutive year of revenue growth. SAS posted US$3.16 billion in total operating revenue, up 6.4 percent in constant currency (2.3 percent US dollars) over 2014. New software sales increased 12 percent in constant currency (8 percent US dollars) — a testament to an ever-growing demand for SAS® Analytics.

For 40 years, SAS has been helping customers change the world with analytics,” said SAS CEO Jim Goodnight. “As the leader in analytics, we continue to be the company people turn to for unrivaled expertise and solutions when it matters most.”

Global impact

SAS total revenue growth was strong worldwide. New sales revenue percentage growth reached double digits in most regions, showing the effect of successful globalization efforts. In addition to boosts from new capabilities in risk, fraud and security intelligence, all regions continued growth in SAS core technologies, including data management, analytics and business intelligence.

Financial services, government and insurance represent the highest proportion of SAS revenue by industry. Customers in these areas include Bank of America and HSBC, German insurer Munich Re and leading Irish retail bank permanent tsb, as well as many US government organizations including Delaware State Police and California’s Orange County Child Support Services. Industries with the greatest growth included banking, manufacturing, retail and services.

2015 Financial Infographic

Cloud, Internet of Things (IoT) bring opportunities

SAS is strengthening its offerings in the cloud, mobile and IoT spaces. SAS Cloud Analytics gained traction quickly and is now used by customers in more than 70 countries.

With 40 billion connected devices estimated to enter the market by 2020, the IoT will accelerate scientific breakthroughs, including advancements like smart cities, where experts position SAS as a major player. Yet, as opportunities for innovation increase with such connectivity, so do the risks of being attacked. In 2015, SAS introduced SAS Cybersecurity to help combat such risks.

Commitment to innovation is key to customer satisfaction

According to analysts, SAS has “predictive analytics solutions that offer almost every feature a data scientist or business user could ever want.” SAS’ commitment to innovation makes this possible. In 2015, the company reinvested 25 percent of total revenue into research and development – nearly double the percentage of annual revenue reinvested by most major technology companies.

As SAS has grown, we have always reinvested a high percentage of revenue into R&D – this year a quarter of our total revenue – which allows us to stay at the cutting edge of analytics innovation and maintain a leadership position in our core markets,” said SAS Chief Marketing Officer Randy Guard.

Customers benefit from SAS analytics in countless ways. Last year, innovations included the following:

  • SAS Cybersecurity enables customers to detect attackers’ activities in real time.
  • SAS Event Stream Processing helps customers analyze millions of events per second.
  • SAS Data Loader for Hadoop simplifies data management in the fast-growing big data architecture.
  • SAS Factory Miner contains automated model development, selection and deployment capabilities, and machine learning techniques.

In addition to these new innovations, SAS’ established portfolio continued helping customers make a difference in people’s lives. For example, SAS Visual Analytics, with nearly 14,000 licenses worldwide, helped the International Organization for Migration identify high-risk shelters, and better allocate resources to put roofs over the heads of thousands of Nepali earthquake victims.

Such innovation brought more than 1,800 new customers to SAS in 2015, now at 80,000 customer sites (including Lenovo and the Orlando Magic). This significant increase in new customers, along with a strong commitment to quality and service, contributed to SAS being named No. 1 for customer satisfaction, loyalty and purchase momentum by Temkin Group.

SAS partners extend reach to customers

In 2015, SAS partners influenced 30 percent of new sales and nearly half of SAS’ largest deals, and the SAS channel is making a bigger impact than ever. Since welcoming global distributor Arrow Electronics, SAS has signed more than 150 resellers. In 2015, SAS signed its first OEM agreement with Toshiba Global Commerce Solutions and signed its first managed analytic services providers (MASPs) to further help customers implement SAS technology in ways that best fit their individual needs and those of their own end users.




SAS will continue to thrive in 2016

Analysts named SAS a leader in agile BI, and IDC noted in a recent report that SAS held a 33.3 percent share of the advanced and predictive analytics market. That share was greater than the 24.5 percent market share of all the other nine named competitors combined. SAS has also been recognized by industry analysts as a leader in data management, fraud detection, retail, customer intelligence, BI and analytics segments.

SAS plans to continue delivering innovation in cloud analytics and analytics-as-a-service, BI/data visualization, data management, customer intelligence, fraud detection, security intelligence solutions and risk management. SAS will also introduce enhanced versions of SAS big data analytics products.

In addition to software growth, SAS will expand operations next year. The company will add sales staff and create new customer contact centers in Dublin and the Asia Pacific region. In the US, SAS will open a new office in Detroit to support growth in auto manufacturing. The company will also break ground on a new office tower at SAS world headquarters in Cary, NC.

Commitment to education addresses analytics skills gap

SAS provides analytics training via SAS Analytics U and in partnership with universities and high schools. One of the many ways SAS is addressing the analytics skills gap, SAS Analytics U saw tremendous growth in its free offerings. Downloads of SAS University Edition and SAS OnDemand both grew in popularity, with more than 520,000 combined downloads and registrations. More than 45,000 people registered for free e-learning courses.

The recently launched SAS Academy for Data Science offers SAS Certified Big Data Professional and SAS Certified Data Scientist credentials. The academy imparts skills in big data management, advanced analytics, machine learning and data visualization.

Worldwide Advanced and Predictive Analytics Software Market Shares, 2014: The Rise of the Long Tail, IDC No. 257344, July 2015.

About SAS

SAS is the leader in analytics. Through innovative analytics, business intelligence and data management software and services, SAS helps customers at more than 80,000 sites make better decisions faster. Since 1976, SAS has been giving customers around the world THE POWER TO KNOW®.

Microsoft Underwater Data Center To Be Tested

Microsoft Underwater Data Center To Be Tested

Microsoft Underwater Data Center

The sea is everything” Jules Verne

Microsoft, believing that the sea holds the key to their future, has tested a self-contained data center that operates far below the surface of the ocean. The key to this study is the millions that it will save on the industry’s most expensive problem, air-conditioning.

Going Underwater

Thousands of computer servers generate a lot of heat, and continuing to maintain them effectively and efficiently is the reason for considering water as a cooling medium. Too much heat causes servers to crash, whereas, the possibility of running underwater servers could not only cool them, but cause them to run even faster.

Code-named Project Natick, the answer might lead to giant steel tubes running fiber optic cables on the bottom of the ocean floor. Another option would be to capture the ocean currents with smaller turbines, encapsulated in small jellybean type shapes that would generate the electricity needed for cooling.

Other Options

With the exponential growth of technologies including the Internet of Things, centralized computing will be a bigger demand in the future. With more than 100 data centers currently, Microsoft is spending more than $15 billion to add more to their global data systems.

While Microsoft is looking to underwater locations to meet their growing computing needs, there are other companies who have found other unusual locations and ways to build data centers, while taking advantage of differing resources.

server-cool

The SuperNap Data Center, a $5 billion dollar, 2 million square foot facility in Michigan is located in the former Steelcase office building. Switch built the SuperNap Data Center in Grand Rapids within the 7 story pyramid shaped building that features a glass and granite exterior. It will be one of the largest data centers found in the eastern U.S.

Nautilus Data Technologies have developed floating data centers turning to the sea as well. They have recently announced their first project The Waterborne Data Center. They believe that their approach to cooling their data will save Americans who are spending currently over $13 billion a year. According to Arnold Magcale, CEO and co-founder, Nautilus Data Technologies, “The Nautilus proof of concept prototype exceeded all expectations – validating how our waterborne approach will provide the most cost effective, energy efficient and environmentally sustainable data center on the market.”

At a more clandestine location, but also incorporates water as a cooling mechanism, Academica, designed a hidden underground data center to use pumped seawater to cool the servers. An added bonus is that the heat generated from the cooling process, provides heat to over 500 local homes before being regenerated back to the sea.

The sea is only the embodiment of a supernatural and wonderful existence.” Jules Verne

By Tina Rose

Bigcommerce Catapults Into 2016

Bigcommerce Catapults Into 2016

Bigcommerce 2016

According to third-party research firm Ipsos, Bigcommerce boasted store growth twice as fast as the e-commerce industry average in 2015, and in-house data from “the best e-commerce platform for growing sales” showed merchants gaining a 50% year on year growth between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday.

New Features Driving 2015 Sales

NYC-blackfriday-shopping

(Image Source: Shutterstock)

With over 100 new features launched in 2015, it’s no wonder Bigcommerce is fueling such merchant success, and the 100% uptime and 25% faster page response times seen over last year’s busiest shopping period go far to entrench the brand in the hearts of their customers. In 2015, Bigcommerce also managed to address seven of the ten most requested features:

  • Advanced couponing and discounting abilities
  • Per product shipping options
  • Faceted search
  • Shipping and payment methods by customer group
  • Dropshipping capabilities
  • Overhauled shipping calculator to include heavy, multiple or oversized boxes
  • A single page checkout (now in beta for select merchants)

Integration with more than a few global leaders was another factor instrumental to merchant success as Bigcommerce partnered with Alibaba, Avalara, Facebook, Google, Hubspot, Intuit, Paypal, Pinterest, Salesforce ShipperHQ, Sift Science, Square, Twitter, Xero, and others. Bigcommerce is one of the few platforms offering these integrations, ensuring their merchants are highly competitive while saving them hundreds of thousands of dollars in maintenance costs and innumerable hours which would otherwise be lost configuring backend technologies.

The 2016 Roadmap


Naturally, Bigcommerce isn’t resting on their laurels but instead have already secured further significant partnerships while effecting a beta program that allows the testing of new product implementations with customers for whom the effects may be most dynamic. Some of the betas currently filling for 2016 include:

  • Accounting
  • Analytics & Reporting
  • B2B Features
  • Checkout & Payments
  • Inventory Management
  • Marketing & Conversion
  • Marketplace Selling, i.e. Amazon, eBay, Rakuten
  • POS & Offline Selling
  • Product Management
  • Shipping Solutions
  • Social Media & Social Commerce
  • Storefront & Themes

With research suggesting that omnichannel merchants are the fastest growing in the industry, a push towards better integration of services is occurring as Bigcommerce attempts to provide a hub for all merchandising activities across channels. The technical and time-consuming issues that plague businesses pursuing omnichannel strategies have led Bigcommerce to partner with leading social media platforms for easy and intuitive social commerce capabilities while supplying tighter backend relationship with Square and other POS providers to better align digital activity with brick-and-mortar sales.

business

2016 will also see the launch of Stencil, lauded to be the world’s leading design framework for branded storefronts. Working hand in hand with leading design and development partners such as Groove, Interstellar, and Pixel Union, developers with early access have been impressed by Stencil’s capabilities, and one early partner stated, “To me, Stencil is what makes Bigcommerce unique compared to other e-commerce platforms. It gives theme developers the flexibility and freedom the industry is desperate for.”

As Bigcommerce strives for both their own success as well as the success of their merchants, 2016 looks to be a year of innovation, collaboration, and great achievement for everyone involved.

Article brought to you by Bigcommerce

By Jennifer Klostermann

CloudTweaks Comics
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3 Keys To Keeping Your Online Data Accessible

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Three Reasons Cloud Adoption Can Close The Federal Government’s Tech Gap

Three Reasons Cloud Adoption Can Close The Federal Government’s Tech Gap

Federal Government Cloud Adoption No one has ever accused the U.S. government of being technologically savvy. Aging software, systems and processes, internal politics, restricted budgets and a cultural resistance to change have set the federal sector years behind its private sector counterparts. Data and information security concerns have also been a major contributing factor inhibiting the…