Category Archives: Education

Considerations For Your Business’ Cloud Computing Plans

Considerations For Your Business’ Cloud Computing Plans

Your Business’ Cloud Computing Plans

While you can easily access your cloud data from any spot in the world, you must be rather cautious when using it within your business. You must keep your access plans for your cloud network in check so you will not be at risk of having your data becoming compromised at any point.


  1. Manage your passwords the right way.

As useful as passwords can be for your cloud access needs, you must be careful when going anywhere with such passwords. In addition to having complicated or detailed passwords that are hard to predict, you must also use several passwords within your cloud. You can add different passwords for specific access points or even have different passwords for specific accounts that want to reach your cloud setup.


  1. Use a two-factor authentication plan.

A two-factor authentication plan can work by using two different steps in the login process. For example, you can start by working with a password. After that, you can enter in a particular PIN or other code that has been generated through something like a private email or text message. You could even use a fingerprint swipe if you’ve got a mobile device with a touchscreen and the capacity to read such a movement. Anything that adds an extra layer of authentication will always come in handy.

  1. Find the best possible encryption program for your cloud.

A good encryption program may help to scramble all data that is on you network while descrambling it when the right login standards are used. A quality 256-bit setup may be perfect for your security needs. This ensures that your data is protected and will only be read by those who have legitimately logged into your account. This is especially critical for businesses that might have sensitive bits of data on their cloud networks.

  1. Delete old files when you are done using them.

The access standards that you’ll use for individual files must be reviewed too. You must delete old files when you are done using them and you no longer have a need for them. This is to keep others who have access to your cloud setup from accessing data that may no longer be relevant or useful. While it is true that you will have an extensive amount of space to work with when storing things on the cloud, that does not mean that everything related to your business has to be there all the time.

  1. Watch for any automatic log-off features.

Try to find an automatic log-off feature on your cloud program. This feature will automatically sign a user off after the program interface or device is closed or turned off.

If this is utilized then the user will have to log back into the cloud program if the device is ever restarted or if the program was shut down or closed for any reason. This might sound inconvenient to some but it’s critical as it ensures that the program will not stay active even if it has been closed off. This is to reduce the potential for unauthorized users to get into your cloud system.

  1. Be selective about who you share your cloud access data with.

This sounds like a sensible rule of thumb but it’s one that must be emphasized. You must make sure you only share your cloud access data with those who are easy to trust and actually associated with your business. Don’t just go out there and give your cloud access information to anyone. Only let people within your business know how to log into your setup.

Your plans for cloud computing need to be explored with care. As great as it can be, you must make sure you are cautious when allowing people to access whatever you have on your cloud network.

By Sameer Bhatia

Teach Yourself The Cloud: Cloud Computing Knowledge In 5 Easy Steps

Teach Yourself The Cloud: Cloud Computing Knowledge In 5 Easy Steps

Teach Yourself The Cloud

Learn how to get to grips with cloud computing in business 

Struggling to get your head around the Cloud? Here are five easy ways you can improve your cloud knowledge and perhaps even introduce cloud systems into your business. 

Any new technology can appear daunting, and cloud computing is no exception. There’s a lot to be learned about the Cloud, but understanding its basic principles is certainly doable, even if you’re not the most IT literate! Best of all, once you’ve figured out how the Cloud works, you’ll open up numerous possibilities that could ultimately lead you to a more efficient and profitable business.


You’ll be pleased to know there are a wealth of resources available to help you along the way. Read on to learn how you too can become a cloud pro in just five easy steps!

  1. Read up online 

Several websites offer guides to the Cloud which will tell you all about the basics, as well as offering you a glossary of the sometimes-confusing cloud terminology. Guides such as these will tell you all you need to know to in the early stages, while this glossary will help with some of the tricky definitions.

  1. Experiment with free cloudware 

Now you understand the Cloud a little better, Readwrite suggests a good way of first experimenting with cloudware is to set up a Google Docs account. Using this platform, you can share and edit office applications in a live environment. This gives you a good, hands on introduction to how cloudware works on a practical level. What’s more, you don’t even need to download anything. The service is available online and all your data is there whenever you need it.

  1. Make the most of free trials 

Once you’ve played around with Google Docs for a while, it may be worth trying out different cloud products that you think could be useful for your business. You can download cloud-based tools that can assist with all parts of your business, including email platforms, office suites, project management software, accounting tools and pretty much anything else you can think of. Websites allow you to download free trials of their products without making a commitment straightaway; this allows you to see whether a new cloud-based system will indeed suit you and your business. Ultimately, free trials can even help you save money and crucial time adapting to the product in the future.


  1. Sign up for an online course 

By now you should be fairly clued-up when it comes to working in the Cloud. But if you’d like to understand the intricacies even better, luckily for you, several websites offer courses on the cloud. Microsoft offer varying levels of private cloud training, as do Alison, as part of Amazon Web Services. At the end of the latter course you even get a qualification and will certainly be far more knowledgeable of how you can best utilise cloud systems within your business.

  1. Learn about more niche elements of cloud computing 

The great thing about cloud computing is that you can adopt as many or as few cloud systems as you want. But should you want to introduce more complicated software into your setup, you will need to undergo more in-depth training if you want to make the most of more specialised products.

There’s little reason not to expand your knowledge and discover how you could be using the latest cloud technology in your organization. You’ll soon find out that, when it comes to the Cloud, a little bit of knowledge goes a long way!

(Image Source: Shutterstock)

By Gary Gould

Are You SURE You Are Ready For The Cloud? Cloud Readiness

Are You SURE You Are Ready For The Cloud? Cloud Readiness

Cloud Readiness

Over the last three months, we have discussed the reasons why you may have wanted to move to the cloud.  Maybe the decision wasn’t yours to be made in the first place?  Either way, you are now getting ready to start down that road of cloud enlightenment!


(Image source: Shutterstock)

The question is, what is the first thing you should be in possession of when starting a cloud project?  The answer may or may not shock you, but it is knowledge.


Why would I say that?  Or maybe, knowledge of what might be the other question.  Having knowledge of what some specific terminologies are will help you get started, or truly understand what is happening.

Being thrust into a new model of operations based on virtual resources can be quite challenging.  The difference between vCPU and a physical CPU in a cloud environment needs to be understood.  Also, you have vRAM and physical RAM, along with its block storage use in a cloud management tool and what is presented at the physical level.

So, what is the number one thing I tell my clients before they get started?  It is a simple question, “Where is your test cloud?”  Not all clouds need to be hosted by third party companies.  You can have a test cloud setup with something as small as a single laptop, or two larger machines depending on the cloud management software and virtualization software that is used.

So you now have a test cloud, error free of course, so what are you going to do with it?  You will be running many different tasks, all based on using the full potential of the cloud management software you have chosen.  Let’s review a few tests that you should perform, so you get a better idea of the cloud and the cloud management software.

  • Create an Instance: This means spinning up a virtual device (server or desktop) and assigning resources to it (vCPU, vRAM, etc.…)
  • Destroying an Instance: This means deleting it from inside your management software and returning the resources it had allocated back to the overall pool.
  • If you have it available, try mounting shared/unshared volumes to an instance and then remove it. You can also try your hand at shared storage so you can create clusters in the cloud.
  • Create a virtual network, and assign subnets to it. Make sure your subnets have proper routing and each one has a default gateway.
  • Create projects/tenants within your software so you can create separation of data and groups based on name AND network.
  • Create users to take advantage or trying out various authentication and authorization modes. Are you going to connect your cloud to Microsoft AD or
  • Once you create a few instances, start monitoring them with software that will tell you its overall performance. You want to see how to refine the build process of the instance is so it will have the horsepower you need it to without having to redo the instances later when they hold data.

This is just getting ready for the cloud.  Again, all engineers MUST understand these principles, and managers SHOULD understand them.  Next month we will talk about what to do with your new knowledge of the cloud!

By Richard Thayer

Cloud Infographic – Advantages of Online Learning

Cloud Infographic – Advantages of Online Learning

Advantages of Online Learning

The explosive growth of Online learning, MOOCs and Nanodegrees is taking the world by storm. Based on a report by Docebo “E-Learning Market Trends & Forecast 2014 – 2016 Report”

  • The worldwide market for self-paced e-Learning reached $35.6 billion in 2011.
  • Expected revenues to reach $51.5 billion by 2016.

There is a great deal of potential for elearning startups to solidify their place in this burgeoning and exciting market. Below is an excellent infographic by skilledup which helps provide some insight into the required and expected technologies of tomorrow.


Making Technology Work In Elementary Schools

Making Technology Work In Elementary Schools

Making Technology Work

Since its invention, personal computer technology has radically changed classroom instruction. At the very least, teachers recognize that computer literacy is an essential skill for the 21st century, and so mandatory computer classes have been added to the middle- and high-school curriculum in schools across the country. Ideally, these classrooms employ 1:1 technology, giving each student his or her own computer to work with. But the potential benefits of computerized learning are not limited to computer literacy alone – digital resources can also be of help to students in areas as diverse as mathematics, foreign languages, and even social studies. At the same time, there are obvious drawbacks to giving each student a personal computer during class time. For today’s teachers, then, integrating 1:1 technology presents a serious challenge and an unprecedented opportunity. Nowhere is this more critical than in elementary schools. Just like foreign languages, computer skills are best learned at an early age; but increased screen time may detract from children’s learning of social skills and personal communication, which are traditionally among the main goals of elementary school education.

The Problems with Technology

elearningAny parent knows that problems can arise when young children spend too much time on a computer, tablet, or smartphone. For one thing, interacting with these devices is a physically passive activity: it requires very little movement. As a result, too much time with technology may mean too little time exercising and moving their bodies. This is unhealthy for a child’s developing body, and also may have detrimental psychological effects, leading to hyperactivity and irritability. Computer programs also stimulate the brain’s “reward” centers through bright colors, satisfying sounds, and constant movement. The possibility for instantaneous gratification is heightened with a computer, and so children may not learn the skills of patience and self-control. Children who spend too much time in front of a computer may grow accustomed to this instantaneous gratification, and may be easily bored or distracted as a result. Constant electronic stimulation can even have an addictive effect, leading children to neglect all other activities in favor of the computer. Finally, students sitting in front of a computer are probably not interacting with each other or with their teacher, which prevents the development of essential social skills.

The Benefits of Technology

On the other hand, there are plenty of reasons to be excited about the prospect of 1:1 technology in elementary school classrooms. The most obvious consideration here is that students enjoy learning this way. Although electronic stimulation is detrimental and potentially addictive in large doses, it is certainly very enjoyable! Because kids enjoy interacting with computers, they will be more motivated in their studies and more likely to continue learning outside of class. 1:1 technology also gives teachers the opportunity to personalize students’ assignments based on their own level of preparation. For example, a math app could be programmed to learn what tasks students have the most trouble with, and adapt itself to focus on those tasks. Or a social studies app could periodically quiz students on their knowledge of history, and automatically link back to information that was not retained, allowing for an automatic, tailor-made review session. The computer can, in some ways, act like a personal tutor for each student.

How to Capitalize on Technology

Is it possible to get the best of both worlds? Can a classroom be designed so that children get the benefits of technology without its risks? Perhaps. If such a system is to work, though, its approach will have to be:

  1. Balanced: Technology in a classroom is not a bad thing unless it becomes so dominant that it crowds out other activities such as exercise, personal interaction, and dealing with physical objects.
  1. Fun, but not too much fun: Obviously, school will be more productive if students enjoy learning than if they hate it. But students must also learn that not everything in life is fun, and sometimes they must patiently work through something difficult in order to reap the rewards at the end. Thus, computerized learning must not be too heavily dependent on games and other fun activities – challenging, even boring material is an essential part of the curriculum.
  1. Interactive: Even if each student has an individual computer, this does not necessarily mean that they are all working separately. Educational programs can be designed to be collaborative, with each student working on a separate terminal but contributing to a central project. Similarly, a teacher can easily sit with a student to explain the program individually, thus creating opportunities for direct personal communication.
  1. Personalized: Just as each student has different social skills and physical abilities, children differ in their ability to work with technology (and to cope with its detrimental effects). Thus, it is essential that teachers be attentive to their students’ individual needs and behavior, rather than relying on the computer as a “babysitter.” In short, the computer can only be a tool for teachers, not a replacement for teachers.

By Brent Anderson

Choosing A Cloud Hosting Provider With Confidence

Choosing A Cloud Hosting Provider With Confidence

Choosing a Cloud Hosting Provider

Since cloud computing hit the commercial market, cloud service providers have exploded in popularity, with a huge variety of different services each tailored to its own unique variety of client. For clients, though, this presents a challenge: how to find the right provider? Out of all the numerous options, which one is best for your business?

Of course, in order to answer that question, you first need to know what needs a cloud provider will serve. In other words, what is your unique set of priorities in making the selection? For most people, the primary benefit of cloud computing is that it reduces costs, and so price will be a prime consideration in choosing a service provider.

Free Report

Cloud Hosting Provider - Free Report!

Price, though, cannot be the only consideration. For some firms (those with a large quantity of data), size and efficiency are key. For others, the availability of customized service packages is important.

But the most important priority for any firm, and the one too often overlooked by smaller businesses, is security. Security in cloud computing is a serious matter, as cloud servers cannot be protected through traditional means (i.e. by maintaining direct control over the physical server). In order to choose a cloud provider effectively, managers and CIOs need to understand the security provisions of each provider – and this can be difficult, since so few people have a security background!

The problem is compounded by regulatory demands: if a firm is attacked through the cloud, it may be legally responsible for any damage or data loss that affects customers. For example, if customers’ credit cards are stolen from the cloud, the firm that stored them can be sued for enormous damages, unless adequate security measures were taken from the beginning. Failure to comply with these regulations places a firm at tremendous, and largely unnecessary, risk.

Key Industry Standards

Fortunately, there are a few key industry standards that even a non-expert can easily use to identify which providers meet at least the minimum security needs. SSL (Secure Socket Layer) is the industry standard security protocol that all cloud providers should offer. This protocol involves a complex exchange of private and public keys between the domain and the browser, in what security professionals call the “SSL handshake.” This handshake opens up a secure channel for data transfer, preventing third parties from intercepting, tampering, or eavesdropping.

In order to reach minimum industry standards for security, cloud providers should offer at least 128-bit SSL encryption (ideally 256-bit encryption), along with robust guarantees regarding the physical security of data centers.

If you can follow these guidelines in choosing a cloud provider, you can minimize your risk of data loss, theft, or online attacks, and thus serve your customers better while ensuring regulatory compliance.

Contact CloudTweaks for more information on our consulting services and whitepaper listing opportunities.

By Brent Anderson

The E-Learning Market – Cloud Computing Adoption

The E-Learning Market – Cloud Computing Adoption

The E-Learning Market 

We’ve talked a fair bit about e-Learning and MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) technologies here on CloudTweaks over the past number of years. The industry is expected to continue to grow at a brisk pace as more and more firms and educational institutions start to adopt cloud based services.  Docebo has an excellent PDF report from last year for those who may have missed it outlining some of the major e-learning providers.

What Are The Cloud Benefits?

Cloud computing provides a low cost solution to academic institutions for their researchers, faculty and students. Some of the key benefits are:

  • Cloud provides QoS-guaranteed infrastructures, e.g., time, cost, reliability, and hardware performance like CPU bandwidth and memory size, and sustains SLA-oriented resource allocation.
  • Cloud provides the support for variety of applications, making it convenient and rapid to get the required computation and storage resources.
  • Through the automatic resource management, emergencies can be solved rapidly, and labour-intensive jobs can be achieved.

Infographic source: Docebo


How To Overcome The Challenges of User Onboarding and Ensure Cloud ERP Adoption

How To Overcome The Challenges of User Onboarding and Ensure Cloud ERP Adoption

Onboarding and Ensure Cloud ERP Adoption

In one of my previous articles I discussed the top challenges any organization must overcome when adopting a cloud ERP. I explained that, although each organization has specific challenges, there are 5 key challenges that manifest in different degrees in any type of organizations.

These are:

  1. Identifying the optimum architectural and licensing models
  2. Requirements in Hybrid Environments
  3. Customization
  4. Change Management
  5. User Onboarding and Training

In this article I will focus on techniques you can use to overcome the challenges of user onboarding and adoption.

Studies show that in countries with dynamic labor markets there is a clear pattern of underinvestment in training. Companies do not invest because they believe that their employees will just move on and the investment will be lost. So they just hire ‘trained’ replacement staff and the cycle accelerates. The problem with this approach is that one company’s implementation of an ERP system will be very different to another company’s implementation of the same software. Processes will be different and the skills that carry-over will be few. ‘Learning on the job’ and the inefficiency that ensues is a significant cost. Clearly, under-investing in training on core enterprise systems would be a mistake, but it still happens all too frequently.


Set up a formal Change Management Program

This will provide the framework for the ‘soft’ aspects of the migration/ implementation. The usual rule of engaging a visible high-level champion should not be ignored. Use modern methods such as social media to reinforce messages and build project momentum and user engagement.

Match the Training Method to the Worker and the Application

The type of application, the sophistication of the end-user audience and the geographic distribution of the users will create different demands. Consider options such as self-paced learning, just-in-time training and online training (as well as classroom training.)

Keep Training Sessions Short

Best-practice organizations limit end-user training to half-day sessions. Longer sessions impair retention, particularly when the system is difficult to use. Seek opportunities to segment the learning process into basic and advanced topics, with some time between sessions to allow users to absorb and practice what they’ve learned.

Create an Enterprise Training Portal

Maintaining all training courses and knowledge bases in a single location makes them easier to catalogue, use and keep up-to-date.

Similarly, place all course schedules, frequently asked questions, user tips and fixes, cheat sheets, links to third-party websites, and so on in easy-to-find locations on the corporate website. The cloud revolution has made it easy to use one of many excellent solutions available in the market today.

Don’t Rule Out Outsourcing Training to a Third Party

Third-party trainers can be an effective option to avoid devoting internal head count to training. However, the cost can be high for on-site delivery and the quality of training can vary widely across topics, geographies and vendor products.

Use Flexible 3rd Party Onboarding Toolsets

The advent of cloud enterprise systems has enabled the creation of a new family of onboarding tools – the ‘workplace assistant’. These toolsets can provide economic, individual task-based handholding. The advantages are that time assigned (off the job) for individual training is reduced, training is highly context and data specific and the investment in individual training is minimized while the loss of knowledge capital is also minimized.

A common issue with many onboarding tools is that they detract from the flow onscreen. There are now second generation of onboarding tools that use contextual guidance algorithms and non-intrusive onscreen displays. This lowers the barrier for training by reducing the amount of interruptions to flow by having a cleaner interface.

ERP Training as an Ongoing Process

Earlier I stressed the advantages of keeping training sessions short. This works only with continuous learning long time after initial training is completed. Continuous learning allows constant organic growth among employees, which later on increases the productivity of the company.

Cloud ERP brings with it agility and timely updates and customizations.  As new software features are being updated, or new company processes implemented, continuous learning becomes even more critical. Especially if your “experts” with vast ERP knowledge leave your team, and are no longer there to help out when needed.

By Boaz Amidor

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