Category Archives: SaaS

Comparing Cloud Hosting Services

Comparing Cloud Hosting Services

Cloud Hosting Services

Cloud hosting service providers are abundant and varied, with typical structures affording the reliability of virtual partitions, drawing resources externally; secure data centers; scalability and flexibility not limited by physical constraints; pay-per-use costing; and responsive load balancing for changing demands. While high end (and high price) services offer an extensive range of benefits, many users are more than satisfied with the low-end and low-cost services provided.

Cloud Hosting Services

(Image Source: Shutterstock)

The Usual Suspects

Amazon EC2

Amazon EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud) provides resizable compute capacity in the cloud and is designed to make web-scale cloud computing easier for developers. Their simple web service interface lets you configure capacity easily, puts you in control of your computing resources, and can be economically scaled up or down. And new AWS customers can get started with Amazon EC2 for free. Take a look at their calculator to estimate your monthly pay-as-you-use bill.

Google Cloud Platform

Offering a free trial with $300 to spend on cloud platform products over 60 days, as well as free ongoing light compute services for those who remain in their free quota, Google Cloud Platform offers PaaS, big data solutions, and SQL and NoSQL databases. Their infrastructure is highly scalable and reliable, and users have the choice of computing, mobile and backend solutions, and storage and application services.

Microsoft Azure

Delivering another free cloud hosting tier for light use, Azure allows users to deploy up to ten free sites, or build a mobile service to support up to 500 devices for free. Their free 30-day trial comes with $210 credit to try any combination of Azure resources and is available in all countries where Azure is commercially available. And Azure boasts per minute billing, pay-as-you-use services, as well as just about every facility you can imagine.

Rackspace

This managed cloud company provides users with the choice of hosting on Rackspace’s infrastructure, or through Microsoft Azure or Amazon Web Services. Promising robust performance, scalability, and simplified management, Rackspace enables over 500 billion page views per year, and though their costing tends to the higher end, they do promise 24x7x365 Fanatical Support®.

The Perfect Match

With the assortment and scale of services on offer, choosing between brands tends to come down to one or two finer details, and here’s where cloud hosting comparison sites play a worthy role. Providing the facility to ferret out appropriate providers based on filters such as price, platform, space requirements, memory, and additional features like auto-scaling and load balancing, comparison sites let you build your ideal model, and then present packages best able to match your requirements.

HostMonk

Identified as an impartial web hosting comparison service, HostMonk offers a range of comparison categories from web hosting, to dedicated hosting, to cloud hosting. Within their cloud hosting section, users are able to distinguish between low-cost servers, pay-as-you-go servers, servers running promotions, and more. And users are able to further narrow their choices by ticking off options such as computational unit requirements, 100% uptime SLAs, and platform prerequisites while limiting cost to one of six price ranges.

HostMonk

Cloudorado

Providing information for a range of cloud services, Cloudorado offers to pull all cloud computing services together into a single cloud deployment setup. Users are able to narrow their searches down to specific locations if they wish and are provided with categories of specs for features and management; transfer options; networking; security; support; and more.

Cloud Hosting Price

CloudScreener

The drag and drop interface of this utility lets you quickly and easily find a cloud offer to suit your needs. Boasting cost reductions, improved performance, and feature comparisons, CloudScreener.com asks you a few basic questions about your needs and then uses its library of performance data to provide a list of viable solutions.

CloudScreener

Graphiq

They have changed a bit over the years as they are no longer called FindTheBest and now run under the brand name Graphiq.com.  They offer a plethora of search options and also provides advanced search features as well as a side-by-side comparison.

Cloud price comparison

By Jennifer Klostermann

Information Security And Its Implications For The Average Joe

Information Security And Its Implications For The Average Joe

Information Security

In this day and age of advanced technologies and state of the art SaaS options, is it any wonder why more and more people are feeling alienated when it comes to their online interactions? We get it – good business means utilizing Big Data, and Big Data means documenting as many digital processes as possible – but just how does this age of information affect the average Joe hoping to browse the web in privacy?

Gone are the days where a man could purchase a dozen roses for his wife online, have them delivered by the morning, and bask in the glory of his heroic endeavors. In this modern society, it’s less about what was purchased, the valuation and the shipping times, and much more about what draw the buyer’s attention, how long it took them to make a purchase, and what method of payment they selected!

Now to most internet users, this might not seem like that big a deal. In fact, the data is predominantly harmless, and it’s better suited to marketing strategies than it is to spying on unsuspecting victims. But in exchange for this information, what are the big players doing to ensure that Joe’s information remains safe, secure, and most importantly – out of the reach of bad guys hoping to do evil?

The Killer-Robot Effect

robot-effect

Who hasn’t dreamt of installing a killer robot somewhere around their home – a robot that won’t just keep enemies at bay, but one that will actively discourage any attempts of attack? In digital terms, this killer-robot takes the form of advanced encryption software, and it’s a common presence within sites of all calibers. Joe may not know much about encryption, but he knows that there’s something pretty reassuring about the sight of a padlock, followed by three solid characters; 1.2.8.

So how do online brands and websites in this modern era further maximize the potential of information security technologies? Well, it’s not just the encryption to consider – after all most software programmers will know how daunting a task it would be to even attempt to decipher the smallest encrypted code, let alone 128-bits worth of it! But where the potential for data harvesting is present, so too will be loopholes for online criminals to exploit, and that’s where Joe’s concerns really begin to stem.

Information Security at its Finest

hackers-breachers

When in doubt, leave it to the IT companies to come to the rescue, and that’s exactly what has happened – particularly over the past few years. If there’s a single nemesis to online hackers, spammers and data harvesters; it’s the IT specialist, and their shining armor has been a saving grace on more than a few occasions.

So what happens if one of these knights just so happens to step over to the dark side? Well, that’s where things can get a little bumpy for Joe, especially if his local flower stall has closed down for the winter and the only place for him to pick up his roses is online. But fret not – where there is negative, there is positive. Where there is evil, there is good.

The Information Security Community

security-community

That may sound like a mouthful, but consider it more of a fist in the face of potential evil-do’ers. Thanks to online authorities and IT agencies around the world, newer measures are being introduced to deter online criminals, and protect Joe while he browses the web in confidence! As these new measures are introduced, so too are the older ones being replaced – and this in itself makes it increasingly difficult for potential criminals to keep up.

There will always be the concern of hackers gaining access to information that companies obtain from their customers, and this is as controversial a topic now as it has been since the introduction of online sales. But with more and more services introducing stricter security measures that restricts even their own data – could we be fast approaching a securer online environment in general? If the information passed around online isn’t as available as hackers would like, then the risk to Joe is minimal!

For now though, taking advantage of the latest security procedures is the recommended way forward, and as long as Joe keeps his spending habits within the protective confines of verified websites, his wife could be enjoying roses for years to come.

By Stacy Coe

Investor Spotlight – Matt Keezer, CEO At Momentum Ventures

Investor Spotlight – Matt Keezer, CEO At Momentum Ventures

Startup Investor Spotlight – Matt Keezer

Commencing operations in 2007, Momentum Ventures has since launched seven successful businesses, using their own uniquely refined investment model to reduce risk. In the last three years, they’ve focused predominantly on the online travel industry, launching FlightHub in 2012 and Summit Services in 2014.

matt-picNotes Matt Keezer, CEO at Momentum Ventures, “We are actually on pace to launch another online travel agency later this year with Alio, which we believe will be able to compete with Expedia and Priceline as a top online travel agency (OTA) offering low-cost flights, hotels, and travel insurance.”

In recent years, investment models have changed swiftly, with traditional channels now open to the wider market, as well as the advent of crowdfunding, angel networks, and the likes. However, instead of making investing easier, greater access and additional channels have, if anything, muddied the waters. CloudTweaks discusses startups, business growth, and investment risks and opportunities with Matt Keezer.

What is Momentum Ventures’ approach to building businesses?

We look for three things when starting a new business. Firstly, we have to find and identify an industry we’re actually passionate about and are ready to immerse ourselves in. Secondly, we look at businesses within that industry that are doing well now and will continue to do well in the future. Lastly, we determine whether or not we have a reasonable entry point into the industry.

Momentum Venture

In the past, you’ve mentioned the small minority of startups that actually evolve into thriving businesses – do you think there’s any place for tech startups in today’s environment?

Yes, but I believe we’ve found a better way to build winning businesses at Momentum Ventures. At the core of it, we launch startups, but we don’t start a new business without first making sure it is proven to be virtually consumer-proof. Ultimately for us it’s all about eliminating or reducing risk at all stages of development and implementation while simultaneously pushing for growth. With that in mind we focus on making sure the market is safe to enter when it comes to consumer adoption, the business we are launching is within a proven online industry we are prepared to penetrate, and we provide the right mentorship and support in-house to simultaneously insulate and accelerate the businesses’ development. So yes, startups do have a place in today’s tech environment, but the ways in which we develop, build, and support them can be vastly improved.

Are there any technology sectors you believe are ripe for financial investment?

The online industry, in general, is still in its infancy, and we believe great companies will continue to emerge in this space. 

Aside from financial investment, how does Momentum Ventures strive to build and support stable companies?

We focus not only on financial support, but also mentorship. Our company is filled with business leaders who have grown up with the tech industry and know how to guide young entrepreneurs. Likewise, our liberating support system empowers our entrepreneurs to focus on their product and business development strategies.

What do you consider to be the pitfalls of the existing venture capital model?

The high failure rate. I have a hard time not feeling bad for the entrepreneurs spending their time and careers on a failing project. However, some believe that this extreme level of risk is necessary for true innovation. I disagree with that notion.

Do you believe crowd funding could be put to better use? If so, how?

Sure. At the end of the day, any model can be improved. The thing with crowdfunding through a service like Kickstarter is that it really is a double-edged sword. You see flash-in-the-pan businesses get funding due to the micro-transactional nature of the platform. Likewise, some strong businesses have been saved by crowdfunding. The fact that these “investors” have no equity is great because its puts the power in the hands of the entrepreneur.

You’ve stressed the importance of personnel in successful business building – what should tech sector investors be looking for in the teams they’re backing?

For some, success just comes naturally and isn’t limited to the workplace. Some have a killer instinct to succeed at everything they do, and it’s something we definitely look for when evaluating candidates. You need to find those people if you want to build a successful team.

For investors and entrepreneurs alike, Keezer’s insight and Momentum Venture’s proven strategy suggest that new endeavors need not be risky gambles, but instead through precise calculation and careful management, a fait accompli.

(Sponsored series via Momentum Venture)

By Jennifer Klostermann

Role Of A Futuristic CRM In Revolutionizing FinTech

Role Of A Futuristic CRM In Revolutionizing FinTech

Futuristic CRM

Although FinTech is still in its infancy around technology disruption, it has shown a tremendous growth potential over this last year. This is blatantly evident from the surge of killer consumer applications, optimizing many of the core transactional functions e.g. banking, payment gateways etc. Cloud computing, Mobile UX, Data analysis (Now Big), and Service Desks (Self-service platforms) will continue to play a significant role in redefining individual functional areas.

A Customer Relationship Management (CRM), albeit in its evolved form, will be responsible for serving up the Fabric which will channelize handover across these functional apps. For e.g. Loyalty rewards can be dynamically analyzed and bridged to new product trial offers, for specifically targeting cross-selling opportunities and behaviour-based campaigns.

Does it mean we will stop receiving 0% balance transfer mailers from our financial institutes? Maybe!

Leading CRM vendors like Microsoft, Salesforce & Zoho CRM continue to further expand platform capabilities (PaaS) targeting specific functional areas – Directly within their Product and Indirectly via their Partner eco-system (Frameworks/ Managed Apps). However, ample opportunity exists to bridge these siloed applications and create a customer-driven Financial Relationship Application. Over time, we will see these products to have specific Frameworks & Apps pre-configured and tightly integrated; which will help in faster go-to-market rollouts for Financial products and businesses.

 

In the interim, success will be dependent on the following:

  • Being aware of the changing industry
  • Aligning business capabilities with consumer behaviors and
  • Focusing on agile adoption for modular yet drastic changes across functional areas

To top that there will be an explicit adoption framework necessary for each of the two Service areas:

  • Consumer Service – e.g. Self-service, Handheld device engagement, Full cycle transactional activities and
  • Institutional Services – e.g. Expandability to cater to varietal of investors and investor types, New Product Introduction etc.

Does this sound like a steep hill? Yes, it is.

CRM

A SaaS-based CRM application remains the industry de-facto with Enterprise class capabilities, scalability, security and operational efficiencies. In its end state, it must display innate abilities to roll out additional capabilities that are configurable and user intuitive:

  1. Customer Engagement across Integrated Social channels. This will particularly impact customer-centricity and cross-selling of products thereby impacting revenue
  2. Provide a Mash-App ecosystem which provides a consumer a seamless experience across multiple product portfolios – Banking, Risk Management, Payment capabilities, Financial Planning & Underwriting.
  3. Adaptive Security Architecture to lock down customer data across channels; yet increase leveraging of information across functional areas
  4. Machine learning Predictive Analysis to improve product alignment, pricing strategies and also reduce customer attritions
  5. Marketing Campaigns based by Customer’s DNA. FinServices remains one of the largest hoarders of consumer details. Although, regulatory in nature, the primary bottleneck is in intelligently utilizing this data
  6. Ability to present Transaction-centric & Customer-centric view of their data to measure and improve KPIs

Some of the leading FinTech products have evolved over last five years. But increased marketing, investment funds and evolution of buyer’s behaviors will accelerate their growth hereafter. It will also be easier than ever for smaller, innovative technology startups to quickly turn their ideas into marketable products across multiple channels. The disruption is inevitable and we can only be prepared to align to these industry changes.

By Sourin Paul

Here’s Why A Chinese Venture Firm Is Sinking $400 million Into AngelList

Here’s Why A Chinese Venture Firm Is Sinking $400 million Into AngelList

Venture Firm Invests $400 million Into AngelList

China is looking to get in on the U.S. tech startup scene. A crowdsourcing funding website for startups, called AngelList, has apparently received a $400 million dollar injection from private-equity firm CSC Venture Capital.

Interestingly, the money is meant specifically to target young startups still in their earliest stages. A lot of investors prefer to sit back and wait to see if a product or new company has potential, but the Chinese are looking to roll the die, and they’re doing so in a big way.

It’s no secret that the United States tech industry is the biggest, and ultimately produces the highest number of successful tech startups. A few ranking lists will try to finagle with numbers to knock the United States off the top spot, but at the end of the day, the United States is home to nearly 5,000 startups, while the next closest competitor, India, barely tops 2,000.

startups-cloudtweaks

Further, most of the biggest tech startups over the last several decades were born in the United States. From Microsoft, Apple, and Google, to Salesforce, ZenDesk, and Facebook, multiple generations of American startups have revolutionized the world.

The Chinese investors are hoping that some of their investments will fall into the coffers of what ultimately becomes the next Apple. By focusing on the early rounds of funding, they will be able to cast a wide net, and hopefully reel in some gold.

AngelList is already a proven source for connecting companies and investors. Among their success stories has been Uber, a yes- wait for it, uber successful company.

Up until now, AngelList has managed to raise only $205 million dollars to distribute to startups. Thus, in one fell swoop, Angelist is securing nearly double all of its previous investments combined.

While CSC Ventures is taking a big risk, especially by targeting startups, more and more Chinese investors are looking to diversify. China’s economy is massive and fast growing, but as the recent turbulence proves, any country can suffer turbulence, and it’s always best to diversify.

CSC Ventures itself is clearly looking to make a big splash. While Chinese investors are becoming more active in the United States as China liberalizes its trade and investment laws, Chinese firms don’t have the long-standing reputation and connections of many larger American firms. With this deal, CSC will certainly get some media coverage, and likely also make some good investments.

By Brian Brinker

5 Reasons Why Your Startup Will Grow Faster In The Cloud

5 Reasons Why Your Startup Will Grow Faster In The Cloud

Cloud Startup Fast-tracking

Start-ups face many challenges, the biggest of which is usually managing growth. A start-up that does not grow is at constant risk of failure, whereas a new business that grows faster than expected may be hindered by operational constraints, such as a lack of staff, workspace and networks. It is an unfortunate fact that many start-ups fail in the first five years, in fact, according to Forbes, 8 in 10 new businesses fail in their first three years.
shutterstock_237547333

New businesses go through three distinct phases of development: start-up phase, rapid growth and relative maturity. During the start-up phase the main objective of the business is to survive and gain some market share. The second phase, rapid growth phase, sees the business experience a period of rapid but controlled expansion. The final phase is relative maturity, which is when a business becomes profitable and focuses on maintaining market share while also looking for the next growth area.

According to Deloitte, small businesses that adopt cloud technology to overcome common growth challenges grow 26% faster and deliver 21% higher gross profits. In short, businesses are growing faster thanks to cloud based business support services. Of all businesses questioned, 85% said that the cloud had enabled their business to scale and grow faster.

1. Rapid Growth Potential

Cloud based solutions are perfect for start-up businesses because they operate on a software as a service model (SAAS) that is dynamic and immediately scalable.

Cloud software service managers often provide a tailored solution for their clients, in fact, often the software providers better understand the current and future needs of their clients more than the start-up owners. Therefore, a good cloud software provider essentially acts as an IT manager for the business, planning and delivering IT change as and when the business requires it.

2. Scalable and Dynamic IT Solutions

It is recommended that SMEs optimise their technology and business practices for the digital world. Businesses that plan for rapid growth and change are better equipped to take advantage when growth occurs. In the past, a company would have to predict its needs over the forthcoming year and make an investment. This could result in an expensive overspend or an IT solution that quickly becomes obsolete.

Many modern cloud-based solutions are modular, which means that as a business grows and its needs evolve, new software can be rapidly deployed over the Internet. For example, during the initial stages of start-up a business may only require a lightweight CRM platform with email functionality for a few members of staff. Rapid growth may see staff numbers quickly increase and managers may require more advanced accounting and reporting software.

3. Advanced business management

Enterprise Resource Planning solutions will allow a business to add on inventory management, logistics, sales management, and accounting and HR functions to the same platform that is already running the CRM solution.

This seamless deployment of new IT solutions on existing platforms allows businesses to very quickly adapt to changing fortunes and capitalise on early growth.

4. Improved Security

The rapid growth of digital solutions is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, a business can quickly gather the tools required to beat the competition, but at the same time an increase reliance on the Internet can increase IT security risk. Data theft, hacking, viruses and malware are on the rise and many small businesses do not have the resources to combat these problems themselves.

Cloud-based security services provide a blanket of protection between business networks and the Internet, thus making a business more secure. The best business idea in the world can quickly be destroyed by a major security breach.

5. Mobile

A business that utilizes cloud based services is able to easily move location. A growing business may need to move to larger offices, or a relocation to the technology heartland may provide new opportunities for collaboration. Not relying on an in-house IT network makes moving office as easy as moving home.

The transition from start-up phase to rapid growth is the key time for a new business. If this transition is not properly managed a business may lose out on important opportunities and fail to achieve its full potential. Businesses that plan for success are more likely achieve it and in the modern, digital age, IT networks form the backbone of every business. Cloud is therefore helping startups grow faster.

By Gary Gould

The Lighter Side Of The Cloud – Compliance

The Lighter Side Of The Cloud – Compliance

Fintech-comic-cloud

By Christian Mirra

Please feel free to share our comics via social media networks such as Twitter with a clear attribution (Twitter example: via @cloudtweaks) to the original comic source. If you are a company brand looking to utilize our comics to generate leads to a specific landing page, newsletter, presentation or social media campaign, you can contact us regarding commercial licensing rates. Enjoy!

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Top 50 Big Data Marketing Blogs

Top 50 Big Data Marketing Blogs

Big Data Marketing Blogs

Big Data has been helping marketers target customers with more accuracy and detail than anyone thought possible just a few years ago. No longer do marketers need to rely on direct mail campaigns or newsletter subscribers, because Big Data delivers insight into nearly any aspect of a customer, from time spent on websites, to brand preferences, to purchasing history. Big Data gives the comprehensive picture of customers that marketers had been craving.

But, there are several ways to use Big Data for marketing. And, there is such a vast amount of Big Data available that marketers may still be unsure of exactly how to harness it and optimize their use of it. That’s why we’ve searched for some of the best Big Data marketing blogs available. We look to industry leaders, top marketers, and Big Data experts who share their experience, tips, and strategies for using Big Data for marketing. Their blogs have the insight you need to make Big Data marketing work for you.

Please note, we have listed our top 50 Big Data marketing blogs here, in no particular order

Read Full List: NGDATA

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