Category Archives: SaaS

The Benefits of Cloud-Based Phone Systems

The Benefits of Cloud-Based Phone Systems

Cloud-Based Phone Systems

Although today’s businesses rely on a host of modern technology, the century-old telephone call is as essential as ever. Of course, businesses today aren’t relying on simple analog voice calls for effective interaction with partners, suppliers, colleagues, and customers, but instead combine the communication tools of mobile, email, texting, video conferencing, social media, and more. Already addressing various business needs such as collaboration and remote working through its flexibility and scalability, the cloud offers numerous benefits for telecommunication; RingCentral is one provider exploiting these advances to deliver a complete cloud communications system.


Progressive Businesses Use Advanced Solutions

Our highly competitive and fast-paced business environment means only the top performing organizations survive and prosper, and taking advantage of the finest tools technology offers is a significant part of this success. With broadband so widely available via fixed or mobile connections, we’re seeing companies utilizing talent around the world and interacting with customers across the continents. Technological advances promise greater tractability at reduced costs, and the somewhat recent advent of the cloud with its many varied tools is allowing companies to cut out superfluous features, tighten configurations, and effortlessly make use of global resources. Moreover, modern businesses which rely heavily on business software, covering areas which include human resource management, customer relationship management, enterprise resource planning, and more, are moving these systems into the cloud.

The Integration of Business Communication

Though the cost-savings and benefits of efficiency and productivity are tremendous, most forms of communication have not been integrated into these cloud-based applications. Many communication modes still require users to manually log and store information in isolated systems, and methods of integration with business applications have tended to the complicated and expensive. However, with enterprise-class cloud communication systems, companies are quickly taking advantage of the benefits of application and communication integration.


Cloud communication systems make it easy for colleagues to communicate cross-country and globally no matter the distance between their physical offices and provide the tools of direct transfers and direct extension dialing that teammates who share a physical office have always benefited from. Furthermore, cloud communication systems offer the flexibility that allows employees to change location as necessary and have their calls follow them. They also continue to have access to other company communication features such as voicemail, fax and conferencing, thus ensuring continuous interaction and seamless workflow.

Cloud PBX Benefits

Some of the many benefits of cloud-based phone systems such as that provided by RingCentral include:

  • One corporate telephone number for customers and partners to contact company employees.
  • Reduced or eliminated expenses of installation, upgrading and maintenance of PBX hardware and software at different sites.
  • Simplified phone line management with the elimination of trunk lines, PRIs, and bonded T1s.
  • Streamlined direct transfers and direct extension dialing between business locations.
  • Reduced costs and convolutions of managing Multi-Protocol Label Switching (MPLS) across telco networks or other business exchange line connectivity.
  • Eradicates the need for trained staff at each business site, use of third-party support services, or IT staff chasing telephony problems from one location to another.
  • Simplifies the setup of business in new areas, office moves, and user relocation, addition, or changing.
  • Improves group productivity through the enhanced collaboration tools of audio and video conferencing, web meetings, chat, and SMS.
  • Assists in the integration of the very ‘human’ interaction of communication with business applications and IT systems.

The First Open, Self-Service Cloud Communication Platform


(Image Source: Shutterstock)

Already providing guided implementation, extensive online resources, personal connections, and all-inclusive innovative upgrades, RingCentral has opened their platform to developers, partners and customers for the first self-service, open platform allowing businesses to “integrate robust communications capabilities into key enterprise applications.” Supporting businesses of all sizes, the RingCentral Connect Platform offers cloud PBX with rich collaboration features such as screen sharing and video conferencing and additionally integrates with other cloud applications. And now with the extensive SDK, developers can incorporate these capabilities into custom applications.

As adoption of cloud-based business applications escalates, so too does the need for integrated business communication solutions. Flourishing organizations are now making use cloud PBX, collaboration solutions, and customizable communication tools, and RingCentral’s SaaS platform is one of the industry-leading suites essential for top performing businesses.

This article has been sponsored by RingCentral, provider of state-of-the-art cloud infrastructure.

By Jennifer Klostermann

Newton’s First Law and Cloud

Newton’s First Law and Cloud

Scaling the Mountain

You’re kidding me, the server went down? What are we supposed to do about launching the new website? We promised our partners that we would go live this weekend. I’ll admit its forty new pages but it’s just a website. How long before it all gets fixed?

I’ll bet you have been to this movie. Seemingly simple stuff in information technology seems suddenly like scaling a mountain. Either solutions are single threaded and dependent on one set of hardware, or you wait months while additional hardware is purchased, delivered, deployed and tested. You just want to bang your head against the wall. What goes on with those IT guys?

The answer lies within a common human tendency – inertia. Newton defined the physical effect in his first law of motion and it applies equally well to peoples’ behavior. Just to paraphrase: “Bodies in motion tend to stay in motion unless acted upon by an outside force.” website story proves a good example. Why didn’t the company host the website in the cloud with an Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) cloud provider? It’s inexpensive and easy; in fact, many providers provide tools that facilitate deploying websites on their platform. That platform effectively does not go down when features such as automatic backup, fail over and auto-scaling are deployed.

We all experience inertia in our everyday life. Switching to a new way of doing things – say moving from a Windows computer to a Mac is hard. It takes time and effort. You have got to learn the new way and then practice with it to become facile and productive. Only if the benefits are clearly and rapidly felt do we do it.

Let’s dig deeper into some research on organizational inertia and the resistance to adopting new IT solutions like cloud. There are some important lessons we can extract. These apply to both IaaS and Software as a Service (SaaS).

It turns out that there are at least five dimensions that contribute to “inertia”.

  • Cognitive Inertia – We will continue with our existing way even though we know it is not the best, most effective or efficient way of doing things.
  • Behavioral Inertia – We will continue with our existing way simply because it is what we have always done. It’s part of our routine. We have done so regularly in the past.
  • Socio-Cognitive Inertia – We will continue with our existing way because strategic changes are difficult to implement in our organization. We have a culture of strong norms and values making change difficult. The requirements to switch are unexpected and coming too fast.
  • Economic Inertia – We will continue with our existing way because lots of effort has gone into its optimization. We have invested a lot of time to learn it and there is so much financial effort involved in switching.
  • Political Inertia – We will continue with our existing way because our users, customers and/or vendors do not use cloud. They are happy with the old way and our most important business partners insist upon it.

An interesting list, don’t you think? Here are a couple of observations to further your thinking.

Notice how in a number of the above the concept of switching costs emerges. But, wait a minute you say – I thought the big attraction to cloud was that it had low barriers to use. You sat down at your screen and just order it up. You could even use your credit card. No long evaluations, purchasing processes, etc. All true, but there are hidden switching costs. In IaaS, you need to understand the manifold performance and capabilities of the services and features of at least one cloud service provider. If you use more than one the challenge is multiplied. All this takes time and effort and perhaps even expertise that your folks do not have.

In SaaS, you will need to do some integration into your other legacy systems. Despite SaaS providers’ claims, their offerings are not just plug and play unless you want a bunch of siloed systems that don’t talk to each other. Again, this takes time and effort, which inhibits adoption.

Another theme that weaves through these different Inertias is the Innovator’s Dilemma. The very things that have made you successful inhibit you adopting a new path because you cannot see the benefits or consequences. Even your users and customers contribute by signaling that they are quite happy with the status quo – at least, until a competitor brings something better to their table.

Inertia in the IT department is often symptomatic of a more overall “stickiness” of the old ways of doing things across the organization. In today’s market place the pace of change is withering, new entrants often using the latest technology – like cloud – make a mockery of so called competitive advantages. The infamous “creative destruction” of capitalism is moving at a historic pace. The average life expectancy of most firms continue to diminish.

Adopting cloud is only in a small way a technical issue. Do you hear echoes of Newton’s First Law in your organization? What’s your plan? Better think about it and perhaps get some help.

By John Pientka

John is part of the CloudTweaks influencer and thought leadership program. You will now be able to read many of John’s new and syndicated articles here.

Infographic Introduction – Benefits of Cloud Computing

Infographic Introduction – Benefits of Cloud Computing

Benefits of Cloud Computing

Based on Aberdeen Group’s Computer Intelligence Dataset, there are more than 1.6 billion permutations to choose from when it comes to cloud computing solutions.

So what, on the face of it, appears to be pretty simple is actually both complex and dynamic regardless of whether you’re in the market for networking, storage, servers, telephony, virtualisation or applications.

By making the right choices for your cloud computing technology you stand to benefit from improvements in profitability, improved time to decision, improvements in complete and on-time delivery and reduction in downtime.

What is cloud computing?

TSG has created infographic to help you navigate your way through the benefits of cloud technologies and ensure your business doesn’t get left behind.

(Infographic created by UK IT Support Solutions Company, TSG)


The Cost Implications of Cloud Computing

The Cost Implications of Cloud Computing

Pricing The Cloud

Gartner predicts that by 2017 the public cloud services market will exceed $244 billion, achieving an impressive growth over just a few years, and organizations worldwide are reflecting this development. IT departments are expected to provide far more tools and services for their businesses than ever before, and they’re expected to do it for less money due to the volatile business environment. Cloud is proving to be the foundation which makes this possible, but merely opting for cloud doesn’t guarantee savings.


Choosing the Right Cloud Deployment Model

Public cloud is typically adopted for the benefits of cost-savings, but according to Kurt Marko of MarkoInsights, IT professionals usually prefer hybrid cloud deployment models. However, hybrid models which result in a split of workloads between public and private clouds tends to complicate cost and design analysis. Organizations have the choice between public cloud, primarily involving variable OpEx costs, private cloud which requires a much greater staffing contingent and is characteristically a CapEx costing model, the hybrid cloud mentioned before, and multi cloud models more recently surfacing in the business market.

When choosing a particular deployment model for an organization, the operational benefits often overshadow cost analyses because, let’s face it, the techies want a structure that works best, and the business managers tend to assume that because it’s cloud, it’s the economical option. No single model is universally superior to the others, but instead by accounting for CapEx versus OpEx, personnel and management costs, and overheads such as utilities and licensing, organizations can sensibly choose a model that delivers the greatest cost advantages for the necessary tools and services the selected deployment model will provide.

Reducing Cloud Costs


(Image Source: Shutterstock)

Once the cloud deployment model has been chosen and implemented, organizations can further reduce the costs of the cloud through efficiency. At this point, businesses should be installing the necessary servers, adequate storage, and suitable networks which interface with the cloud services adopted. Appropriate management of billing and metering, security, performance, and infrastructure integration may seem an excessive cost, but purely trusting that you’re receiving all you need at the best price is impractical. Business needs change, services morph, and being up to speed on the minutia of the cloud integration in an organization is a role worth the expense. If done competently, managing your organization’s cloud implementation is likely to ensure that the streamlined and cost-effective model initially applied is continuously tailored and restructured to ensure the necessary features are delivered with continued savings.

Ensuring Cloud Success

Profiting from the cloud is, of course, only possible if it’s successfully applied and operated. CIO questioned 16 chief information officers and IT leaders about their cloud deployments and received the following advice:

  • Embrace Change Management. It’s important that businesses are educated and informed about the cloud models put in place.
  • Vet Your Partners. Choosing partners wisely is more important than saving money; working with providers that share the same values and requirements while assisting you to advance to standards benefits both parties. Says Paula Tolliver, CIO and corporate vice president of business services at Dow Chemical, “We’re encouraging our service providers to get standardization across industry so that we live up to the ultimate cloud promise of being able to move services and capabilities at will and as needed.”
  • Feed the Network. Sysco’s CTO, Wayne Shurts, insists, “Your network has got to be Class A.” He points out that an organization’s network becomes “more important and a huge point of failure in your infrastructure,” and so there’s no room for shortcuts.
  • Have an Exit Plan. Contracts need to address service standards and performance, but says Avnet CIO, Steve Phillips, they must also tackle future separation.
  • And finally… Don’t Let Cost Savings Distract You. Although there are savings to be had, cloud models shouldn’t be executed for this alone. Says Joe Spagnoletti, Campbell Soup CIO, “It’s an option to deliver capability. You have to get it at the cost commensurate with the capability. You can’t do it for cost savings or management efficiency.”

By Jennifer Klostermann

The 2016 Stratus Awards For Cloud Computing: New Categories Acknowledged

The 2016 Stratus Awards For Cloud Computing: New Categories Acknowledged

The Stratus Awards For Cloud Computing

The most innovative and exciting companies and individuals in the world of cloud computing are set to be honored in an awards program that recognizes the enormous contribution that cloud-based services are making to organizations all around the globe. As the adoption of sophisticated cloud services and strategies gathers momentum, the work of pioneers in the field has become more critical than ever, and the Stratus Awards for Cloud Computing aims to recognize their achievements.

Copy of Business-Intelligence-Group-Logo-300

The awards program is the work of the Business Intelligence Group, an organization which is committed to honoring excellence, and provide business owners, leaders, executives and managers a platform to get the recognition they deserve. Managing Director of the Business Intelligence Group, Russ Fordyce explains how “we expect to reward companies from across the globe, those whose offerings are truly differentiated in the market.

The size of the cloud services industry has expanded enormously over the last few years, and is expected to grow incrementally as the “internet of things” becomes part of all of our lives. Tech research firm Gartner expects the public cloud market to grow by over 16 percent this year, and to surpass the $200 billion mark for the first time ever.


As the cloud market grows, so the awards categories have expanded to include new areas of expertise. There are new categories for cloud storage, cloud collaboration and cloud-based Internet of Things (IOT), each of which is profoundly shaking up the tech landscape.

In addition to the new categories, a new voting mechanism has also been introduced. “We are excited to announce the addition of an optional, and voluntary, Stratus People’s Choice Awards this year,” says Fordyce. The People’s Choice program will run alongside the judged awards and will reward one company in each category. Companies that wish to be eligible for the People’s Choice Awards must indicate their eligibility as they submit nominations. In so doing, a portion of the nomination will be published to the Stratus Awards website, and the general public will be encouraged to vote in each of the categories.

One of the most innovative aspects of the Stratus Awards is the judging process. The program relies on volunteer judges from within the industry to read, score and to judge the nominations. But it doesn’t end there; the judges are encouraged to engage with the nominees and share public and private feedback with them as a way of helping them improve their overall offerings to the market.

See some of the 2016 judging panel right here.

There are 17 categories in this year’s awards. In each of the categories, awards will given to Startups (less than 3 years), small companies (fewer than 150 employees), enterprise (more than 150 employees), and the People’s Choice award. In order to enter successfully, the data provided must be under a year old, it must not be duplicative of others’ work, and must illustrate the impact or potential impact of the work done, either through measurement or analysis.

Nominations for the Stratus Awards for Cloud Computing are due on June 3 2016, with the winners being announced on July 11, 2016.

You can find entry forms and further information right here. If you would like to find out more about being a judge for the Stratus Awards, click here.

By Jeremy Daniel

How To Build Mobile Apps Quickly Without Sacrificing Stability

How To Build Mobile Apps Quickly Without Sacrificing Stability

Mobile Security and Stability

It’s a fear that many mobile app developers have. That in the haste to construct a mobile app and get it out to market, your slapdash efforts will lead to a buggy and poor performing app. This fear is very viable, especially if your team is rushing to construct an entire multi-leveled app in one-go. You need a way to build your product quickly and effectively without compromising security. Here are the four main ways to build your innovative mobile app in no-time and still make sure that your app is secure and bug-free.


Launch Your MVP, Start Testing

Use the Lean Startup method, launch a lean version of your core product – your MVP – and immediately begin collecting data using a build-measure-learn feedback loop. Through testing, all feedback should be collected that continually informs the development process. Plan to operate on very short iterative cycles or “sprints,” where updates are released in short 2-4 week periods.

Hybrid Apps


Cross-platform hybrid solutions allow you to get 2 for the price of 1. Two versions of your App –Android and iOS – for the same code. This is a huge time-saver as opposed to writing native code for Android and iOS separately. Having said that, hybrid Apps have performance limitations — hybrid Apps handle animations with less fluidity and slow your phone down because they take up a lot of memory. For these reasons, hybrid Apps are best used to enter new markets quickly. If need be, they can then be replaced with more robust, native Apps at a later stage.

Two examples of cross hybrid solutions include Adobe Phonegap and Xamarin.

Integrate Pre-Made Engagement Applets to Increase Engagement

Once you have your MVP, it’s time to think about how your mobile app is going to effectively engage or communicate with your customers. A number of mobile engagement platforms have popped up recently to provide you with just that — all types of pre-made applets that you can add to your core product without any additional coding.

One of the newest platforms launched recently offers codeless mobile engagement . It has a variety of free engagement-driven applets that can be integrated with developer’s core products, without additional coding. The applets are managed and implemented through a smart SDK dashboard and are constantly updated to comply with each operating system demands. This enables not only hyper-accelerated development process but also a continual rock-solid coded solution.

Set Up Automated Testing to Ensure App Security

Automating your mobile application testing is a huge time-saver. Automating your testing allows you to run a suite of tests that would otherwise take hours to complete manually. By speeding up testing, you will be able to expand test coverage in the same amount of time. And you’ll sleep better with the knowledge that your code is bug-free. Appium is a great option on the market right now. Appium is an open source test automation framework for use with native, hybrid and mobile web apps for iOS and Android apps.

By Boaz Amidor

Netflix And Net Neutrality

Netflix And Net Neutrality

How Netflix went against net neutrality

For years, Netflix has been claiming that its videos have been deliberately slowed down by carriers so that they could protect their own TV services.

But, guess what?

It all turns out, things were the other way around.

Netflix has finally admitted that for the past five years the company has been slowing down videos for AT&T and Verizon wireless users. And they claimed to do it because they didn’t want their users to face overage penalties.

All this points to the net neutrality debate which has been going on for years. The funny part is – Netflix itself has been lobbying FCC to ban internet throttling everywhere. And yet, the online streaming service decided to throttle speeds of certain users without their consent.

AT&T and Verizon users were the only ones whose speed was capped to 600 kilobits per second, but it wasn’t done for T-mobile users. You know why?

Because Netflix in collaboration with T-mobile provides a ‘binge-on’ pack using which users can watch unlimited videos on Netflix at a fixed video resolution.

Netflix has obviously been criticized by many. But the company refuses to call it a mistake. According to them, they were only trying to help out their customers. The company wrote on their blog that their main motive was to help users avoid exceeding their mobile data. But shouldn’t that decision be in the hands of the user?

Why did Netflix take a stance on net neutrality

Now that is simple. The two companies in North America that generate more than half of the total downloads are Netflix and Google, it was these two companies who left no stone unturned to make sure the government gives out the net neutrality rule.


(Image Source: Shutterstock)

Why is Netflix not being investigated by FCC

Well, that is because of one big reason – according to the FCC rules, Netflix didn’t do anything wrong.

This is because, according the rules defined by the FCC, net neutrality only applies to internet service providers (ISPs). Netflix is not an internet service provider, it is what FCC calls an ‘edge provider’ or a ‘content provider’, and that is why the net neutrality rules do not apply to it.

This was done by the FCC to give freedom to the content providers so that they could give their users a seamless experience.

It’s the same as Youtube lowering the video quality when it notices the internet speed has gone down and watching an HD video with that speed would take a lot of time. But that is done by Youtube to make sure users can watch continuous videos without any buffering time. Also while doing so, Youtube notifies the users about it and the users can also choose a higher video quality even at a low speed, if they want to. Now if Netflix did a similar thing, it would have been acceptable. The main issue was that the company did not notify its users.

When FCC was asked about Netflix’s notorious activities, they started by saying that since the video streaming service is not an open service provider, it is outside FCC’s jurisdiction.

But Michael O’Rielly, chairman of FCC made a statement in front of the Federal Trade Commission saying that Netflix should be investigated. According to O’Rielly, Netflix might have not directly broken any net neutrality rules by throttling speeds but while doing so, they might have broken some commission rules since the company did withhold the information.

Are other content providers doing the same thing as well?

There are chances that they are, or they might be getting the idea from Netflix. The main purpose of introducing net neutrality was to make sure all the content providers were given equal bandwidth access by the ISPs and the government. To make sure, every website or app you access online gets the same internet speed from your end.

But with content providers trying to take advantage of this, it’s time the governments all around the world step up and create some regulations for content providers too.

By Ritika Tiwari

Upwork Causes Stir In Freelance Community Due To New Pricing

Upwork Causes Stir In Freelance Community Due To New Pricing

Upwork SaaS Freelance Marketplace

Upwork, one of the largest global platforms supporting freelance work, has made a significant change to their terms of service that has a lot of users, both client- and freelancer-side, in an uproar. At the end of 2013, Elance and oDesk, two of the largest freelancing marketplaces on the web, announced a merger, and in 2015 the company relaunched under the name Upwork. Though the oDesk platform was rebranded as Upwork, Elance continued to run its old platform, while encouraging users to move to the Upwork platform. It’s taken about a year for everything to pull together, but the beginning of this year saw the final move of all clients, freelancers, and work portfolios from the old Elance platform to the amalgamated Upwork platform.

Moving Towards a Freelancing & Remote Working Culture


(Image Source: Shutterstock)

Thanks to many advances in technology in recent years, freelancing and remote working have become viable and profitable options for many, and while freelancers in years gone by might have struggled to find new clients, platforms connecting job hunters with employers have improved their prospects. According to the Freelancer Union report, 34% of the national US workforce is doing freelance work, contributing an estimated $715 billion to the economy. The majority of freelancers believe that freelancing prospects are improving, and 32% of freelancers surveyed have experienced an increase in demand over the past year. Income stability and finding work, however, are the top barriers reported to performing additional freelance work, and it’s significant that 69% of freelancers believe technology helps them find this additional work. To date, Upwork has been a significant part of this technology.

The Terms of Service Furor

Before the Upwork rebranding, oDesk charged fees slightly higher than Elance’s fees, and so with the rebranding, Upwork continued the fee structure of oDesk, while Elancers continued using the slightly lower fee structure of the Elance platform. The final move therefore of clients and freelancers from the Elance platform to the Upwork platform caused some grumbling, but it was a move long in the works, and so it seems the community accepted the change rather peacefully. However, the new terms of service released by Upwork, due to come into effect in early June, is causing much criticism in the freelancing community.

Freelancers who had previously been charged a flat 10% commission on all jobs won through the Upwork platform will now be charged commission on a sliding scale. Those earning less than $500 per month will pay 20% commission, earning between $500.01 and $10,000 will pay 10% commission, and top earnings billing in excess of $10,000 will pay only 5% commission. And clients have also been hit with additional fees. Apparently in efforts to offset high payment servicing costs, a processing fee of 2.75% per payment or flat $25 monthly fee will be charged to clients.

The internet community has quickly made their thoughts known, and in typical fashion dissatisfaction is most loudly stated. Clients, freelancers, and general commentators have expressed anger and disappointment at the changes, though a few savvy Twitter members are using the trend in #Upwork to source new business outside of the platform.

Future Alternatives?


The advantages of freelancing and remote working are flexibility in working hours and locations, self-management, the potential for greater income, and additional tax deductions. Of course, the disadvantages also merit thought. Working freelance you’ll typically need to earn more than you would working a standard desk job because you have to pay for all of the benefits you’d receive working in-house. You’re also responsible for a far wider range of tasks; you are your own micro business responsible for all of the accounting, management, and operational functions. Cash flow tends to be inconsistent, you have to actively search for work, and at the end of the day, you are the solely responsible party for all successes and failures. Though some in the freelance marketplace have expressed criticism and general pessimism for the online buyer/seller market as a whole, if after weighing up the pros and cons you still believe freelancing is for you, then go for it.

Over the next 12-18 months we firmly believe that many new competitors will spring into action in order to chip away at the Upwork market share. Where it stands now based on the online responses, this won’t be difficult.

By Jennifer Klostermann

CloudTweaks Comics
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