Category Archives: Technology

Is SaaS For You? Three Questions To Ask

Is SaaS For You? Three Questions To Ask

The idea of providing software to customers for a fee without the need for investments in IT infrastructure or staff has been around for decades. In the 1970s it was called Timesharing. Back then, companies utilized Timesharing services as their primary source of IT applications or as an extension of in-house IT applications, thereby avoiding additional infrastructure investments. Today, companies are considering what’s known as Software as a Service, or SaaS, for the same reasons. However today’s SaaS technology is very different from the Timesharing technology of decades ago. For one thing, Timesharing providers would dictate to their clients what communications protocols and user devices could be utilized. SaaS providers today utilize standard Internet communications protocols and permit connection from virtually any device with a web browser.


Whether looking to a SaaS solution to provide a primary computing environment or extend an existing one, the potential SaaS customer will need to select two suppliers. The first is the provider of the infrastructure in which the application software and databases will be hosted; the second is the provider of the application software to be hosted and used.

In selecting both vendors, the potential customer should ask each three important questions.

Question #1: What are the vendors’ underlying technologies?

There are two basic underlying technology architectures utilized by providers of SaaS services. One is a “multi-tenant” configuration, in which a single copy of the application and database software is installed on a server and used by multiple customers; the other is a “virtualization” model, in which a separate copy of the operating system, application software and database software is installed for each customer on a “virtual” server that may physically be on a single server or array of servers.

One configuration/architecture is not better than the other. They’re just different, with different advantages and risks. Since multitenant SaaS services are “sharing” software with multiple customers, generally only one copy (and thus one license) of the software components (Operating system, application software, database software, etc.) needs to be acquired. On the other hand because multiple customers are utilizing the same software and database, the proper configuration of security software is critically important and yet more difficult to accomplish. Under a Virtualization SaaS model, each customer’s “virtual” server has the necessary software components installed. This arrangement can simplify security set up, but increases costs since generally multiple software licenses must be acquired for each customer.

In terms of software maintenance, a multitenant configuration requires that new software or updates only be applied once in order to be used by all customers. However, the process of maintaining customer specific software customizations or configuration parameters can be very complicated, time consuming, and difficult to control, while in a Virtualization SaaS model software upgrades will need to be applied to each virtual server environment. Yet because each customer has their own, separate copy of software, customizations, and customer specific parameters are easier to control and maintain.

Question #2: What are the pricing options and terms?

Most SaaS services are priced on a subscription basis, in which the customer pays a fee annually or monthly. The basis for that fee varies widely from one provider to another. Some pricing schemes are based on total number of users, others on users per software module, while still others are more complex with categories of users and groupings of modules.

Question #3: What are the vendors’ capabilities and long-term direction?

Both the SaaS service provider and the software provider should have a track record of growth and financial stability. SaaS usage is expected to grow significantly. Service providers must have the financial strength and technical resources to maintain and grow their infrastructure in response to increased demand. Likewise, SaaS software providers need to add new functionality to their products to keep pace with changing business conditions.

Even when these questions are asked and answered, a choice will need to be made. One way to simplify that decision may seem counter intuitive: Select the software vendor first. Some software vendor solutions may only support a multi-tenant or virtualization configuration, which limits the choice of potential providers. It would be better to look for, and select, a software vendor that can support either architecture, thereby allowing the choice of SaaS provider to be made solely on the merits of the vendor’s capabilities and sustainability. Finally, while pricing should not be the sole selection criteria, it is an important one. Select a vendor with a straightforward, all-inclusive pricing arrangement, one that allows any user access to any module and allows users to be added easily.

Obviously, you hope, and in fact plan, for your business to grow. The right SaaS provider can help support that growth with robust IT capabilities at a reasonable cost. The right cloud accounting software in a SaaS environment can support and automate your business processes now and as your business grows. The right vendor will have the software features you need today and the financial strength and technology vision to provide the solutions you will need tomorrow.

For more information on Acumatica please click here.

By Jon Roskill

Are Drones Not Safe for Civilians?

Are Drones Not Safe for Civilians?

Are Drones Not Safe for Civilians?

The threat of global terror has made war a perpetual constant in our world today. As enemies become more difficult to identify, nations are trading in their illicit military strategy for more covert security and defense operations. In recent years, defense organizations have turned to technology as an alternative for sending troops in harm’s way.

The Pentagon has already budgeted over $591.4M for the MQ-9 Reaper in FY15 alone (Image Source: “MQ-9 Reaper in flight (2007)” by U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Brian Ferguson), but with activity in the Middle East dwindling down, unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), or drone producers, are already looking elsewhere for revenue. Where are they looking? Lucky for these companies, the practical uses for drones extend far beyond warzones.These suppliers are turning their eyes to the commercial sector, discovering opportunities for UAV applications in civilian life that may be profitable down the road. The same technology that has completely changed modern warfare could ultimately become a driving force for distribution innovation in modern consumer and B2B markets.

Applications for commercial drone use cross many industries, but we at Fueled think that a few out of the group hold much higher value in consumer markets than others, for example:

  • Matternet, a U.S. tech startup, is developing UAV technology dedicated to the transport of aid and supplies to rural, hard-to-reach areas.
  • Both Amazon and Domino’s Pizza announced initiatives to employ drones for shipping and delivery earlier this year.
  • Public safety organizations around the country are researching the use of drones, like the SkySeer for search and rescue missions.
  • And farmers are now looking to UAV suppliers for a low-cost alternative to paying for aerial support services like crop-dusting and large crop watering.

Commercial UAV use proposes seemingly endless possibilities. In an interview with Al Jazeera, Steve Gitlin, marketing executive for UAV producer AeroVironment, said, “We probably don’t even know yet how many creative uses there are going to be for unmanned-aircraft-systems technology.” With so much potential, large companies and startups are looking for opportunities to capitalize off of the promising future of UAV technology. Northrup Grumman recently established a partnership with Yamaha in the production of its R-bat, a small helicopter-like drone that has been widely used in Japan for crop-dusting.

With growing demand for innovative Internet of Things, or IoT products, Web-enabled non-computing devices, commercial use of UAVs has become more practical. Commercial drones would lower costs for producers and suppliers and ultimately lower prices for consumers. Despite all of the economic benefits, full adoption of commercial UAV use in the U.S. will not come without hardship. The Federal Aviation Administration continues to draw up commercial drone regulations with its UAV Rulemaking Committee.

The growing utilization of commercial UAVs will also face starch Congressional and public critique for its underlying connection with privacy and security matters. This will prove one of the most difficult hurdles as people will need to understand that not all drones are stealthy instruments for gathering information. Overall, commercial UAV use will be another step forward in modern industry and support altruistic initiatives by potentially helping benefactors access to where its needed the most.

By Ohad Mark Stoller

Cloud Infographic – NASA Furthering Technology Innovation

Cloud Infographic – NASA Furthering Technology Innovation

Cloud Infographic – NASA Furthering Technology Innovation

NASA has been the focus of a number of articles on CloudTweaks over the years, from the Nebula-Openstack Project to the rocketing into the outer limits with Space exploration One thing for certain is that the adoption of new technologies, innovation and collaboration will allow NASA to reach outer spaces at an exponentially quicker rate.

Included is an infographic provided by which takes us down a different path involving the several NASA spinoffs since 1962.


Internet of Things and Personal Presence Devices

Internet of Things and Personal Presence Devices

Internet of Things and Personal Presence Devices

In the past month or so I have been wandering around the desert of IoT (Internet of Things). In that time I created three distinct designations for the Internet of things. Mostly so that I could rationalize the concept for myself. But also to attempt to begin an examination of what exactly was happening. The three categories I created were Stayable, wearable and finally portable. You don’t wear your cell phone (yet) but you take it with you everywhere (portable). You probably have a cache of pictures at home on a drive or a computer in your home office you connect to remotely (stayable) and finally, the reality of smart watches and exercise sensors (wearable) are with you all the time as well.

First off there is a split in the first concept, stayable. Split in that you have things at work you access at home, or where-ever-you are. There are things from home you access from work, or where-ever-you are. So that initial split is interesting. That reality in effect is the birth of the Internet of things. People want to get at their information wherever they are.

Device-IoTThe concept revolves quietly around sensors. If we think about cellular telephones and the evolution of that market, we can begin to see the birth of the IoT concept. First came digital cameras as part of the cellular phone. Then came Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and the concept of always connected. The concept of always connected was initially applied to the worker, not the device. Those connections then morphed to the personal devices we began to carry. There are any number of connected exercise devices that inform you of how many steps you’ve taken and for that matter how many steps your friends have taken that day as well. All of these things are sensors. From counting your steps, so you don’t have to, to measuring the wind where are standing these are the portable and wearable sensors we have with us all the time.

In fact, there are sensors that you have both at work and home that you can now leverage more and more. You no longer have to travel to the office to be in the office. Your personal presence device allows you to be in the office when you are anywhere in the world. Or in the case of a child or adult unable to attend work or school due to illness or injury it allows people to remain connected to the world around them. Not physical contact but at least the ability to participate and be part of the social. Perhaps for these new devices we should create a category of the IoT to include the Internet of social things of IoST as well.

Personal weather stations are another great Stayable device that is available. Simply connect the weather station to your home network, and it will publish the information about your specific locations weather to the Internet. Many of the systems for personal weather stations now also allow you to see what your neighbor’s station or what people East of you or West of you are experiencing.

Personal Presence Devices and Personal Weather Stations are great examples of the split within the concept of Stayable technology within the IoT. Both wearable and portable technologies continue to evolve as well. In fact, an interesting trend in portable devices is that unlike wearable devices (that are shrinking) it seems the Phablet is the new choice for portable phones. The larger screened portable device appears to me to be directly connected to the IoT concept. The more you need to see the more screen real estate you are going to need.

There are downsides to the Internet of Things (IoT). But in the end the impact of the IoT (and my new IoST) is significant. Personal sensors that measure how you interact with the world around you. Home sensors and systems that allow you to connect with your family no matter where you are, and personal presence devices that allow remote people to remain part of the overall social world are expanding. I would still argue as I did here on CloudTweaks nearly two years ago, is there enough bandwidth for all of this to exist happily? That I suspect is the question we will be working on for the next ten years.

By Scott Andersen

Cloud Infographic: The Evolving Global Workplace

Cloud Infographic: The Evolving Global Workplace

Cloud Infographic: The Evolving Global Workplace

Over time, offices have to adapt to changes in the way we work. According to Jason Fried’s 2010 TED talk, “Why Work Doesn’t Happen at Work,” the offices of the 21st century will need to be much more open and digital than in the past.

[ted id=1014]


In the 19th and early 20th centuries, work needed to happen in a centralized location because communication technology was not efficient enough. Now, with tools such as Skype, Google Drive, and various screen-sharing applications, workers can collaborate and communicate instantaneously from all over the world, and the traditional office environment may be obsolete (and even counterproductive). Massive improvements in office connectivity, it seems, should ultimately lead to a gradual phasing-out of centralized offices in many industries.

However, the trends in office retail suggest that a slightly different strategy is being employed. Whereas Fried’s argument would suggest that the demand for physical offices should decrease with the rise in connectivity, a recent report by Cushman & Wakefield suggests that the opposite is the case. Office rents increased by 3% last year, and the traditional office locations – e.g. downtown London, Beijing, and Tokyo – continue to boom. Office sizes are declining at the same time, in an effort to save money.

Included is an infographic provided by Visualistan.



By Gustav Steinhardt

When To Use Supervised And Unsupervised Data Mining

When To Use Supervised And Unsupervised Data Mining

When To Use Supervised And Unsupervised Data Mining

Data mining techniques come in two main forms: supervised (also known as predictive or directed) and unsupervised (also known as descriptive or undirected). Both categories encompass functions capable of finding different hidden patterns in large data sets.

Although data analytics tools are placing more emphasis on self service, it’s still useful to know which data mining operation is appropriate for your needs before you begin a data mining operation.

Supervised Data Miningdata-mining-infographic

Supervised data mining techniques are appropriate when you have a specific target value you’d like to predict about your data. The targets can have two or more possible outcomes, or even be a continuous numeric value (more on that later).

To use these methods, you ideally have a subset of data points for which this target value is already known. You use that data to build a model of what a typical data point looks like when it has one of the various target values. You then apply that model to data for which that target value is currently unknown. The algorithm identifies the “new” data points that match the model of each target value.

Now let’s clarify that with some specific demonstrations:


As a supervised data mining method, classification begins with the method described above.

Imagine you’re a credit card company and you want to know which customers are likely to default on their payments in the next few years.

You use the data on customers who have and have not defaulted for extended periods of time as build data (or training data) to generate a classification model. You then run that model on the customers you’re curious about. The algorithms will look for customers whose attributes match the attribute patterns of previous defaulters/non-defaulters, and categorize them according to which group they most closely match. You can then use these groupings as indicators of which customers are most likely to default.

Similarly, a classification model can have more than two possible values in the target attribute. The values could be anything from the shirt colors they’re most likely to buy, the promotional methods they’ll respond to (mail, email, phone), or whether or not they’ll use a coupon.


Regression is similar to classification except that the targeted attribute’s values are numeric, rather than categorical. The order or magnitude of the value is significant in some way.

To reuse the credit card example, if you wanted to know what threshold of debt new customers are likely to accumulate on their credit card, you would use a regression model.

Simply supply data from current and past customers with their maximum previous debt level as the target value, and a regression model will be built on that training data. Once run on the new customers, the regression model will match attribute values with predicted maximum debt levels and assign the predictions to each customer accordingly.

This could be used to predict the age of customers with demographic and purchasing data, or to predict the frequency of insurance claims.

Anomaly Detection

Anomaly detection identifies data points atypical of a given distribution. In other words, it finds the outliers. Though simpler data analysis techniques than full-scale data mining can identify outliers, data mining anomaly detection techniques identify much more subtle attribute patterns and the data points that fail to conform to those patterns.

Most examples of anomaly detection uses involve fraud detection, such as for insurance or credit card companies.

Unsupervised Data Mining

Unsupervised data mining does not focus on predetermined attributes, nor does it predict a target value. Rather, unsupervised data mining finds hidden structure and relation among data.


The most open-ended data-mining technique, clustering algorithms, finds and groups data points with natural similarities.

This is used when there are no obvious natural groupings, in which case the data may be difficult to explore. Clustering the data can reveal groups and categories you were previously unaware of. These new groups may be fit for further data mining operations from which you may discover new correlations.


Frequently used for market basket analysis, association models identify common co-occurrences among a list of possible events. Market basket analysis is examining all items available in a particular medium, such as the products on store shelves or in a catalogue, and finding the products that are commonly sold together.

This operation produces association rules. Such a rule could be a statement declaring “80 percent of people who buy charcoal, hamburger meat, and buns also buy sliced cheese,” or, in a less “market basket” style example, “90 percent of Detroit citizens who root for the Tigers, the Lions, and the Pistons also favor the Red Wings over other hockey teams.”

Such rules can be used to personalize the customer experience to promote certain events or actions. This can be accomplished by organizing store shelves with associated items nearby, or by tracking customer movements through a website in real time to present them with relevant product links.

Feature Extraction

Feature extraction creates new features based on attributes of your data. These new features describe a combination of significant attribute value patterns in your data.

If violence, heroism, and fast cars were attributes of a movie, then the feature may be “action,” akin to a genre or a theme. This concept can be used to extract the themes of a document based on the frequencies of certain key words.

Representing data points by their features can help compress the data (trading dozens of attributes for one feature), make predictions (data with this feature often has these attributes as well), and recognize patterns. Additionally, features can be used as new attributes, which can improve the efficiency and accuracy of supervised learning techniques (classification, regression, anomaly detection, etc.).

Knowing your goals and the appropriate techniques to achieve them can help your data mining operations run smoothly and effectively. Different data is appropriate for different insight and understanding what you’re asking from your data analysts expedites the process for everyone.

(Infographic Source: New Jersey Institute of Technology)

By Keith Cawley

Using Big Data To Make Cities Smarter

Using Big Data To Make Cities Smarter

Using Big Data To Make Cities Smarter

The city of the future is impeccably documented. Sensors are used to measure air quality, traffic patterns, and crowd movement. Emerging neighborhoods are quickly recognized, public safety threats are found via social networks, and emergencies are dealt with quicklier. Crowdsourcing reduces commuting times, provides people with better transportation (Uber) and helps avoiding traffic jams (Waze).

The growth of big data is shifting the emphasis from longer term strategic planning to short-term thinking about how cities function and can be managed,” a 2013 paper argues. And we can’t disagree, though there may very well be ramifications for the typically 20 to 50 year planning cycle turning into something like 6 months. But let’s take look at what’s happening right now, in terms of cities using Big Data.

Current Big Data initiatives for smarter city management

Chicago markets itself as a Big Data haven, and there are indeed telltale signs that Chicago is quite like the “city of the future” referred to above. Big Data’s potential for social change is exploited to an unprecedented degree in the Windy City. Starting from small things, like the rather crude Twitter bot that helped pinpoint unsanitary restaurants, to preventive rat baiting and fighting homelessness, Chicago is scaling the heights in terms of leveraging Big Data to improve the quality of life for its inhabitants.

And they’re very open about their data. The Big Data exhibit, held by the Chicago Architectural Foundation, showed openly their data usage and resources. On top of the usual — sensors for detecting fire, water, and occupancy; GPS and energy meters, and so on — the city also turns to social networks to predict the next booming neighborhoods. In short, Chicago strives to “make decisions as data-driven as possible”. It’s just great that the city authorities are so cool with informing the public about the increasing role data plays in their decisions.

Cities like Boston and New York are following suit. The City of Boston opened a vast data supply last year in hopes to increase traffic efficiency and had users come up with impressive visualizations. Other cities pair Big Data with crowdsourcing. Public transportation availability for a regional station near Paris was vastly improved with Big Data, by providing commuters with data about available seats. The users’ data was tracked and crunched with the result that they can predict how full a given train will be. Three days in advance. Everyone — the city, the commuters, other taxpayers — benefits from that.

We’ll likely see even more daring efforts to drive city planning with data. The planning window will shrink, with public services becoming empowered to respond to changing situations much more faster. Engineers and project managers, however, will be able to match their efforts to the real situation, eliminating much guesswork. This city of the future sounds better than what we have right now.

(Image Source: Shutterstock)

By Lauris Veips

Cloud Infographic – Graphene And The Internet of Things

Cloud Infographic – Graphene And The Internet of Things

Cloud Infographic – Graphene And The Internet of Things – All Is Yet To Come!

“I got very interested in people who had discovered something more significant than … intellectual, abstract understanding.”  – Steve Jobs

As you may know, in 2013 the European Union’s Future and Emerging Technologies or FET announced its $2.3 billion grant. The mission of the program was to enhance new technological solutions based on graphene. The program aimed to promote high-risk research in the field of high technologies.  Believe us! All the expected discoveries will be a breakthrough in Cloud Computing and Internet of Things.

Nokia, which is part of the Graphene Flagship Consortium and soon is going to be owned by Microsoft, was the Company to receive the above-mentioned grant from the FET.

Graphene is a super-material that can actually provide a new approach and value to everything that modern high technologies own these days. Graphene, as compared to silicone (a super-material for electronics), doesn’t possess an “energy gap”, and cannot be turned on/off.

Modern research in the field will inevitably open up new doors for high technology with regard to all spheres of work and life. Very soon we’ll be granted an incredible opportunity to enjoy surprisingly thinner high tech items of unmatched power. This can be true of both super-light conductors and unbelievably powerful world’s processors. The angle of faster processors will mean faster deliverability of data from the Computing and into the Cloud.

Included is another excellent infographic provided by VisualCapitalist covering how Graphene could change everything.


By Lilit Melkonyan

CloudTweaks Comics
A New CCTV Nightmare: Botnets And DDoS attacks

A New CCTV Nightmare: Botnets And DDoS attacks

Botnets and DDoS Attacks There’s just so much that seems as though it could go wrong with closed-circuit television cameras, a.k.a. video surveillance. With an ever-increasing number of digital eyes on the average person at all times, people can hardly be blamed for feeling like they’re one misfortune away from joining the ranks of Don’t…

Update: Timeline of the Massive DDoS DYN Attacks

Update: Timeline of the Massive DDoS DYN Attacks

DYN DDOS Timeline This morning at 7am ET a DDoS attack was launched at Dyn (the site is still down at the minute), an Internet infrastructure company whose headquarters are in New Hampshire. So far the attack has come in 2 waves, the first at 11.10 UTC and the second at around 16.00 UTC. So…

Security and the Potential of 2 Billion Device Failures

Security and the Potential of 2 Billion Device Failures

IoT Device Failures I have, over the past three years, posted a number of Internet of Things (and the broader NIST-defined Cyber Physical Systems) conversations and topics. I have talked about drones, wearables and many other aspects of the Internet of Things. One of the integration problems has been the number of protocols the various…

Cloud Infographic: Security And DDoS

Cloud Infographic: Security And DDoS

Security, Security, Security!! Get use to it as we’ll be hearing more and more of this in the coming years. Collaborative security efforts from around the world must start as sometimes it feels there is a sense of Fait Accompli, that it’s simply too late to feel safe in this digital age. We may not…

Cloud Infographic – DDoS attacks, unauthorized access and false alarms

Cloud Infographic – DDoS attacks, unauthorized access and false alarms

DDoS attacks, unauthorized access and false alarms Above DDoS attacks, unauthorized access and false alarms, malware is the most common incident that security teams reported responding to in 2014, according to a recent survey from SANS Institute and late-stage security startup AlienVault. The average cost of a data breach? $3.5 million, or $145 per sensitive…

5 Ways To Ensure Your Cloud Solution Is Always Operational

5 Ways To Ensure Your Cloud Solution Is Always Operational

Ensure Your Cloud Is Always Operational We have become so accustomed to being online that we take for granted the technological advances that enable us to have instant access to everything and anything on the internet, wherever we are. In fact, it would likely be a little disconcerting if we really mapped out all that…

5 Things To Consider About Your Next Enterprise Sharing Solution

5 Things To Consider About Your Next Enterprise Sharing Solution

Enterprise File Sharing Solution Businesses have varying file sharing needs. Large, multi-regional businesses need to synchronize folders across a large number of sites, whereas small businesses may only need to support a handful of users in a single site. Construction or advertising firms require sharing and collaboration with very large (several Gigabytes) files. Financial services…

Achieving Network Security In The IoT

Achieving Network Security In The IoT

Security In The IoT The network security market is experiencing a pressing and transformative change, especially around access control and orchestration. Although it has been mature for decades, the network security market had to transform rapidly with the advent of the BYOD trend and emergence of the cloud, which swept enterprises a few years ago.…

The Security Gap: What Is Your Core Strength?

The Security Gap: What Is Your Core Strength?

The Security Gap You’re out of your mind if you think blocking access to file sharing services is filling a security gap. You’re out of your mind if you think making people jump through hoops like Citrix and VPNs to get at content is secure. You’re out of your mind if you think putting your…

The Cloud Is Not Enough! Why Businesses Need Hybrid Solutions

The Cloud Is Not Enough! Why Businesses Need Hybrid Solutions

Why Businesses Need Hybrid Solutions Running a cloud server is no longer the novel trend it once was. Now, the cloud is a necessary data tier that allows employees to access vital company data and maintain productivity from anywhere in the world. But it isn’t a perfect system — security and performance issues can quickly…

Connecting With Customers In The Cloud

Connecting With Customers In The Cloud

Customers in the Cloud Global enterprises in every industry are increasingly turning to cloud-based innovators like Salesforce, ServiceNow, WorkDay and Aria, to handle critical systems like billing, IT services, HCM and CRM. One need look no further than Salesforce’s and Amazon’s most recent earnings report, to see this indeed is not a passing fad, but…


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