Category Archives: Top Lists

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

10 Trending US Cities For Tech Jobs And Startups

10 Trending US Cities For Tech Jobs And Startups

10 Trending US Cities For Tech Jobs And Startups

Traditionally actors headed for Hollywood while techies made a beeline for Silicon Valley. But times are changing, and with technological job opportunities expanding (Infographic), new hotspots are emerging that offer fantastic opportunities for tech jobs and startup companies in the industry.

ZipRecruiter, an online recruitment and job finder business, has identified the top ten cities that are poised to become the new tech capitals of various US states. They tracked hiring patterns, and analyzed the various metropolitan areas that currently show positive employment growth and appear to be on the verge of a boom in the tech industry.

silicon-valley

(Image Source: Shutterstock)

They also identified common factors these cities share including:

  • A cost of living that is lower than usual, and therefore affordable
  • Reputable colleges and universities that provide an entry level workforce continuously, and also offer good resources for research

Additionally, the company reports that the tech industry as a whole is revitalizing economies that were previously depressed essentially refocusing what has been referred to as the Rust Belt at the forefront of the American economy.

One of the top ten tech cities is Indianapolis, and today we spoke to two Indy-based startups to get an indication of how successful they have been. We also tracked the top tech cities listed by ZipRecruiter, to see which tech jobs are on offer.

Top Ten Tech Cities and Their Top Five Tech Jobs

startup

Business is booming in these ten cities:

1. Austin – Round Rock, Texas, known as “Silicon Hills”, where companies including Google, Facebook, and eBay are currently offering more than 50,000 tech positions for Java developers, development analysts, technical writers, software engineers, and network administrators.

2. Raleigh – Cary, North Carolina, in the so-called research triangle where companies are looking primarily for infrastructure architects, design engineers, tooling engineers, Java developers, and SQL developers.

3. Provo – Orem, Utah, where many software companies operate and which is a pilot location for Google Fiber. There are currently about 8,570 jobs available in IT, the top one offering positions in technical support, and as Python developers, field technicians, software engineers, and net developers.

4. Fort Collins – Loveland, Colorado, that is home to computer companies including Hewlett Packard and Intel. Fort Collins’ top five tech jobs are software QA, SQL server database developer, application software developer, test engineer, and lead systems programmer.

5. Hartford (West and East Hartford), Connecticut, where the top tech jobs are applications engineer, systems analyst, infrastructure engineer, Java developer, and data architect.

6. Indianapolis – Carmel, Indiana, that boasts a high quality of life coupled with a low cost of living, and has recently attracted numerous tech companies to the area. Top tech jobs are available for senior Java developers, infrastructure architects, Java developers, operations managers, and net developers. Startups are more varied (see below).

7. Boise City – Nampa, Idaho, that currently has about 8,180 IT jobs available, the top five being positions for application engineers, firmware engineers, software engineers, mobile software developers, and net software engineers.

8. Manchester – Nashua, New Hampshire, which seems to have an increasing number of tech jobs available. The top five here are for UI software engineers, systems architects, Java developers, senior IT project managers, and sharepoint administrators.

9. Nashville – Davidson – Murfreesboro – Franklin, Tennessee, which while number nine on the list, has more than 20,000 tech jobs available right now. The top five are for senior programmer analysts, information security engineers, systems administrators, IT managers, and iOS developers.

10. Eugene – Springfield, Oregon, known as the Silicon Forest because they manufacture a great deal of tech hardware and they emphasize clean, renewable technologies.

Indy Tech Startups

The two startups interviewed by CloudTweaks were Formstack, an Indy business that provides data capture solutions, and Roust Community, a social network that connects like-minded people.

Formstack started out nearly a decade ago, in 2006, and has subsequently become very involved within the Indy tech community, recognizing the importance of giving back to the city in which they are currently based after relocating from San Francisco.

The company has subsequently experienced a 110 percent increase in new revenue over the last year, and it expects to see a further 80 percent year-over-year revenue growth in 2015. This illustrates how a successful startup can – and has – helped the Indy community develop, and how it is operating on what has become one of the top ten havens for tech startups.

An advantage of headquartering out of Indy, says Ade Olonoh, (Founder of Formstack), is that the city has the ability to “bring in members from all over the world, but still help increase the overall revenue of the city and have an impact on our city’s economy.”

form-stack-ade-olonohRoust Community, created by Mark LaFay to move dialogue off Facebook and provide real value for those wanting “good conversation” relating to polarizing topics including politics, religion and social issues, also has it’s heart and soul in Indianapolis. “Indiana continues to become not only the crossroads of America, but also a growing technology metropolis,” says LaFay.

Certainly these are two startups that are doing their best to nurture talent within their own fast developing tech communities.

By Penny Swift

5 Tips For Building A High Growth IT Platform

5 Tips For Building A High Growth IT Platform

5 Tips For Building a High Growth IT Platform

Building and maintaining today’s enterprise computing platforms is a lot more challenging than it was in the past. The competitive and fast moving nature of business requires a corporate network capable of meeting a company’s ever changing needs and requirements. For IT, this poses difficult challenges as its common for fast moving business to throw out many requests that can leave IT in the wake—unless the in-house IT pros strategized and have constructed a computing platform built for growth and flexibility.

So how do you build a high growth computing platform? Well, I am sure there are many thoughts and ideas on how to do this but I want to focus on five objectives, that if followed, will put you on the correct path and integrate your IT group with the business.

growth-IT

1 – A noisy platform doesn’t scale.

The computing environment needs to be able to scale up quickly based on the plethora of business requests. In order to scale effectively and efficiently you need to have a quiet, stable network platform. A noisy network cannot scale because when you grow the amount of noise, the network’s issues or instabilities grows as well and it doesn’t take long for the amplification of these issues to cause a roadblock which can ultimately lead to unacceptable downtime and outages. So, it is very important to build a stable network driven by clear process and procedures. When issues arise, nothing less than root cause analysis should be accepted by post-mortem meetings that address and correct the original problem area. Solutions that do not name the root cause should not be accepted. If you do not address the problem at its root, the issue is guaranteed to reoccur and cause more downtime, user dissatisfaction and troubleshooting time. IT pros can avoid these uncomfortable situations by addressing the problem correctly on its first occurrence.

In addition to root cause analysis, a good control process is maintaining a stable environment. All environments need to be maintained to remain stable and the number one cause of downtime is typically human error. A systematic and well-documented change control process can greatly reduce human error and increase network uptime.

2 – Embrace the Cloud where applicable.

When it comes to building stable and scalable networks most cloud enabled Managed Service Providers know how to do it right—as they should because that is their business. So, why not leverage an IaaS Managed Service provider to host your systems, provide storage and backup. You can still manage your systems and applications, but consider offloading the mundane task of worrying about server hardware, system backups, provisioning storage and other complex and costly tasks.

Leveraging the Cloud also provides a platform upon which you can quickly scale up or down in an efficient and economic manner as the business requires. Scaling up and down in the Cloud is much easier than the traditional method of putting together a requisition form, obtaining necessary approvals, sending to accounting and waiting for a purchase order, ordering and waiting 30-60 days for delivery and then another 30-60 days to get the equipment installed and tested. With the Cloud, servers and storage can be provisioned in minutes.

shutterstock_160324004

3 – Focus on saying “Yes.”

Many companies and executive teams have a perception that IT is often a roadblock, stopping progress and the achievement of business goals. The best way to erase this perception and demonstrate the value of IT to the business is by saying “yes” when the business is in need of IT services. Transform the process of interacting with IT into a positive and productive encounter and in turn, this unit will move into a strategic position. In order to say “yes” IT must have a game plan for taking on any request thrown at them. This requires the flexible, scalable and dynamic infrastructure I’ve been discussing. IT will be required to remain open minded and leverage the appropriate resources for each need, whether it be internal, external, public cloud, private cloud or SaaS. The focus must be on how to achieve the business need in a cost effective and efficient way so Shadow IT does not decide to go around you.

4 – Speed to execution trumps control.

Tying into the previous point is also the thought of speed to execution. When it comes to a project, speed to execution is more important than who controls the solution. For decades, IT has designed, implemented and managed the majority of solutions for their users. With the emergence of the Cloud and Cloud based services the mentality of where the solution resides and who controls it must be secondary to speed. Today’s businesses are in constant competition and speed to implement is often the difference between success and failure. If a solution can be implemented in the Cloud quicker than internally, with similar cost and effectiveness, then it should be considered. IT cannot place their need to control and manage a solution internally over the ability to quickly have a solution provisioned externally. Using a strategic mindset, IT pros must understand that the main objective is to meet the business needs in the best manner possible.

5 – Reduce the cost of “keeping the lights on.

It may take constant investment to keep a computing platform stable and ready for growth. Though, industry standards tell us that 80% or more of the IT budget can go towards maintenance costs. This does not allow much spend on investing in new technologies or services to keep the computing platform ready for growth in an effective and efficient manner. IT needs to find creative or more effective ways to perform their tasks to lower these maintenance costs in order to increase their budget for growth. One way to lower maintenance costs is to evaluate leveraging IaaS for server hosting, storage and backup needs. IaaS can usually lower your operation cost of servers, storage and backup by 20% -25% while giving your team time back to focus on working with the business. There are also many cost effective SaaS solutions which can lower your software budget as well as the services required to deploy, support and upgrade these software suites.

In conclusion, building a computing platform for growth not only benefits the business but will also cause the IT department to escalate within the company. IT can transform into a player at the C-level table and help set future direction once they are perceived to be a value-add to the business and not a gatekeeper. Providing value starts by enabling the business to achieve it goals and growth objectives and that is best done by building a stable, scalable and agile computing platform. I hope these tips help set you in that direction.

(Image Source: Shutterstock)

By Marc Malizia

Cloud Startup Funding Sources & Tools

Cloud Startup Funding Sources & Tools

Cloud Startup Funding Sources & Tools 

As we’ve been discussing over the past couple of weeks. CloudTweaks will continue its focus on providing information and tools enabling innovative startups to compete in this lucrative market. We’d recommend subscribing to our free weekly newsletter to receive exclusive tips.

If you’re looking for cost effective solutions to grow your startup, it’s time you implemented some growth hacks. We’ve listed some of the best tools below, utilized by award winning startups and high yielding investors.

Funding

To date, over $1.8 billion worth of startup investments have been made with the help of Gust, a tool which helps connect startups with investors. Gust notes that investors are more likely to invest locally, and to this end provides tools for browsing by location. Gust also offers some in-depth startup trends and insights from investors and experts around the world.

Find Startups-Investors-Gust

 

AngelList is another investment platform targeted at both investors and startups. It offers the ability to invest in startups through syndicates, as well as seek funding for startups. Uber and Thumbtack are among some of their done deals, while a host of trending startups suggest a highly innovative base of startups coming to market.

Browse Startups-AngelList

 

Featuring only highly vetted investment opportunities, Seed Invest also provides opportunities for both investors and startups. Only 2% of companies applying are accepted and featured for investment. Seed Invest boasts zero investment fees and no carried interest. Some of their top investors include Google Ventures, Sequoia and Great Oaks Venture Capital, with current investment opportunities including Patch of Land, a top-5 real estate crowdfunding platform.

Startup Investing-SeedInvest

The Wall Street Journal reports that EquityNet has helped investors raise $200 million from private investors. With simple sign-up tools for both entrepreneurs and investors, EquityNet offers a streamlined process with advice for both fund seekers and investors. Startups are divided into specific industries including software, communication and energy & utilities, and population ratings are noted for each organization.

Browse-Private-Popular-Companies

 

Valuation

SmartAsset offers an online tool, Smart Economics, to help startups understand the effects of different funding events. This interactive tool allows you to input founder data, funding data and employee data, and then provides a forecast of total shares and share values.

Similarly, EquityNet provides their own business valuation tool which analyses business survival odds and estimate your business’s value by exploring factors such as your industry, assets and liabilities, and expected revenue.

Post Pitch CRM

Finally, PipeDrive provides sales CRM for small teams. With their visual sales pipeline tool, businesses are able to track deals and forecast sales. Offering an iOS and Android app, PipeDrive professes easy set up in less than two minutes, with no training required. Integrating with Google Apps and Google Maps, with multi-language and multi-currency processes, PipeDrive operates with simple drag and drop facilities to ensure data integration and analysis is both effortless and effective.

By Jennifer Klostermann

 

10 Prototyping Tools To Help Build Your Startup

10 Prototyping Tools To Help Build Your Startup

Prototyping Tools

We are continuing this week by focusing on startup tools, tips and tweaks that will help you build, design, manage and market your way into the cloud based business that you want to be. Last week we offered a quick startup checklist that contained a few helpful suggestions. This week we’ve offered a few more and will continue to do so throughout 2015.

Working Smarter

In this article, I will show you 10 suggested cloud based tools that you can use at just about any computer, anywhere. Since they don’t require a huge amount of bandwidth, you can work from your favorite coffee shop.

From Wireframes to Bug Reports, these tools will help you develop the idea in your brain into a living, breathing compilation of diagrams, and workflows. I’ve listed in no particular order a few tools to help you work smarter, not harder.

These will help you design and develop well thought out and precise websites and mobile applications.

HotGloo

HotGloo-Wireframe-UX-Prototyping-Tool

This integrates a wireframe AND prototype generator all in one. It boasts an auto-save feature and backups as well. A feature that most do not consider.

Gliffy

Online Diagram Software and Flow Chart Software -Gliffy

 

With Gliffy, you can create a myriad of diagrams, workflows, process flows, and flow charts. They have every shape and flow process imaginable. Since it is flash based, and intensive, the ideal scenario is to use this on a laptop or desktop pc, rather than a tablet, but it can be done either way. Since this web app integrates with Google Apps, WordPress and Chrome, it’s got potential to explode with third party applications, if not already.

Appery

appery.io

Appery is a nice cloud based lightweight system. You can quickly build complete user experiences with jQuery Mobile, AngularJS, Bootstrap, and HTML5 components inside the Visual Editor. They provide an easy to use drag and drop functionality built into the UI. They have been featured on CIO, Infoworld, Techcrunch amongst many others.

JustInMind

Justinmind-Interactive

They offer the ability to create highly interactive wireframes for any application in very little time. You can also publish your entire wireframe experience online and get feedback and reviews from users and customers.

PIDOCO

Pidoco

While the name may be silly, its power to create custom templates, real time collaboration, and mobile prototyping makes this a powerhouse not to be ignored. Their integrated API and specification export allows you to travel further than you ever thought possible.

Proto.io

Proto.io

A nice service where you can create some exceptional prototypes and they also offer a new interactive Material Design UI library. Some of their clients include the likes of BBC, ESPN, Disney and Amazon.

Invision

invision

Invision has taken the art of collaboration and made it into a drag and drop art form. Their interface makes it extremely easy for even the most technically challenged to start a project. They even have a demo right on their front page so that you can test drive the interface.

Cacoo

Cacoo-Online Diagram Software for Flow Chart

Cacoo is a powerhouse for companies dealing with multiple languages to collaborate diagrams and workflows online. It supports 22 languages plus real time collaboration. Of course, you can make your projects private or public depending on your need, and their group pricing is fairly reasonable. While only having 5 output Vector formats to export to even with the paid version, this tool can be invaluable for a collaboration project across the world.

Creately

Creately

While it’s not the language powerhouse that is Cacoo, Creately has a scaleable pricing structure that is handy for the number of users on your team. It also has some desktop software available that may further your development needs. Since they sell this service by the license, it’s cheaper if you need it for a short while.

Protoshare

Website-Wireframes-ProtoShare

You can use ProtoShare for Mockups, Wireframes or Prototypes. They have online webinars for training and instruction, and a very handy and instructional blog.

By Jason Phillips

5 Companies That Took On The Small Business Cloud – And Won

5 Companies That Took On The Small Business Cloud – And Won

The Small Business Cloud

We take a look at 5 world-leading tech companies that have brought ground-breaking new cloud services to SMEs 

Plenty of organisations have broken into new markets with innovative cloud-based products. Discover which companies have successfully taken on the small business Cloud.

Cloud based computer systems are ideally suited to support the needs of small businesses. Whereas traditional business support systems are installed on a company server or individual desktop computers, meaning each has to be managed and maintained by the business, cloud solutions offer software as a service (SAAS) that can be accessed over the internet.

Cloud software does not require expensive hardware upgrades or IT technicians to install and configure complex systems, making it a much cheaper investment for smaller, growing businesses. However, many service providers have developed solutions for big businesses with big budgets that SMEs cannot afford.

Here, we discuss some of the companies that have put the needs of SMEs first and foremost and are creating excellent solutions that can be implemented in small offices.

Sage

Sage was founded in 1981 in Newcastle, UK, by a businessman and an ex-NASA computer scientist. Their aim was to create a more efficient way for businesses to generate quotations. The result was the development of an innovative piece of accounting software that was launched to the market as Sage.

Sage quickly became a leader in business accounting software and in 1999, just 18 years after its development, it became a FTSE 100 company. Sage is now going through a new phase of growth thanks to its cloud based accounting product, Sage 200 Online. Their software is a perfect choice for growing businesses that need to scale up their accounting and software packages quickly to meet increasing demand.

By creating a cloud based solution, Sage is able to deliver its software to a global market. Sage recognises that small businesses have limited IT budgets and provides affordable but scalable packages to suit. The results? One of the world’s leading business accounting packages is now available globally over the internet.

Salesforce

Salesforce Service Cloud Logo

The Salesforce team recognised the potential of offering CRM over the internet very early on and launched Salesforce.com in 1999. Today, Salesforce is one of the world’s largest cloud computing companies, with over 100,000 customers and 2.1 million subscribers.

Since launching, Salesforce has made almost 30 acquisitions to ensure that it remains a global leader in cloud CRM. It has also developed two parallel products, Force.com, a platform as a service (PaaS) and Data.com, a cloud-based business database. Both of these products operate direct from the Salesforce infrastructure.

CRM was only developed as a software concept during the 1990s. Salesforce’s insight allowed the company to develop the first cloud CRM product and quickly corner the market.

PayPal

PayPal was developed in 1998, the same year as Google. When it was first introduced, PayPal was a money transfer service for Cofinity, its parent company. The PayPal product was launched in 1999 and its rapid success resulted in the company name change.

PayPal was soon purchased by eBay, who saw the advantage of owning their own internet payment service. For many years PayPal continued to be a simple solution to allow people to transfer funds online.

PayPal’s best strategic move was to start working with global banking institutions to allow PayPal customers to accept payments from credit and debit cards and transfer funds to and from their customer’s bank accounts. This allowed them to launch their PayPal for business solutions, which allow businesses around the world to make fast and secure payments for services.

Prior to PayPal, businesses needed to make cash transfers using banking IBAN codes – a much more complex and time consuming process. PayPal is now helping businesses globally; it operates in 203 markets and has over 150 million active account holders.

Cisco

Cisco was founded in 1984 as a computer network provider when the internet was first being developed. Cisco has rapidly evolved to remain at the forefront of computing network technology and provide businesses with affordable and robust solutions.

Cisco have embraced the Internet of Everything, or as they call it, the InterCloud, and produce services that help small businesses integrate Internet based services into their workflow. The connection of devices and machines allows businesses to dynamically generate and analyse business data.

In 2013 they acquired Sourcefire, network security software that operates over the Cloud. In the same year they also acquired SolveDirect, a cloud-based solution that allows businesses to integrate with service partners and automate the sharing of information.

Microsoft

microsoft-cloud-t

Microsoft has always supported small businesses, but its latest cloud offerings take this to a new level. Every Windows user will be familiar with Microsoft’s core office software solutions; these are usually installed on a computer when the Windows operating system is first installed.

Microsoft’s cloud services provide businesses with CRM, conferencing and email without the need to install and manage software in-house. These services are great for small businesses because they provide monthly subscriptions so that businesses are not tied-in to products that fail to meet specific business needs. Microsoft helps small businesses to set up systems by using a network of third party suppliers, which although are not required, can make the transition much smoother for small businesses with little experience with IT and software installations.

The rapid development of cloud based software services is revolutionising how small businesses operate. The major players continue to develop services designed to support businesses of all sizes, and as a result, our SMEs are able to compete in a wider economic market.

Stay tuned this week for the continuation…5 companies that took on the small business cloud – and lost!

By Gary Gould

Cloud Infographic – Working Toward A Positive Cloud Experience

Cloud Infographic – Working Toward A Positive Cloud Experience

Positive Cloud Experience

Cloud computing offers tremendous value to Enterprise businesses and even allows small and medium businesses to compete by providing solutions that were previously out of reach because of the cost.

Here are five ways to help you find the best cloud solutions for your business.

  • Security is one of the biggest concerns in cloud computing because you have no handle on your data. This includes the physical security of the infrastructure that holds your data. Does the vendor have contingency plans for natural disasters or even terrorist attacks? Find out how often they back up and how you can recover your data and how quickly.
  • Find out which aspect of cloud computing is best for your business. Infrastructure-as-a-service or utility computing is best if your business needs infrastructure like databases and file servers. Platform-as-a-service serves organizations that also provide some IT services to smaller clients or runs certain computing platforms in order to carry out their business processes. Software-as-a-service is best suited for small businesses that may not be able to afford all the licenses that they may need if they bought individual software packages.
  • Do an extensive audit of your business processes and determine which aspects of it are in dire need of change. Not everything needs to be changed, some things already work best in the way they already are and changing that may even be bad for productivity. So you must first find out which aspect needs to be placed on the cloud. If you are a small business without a dedicated IT department and with no resources to grow such a department, then it really makes sense to outsource your IT needs on the cloud.
  • Availability is the next question that should be asked when you have determined the computing need and are considering vendors. Will the service be available especially when you need it the most? What is their track record when it comes to availability and downtime?
  • Performance should not be left to “okay” at bestPerformance has always been an issue even when using in-house services, so why settle for less when going on the cloud? Make user that your provider is able to provide performance on top of affordability.

Below is an excellent infographic courtesy of RapidValue which highlights some interesting points for Enterprise Cloud adoption.

Enterprise-Adoption

 

By Abdul Salam

15 Promising Cloud-Based Video Conferencing Services

15 Promising Cloud-Based Video Conferencing Services

Video Conferencing Services

The video conferencing services market is expected to reach US$ 6.40 Billion by 2020 from the current $3.31 Billion.

However, there are also concerns for the equipment market – IDC reports – “The worldwide enterprise videoconferencing equipment market has been experiencing some downs lately — with consecutive quarters and two years of declining revenue growth in 2013 (-13.1%) and 2012 (-5.0%). This is mostly attributed to the impact of delayed customer buying decisions, lower-cost systems, more software-centric solutions, and the rise of cloud-based video services offerings for business. On the bright side, most or all of the videoconferencing equipment vendors are now offering cloud-based video alternatives for customers.

The good news is that there is still a huge market as video conferencing will continue to be one of the most relied upon forms of communication by businesses. There are a vast number of different services and competitors to choose from in the marketplace, and this article will aim to draw attention to some of the diverse options available to both large and small companies; it is not necessarily a list of ‘biggest’ or ‘best’. This list contains a combination of both cloud based video and conferencing services.

WebEx

 Video Conferencing Companies  

WebEx is both widely known and widely used. According to their website, 51 million people per month attend a WebEx meeting, there are 3 billion minutes of video conferencing a month on their service, and 93 percent of Fortune 100 companies use Cisco’s video collaborate services. The free account gives you three people per meeting, while up to 100 people costs £49 per month.

Blue Jeans

 Video-Conferencing-Service-Interoperable-Cloud

Blue Jeans’ customers include Facebook, Office Depot, Stanford University and Match.com, so you can be certain they are a trustworthy supplier. They were a ‘Top 10 Cloud Start-up’ in a recent feature by CIO Magazine, and have experienced more than 500 percent growth in the last two years. The biggest benefit of their service is that it enables interoperability between all major video platforms. 

Avaya

 AvayaLive-Video-Service

The AvayaLive Video service offers video collaboration in the cloud. Due to the lack of necessary capital investment and technical expertise to set it up, it makes the service perfect for small start-ups. The first thirty days are free, then the cost goes up to $99 minimum. 

Skype

 Skype

No list of video conferencing services would be complete without Microsoft’s ubiquitous offering. Businesses can benefit from Skype buttons on their website, Skype numbers that accept non-Skype calls, and a ‘Skype Manager’ which can create accounts, allocate credit, and manage features. 

StarLeaf

 Video Conferencing Services

Clients of StarLeaf include Dr Martens shoes, Mercedes Benz, and Carglass, all of who offer testimonials on their website. They offer alternative systems for meeting rooms, desktop users, and mobile workers. As with most cloud services, you’ll get all the benefits of video conferencing without the hassles typically associated with owning, managing and maintaining the system. 

Lifesize

 HD Video Conferencing Solutions for Small to Large Businesses-Lifesize

Lifesize isn’t cheap, and is typically aimed at larger firms. A 12 month contract for 100 users costs $12,999 per year ($11 per employee, per month), while a large scale deployment for 500 people costs $27,999 per year. It offers the best of point-to-point, multipoint, and streaming collaboration, without needing to configure anything yourself. 

Zoom 

Video Conferencing-Web Conferencing-Online-Meetings-Zoom

Zoom have 65,000 clients, including Texas A&M University, Drexel University, and DLA Piper. Their free plan, which is perfect for SMEs and start-ups, allows up to 25 users, unlimited 1-to-1 meetings, and an unlimited number of meetings – however, each meeting is limited to 40 minutes. Their paid plans are either $9.99 or $49.99 per user, depending on the features you require. 

Polycom

 Polycom-Video-Conferencing-Telepresence

Polycom claim to have “the industry’s most interoperable, scalable, and secure UC platform”, which offers business-to-business collaboration that’s independent of application, system, or device. It even integrates contacts directly from Facebook and Google Hangouts. Clients include Ireland’s Chamber of Commerce, the British National Health Service (NHS), and alcohol manufacturers Heineken. 

LoopUp

 LoopUp-Global-Conferencing-Collaboration

LoopUp was founded in 2003 and has entered the conferencing space in 2006. LoopUp sells direct to the enterprise market and via major distribution partners including Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise, BT, and Cable & Wireless Communications. They offer 24×7 global support,  Free Administrator tools, Dedicated account management and flexible Pay As You Go plans.

Google Hangouts

Google-Hangouts 

Along with Skype, Google Hangouts is the other ‘big hitter’, well-known to people around the world rather than solely in industry circles. If your company uses Google’s other services such as Calendar, Keep, and Drive, the app with integrate with them flawlessly. It lacks some of technical aspects of the other offerings in the list, but is great for very small teams and start-ups. 

Vidyo

 HD-Video-Conferencing-Telepresence-Vidyo

Vidyo aims to sell itself to the distributed workforce market. Forrester Research, the well-known market analysis firm, uses it to connect 2,200 staff around the world, while CERN, the research lab in Switzerland, uses it to connect a massive 20,000 employees globally. The entire system is web-based, meaning employees can use any device to plug into conferences regardless of where they are. 

Adobe Connect

Adobe-Connect

Adobe® Connect™ is one of the most recognized name in web conferencing platform for web meetings, eLearning, and webinars. It powers mission critical web conferencing solutions end-to-end, on virtually any device, and enables organizations from leading corporations to the U.S. Department of Defense to fundamentally improve productivity. Their pricing starts at $45 US per month.

GoToMeeting

Easy-Online-Meetings-HD-Video-Conferencing-GoToMeeting

One of the most recognized names in video conferencing. Gotomeeting owned by Citrix is no stranger to this competitive market. They’ve been in business for over 10 years and have a huge list of clients and options for both start-ups and Enterprise businesses.

IVCi

IVCI

IVCi’s cloud video service can include traditional endpoints, multiple software clients, and an assortment of desktop and mobile devices. They also offer ‘virtual meeting rooms’ that will allow multiple participants to meet face-to-face, and interoperability with Microsoft Lync and WebRTC. They’ve been in operation for 18 years.

OmniJoin

Brother-Online

Operated by tech giant Brother, OmniJoin is their cloud-based web conferencing service. The 14 day trial is free, and from there they offer three main plans; Omnijoin Lite for up to 8 users (but without file transfer) costs $15 per month, OmniJoin Main which costs $29 a month for up to 12 users and 1080p HD quality, and OmniJoin Pro for 20 users for $59 per month.

Have you used any of the services we discussed? Perhaps you have your own service that didn’t make our list? We love to hear from you – let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

By Daniel Price

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