Category Archives: Top Lists

12 WordPress CMS Managed Hosting Services

12 WordPress CMS Managed Hosting Services

WordPress CMS Managed Hosting Services

WordPress has exploded in popularity as a blogging tool and content management system in recent years, and is now used by more than 23.3 percent of the top 10 million websites worldwide. Due to its popularity, several web hosting providers have chosen to offer ‘managed WordPress hosting’; a concierge service where a wide range of technical aspects of running a WordPress site are managed by the host (for example, security, speed, WordPress updates, daily backups, website uptime, and scalability).

WordPress VIP

Wordpress-VIP

WordPress VIP is operated by WordPress itself. They are two levels of service – ‘cloud hosting’ and ‘support’. The prior (which includes unlimited traffic, backups, SaaS, and round-the-clock support) costs $5,000 per month, while if you want to host the site yourself and just want their support on optimising and scaling your site, it costs $1,250 per month. With a range of blue-chip clients, such as NBC, TED, CNN, Time, and UPS, you know you’re in good hands.

A Small Orange

Small-Orange

They offer six different plans to choose from (shared hosting, semi-dedicated hosting, business hosting, dedicated servers, cloud VPS hosting, and reseller hosting) which range from $5 per month for the cheapest shared plan (5GB storage, 50GB bandwidth), to $275 per month for the most expensive dedicated plan (a Dual Intel Xeon E5-2620 server with 12 Cores, a 12,947 CPUMark score, and 32GB RAM).

CloudWays

CloudWays

 

Clients such as Tecturized, Tarambuka, and ECOFYS all giving glowing testimonials about CloudWays. Standout features include the ability to deploy unlimited applications on top of ‘super-clouds’ (such as Amazon’s EC2), a VMAN stack configuration that guarantees 40-50 percent better page load times than a traditional host, and a dedicated security team. Prices range from $5 per month to $855 per month.

FlyWheel

flywheel

FlyWheel’s personal plan (25,000 monthly visits, 10GB disk space, 500GB bandwidth) starts at $30 per month, while their ‘Agency’ plan costs £250 per month but includes 30 WordPress installs, 600,000 monthly visits, 120GB disk space, and 8TB bandwidth. With well-known brands such as The Washington Post and Wyman on-board, they’re a name we can expect to hear a lot more about.

Kinsta

Kinsta

 

One of Kinsta’s biggest attractions is its ability to choose your location. They understand that the nearer the data centre is to a site’s core user-base the faster its page will load, and while WPEngine offer three data centres, Flywheel offer five, and Pagely only offer one, Kinsta have fourteen locations across four different continents. Prices start at $157 per month and go all the way up to $487. Existing clients include The Daily Banter, Sleeping Baby, and Bitcoinist.net.

LightningBase

lightning-base

 

LightningBase offer four plans – $9.95 per month for 1 WordPress site, 10,000 pageviews and 1 GB SSD storage, $19.95 per month for 3 WordPress sites, 25,000 pageviews and 3 GB SSD storage, $49.95 per month for 10 WordPress sites, 100,000 pageviews and 10 GB SSD storage, and finally $99.95 per month for 25 WordPress sites, 250,000 pageviews and 25 GB SSD storage.

MediaTemple

media-temple

 

MediaTemple’s web hosting and cloud services now power more than 1.5 million websites in 100 different countries, and boast some of the world’s biggest brands as their clients – including Samsung, Aiga, Obey, and a range of famous designers, artists, bloggers, and entrepreneurs. Their personal plan costs $20 per month, but for larger sites they will create a custom plan for you and then give you a quote.

Pagely

Pagely

 

Based out of Phoenix, Arizona and Bristol, England, Pagely was the first ever managed WordPress hosting platform. They have a hugely impressive list of clients, such as Microsoft, Twitter, Facebook, Vonage, and a string of other Fortune 500 companies, governments, and universities. Plans start at $99 per month (three sites, 10GB disk space) run up to $999 per month (35 sites, 50GB disk space).

Pantheon

pantheon

 

With large clients such as Cisco and the UN across sectors as diverse as financial services, government, healthcate, media, and technology they immediately demonstrate that they offer a viable solution no matter what your industry. They claim that recent tests demonstrated they had the fastest average response time out of all the benchmarked providers, and also came through with no errors, even under heavy load. Prices go from $25 per month to $400 per month.

PressLabs

Presslabs

 

Their cheapest plan is $149 per month and their most expensive plan is $299 per month, though they will give you an individual quote if you have special requirements. Clients include Fredo & Pid’jin, Motivation Grid, and Segment Next, and they have data centres in North America, Europe, and Oceania.

WebSynthesis

Synthesis

 

Websynthesis’ biggest clients are BlogWorld and GeekBeat TV. On their website they claim their five biggest selling points are a) superior uptime and page load speeds, b) keyword and social media research, c) enhanced security defences d) content and website optimization, and e) their influencer outreach tools. Their standard plan is $47 per month, while their most expensive one is $300 per month.

WPEngine

WP-Engine

 

WPEngine, one of the industries foremost managed WordPress hosts, has a personal plan available for $29 per month (25,000 traffic, one install), a professional plan for $99 per month (100,000 traffic, 10 installs), and a business plan for $249 per month (400,000 traffic, 25 installs). Clients include WP101.com, WPMayor.com, and Kalzumeus Software.

By Daniel Price

12 Promising Business Intelligence (BI) Services For Your Company

12 Promising Business Intelligence (BI) Services For Your Company

12 Promising Business Intelligence (BI) Services

Business Intelligence (BI) services have recently seen an explosion of innovation and choices for business owners and entrepreneurs. So many choices, in fact, that many companies aren’t sure which business intelligence company to use. To help offer you a solution, we’ve compiled a list of 12 Business Intelligence companies of 2015.  The  aim was to find the most useful, cost effective companies with a proven track record and promising client list. We researched companies through a number of channels such as Analysts, Forums, Social Media as well as Search Engines and have concluded that we have identified the most discussed and promising companies in the field of Business Intelligence in 2015. While every corporate strategy is different and each piece of BI software has its cost and benefits, these 12 seem to be some of the most popular and highest functioning at the moment.

Tableau

Tableau

Tableau has been around since 2003. Thier BI software is high-speed and user-friendly, allowing new users to create their own dashboards in minutes. Corporate giants like Bank of America, Coca-Cola and Walmart have used Tableau software.

Domo

domo

Domo was founded in 2010. Domo’s intuitive platform allows user to quickly access relevant data and business intelligence information in one place. Domo has most notably provided services to National Geographic and eBay.

Birst

Birst

Birst started in 2004. Birst BI software offers a lot of features like data warehouse automation and data mashups. Two different platforms are available based on user need. Birst’s clients include Citrix and the YMCA.

Panorama

Panorama

Panorama was founded in 1993. Panorama’s Necto is one of the few pieces of software that supports Business Intelligence 3.0. Necto excels at visual infographics while encouraging self-service and collaboration. Their top clients include LexisNexus and SIEMENS.

Information Builders

Information-Builders

 

Information Builders’ WebFOCUS BI platform is best known for its scalability, maintaining high speed functionality after doubling its user size. Information Builders was founded in 1975. Ace Hardware, AutoZone and Mastercard leverage Information Builder’s WebFOCUS Active Technologies.

IBM

IBM_Business_Intelligence_BI

IBM Cognos has a wide range of BI software that equips small businesses with a similar depth of analytical insight as the big corporations. 1800-Flowers, PepsiCo and many others have used IBM Cognos.

Qlik

Qlik

Qlik was founded in 1993. is a self-service BI tool that consolidates data sources, including legacy systems, to streamline data analysis. The platform uses an in-memory processor to provide extremely fast, real-time insights. Qlik’s clients include Qualcomm, Canon, Cisco and McAfee.

Looker

looker

Looker offers a software that is easy to use and requires little previous knowledge of BI software. Looker platforms help companies like Dollar Shave Club, Upworthy and SmugMug make better decisions through real-time data access.

Oracle

BI_Oracle

Oracle has been around since 1977. Business Intelligence Foundation Suite is an all-in-one solution with a variety of features that helps to eliminate the need for multiple tools and lower a company’s cost of ownership. Dell, Gallup and Land O’Lakes are some of Oracle’s clients.

Board

Business_Intelligence_software_solution_BOARD_BI_and_CPM_Tools

Board’s platform couples BI with performance management functions that allows users to access data from various sources in one place. Board’s client list includes the US Navy, Mitsubishi, DHL and Nike

Targit

TARGIT

 

Founded in 1986, Targit uses a unique decision suite that, coupled with data discovery and dashboarding, make the software a solid decision that could automate and streamline your process. Targit’s client roster includes John Deere, Mercedes Benz, Pizza Hut and Weber Grills.

SAP

SAP

SAP was founded in 1972 in Germany. SAP’s innovative BusinessObject enables any employee to customize and analyze data with minimal IT help. No matter the job function, all employees have self-serving access to data. This seamless functionality puts SAP at the top of list when it comes to BI software popularity. 3M, Bayer, Family Dollar, Proctor & Gamble and T-Mobile are some of SAP’s clients.

As with any technology, BI software will just continue to improve. Which BI companies do you use?

By Jason Sander

How To Find Data As A Small Business

How To Find Data As A Small Business

Small Business – Big Data

You’ve probably heard the buzz about the benefits of business intelligence (BI) technology for small to medium sized businesses. But to use BI, you have to have data. Fortunately, you don’t need that much.

big-data-bi

Sure, “big data” is a hot topic for enterprises, but, unless you count product sales in the hundreds of millions, “small data” is often plenty. It’s not like having fewer data points means your data isn’t informative. Value comes from connecting multiple data sets, of any size, to discover correlations.

In reality, you likely have at least one of the following four things in your business model, and any of them will suffice as a starting point for insightful data analytics.

Website
Web data comes in the form of visitor counts, location information, visit dates and times, bounce rates, mobile phone or desktop, click behavior, and more.

Point-of-sale (POS) system
POS systems record purchase quantities, purchase times and dates, groupings (peanut butter with jelly), use of discounts and coupons, etc.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software
CRM software not only keeps all your customer information and in some cases your interaction with those customers, but are also capable of importing external data sets of potential customers in your market.

Foot traffic
If you have a storefront, people walk into your store. And if people walk into your store and don’t buy anything, then any data you could have collected from them is lost, unless you have a “people counting” tool. These come in the form of cameras or sensors and can track how many people enter and exit your facility, whether they come in groups or individually, and can even be set up to follow a customer’s path through the store.

Shop-Tech

Comparing and combing different data sets often reveals unexpected patterns in customer behavior. One example of such comes from the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, which was trying to increase their ticket sales and market efforts. After implementing a business intelligence tool to track online sales numbers, they discovered 32 percent of their ticket sales occurred between 8pm and 4am. Using this information, the Zoo was able to target specific demographics, and tailor their offers in order to increase sales.

Here’s a few tips to help you get started on leveraging your own company’s data resources.

Start Tracking Website Analytics
If you don’t have a website, free do-it-yourself tools such as Weebly and Squarespace are easy enough for anyone to set up. These platforms often also set up web analytics for you automatically, but Google Analytics is also a great option for tracking your site activity.

Collect All the Data You Can
Larger organizations can naturally be more hands on, but there are plenty of passive forms of data collection. For starters, try accessing public data sets (data.gov, sba.gov, etc.) to find broader market trends that you can compare to any internal data you collect. Examine software you already use (POS, CRM, ERP, etc.) for data you can extract. You can also experiment with online questionnaires for voluntary customer opinions (aka data). A variety of easy — and free — options abound for surveying customers, including Formstack and SurveyMonkey.

Organize Your Data
Every person, department, or company will need to experiment in this area to find out what works best for them and their analytics goals. Research what BI software others in your industry are using, then test out different options. If you aren’t ready for a full-service BI platform, it’s usually best to input data in Excel or a rival spreadsheet application to keep your data consistent and organized. This will also allow you to quickly important your data into BI software later as your company matures.

Discipline in managing execution and expectations is necessary in the early phases of data strategy, especially when it comes to ensuring any strategy aligns with your key performance indicators and business goals. It’s important for a company to monitor how much time data-related tasks take for those involved, leading to a potential cost/benefit analysis to make sure the strategy is delivering desired results based on its time and expense. Long term patterns often offer the best actionable insight, so results can’t be expected overnight.

However, making an investment and formulating a strategy around data analytics can lead to more informed and targeted decisions for your business overall.

(Image Source: Shutterstock)

By Keith Cawley

Cloud Infographic – Top Ten Strategic Tech Trends for 2015-2020

Cloud Infographic – Top Ten Strategic Tech Trends for 2015-2020

Top Ten Strategic Tech Trends for 2015-2020

We’ve discussed the hottest 2015 trends in cloud computing, driverless cars and robot dogs, but what about the tech industry overall in upcoming years? Marketing Profs has put out an interesting Infographic discovered via Lireo Designs on their take on tech’s hottest trends for this year. They make some solid points for each trend.

1. Computing everywhere: “Within the next 5 years, users of smart phones, smart TVs, and smart cars will practically double.

This is probably the trend that makes the most sense. Sales of these types of devices should only continue to increase.

2. The Internet of Things
3. 3D Printing
4. Advanced, pervasive and invisible analytics
5. Context-rich systems
6. Smart machines
7. Cloud/client computing

Many businesses are already moving their entire process to the cloud. This trend will only improve.

8. Software-defined applications and infrastructure
9. Web-scale IT (Information Technology)
10. Risk-based security and self protection

marketing-profs-infographic

In my opinion, by far the best takeaway from the Infographic was this: “There will be a 500% increase of digital jobs in 5 years.”

This is fantastic news for a struggling economy and for people looking for work. The never ending demand for skilled professionals is just one of the things that makes the tech industry great. However, new solutions will have to be developed for job candidates potentially competing with robots or software that can replace them.

I actually think mobile devices will not only double but triple in five years. Everyone seems to have a smartphone these days. More and more businesses are also moving to mobile tech for their employees. I’m not sure if they’re putting these trends in order of importance, but security concerns should be higher on the list. The recent large scale hacks of many high profile corporations is putting a premium on cyber security. What trends might they have missed?

By Jason Sander

What Top SaaS Vendors Do To Ensure Successful Onboarding

What Top SaaS Vendors Do To Ensure Successful Onboarding

What Top SaaS Vendors Do

I am not going to mention names in this article, but if you want to be the best, you must look at what the best do – and do it better.

The importance of investing in SaaS onboarding can be easily overlooked in favor of designing efficient and powerful software features. While that is important for creating a competitive product, it will have no value if first-time users do not stick around.

Top SaaS vendors are using a variety of methods to improve onboarding, from adjusting their interfaces to be more user-friendly, to analyzing data to determine funnels in the user experience. Some of the methods are proven, while others are more experimental.

saas-vendors

In this article I will take a look at 5 methods top SaaS vendors are using to speed up the onboarding process and improve their business performance.

1. Avoid Confrontations and Reduce Friction Points with a Minimalist Visual Approach

One of the major issues that many services have with onboarding is making the process initially too complicated, which introduces many friction points. For example, the sign up page may ask for a profile picture, confirmation email, or other lengthy forms to fill in, which all detract from the user’s initial experience. It is better to reduce the amount of clutter onscreen and to limit what you ask of the first-time user.

We often see that having multiple options with no clear criteria can make it difficult to evaluate which option is most important. While it is tempting to make your software dense and feature-rich, it may hurt your user experience.

2. Seamlessly Integrate Support Tools throughout the Onboarding Process

Support is most effective when it is provided at the right place and at the right time.

Top SaaS vendors use integrated support tools within their software. These tools can range from built-in training solutions, help desk systems, Q&A forums and manuals. These solutions help solve user problems quickly, as well as reduce the burden on your customer support team by decreasing the number of help inquiries.

Doing this right is especially effective for B2B SaaS Vendors. When you prepare and provide great help materials, those will be used by your customers to train their customers, thereby contributing to your brand awareness and marketing efforts

3. “Dear New Customer: You’ll Never Walk Alone.

 As you can see from the infographic below provided by Cheifmartec, the burgeoning landscape of SaaS and Cloud services is absolutely immense. The image illustrates a high number of players in marketing industry which is only one of many.

marketing_technology-saas-vendors

Top SaaS Vendors know better than to let a first-time user walk alone. When new users “walk alone“, they make mistakes, become frustrated and end up calling support.

Technology has come a long way and today, cloud computing enables SaaS vendors to provide their users with contextual step-by-step guidance and instructions which are specific to the use’s role, language, preferences and of course the device they are using. Using GPS-style technology, top vendors are able to guide their customers without asking them to leave the screen to watch a video tutorial or read FAQs and training manuals.

4. Baby-Sit Your Customer During the Onboarding Process With Real-Time Information Analysis

A key to efficient onboarding is to have your finger on the pulse of your customer. Top SaaS vendors actively monitor and respond to their customers when they are in distress. They harness the power of BI in the cloud, figure out where users are struggling, and put the fire out with a cup of water, rather than waiting for the user’s distress to escalate.

5. Everybody loves free stuff and top SaaS Vendors know it

Motivate the user during a dull onboarding process. Keep the user interested and intrigued by offering incentives such as free codes to unlock new features in your app. This demonstrates that you care for the users, and it makes them feel valued and comfortable.

Overall, speeding up the onboarding process for users comes down to putting greater care into the crafting the first-time user experience to be as smooth as possible. That means removing any distracting, complicated and tedious features from sign up interfaces. It also includes observing advanced metrics, involved training programs or tours, as well as ‘treats’ to make the ride a sweet one.

By Boaz Amidor

5 Essential Cloud Skills That Could Make Or Break Your IT Career

5 Essential Cloud Skills That Could Make Or Break Your IT Career

5 Essential Cloud Skills

Cloud technology has completely changed the infrastructure and internal landscape of both small businesses and large corporations alike. No professionals in any industry understand this better than IT pros. In a cutthroat field like IT, candidates have to be multi-faceted and well-versed in the cloud universe. Employers want to know that their IT people can solve problems with minimal micromanagement. For this reason especially, it’s essential for IT professionals to know their stuff and constantly develop skills when it comes to the cloud.

PC World gathered together a group of thought leaders and executives in the cloud computing industry to come up with the top 5 most important skills for IT professionals to master in order to have a successful career in our modern corporate work environment.

IT Skills Cloud

1. Become a service broker

With your understanding of the fundamentals of cloud computing, it’s imperative that you balance between internal and external cloud services and know how to utilize each to best serve the overall goals of your organization.

2. Understand Big Data

The massive amounts of data storage capabilities previously unavailable to companies now means that anyone who can manipulate and utilize big data effectively could become valuable to an organization.

3. Hone information security skills

Protecting sensitive information is often a huge concern for businesses. Knowledge of the evolving threat of hackers and how to keep a company safe are key skills in today’s computer industries.

4. Add VDI to your BYOD repertoire

With the large scale adoption of mobile tech in the business world, understanding mobile is imperative. Now that sales of smartphones and tablets have exceeded laptop sales, this trend is here to stay.

5. Build Business Skills that Transfer Beyond IT

A higher degree of business acumen and knowledge of the company are extremely important. Being competent any various skillsets is a valuable asset to have in any industry. This list is just the beginning. There are many different ways to help advance your IT career. This list means you might have to do a few things out of your comfort zone. You might have to study things they didn’t teach you at university. Becoming a service broker means you must negotiate and speak to clients and service providers, something many traditional IT pros struggle with. But not you. You’ll be ahead of the game.

Click To Read The Full PDF

By Jason Sander

Cloud Migration – 10 ‘Do it Right’ Tips

Cloud Migration – 10 ‘Do it Right’ Tips

Cloud Migration – 10 ‘Do it Right’ Tips

Businesses continue to adopt the cloud at break neck speed. Inherent benefits like lower operational costs, no infrastructure overheads, and quick access to better technology make cloud a very attractive proposition for businesses, especially start-ups and SMEs.

However moving from legacy to the cloud environment has its own challenges; the ‘do’s and ‘don’ts’ of cloud migration should be kept in mind before you make the switch. So, how do you get your cloud migration right?

Here are ten tips that will help you migrate to the cloud the right way:

Enterprise-cloud

Source: Megapath

1. Figure out how and what to move to the cloud

When it comes to cloud migration do not jump onto the bandwagon because others are doing so. Carefully weigh all the pros and cons of cloud transition. Explore and minutely examine the cloud environment and analyze how moving to the cloud will benefit your business.

Once you are done with that, take the next step; figure out what to move to the cloud. It can be your data, an application(s); a portion of your IT infrastructure or the entire spectrum of IT operations (if you want to completely revamp your infrastructure).

It is great to start a new business without costly IT infrastructure and staff expenses. Cloud saves you a lot of money there.

Many established businesses are also moving to the cloud to cut operational costs and speed up the time to market their products and services. By doing so, they ensure they retain their competitive edge.

So take your time and introspect what to move, when to move and how to move to cloud before you really make the move.

2. Understand the underlying risks

Carry out a risk analysis study prior to the cloud-shift. If you are moving to the public cloud, your cloud service will be shared by many subscribers and your provider will not be able to offer you a service customized to suit your needs and requirements. Confirm with the provider or find the one who can do that for you.

Make sure that your legacy application(s) function smoothly in the cloud environment. If not, explore whether tweaking it a bit or making subtle changes will make it compatible with the cloud. Do that before you migrate. You will save time and money.

Moving your data to the cloud can be a time consuming job because of the voluminous nature of the data involved. Keep that in mind too!

3. Partner with the Right Cloud Services Providers

Cloud Infographic_001

There are many cloud service providers and hundreds of thousands of cloud apps to choose from. So, how will you find the right cloud partner for your needs?

Choose from well-established names in the cloud domain. Make sure that your prospective partner will enable smooth cloud migration and guarantee services that work in the best interest of your business.

Billing should be transparent with no hidden costs. Take a good look at the pricing structure and check the kind of services covered under a particular plan before you subscribe.

You will naturally opt for the most competitive offer but ensure you sign up for a business-specific service with complete clarity on how you will be billed for the service. If your business needs larger RAM-heavy, virtual machines (VM) s then subscribing to cheaper-priced, but smaller VMs will serve no purpose. Act wisely and do not compromise on quality for the sake of getting cheaper service.

Fully evaluate vendor pricing before you commit. Compare prices from different vendors before you zero on the best pricing model for your business.

4. Have a rollback plan ready

Things can go wrong and failure is always a possibility. So keep an escape route open while you migrate. Your prospective cloud partner should be completely transparent and agreeable on this aspect.

Seek a confirmation (in written SLA) from the provider that in the event of a disaster or untoward happening or even if you want to quit cloud, you have complete control over your data. You should be able to access and retrieve it in usable form.

Even if something goes wrong during the migration process, you should be able to safely undo the process and recover all the data intact.

5. Security

Businesses are comfortable with being physically close to their data and have apprehensions about storing it virtually in the cloud. It is a mindset that needs to be changed.

The security of your cloud has nothing to do with where your data is located. It has everything to do with how you access your data.

Cloud providers are now spending more on enhancing the security of their cloud and adopting ISO benchmarks. Major cloud players like Google, Amazon and Microsoft provide public cloud services as per as per ISO/IEC 27018:2014. Treat it as a benchmark and ask for the same level of security from your provider.

6. Transparent outage or downtime reporting

Subscribe to a cloud service that notifies your system outages via alerts, through emails or SMSes on your smartphone. The record of the details of outages is important from the operational cost control point-of -view. It allows you to ascertain the reliability of your cloud provider.

Confirm a transparent downtime reporting mechanism as a prerequisite to service subscription or else keep the exit door open in event of non-compliance. Get a nod from your provider on this aspect because your business should not be the victim of disruptions in the cloud.

7. Understand how migration will impact your staff

migration

If you have a large infrastructure then you might opt for software as a service (SaaS) or platform as a Service (PaaS). Before doing so, consider the impact it will have on your staff.

Your organization may have database administrators, application experts and IT networking staff to manage operating system (OS), servers and backup. They might not be needed if you move to the cloud. Many countries have regulations to protect employees – Transfer of Undertakings (TUPE) regulations. If you cannot redeploy, you may face negative consequences.

8. SLA for Cloud Compliance

Getting to the cloud is much easier than staying compliant, so get a written agreement in form of service level agreement (SLA) signed up with your vendor before you move to the cloud.

Mention all your requirements in the written SLA and make it clear to your provider on how you expect the service to satisfy your needs. The agreement should clearly spell out how your virtual environment is segmented from other customers and where your data can (and can’t) be geographically located.

Though a written SLA, does not guarantee compliance from the service provider end, it can empower you to put pressure on the provider if you believe he is not doing what he agreed to do. Below are the various cloud compliance acts that have overlapping clauses which you can use according to the domain of your business.

  • Sarbanes Oxley Act (SOX)
  • Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)
  • Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI- DSS)
  • Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA)
  • Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act
  • SB-1386
  • European Union Data Protection Directive

9. Prefer managed cloud services

Managed cloud service might cost more, but it takes the entire IT infrastructure and management burden off your shoulders so that you can focus completely on your core business.

If your provider is new, insist on going through the run book, which is a written set of procedures for the routine and exceptional operation of the system or network by an administrator or operator. It will tell you, how your provider will be able to handle stressful situations like migration or technical failure.

10. Train staff before and after

You or somebody in your team needs thorough knowledge about how the cloud system works. Take up training sessions with the service provider because the skills required to migrate are quite different from the skills to keep your cloud based system up and running.

Plan in advance to hone skills of your operations team. Invest time and money to balance normal routine work with incremental training as you progress with your migration. It will make your transition smooth with no post-migration hassles.

Conclusion

Cloud transition begins right from the day you carry out research, examine cloud options and test the chosen provider before the migration day (D-day) arrives. So, you need to get it right from day one.

By Stan Roach

The Top 5 Challenges You Cannot Avoid When Adopting a Cloud ERP

The Top 5 Challenges You Cannot Avoid When Adopting a Cloud ERP

Adopting a Cloud ERP

The main challenges to implementing a Cloud ERP solution differ depending on whether the implementation is from scratch or a migration from an existing on-premises solution to a cloud version. However, the core set of challenges is common to both approaches.

Key Challenges

Every business is different, but the key challenges are present for all, in differing degrees:

1. Identifying the optimum architectural and licensing models

For many companies this is a time to pause and consider whether to change ERP horses. Questions to ask include: Is our current on-premise system available in the Cloud? If yes, is the functionality of the Cloud version equivalent (or better)? What variant of Cloud ERP architecture and licensing model would suit us best? Is this a good opportunity to re-visit our main business processes (this could be mandatory with some Cloud ERP systems)?

2. Hybrid Requirements

A typical example of this is with manufacturers and deployment of shop floor systems (e.g. production control) to the Cloud. Important questions to ask include:

How will the company integrate shop-floor data gathering and production control systems into the ‘new’ ERP? Is it feasible even if it is affordable?

As Gartner (2014) phrases it:

…organizations will need to plan for a hybrid ERP environment where the core on-premises functionality will be augmented by a number of specialist applications targeted at specific, user-centric processes that do not fall within the boundary of the core ERP system, many of which will be deployed in the cloud’.

Compared with other industries, fewer cloud ERP options are available for manufacturing organisations that support deep and wide industry-specific manufacturing capabilities. There are many well-established ERP solutions with good industry functionality for midsize and large organizations. Many of these vendors either already offer, or will soon offer, cloud-based delivery of their solutions.

 

2. Customization

customization

How will your existing customizations be moved to the new deployment? What happens to them in a change to a SaaS platform – will they have to be dropped or will business processes have to be changed to fit the ‘standard software’ corset? Is such a change really feasible?

3. Change Management

The implementation of ERP in the Cloud requires real investment in change management. The cultural change impact (not least that of a potential downsizing of the IT department) must not be underestimated.

4. User Onboarding and Training

Delivering effective training is always an issue, but especially so in this case. Underinvestment in this activity is a fatal mistake, but many companies make it. Companies see training as money lost when employees leave. How can employers square this circle?

Note: Even if the key challenges of Architecture/Licensing, Hybridization and Customization are manageable, the issue of User Onboarding (within the overall context of Change Management) remains the final key to success. We look at this in more detail in the next section.

5. Data Security in Cloud ERP – a Concern but not a Challenge

This is a major concern for all enterprises, and the Cloud conjures up a vision of even higher risk levels. This perception of a higher risk level is, in general, off the mark. In fact, there is credible evidence that putting your data on one of the leading Cloud platforms (such as Amazon Web Services) offers a higher degree of data security than you could enable in-house. After all, governments use commercial Cloud services. Therefore, we do not classify it as a challenge though it is certainly a concern.

So – What Should We Do In Light of the Challenges Listed Above?

A company must first carry out a feasibility study and establish a range of acceptable solution options bearing in mind the issue of hybridization. Then move to the RFP process which should include a customizations list with potential suppliers responding to each functional requirement in turn.

Prepare the troops well in advance, starting even before the ERP migration/procurement process. Make a senior manager responsible for Change Management and identify Change Champions. Develop clear messages to engage users. Don’t forget to make sure that budgets for user onboarding are adequate and protected.

Finally, invest in durable on-boarding and training toolsets – this will ensure that training capital is preserved and carried in a system repository and not in heads of the staff.

(Image Source: Shutterstock)

By Boaz Amidor

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