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Getting Value From The Cloud

Getting Value From The Cloud

Value From The Cloud

Emergent Research predicts that small businesses employing cloud computing will more than double in the next six years, from 37% to 80%. Though often associated with small business transformation, cloud technology can be useful for large and government organizations too. MSPmentor comments that cloud computing is no longer only for developers and startups. While innovators and early adopters were the first to take advantage of cloud services, reliability and commitment in the cloud industry has made it amenable and advantageous to the greater market, as evidenced in The Path to Value in the Cloud.

Primary Uses

  • Mobility – Cloud technology allows businesses to create mobile offices so that data can be accessed and synced from anywhere. Organizations are free to work with global partners, and employees are able to provide value from remote locations.
  • Sharing – Data can be shared effortlessly with teams near and far. Companies don’t need to email large files or save copies to drives for remote access, but instead data stored in the cloud can be retrieved by anyone with appropriate access.
  • Backup – System failures and such disasters wreak havoc for companies, where hardcopies have long been outmoded. The cloud simplifies backup with automatic updating as you work, and offers the additional benefit of off-site storage for enhanced protection.
  • Storage & Hardware – Hard drive space requirements are reduced as files don’t have to be stored on local systems, and hardware requirements are decreased. With cloud services providing access to resources, and offerings such as Amazon Web Services and IBM dashDB Enterprise MPP, data and technology specs and costs can be economized.

Principal Considerations


(Image Source: Shutterstock)

  • Location – You should understand where your data is being stored as this may affect both performance and legal compliance. Certain types of data must be stored in your native country, and the data storage facilities should provide physical and virtual security while incorporating protection from fire, flood, and earthquakes.
  • Encryption Management – Data at rest and in motion must be secure, and so preserving ownership of encryption is necessary. By controlling keys, you limit exposure to malicious insider threats which are often more harmful than external risks. Be sure to clarify who has this control before taking up a service.
  • Data Segregation – Cloud providers service many organizations and ensuring databases are properly secured ensures that a flaw in one client application won’t allow attackers access to other client data. It’s also necessary to confirm that any system-wide ‘super admin’ accounts which provide individuals with access to the entire cloud environment are limited and strictly monitored.
  • Testing – The cloud is often used as a backup solution, but you should ensure that information is adequately backed up by your provider. These backups and disaster recovery plans should be thoroughly tested to ensure your welfare.
  • Automated Tasks – Because of the scalability the cloud provides, expanding and reducing organizations is simplified. Scalability also benefits organizations with reduction of IT admin tasks where sufficient automation is available. Cloud provisioning, management, monitoring, and orchestration are commonly provided through APIs, and you should ensure your provider has APIs to launch VMs, configure security parameters, and start and stop services.
  • Network Security – Whichever service provider you utilize, scrutinize data encryption, anti-virus, and firewalls. Networks should constantly be monitored, and you need to understand the level of visibility when migrating to the cloud, routine security audits and alerts provided, and types of event monitoring.

Windstream Communication’s free download provides a comprehensive analysis of how to get the most value from the cloud for your business.

By Jennifer Klossterman

Wearable Tech – 250 Million Smart Wearables In Use

Wearable Tech – 250 Million Smart Wearables In Use

Wearable Tech Expansion

By 2018, CCS Insights predicts sales of wearable tech globally to have increased to 135 million, with over 250 million smart wearables in use. Apple Watch has been of particular interest this year, with talks of the Apple Watch 2 already surfacing. Strategy Analytics estimates that 4 million Apple Watches were sold in the second quarter of 2015, helping the overall smartwatch market grow approximately 457% annually.


(Image Source:

Technological Advances

Advances in technology increase the range of products available, with hardware shrinking to fit new requirements, software developing to deliver new functions and data, and power solutions emerging to meet these constraints. Texas Instruments suggests Adapting Qi-compliant wireless-power solutions to low-power wearable products as even the tiny micro-USB charge connections are too large for some newer wearable devices. With the convenience of use and added benefit of eliminating connector contamination, wireless charging provides some exciting opportunities to designers. The WT Wearable Technologies Innovation World Cup is already accepting entries for the 2015/2016 competition with prizes worth over $200,000. Categories include sports & fitness, healthcare & wellness, gaming & lifestyle, and safety & security, and special categories of smart clothing and smart jewelry are also being offered.

Fresh Ideas

Personal Air-Quality Monitoring


The enviro-tracker is a personalized air-quality monitor developed by startup Tzoa. It uses internal sensors to measure air quality, temperature, humidity, atmospheric pressure, ambient light, and UV exposure and connects to smartphones so that readings can be viewed, and recommendations submitted. The device creates a crowdsourced map of environmental data in real-time.


Winning the Gaming & Lifestyle category of the WT Wearable Technologies Innovation World Cup 13/14, ViviTouch 4D Sound was developed with electroactive polymers (EAP) used as a flexible capacitor. Stretchable electrodes are printed on either side of the EAP film in a particular pattern, and the polymer motors move the skin around a user’s ear, generating a realistic subwoofer experience.

Pain Relief


NeuroMetrix, Inc.’s Quell Wearable Pain Relief Technology is an easy-to-use, over-the-counter device which helps relieve chronic pain. Utilizing wearable intensive nerve stimulation technology, this 100% drug-free pain relief method is designed for conditions including painful diabetic neuropathy, osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, and sciatica.

Into the Future

Going forward, consumers can expect wearable tech to get smaller, less intrusive, and nearly invisible. Personalized devices nesting inside jewelry or fashion items could trend, and efficiency and accuracy will increase with time. The development of devices able to ‘learn’ is an intriguing possibility.

By Jennifer Klostermann

Performance In Cloud Shows Microsoft Has Strong Foundations

Performance In Cloud Shows Microsoft Has Strong Foundations

Microsoft Has Strong Foundations For The Future

Results show that Microsoft is still the best choice for resellers adopting their product range for the cloud world

Microsoft has recently announced its FYQ4 Earnings Report, which showed the company’s commercial cloud revenue grew by 88%, despite an overall quarterly loss.  The growing cloud revenue has been driven by the success of its Microsoft applications, which include Office 365, Azure and Dynamics CRM Online.

Commenting on the cloud business results, Piers Linney, Co-CEO of Cloud Services Provider (CSP) and Microsoft Gold partner Outsourcery, says that the results demonstrate the success of Microsoft’s strategy in putting cloud computing at the forefront of its commercial strategy, as customers shift away from traditional on-premises storage.

Linney states: “The growth of cloud brought a number of challenges to many of the established players in the industry who have had to rapidly adapt to new business models as a result. These latest results from Microsoft, while mixed, show that it has held its strong footing in what is a rapidly expanding cloud market.

When we chose to position Microsoft’s product stack and the Microsoft cloud platform at the heart of our offering, Outsourcery was questioned as to why we were limiting our potential market and not taking a more agnostic approach. However, when you think that virtually every company uses some sort of Microsoft tool, we felt that this was a sensible move to grow our offering. Further to our Microsoft services, we have been passionate about developing our own public sector proposal and bringing added value to the table through our partner programme. Additionally, we have worked to create our own Ofcom-regulated, enterprise grade O-Cloud platform.

Working with Microsoft enables us to deliver expertise in an offering that is always reliable and best-of-breed. Microsoft’s latest cloud sales result justifies our decision to remain Microsoft-centric and shows that the strength of Microsoft, and Outsourcery in turn, will only continue.”

A recent Hosting and Cloud Study 2015, commissioned by Microsoft and 451 Research which surveyed 1,700 hosting and cloud customers, revealed that 75 per cent are now beyond the cloud discovery phase. The research highlights an expectation that in three years, almost half of their applications will be deployed in a combination of private and public cloud environments, signifying the importance of cloud and application hosting to businesses in the future.

Linney continues, “the uptake of cloud computing has been driven by businesses that are seeking greater efficiency, flexibility and cost-savings within their organisation. The benefits of cloud computing combined with Microsoft’s high-performance product applications, which include Office 365 and Skype for Business, create a valuable and comprehensive cloud offering for businesses to bring on board.

Microsoft is consistently pioneering new and exciting products for its partners and customers and we are looking forward to working with them as a Gold partner long in to the future, to bring innovative and high-performance products, hosted on Outsourcery’s O-Cloud platform, to the market,” Linney concludes.

Cheap, Convenient Clouds Are Likely To Change The Way Enterprises Do Business

Cheap, Convenient Clouds Are Likely To Change The Way Enterprises Do Business

451 Research: Cloud Costs Fall Across The Board

If you have a keen interest in cloud development, new cloud products/services, public/private cloud pricing and cloud computing market competition, then “451 Research’s latest updates on Cloud Price Index” might interest you. The research states that the basic cost of renting cloud services — from one of the big public cloud providers — has fallen over 2% since the Index began in October 2014. During the last few years, the cost of cloud computing services has dropped significantly; cloud providers want to snatch more and more market share from their competitors.

In an article published in Forbes, 451 Research reports that on-demand cloud service is more cost effective. It can help companies save up to 44% over the on-demand price. Interestingly, 451 Research’s Cloud Price Index (CPI) has shown a series of steep price cuts in cloud pricing. The CPI is based on cloud quotes from a number of providers. The report includes quotes from AWS, Colt, Google, Microsoft, Swisscom, Verizon and Windstream.

The research shows how enterprising customers are adopting cost-aware approaches from the available pool of cloud providers. Those subscribing to cloud-based resources for several months, or years, are getting higher value in terms of cost and service.

Owen Rogers, the lead analyst for digital economics at 451 Research, explains: “Commitment goes a long way: capital, recurring revenue, financial lock-in and improved cash flow are all good news from the corporate angle. Advanced notification means better capacity planning, more accurate (and cheaper) purchase of hardware and infrastructure, and even the potential for better ‘bin-packing’ of capacity – all of this results in a better-used infrastructure, reducing sunk cost and maximizing cheap unit prices.”

As the cloud-computing prices keep falling, the whole IT businesses keep smiling:

Almost a decade ago, cloud computing was considered a far-fetched idea. But many people have now started adopting cloud-computing services to store and backup their personal and business data. According to a forecast by Statista, an online statistics company, the cloud storage industry is expected to generate over $4.04 billion revenue globally by 2016 — which shows how rapidly industry has grown.

Statistic: Global cloud service revenue from storage services from 2010 to 2016 (in billion U.S. dollars) | Statista
(Chart Source: Statista)

The emerging market of public and private cloud infrastructure benefits enterprises, bringing down their input costs while it introduces new efficient services and provides a variety of products. It is foolish to make a data center when you are not sure what your needs will be in next six months. Cloud-computing services are now available at a most affordable price, and there is no reason to put-off taking advantage of them.

Rogers also believes: “Cloud has no bottom price. Even if infrastructure is eventually given away for free, as long as the provider sells other services, which offset this loss, then it can still be a profitable business.”

Price-cutting in cloud computing services is a win-win for both cloud service providers and enterprisers.

By Todd Franks

Taking Advantage of The Apple Watch

Taking Advantage of The Apple Watch

Apple’s Most Personal Device

Touted as Apple’s most personal device yet, the Apple Watch has received diverse reactions. Some industry pundits consider it better suited to early adopters, with its convenience being eclipsed by the learning curve and high price. However, past successes of Apple devices suggest that getting behind their new product won’t end in disappointment. The Apple Watch can only be as good as the apps developed for it, and a few major brands are already ensuring that their apps take center stage.

The Taptic Engine behind Apple Watch notifications is a new form of wearable tech interaction, developed to help users disengage from technology without disconnecting from essential information. The wrist-tapping feedback comes through in different patterns and strengths depending on the type of notification received, and glances provide significant snips of application information likely to be most relevant such as weather, traffic, or stocks. Apple Pay is a swipe method of payment delivered with the Apple Watch, adding convenience while simultaneously promoting the device.


(Image Source: Anna Hoychuk / Shutterstock)

Interesting Applications

Various retail apps encourage shoppers to frequent their store while making the in-store experience simpler. Target’s mobile app links to the Apple Watch with shopping lists and in-store navigation, ensuring users find what they want using the most direct routes. A few travel apps are available to help organize flights, car hire, accommodation bookings, and activities. Expedia highlights upcoming travel arrangements and provides flight status and gate change notifications directly to the Apple Watch, as well as hotel addresses and check-in times. Many fitness apps have been developed, making use of embedded sensors to measure heart rate and steps taken, and Tinder is using the watch’s heart rate monitor to match up heart-rate increases with potential suitors. From Instagram to Amazon, Shazam to XE Currency, the available apps are countless, but their success is dependent on how well they’ve been developed to meet user needs and wants.


Ensuring your apps are both user-friendly and attractive is key, but developers should take full advantage of Apple Watch functionality to highlight their apps. Allowing users to decide on the frequency of interaction can also be of benefit, as providing too much feedback is a sure path to app deletion. At the same time, not offering enough insight makes your application superfluous. Quickly and succinctly presented information is a must, and differentiating between functions that will require iPhone connectivity and those which merely duplicate iPhone operations helps ensure necessary and desirable app creations.

Apple Watch applications need not be highly customizable or detailed solutions, but should successfully focus on the fundamental principle of providing concise and helpful pieces of data as necessary. 5 Watch Outs With the Apple Watch offers some great advice for anyone hoping to develop an efficacious application that will grab the market’s attention.

By Jennifer Klostermann

How SIP Trunking Helps Companies Benefit From A VoIP Enabled Phone System

How SIP Trunking Helps Companies Benefit From A VoIP Enabled Phone System

How SIP Trunking Helps Companies Benefit From VoIP

With more companies opting to use VoIP as their means to make calls, they needed the means to transition their phone system into a more VoIP based communications. The answer to that has been Session Initiation Protocol or SIP.

With this cloud-hosted technology, companies are able to replace traditional telephone trunks that connect their phone system with the public switched telephone network (PSTN). And since SIP is also an IETF standard for multimedia initiations, it has also become the means to deliver video over the Internet as well. This paves the way for more features like video conferencing through your own phone system.


With SIP trunking, you are getting a VoIP-enabled cloud-hosted phone system that has the following benefits:

Flexibility and mobility

SIP trunking takes advantage of the Internet. Because it is hosted over the Internet, location is no longer a limitation. Companies are now able to access their own cloud-hosted phone system from anywhere in the world and make and receive VoIP calls as long as they have stable Internet connection. This is important as the modern working environment is moving towards a more flexible workforce that telecommutes and is constantly mobile.


The technology also allows you to have a phone system that adjusts to your business needs. It makes it easier for you to add or remove phone numbers-toll free numbers or local numbers at any city in the US – or add or delete extensions depending on the growth of the company.

Virtual presence

VoIP and SIP are able to allow companies to establish presence in different locations without the need to be physically present there. For example, you can get a local number that people in the community can call even if you do not have a physical location in there.

Reduced call costs

SIP trunking allows for flat rates for both local and long distance calls that greatly reduce actual calling costs. Lastly, by being able to implement a phone system with extensions, users within the system can easily call and communicate with each other with no additional costs.

Unified communications

SIP allows for the transmission of different communication tools such as voice, data, and video. This allows SIP trunking providers like BroadconnectUSA to combine different communication tools like fax, voice, and others into one phone system. This allows them to provide companies of all sizes a streamlined cloud-hosted phone system that combines different advanced communication features.

Now that you know the benefits of SIP trunking for an effective VoIP-enabled business communications system, you want to know if your own company network can adopt the technology. While the only real requirement for VoIP and SIP trunking is an Internet connection, you want to make the most of it by adapting good practices that allows you to make the most out of the technology.
So before talking to the next SIP trunking provider, check your company first for:

Stable Internet connection

If you do not have a reliable Internet connection, any VoIP related communication tool will not be satisfying. You need business level Internet connection that is stable and high broadband speed. Recommended options are DSL and fiber optics. There are also speed testers online that you can use to measure your own Internet speed.

QoS routers and switches

Choosing the right routers and switches is also important in ensuring clear VoIP calls. QoS stands for quality of service and these routers and switches ensures that the network prioritizes the transmission of voice data over other types of transmission like downloading or streaming.

A robust network


The effectiveness of cloud hosted phone systems depends largely on the ability of the company’s own network to facilitate it. If the company has an old and outdated network infrastructure, then it can be the cause of phone service disruption. A good SIP trunking provider can be very good but still ineffective if the network it will run through is not able to adapt. So before signing up, make sure that your network can handle the data transmission required by this type of phone service.

SIP ready phones

While most VoIP services can be accessed through the desktop or mobile device, a lot of companies still prefer to have IP phones. A lot of providers give companies the option to buy or lease phones from them that are SIP ready and are already configured for the phone system. Some companies, on the other hand, may already have their own IP phones, which they want to use on their new service. If that is also the case with your company, you have to first check if it is a SIP enabled phone as there are other services that uses a different protocol. You also have to check if that specific IP phone model is supported by your new provider and how it can be configured to the phone system.

Once you have those areas checked, you can now fully enjoy the benefits of a VoIP-enabled phone system for your company.

By Glenn Blake

Connected Cars – The Challenges And Benefits

Connected Cars – The Challenges And Benefits

The Future Of Connected Cars & IoT 

Internet of Things is transforming the automotive world by developing connected car technologies that offer significant benefits to carmakers and consumers alike. Generally, connected cars are meant to reduce traffic congestion, fuel consumption, emissions and most importantly, road accidents.

It seems the phrase “reduce waste, loss and cost,” is a mantra to the automotive sector, and automakers are among the most enthusiastic proponents of IoT. Almost all the automotive OEMs along with mobile operators are investing in connected cars programs.


It is largely due to increasing proliferation of embedded in-vehicle connectivity and smartphone integration platforms that are allowing companies to invest and combine automotive technology with our phones, watches and computers.

The latest investment is done by Gemalto, a digital security company that has joined forces with China Telecom to develop a proof-of-concept for subscription management in connected cars. According to the press release, Gemalto’s LinqUs On-Demand Connectivity (ODC) subscription management solution will be integrated in vehicles, which will facilitate China Telecom’s automotive customers to offer instant connectivity on cars. The embedded SIMs allows drives to have safe drive.

China, the world’s fastest growing automotive market, has high demand for advanced telemetric, navigation, and safety features in vehicles, in order to minimize traffic congestion and provide safe drive with facility to select service subscription throughout the entire lifecycle of their cars.

Speaking about the recent development, Dr. Liu Yuan, Vice Chief Engineer at China Telecom Corporation Ltd., said in a statement, “With an international standards organization specifying a single, uniform remote provisioning architecture for embedded UICC, there will be no need for our customers to plan for unique subscription at the manufacturing level, or build device variants for different operators. This will simplify their supply chain logistics for quick worldwide deployment across different service providers, and greatly boost the development of IoT globally.

Last month, Gartner, a leading IT research and advisory company predicts that by 2020a quarter billion connected vehicles will enable new in-vehicle services and automated driving capabilities”.

With unified standards, we can help China Telecom to leverage their 4G networks to capture this strong growth potential market and offer innovative solutions for a safe and pleasant driving experience”, he added.

Challenges for connected cars:

The opportunity for connect car market is huge. An article published on Forbes points out many challenges and issues that will hamper the adaptability of this technology. Some of the concerns are given below:

  • Are consumers prepared to pay for the numerous capabilities of tomorrow’s connected car?
  • What about the safety? Can it be hacked easily? The most crucial threats to connected cars are malware, full data injection, odometer fraud, intrusions, vehicle theft, fraudulent warranty claims.
  • Is the car dealer tech-savvy? Car dealers have a bad reputation when it comes to explain technical details to consumers. So the car dealers should be tech savvy teach customers how to use their car’s advanced technology.
  • How many applications access should drivers be able to access?

It would not be easy for automakers and the auto industry in general which is almost in ‘denial to reluctant mood’ to accept these challenges in making connected cars. However, I believe consumer backlash against security features in connected cars will compel automakers to implement real innovative security features that can eliminate threats.

By Todd Franks

White House Details Its Cybersecurity Efforts For 2015

White House Details Its Cybersecurity Efforts For 2015

Cybersecurity Efforts For 2015

The White House has issued a fact sheet that details its efforts to ensure that cyber defense strategies are meeting the critical cybersecurity challenges currently facing the USA. This is in response to the increased sophistication and severity of cyber attacks both internationally and within the US, and involves long-term risk management that the Obama administration states it is building on.

According to the fact sheet dated July 9, 2015, efforts include establishment of a dedicated E-Gov Cyber team that has been tasked to work with key Federal cybersecurity stakeholders. Set up in June, E-Gov Cyber has been leading incident response for the US government in an attempt to quickly mitigate any newly identified vulnerabilities. It is also responsible for accelerated assessment of Federal agency programs and defenses that relate to cybersecurity, and has established a critical program for vulnerability that deals with the various US government “public-facing websites.”

The Cybersecurity Fact Sheet


Titled Administration Cybersecurity Efforts 2015 the new US fact sheet asserts that President Barack Obama has consistently identified cybersecurity as a primary challenge faced by the American nation. Since his inauguration, it states, his government has implemented many policies to:

  • Enhance the response capabilities of the US Government
  • Improve its cyber defense abilities
  • Upgrade its incident management tools
  • Private Sector Efforts

The document incorporates a run-down of government-supported private sector efforts to try and improve cybersecurity, including a White House Summit held in February this year, which has lead, amongst other things, to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) efforts to share critical information about cybersecurity and encourage collaboration. The DHS reports that as of July 2015, there are 125 private sector agreements in place and another 156 currently being negotiated.

It also states that the Department of Defense (DoD) is set to open new offices in Silicon Valley where it will focus on cybersecurity as well as innovation and technology to help improve national security. Further, the Department of Commerce has launched initiatives that are aimed at strengthening cybersecurity in both the software and hardware that is used in computers and on the Internet.

Also, the Federal Trade Commission has launched a new website that has been designed as a one-stop resource that will enable them to streamline reporting and remediation with credit bureaus.

Federal Cybersecurity Efforts

According to the fact sheet, Federal efforts to improve cybersecurity have been “accelerated” in an endeavor to cope with increasing threats. In June there was a 30-day Cybersecurity Sprint that included:

  • Patching of critical vulnerabilities
  • Tightening of access for so-called “privileged” users
  • Leveraging of tools used to block high-risk indicators
  • Increase of the use of multi-factor authentication

During the Sprint, DHS reportedly scanned more than 40,000 systems for critical vulnerability, and their efforts have continued subsequently. As they identify vulnerabilities, federal agencies are stepping in to patch them.

There is also increased government-wide cyber emphasis that is being overseen by the Federal Chief Information Officer. This includes E-Gov Cyber (see above), a new Federal Cybersecurity Civilian Strategy, and new capabilities designed to provide various Federal agencies with the ability to combat cyber threats. Phase two of the Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation (CDM) Program (that is currently pending approval by Congress) will improve security of those using government computers; and the new EINSTEIN 3A system, designed to prevent intrusion, will detect and block threats before they impact Federal agencies.

Additional efforts include safeguards for unclassified information that doesn’t normally carry the same stringent protection required by classified data. Last month (June 2015) the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) published a special publication that provides recommended requirements that will protect the confidentiality of information of this kind.

New Policies and Capabilities

The White House fact sheet also details a number of “new” policies and capabilities that have been introduced to help identify malicious cyber attacks, and both counter them and defend against them. These were, though, all established prior to April this year.

International Efforts

Lastly, the fact sheet details how the US government is “engaged internationally” with other countries including Brazil, Gulf countries, India, and the United Kingdom.

It states that G7 countries have agreed to launch a new cooperative effort that will improve cybersecurity within the international energy sector. Also, the UN Group of Governmental Experts will be drafting “norms of state behavior in cyberspace during peacetime.”

The US Department of Defense has pledged to increase its participation in “cyber exercises” and do whatever it can to help NATO and its “Allies” prepare to meet new cybersecurity challenges.

Three new Cyber Assistant Legal Attache (ALAT) positions have been established in Canberra (Australia), Ottawa (Canada), and London (UK), and four additional positions are planned for 2016.
Ultimately, as the fact sheet states, every country can combat malicious cyber activity effectively and efficiently, simply by preventing and mitigating incidents that fall within their jurisdiction.

By Penny Swift

CloudTweaks Comics
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