Boulder, Colorado – In these heady days of virtualization and remote computing, however, more local data centers are looking to cloud computing as the answer to boosting their capacity to deliver services.
Generally, cloud computing describes computing resources that are grouped and redistributed based on user need. In practice, cloud computing creates an on-demand, self-managed virtual infrastructure in which resources can be allocated quickly and dynamically.
Just two days before Christmas, my cell phone met an early, tragic fate when it fell (was dropped…) into a tray of water. Five days later, when I purchased a new phone, I ecstatically found that all my contacts, messages, apps, and even my most recent pictures were still on my brand-new device, even though I had never seen this physical phone before – all thanks to the ever-elusive, ever-present technological data-beast: the cloud.
2015 was the year the cloud ingrained itself into just about every internet-based individual’s life – to an extent that the large majority may not even realize. The cloud is everywhere. read more
Last time, we discerned some of the ways you are already using the cloud as an individual. This time, I begin an analysis of a few key benefits of using the cloud – as a business.
In 2015, the cloud storage market brought in $18.87 billion in the United States; this figure is predicted to jump to $65.41 billion by 2020, according to Markets and Markets research firm. Over one-third of IT infrastructure spending goes to cloud computing, and much like the previous statistic, is only expected to increase in the next five years. read more
Last week, I began my journey into the benefits of switching your business to the cloud. This week, I continue that journey, exploring – albeit in less depth – my final three advantages of enterprise-level cloud technology: unparalleled speed, customizable security, and the potential for full IT consolidation. read more
As the world of tech is ever changing, so is Facebook. I recently discovered that accessing our Earthnet Facebook page was a bit of a challenge due to Facebook’s business page updates.
Instead of switching easily from my personal page to my business page, I found that I was eternally logged in to my personal page and just staring blankly at my business page. Finding my business page’s news feed and liking another business from Earthnet’s page was a mystery. But alas, our favorite social media platform hasn’t failed us and the updates are simple to navigate.
First, pull up your business page.
Your business page’s news feed has moved to the left column below your number of page likes.
Search for the business you want to like. Click on the “…” link on the business page’s cover photo. You’ll see a list of options. Choose Like as Your Page.
It’s as simple as 1-2-3.
“The practice of using a network of remote servers hosted on the Internet to store, manage, and process data, rather than a local server or personal computer.”
That is the gist. A very obvious example of cloud computing is Google. When you compose an e-mail and save it to drafts on your personal computer, you can open it on your phone and see exactly where you left off. In fact, you will see the same thing if you login from any device, anywhere in the world.
All you need is an internet connection. This work is not being saved to your computer, which means that the processing isn’t being done on your computer either. It is computed, processed, and saved with Google on a virtual machine that you connect to when you login over the internet. Other companies using cloud computing are Netflix, Apple, Etsy, and many more. When you take a photo on your smart phone, the photo is saved to your phone only. When you upload your photo to Facebook, your photo is now on the cloud.
Everyone is doing it! Or should we say using it. The cloud, that is. The cloud is used by Fortune 500 companies, small businesses, and my mom.
There is so much confusion with the cloud. Mostly because it is packaged in so many ways. You can purchase some form of cloud from countless providers. Apple offers you additional storage on your iCloud account if you use more than your free quota. With Amazon you can purchase an Amazon Cloud Drive, where you can store pictures, videos, and documents. The same technology still applies and your data is being processed and saved over an internet connection with Amazon or Apple on their servers. These accounts are generally inexpensive and you pay as you go. They are great for personal use like Dropbox. However these clouds are very limited. For instance, you cannot download and operate Office 365 on these forms of the cloud, they are only for storage of basic files.
When you are ready to access more than just documents and photos from any device, you are ready to look into the cloud for small to medium size businesses. This entails looking for more of an enterprise level cloud solution from various providers. We recommend a local data center for cloud computing, but we are a bit partial. Once you select your provider and your own virtual machine, you will be able to run software and programs that you and your employees would like to access from outside of the office and share files with ease.
The technology is, again, the same. You and your employees will access your virtual machine with an internet connection and the processing will be on your virtual server.
Companies that can benefit from the cloud are endless. Lawyers, doctors, dentists, and any professional concerned with the security of the information they store and share can benefit from cloud computing. Companies that have employees in different locations, working from home, or tele-commuting are in need of cloud computing, if they don’t have it already. And companies whose sales or success are dependent on the reliability of a program or application constantly running won’t get sleep until they migrate to the cloud.
This technology has many advantages to the consumer and fewer disadvantages.
Recent converts to cloud computing enjoy a higher account balance for many reasons.
Computer Hardware: Save money on your hardware. Computing takes place on your virtual machine so you no longer need a top-of-the-line computer to get the job done and process data. The cloud does it for you. A lower-end tablet will work just as well. Theoretically there is less wear and tear on your computer so you can upgrade your computer less over time.
Pay as You go: Cloud subscriptions are generally month-to-month. They can grow with you or decrease in size over time. This pricing model is much more flexible than its alternatives. Turn up, turn down, get more, get less. The point is, pay for what you need when you need it.
Maintenance: Forget maintaining an in-house server and save money when you no longer need staff to perform maintenance and updates to your server.
The reliability of the cloud is unsurpassed, especially in comparison to your in-house server. Your virtual machine is running on a machine that is physically housed in a data center with power redundancy, 24/7 availability, and 99.9% up-time. Make sure that your cloud provider is guaranteeing this level of service.
Employees can collaborate and share files easily and in real-time via shared storage.
The cloud grows and goes with you. The capabilities of the cloud to streamline your business are seemingly endless.
Take the cloud with you. Drop what you are doing and catch a flight to Cancun. Open your tablet on the beach and pick up right where you left off. Attract employees by giving them the benefit of working off site. All that is needed is an internet connection and your office is suddenly anywhere.
The cloud is a shared resource so you can feel good about leaving less of a footprint on the world.
Smoother mergers is an unexpected fringe benefit of the cloud. We can attest, first hand. Efficiently run companies generally house their server in a data center. Once that company is sold, they are usually in our data centers for another 1-3 years before they can be moved. That is generally how long it takes the acquiring company to figure out and execute the best way of moving the server and migrating the acquired company to their technology.
While the advantages of the cloud seem overwhelming, there are still some considerations to mull before taking the leap.
Cloud computing is a shared resource and your virtual machine is provisioned from that resource. There is no physical access to your virtual machine because it doesn’t physically exist in comparison to a physical server. While this may not classify as a disadvantage, some people like to see and touch exactly what they are purchasing and relying on.
Outages: Taking the leap to cloud computing means that you are outsourcing your technology infrastructure and you are heavily relying on an outside vendor. If there is an outage and your server goes down, there is nothing you can do. You are reliant on your cloud vendor to get up and running again.
Internet Connection: Accessing your server is completely dependent on having an internet connection.
Security is always a concern. While cloud computing has many security features, nothing is ever immune to breach. Cloud computing is internet computing. If there is something you don’t want on the internet, you may not want it on the cloud.
Managed services is a term I hear in the tech industry constantly. My first few months in the “biz”, I heard this term coined and used in conjunction with services like colocation, cloud computing, IT management, and countless more. Frankly, the term is bit vague, especially for a literal person like myself.
According to Wikipedia…
“Managed services is the practice of outsourcing on a proactive basis management responsibilities and functions and a strategic method for improving operations and cutting expenses.”
This does narrow it down some, but not necessarily in respect to IT. IT vendors are constantly offering small businesses, enterprises, and you managed services. So what does that really mean?
Managed services is any job, need, or issue a small business would like to outsource to save money or time. Here are some examples.
Small businesses, in my experience, most commonly look to outsource workstations and server management.
Workstations are generally considered the computer each employee uses in your office. Possibly the printer associated with it, but not always. Services for workstations often included installing operation system updates, patches or updating security, troubleshooting any issue an employee is experiencing, remote hands support, in-person support, etc.
Server Management is the physical server that your small business saves pertinent information on. Depending on the industry and company, the server functioning properly can make or break your day. Performance monitoring and troubleshooting of a company’s server is a very common managed service. More managed services may include the management of a firewall, network management and monitoring, backup solutions, etc.
Last month I met with a property management company in Boulder. The director of maintenance is a huge job in property management. It’s hard to imagine how busy and stressful that job is. Recently the company decided that the office computer network should fall under the umbrella of the maintenance director. When we met I was extremely impressed with the level of technical knowledge she had ascertained since taking on the responsibility. And it’s no doubt that it was self taught and in addition to her full-time job. She was exhausted, overwhelmed, and on the verge of desperate to get this off of her plate. Frankly, I can’t blame her. That is why I’m in sales.
The immediate benefits to her were very clear. She would have less work, less stress, and more time and focus on money generating activities. The benefits for the company are a better run and maintained IT infrastructure and saving the salary to pay a full-time IT person, that isn’t necessary yet. Not to mention, how much does a burnt out employee cost a small business truly? It’s not always as cost effective as it may seem to add IT responsibilities to your current staff. Cost benefit is likely the hardest hitting factor when a small business considers outsourcing IT. So really only you can determine how vast the benefits can be to you and your small business.
Managed services pricing for small businesses is all over the place. Earthnet constantly conducts research to assure we stay competitive with the industry. To make sure your small business gets the best fit, interview multiple IT companies. Make the time. It is absolutely worth it. It’s also good to know that your future IT superstars can set and show up to a meeting or consultation on time because when “stuff” gets real and your office has an IT emergency, you need to know they’ll be there.
Last week I met with a small business in Boulder for a managed services consultation. It was a typical office and happened to be in a very old, charming home. They showed us around and pointed out their 5 workstations. When we inquired about the server, our tour guide said, “Are you sure you want to go down there?” Not totally sure what he meant by that, we said, “of course”, and followed him to the back of the building. He then proceeded to lead us down a very narrow flight of concrete stairs. The clearance and roof was so low I bent over at a 45 degree angle and slowly progressed in my 4 inch heels. When we reached the bottom of the stairs, the clearance was the same. So we stayed hunched over and followed the man through countless piles of boxes and files to a small desk in the corner under a window. Atop it sat the company server.
This is every server’s worst nightmare. The company had no backup solution and all of their company files that could potentially be audited for are saved on this server. This basement is a hot spot for disaster. Humidity is a factor, and possibly flood, fire, a water pipe leaks, a water pipe breaks, etc. I cannot imagine how frustrating it would be to lose your most important documents and files to, let’s say, a doctor, lawyer, accountant, or anyone facing compliance. The solution is to put your server in a safe, dry place. And get backup. An even better solution is to colocate your server in a data center. Insert Earthnet’s name here. Kidding aside, keep your server dry and happy and maintained, and inquire about a backup solution when you consult a prospective managed services company.
Written by Ashley Haga, Business Development Manager at Earthnet in Boulder, CO.
Small and medium business owners do not have enough resources to manage the technological aspects of their business needs and they often require external support in terms of managing their IT network and related support services. MSPs (Managed Service Providers) are external service providers which allow businesses to feel safe in terms of reliable technology related services. They provide various advantages to business owners with a small organizational structure.
Here, we discuss some of the most prominent advantages.
MSPs provide the most cost effective solution for most SMEs (Small & Medium Enterprises). Small businesses especially benefit from managed service providers because they can offer them pay as you use services. Small businesses are not sure about the amount of services that they require. They need dynamic technological partners that can offer them unique IT solutions.
They also want monthly costs that lie within their budgets rather than huge upfront costs.
Such businesses also benefit from such service plans because all of their workforce can then remain focused on the tasks at hand, while an MSP will provide them with IT and other technology solutions. The employees do not need to turn their attention towards worrying about support services.
This makes small businesses more competitive and saves a huge deal of expenses.
Another advantage assured by the use of managed service providers is that of getting the best-trained staff working for your IT needs. MSPs have talented individuals that are experts in providing technological support. This ensures that small businesses work with individuals having trained expertise, although they are actually not on their payroll.
These experts provide the best IT support and network management and enable company officials to target company goals. These experts also have Cisco and Microsoft certifications and ensure a high-quality support management tool for SMEs.
Latest technology usually takes a few years before being introduced within the lower levels of the industry. The use of managed service providers, however, ensures that SMEs are provided with the latest technological solutions at once. This gives them working advantages and allows them to compete with large organizations that are able to quickly implement newer technologies.
Small businesses do not have to hire individuals or send employees for training sessions. They can simply hire a technology partner to provide them with new technological solutions as they become available.
The risk is reduced when using MSPs as IT and support partners. They allow businesses to work with lower capital limits and ensure that they only employ the required amount of resources on a monthly basis.
This provides an advantageous situation for small businesses that can then control their costs and compete with much larger rivals. Not only is risk better managed, SMEs also level the playing field by having access to the same utilities as larger businesses.
SMEs do not have to worry about IT compliance when outsourcing IT support to managed service providers. These providers have the necessary certifications and training to provide the industry based and legal compliance required. MSPs also deal with any certification requirements and allow small businesses to focus on their task at hand.
These are a few advantages of using MSPs. SMEs are flourishing these days with their help, by lowering costs and giving competition to large businesses. All they need is the right support!
The Internet Protocol (IP) is the main medium of information presentation and transfer on the internet. It is responsible for controlling and sending groups of data between the different connected computers. The IP is essentially what the internet is all about. It was set up to control a few computers in its earliest form. Thus, first, we need to understand all about the IP systems themselves.
The internet protocol (IP) is a protocol that describes the rules of communication on the internet between the different computers. It can simply be defined as a set of rules that allow computers to remain connected with each other while avoiding the other computers present in the same internet world.
The IPv4 system uses IP addresses which are designed to identify systems that are connected to the main body of the internet. These addresses employ a system of dotted decimal notations uses 4 separate bytes. Here is a typical example of an IP address: “220.127.116.11”. The numbers separated by dots, each express one byte and therefore, combine to create 4-byte addresses.
The IPv6 system is designed to operate using 128 bits for addressing. The system usually employs the hexadecimal notations for easily writing the addresses as each place in hexadecimal system can show four bits. A typical example of an IPv6 address is “200A:0BBD:BF22:EF01:0100:1100:0101:0001”. The later binary addresses can all be set to zero when an IPv6 address is required to connect to an older IPv4 server system.
New websites are already prepared on IPv6 because the space on the previous version was officially exhausted on February 3rd, 2011. The conversion from IPv4 to IPv6 is now essential for all older websites too, as all the new web elements are all being prepared to only support the newer protocol because it offers various advantages. The IPv6 can allow much more addresses due to its double addressing size of 128 bits.
There are many conversion tools available that help website owners to transfer websites from IPv4 to IPv6. It is not easy to perform this conversion alone. There are no fixed tables or entry converters that can ideally be used to perform the conversion automatically. These conversions, therefore need to be performed manually and often require the support and efforts of trained professionals.
Various tools can only help network administers to manage functions during a conversion process by knowing the changed address in the new protocol and linking both websites to a single server for connection with the outside world. Only expert professionals will be able to set up the original conversions that allow network administers to close the older servicing modules.
There are many companies that are offering the services of converting internet applications and services from IPv4 to IPv6. These companies have expert professionals who are able to translate individual addresses and then perform the proper routing and network elements that are required to put the web elements on the new internet transport layer.
There are no fixed policies for making this conversion, and therefore, it is always best to hire professionals even when you are trying to keep both the older IPv4 network, as well as the newer IPv6 version with more capabilities. Networking experts will be able to offer a solution by using an IPv6 service stack and putting the older network addresses within it.
Small businesses can truly take advantage of converting to the new internet module by ensuring that their internet services remain relevant when the older version finally goes out of service. The new protocol offers advantages of robustness and better connectivity. You need to hire the right professionals to convert from IPv4 to IPv6.