Archive for June, 2013

Cloud Gaining Traction in Government, Education Markets

June 27th, 2013

Cloud computing is gaining momentum in the government and education space. Software as a Service offerings are growing rapidly, driven by the education software developers seeing an opportunity to gain new customers. We’re also seeing many of our clients re-architecting their infrastructure to take advantage of SaaS and cloud-type offerings. It’s largely about speed of deployment and flexibility in getting to applications. But many of the same issues that inhibit cloud issues in the business community also impact government and education. Most notably, prospects express concerns about security and availability, especially when the infrastructure is carrying sensitive personal information. Therefore, assessing the relative sensitivity of the respective agency is often one of the first steps in evaluating the feasibility of proceeding.

Government and education departments, that are not guided by as many compliance regulations are taking advantage of the cloud as fast as they can, we are seeing the same thing with managed services in that space. It costs them too much money to continually build out these networks and to operate them, so they are looking for new ways to gain efficiencies. It’s happening in education, and it’s happening in government.

The major players in the infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) space, including Amazon Web Services, Google, HP and Microsoft are actively marketing their government cloud practices. Amazon lists NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the Recovery Accountability Transparency Board and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory among its cloud clients.

Nearly one-third of the federal government’s IT budget is spent on maintaining and upgrading older infrastructure, and the same ratios are substantially true for state and local governments.

More RFPs are being based around hosted voice, hosted call center, and things of that nature. They are actively utilizing these services in the procurement process because they see cost benefits in consuming technology on a per-seat, per-month basis.”

The city of Boston announced that Google and Appirio had been granted a contract to move all city workers and schools to a unified messaging and collaboration platform based on Google Apps by the end of the year. The city claims nearly 75,000 email users, including accounts for its 57,000 public schools students. The move is expected to cut expenses by more than 30 percent per year.

A number of government agencies in major cities have made similar moves to the cloud. Last year, the Chicago public school system made a similar transition to the cloud, in a move expected to save $6 million over three years.

Some of the savings realized by local government agencies comes from the reduced need to maintain high-end staff. As the technology moves forward, it’s harder for public-sector entities to keep the necessary skill sets within their four walls. So when they deploy a premises-based solution, they often find themselves struggling to support it.

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Written by Ken Presti


Do All Roads Lead to the Cloud?

June 14th, 2013

A change is occurring in today’s data center environment.Similar to the past emergence of client/server computing, storageconsolidation, and server virtualization, the next big shift for the data center of tomorrow appears to begin with cloud computing. How do we know cloud computing is destined to be more than just the latest marketing message promoted by companies to convince you to buy more of their services? Three points from the world of public clouds give credence to the growing importance of cloud computing:

  1.  Popular consumer cloud services with downloadable apps like iTunes, Google Mail™, and even Netflix are good examples of how easy it has become to purchase, use, or access just the items, infrastructure, and services you want from an easy self-service, Web-based interface. How many workers and executives in your company today not only use these services themselves but also compare why it’s so much harder and more expensive to access and use their own internal IT systems?
  2. Business-oriented public cloud services, such as CRM-focused or payroll processing apps from companies like ADP and PayCom, have allowed many companies using these services to achieve greater success and cost savings by outsourcing from the cloud. Early successful applications like these accessed from a public cloud infrastructure tend to fall into the categories of software as a service (SaaS).
  3. Surprisingly low-cost, scalable and agile, cloud-based Web services are now available for things like block storage, database platforms, and virtual server platforms. These tend to fall in the category of infrastructure as a service (IaaS) or, to a lesser degree, platform as a service (PaaS). Popular examples of IaaS come from cloud vendors like Google, or Amazon web services.

Public clouds offer great promise to consumers and business users alike. Yet, how does that translate into the need to develop a cloud platform behind the firewall of your current IT data center? It’s no longer a question of whether or not you should move into cloud computing. The question becomes whether or not you should build your own  private cloud, buy into an existing cloud services from a third-party provider, or do something in between these two cases.

The cloud can solve a number of needs There’s no shortage of IT personal and cloud providers attempting to share the many benefits of cloud computing. In fact, many of these sources are specifically targeting the education of executives in companies just like yours. This is for good reason:  Cloud computing offers a number of operational, financial, and business benefits that your small business should be looking in to right now!

Are You Ready For the Cloud?

June 5th, 2013

Five Questions to Help Small Businesses Decide if they’re Ready to Take the Leap

You’ve heard about cloud computing, and may have wondered what is it exactly, and what it can mean for your business. The simple answer is that cloud computing is anything that involves delivering hosted services over the Internet. In fact, you may already perform some of your business functions in the cloud, including website hosting, email applications, Google Apps™, or even®.

You may have seen references to categories of cloud-based computing such as Software as a Service (Saas) or Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). SaaS means that software you would normally install on your computer is instead delivered via the Internet. IaaS is where you rent space in a data center and use a provider’s servers instead of buying new hardware to run your business. With all the services available, there is an opportunity to move your entire business to the cloud. However, most small businesses are opting for a hybrid solution with some data or applications in the cloud and some remaining on company premises. Now that you know what cloud computing is and what it can do for small businesses, we have compiled five questions to help

You decide if the cloud is right for you:

1. Do you find it difficult to budget?  By turning to the cloud, small companies can achieve a significantly lower total cost of ownership for their IT resources. There is no need to purchase software licenses or expensive servers. Maintenance issues such as downed servers or outdated software, and the costs associated with them, become negligible since your cloud services provider is responsible for maintaining the hardware and software. Add in the cost of physical floor space to house multiple servers, plus the electricity required to run them, and cloud services begin to look rather attractive.

2. Are you struggling to manage your individual computers and network infrastructure? It is not uncommon for a small business to berunning the email, website, file storage, backup, security management, finance, and accounting programs all on one server that is being managed by an overworked IT manager. Compare that situation to an application delivered securely over the Internet, hosted on a server farm with the latest equipment, and managed and maintained around the clock by IT experts. In this case, an unexpected boost in traffic to your website will not slow down your entire network as it might with server-based, on-premise applications. Your provider responds in the moment with potentially higher service levels and functional expertise.

3. Is it difficult for you to keep up with current trends such as mobility, or implement changes to your infrastructure? Because the bulk of hardware, software, security, and maintenance are managed by the cloud services vendor, a cloud-based infrastructure is flexible and responsive, allowing you to leverage new capabilities and implement changes quickly and easily. New software, security updates, or hardware appliances can all be provided to benefit users at a much faster rate than most in- house IT departments could hope to achieve. In the cloud, speedy deployment and swift adoption are the norm.

4. Do you wish you had more time to focus on your business? A cloud computing infrastructure frees your time, allowing you to focus on your core business. With fewer servers to manage and fewer client computers failing, you’ll have time to build competitive strategies that give your company the tools and processes it needs to grow. Many companies think a good IT department is one that’s fixing computers, securing networks, and ensuring the Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone system is working. However, a great IT department is really one that helps its business strategically use technology to advance the overall company goals.

5. Do you need to protect your company’s digital assets? Cloud computing can provide inherent security to remote employees. In some cases, employees are only accessing data and applications through hosted servers, and no data is stored locally. However, most small businesses are deciding that a hybrid solution is best, where they utilize some data or applications in the cloud and leave some remaining on company premises. Viruses can still wreak havoc on your local computers, and malware and malicious scripts can destroy your network. With these threats in mind, ensure any local data is backed up to protect your infrastructure. Client computers, on-premise servers, overall network, local data, and applications must be secured, encrypted, and protected with complex passwords. Regardless of how mobile users work, in the cloud or on local computers, their devices need to be a part of a backup system so that any locally stored information is protected. Security software to protect against viruses, malware, and unauthorized access must be installed as well. Security is not just about protecting data. It is also about ensuring your own business continuity. Primary and secondary data centers and redundancy plans work to keep your information and applications available and secure.

Cloud computing could be a solution to your problems.


Article provided by Symantec a global leader in providing security, storage, and systems management solutions.