Cloud Computing: Which Option Is Right For You?

When it comes to business IT solutions, cloud computing is unquestionably the way forward for many companies. Over the last few years, this technology has gone from being a hyped-up buzzword to a central part of the way organisations of all shapes and sizes operate. But if you’re coming to the cloud for the first time it may seem like a minefield, with a huge range of tools and deployment options to choose from. Get it right and you can be well set for years to come, but go down the wrong route and it can be costly and time-consuming to correct your course. One of the biggest decisions you’ll have to make is what type of cloud to go for. There are three key options here – public, private and hybrid. Each have their own pros and cons and may be better-suited to some scenarios that others. So which option is the best for your business? This decision will depend on many factors, such as the type of data you have, how flexible you need to be and your level of in-house IT resources. If you’re unsure about what will work best when you’re choosing a cloud solution, read on for our top tips on each option and what it could do for your business.

Public cloud

This is the option most people think of when they hear about the cloud. It involves a service provider making resources available over a public network such as the internet. These resources, such as software or data storage services, are available publicly and shared by multiple users.

The pros

Because these services are managed centrally by a provider, public cloud options are very flexible. If your business needs to quickly add computing power or storage to meet demand, this can be done easily and cheaply. They’re usually purchased on a pay-as-you-go subscription basis and can be set up in hours or even minutes, rather than weeks.

The cons

Because data is being sent over public networks to shared data centres, public cloud can’t guarantee the same levels of security as other options. There are also issues such as data sovereignty to consider, particularly if information is held in countries other than where the business is based. Public options also typically offer users less control over their solutions, which makes them unsuitable for use in heavily-regulated industries.

Private cloud

Private clouds, as the name suggests, aren’t shared with other users. The hardware, infrastructure and applications are dedicated only to one individual customer, with services delivered via secure connections.

The pros

One of the main benefits of this approach is the additional security and control that can be achieved. If businesses need to meet specific compliance regulations, this level of protection and visibility into what is going on within the network will be vital. Companies can also take advantage of the fact private clouds are far more customisable than public alternatives, so they can build a solution tailored to their exact needs.

The cons

However, this level of control and security does come with a cost – and it’s often a financial one. Private cloud deployments tend to be more expensive than public options, while they also require businesses to have a higher level of IT expertise in order to build and maintain the system. While cloud firms will still do some of the heavy lifting, businesses cannot simply sign up to a private service and leave it solely in the service provider’s hands to the same extent they can with public alternatives.

Hybrid cloud

The third option is hybrid cloud, which involved a mixture of both public and private services. Often described as a ‘best of both worlds’ solution, it enables companies to pick and choose which elements of their IT environment are delivered via the public cloud and which come via private solutions.

The pros

This means that businesses can mitigate many of the negative aspects of the other options. So if they need agility and scalability, they can rely on public services, but still turn to private solutions for parts of the business where higher security is required, such as storing sensitive personal information.

The cons

In order to ensure a hybrid cloud is working effectively, it will be vital that data is able to transfer fluidly from public to private parts of a network. This can present a potential weak point or bottleneck that can slow down operations if not addressed. Upfront costs for deploying a hybrid cloud can also be very high, depending on the exact mix of services that a business needs.

Which is best?

There’s no simple answer to the question of which option is best, as each business will have its own requirements. A financial services company, for instance, is likely to need the security of a private solution, while a public cloud’s ability to scale up quickly will be invaluable to a retailer looking to gear up for the holiday season. In many cases, a hybrid solution may end up being the best option, as it’s best of both worlds approach allows firms to take advantage of both public and private options while minimising their drawbacks.

What’s your secret sauce?

Customers are looking to service providers to give them an edge. They are looking for the secret sauce to help them stay ahead. It almost goes without saying nowadays, when we sit down with a large customer, they will typically say, “You provide the best service of all of our providers, you are the best, not just in Europe, in the world, we wish we had others like you …but now we want more… now we want to do this…”

Customer confidence stems from solid customer service and how you respond to your customers’ issues, closely coupled to how reliable the foundation of your business is – in our case, the network. It is always a combination of both that gives you the edge.

Is it about management and structure?

It’s not so much a structural issue, it’s a cultural issue. Look to your beginnings – look at what got you here in the first place – and revisit and revive that culture – it is still there.

For example, Colt was the new kid on the block 30 years ago and that start-up mentality became embedded into the culture. It still exists today and we certainly don’t want to change that as we move forward. And that start-up culture has that strong belief in being close to customers and delivering the best customer service. We knows that it’s a big differentiator when it comes to winning business and keeping business and it’s a great thing to ensure there is a culture that thinks that way.

Is it about technology?

We’ve seen waves of evolution of technology over the years. Many years ago it was the mainframe, and then ten or 15 years later it was the personal computer and the mini, and technology has continued to evolve to where it is today. And the IT world has evolved as well, especially in the last five or ten years.

Five or ten years ago IT was focused around the data centre and in customers putting their applications in data centres and then connectivity from those data centres and that’s been a model that’s been reasonably successful.

Things are now changing dramatically and we’re going to see this pace accelerate. Businesses are moving from the traditional model of big data centres, putting my applications there, and then fanning it out to my customer base, or my employee base or whatever it happens to be.

Is it about the cloud?

Businesses are now moving to cloud environments and a cloud way of working.

And they’re moving for two reasons:

1) They need applications that are more friendly to mobile devices and more customer focused. Certainly not to be locked into some of those applications that were developed ten or 15 years ago. Businesses want to bring those forward to exploit their speed and flexibility.

2) They need to get closer to customers, and their customers, at the same time.

So what we’re seeing is evolution from a data centre perspective, from big data centres to smaller data centres that are closer to the customer base.

We’ll see smaller data centres and we’ll see them in population centres that will drive less latency, faster response time to customers and the network obviously will be a big part of that.

Business need to get that network as close to those customers as possible. Why? Because those networks and their performance become key to their customers’ experience. That evolution is just beginning and with SDN we’re going to see it continue and accelerate.

So, every businesses’ secret sauce will be made up of focus on great customer experience, a start-up culture, tech know-how and the ability to change faster than the market ….

No-one has the recipe as yet – but we feel we have some of the key ingredients.

For example, to find out about our new 1Gb Always commitment – please click here

 

Five Reasons Why Your Business Needs 4G

The arrival of 4G connectivity has created superfast communication possibilities, such as the ability to instantly share files, browse the web and make high-quality video calls. And in a world where customers expect fast service, 4G offers organisations the opportunity to experience new levels of productivity and efficiency.

1: Efficient Browsing: Speed is everything. And with 4G, users benefit from download speeds up to ten times faster than 3G. It means webpages load instantly, large files can be downloaded in seconds and most importantly, there is no sign of the dreaded buffering icon. 

2: High Quality Video Calls: Poor mobile connectivity leads to jittery conversations, pixelated images and delays which cause people to talk over each other. 4G allows workers to make crystal clear video calls in real time, ensuring effective communication can be maintained with colleagues.

3: Fast Upload Charges: Today, Superfast upload speeds are equally as important as swift download speeds. As 4G is up to seven times faster than its predecessor, users can upload and share content, such as photos, files or HD videos, in seconds.

4: Collaborate in the Cloud: Previously, productivity would grind to a halt once workers left the office. However, cloud-based tools like Microsoft Office 365 enable users to collaborate on documents and have access to familiar applications, including Word, PowerPoint and Excel, in real time from wherever they are. 

5: Flexible Working: Superfast speeds and the mass availability of 4G enables businesses to be responsive and make effective decisions even when on the move. By pairing a device with the cloud, users can also rest assured that valuable data is backed up securely. Business no longer needs to stop.

Keeping Large Providers Honest.. Acting In Your Best Interest?

To help your business reduce its bottom line spend, understanding if your telecommunications provider is supplying the best service at the best price can be an effective starting point. This article provides some questions that any procurement professional should ask, to help understand if their telecom provider is acting in their best interest.

Question 1: Are You Getting the Best Deal?

The telecom market has changed drastically over the last few years. There’s been a big shift from traditional voice and SMS use towards increasing amounts of data use. If your workforce are on inappropriate contacts for their mobile use habits, this shift could be costing your organisation unnecessarily. Many telecom providers are not forthcoming with this information as it would result in lower spend and reduced revenue. By approaching an independent consultancy such as CommSourced, it can be made simple to manage the array of multiple corporate devices, and to gain useful insight into how they are being used. This can be done through Expense Reduction.

Question 2: Will Your Telecom Provider Notify You Of Billing Errors?

Throughout our years of experience in the telecom space, a major cause of inaccurate costs are due to billing errors from suppliers that go unnoticed or lines of rental which have been unused for years and continually paid. There is little to gain for a supplier that notifies you of these errors, as not only will they lose revenue but they will also be seen as inefficient in their service delivery. In large organisations that have thousands of devices it’s very difficult for all this information to be managed efficiently by an internal team. You may be unaware that your supplier is inaccurately billing your organisation consistently, which may be an area to achieve savings both retrospectively and moving forward. An expense reduction provider can use their relevant software to analyse billing data and capture these errors to help provide savings.

Question 3: Is Your Supplier Acting In Your Best Interest?

Many multi-national telecom providers will claim that they are acting in your best interest, through managing your telecom spend effectively and providing your organisation with the best deal possible. A supplier has the information needed to help identify misuse by employees, billing errors and inefficient contact subscriptions. All of which could reduce your overall telecom spend. However, there is a conflict of interest here as many suppliers want to obtain the highest revenue possible from their users. An external Expense Management partner does not share this conflict and will truly act in your best interest, to help reduce your telecommunications expense.

Conclusion

A successful telecom procurement manager is fully aware if their current telecom providers are acting impartially - Keeping the large vendors HONEST. We always recommend using an external Telco partner which will have your interest at the heart of their service delivery. This will ensure that your organisation achieves the greatest benefit from your telecom services. Asking the questions above will ensure that you give yourself the optimal chance to gain the maximum cost benefits for your business. External partners like ourselves can help many organisations achieve a saving of 20% or more on telecom costs, find out by getting in touch with us now.

5 Ways the Cloud Will Change Business Communication

If you're not an early adopter of consumer technologies, the worst that can happen is that you look a little outdated to your friends. For business owners, however, failing to take advantage of the latest advances in business technology can mean getting left behind while their competitors soar ahead.

With so many businesses moving their operations to the cloud, staying on top of the latest tech trends is becoming increasingly important. 8x8 Cloud Voice, a provider of cloud-based business phone service, works with businesses of all sizes to help with their communications needs. 

  1. The demand for managed Internet services will increase significantly. Managed, monitored and maintained Internet services will become critically important for businesses. As the need and use for cloud apps increases, businesses will demand private cloud service so they're not at the mercy of slow performance or security issues when they're sharing Internet with other customers on a public connection. Find out more on Cloud Services
     
  2. BYOD will shift to JOC (join our cloud). Gone are the days of needing a specific type of device to collaborate on your business's network. Whether you're working on a smartphone, desktop or tablet, everyone can collaborate with cloud-based applications. Service providers will continue to work toward making their apps work on any type of device.
     
  3. Working entirely via smartphone or tablet will become a viable option. Faster networks like 4G are becoming ubiquitous across the country. 3G didn't have the reliability for devices to run data-heavy applications and deliver large files smoothly. Businesses are dependent on real-time communications, and thanks to these new faster networks, people can now use smartphones and tablets to run all their key business processes without worrying about slow or lost data transmission.
     
  4. Outsourcing will shift to decentralising. 8x8 Cloud Voice Telephony has noticed that more of its customers are decentralising and hiring more full-time employees who work outside the company's headquarters. With videoconferencing and other cloud services, employees now have the technology available to truly work remotely. This trend means a greater ability to integrate talent from anywhere.
     
  5. The cloud will make small businesses global and drive greater customer satisfaction. Small businesses are now able to do a lot of things that, in the past, only large companies could do. Technology is becoming less expensive and more accessible to any size business, which will drive more global operations. Small businesses will become more competitive, as they will no longer have the same scale limitations.

For more information and to contact us at CommSourced to carry out a FREE Business Expense Reduction Audit please do contact us or fill in the forms online / download in your own time and request a convenient time for us to discuss your businesses Cloud communication needs.

10 Tough Security, Compliance and Reliability Questions.

10 Tough Security, Compliance and Reliability Questions to Ask Your Communications Provider

It’s often difficult to know exactly how to separate the real deal from the pretenders when it comes to security, reliability and compliance. What should you ask to discern a helpful provider from those that would rather avoid the issue? While every company has different needs, here are some good “conversation starters.”

1. Can you recommend particular configurations of our system to help us comply? Providers that make compliance a priority can often supply you with expertise or suggestions to help you comply, and they’re more likely to have a compliance officer who can explain how their services are set up to facilitate compliance.

2. Are you a HIPAA-compliant business associate? If so, can you put it in writing? Many companies aren’t, and doing business with them could jeopardize your compliance if you use their services.

3. What has your communications company done to ensure compliance? For telecommunications providers, compliance is an extensive, ongoing process. First, they must they make sure their company complies. And in many cases, they need to verify that their own chain of third parties is also compliant with the latest HIPAA business associate and other regulatory requirements, and they need to have signed Business Associate and other agreements.

4. Do you have a dedicated security and compliance officer? 8x8 does. With more than 20 years of experience, he is passionate about ensuring and improving 8x8 security and compliance.

5. Which security and compliance metrics do you support? Providers should meet HIPAA, FISMA and FIPS compliance specifications. 8x8 is the only well known VoIP provider that provides optional FISMA (moderate) and FIPS-2 (level 2) data-in-motion and data-at-rest encryption.

6. Has your compliance been assessed by independent experts? If so, who did the assessment? Look for actual third-party verification by respected experts, so that you don’t jeopardize your own company’s compliance. Salespeople are often confused about the new rules themselves, and could mislead you, so ask for independent confirmation.

7. What reliability level can you support? Ask for at least “four nines.” 8x8 has achieved 99.997% average uptime in 2013.

8. What kind of failover capabilities does your service provide? It is a good practice to have failover between multiple datacenters. 8x8 offers seamless failover capability for 8x8 phones. 8x8 also uses georouting to have the endpoints registered to the closest data center, for a high-quality user experience. In the event of an issue with the data center, phones would automatically and seamlessly fail over to the next closest data center. 8x8 has two data centers in the US, one in Hong Kong, and one in the UK.

9. What methods does your service provider offer for business continuity? When natural disasters or outages strike, you want to be able to keep going, so look for service with multiple ways to stay connected. Because 8x8 phone service and Virtual Contact Center are available by computer with any browser, calls can be forwarded to cell phones or other sites, and can be moved by transporting your IP phone to any other site with an Internet connection. In addition, your 8x8 phone service can run on employees’ personal smartphones using the 8x8 downloadable mobile app.

10. What kind of customer references can you provide? And what do they say about your ability and willingness to work with any special needs your organization has? If a provider’s references won’t talk about the provider’s ability to provide security, reliability and compliance, that’s almost as big a red flag as unwillingness to address the issue. 8x8’s clientele includes air ambulance services, airports, the EPA, insurance companies and legal firms which have important requirements that 8x8 meets or exceeds. And here’s an example of what our customers say: “We were truly impressed with how 8x8 proactively reached out to us, came prepared with an analysis of our needs and delivered what they recommended efficiently and on budget,” says Raymond Hooke, Airside Operations Manager at Belfast City Airport. Se 

Brought to you from our Cloud Solutions parter 8x8 Uk