Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

The Cloud Means (Agile, Scalable, Productive) Business

It’s been 385 years to the month since Gov. John Winthrop founded and named “Boston,” a hilly peninsula that had been settled earlier in 1630 by his fellow Puritans. This week, that historic U.S. city becomes a destination for people looking for insight into the cloud, a technology that’s reshaping the history of the digital world. 

The 2015 “Cloud Means Business” conference is sponsored by Cloud Partners and is being held in Boston from Sept. 16 – 18. Equinix will be there, along with a host of our partners.

As its title suggests, the conference will focus on the cloud’s impact on business, with its opening session specifically looking at how new technologies – including software-defined networking and the Internet of Things – are redefining the cloud marketplace. As we gear up for the Boston conference, our mind is focused on how these technologies will be impacting what companies will be doing in the cloud.

The current and future impact of cloud on the enterprise is well-documented, including in the recent report by Oxford Economics, “The Cloud Grows Up.” The report indicated that nearly 70% of businesses surveyed plan to make “moderate-to-heavy” cloud investments over the next three years. Other findings with implications for the cloud marketplace:

  • 61% of survey respondents expected their companies to have developed new products or services via the cloud within three years, up from 26% that had done so.
  • 51% expected to have developed new lines of business via the cloud in three years, compared to 28% that had done so.
  • 50% expected to have entered new markets in three years, compared to 40% that had done so.

Given the pace of cloud change in the past three years, the cloud marketplace three years from now could look nothing like what we can conceive today. But the two technologies singled out by conference organizers will play a huge role in getting us from now to whatever’s next.

Software-Defined Networking (SDN): SDN’s huge advantage is that it frees the enterprise to shift network control from physical network devices it has to “touch” and maintain (i.e. switches, routers) onto software applications that allow centralized, end-to-end network provisioning and visibility. SDN is at the heart of the kind of cloud services and infrastructures that are becoming less a feature of this interconnected era and more a necessity to operate in it.

That’s because business is changing to require instant, simultaneous interconnection between cloud partners to reach increasingly mobile end users at anytime, anywhere, on any device. That kind of agility can’t happen without a dynamic, software-based architecture. Equinix already offers this capability with our Cloud Exchange, which at its core, uses SDN within the Equinix Programmable Network.

Internet of Things (IoT): A lot of the excitement about the IoT centers around the new business insights it can offer. Until now, we’ve never had sensors on deep sea ships, for instance, spilling out information about weather changes, ocean currents, cargo conditions, so we’ve never had a chance to see the innovations and efficiencies that information might lead to. IBM midmarket business general manager John Mason calls data “the new natural resource.” But this resource can’t exist without the cloud, and it can’t be mined without the cloud, so the growing significance of the IoT in the cloud marketplace is clear – for businesses of every size.

“I think eventually every business has to have somewhere in its portfolio and go-to-market approach a range of cloud services,” Mason told Forbes.

At Equinix, we agree with the folks in Boston that “cloud means business.” Click the link to learn more about how our cloud infrastructure solutions can help the enterprise do business.

Predicting The Future Of Cloud Service Providers

When asked which Value-Added Reseller (VAR) is most likely to win their enterprises’ business for a significant hosting project, the majority said IBM IBM +1.36% (18%) followed by Microsoft MSFT +0.00% (11%), Amazon (8%) and Dell (7%).

Database (57%), e-mail (54%) and business applications (ERP, CRM & industry-specific apps) (49%) are the three leading application hosting investments enterprises will be making in the next two years.

These and other insights are from Beyond Infrastructure: Cloud 2.0 Signifies New Opportunities for Cloud Service Providers (66 pp., no opt-in) a report providing valuable insights into the Managed Service Provider (MSP) and Cloud Service Provider (CSP CSPI +0.00%) landscape. The study was conducted by 451 Research LLC and commissioned by Microsoft. Despite being vendor-sponsored, this study provides several useful take-aways on the broader MSP and CSP marketplace. Please see the first pages of the study for more on the methodology.

Key take-aways include the following:

  • Enterprises’ highest expectations when moving to hosted services or cloud computing is gaining improved technology quality on platforms and applications (22%), helping to grow the business (18%), improved availability and better business service (13%).  The following graphic analyzes the expectations enterprises have when moving to the cloud.
  • Within two years, 34% of enterprises will have 60% or more of their applications on a cloud platform. 47% of marketing departments will have 60% or more of their applications on a cloud platform in two years.  These and other insights are from the graphic, Future Percent of Applications in Cloud by Department.
  • 63% of all enterprises surveyed are running an on-premises private cloud with a hosted private cloud. 45% using an on-premises private cloud with a public cloud. 32% have a hosted private cloud integrated to a public cloud. The following graphic shows the relative level of interoperability maturity across the three hybrid cloud scenarios 451 Research evaluated. MSPs and CSPs need to excel at mastering cloud interoperability and integration technologies to keep pace with the wide variety of enterprise needs in this area now and in the future.
  • Security (35%), better control by IT teams (19%) and improved performance (17%) are the three most common factors driving enterprises to move workloads from public to private clouds.  It’s interesting to note than only 14% of respondents see workload migrations from public to private clouds being cost driven and only 7% are seeing the shift due to IT centralization plans.
  • Backup and Recovery (68%), Disaster Recovery/Site Recovery (54%),  Application development tools & platforms (47%) and Mobile Services (47%) are the four Managed Services enterprises anticipate investing the most in in the next two years. The following graphic provides an overview of forecasted spending on Managed Services over the next two years.
  • Database (57%), e-mail (54%) and business applications (ERP, CRM & industry-specific apps) (49%) are the three leading application hosting investments enterprises will be making in the next two years. Analytics including Business Intelligence (BI), data mining and Big Data (41%) is the sixth-most mentioned area for future investment. The following graphic provides an overview of Application Hosting investment priorities over the next two years.
  • When asked which Value-Added Reseller (VAR) is most likely to win their company’s business for a significant hosting project, the majority said IBM (18%).  Microsoft (11%), Amazon (8%) and Dell (7%) were mentioned second through fourth. When asked which system integrator (SI) would most likely win a significant hosting project, IBM was mentioned most often (25%) followed by Microsoft (13%).  Please see the second graphic for the top-mentioned SIs.
  • CIO/CTOs are the most influential C-level executives regarding purchasing decisions related to cloud-based Application Development and IT Operations/Administration apps.  CEOs are the most influential regarding cloud-based marketing app adoption.  The following two graphs illustrate the stakeholder decision making authority roles of C-level executives.

The Cabinet vs the Cloud: Why You Need to Get Out of the IT Closet

Setting up a full computing system in an office can be pricey, especially for small businesses, which are always looking at ways to save money and space. If you’re fed up with paying endless IT costs, barricading your IT closet and shunning the ‘traditional’ way of doing things won’t necessarily do your business any harm thanks to the growing popularity and improving security of the Cloud, which is fast becoming a more viable means of hosting and managing data for small companies with big ideas.

Why are so many businesses still storing their systems in the IT ‘cabinet’?

Despite the many benefits to migrating to the Cloud, many people are still skeptical. It’s understandable. Sending your data to third parties and losing an element of control is off-putting, especially if you need to make sure you comply with all those pesky data protection laws. But this really shouldn’t concern you too much. These companies look after masses of data, and pride themselves on their multi-layer, military-grade encryption (for those who are interested, a more detailed explanation of what is meant by ‘military grade’ can be found here).

With the sophisticated security systems they have in place, they should do a better job of looking after your data then you would.

The real question is, why would you want to store your valuable company data in what is essentially a dark corner or cupboard in the office when your information will, in most cases, be much more secure sitting behind multiple layers of impossible-to-crack coding in the Cloud?

The cost-saving benefits offered by the Cloud

Few small businesses are blessed with the sums of money sufficient to support expensive hardware and software licenses. Just a few years ago, these budgetary restrictions might have stopped some businesses from ever starting up. At the very least, small enterprises would have had to dedicate whole rooms to servers that housed their data and powered their company. These units filled up valuable office space and incurred plenty of budget-draining servicing and maintenance costs.

The Cloud works differently. You don’t need to invest in expensive hardware to run ‘cloudware’ (a name commonly given to software that is hosted and run on a remote server). In many cases, cloudware providers won’t charge an initial start-up fee – and if they do, it’s likely to be minimal. Instead, businesses pay a far more manageable monthly subscription, saving them large sums of money, particularly in those all-important early days.

According to a recent Hurwitz white paper, the total cost of ownership for cloud-based services versus those hosted on-premise was 55% lower; add to this the fact that there are no infrastructure costs involved in running applications in the Cloud, and the potential savings really begin to stack up.

Although after a while a monthly subscription fee will eventually overtake the one-off bulk fee you’d normally pay for on-site computing but even then running costs are surprisingly high for non-Cloud services. And the convenience and scalability offered by working in the Cloud more than justifies the long-term cost: all software updates will be taken care of, you won’t need to pay to have any faulty gear replaced, and, should you want to cancel or upgrade your package, this can usually be done online with minimal hassle. Put simply, cloudware is a great choice if you want to safeguard your business against any obstacles or surprise expansions it may encounter as it grows.

Finding a compromise

For those who, even after working their way through our very convincing argument for cloud adoption, still have their concerns, this whitepaper from GFI.com is worth a read. The report suggests a ‘hybrid’ halfway home between on-premise and the cloud; a model which maximizes the strengths of both systems and presents minimal risk.

The point reiterated by this piece is that decision makers need to adapt their system to fit the needs of their business. Indeed, it’s crucial that companies aren’t swayed by trends and are not tempted to invest in cloudware purely because it’s seen as the ‘thing to do’.

Finding the right solution for your business

Moving to the Cloud is a big step, so all plans need to be strategically thought through. This is no time for knee-jerk decisions. You’ll reap more rewards in the long term if you can accurately pinpoint the area of your business that will be the most improved by a new cloud-based system, then expand your adoption from there on in.

In a nutshell, don’t blindly transfer over to the Cloud for the sake of cutting costs – make the move count.

Ultimately, the cost and deliverance benefits of moving to the Cloud should outweigh the cons, and quite simply the hassle, of setting up or retaining an on-site computing system and continuing to bury your data in your dusty, and somewhat dated, IT cabinet.

Cloud Computing: Will Amazon Web Services Retain Its Top Position In Cloud?

The last week of July witnessed Chinese internet firm Alibaba investing US$1 billion in its cloud computing division Aliyun. It had recently expressed a wish to beat Amazon in the cloud services business. Though Alibaba has a long road to tread, it is not the only competitor that Amazon has. Should the latter be worried about its future in the cloud services market.

Latest Developments in Cloud Computing Market: Security Emerges as Key Issue

Amazon Web Services has been a revenue driver for Amazon in the last two quarters. The e-commerce giant’s cloud business has led it to earn handsome quarterly profits. However, its arch rivals in the cloud services market have recently made some smart moves to bolster their businesses.

  • Microsoft plans to buy Israeli cloud-security firm Adallom: If Microsoft buys Adallom Inc. for a whopping US$320 million, it would ensure the expansion of the technology giant’s cyber-security-focused operations in Israel. Adallom offers services aimed to ensure the security of the cloud-based applications such as Google’s Google Apps, Microsoft’s Office 365, and the applications developed by Service Now Inc., and Salesforce.com Inc. By monitoring the use of cloud application by individual employees, Adallom’s services point out the anomalies as possible security breaches. The Israeli firm has an envious list of clients that includes LinkedIn, NetFlix, and SAP SE.
  • IBM gains FedRAMP approval for cloud services: IBM’s cloud-based MaaS360 is the first enterprise mobility management solution to meet all the stringent security requirements of the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) Joint Authorization Board. MaaS360 offers advanced security by allowing organizations to monitor and control smartphones, tablets, PCS, and other personally-owned devices.
  • Google Offers ‘Encryption Keys’: To address the security issue, Google Compute Engine is offering a “bring your own encryption keys” feature in trial form. Though GCE already supports the AES-256-bit encryption, the current feature will let users control the keys to access data. Google has mentioned that no one would be able to access the data without obtaining access to the encryption keys.

Interestingly, Amazon Web Services had already raised the bar last year when it announced BYO encryption keys for its S3 storage service. Also, the company offers Cloud HSM to allow customers to manage their own keys.

How Does Amazon Web Services Manage to Retain Top Position in Cloud Services Market?

Amid the price war between the top cloud service providers, aggressive pricing has been the key word for Amazon to manage its stronghold in the cloud services market. Recently, Amazon Web Services massively slashed prices by 28% – 51% for its various services. Though this has made investors worry about the company’s long-term profitability, it has helped Amazon register revenue worth US$1.57 billion from its cloud services arm in the first quarter of this year.

Aggressive pricing has also helped Amazon to expand its clientele across different geographical regions. Amazon Web Services has recently opened its office in Johannesburg to tap the expanding customer base in South Africa. Adcorp and Medscheme are some of the established clients of Amazon’s cloud services in the region.

What Does the Future Hold for Amazon’s Cloud Services?

Last week of August saw Amazon and Microsoft winning a huge contract with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), led by IT consultant CSC. The FAA is in the process of shrinking its data centers and moving data to both Amazon’s cloud Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft’s cloud, Azure. This contract might lead to new opportunities for Amazon to offer its cloud services to other government agencies.

However, a growing number of players in the cloud services market will threaten the top position enjoyed by Amazon Web Services in the market so far. Further price cuts will definitely affect the company’s profitability goals in the future. Also, potential customers are increasingly becoming reluctant to outsource their operations to cloud service providers due to security threats. Under these circumstances, Amazon has to come up with innovations and strategies to protect its stronghold in the cloud services market.

Can’t Cook, Won’t Cook: Could These 5 Gadgets Lead to a Mini Cooking Revolution?

OK, so I have to start this off with something of a confession; as much as it pains me to admit, I am a terrible cook. Despite the fact that I have lived in England for most of my life, I am still incredibly proud of the fact that I am French born, and obviously not being able to cook causes me a great deal of embarrassment. This is especially the case when I enthusiastically inform strangers where I was born and they then jokingly invite themselves round for dinner as only the British are able to do.

Luckily for those who are as gastronomically-challenged as myself, there has been an array of gadgets that have entered the market recently. These have taken my fancy so much recently that they have galvanised my intention of finally being able to cook something other than the English speciality of ‘beans on toast’. While being able to master Coq au Vin or embark on creating my own brand of luxury biscuits may still be several years in the future, there are certainly enough items out of there to assist me in my foray into the world of culinary delights.

It’s Getting Hot in Here

If you are like me and struggle to even cook a bacon sandwich, I am sure that you will agree that cooking meat is one of the most challenging things that you can do. Luckily for us, there is a man who has the intention of helping us woo anyone with our cooking skills, while at the same time helping keep off those troublesome calories from finding a new home around our waists.

Yes that’s right, I’m talking about George Foreman’s revolutionary range of electric grill plates.

Slice It Up

While I can just about cut up a carrot adequately enough into circles of varying thicknesses, which is literally about it, I struggle to do much else. That is until I found this handy little slicer that even features a julienne blade, which enables me to fool even the most expert of cooks that I actually have a degree of French flair when it comes to cooking. Not only will you ensure that you don’t end up cutting off half of your finger, you will impress everyone who gets the privilege of sampling your cooking. One word of advice though, you will need to think about buying something to carry this nifty little friend around in just in case you end up being asked to chop vegetables by others!

Can’t Cook? Now You Can!

This is exactly what you have been waiting for! I guarantee that this will change your life in more ways than you can imagine. This really is a piece of beauty and is perfect if you struggle to keep tabs on more than one pot when cooking. Basically the Stone Microwave cooker prepares all of your main courses and side dishes all together under one lid in a microwave. What’s more, there is also a handy recipe blog if you need inspiration!

Now You Can Rest Easy

If you are like me and have spent several hours in A & E after burning your hand badly, then you will appreciate just how valuable the Snug is. In my defence, I didn’t quite realise just how hot a wooden spoon could get, and that is where the Snug becomes invaluable. This nifty gadget holds your spoon in place on the side of the pan while you are cooking and is worth every penny.

It Must Be Love, Love, Love

To conclude I am delighted to be able to bring your attention to a gadget which combines both my English and French tastes in food. Not only that, it also enables me to impress a lucky lady, whether I am cooking a fried-egg sandwich or a croque madame. Please do not think of me as something of a lothario, I actually consider myself to be quite the opposite. As you can see, these heart-shaped-eggs will help get you in your belle’s good books, while at the same time making her believe that it doesn’t take you 6 attempt to crack an egg!

Convert FAT32 to NTFS Without Formatting or Losing Data

You have a flash drive or probably an external hard drive that currently has FAT32 file system and you want to change it to NTFS, because FAT32 does not support handling large files (over 4GB) or it is just simply old for your taste but there is just one problem, you don’t want to lose your saved data. This article is for you then as it explains exactly how you can achieve seamless transition from FAT to NTFS without involving any data loss.

While it is generally recommended to use the NTFS file system because of its stability, security and lesser defragmentation time, most of us end up using FAT32 because that is what most disks are preformatted with. Unless, we notice the “Not enough disk space error” despite disk space being available, we don’t bother to change the file system. Moreover, most of us don’t change it because of the risk of losing important data and lack of time (read laziness). As Microsoft was aware of this scenario, they added a capability in the command prompt to overcome this by executing a simple command. There are many software that support this too but the Convert command is one of the easiest ways to do so. Follow the steps below to know how:-

Important: While this method works perfectly, I would still advise you to backup your data in case anything goes wrong.

FAT 32 to NTFS Conversion Steps

1) Go to Computer, and note the name of the drive whose file system you wish to convert.
2) Click on Start.
3) Type cmd in the search bar if you use Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1 or Windows Vista. If you use Windows XP, click on Run and then execute cmd.
4) Execute “chkdsk h: /f ” (without quotes) where H is the letter of the drive to undergo conversion. This checks the drive for errors and fixes them automatically.
5) Execute “Convert H: /FS:NTFS” (without quotes). H is again the letter of the drive to be converted.
6) The command prompt will start the conversion process and after a few minutes, CMD will say that conversion was successful.
7) You can check it in the properties of the drive through right click<Properties.

This command can also be used to convert FAT16 disks and works on Windows 8, Windows 8.1,Windows 7, Windows XP and Windows Vista. I converted my flash drive’s file system using these steps and it worked flawlessly. It is interesting to note that this method cannot be used to reconvert NTFS file system back to FAT32. To reconvert back to FAT32, you will need to format the entire drive which will definitely cause data loss.

How Can You Find Faster Broadband Options for Your Business?

 

n Scotland, like the rest of the UK, a number of people are asking, ‘How do I find the fastest broadband in my area?’. Fortunately the chances of having access to broadband itself are high, with only one percent of the Scottish population not able to receive the service. However due to lacking infrastructure in some parts of the country, a large proportion of the population are currently unable to embrace the next generation of online access, the world of superfast broadband.

Improving the Superfast Broadband Scotland Has to Offer

New technology takes a long time to weave its way into people’s homes and businesses. It usually starts with pioneer buyers that purchase new technology at high prices. As the technology improves and comes down in price, we see it more and more. A great example, of course, is mobile phones. People originally bought expensive mobile phones the size of small bricks, and now we are at the point where there are more mobile devices than people in the world.

The UK government are 100% behind fibre technology, and are currently helping businesses realise the increased efficiencies of superfast broadband through the Broadband Connection Voucher Scheme. For companies eligible for the £3,000 grant, upgrading business broadband no longer has to be delayed or postponed until the price falls. Thanks to the UK Government’s focus on it, we are already seeing significant improvements in the superfast broadband Scotland has to offer, resulting in over 220,000 Scottish homes and businesses able to access its increased speeds and benefits. However, the government is now warning that the £40m broadband grant scheme is rapidly running out due to a stampede from businesses looking to capitalise on the opportunity to install superfast broadband. Our advice? Take advantage of the Broadband Connection Voucher Scheme while you still can.

Where to Find Your Broadband Options

There are lots of broadband comparison sites for businesses but they have a limited range of options when compared to business-to-business negotiation with a telecommunications company and we wouldn’t recommend them. Right now, the most important site for a business to check is https://www.connectionvouchers.co.uk/ to find out if your business is eligible for a Connection Voucher. Once you know that your business is in a fibre broadband grant eligible postcode, the next logical step would be to talk to a local supplier for advice before leaping into any new business broadband contract. And don’t worry if your post code isn’t eligible for a Connection Voucher, you could still benefit from superfast broadband.

Why Bother With Superfast Broadband?

“For many businesses across Scotland and the UK, high speed broadband isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity.” said Danny Alexander, The Chief Secretary to the Treasury, when he spoke in Glasgow recently on the subject. The governments increased investment in the broadband voucher scheme shows that it understands its importance to our economy, which is vital due to the number of benefits which it brings our businesses.

Significant operational savings can be made due to the increased business efficiency and productivity benefits that superfast broadband provide. This is especially true if you are one of the many companies using the cloud for data storage, or if you use cloud tools for shared workspaces / online collaborations. Sending, receiving and uploading files can now be carried out in a fraction of the time.

With improved broadband speeds you can conduct higher quality conference calling and media-intensive two-way communication with customers and clients, allowing you to enter new markets and save on transportation costs and the time staff are out the office. It means you can offer faster responses, less lag, and even a more sophisticated customer-relationship-management (CRM) system. You can even conference with your suppliers and staff via video messages whilst still conducting your internet heavy business. Even peak-time traffic shouldn’t affect your service, as long as you have a good host server and service relating to your business activities.

Have a look at the superfast broadband (FTTC) area of our site to view more benefits as well as further information on superfast broadband.

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