Posts Tagged ‘technology’

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.

Easy Ways to Integrate Technology into Classroom Routines

Many academic institutions now take advantage of technology to make the educational process a lot more effective and interesting. The access to the internet has really made it easier for students to learn new things and even visit sites like Payforessayonline.com where they can pay for essay online and get comprehensive writing assistance.

Educational experts are of the view that technology can be even more effective when integrated into the learning experience rather than being used separately. Many schools have already realized it and are actively taking measures to integrate technology into the curriculum. Of course, there are challenges to overcome. For instance, it is difficult to find ways to use technology and help students find time from core educational activities to use it. Many teachers don’t have enough personal experience with technology, so they find it difficult to incorporate technology-based projects and activities into the curriculum.

Here are some easy ways in which teachers can get familiar with technology and integrate it into classroom routines.

Start Using an Online Weather Forecast

Instead of simply talking about the date and local weather, elementary grade teachers can visit a site like The Weather Channel, UM Weather, or USA Today Weather to explain things better.

Add URLs in Monthly Calendar

Teachers can find a printable and editable coloring calendar that they can distribute among their students with some URLs of a few sites talking about specific months events. A September calendar can have links to sites about Grandparents’ Day, Labor Day, and Hispanic Heritage Month.

Access Online Weather Forecast in Different Languages

Teachers can start foreign language classes with a discussion about the date and weather and get information online in German, French, Spanish, and other languages.

Find Mathematics Problems Online

Teachers can integrate technology into classroom by adding a weekly mathematics challenge to their math lessons. Many online forums offer math problems in several categories that teachers can use.

Write a URL instead of a Quote

Teachers can also start their class by providing a URL instead of writing a quote on the chalkboard. They can encourage students to check those URLs and then discuss them. Similarly, they can also include an online word in students’ daily activities to build their vocabulary.

Make History Interesting

History can be a boring subject, but teachers can help students travel back in time by sharing URLs to specific historic places and events.

Make Use of Online Work Sheets

One simple way for teachers to integrate technology into classroom routine is to utilize online worksheets. Several sites such as Education World offer some printable worksheets that promote creative writing activity. Teachers can use them for better effects.

Assign Online Reading Comprehension and SAT Practice

A great piece of advice for teachers who want students to get familiar with technology is to offer online SAT practice. Students can always benefit from additional SAT and PSAT practice. Similarly, they can also add a reading comprehension activity to their students’ language arts curriculum. Several sites offer vocabulary completion exercises, vocabulary matching exercises, written discussion exercises, and much more.

Take Advantage of Online News Sources

Teachers can encourage students to search online media for current events contributions. They can search MSNBC and CNN for national and international news. Teachers can also help students connect news with their own lives. Students can use other online news resources to further explore the issues of the day. Science teachers can gain access to online science related to NASA, Godard Space Centers, etc. and make it easier for students to understand the science behind the latest events and scientific advancements.

Use Online Maps in Geography Class

Maps can be boring but teachers can use online geography resources to raise students’ awareness about this subject. There’s so much a teacher can use, ranging from resources offered by the National Geographic Geography Bee to Map Machine and more.

Try Online Games

One super effective way to integrate technology into the learning process is to encourage students to play some stimulating online games that test their problem-solving skills. Games like checkers, Battleship, BreakOut, tic-tac-toe, etc., will all work.

How is Technology Taking Over a Bookkeeper’s Job?

There are certainly some businesses which couldn’t help but be conservative when it comes to accounting and bookkeeping services, which is sad to say, leaving them in the Jurassic era. Business owners should never be intimidated with advances in accounting technology. No matter how many years your business stood using traditional methods, it’s about time you consider and embrace that big technological change for better productivity and profit.

Intelligent Data Entry

Yes, the human mind is responsible for developing technology. However, we’re only humans and we’re not as perfect as these online tools were programmed to be. Online accounting tools such as Quickbooks has the capabilities of downloading bank transactions directly, organising payrolls, and providing tax reports with just one click. Shoeboxed can organise and archive receipts with great ease. Xero can do automatic bank reconciliation and has the feature of online invoicing so you can collect payments from your customers and get paid faster. The main point is that these tools make calculations easier and keep everything in one place, saving you time, energy, and money. All information is accessible 24/7, yet highly reliable for confidentiality.

Businesses Should Keep Up with the Times

During this time of rapid technological evolution, people want products and services FAST. Time is of the essence to everyone, so whoever can provide clients with quality goods and services in the least amount of time, wins. How can you provide for your clients when you spend too much time on manual accounting? The competition is growing every day and your business needs to keep up, gradually at least, or else you’ll lose your clients to your competitors which possibly leads to a slow death of your business.

The Bookkeeper’s New Role

The technological advances in the accounting world would not necessarily mean the elimination of a bookkeeper. The bookkeeper’s job now is not limited to clerical data entry; because they are familiar with the financial data flow of your business, they can now assist you in interpreting the real VALUE from your financial information and how it affects your business. You can now make sound decisions on how to move forward with your business or what expenses to trim.

Benefits for the Business

Overall, there are so many great advantages of utilising technology for accounting. The paperless method takes out the hassle of mailing and sorting. All documents are neatly organised and shared in one space. Data entry is way easier and there’s less probability for miscalculations. And you can even save more time as the tools can help you calculate taxes, payrolls, and other aspects of your business with just a few clicks. How great is that!

Your bookkeeper, however, is still the greatest ‘tool’ that you have. They are trained not just to do clerical entries, but also to track the flow of finances, analyse, and interpret all your financial information. They can help you make sound decisions and help you plan your business move. By succumbing to the advances of accounting technology, you are now able to free up more time to spend on generating more customers and making your business grow.

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!

Equinix Programmable Network (EPN): A Dynamic Foundation for Multi-cloud

Cloud computing is here to stay. Most enterprise CIOs I speak with are turning to the cloud to increase business agility and enable elasticity for both their application portfolios and business processes. And, in almost all cases, they are adopting more than one cloud platform to support their business applications – applications that require multiple services that run on multiple clouds. This practice of multi-cloud, multi-platform deployments addresses the unique requirements of these business applications, while also providing better value via higher availability and scale than single cloud deployments.

Yet, the move to this multi-cloud architecture can be hindered by the time and effort it takes to provision individual ports and connections to each cloud platform – often measured in weeks, not the seconds that are required to be truly agile. We designed the Equinix Cloud Exchange specifically to meet these provisioning needs and enable customers to connect to multiple cloud service providers (CSPs) either via colocating in an Equinix data center, or through their choice of network services providers (NSPs) through a single port connection.

At the heart of Equinix Cloud Exchange is the Equinix Programmable Network (EPN), the foundational layer that enables this.  EPN takes a software-defined networking (SDN) approach and allows customers to self-provision these connections instantaneously. It’s highly scalable, provides ease of management via automation and ensures customers can maintain a vendor-neutral strategy.

As we continue to develop the EPN platform, we are ensuring that the core of the EPN software adheres to the following principles:

  • Agility and Management at Scale: Manually provisioning, monitoring and trouble-shooting network connections isn’t practical in an agile, multi-cloud era, in which CSPs, NSPs and cloud integrators deal with thousands of enterprises. EPN allows users to control network service management via a proven set of APIs that allow customers to self-provision multiple new connections instantaneously. Equinix Cloud Exchange is able to manage at scale because EPN has been architected to leverage an SDN-based approach, where users specify their requirements in high-level service-based terms and EPN automates the underlying low-level network management operations.
  • Modular Architecture: EPN employs a modular, service-based architecture through which new services are described via high-level YANG language models. Today, EPN provides Layer 2 connection management, virtual local area network (VLAN) management and link aggregation services. However, its modular architecture makes it easy for EPN to roll out new services in future releases at higher Open System Interconnection (OSI) networking layers and also to orchestrate third-party network management services.
  • Multi-Cloud Awareness: From the very beginning, EPN has been designed to operate in a multi-cloud environment. Thus, it uses the notion of “transactions” to configure distributed resources (e.g. switches) across multiple clouds as a single atomic operation.
  • Vendor Neutrality: EPN is a logically centralized SDN subsystem that is hardware vendor-agnostic. The SDN subsystem abstracts the underlying network topology. This allows both cloud providers and enterprises using EPN to seamlessly deploy switches from multiple vendors and maintain a vendor-neutral strategy.

In sum, just as Equinix has grown to become a leader in providing interconnectivity solutions to Enterprises and NSPs, we are also leading the cloud interconnectivity industry through the capabilities of Equinix Cloud Exchange.  Equinix Cloud Exchange is a multi-cloud interconnectivity solution that satisfies the high performance, availability and security requirements of today’s CIOs.  With Equinix Programmable Network (EPN) at its core, it provides us with a software-defined, next-generation network management platform. EPN and Cloud Exchange put Equinix, its customers and its partners squarely at the forefront of the cloud industry.

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.

3 Cloud Storage Services that are Perfect for Any Virtual Business

Get the best cloud storage technology for your virtual business

Are you a start-up that’s generating documents and files at a rapid rate? Here, we explore some of the best cloud storage services for virtual business owners.

One of the main benefits of operating a virtual business is that you can keep your overhead costs incredibly low when compared to an office-based business. However, to ensure your employees can work productively, benefit from the best technology and access data efficiently, you need to invest in the right cloud storage package.

Below are 3 cloud storage services you should consider:

Box

 Box enables you to store all your data online and access it from any device in any location. Currently, you can also store up to 5GB, which is ideal for virtual businesses that use mostly Word and Excel documents. However, businesses that regularly use files that take up much more memory like PDF docs or photo files like TIFFs may find this limit too small. Fortunately, it is possible to upgrade to a higher memory limit and larger file-size upload limit for a fee.

A faster way to check all your tasks

The Box’s Virtual Data Room allows workers to keep up-to-date with new document uploads and edits, which enables them to check who is doing what without having to waste time sending e-mails and waiting for responses. This is even faster – and more efficient – than asking someone how a project is progressing and then having to listen to a long-winded answer!

Carbonite

The Carbonite Server Backup facility allows a virtual business to back up all of their data. If they suffer any data loss or downtime, they can restore their data without any fuss. Carbonite’s mission is to ensure that virtual businesses can benefit from simple, hassle-free restore processes by allowing them to back up their data and access it as easily as possible.

Consider the Pro version for the most secure encryption technology

The Carbonite Pro version automatically sends files to a cloud network and encrypts them with Secure Socket Layer (SSL) technology. This version also continues to restore files after you stop working, while still enabling you to access them at any time.

OpenDrive

OpenDrive is another popular cloud storage system that allows virtual business owners to use an innovative cloud management system. OpenDrive provides virtual private networks and backs up computer files that have been linked to an account. Businesses can sync files effortlessly and access their data whenever they need to.

With effective online backup in sophisticated art data-centres, businesses can keep their data secure with state-of-the-art technology. Share all your files with an online office suite and user management system so that all of your workers can instantly access and share new data and information.

Cloud storage can take a lot of weight off your shoulders

Performing your own back up and data restore can take up a great deal of time and resources, which is why it pays to use a professional cloud storage provider that provides the best facilities and latest technology.

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