Helping clients manage their technology for over 30 years.

Prosperity in 2012: Best-performing organizations use cloud computing

I recently came across a cloud computing benefit/risk study conducted in the first half of 2011 by the IT Policy Compliance Group (ITPCG). It shows that best-performing organizations (which see higher profits and suffer fewer business disruptions and less data loss) use cloud computing significantly more than poor-performing organizations.

More than two-thirds of best performers use cloud computing — about half opting for private clouds, while 25% use hybrid clouds and another 25% use public clouds. By contrast, only 9% of worst performers use cloud computing.

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All they want for Christmas is … Web 3.0?

Just when you were getting used to the idea of Web 2.0, along comes Web 3.0, which, according to a recent Booz & Co. report, “will offer an entirely new level of connectivity, communications, and information on customers.”

Search engines will be smarter, recommendation engines will know more about users’ habits and preferences, social media will continue to flower, and new kinds of services will make it all easy to manage. Booz calls this “the Transcendent Web” and notes it has four key elements:
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Trick or treat — or paradigm shift? What do you want to accomplish on your way to the cloud?

Anybody seeking to overcome the limits of traditional IT environments and streamline their business has to consider one of the most significant paradigm shifts of our time — cloud computing.

But take note: Cloud computing takes planning, because each move to the cloud is unique.

To figure out whether cloud computing will deliver what you need, ask yourself, “What do I want to accomplish?”

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Essential SLA Elements #3 and #4: Monitoring, enforcement, and change mechanisms

A good service-level agreement looks simple — but that’s because it’s been conscientiously negotiated to meet the buyer’s needs. Of the five essential SLA elements that every managed and cloud services customer should focus on, I’ve described two — specifying service functionality and describing the infrastructure and standards to be maintained by the provider.

Essential SLA Elements #3 concerns SLA changes. Your SLA should include a mechanism by which you can regularly tune it in response to changing business conditions or new technologies. You’ll benefit from building in a formal review of your SLA (at least annually) in order to use experience and new information to revise it.

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Essential SLA Element #1: Why specifying each service to be provided is critical

I see five essential elements that you absolutely need to pay attention to in your managed and cloud services SLAs. I’ll review each of them in my blog, starting with: Specifying each service to be provided.

This may seem obvious, and, in fact, it is. Yet too many service-level agreements are surprising vague about what exactly you’re buying.

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Maximizing cloud computing for small business — securely

This Wednesday — October 12 — I’ll be participating in the Small Business Technology Tour that’s coming to Salt Lake City, UT, where I’ll be talking about how cloud computing can boost small business productivity and help keep your operations secure.

I’ll be joined by a couple of other experts, and together we’ll talk about the benefits of cloud computing for small businesses: why and how cloud computing can reduce your capital expenditures, help you spend less on IT operations, provide you access to the deep resources and skills of a reliable cloud services provider, and improve your IT security, privacy, and availability.

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2 tricks that can deliver the right service provider treats

It’s a 21st-century truth that even small businesses need complex information technology infrastructures to thrive. Which is why so many enterprises, both large and small, depend on the expertise of independent providers of managed and cloud services.

But using managed and cloud services can be risky, too. How reliable is the service? Where’s your data? And what about security?

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On the menu: Networking, dinner, and the scoop about cloud computing

Cloud Computing has been defined by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) as “a model for enabling convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction.”

No wonder the Sacramento chapter of Financial Executives International (FEI), the leading organization for senior-level financial executives, wants to hear about it.

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Dangerously vulnerable: 3 quick (and scary) anecdotes

How secure are the data, applications, systems, and networks your business depends on? If you’re like too many of the executives I talk to, you may believe all is well — but only because you haven’t asked the right questions.

One executive told me recently, “We’re cool; we haven’t had to touch our firewalls in three years.”

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Don’t let your firewall get burned by employees’ mobile devices

As more and more of your employees use mobile devices, these machines may start out behind your firewall — but they don’t stay there. They move around, to other networks with different firewall rules. Or no firewall at all.

When that mobile device returns to its trusted place behind your firewall, it may carry a cyber-infection that can attack your network from the inside.

The great firewall challenge lies in balancing the tradeoffs between degree of protection, usability, and cost. That balancing act starts with understanding what your firewall actually does.

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