Posts Tagged ‘Computing’

The benefits of cloud computing for small businesses

February 3rd, 2014

If you are running a small to medium sized business, you will have probably heard of cloud computing.

Cloud computing means moving or extending your business IT systems over the internet, in order to increase the current capabilities, and improve efficiency.

More than just a passing trend, cloud computing has a large number of benefits if you want to manage your IT processes more smoothly, reduce your costs, and safeguard your business against unforeseen disasters.

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Here are some of the advantages of using cloud computing technologies:

Time saving

Cloud computing is a time efficient way for small businesses to manage IT. With cloud technologies, you can keep track of what is happening with your business from anywhere, at any time. You can hold virtual meetings, and manage remote employees. Small businesses are increasingly turning to outsourcing to expand their business operations, and keep their costs down.

Cloud computing allows outsourced and remote employees to share files, collaborate on projects and maintain close contact, which can improve team efficiency and help team members work together more effectively. This means more time to spend working on your core business activities, and less time spent managing logistics and dealing with staff IT issues.

Cost effective

With cloud computing, businesses can save on the costs of purchasing (little capital outlay) and maintaining servers, having dedicated IT staff on the payroll, and upgrading software. It’s also a way of accessing the most up-to-date software and applications, programs that you might put off installing due to the cost. The other major benefit of cloud computing is that it is scalable.

If you need additional resources to cope with a busy period or sudden growth, these are available and can be accessed as required without the need to upgrade your entire system in order to cope with the additionalworkload. Accessing cloud services simply requires a stable internet connection, and a monthly subscription.

Speed and convenience

Because working in the cloud means accessing applications via a web browser, it’s easy and fast to set up. There’s also generally no need for detailed training for your employees.

Data storage

One of the most advantageous aspects of cloud computing is its capacity for large amounts of offsite data storage and file backups. Work can be instantly backed up to offsite servers, which means that if there is a technical failure or other problem at your business premises, valuable data is still accessible. Using the cloud can also mean having a greater level of security for your data, depending on your current security system.

Cloud computing has many benefits for all businesses, but it can be particularly beneficial for small and medium sized businesses. Using the cloud can save you time and money, and give you the advantages of increased data security and the ability to scale your IT services up and down depending on your current circumstances.

Source:http://www.dynamicbusiness.com.au/small-business-resources/growing/the-benefits-of-cloud-computing-for-small-businesses-03022014.html

Is cloud computing almost too good to be true for banks?

January 7th, 2014

Banks are built on massive IT infrastructures that process huge volumes of data on a daily basis. The cloud’s most obvious benefits will enable banks to keep up with technology changes while reducing costs.outsourcing26

The digitisation of services is making it difficult for banks to ignore the cloud.

But concerns over a potential loss of control, availability and data security make moving to the cloud a massive leap in a heavily regulated sector.

At a recent meeting at the Financial Services Club (FS Club), Chris Skinner, chairman at the club, said the cloud is still misunderstood, despite it being a talking point in financial services for years. In 2009 the FS Club hosted a meeting about the cloud in financial services and 165 people attended.

“Cloud computing in financial services has been a hot topic for some time and you would think we would know what cloud is all about but we don’t,” said Skinner. “We still have a lot of misunderstandings and ambiguities.”

Legal aspects
Paul Hinton, commercial technology partner at Kemp Little, talked about the cloud in the legal sense.

He said the cloud is diverse and constantly evolving. No sooner do legal terms get to grips with one aspect and they must move on to the latest cloud trend. “SaaS is so commonplace we now understand how to do it and what it should look like from a legal perspective. But the cloud is much more than this.”

Utility computing is the next phase for the cloud with services being bought in a similar way to electricity, according to Hinton. “But banking and the things we buy through banking, from what I understand, are nowhere near that stage yet.”

There are lots of different pieces of legislation that can apply to the cloud, but there is nothing specifically about the cloud, said Hinton. “From a legal point of view the same rules apply to cloud outsourcing as outsourcing.”

He said there are common concerns among businesses. “These are potential loss of control, availability and access to data, data security, data location, auditing and exits.”

“There are a lot of efforts to create [legal] standards and hopefully we will have them soon. This is good but they are not here now and may not be for a while,” added Hinton.

Finance
A spokesperson at a major cloud service provider then talked about what it is doing in financial services.

He said there is a lot of ambiguity around the cloud but summed up what it meant to his company.

There is no reason why today banks should not be using the cloud in some way
“A cloud service should be something available over the internet, no up-front costs, pay as you go and with no long-term commitment.”

There is no reason why today banks should not be using the cloud in some way, he said.

“I do not see a huge difference in how financial services companies adopt the cloud they just have a different approach.”

He said when it comes to highly regulated services with customer data it takes a long time to move to the cloud. But he said there are many areas finance firms can start using the cloud easily.

“We look for the low-hanging fruit, not the most sensitive data. Finance firms can start to benefit from features, such as development and testing, because they don’t host sensitive data.”

“High-performance computing is another option because it normally involves systems that encrypt data. This means results can be delivered quicker,” said the spokesperson.

He added that developing new services can be done in the cloud faster and more cost effectively because the cost of failure of a new service is reduced. “With new lines of business you can test it out and if it doesn’t work you turn it off and there are no assets costing money.”

He said that the suppliers can become compliant with regulations so every company using it is also compliant, when using it.

Trust
The next speaker was from a large payments processing firm. He said maintaining trust and delivery to customers is vital.

He said customers expect their money when and where they chose.

“If you are running retail financial services you have to put the customer first. The customers get the cloud and they have certain expectations for service delivery,” he said.

He agreed that the cloud enables effective development alongside cost cutting.

“The cloud is a huge layer of facilitation for new services. Banks also need to manage costs more effectively, the cloud is faster to implement and cheaper so what is there to hate about it?” said the spokesperson.

The next speaker was from a small next-generation cloud-only financial services firm.

The company is a totally cloud-based financial service. It has taken a small piece of the banking chain, in this case international payments, and put the entire process on a cloud platform to offer to banks.

The cloud is just another form of outsourcing
New customers, which are financial services firms, only take two weeks to set up.

“We take a huge amount of cost out of the process,” said the spokesperson.

The company makes 10,000 transactions per day. “Using the cloud is no different from outsourcing. Offshore companies in India have customer data and there is uncertainty about security.”

He said there is still a “not invented here” attitude holding cloud uptake back. “Technology departments at banks want to build their own systems. It is not a rational debate but an emotional one. Some of these IT departments do not even use Agile methods and still use Waterfall techniques.”

He said you have to get these people to accept change and not fear the worst.

Former Accenture executive, Jim Odell, now a consultant at Kemp Little, then talked about hybrid IT departments and how organisations have to have a mix of in-house and outsourced IT.

“The cloud is just another form of outsourcing,” he said.

His advice to finance firms considering the cloud was: never outsource things that are not already fixed, make sure you know how to manage suppliers, don’t put everything in the cloud it can be expensive, and plan to leave when you sign a now contract.

Source:http://www.computerweekly.com/news/2240212022/Is-cloud-computing-almost-too-good-to-be-true-for-banks

Computing, Content, Applications, and Commerce in the Cloud: Legacy Network Operator Threats and Opportunities

June 22nd, 2012

Research and Markets has announced the addition of the “Computing, Content, Applications, and Commerce in the Cloud: Legacy Network Operator Threats and Opportunities” report to their offering.

“Computing, Content, Applications, and Commerce in the Cloud: Legacy Network Operator Threats and Opportunities”
Migration to the cloud will affect more than just IT outsourcing of datacenters. Cloud represents opportunities and threats to existing network operators as applications, content, commerce, and computing migrate to the cloud. Game changing technologies including 4G, IP Multimedia Subsystem, and cloud computing will transform wireless communications. This transformation will be a boon for some who recognize and seize the opportunities and a bane for others who do not adjust their strategies, products and solutions.

This report evaluates the key technologies, solutions, applications and companies expected to benefit from this evolution. This research also evaluates threats and opportunities for incumbent network operators and service providers. It is imperative that they take steps now to position themselves for these significant changes in Computing, Content, Applications and Commerce (CCAC) as their existing revenue streams and future profitability will depend on successful positioning and execution.

This research focuses on CCAC in the Cloud, evaluating the impacts on infrastructure planning, application deployment, facilitation of emerging solutions, competitive threats, and more.

It is essential research for all telecommunications service providers including legacy wireline, cellular, fixed wireless (WiFi/WiMAX/others), MSO/cable, emerging OTT players, and others. The report analyzes the business impacts of migration as well as leading applications, competitive issues, case study analysis of players/applications, infrastructure, and the future of CCAC in the Cloud.

Source:http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20120621005641/en/Research-Markets-Computing-Content-Applications-Commerce-Cloud

How to make informed decisions when outsourcing cloud computing

May 2nd, 2012

Executives are jumping on the outsourcing bandwagon as cloud service providers promise unlimited scalability, reduced expenditures for hardware and IT staff, and the ability to offload software and routine maintenance at a moment’s notice.

In fact, Gartner analysts predict that 35 percent of enterprise IT expenditures will be managed outside the IT department’s budget by 2015.

But overzealous executives eager to jump to the cloud may encounter security issues down the road, as the security practices of the cloud service provider are often unclear — up to and including where the data is stored. A survey by Symantec shows that only 27 percent of companies have set procedures to approve cloud applications that use sensitive or confidential information.

“It’s easy to deploy data and applications to the cloud, but most executives don’t have a handle on the true risks associated with those decisions. So they fail to build the proper assurances into the procurement process,” says Brian Thomas, IT advisory services partner for Weaver.

Smart Business spoke with Thomas about the risks of outsourced computing services and why companies should seek an auditor’s assurance during the procurement process.

What are the specific risks associated with the cloud and outsourced computing?

Possible issues include data integrity, confidentiality, privacy and security, system availability and reliability, and data retention and ownership. But the threat level and mitigation strategies vary depending upon the importance and sensitivity of the data being processed by the cloud service provider.

It may not matter if you can’t access your sales prospects for a few hours if your hosted CRM application goes down, but business would come to a halt if your hosted e-mail or e-commerce system crashes. Therefore, the provider’s server redundancy and service-level contract guarantees may be the most critical risks to address, where in other cases, the primary concerns may be security and privacy issues. Certainly, regulated companies need to pay particular attention to how the cloud service provider addresses their regulatory risks.

How can executives identify outsourcing risks?

When considering cloud computing project ideas, executives should ask a lot of questions. First, they must understand the nature of the cloud services being procured and the sensitive aspects of the systems being hosted or managed by the provider. After getting an understanding of the types of data and systems that will be exposed to the cloud, executives should ask ‘what if’ questions of their project teams. Such questions should be focused on general risk areas including data integrity, confidentiality, privacy and security, and system availability and reliability.
Executives should also get an understanding of their company’s exposure to risks related to data ownership and retention. Examples of questions to ask include, ‘What will happen if we lose connectivity to our cloud service provider for an extended period of time?’ And, ‘What happens if our cloud service provider is acquired by another company?’

How can executives use an outside audit to ensure the performance of service providers?

A third-party assessment by a qualified professional is the only way to know whether a cloud service provider has designed and implemented effective measures to identify and mitigate relevant risks, as self reporting is inadequate and providers may simply tell you what you want to hear.
You can save money by having your auditor review a cloud service provider’s service organization controls (SOC) report. There are three reports available under the AICPA’s standards for service providers. SOC 1 is based on the Statement on Standards for Attestation Engagements No. 16 (SSAE 16) and is best suited for companies that previously used SAS 70 for Sarbanes-Oxley or financial audit compliance. SOC 2 addresses the design and operating effectiveness of a service organization’s controls over the security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality and privacy of a system. This may be more valuable for executives evaluating the controls a cloud service provider has in place to address risks beyond those relating to financial reporting.

SOC 3 involves the same scope as SOC 2; however, the report contains less detail and is intended for broader (marketing) audiences.

When are SOC 2 and SOC 3 appropriate?

Executives should request that their cloud service providers submit a SOC 2 report where applicable. The scope is generally best suited to address the concerns of users of cloud services. SOC 2 reports provide details of the procedures executed by the auditor to test the controls in place at the cloud service provider, and the results of those procedures.
If a cloud service provider only has a SOC 3 report available, that may be sufficient for getting comfortable while evaluating the service provider during the procurement process. However, executives responsible for the cloud services should request that the service provider submit a SOC 2 going forward to ensure that they can monitor the provider’s efforts to address any failed control activities.

Are there other certifications that can help mitigate risk when transitioning to the cloud?

If the provider cannot provide a SOC 2 report, see if they are certified as ISO 27001 compliant or if they have obtained assurance reports from a security firm addressing the ISO 27001 standard. If the provider processes, stores or transmits credit card information, it is required to meet the Payment Card Industry’s Data Security Standard (PCI DSS). Be careful when using these other forms of assurance. Their scope is generally narrower than SOC reports and may follow less rigorous quality assurance standards. However, in the proper context, they can be useful for executives attempting to get information about the activities performed at the cloud service provider.

Source:http://www.sbnonline.com/2012/05/how-to-make-informed-decisions-when-outsourcing-cloud-computing/?full=1

Dell and Internet2 NET+ Services Increase Access to Research Computing and Enable Discovery with Cloud Services

April 25th, 2012

Dell is working with Clemson University to provide more Internet2 institutions and organizations access to high performance research computing technology, responding to the Obama administration’s Big Data R & D Initiative and a continued commitment to the global research community. Scientific research requires intensive computation capabilities to help solve complex, and many times life-saving issues. Dell and Clemson University will support members with cloud-based research computing solutions and services that can efficiently meet these demands.

Dell and Internet2’s NET+ Services program will provide high performance computing solutions and services that support the next generation of collaborative research and simplify research computing from the desktop to the datacenter including:

Dell Virtual Desktop as a Service;
Dell Cloud with VMware vCloud Datacenter Service; and
Dell Virtual Private Cloud (VPDC) Services offering customers a dedicated by the blade virtual data center service where customer specific applications and infrastructure can be configured and managed in a custom environment.

Working with Internet2 and other national research and education networks, Dell will continue to collaborate with the global research and education community to advance innovation around big data and research storage services, open source frameworks for research, academic and administrative initiatives facing institutions today.

In a parallel effort, Janet, the United Kingdom’s research and education network, has chosen Dell as a leading supplier of cloud and data center services for its new dedicated procurement framework. Dell will offer Infrastructure as a Service and Software as a Service through the new framework, as well as comprehensive IT outsourcing services from its UK data center, including security storage and platform services. Dell Virtual Desktop as a Service and Dell Cloud with VMware VCloud Datacenter Services will also be available to Janet network members later this year.

These initiatives support Dell’s long-standing commitment to the education community, as evidenced by Gartner’s recent rankings. In the education sector, Gartner ranks Dell first worldwide for hardware support, second for IT services and third for IT outsourcing based on 2011 revenue.

Quotes

John Mullen, vice president and general manager for education, state and local government, Dell

“The US invests 2.68 percent of its GDP on publicly-funded research and development and is second only to Japan in research and development investment. It is clear that academic communities and research institutions are helping to lead these efforts and drive innovation. Dell is pleased to offer its industry leading solutions including cloud and virtualization services and continuing our partnership with the Internet2 community to even further enable the next generation of discovery.”

Jim Bottum, chief information officer and vice provost for computing & information technology, Clemson University

“Clemson and Dell are establishing a groundbreaking partnership that extends Dell’s community-based management model empowering the research and education community. This partnership is a first step in pulling together a broader set of partners to extend the benefits of High Performance and Data Intensive Computing to more research communities. Reaching this broader audience aids the acceleration of research and inquiry to help solve the ever-increasing and complex problems facing society. Using Internet2′s Innovation Platform concept and emerging suite of NET+ services will allow the academic community to deploy massive resources in response to the data grand challenge.”

Dave Lambert, president and chief executive officer, Internet2

“Internet2 and our members are excited about collaborating with Dell to identify and implement cloud solutions for our global research computing needs. We expect innovations to provide a variety of technologies that our members can use to solve and address numerous real-world issues.”

Source:http://www.sys-con.com/node/2260548

Erich Clementi | Cloud computing does to IT what Toyota did to car making

March 19th, 2012

Erich Clementi, a senior vice-president at the $107 billion International Business Machines Corp., better known as IBM or Big Blue, heads its global technology services (GTS) division— the world’s largest information technology (IT) services business by revenue. He drives the company’s initiative to converge digital and physical infrastructure, branded Smarter Planet, which involves making cities smarter with sensors and chips. He also heads the company’s analytics and cloud computing initiatives.

Right direction: Clementi says he is happy that IBM had sold its PC business to Lenovo in 2005. Photo: Abhijit Bhatlekar/Mint.

During a visit to Mumbai last week, he said IBM is sharpening its focus on the use of innovative technologies and solutions to manage the growing demands on infrastructure that delivers vital services in cities. For instance, it deployed a system in Konkan Railway to help the facility manage, analyse and maintain train running information, schedules and reduce passenger delays.

Clementi also highlighted the increasing importance of analytics for companies to maintain their competitive edge while touching upon the role of Watson, IBM’s artificial intelligence computer system, capable of answering questions in natural language. Edited excerpts:

With the nature of IT services changing, what is GTS doing differently?

GTS is the largest unit of IBM and has the same strategic focus areas as the parent which has committed a $20 earnings per share to our shareholders by 2015. We will do this by focusing on four company-wide focus areas—Smarter Planet; analytics; a change in our delivery model to cloud computing (a metaphor for Internet- or network-based computing); and serving growth markets like India. It is a very important market to us since it’s a very fast growing market. India is also a place for talent. We have a strong footprint in India, particularly in services we use for delivery.

The services market has been undergoing change. Between 2000 and 2005, most of our business was driven by mega deals. We had an ad hoc, single delivery model for large accounts. But we recognized it was not very scalable and hence made a huge investment in standardizing our global delivery framework. Since 2008, we began increasing the level of automation and engineering in our solutions. We invest to be ahead in these models since it influences whether you can get decent margins or end up with commoditized business.

Give us some examples of these new models.

Consider this. How does one deal with the flow of data that is created by millions of telecom subscribers? If you deliver services to solve this problem, you will never have a commoditized business. Also look at the mobility business. You simply need to look at the performance of personal computing or PC manufacturers to understand what the shift from PCs to handsets and tablets has done to their business.

I’m happy that we sold our PC business to Lenovo in 2005. Companies that have stuck to PCs are in a little bit difficult situation. After we sold our PC business, we have been focusing on infrastructure management, application management, solutions for delivery platforms to include support for mobility and analytics to understand billions of call records to help telecom companies avoid churn in the customer base. When you come with such value propositions, you commit yourself to a business outcome and that makes you very difficult to substitute.

How do you view the shifts in the global IT outsourcing environment?

In the long term, IBM is betting on concepts like Smarter Planet which will involve sensors, chips, infrastructure, etc. This is a long-term business.

The customers are inundated with data, and helping them harvest that data intelligently also is a long-term business. Cloud computing helps us provide all these businesses as a service anywhere.

Are you betting on non-linear (other than headcount) businesses?

Non-linear business is the holy grail of IT services because it’s very difficult to scale up a business that is just based on bodies (read manpower). Intellectual property (IP), whether software, applications, tools or extreme automation like on the cloud, is clearly very beneficial to the economy and delivery.

Cloud computing does to IT what Toyota did to the car-manufacturing process—a disciplined application of engineering to the supply chain of IT. Hence, IP is very important. Look at how companies struggle to acquire other businesses to get an IP portfolio. Given our investment in R&D (research and development, we can cover a lot of these capabilities.

What do you make of the buzz around social media?

As enterprises increasingly start relying on social media, security and management becomes very important. That’s where we come. There’s also enormous value in analysing the data generated by social media, especially if you want instant feedback.

Our research division has the largest contingent of math PhDs in the industry. This helps us tackle anything from computational biology to predictive analytics. No company on the planet has invested as much as IBM has done in analytics.

How does your artificial-intelligence computer Watson fit into the picture?

Watson is a learning machine. You can feed it with knowledge and it will organize, interpret and answer questions. We are training Watson as a doctor in the healthcare sector for claims processing. We are experimenting whether Watson can authorize treatments automatically, and discover or help discover the diagnosis and connections in oncology.

Just last week, we announced that Watson has gone to Wall Street to learn how to be a stock broker. The Watson technology is applicable to any field where you need to make decisions on evidence of data. You will see that system finding its way into a whole host of applications which will be delivered as a cloud service.

When do we see Watson services being integrated in developing countries such as India?

We will need another couple of years to produce these applications, and then we will see where we stand. However, if you believe the predictions of our research team, you will be seeing a lot more of Watson in our lives by 2020.

Source:http://www.livemint.com/2012/03/18214134/Erich-Clementi–Cloud-computi.html

Employment bright lining in cloud computing

March 14th, 2012

Cloud computing will be responsible for one in six new jobs in the next three years, according to a survey commissioned Tuesday by Microsoft and conducted by the technology research firm IDC.

The survey showed that while using Internet-based services to host IT systems is a form of outsourcing, cloud systems have actually created jobs.

According to the survey, cloud computing will create 70,000 new jobs in Canada by 2015, out of a total of about 400,000 estimated new jobs that will be created in that time. Montreal will see 7,800 of those new jobs.

John Weigelt, the national technology officer for Microsoft in Canada, said when large companies outsource their server needs to a cloud system, it allows their local tech departments to become less involved in day-to-day problems and maintenance, and allows them to concentrate more on how technology can spur innovation.

But cloud services also help create new companies by allowing entrepreneurs to set up businesses with far fewer costs than in the past.

“We’re seeing a lot of entrepreneurs start businesses with no IT department at all,” Weigelt said. “Now you can make use of your (computer) service as you require it. You can serve as few as 100 people and then scale worldwide in a rapid fashion.”

The Canadian Alliance for Advanced Technology warns, however, that Canada needs a national vision to help businesses leverage the Internet to improve their products, or they’ll become less competitive on the world stage.

He said one area of huge growth is in embedded systems, as everything from toasters, refrigerators and power meters are now starting to include Internet connections.

“We’ll have no more industry in Canada if we don’t go very quickly toward embedded systems, that is for sure,” said Jean-Guy Rens, senior analyst at the consulting firm Sciencetech.

Source:http://www.montrealgazette.com/news/montreal/Employment+bright+lining+cloud+computing/6297273/story.html

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