Mobile Working: What Benefits Will It Give to My Business?

Mobile Working
The ability to work anywhere!

Mobile Working: The Business Case.

Old habits can be difficult to shake. For many employers and employees alike, the routine of turning up for work at 9am, working a fixed eight-and-a-half hour shift and clocking off promptly at 5.30pm are just part and parcel of what employment is about.
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Tips for Optimising Your Cloud Storage in 2018

Cloud Storage
Optimising your Cloud Storage

Cloud storage is a marvel of modern computing, allowing data to be stored more cheaply and accessed more flexibly than ever before. However, as the amount of business data being stored in the cloud grows, it has the potential to become an unruly monster that is difficult to manage and keep track of. There are a few things you can do to ensure your cloud-based data remains an efficient part of your business.
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Cloud4 – Leigh Centurions Sponsors 2018

Cloud4 are excited to announce we are Leigh Centurions sponsors for the 2018 season.

Leigh Centurions Sponsors Cloud4
Phil Donoghue and Lynda Cundill of Cloud4 with the Centurions team

The company first became involved last season as a match sponsor for the game against Wakefield Trinity. We also had a range of advertising in and around Leigh Sports Village. After an exciting but ultimately dissapointing season in Super League, we quickly decided the time was right for us to step up and support the club and owner Derek Beaumont’s commitment to rebuilding for this year. The goal being an immediate return to Super League rugby.

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Hosted VoIP: The Business Case for SMEs

Business VoIP ServicesAccording to the telecoms regulator Ofcom, 95 per cent of small businesses in the UK still use traditional landline telephones.

However, the further up the enterprise chain you travel, a very different picture emerges. Amongst larger businesses, landline use has fallen into the minority, overtaken comprehensively by Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) – otherwise known as internet telephony.
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Best Business Tablets for 2017

Best Business TabletsWhen people talk about migrating IT services to the Cloud, they tend to focus on the ‘soft’ elements – what software, what parts of their telecoms network, what data banks to transfer from in situ infrastructure to remote, managed servers.

What sometimes gets forgotten is one of the key reasons why migrating to the Cloud can benefit your business – mobility. With a Cloud business IT network, you don’t have to be in a certain office on a certain broadband connection to get on the company servers and work. In fact, the Cloud lets you work from anywhere you have an internet connection.
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Security First: How to Stay Smart in the Cloud

Cloud SecurityThe rate at which businesses moved their IT operations to the Cloud accelerated in 2016, and most forecasts see the pace of migration stepping up another gear in 2017.

According to Forrester Research, the overall number of businesses using the Cloud has increased from 10 per cent to 33 per cent since 2013. Figures from 451 Research suggest that spend on Cloud services is expected to increase from an average of 28 per cent of IT budgets last year to 34 per cent this year.
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Communication, Meet Collaboration: Why Matching Digital Tools Makes Sense

Matching Digital ToolsAccording to the people who think about these things, we are now in the third phase of the evolution of IT in the workplace.

First came the mainframe computer, followed swiftly by the personal or desktop computer, giving everyone access to digital tools at work for the first time.

For the past decade or so, we have been in the mobile phase – the advent of mobile phones, laptops, Wifi and tablets has thrown off the shackles of where, when and how we can work. Whereas once upon a time, to log on to a business computing network, you had to be logged on to a computer physically connected to that network by a wire, now you can do it from anywhere you like.

Nowadays, such is the development of multimedia communication tools, you don’t even have to hold meetings with everyone in the same space, you can just set up a video conference with as many participants as you like. To share work with a colleague, you don’t have to hand it to them, or even send it by email – you can put it in a shared folder on the Cloud that both of you can access whenever you like from any device with an internet connection.

The benefits of this new mobile way of working are manifold – flexible working patterns, more efficient use of time, are workforce that can be distributed far and wide but still connected, innovation on the move.

But there is also a feeling that most businesses are only at the beginning of this journey. And the reason for that is, according to some analysts, most businesses are not yet joining up the dots – or rather, the tools – of how to link communication to collaboration effectively.

To date, cloud-based technology for the workplace has tended to evolve along two separate paths – you have your software for doing your job on the one hand, and your communication devices and networks and the other. But what if these two were more closely integrated? What if, for example, your VoIP and mobile phones were somehow linked to your file sharing and collaboration platforms, like Sharepoint or OwnCloud

Would it surprise you to hear that the technology to do that is already widely available?

The key here is broadband internet, and the Cloud. If you are using cloud-based collaboration tools, and a hosted VOIP service, say, you are already running your comms and productivity software over an internet connection. Merging these into a single streamlined service is not only logical, but simple to achieve.

Part of the reason communication and collaboration remain separated is cultural. Workers over the age of 30 are a phone being used to make phone calls and computers being used to do work, even if the phone does run on an IP server.

But services like Microsoft’s Sharepoint already allow you to do everything from one place. In Office 365 Online for Business, you share working documents in company OneDrive folders on the Cloud, edit and collaborate on them in real time using Office Online programmes, all whilst talking face to face on a video call on Skype for Business. You can even start a message thread about it of social network service Yammer.

Long term, the business case for unifying all operations, collaboration and communication, into single integrated platforms that can be accessed on any device at any time is hard to ignore. It will reduce costs and downtime, while boosting innovation and business continuity, with a workforce that is empowered to be involved in more and to work with greater flexibility.

Could Cloud Make Your IT Infrastructure Obsolete?

Could Cloud Make Your IT Infrastructure Obsolete?As Cloud enterprise technology takes off around the world, analysts are starting to ponder the fate of the on-premises IT systems it is replaces.

With the number of businesses running their IT infrastructure entirely in the Cloud expected to be in the majority by 2018, in-office network servers – the bastion of business operations for the past two decades – look doomed to become yesterday’s technology.

According to a recent survey of IT professionals worldwide carried out by 451 Research, 60 per cent expect to be running operations entirely on the Cloud two years from now. Although just a forecast, that rise of nearly 20 per cent from the number using Cloud-only systems today is significant. As we stand, on-premises products are still in the majority. But once the scales tip in the other direction, the slide could be rapid.

Another report in America from Forrester Research paints a picture of profits for Cloud companies soaring whilst ‘legacy’ enterprise IT vendors have seen a steady decline for the past decade. Producers of network hardware and software just cannot compete with cloud-based Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) suppliers who offer to host and manage your IT for minimal capital outlay.

Some experts are predicting competition from the Cloud could start to force traditional big-name enterprise server manufacturers – the likes of Dell, Oracle, IBM – out of the market altogether.

All of this raises the prospect of enterprise hardware becoming obsolete. The danger of this is not that the systems themselves become out-dated, but that the crucial data on them is in a form no longer compatible with the new technologies that have overtaken them. For businesses operating on their own physical systems, it would like being trapped in a technological cul-de-sac, with no option to move forward without going backwards and starting all over again.

In practice, no one is expecting in-premises enterprise networks to be cut adrift over night. Although changing rapidly, just under two-thirds of businesses still use them, which will keep the vendors in the market for some time yet. In addition, a niche industry for ‘transition’ hardware and software to growing up to mitigate for the fact that it is not that straightforward to migrate existing networks onto the Cloud. Many businesses are employing ‘hybrid’ models, which means they launch new system technologies on the Cloud, but keep existing legacy operations running on the old servers, until they are phased out naturally.

What should businesses do? It is not yet time to panic about your on-premises servers being more hindrance than help. But the Cloud is here and, looking long-term, hosted IT is the direction the world is heading. It is certainly worth considering for any new IT investment, be it replacing existing systems or launching new. The Forrester report advises decision makers to embrace innovation but ultimately, as with any business decision, make the choice that fits with your business needs.

If you are thinking of switching your IT infrastructure or would like some advice on how hosted IT services would impact on your business, Cloud4’s friendly team of consultants would be delighted to speak to you.

Are you ready to mobilise your business?

Are you ready to mobilise your business?The advent of so-called smart technology has transformed the way we live our lives in little more than a decade. Computing tasks which used to require hefty chunks of desktop hardware can now be completed with devices that fit snugly into a pocket. It has changed the way people communicate, socialise and consume, as lives are increasingly led on the move.

If the world has gone mobile, it makes sense for your business to follow the trend. The ability to conduct all kinds of transactions from any place at any time is not merely an issue of keeping up with the Joneses, it is about making use of technology to work in smarter, more efficient ways. As the world speeds up, businesses need to follow suit.

Added Agility

For consumer-facing businesses, it is a matter of keeping up with customer expectations. In a world where people are now used to having the world at the fingertips at the touch of a button, instant response has become the norm. Mobile technology can make your business agile enough to meet those demands.

For B2B-facing operations, mobile offers a new level of efficient, responsive working. Establishing the right kind of communication networks with clients and suppliers means no one need ever be left waiting on a response to an urgent query. Meetings can conducted across huge distances, and orders and requests can be processed the moment the need arises.

Getting set up

The first step to making a business mobile is migrating at least some IT operations onto the cloud. One of the big advantages of cloud computing is that it frees users from having to connect to a physical server in a fixed location; as long as you have internet access, you can perform all of your computing tasks from anywhere. Whether that means using a hosted desktop service or moving all your operations onto a cloud server, it means all aspects of your business are ready to be conducted on the move.

Accessing your business in the cloud whilst on the move also requires the right kind of hardware. Investing in Smart phones and tablets for your mobile workforce makes sense because they are designed specifically for on-the-move use. Touchscreens are far easier to use in transit than even the most slim-fit laptops, whilst having 4G-ready devices is an absolute must if you are to be free of dependence on wi-fi connections.

Increased productivity

The final consideration is making sure that everyone in your mobile team can communicate properly. The ability to make calls and reply to e-mails on the go has been taken for granted for many years now, but mobile technology offers much more.

VoIP services – in a nutshell, communicating directly over an internet connection – have the advantage of costing less than ordinary mobile telephony, whilst also offering video and conference calling on the go simple and straightforward.

If you are interested in learning more about how to mobilise your business, Cloud 4 offers the full range of services you will need. Contact us to find out how our cost-effective services could help to improve your productivity, and your bottom line.

Why Use a Hosted Server?

When you opt for a hosted server, you get all the benefits of an in-house server, but without the upfront costs for hardware and installation. Small businesses often find that servers are the most expensive items they purchase. The hardware, infrastructure and power costs quickly mount up, and the cost of maintenance and management can outstrip a business’ budget. If you run a server in-house, wouldn’t it be easier – and cheaper – to switch to a hosted server instead?

When you opt for a hosted server, you get all the benefits of an in-house server, but without the upfront costs for hardware and installation. You save space on server rooms and cooling equipment, and you’ll also benefit from the flexibility of the cloud. And because we use only the best data centre facilities, you benefit from blistering network speeds no matter where you are.

How Hosted Servers Work

A hosted server is a Linux or Windows machine that is set up by Cloud4’s engineers, and provisioned from our Manchester or London data centre. Your server is provisioned according to the specifications you choose at sign-up, and you don’t need to buy any hardware. If you want to scale up later, you can, with no penalty. Equally, you can reduce your commitment if you have more capacity than you need.

Our team can install the applications that you require to get started, or you can take control of your server and set it up the way you want it. Once we’ve handed it over, your IT team can take care of it as though it was on the premises. We give you a level of permissions equivalent to full root access, and once we’ve deployed the server, all of the management and control is handed to you.

Each server is equipped with backup software and firewall protection at no extra cost, and we provide the expertise of our specialist team to get you up and running. If you have any support queries, you can trust Cloud4 Computers to provide prompt, efficient and effective resolution, with support services provided for a fixed hourly fee.

Server Customisation

With a hosted server, you can choose an off-the-shelf solution, or ask us to put together a customised solution. From a single server through to a dedicated private cloud environment, we have options to suit every business and every use case. From testing and development through to application and database hosting, our flexible plans give you exactly what you need.

From there, you simply pay a monthly subscription fee according to the specifications and resource that you’re using. Optionally, you can bolt on a management service for an additional fee, or get support ad-hoc for a small charge.

Find Out More

When you buy a hosted server plan, you’ll get complete peace of mind. Your business data will be stored in an ISO27001 certified facility, and you have 30 days to evaluate the service. If you decide that it’s not working during that period, you can activate our money-back guarantee.

Cloud4 Computers are the experts in hosted server provision. For more information, contact our friendly sales advisors, and find out how much time and money your business could save.