Can Mobile Working Save Your Business?

mobile business apps for productivityBy 2020, half of the world’s workers will be remote workers. That’s according to a survey at the Global Leadership Summit in London. Over the course of the next five years, we’re going to see some big changes. Not every business will keep pace; some will fail.

The global economic crisis continues to put financial pressure on companies, and smaller businesses are still finding it difficult to raise capital. Now more than ever, remote working could be the answer if your business is finding it hard to adapt.

Benefits of Working Remotely

Employees are looking for a good work-life balance, and that means changing the way they work. People don’t want to travel at rush hour with everybody else. They don’t want to put their kids into after-school clubs if they can avoid it. As the world’s best employers offer more flexible working, the world’s best employees will follow.

Sir Richard Branson, owner of the Virgin group, is a vocal supporter of flexible working, and says that remote access is making this easier. Virgin employees can take unlimited holiday leave, providing their productivity is not affected. That means taking time off when you’re not needed, and being around when you are. Richard himself works remotely from Necker Island, a career move that would have been unthinkable before the internet became so widespread.

While we can’t all work from a Caribbean beach, the benefits of remote working can be felt on a smaller scale when working from home. Freedom to choose when to work, where to work, and when to take breaks; the chance to get fresh air, spend more time with the family, or cut back the daily commute. Far from being less productive, remote workers get more rest, are more energised, and feel more connected with their home life, helping them achieve that work-life balance they so crave.

The company gets its share of the benefits too: a workforce willing to work, and staff that enjoy collaboration. Rather than forcing people to fit the company mould, giving them the tools they need to work anywhere means work will often ‘just happen’.

Make it a Reality

You don’t need to have complex infrastructure to let people work remotely. But you do need to invest in modern services that help keep people connected.

Here are some ways to free up your employees and let them work wherever they like:

  • To ensure everyone has access to the right software and data, purchase hosted desktops rather than a fleet of laptops
  • Issue everyone with a smartphone capable of 4G connection, plus a tablet that can be tethered to it
  • Use hosted Exchange email so that employees can access their messages from anywhere, free from the size restrictions of an on-premise Exchange mailbox
  • Invest in VoIP telephony, project management tools in the cloud, and use video conferencing in place of lengthy on-site meetings

All of these things are affordable to small businesses, helping to keep costs down and ensure the company stays competitive.

By kitting out the workforce with cloud services and relevant support, they can access company data in a secure, compliant and speedy manner, without a break in productivity or an increase in IT spend. The reality is this: if you don’t wise up to remote working, your business could be overtaken by the dynamic, youthful competitors just waiting to steal your thunder.

Public or Private Cloud? Risks and Benefits of Both

When choosing cloud providers, you’ll need to look at your wider migration strategy, and consider the ways you need to use cloud technology. Part of that discussion is the consideration of public or private cloud services (and possibly hybrid cloud services that span the two types).

Every business is different, so it’s impossible to get the ‘right’ answer to this question, but having the right information will steer successful migration.

What’s a Public Cloud?Being productive in the office

A public cloud is, generally, a cloud service shared by large numbers of users. Typically, public clouds are very affordable, since usage is metered. For a small business, a public cloud storage service may cost less than a mid-range VPS.

Public clouds are great for testing and development, where a server is deployed specifically to carry out a task behind the scenes. The service is elastic, so you can run 1 or 100 servers, trashing and deploying on demand.

The potential downside is that you’re sharing resources, much like a shared hosting environment. You don’t know who else is using that public cloud. You have no control of the hardware. Your business cannot choose its hardware or monitor its performance. And, in the main, your technical team is responsible for managing its public cloud account.

Private Cloud Pros and Cons

A private cloud gives the business more control over the nuts and bolts behind the service, which means overall security can be tightened up, far beyond that in a public cloud. Unlike a public cloud, you can’t really scale up on demand; you’ll have to over-purchase resource to ensure you always have enough.

The obvious trade-off for this kind of service is the price. Once you start taking over entire servers, you begin to take on more on-going commitments, and your costs are fixed regardless of usage. For some large businesses, the cost isn’t an issue. For SMEs, it’s rare that a private cloud is an affordable option.

Misconceptions

Some businesses believe that they need a private cloud because of compliance, but that isn’t actually the case. This line of thinking stems from the fact that remote storage sounds risky, but a well-secured public cloud service can be just as compliant as a private cloud deployment.

Private clouds are seen to be less susceptible to hacks, too, but this is down to a very small number of high-profile hacking cases (targeting consumer services like iCloud, not business services). With a public cloud service, it’s up to your service provider to secure everything and pay for the necessary infrastructure.

The Case For SME Adoption

For SMEs, the public cloud (or a hybrid) is the perfect place to be. It’s affordable, scalable and secure, letting you access enterprise grade solutions for a manageable cost. In fact, it’s SMEs and startups that are leading cloud adoption, and it’s cloud technology that is fuelling their growth and flexibility.

In 2014, IDC claimed that cloud adoption would grow by 20 percent through to 2019.

Don’t let your business be left behind.

3 Big Brands That Do Amazing Things in the Cloud

When we use our phones and tablets, we may not consciously use cloud technology, but most big companies rely on cloud infrastructure to get things done behind the scenes. If you’re not yet using cloud storage for business, these innovators could change your mind.

Instagram

It’s hard to imagine that Instagram was once an iOS-only app, since it’s now ubiquitous on Android phones and tablets too. Shortly after it divertified its user base, it was purchased by Facebook, itself a large user of cloud storage.

Instagram used to store data on Amazon servers and used a cloud-based content delivery network to push photos out around the globe. It now stores all of that data in Facebook’s data centres. Despite the fact that Instagram has terabytes and terabytes of photo data in storage, it can pull out a single picture in a matter of seconds to anywhere in the world.

Speed and efficiency is critical, since billions of pictures and videos need to be accessed in the blink of an eye, any time. We don’t even think about the cloud technology that goes into Instagram’s service, nor do we wonder how Instagram staff migrated 20 billion of our pictures while the service was still live.

BBC

The BBC is more than just a national broadcaster. It’s also an innovator in the digital space. Its iPlayer product is undoubtedly a world leader in streaming technology, and the service gained more ground when it was migrated to a public cloud platform.

Prior to the migration, it took the BBC’s iPlayer team around 9 hours to put a video online. This was mostly due to the vast amount of rendering and processing power required. Since the cloud migration, this delay has been slashed to around 15 minutes.

iPlayer copes with millions of requests every day, and it makes content available to hundreds of different devices, all with slightly different specs. The cloud migration allowed the team to deliver content in a more flexible way and cope more effectively with periods of high demand. Phil Cluff, team lead at BBC Media Services, estimated in 2014 that the new cloud version would last at least 10 years before it needed to be changed.

Airbnb

Some websites disrupt their peer group, while some disrupt an entire industry. Airbnb is a holiday home rental site that offers peer-to-peer renting and vacations, and it relies on cloud computing to keep its site ticking over.

Airbnb uses RDS, a database technology that allows them to avoid bottlenecks in the cloud. It has allowed Airbnb to keep up with its own rapid growth, and to cope with the huge amounts of content generated by property owners in their listings. With an emphasis on big, beautiful photos and lots of holiday home details, the company needed a way to ensure it had a flexible solution that did not break the bank.

Cloud computing scales beautifully and inexpensively, even for very large websites like Airbnb. On a smaller scale, it can be useful for small businesses looking to increase and flex computing capacity, week by week.

Realise Your Potential

Could your business be more elastic, more responsive or more efficient? While you may not need cloud computing on a massive scale, our hosted products could make a significant impact on your business’ performance. Contact Cloud4 today and take your first step to a more profitable, efficient future.

Now is the Time to Move to Cloud Servers

Business MobilityVirtual infrastructure is revolutionising IT. The days of the old, dusty data centre are fast becoming old fashioned, and new software-based alternatives are creeping in. For small and medium sized businesses, virtualisation presents enormous benefits, including a reduction in cost, and fewer support and maintenance tasks for the team. Virtual infrastructure is greener, more flexible and less demanding on your staff.

Virtual servers are the corner stone of any software-based data centre, and if your business is still running old physical servers, the time is right to take the first steps towards the cloud. Not only are servers very cost effective, but there’s a good chance some of your oldest machines are ripe for replacement.

Out with the old

In less than three months, Windows Server 2003 will become an unsupported operating system. For the millions of businesses still using it, that will be a costly blow, and many have tried to put their head in the sand and ride out the last few months. However, once July comes, all bets are off. The longer Windows Server 2003 is left unsupported, the more damage hackers could potentially do.

Many businesses keep their old servers running for fear of upsetting the status quo. Often, servers run highly specialised applications that are business critical, and the business sees that as good enough reason to leave the old server well alone. Face it. You don’t need a Chief Data Officer to realise that a business critical database or key application should not be running on server software that has no manufacturer support. Come July, that’s what many organisations will be doing.

Safe migrations

Thousands of businesses have already completed successful cloud migrations, and a big part of the process is having the right cloud servers in place. Virtualisation lets businesses achieve maximum efficiency because hosted services are elastic; they scale up and down automatically, based on business demand.

Compatibility concerns are understandable, so planning is key. With the End of Life phase so near, businesses should refrain from entering panic mode and migrating too quickly, or without the right strategy in place. Working with a provider like Cloud4, they should start pre-work now in order to get valuable data off Windows Server 2003 and into a secure cloud environment, either before 14th July, or as soon as possible afterwards.

No time to lose

Some businesses are still searching for a good reason to move to virtual servers. The demise of Windows Server 2003 is the best catalyst we can think of. While moving legacy applications is certainly a daunting step, there are very good reasons to quit procrastinating and choose a cloud provider that can help. And running an on-premise/ cloud hybrid solution is better than putting your entire data centre at risk.

While a move to the cloud is a huge endeavour, and not without challenges, leaving data on unsupported servers is not a sensible way forward. End of Life is weeks away now. OK, it’s late to act, but it’s not too late to do something about it.

How the Cloud can help Business Start Up to succeed?

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Cloud Computing for Business. It is right for you?

Cloud Computing for Business
Is the Cloud for Your Business?

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For many businesses, making the decision to move away from “the way we’ve always done it” can be a big step. This has always been particularly true concerning organisations IT infrastructure or services. Now with the Cloud developing so quickly, businesses are being asked to take a larger leap than at any other time away from the historic norm!

Continue reading Cloud Computing for Business. It is right for you?