How a Hosted Desktop Can Streamline Client Site Visits

Hosted DesktopMany businesses have remote sales teams, and those teams are generally kitted out to work effectively on the road. For a sole trader, it isn’t always as easy to get work done outside the office, nor is it cost effective to carry everything you might need in a pinch.

So how do you work on a client site? How are you planning to take minutes? Or create invoices and mark down expenses? Sure, you can take a pen and paper, but it’s an old-fashioned way to get around the problem when we have so much technology at our disposal.

And while you could take your laptop to the client’s office, will you have a back-up plan if you can’t get on the WiFi?

How many times have you taken your laptop on holiday, only to realise there’s no internet access in the hotel? Perhaps it offered an old-fashioned dialup connection, and the only connection option is a mobile signal; not much use for  laptop.

Perhaps you’ve visited a client site where you’ve put in a support call to get the logon details. By the time you’re done with your meeting, the ticket hasn’t been answered, and you’ve had to make notes offline instead.

Contingency Computing

For most remote workers, connectivity is their big essential. Just carrying a laptop is not enough. In some cases, it can even weigh you down.

The vast majority of workers need:

– A device that’s easy to carry, whether they’re in the car, on a bus or on a plane

– A device that won’t slow them down at airport security

– Access to the applications they normally use (not watered down mobile versions)

– The ability to connect to their computer without WiFi

– Military grade encryption, and two factor authentication, to keep prying eyes out of their business

– The ability to work ‘on the spot’, rather than complete paperwork work home to process at night

– The ability to use more than one device to access the same things

Cloud computing answers some of those requirements, but it can still leave you short if you drop your laptop in a puddle. But if you’ve invested in a hosted desktop, all your data is there – regardless of the device you’re connecting on.

You can even work on a hosted desktop using your phone over a 4G connection.

Other Benefits

Why else would you opt for a hosted desktop to work on site with a client?

– If your laptop gets lost or stolen, all you’ve lost is the physical machine

– Your data is backed up in our data centre, so you can leave it to us to look after it – no matter where you are

– We’re your technical support team, so you don’t need to worry about your client’s support team sorting out problems

– You don’t have to worry about an upgrade wrecking your machine, since we take care of all of that for you

There are dozens of applications for hosted desktops. Mobile nail technicians, surveyors, musicians and accountants all get more done when they work in the cloud.

Move Your Business Forward

Cloud4 understands that businesses have changing needs. Working at a remote site requires a flexible solution, which is exactly what we offer with hosted desktop. We do all this without losing the personal touch that so many of our customers value.

From a one-person start-up to a multi-site enterprise, cloud computing and hosted desktops offer a proven increase in productivity. To find out how to upgrade, swiftly and easily, ring Cloud4 for a chat today.

What to Do When Your Exchange Mailbox is Always Full

All of us use email for business communication, but it can actually be a very inconvenient way to communicate. For many years, people have used work email accounts to volley Word attachments back and forth, or distribute newsletters, images and PDFs. Each time a file is attached, it takes up space in every mailbox it lands in, and every mailbox it’s sent from. That causes everyone’s mailbox to fill up fast.

Running out of space is a hassle for everyone. Is it time we dropped email for good

CloudStorage Woes

You’re probably familiar with the ‘mailbox full’ messages that Microsoft Exchange throws out. That’s because Exchange mailboxes tend to be incredibly small. In Exchange Server 2010, the default storage size is 2GB. In a large organisation, the administrator may have set it even lower.

2GB used to sound cavernous, but these days, it really isn’t. Outlook will prevent you from attaching anything over 20mb, but that 20mb file could be forwarded back and forth for weeks. It only takes 100 big files to fill up a 2GB mailbox. If you have a 500mb mailbox – and many people do – you probably get a ‘mailbox full’ email every week or so.

For most businesses, increasing mailbox size isn’t an option, because every user needs an allocation, whether they fill it or not. Before long, you hit the mailbox storage limit, because your server has a physical limit.

What can you do?

– You can scrabble around looking for emails to delete – again

– You can drag files onto your local hard drive (and hope they don’t get deleted by accident)

– You can buy a new server, or extend storage, which will cost money

Sounds inconvenient and costly, doesn’t it.

But there is a fourth option.

A Modern Solution

Hosted Exchange offers a different solution. Instead of using your own server to store emails, you can purchase email as a service. Your email accounts are hosted by a third party, securely, in the cloud.

A hosted Exchange mailbox is an affordable way to max out the storage you can use, without investing massive amounts of money on equipment. The limits of physical servers are removed.

Cloud4 offers three tiers of hosted Exchange services. The Web tier offers a 10GB mailbox, while the top Pro tier can be upgraded right the way to 50GB. To put this in context, Google’s Gmail service is well known for its generous mailbox limit of 15GB. Cloud4 gives you the space for more than three times that amount, at the top end.

Imagine how convenient it would be to have a 50GB mailbox; enough to store 2,500 attachments at maximum size.

The other aspect is cost. If you were to buy the on-premise infrastructure to give everyone in your business a 50GB mailbox, you’d be looking at huge investment, and a lot of that space would never be used. The beauty of the cloud is that you only pay monthly, and you only pay for the mailboxes that you actually need. If more staff join, simply scale up your commitment and pay for a few more mailboxes. If staff leave, cut back any time.

The Many Benefits of Hosted Exchange

Scalable storage, and monthly payments, are just two of the things our clients love about hosted Exchange. If you’re ready to make the move, talk to Cloud4 about the many benefits of switching. Call us today on 0161 850 1264.

Could You Cope Without Business Email?

Four long years ago, Mark Zuckerberg famously claimed that email was on its way out, and messenger services – specifically Facebook’s Messenger – would change our communication habits. This has certainly proven to be true on consumer mobile devices, since we are increasingly moving towards messenger apps that use data services, rather than SMS messaging. But it hasn’t proven to be true in business.

In the corporate world, email still tends to be mission critical. Few businesses would be comfortable without it. Indeed, email’s dominance as our primary communication medium is one of the reasons we need to maintain service quality.

When choosing a Hosted Exchange provider, it’s important to balance cost with availability. A low price is no good without a decent service level agreement, which details the provider’s commitment to you, and the expectations you should have of it.

Availability and Downtime

Business critical services have to be provided to a robust SLA. It’s services like email that keep a business profitable and responsive, and poor availability could bring a business to its knees within hours.

Email is vital to internal and external communication. Client meetings, sales, marketing and support all rely on email to maintain momentum. If any one department cannot access their mail, the impact on the rest of the business is immense.

Clearly, not having a functioning email account is a productivity drain, but it can also have a ricochet effect on other areas:

– If an email bounces back to a client, they may question your professionalism and commitment

– Failing emails mean that messages are delayed, which can affect sales and marketing activity

– Employees that are unable to email will find it impossible to keep track of team activity

– Many services that rely on email will be crippled by the outage, too

Let’s be clear: sometimes downtime is avoidable, and sometimes we can’t prevent it. Faulty hardware, or an ‘Act of God’, is difficult to prevent. But that should never be an excuse for short-sightedness, or accepting a poor quality of email provision in the longer term.

Cloud4 is proud to offer highly reliable Hosted Exchange services to our many business clients. We don’t just market an SLA: we stick to it, too.

Over the last two years, Cloud4 has consistently achieved outstanding service levels. On our Hosted Exchange service, we have maintained a 99.7% uptime figure for more than two years.

Like For Like

Remember that uptime figures are often manipulated by marketing teams, and a high percentile does not necessarily mean that the service is reliable.

Take the ‘99%’ figure for example. It sounds like a good uptime statement – just short of 100%. However, 99% essentially means that the service could be down for almost 15 minutes each day, and the company would not be in breach of its SLAs. In actual fact, 15 minutes of email downtime would be enough to slash productivity and give your customers real doubts about your commitment.

When looking at hosted Exchange providers, make sure you’re comparing like with like, and ensure the provider gives you an uptime SLA that you can live with.

Find Out More About Hosted Exchange

Cloud4 is committed to offering quality Hosted Exchange email services, as part of a holistic group of services that make business IT simple. With our support, you can ditch the expensive server room and prevent infrastructure over purchasing. And with our commitment to quality service, you can be confident of 99.7% service uptime, keeping your employees connected.

Why Professional Services Are Adopting Cloud

Professional services companies provide support to other businesses. They are in a sector often known as ‘B2B’, and are responsible for providing assistance to other companies.

Professional services providers have been quick to recognise the potential of the cloud, and we find a huge amount of our customers come from this sector. In fact, there are far more small businesses taking on cloud computing than large enterprises, partly because they are more agile.

But that isn’t the only reason.

Cost savingsCloud services

Pre-cloud, most small businesses would have had to have a server in their office – perhaps expanding this to a small data centre over time. For a startup, finding the desk space for a large, bulky server could be an issue in itself.

There’s also the cost of maintaining IT hardware, or paying someone to maintain it for you. The more business-critical applications you amass, the more important it will be to keep the server online.

And what about backups? Client data is subject to stringent checks, and if any business works with personal information, they need to make sure it’s properly cared for. At one time, that would mean creating tape backups and shipping them off for storage. None of this is cheap – quite the opposite.

Practicalities

Looking at the day-to-day side of the business, it’s easy to see why small businesses have embraced the cloud. There are fewer reasons to be stuck in the office, and far more scope to collaborate with colleagues on the move.

For people who have to do 10 jobs in the place of one, this is a huge benefit. It’s a massive advantage when you can take calls on the move, or work on a document in real time with a far-flung team mate.

Barriers

Some clients ask us why they should trust their data to the cloud, given that there are so many high-profile media stories and scares. But there are far more reasons to trust the cloud with business data, than to write it off and use on-premise IT.

Hacks like the iMessage affair are few and far between, and they come abut largely because of poor security practices by the owners of the accounts in question. In business, providers like Cloud4 put security at the core of their provision. Two-factor authentication, encryption and real-time monitoring all ensure that data is safe at rest and in transit.

Often, cloud security is actually better than a business’ own internal IT. Many small companies think they are too small to bother with intrusion detection, yet hackers do target small professional services companies to get information on bigger businesses. When you move to the cloud, you benefit from pooled security resources, and the ability to lock down your data much more comprehensively than you can in your own office or home.

Find out more

Cloud4 is changing the way B2B providers work. We’re making startup businesses more effective, more efficient and more affordable. And we’re helping more and more existing service providers streamline operations and trim costs. To find out more about our simple migration solutions, contact us for a chat.

How Hosted Exchange Helps You Achieve Better Compliance

Cloud 4 Computers Hosted ExchangeRegulatory compliance compels businesses to treat data with care, and according to frameworks and the law. Some industries are harder hit than others by compliance burdens, but every organisation in the EU has some kind of responsibility to treat data responsibly.

Data protection, and the safe retention of data, is the most common regulatory concern for EU businesses, and it’s not a concern that’s confined to the cloud. The mismanagement of personal information can cost a company dear, regardless of how it happens. A data breach, or mismanagement of data, is likely to pique the interest of the Information Commissioner; while the Office shoe chain was lucky to escape a fine, your business may not be so fortunate.

As your IT systems mature, and your data silos grow, it’s important to consider how that data is being stored and transmitted.

Data Boundaries

The cloud is designed to be multi-location. By its nature, it allows data to be stored in more than one place. For businesses, this is seen as a potential risk.

In fact, risk doesn’t change in the cloud. Our use of remote technologies is not a cause for concern. But businesses are right to be cautious. All of us store masses of personal data in our email mailboxes, and we also deal with intellectual property and other types of data that are subject to compliance or regulation. Once you transmit this data outside your company’s corporate network, you need to know what happens to it next.

Helping, not Hindering

Hosted Exchange involves shifting your company’s helps staff comply with policy by offering them a secure messaging platform from day one.

When you choose the right provider:

– Hosted Exchange is secure, and its ongoing security is managed by a specialised third party who are experts in their field

– Email servers are continually monitored for intruders and unusual activity

– Users can connect to Exchange on any device, including iOS and Android devices, and from any location

– All their favourite features, such as calendars, operate as they always have

– Emails are preserved and archived permanently; vital for companies who need to comply with the UK Companies Act

– Data centres comply with ISO 27001, an information security standard that suggests best practice in data storage

– Email data is always stored within the EU, not distributed to data centres around the world

The latter point is important. If email storage crosses that critical boundary, it may violate the Data Protection Directive. Note that the United States is not an approved, compliant country, which means many cloud services are unsuitable for compliance with EU law.

Cloud ChoicesCloud services

Cloud4 offers Hosted Exchange 2013 or 2010 services, hosted in compliant UK data centres and accessible all over the world. Because your service is managed by us, we take care of essential security patches and services like malware scanning. Our support teams are available 24/7 from our UK offices, ready to assist if you have any trouble accessing your business email.

 

How the Cloud can help Business Start Up to succeed?

Cloud leads entrpeneurs to successIn the last couple of year more new start-up companies than ever have been formed young entrepreneurs and experienced professionals decide that they want to start a business of their own. But these entrepreneurs need technology to function like any other business, Continue reading How the Cloud can help Business Start Up to succeed?