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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What’s New in Hosted Exchange 2016?

IfWhat's New in Hosted Exchange 2016 you’re already using Hosted Exchange in your organisation, you’ll be aware of the benefits and cost savings that hosted email can offer. If you’ve yet to try it, we’re confident that you’ll love the convenience and reliability once you switch.

Now, Cloud4 is able to offer Microsoft Hosted Exchange 2016 – the very newest version of the platform. We were one of the first companies in the UK to roll out Hosted Exchange 2016, and it offers a number of new features that could prove very useful.

Increased Capacity

Microsoft Hosted Exchange 2016 comes with a larger mailbox allowance: a maximum of 100GB for every user in your company. When you consider the fact that many businesses are still providing tiny 500mb mailboxes from on-premise Exchange servers, it’s clear just how much of an improvement hosted Exchange is.

The benefits of increased capacity also extend to other areas of the system. Your users can enjoy permanent email archiving with Cloud4, so your critical corporate data never has to be deleted to free up space. It’s a welcome change from the bad old days of constantly combing your mailbox for large files to free up space.

Better Security

Cyber threats are an increasing risk for small businesses, since hackers use suppliers as an entry point to acquire valuable data about larger companies. While most businesses understand the potential risk of cyber attack, UK government figures suggest that less than 20 percent are confident that their business’ cyber security strategy is robust.

Each hosted Exchange 2016 instance comes with free spam and virus protection as standard, giving you a valuable first line of defence. If your users frequently access their email from public WiFi networks, this kind of protection is essential.

Always Low Cost

Microsoft Hosted Exchange 2016 is a fantastic business tool, but it’s not just for corporate users. Charities, colleges, volunteer groups and religious organisations can all benefit from its accessible price point.

The set-up costs for hosted Exchange are very low; you won’t need a server, a server room, air conditioning or specialist infrastructure. You simply need a good quality connection to our Exchange server, via mobile data connections or a WiFi network.

Once you’re with Cloud4, you can relax: our team takes care of the technical side, leaving you free to get on with your work.

Other Benefits of Hosted Exchange 2016

Microsoft Hosted Exchange 2016 comes with a number of other benefits that can prove valuable in a busy organisation:

  • The new Outlook for the Web application has support for 17 new languages
  • When you access Outlook for the Web on your phone, you’ll get a version tailored for your OS
  • You can use emojis in messages composed using Outlook for the Web – a first for hosted Exchange
  • In SharePoint, sharing documents through OneDrive for Business and hosted Exchange is easier than ever
  • A new Compliance Search tool lets authorised personnel search multiple mailboxes

These are just a few of the changes that Microsoft has introduced this year. We think the new hosted Exchange is the best ever.

Getting Set Up

We can offer you a choice of hosted Exchange installations: 2010, 2013 or 2016. While 2016 offers you all the latest features, 2010 and 2013 offer the functionality and performance you’re used to. If you’re not sure which one to choose, get in touch with our friendly team, and we’ll explain the benefits of each version in more detail.

Will Hosted Exchange Save You Money?

JPEG image-063D6255745C-1We usually think of email as a free method of communication, but it can actually be a huge drain on resources. If you currently run an Exchange server in-house, you might be surprised how much you could save with a hosted solution.

In a climate of cuts and efficiency measures, public and private sector organisations are looking for ways to reduce cost. Maybe it’s time to re-think your email strategy and redirect the wasted cash elsewhere?

The real cost of email

For a business, the main cost of email is running a server in-house, and providing all of the infrastructure that goes with it. You need a secure network, reliable power, storage devices, and possibly air conditioning to keep the room cool. Some businesses have a small on-site server room that has to be maintained and secured, with fire suppression and alarms to protect the data.

Additionally, there’s the cost of keeping all of your server software up to date. You’ll need software licenses for your servers and per-user licenses for software, and someone to monitor, upgrade and patch as required. If you have an external company providing backup services, this adds another layer of admin and cost.

So it’s not just a case of running a server. It’s the cost of running a secure, modern and up to date infrastructure, and making sure the data on the server is always available. It’s about preventing unauthorised access, paying for licences and coming up with a workable support framework.

Even for a small business, this can cost thousands of pounds every year.

The cloud alternative

Cloud computing gives small business access to business grade infrastructure, but at a fraction of the normal cost. If you’re currently running email servers in-house, outsourcing could be a more affordable and sensible way to run your email.

With hosted Exchange, we offer a simple pricing model. Just pay for every mailbox you need. There are no licenses to run, and no servers to maintain. All of that is included in the price.

You might be concerned about having your email hosted by another company, but there’s no need to worry: all of our servers are located in a secure data centre in the UK, backed by a robust cloud infrastructure. Your users won’t see any difference in the service they receive, but they might notice that we offer superb uptime and speed, so your email is always available, 24/7/365.

Managing the cost of IT

If your IT department is struggling to access the funds it needs, streamlining your email service could be a great way to make some savings. We can offer hosted Exchange for any business, from micro-businesses and startups through to large corporations. We’ll also migrate all of your old data, so your users don’t notice any downtime.

Cloud4 are experts in business cloud services. Talk to us today about Hosted Exchange. The days of running expensive servers are over. It’s time to make the move to the cloud.

4 Ways to Ensure Your Data is Secure in the Cloud

Cloud ComputingGoogle+ is Google’s social network, and anyone with a Gmail address has a profile.  Officially, Google+ has more than 2.5 billion users, although not all of them are active. But Google+ holds some form of user data about every one of those people, and many of them have never checked their settings.

Head to your account, and you’ll be able to review Google’s data sharing defaults. A few settings will surprise you. Did you know that Google can use your public photos as background images on someone else’s TV? Or that your geographical photo metadata is shared when you send a link to a photo, by default? Granted, they’re not sinister settings, but it offers a hint as to why some people are reluctant to trust their data with the cloud.

Here are 4 simple ways to ensure your data is secure.

1. Choose a reputable business cloud provider

Getting the right provider is key to a successful cloud rollout. Look for a company with a proven track record in serving business clients. While many employees will default to using consumer products like Dropbox, this should be discouraged, since they are not designed to offer the robust SLAs that businesses require, and expect.

2 Ensure your data stays in the UK

Corporate cloud users should ensure that their data is stored in the UK. Once the data crosses a geographical boundary, such as being mirrored in another continent, legal rights and security requirements are less clear than they are if you ‘play safe’. Even within the EU, it’s difficult to ascertain exactly which laws would apply if you wanted to hold the provider liable for something. If in doubt, don’t export your data – choose a provider that stores it all within your geographical boundary.

3 Check the encryption

Cloud4’s customers benefit from the same grade of encryption that is used by British banks. When your data is at rest in our cloud storage service, we use a 128-bit encryption key, which would take 1,440,000,000 years to crack in a brute force attempt. That’s just an example; we use different types of encryption to keep your data secure in transit and at rest.

4.  Train employees to work securely

No matter how good your encryption, and your local laws on privacy, your security is only ever as good as the policies you have in the workplace. If your employees are using weak passwords, or logging on with infected mobile devices, security issues are always going to be a lingering threat. Make sure employees know how to use two-factor authentication, and make password training part of each employee’s induction phase.

Proactive data security

Cloud technology can be compliant. It can ensure privacy and security of data. Often, cloud technology is more secure than on-premise solutions it replaces, because you have the invaluable backing of a third party provider who adheres to the latest security standards. To find out more about the ways we protect your data, call Cloud4 for a chat today.

We’re ready to take your call on 0161 850 1264.

How Cloud Computing Can Save Your Company From Downtime and Disaster

If there’s one thing that can cripple a business, it’s downtime. Web hosts sell their services with uptime guarantees for a reason. Every business critical service needs to be online when people are working; increasingly, that means it must be up 24/7/365.

Achieving 100 per cent uptime is extremely difficult; so called ‘Acts of God’ can take out racks of server in a flash. Yet despite its reliance on off-premise data centres, the cloud is your best bet for keeping essential services online, and ensuring constant access to the services and information you need.

Cloud redundancy

Cloud platforms are inherently robust. In fact, they were designed to withstand catastrophe. Instead of storing data in one place, software distributes cloned copies among a group, or farm, of servers. If one server goes down, the others are able to step in and cover for it, creating a seamless experience for your business.

There are rare examples of cloud downtime, but these are unusual enough to hit the headlines. All cloud providers invest in constant system monitoring to keep the chance of downtime to an absolute minimum. Cloud redundancy is still exceptionally good, particularly when you consider the cost of obtaining anywhere near the same uptime figures in the pre-cloud era.

Protecting your profits

Occasionally, your users will encounter issues with internal infrastructure. The power goes out, the phones go down, or the heating system fails completely. Prior to cloud migration, these kinds of catastrophes would have forced a complete business shutdown. Now, the cloud allows us to come up with workarounds.

If you have hosted desktops, your employees can work elsewhere, irrespective of whether their main PC is functional. If you use cloud backup for files, those files are synced to multiple devices, so you can access them from home in a pinch. In a disaster, you can keep working, avoid losing touch with customers, and keep the emails flowing using your reliable hosted Exchange service.

The Cost of Downtime and Disaster

Different businesses have different concepts of downtime, so it’s difficult to measure the cost of critical systems going offline. However, industry estimates give us some idea of the compounding effect of unavailable services.

The Ponemon institute estimates that unplanned downtime cost US businesses $5,600 per minute. For the world’s largest companies, it could be double that amount. While your business may be operating on a smaller scale, there is always a financial penalty when critical services are unavailable, and you will lose revenue if you don’t act fast.

Trust Cloud4

Cloud4 offers SLAs you can rely on, and we provide round the clock support so that your calls never go unanswered. Whatever the scale of your business, we’re here to assist you in keeping business critical services online. To find out more, contact our friendly team today, and have a chat about cloud migration. It could cost less than you think, and prevent huge unexpected cost if the worst does happen.

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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.

Read our Guest Blog on the Social Media Makes Sense Website

We recently contributed a piece to the Social Media Makes Sense website talking about how a hosted desktop differs from a normal PC.

If you’d like to have a read of our guest blog simply click HERE

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.

Is it Time Your Employees Worked From Home?

Whether it’s down to workplace culture, or employee envy, working from home has a stigma attached. According to the Office of National Statistics, 87 per cent of people still have office-based jobs, despite the phenomenal opportunities that cloud computing can present. Large companies are more likely to allow remote working compared to SMEs, despite the clear cost and efficiency savings.

Sir Richard Branson is a famous supporter of home-based working, although this is hardly surprising; he lives on a tropical island. For the rest of us, is working from home a viable option?

People ARE More Productive at Home

If you prefer to have staff in your office, ask yourself why. Is it that you don’t trust them? Or you want managers to be able to easily discipline poor performers? Are you measuring people’s performance based on their attendance, rather than the things they’re getting done?

Remote working is often seen as a bit of a joke – a chance to watch daytime TV, or munch Cheerios through conference calls. In fact, remote working boosts productivity. Stanford University’s researchers found that remote workers are 13 per cent more productive. They take fewer days off sick, and benefit from fewer workplace distractions, despite the pile of laundry in the corner.

In a US survey, 65 per cent of the employees who worked from home said they felt they were more productive. You might be surprised at the boost to output.

Staff DO Need Perks to Stay Loyal

When it comes to performance and productivity, incentives are a key driver. The happier your employees are, the more likely it is that they’ll engage, and the less likely they are to seek another job.

Want to give your staff the ultimate incentive? Do away with the daily commute, and let them log on to a hosted desktop from home. Free everyone from the tyranny of tube stations and traffic jams. Give them the gift of extra hours in the day.

If you embed remote working into the culture of your workforce, they’ll likely stay loyal long term.

Employers DO Need to Offer Choice

Ask any office worker with kids how they feel about the school summer holidays. Chances are, they’ll tell you it’s miserable, stressful and expensive. The kids are out of school, but they’re stuck at work, with the only respite being an expensive holiday.

Remote and flexible working policies give your employees options. Granted, you might not be able to offer unlimited holidays, but you could let people arrange work around their children.

It’s also important to recognise difference. Some employees like coming into the office. They would feel lost with a laptop at home. Why not offer those employees a combination of flexitime and remote working, with a hosted desktop solution that gives them the freedom to take work home.

Will You Change the Future of Work?

60 per cent of office workers will work from home by 2022, according to figures from Virgin Media Business. Is it time you set your employees free?

Speak to Cloud4 today, and find out how our hosted desktop solutions can let your staff log on from anywhere, boosting satisfaction, retention and output.

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.