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Moving past data centers: Public cloud storage

Monday, June 2nd, 2014 by

Managing data volume and storage using an in-house data center isn’t necessarily the cheapest endeavor. Between equipment maintenance and variable energy costs, obtaining information from these stores is pretty expensive and can weigh heavily on any IT department with less than a dozen people.

Data center employee works with a server.

Data center employee works with a server.

Scrutinizing categories
To reduce overhead costs, many organizations are choosing to invest in cloud storage, which allows companies to access intelligence more fluidly. According to IBM Systems magazine, there are three main categories of data enterprises handle on a regular basis:

1. Hot – information that’s needed most frequently and requires faster access
2. Warm – information that viewed fairly often and is stored on slightly slower storage
3. Cold – information that’s rarely accessed and can be stored on the slowest units

Traditionally, organizations have to factor in rack space, power supply energy requirements, redundancy, and recovery capabilities when prioritizing data center tasks. Certain algorithms are used to allocate workloads between servers to deliver higher performance. Each data category requires a different protocol and set of rules so that tasks can be managed efficiently.

Ascending into the cloud 
HostReview contributor Steve Jen noted that migrating data storage responsibilities to cloud servers eliminates much of the tediousness associated with in-house access and data processing. There are a few key reasons companies have decided to make this transition, the main one being a significant reduction in expenses. By moving to the cloud, IT departments can also realize other advantages such as eliminating the need to invest in tangible infrastructure like hard disks and cooling units or constantly maintaining those assets. By eliminating such administrative tasks, IT professionals can dedicate more time, energy, and resources to implementing business-changing applications, improving processes, and focusing on value-added services.

One of the most popular features of cloud computing is that it enables employees to access information when not in the office. This capability helps enterprises keep up with an increasingly mobile workforce, freeing staff from physical location and allowing them to build and maintain customer relationships on a more flexible schedule. In addition to viewing files from a home office, employees can store, collaborate, and synchronize documents and other data in near-real-time.

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Not headed to the cloud? Your employees are!

Friday, May 30th, 2014 by

Even if an enterprise isn’t yet ready to make the transition to cloud computing, there’s a good chance its employees have already made the investment. Because the technology allows easy access to files and other common forms of data, it lets professionals have more flexible work lives that often involve remote access. If an IT department doesn’t respond to that trend, however, it can pose a potential risk to an organization’s network infrastructure.

Two business professionals solidify a working relationship.

The old-fashioned way of solidifying a relationship.

Unfortunately, many tech professionals working behind the scenes are unaware of the situation and therefore can’t take the necessary measures to ensure security. It doesn’t help to blame employees for using cloud storage or even company leaders who haven’t yet recognized the needs of their subordinates.

Solidifying a relationship 
Before the current wave of cloud adoption, it was relatively easy for enterprises to keep their IT departments on the back burner. As long as the in-house system operated the way it was supposed to, that’s all that mattered. However, the 21st century added a number of ways for employees to obtain information, from smartphones and tablets to Web-based file sharing. As a result, a schism occurred between IT professionals and the rest of the company, according to Computerworld.

“There’s a tug-of-war tension in the enterprise right now,” said Gartner Analyst Lydia Leong, as quoted by the source. “IT administrators very rarely voluntarily want to go with the public cloud … The people who are pushing for these services are not IT operations people but business people.”

This tension has created an environment that isn’t constructive for adapting to current IT trends. Computerworld acknowledged that when Human Resources, Marketing, and other departments pursue cloud investments without sharing those plans across the company, IT personnel can’t figure out what information is moving through the environment. This operating model also disables the CIO’s ability to knowledgeably form a beneficial service level agreement with a cloud hosting company.

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How does Big Data fit into marketing?

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014 by

Even midsize businesses looking to cast a wider net are integrating Big Data into their marketing strategies. Make no mistake: Human insight will never become obsolete in the face of analytical marketing. An organization can have the most advanced analysis program on the planet, but if those reviewing the information can’t make heads or tails of it, then there’s no point in using the system.

Diagram of a brand promotion strategy.

Diagram of a brand promotion strategy.

Possessing a robust Marking operation goes far beyond searching for the latest and greatest analysis platform. Although it may lead to success, Marketing isn’t the be-all, end-all solution to every problem. Making the most out of any system is a two-way street: a company’s human assets must regard it as a technological assistant and support it with the appropriate environment.

Move into the cloud
To receive thorough, well-detailed reports, organizations want to be able to aggregate as much digital information as possible. Instead of cramming all  this data onto predefined, legacy platforms, professionals should strongly consider investing in cloud computing. When enterprises decide to move toward remote access, concerns like overworking a system, general server maintenance, and load-balancing are eliminated. The scalable environments can be accessed from almost anywhere, enabling marketers to easily obtain files stored on cloud servers and make decisions wherever they are.

Provide insights
Once an adequate support system has been established, CMOs can begin launching analytics programs to figure out how customers consistently interact with their brand through multiple channels. The question is, how do companies manage such a relentless flow of data? Jason Bowden, a contributor to Business 2 Community, claimed that it all depends on the company’s angle. Gaining insight from a large amount of intelligence doesn’t need to involve feeding it to an unwieldy, self-automated machine in the hope that actionable insights will come out the other end.

Instead, marketers should set clearly defined goals. Do they want to know why a certain product on an e-commerce site isn’t receiving hits? Are they trying to determine how in-store item placement affects customer decisions? These are just two of the many scenarios they may face. Bowman acknowledged a few ways to handle data appropriately:

  • Percolate the information and identify which aspects of a digital marketing campaign can generate greater leads.
  • Filter applicable metrics that will display practical ways to reinforce products and services to entice consumers to invest.
  • Leverage data to create a pattern of how to chart weaknesses, enabling employees to pinpoint the source of issues.

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Cloud Use Varies with Different Industries

Friday, May 23rd, 2014 by

Even though cloud computing has enabled many organizations to improve their operations, that doesn’t mean they’re using the technology in the same way. The needs and desires of different businesses and industries require different deployment approaches, whether through public, hybrid, or private models. In addition, how users interact with the applications that run on these architectures varies considerably. 

Digital information flows through different avenues.

Digital information flows through different avenues.

Helping aircraft take flight 
Brandon Butler, a contributor to CIO, noted that commercial aircraft manufacturer Boeing is merging the capabilities of on-premise virtualized workloads with a public cloud solution to create a hybrid environment. David Nelson, the company’s chief cloud strategist, stated that the applications the organization uses run more efficiently and serve the needs of Boeing much better than an in-house data center. 

Hosted on a cloud server, one of the tools used by Boeing monitors all the flight patterns of planes around the world. It incorporates both real-time and historical data, which translates to a huge amount of traffic running through the system on a consistent basis. Previously, the application operated through five laptops that were synced together, which required diligent cooling. Nelson stated that there was so much detail and analysis within the digital information that the machines couldn’t efficiently host the program. 

One of the most interesting applications Nelson uses takes on-premise Boeing resources and merges them with a public cloud storage environment. To deliver better assistance to remote mechanics working with their machines, Boeing launched a tool that allows technicians to research materials as well as conduct and verify maintenance and repairs. In addition, Boeing aircraft specialists can contribute to the system. 

“It’s seamless to the end user,” said Nelson, as quoted by the news source. “But it provides all the functionality they need.”

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Will cloud popularity lead to the demise of traditional software?

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014 by

Although the prospect may sound far-fetched, some professionals have speculated that increased investment in cloud computing may put major software developers out of business. If you look at the situation from the perspective of an open-source developer, it makes a fair amount of sense.

Cloud servers encompass computing network.

Cloud servers encompass computing network.

Enhanced sharing capabilities and cloud implementations go hand in hand, delivering an easier way for IT professionals to collaborate to create customer relationship management (CRM) solutions, desktop operating systems, and other deployments.

Creating a wide wake 
As adoption rates increase, technological accouterments designed to complement cloud technology are growing. For example, potential customers initially expressed concerns regarding security, primarily because they didn’t know what they were dealing with. In response, hosting companies made it a priority to enhance defense measures, and some organizations are even building entire business models around providing cloud security.

This level of response is characteristic of the cloud industry and explains why adoption rates have increased significantly. Skyhigh Networks conducted a Q1 2014 report based on data collected from more than 8.3 million cloud users and found that 3,571 cloud services were in use — 1,320 more than the previous quarter.

As far as what services were being used, everything from data storage to application usage were considered. On an interesting note, the study discovered that, on average, an organization leverages 24 different file sharing solutions and 91 disparate collaboration programs. This statistic supports the cloud’s status as a popular service, but it also signals a call to action.

At first glance, it seems as if business leaders would perceive investing in a single, comprehensive model to be preferable to using multiple cloud hosting providers. Perhaps not enough vendors offer holistic solutions, however, or these decision-makers believe that leveraging numerous services gives them some kind of advantage.

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