Multi-Tenant, Dedicated or Hybrid – Which to Choose?

Multi-Tenant, Dedicated or Hybrid - Which to Choose?

When it comes to business, cloud computing is on everyone’s mind. This next generation of computing technology is proving to be extremely beneficial for organizations of every size. With this increased consideration of the cloud, many are deciding how to best integrate it into their business. There are three main forms of cloud computing: public, private and hybrid. When considering the move, you shouldn’t just pick one of these at random. The choice should be strategic, based on the characteristics of your business. Each cloud model is best suited for certain types of organizations and needs, so picking the wrong one could backfire. It’s important to consider security, compliance, cost, efficiency, integration and scalability.

Multi-Tenant (Public)

A public cloud is based on the popular definition of cloud computing – it provides services, applications and computing resources off-site via the Internet. Multitenancy is a huge part of the public cloud, as the resources used are shared by multiple organizations. This leads to greater efficiency, amazing scalability and lower costs, all of which are huge draws of public cloud computing. Businesses typically use a pay-as-you-go model, truly purchasing the cloud “as a service,” similar to how electricity or water services work. The cloud provider is responsible for the infrastructure costs, allowing businesses to see costs based only on usage. Opposite of these benefits are a few of the downsides: less customization and greater vulnerability. Many organizations fear that the public cloud is insecure. While it certainly doesn’t allow for tailor-made security policies, cloud providers have recently focused a lot of attention on bettering their security. The reliability of the public cloud depends on the provider, and that’s why it’s important to conduct research before making the switch. A multi-tenant environment is best suited for small or medium businesses that need to bring their services to market quickly, heavily rely on Software as a Service, and have fewer compliance obstacles.

Dedicated (Private)

Private cloud, on the other hand, is one that maintains the services, applications and computing resources within a private network. These resources are dedicated solely to one organization but can be hosted either on-site or off-site with the help of a third party provider. This single-tenancy is where the word “private” comes from, though many believe it refers to security. While greater control over security is definitely boosted in a private cloud environment, it still always depends on the quality of the specific situation. A dedicated cloud offers the benefits of advanced security and control, more flexibility and easier compliance with regulations. This cloud model is clearly beneficial to organizations large enough to be able to manage these resources on their own, but it also has its downsides: reduced cost savings and increased management and responsibility. With a private cloud, the company is responsible for a significant investment in server and storage hardware, costs avoided by the public cloud. A private cloud environment is best suited for large companies that need to conform to strict industry regulations and standards and regularly uses business-critical data and applications that require high levels of security. This includes healthcare providers, government organizations and financial institutions.

Hybrid

The cloud model that is significantly increasing in popularity is hybrid, which fittingly combines both public and private clouds. This method allows organizations to decide which aspects of their business they want in each environment, allowing them to take advantage of all the benefits. Hybrid cloud computing accommodates the need for scalability as well as security. It is viewed as the best of both worlds because companies can complete non-sensitive operations and collaboration in the public environment while ensuring that critical data and applications remain secure in the private cloud. But, like the other models, the hybrid cloud isn’t all perks. Its cons include greater complexity and increased management requirements. It requires organizations to keep track of various platforms and ensure that all facets of the business can communicate with each other. The hybrid environment is best suited for organizations that experience business fluctuation but still deal with confidential information. This includes e-commerce businesses, which see constant traffic shifts but also deal with personal and payment information. The hybrid cloud allows these types of businesses to complete processing and basic operations up-front, while keeping the private information, well, private.

So…where do you go from here?

At this point, you have the information you need to make the best decision for your organization. Consider the characteristics of your business, including your size, needs, industry regulations, user experience, etc. These considerations will help you determine which cloud model is right for you. Then, find a provider! Our cloud solutions are extremely customizable, allowing clients to experience the cloud model of their choice with the benefits they need.

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Cloud Drives Business Innovation

innovation

The title to this post almost sounds obvious, but the truth is that cloud computing is not yet being used to its full potential. Many businesses currently rely on the cloud solely to save money or add simple mobility, but these organizations are hardly scratching the surface of the cloud’s true capabilities. Cloud computing offers countless opportunities to drive business innovation, and it’s time for the business world to take advantage of this.

Gain Insight

Cloud computing is now offering the ability to gain amazing insight into an individual business, thanks to advanced analytic capabilities. Not only are these capabilities possible, but businesses of any size can now access the computing power necessary to take advantage of this information. Cloud helps businesses manage their own, growing data, while also accessing new sources of data.

A great example is the popular online marketplace, Etsy. This business relies heavily on analytics to build customer relationships, improve the user experience and provide the most efficient service. By using cloud-based analytics, Etsy analyzes millions of page views to determine which recommendations to make for visitors and maintain an effective business ecosystem.

IT and Operations

Cloud computing is often only seen as an IT solution. It’s true that the technology is currently a mainstream IT trend, but this should not be the case. Cloud computing can become a company-wide solution. It can break down the walls between IT development and operations and offer the ability to quickly implement infrastructure and test new ideas. By moving to the cloud, organizations can also easily handle swells of capacity, something that was not so simple before. With traditional IT and operations, it was risky to test ideas, due to high costs and lack of resources. Now, organizations can move quickly through the experimental phase, getting the necessary resources on an as-needed basis.

Product Innovation

According to IBM, leading companies are 73% more likely to rapidly innovate products and services via the cloud. Through improved communication and collaboration, cloud computing easily leads businesses to faster development of innovative products or services. In a lot of cases, the cloud becomes a fundamental part of the new product. With agility and cost efficiency in hand, organizations can truly improve their services at lightning speed, reducing delivery time from months to just weeks.

Customer Relations

Thanks to the huge surge in data, and the ability to have constant access to the world’s information, businesses can truly listen to their customers and take advantage of the insights to meet customer needs and drive business growth. With so much data in hand, it’s easy to learn customer preferences, deliver relevant offers and news, and develop the best products and services for your consumers. With today’s mobile and social trends, it’s also easier than ever to engage in two-way conversation with customers. This point is very important, as it shifts the cloud focus from internal improvements to external improvements, which are arguably equally important.

With cloud computing driving innovation, you can take your business to the next level. The technology will not only help you reshape your existing operations, but also enter new lines of business, innovate within your own industry and better serve your customers. Working with the cloud and a cloud provider allows your organization to focus its attention on strategic business decisions and innovation, while we tak

I Got 99 Problems, But My Infrastructure Ain’t One

Yes, Sommer Figone from Rapidscale just quoted a popular rap song, but I thought it fit nicely with the topic of cloud computing. After all, when you move to the cloud, you eliminate a bulk of the business problems you may currently be dealing with.

Here are ten problems you can solve simply by moving to the cloud:

99problems

10 Problems Solved by the Cloud

 

The Problem: IT Focus

With the cloud, your focus can be on running your business – NOT on running your IT. You won’t have to deal with additional hardware or timely installations. These types of responsibilities move to the cloud provider. Your IT team can move its attention to innovation and your entire business team can focus on their roles and the tasks they do best.

The Problem: High Costs

With traditional computing, businesses face high capital expenditure. With the cloud, you can avoid this. Experience minimal upfront spending and instead pay as you go, based on your usage and your business demand. You can avoid spending big money on hardware, software or licensing because the cloud provider takes care of these things – you simply get to use the resources provided to you.

The Problem: Limited Access

Mobility and constant connection are both natural parts of consumers’ lives today. Why not bring these things into the business world? You can take the cloud anywhere, and that means you can take your office anywhere. Applications and data are available to authorized users via the Internet, so as long as you have a device with Internet access you can remain in the loop. And when we say device, we mean everything from a PC, Mac, iPad, tablet, smartphone, etc. This is the easiest way to expand your workforce and make life easier for everyone. Your users won’t be tied to the office anymore. They can be dynamic workers and remain constantly connected to their information.

The Problem: Complicated Environment

Business computing used to be something only the IT team could understand. When systems changed, end users had to go through timely and costly training to figure out a complicated new environment. With the cloud, the transition is easy, and less personnel training is required. The end environment remains familiar and intuitive, so your users might not even be able to tell the difference. There is a minimal learning curve, and once they get going, your users will appreciate the efficiency of your new solution.

The Problem: Risky Security

Security is a constant topic of discussion in the cloud world and for good reason. No business wants to risk the security of their data – and with the cloud, you won’t. Instead, you can take control of your information. Your business information and applications are no longer stored directly on your office devices, meaning that if anything were to happen to these devices, your data wouldn’t be at risk. It’s all stored in one centralized location – your secure cloud. Cloud computing providers put countless measures in place, including encryption, firewalls, network and physical security. Considering the cloud is their business, a provider often offers better security than most businesses can afford to have on-site. The dedicated team ensures that only your authorized users can access business information, while prying eyes remain uninformed.

The Problem: Questionable Business Continuity

Today, business continuity is extremely important. Crises can strike out of nowhere, from natural disasters to power failures. That’s why the cloud ensures that business data is constantly backed up and protected in numerous geographically diverse and redundant data centers. No matter what happens, you’ll be able to access your data again quickly from temporary locations and temporary devices. This allows you to conduct business as usual and avoid the risk of going under.

The Problem: Rigidity and Inflexibility

Traditionally, businesses had to guess the capacity they needed. This resulted in one of two things: sitting on expensive and unused resources, or dealing with limited capacity. Neither of those are good options. With the cloud, you can experience amazing scalability of resources. Whether your needs change throughout the year based on seasons or holidays, or you’re experiencing major business growth, you can get the power and resources you need, as you need them. Scalability is the ability for the cloud to expand or contract based on your individual business needs – and this is a huge draw for most businesses. Access what you need, when you need it.

The Problem: Poor Communication

Businesses can no longer afford to have poor communication. The cloud makes it easy for employees to communicate and share information in new ways, even if they’re in separate locations. If numerous parties are working on a project across disperse locations, the cloud allows you to give all parties access to the same files. With easy collaboration and communication in place, you’ll find you have a more innovative, connected and knowledgeable business team.

The Problem: Out-of-Date Technology

The need to use out-of-date technology due to budget and resource limitations is, well, an out-of-date trend. When you work with a cloud provider, you receive automatic updates throughout the year, whether it’s for software, servers or computer processing power. This allows businesses to remain modern and regularly up-to-date with the latest technology

The Problem: Computing is Time Consuming

With the cloud, it’s easy to get new solutions up and running. New resources are truly a click away, as your cloud provider can set you up with whatever you need, instantly. This reduces the time it takes to get new resources to your users, and that results in greater productivity from your employees overall. As your costs and time consumption lower, your business efficiency will increase greatly.

New Years Resolution- MOVE to the CLOUD

This was written by my colleague Stefanie Ryan from RapidScale. I think that she makes a lot of sense!

10 Reasons to Move to the Cloud and Why it’ll be the Best Business Decision You’ll Ever Make

RapidScale’s CloudOffice is the first bundle in the market to include a full suite of cloud solutions for a business all in one package. CloudOffice is the ultimate “Cloud-in-a-box” solution which provides users with a virtual desktop, email, applications including Microsoft Office, virtual servers, and full disaster recovery backup all for one flat rate. It’s the first total solution for any business that makes it easy to move from the old-school in-house IT environment, to the modern, virtual environment.

Here’s why you’ll be jumping for joy when you eliminate IT headaches and save you company a whole lot of bucks by moving into the cloud:

1. Virtual Desktop
Virtual desktops (Desktop as a Service) are becoming widely embraced in the business environment. RapidScale’s solution, CloudDesktop, give a user the ability to work from the cloud, instead of relying on a physical desktop or laptop. You get the ability to login through your web-browser, desktop icon, or an app from the App Store or Google Play Store. Moving a workspace to the cloud gives you so many possibilities such as never having to worry about using that ONE laptop all the time, you can use ANY device anywhere, anytime, and access your desktop with all of your files.

2. Virtual Server
We move your in-house servers into our Cloud. It is the best service in the industry. RapidScale gives you on-demand capacity with the best infrastructure tools and utilities available. RapidScale’s Infrastructure as a Service (CloudServer) is backed by vCloud hypervisor, NetApp storage, and Cisco UCS blade chassis. The greatest thing about CloudOffice is that you never have to save anything anywhere other than in your virtual space. So what does this mean for you? No more physical servers in that server closet down the hall. That means no more backup generators, individual cooling units, or backing things up to tapes (yes, people still do that). With your infrastructure being hosted off-site, you free up your IT staff to focus on value-added tasks such as planning and development, instead of running around patching machines and fixing bugs.

3. CloudMail

While yes, everyone does have email. And yes, it’s pretty easy to get. RapidScale has wrapped our very own Hosted Microsoft Exchange into CloudOffice. Why is Hosted email better than any other kind of email? Well, it’s so much simpler. We do all the maintenance, so you don’t have to deal with the hassle of leaving a dozen voicemails with the IT guy to fix your email. The costs to set up hosted exchange are significantly lower than to set up an internal server, host all of your emails, deal with storage, backup, and recovery, and it’s so much more reliable. RapidScale uses the best of the best when it comes to our hardware (which, yes, was VERY expensive) so you get the benefit of the top-of-the-line stuff without having to buy it all. See you later CapEx, we took care of that for you.

4. Disaster Recovery
Did you know that housing your data in-house is EXTREMELY risky? What are you going to do if you have a power outage? Or what if the air conditioning stops working and your servers overheat and fail? You could be sitting on a complete loss of data with the possibility of going out of business. Yikes. The good thing about moving to the cloud is that RapidScale is fully redundant across all of our data centers. This means that say our data center in California decides to fall into the ocean, then the rest of our data centers take over and keep the data up and running, without a second of downtime. We run only out of the highest quality data centers in the world, which makes giving you a 100% uptime guarantee an absolute reality.

5. Cost
So let’s look at the facts here. In a traditional IT situation, you have to start with buying your hardware, which can be EXTREMELY pricey. This can rack up in cost when you start buying servers, routers, switches, desktops, cables, etc. Plus, you have to think about their refresh cycle. There is no infinity with these babies; they’ve got to be replaced every 3-5 years. So all that money you just spent, well, expect to spend that much every couple of years. Next there’s software. Every user has to have their own license, for every application they use, and on every device. To top it off, did you know these initial costs only make up 10% of your overall IT spend!? The other 90% comes when you have to factor in networking, IT labor, setup, facility cost, management tools, power/cooling, support, maintenance, security, backup, and disaster recovery. Moving to RapidScale’s cloud eliminates that entire headache, because we deal with all the hardware and software for you. Forget those in-house nightmares, everything is managed, hosted, backed up, and monitored 24x7x365 from the folks at RapidScale too.

6. 24x7x365 support
Have you ever had to deal with calling your IT guy and trying to explain to him why your email isn’t sending that thing to that person and them telling you “just restart it”? Well, we have these great people over here at RapidScale that can monitor and fix issues before you even know they exist. You don’t ever have to worry about trying to jump start your hardware or software when it starts to give you grief. We might not be in the office next to you, but we sure are just a phone call or email away if you ever have any questions anytime of the day, from anywhere.

7. Mobility
You probably have a laptop… and a tablet… and a smartphone… and if you’re up in the tech world, maybe even Google Glass. We bet that you get pretty annoyed when you have to drag your laptop with you wherever you go so that you can work on that presentation you need to get done. Here’s the thing about CloudOffice, you can access your stuff from any device via your web browser or our App. You can log in from the app on your smartphone, regardless of your operating system (check out the demo here) or work on your presentation from your tablet. Plus, once you hit save, it’s saved on your virtual desktop, which means that you never have to use flash drives to move stuff from one computer to the next. It’s all there on your desktop that lives in RapidScale’s cloud. How much more convenient can that be!?

8. Security
So let’s talk about security. RapidScale proudly houses our data in some of the top data centers in the United States available to the public. Anything higher is typically utilized by organizations like the government — for mission critical type stuff. Our data centers are all Tier 3, Class 1 data centers (find out what that means here) featuring full redundancy, biometric scanning for entry, fully enclosed and locked cages, round-the-clock interior and exterior surveillance, and more.

9. Stability
Since you’re running everything from the cloud, you can expect the same performance no matter what device you’re using. RapidScale gives you unlimited bandwidth running in and out of the data center, which delivers the best experience to all of our users regardless of where they work or on what device. Plus, with our 100% uptime guarantee, you don’t have to worry about wondering if your desktop will be up and running. It just will be, all the time.

10. Easy
So in the event that all of these other points haven’t won you over yet, the final way you can really love your new cloud environment is by experiencing how simple it is to use. Our interface is Windows 7 based meaning that no matter what device you use, you have a familiar, standard user interface that is simple to navigate. RapidScale takes care of design, testing, migrations, and implementations so you can focus on running your business instead of why the email isn’t working. RapidScale has made something so convenient and so efficient that you’ll be so glad you moved to the cloud.

What can Napster teach us about the consumerization of IT (BYOD)

The article was published in Forbes magazine – here is the complete link: http://www.forbes.com/sites/netapp/2012/11/07/napster-byod/ This is a guest post by Jesse Lipson, VP and GM of Data Sharing, Citrix. I think that it is a great article- exceptionally well written and concise.

 
The music industry has undergone quite a transformation over the last 15 years. Of course, we can often apply lessons from other industries to our own.

Napster

source: Rhapsody

Back in the 1990s, if I heard a song I really liked on the radio and wanted to buy it, I’d have to make a trip to the record store. After battling traffic and jockeying for a parking spot, I’d rifle through the CD selection and—if it was in stock—I’d pay $15–$20 for the privilege (even if there were just a few songs on the album that I wanted).

This was a great model—for the record labels. But for music lovers, it was inefficient and expensive. Then Napster came and changed everything.

In many ways, Napster is like the BYOD trend. Read on: I’ll tell you why and I’ll give you my top tips to avoid bringing your own security nightmare…

Bring Your Own Piracy

With Napster, if someone heard a song they liked on the radio, all they did was type the name into a search box; they could download it instantly, for free. And they could share it with their friends.

Users loved Napster, but deep down we all knew that the model wasn’t sustainable: Napster lacked a way for musicians and labels to monetize and protect their intellectual property.

To cut a long story short, all that changed in 2003, when Apple released the iTunes Music Store: It helped resolve the conflict between the old and new models of music consumption. But iTunes wasn’t quite as convenient as Napster. Downloaded songs were protected from sharing by digital rights management (DRM) and they cost 99 cents each.

However, iTunes did allow users to buy music from the comfort of their own home, while letting the music industry monetize and protect their songs. Apple was able to satisfy both parties.

Standardization vs. Cowboys

The consumerization of IT is now driving a similar transformation in enterprise hardware and software. The traditional IT model is what I call Standardization, where employees are issued company-owned mobile devices, and forced to use infrequently updated software that’s only accessible inside the firewall.

There are benefits to Standardization, but it’s increasingly untenable: Employees come to expect the same ease of use and performance from the software they use at work as they do from the software they use at home, like Facebook and Twitter.

Frustrated with the inefficiencies of the old Standardization model, many employees are embracing a new model, which I call Cowboy Consumerization. They’re buying their own phones and tablets, installing their own software to store and manage company data.

Just like Napster, Cowboy Consumerization provides users with efficiency and productivity. But also like Napster, we know that Cowboy Consumerization simply isn’t sustainable.

So how Widespread is it?

According to an August 2012 Enterprise Strategy Group report, 70% of organizations know or suspect their employees are using personal online file sharing accounts without formal IT approval.

I spoke with a group of CIOs at Citrix Synergy three weeks ago. They were seriously concerned about the security risks that personal file sharing solutions pose within their organizations.

Among their top security worries:

  • How do I protect corporate data and intellectual property if an employee leaves the company or loses their device?
  • How do I ensure compliance with, say, HIPAA or FINRA rules, if we can’t see how employees store and share corporate data?
  • How do I ensure that we’re honoring customer and partner contracts that require their data to be stored on-premises, in specific geographic regions, or with certain encryption standards?

Ultimately, IT needs to follow the example of iTunes and create a solution that combines elements of Standardization and Consumerization. There has to be a happy medium between those two models.

Here are some guidelines on how to square that circle:

  • For company-issued mobile devices, use mobile device management or mobile application management (MAM) software for application provisioning and application/device wiping.
  • For BYOD mobile devices, use a MAM solution to manage business apps on the device while letting the end user manage their own personal apps. That way, if the employee leaves or the device is lost, you can wipe just the corporate data from it.
  • Enterprise apps need to be updated more rapidly than IT typically considers acceptable. Remember, you’re competing with consumer apps like Facebook and Twitter; employees have higher usability expectations. If you can’t keep pace, consider using a cloud vendor to deliver your apps.
  • Different enterprises need to comply with different laws and regulations. Make sure that the software you adopt provides you with account-level preferences to allow you to tweak security settings. You need to meet your needs today, but also be able to revisit down the road, based on user feedback.
  • Make sure that the new tools you adopt allow you to take advantage of existing investments, such as network shares or SharePoint.

As you evaluate the right BYOD strategy, think about Napster and the importance of creating a happy medium between security and convenience.

For more information about setting up your own BYOD policies- check out our FREE VIDEO LIBRARY at http://www.primetelecommunications.com/video-library-byod-bring-your-own-device/

Consumerization of IT, BYOD and the Cloud

When the first personal computers appeared nearly 40 years ago, it was a revolutionary moment. The ability to set up a spreadsheet on the screen of a computer and instantly recalculate when any variable changed was such a huge advance that workers would secretly slip PCs (i.e., the Apple II) into the workplace under their coats. And so consumerization and the first Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) assault on the IT department were underway.  Eventually, of course, IT reasserted control, thanks to the ascendancy of MS-DOS and later Windows.

Fast forward to 2012. Instead of slipping PCs in under their arms, workers armed with tablets, smartphones, ultrathin laptops and more are once again manning the ramparts. It’s déjà vu all over again, but this time it’s here to stay. Unlike the first PCs, today’s devices are cheaper, smaller and far more versatile.

At the end of 2011, there were 6 billion mobile subscriptions, according to The International Telecommunication Union (2011), equivalent to 87 percent of the world population. Some 300,000+ applications were downloaded 10.9 billion times. On average US feature-phone users have 10 apps on board.

Given the scale of the change, more and more consultants like Forrester are warning of major disruptions if businesses do not implement a thorough mobile strategy across the enterprise. These disruptions include problems in coordinating data, network access and applications across multiple channels; servers and infrastructure that are unable to handle the surge in activity; applications poorly constructed for user engagement; and business processes that are misaligned with mobile requirements.

Forrester recommends that companies start to get a grip on the new era of mobility by establishing the office of the chief mobility officer with a focus on crafting an approach to the company’s mobile architecture and mobile engagement practices, including the adoption of Cloud solutions, which are being driven by the mobile shift.

BYOD, consumerization, the Cloud and more are all here to stay. Waiting to see how they evolve is likely to leave you feeling overwhelmed.

Why You Need to Take Tablets Seriously

Six months ago, Microsoft gave its imprimatur to the tablet craze by introducing Surface™  and making a rare foray into hardware manufacturing.  Does the endorsement of the enterprise software leader mean that tablets are here to stay as an enterprise tool?

Yes—but Microsoft’s entry just adds to the momentum.  Tablets for business use have taken off. The form factor, the easy swipe and flick interface plus the rise of more cloud-based services are all coming together to drive the tablet juggernaut.

Forrester predicts sales of 375 million tablets in 2016 with business users accounting for a third of all purchases. (http://blogs.forrester.com/frank_gillett/12-04-23-why_tablets_will_become_our_primary_computing_device) Already, according to Forrester, about 25% of computers used for work globally are tablets and smartphones, not PCs.  In December 2010, a survey by Citrix found that 13 percent of respondents already considered the iPad “mission critical” for their jobs, and an overwhelming majority said their organization grants them access to corporate resources on the device. The software company SAP AG has distributed about 14,000 tablets and plenty of other businesses are following suit.

Tablets are cannibalizing the PC’s domain. When the only option was a PC, you used a PC for everything. Tablets are simply better for some things:

  • Quickly accessing information
  • Entering very limited amounts of data (e.g., complete service orders )
  • Routing data
  • Delivering presentations
  • Working in groups—sharing information
  • Sharing information, such as with a colleague or a shopper on a storeroom floor
  • Conducting videoconferences and online meetings with remote workers and road warriors

Many enterprise vendors have begun to offer tablet versions of their software. Brand names like SAP, Oracle, salesforce.com and MicroStrategy are just a sampling of the vendors now openly offering iPad versions of their solutions.

Vertical markets are also playing a large role is embracing tablets.  Adobe Digital Marketing Insights found that tablet users spend over 50 percent more for each transaction at an online retailer compared to smartphone users and 20 percent more than traditional computer users.  (http://success.adobe.com/assets/en/downloads/whitepaper/13926_digital_marketing_insights.pdf)

Health care is another example. In the highly mobile hospital environment, information is shared faster and people stay in touch more easily. Practitioners with an application on their tablets can more easily and quickly handle alerts, test result notifications and stat requests. They can instantly see who is available at any time and contact them.

Finally, demographic changes are behind the shift to tablets. For digital natives – just now entering the workforce – using a tablet for many tasks just makes sense.

Analyses of early adopters of iPads in business show a shift in usage patterns. For example, according to Gartner (http://www.gartner.com/id=1724634), a large sales force that deployed iPads discovered that people were spending 20% more computing time total per day when they used a tablet, a smartphone and a laptop than if they were using a smartphone and laptop alone. Laptops were relegated to less-frequent (but longer) sessions, and users were reaching for tablets frequently throughout the day.

The transition to tablets in the enterprise is not without its speed bumps. Security is an issue. Apple’s iOS still isn’t as tight as the fated BlackBerry. iTunes does not make widescale corporate deployments easy. In Here Come Tablets, Here Come Problems (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203986604577253162552946038.html) The Wall Street Journal recounted some of the problems businesses have encountered, including:

  • Tablets not being rugged enough for some situations
  • Traditional computer programs that won’t work on tablets
  • Documents sent from a computer to a tablet ends up losing some key characteristics

These and other challenges have to be overcome. But the widespread nature of these problems—coming so soon after tablets have hit the market—are themselves evidence of how pervasive and critical tablets already are in business.

For more about how today’s mobile devices are helping to drive a new wave of innovation, see the Forrester whitepaper–Mobile Solutions Connect Information Workers To Collaboration And Innovation Processes at  http://www.bulldogsolutions.net/Avaya/knowledgebase/AVA1042/BCL%20-%20Mobile%20Collaboration%20-%20Mobile%20Solutions%20Connect%20Information%20Workers%20-%20Mar%202012.pdf

For a good example of the kind of mobile app that’s helping to support new levels of mobile collaboration, see this brief demo of the Avaya Mobile Collaboration Solution for Small and Midsize businesses:  http://www.avaya.com/usa/VideoPlayerInLine.aspx?CurrentPath=/master-usa/en-us/resource/assets/videos/sme_mobile_collaboration_demo.flv&htmltrigger=video-overlay

Adding the Human Touch to Mobile Engagement

A power shift is taking place in the dynamics of customer engagement. And it impacts every company—large and small.

The shift began well over a decade ago with the Internet. This made it possible for customers to go online 24/7 to do research, browse solutions and make buying decisions.  Now the mobile revolution is taking this powershift to a new level.  As Forrester researchers Ted Schadler and John C. McCarthy note in their recent report, Mobile Is The New Face of Engagement; ‘by 2016, more than a billion people will be using mobile devices to engage with brands, information, and each other.”

Using these mobile apps, people can act “in the moment” to check a status, find an expert, receive an alert, make a purchase, answer a question, share an opinion, send a message, etc. This shifts more power from institutions to individuals. It takes the revolution that was started by the PC and the Web, bringing it to an entirely new level.

But this powershift isn’t all one-way. Companies can also take advantage of the powershift to differentiate themselves and maintain the connection with their customer base that is critical to long-term success. In fact, it’s a business imperative for companies doing business on those terms to find  ways to add the human touch to mobile engagement.

Avaya has provided a fascinating analysis of this in a whitepaper that focuses on how this dynamic is playing itself out right now in the insurance industry. (To see the full whitepaper, go to http://www.avaya.com/uk/resource/assets/whitepapers/SVC7067%20Claims%20Processing%20WP.pdf

According to the consulting firm Accenture, nearly half of all insurance policies today are renewed or bought online rather than through agents. As a result, many consumers only interact with their insurance provider when they need to file a claim. When that moment comes, consumers want the convenience of a mobile app, but research shows they also value “concern” from their insurer. They want timeliness, courtesy, promptness and knowledge, but they also want the understanding, empathy and willingness to listen that only another human being can offer.

For insurance companies, this means that personalizing the new mobile interaction channels (e.g. smartphones and tablet PCs) will be imperative. Click-to-call, click-to-chat, co-browsing, one-touch video and other techniques can merge aspects of online self-service with personal live interaction, capitalizing on the best of both worlds.

In words that apply to many industries, the Avaya whitepaper notes that “Today, when alternative insurance options are at every consumer’s fingertips, brand loyalty is of utmost importance… responsiveness and personal interaction at each step of the claims process and at each touch point with policyholders can capture an important opportunity to solidify brand loyalty and, as a consequence, grow their business.”

To read the full whitepaper, go to http://www.avaya.com/uk/resource/assets/whitepapers/SVC7067%20Claims%20Processing%20WP.pdf

A Secure BYOD Strategy

Wireless devices are making their presence felt in every business. From smartphones and touch screen tablets to handheld video conferencing tools and traditional laptops, these devices enable employees to perform critical business functions at any time and any location.

That’s why more companies are embracing Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) strategies, enabling employees to choose the tools and in some cases,  move completely away from devices like desk phones and desktop PCs—both long considered to be indispensable.

But if businesses are not careful, BYOD can quickly turn into ‘bring your own difficulties” inviting a wide range of security issues. The challenge is to balance the need to control access, but not limit employee flexibility or create an onerous management burden for IT.

Organizations know that employees’ personal mobile devices are getting onto their networks, but, based on a recent study by the SANS Institute, only nine percent of organizations surveyed were “fully aware” of the devices accessing their networks, and only 50 percent were “vaguely or fairly” aware.  (Learn more about the SANS study at http://www.sans.org/press/first-annual-survey-webcast.php)

Many mobile devices support 802.1x (an IEEE Standard for port-based Network Access Control), though  often it is not enabled.  Also, many smaller companies without the IT resources find it too onerous to be configuring their network to control access via 802.1x.

One way to solve the BYOD challenge is to centralize management of your access, authentication and security controls. A centralized, standards-based, policy server deployable over any underpinning network infrastructure allows administrators to quickly and easily add devices from a central hub and even assign multiple devices to a single user.

A centralized solution gives you full visibility into who has accessed the network based on a combination of user identity, device type and location. If an employee brings a new device, it can get validated by comparing the user credentials and device attributes against corporate directories. Network access can be limited to all or select resources.

A centralized approach simplifies the process of providing guests wireless Internet access. For large events such as conferences or expos, enterprise staff can administer guest policies in bulk, eliminating the need to manually set guest preferences and rules. To ensure that guests don’t outstay their welcome, these credentials automatically expire at a specified date and time.

Avaya provides a range of centralized security capabilities through its Identity Engines portfolio of security solutions.  Many of these capabilities have traditionally been limited to large enterprise installations, but now much smaller organizations are taking advantage of them implementing them on networks with the Avaya Ethernet Routing Switch (ERS) 3500, a compact Ethernet switch designed exclusively for small and midsize enterprises and remote branches.

Video Meetings That Kill the Ordinary Conference Call

In this progressively more global or geographically dispersed workplace, companies are forced to encourage their employees to communicate in real time with peers, administration, and customers worldwide to stay ahead of competition and be more productive. Video conferencing is one of the most powerful and effective communication and collaboration tools in business.  Perfect for corporate environment, video conferencing solutions are used worldwide to make the workplace more connected and productive for knowledge workers. Making communication faster and easier, a number of video conferencing equipment is available to benefit organizations with efficient communication and collaboration opportunities.

However, the price tag of owning your own solution is steep. So are the other soft costs – that translate into hard dollars- training, financing and maintaining the solution can quickly turn into a vast drain of resources. Additionally, the whole Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) phenomenon makes the whole process a lot more mobile and diverse. Ad hoc collaboration means that people need to connect and collaborate via whatever devices they are using- smartphones, tablets, PC’s, Mac’s…and some that we don’t even know about yet. The most obvious solution is as simple as it is low cost. A robust cloud conferencing service that enables all of your people, your devices, your clients, your client’s devices- to communicate all together and share screens, images, documents and contacts.

One of the best providers we have found is iMeet. The interface is simple and powerful. You can work on whatever device you need to be on- landline telephone, PC, Mac, tablet, iPad, smartphone …and collaborate. If your device has video, you have video. If your device is a simple connection (voice only) you can still collaborate- whether you’re in the car, in the airport or just not ready for a full on video conference. If you have a phone and a computer- you can share screens. Adding people in- ad hoc and on the fly is easy. Seeing who’s talking eliminates those embarrassing talk over moments. You can chat with all of the participants at once– or privately. Above all, it’s intuitive and doesn’t require additional hardware.

Today’s web is all about Social Media. Linked IN, Facebook, Twitter…they’re all integrated into the application. You can add clients and participants easily through your existing accounts. You can also find out more information about them- rounding out the whole experience. It’s more than just a video conference or an audio conference.

I was so impressed with iMeet that I felt it important to try. I want you to try it to- and I can give you two options. The first is easy. Try it for 30 days. Free. No cost to you. Just send me an email to imeet@primetelecommunications.com.

Second, if you’re really interested, let me buy you a cup of coffee ($10 worth of Starbucks courtesy of the good folks at PGI who have developed iMeet) and let’s have an online demo. Click here for that demo!

What have you go to lose?