Five (Awesome) Benefits of Virtualizing Your Desktop

Filed Under (Private Cloud) by Nick Chandi on 30-10-2015

vdi

Virtual Desktops are one of the best tools a business can use to improve aspects as reliability, speed, security, versatility, and costs reduction. This can be inferred by outlining the main operational benefits of using Virtual Desktops.

  • First, the same image can be shared by all the virtual desktop users, which means that each user will be able to access the same operating system with the same installed applications. This saves time and costs on training and operations.
  • Second, once a hardware upgrade is required to run specific software or a new operating system, upgrading only the Virtual Desktop server will be enough to allow all the users to access the new software/operating systems from their own devices.
  • Third, no investment will be needed on high-performance storage, premium systems, power supplies, or high band-width networking since the Virtual Server provider will also provide all the structure necessary to support equal performance to all users.
  • Fourth, time can be saved by installing and updating drivers, patches, and applications only one time each since they will be accessed through the same server.
  • Fifth, since images can be accessed from any device, software problems can be solved from the data center, and, in case of hardware issues, the user can simply switch to a different device to continue to use the Virtual Desktop while the problem is being solved.
  • Bonus: the user is able to work from anywhere and at any time of the day just by having a compatible device with internet access.

These benefits can bring great improvements to businesses due to the flexibility that Virtual Desktops provide, and that’s why this tool is becoming so popular between companies that rely on computers to run their operations.

10 Fun Short Facts About Cloud Computing

Filed Under (Private Cloud) by Nick Chandi on 09-10-2015

                                                                                 meMDjBo

Cloud computing is taking over the business scenario. Everybody knows that more and more companies are enjoying the benefits of virtualizing their desktops and storages. However, what most companies don`t know is how relevant the exact numbers involving cloud computing are becoming.

To showcase this, here are some fun facts that you didn`t know about cloud computing:

  • By 2016, 36% of all data is expected to be stored in the cloud. And that`s up from 7% in 2013.
  • Cloud Computing is up to 40 times more cost effective for an SMB compared to running its own IT system.
  • 90% of Microsoft’s R&D budget is being allocated to improve cloud technology.
  • By 2020, cloud computing will cross the $270 billion mark.
  • More than 2% of electricity in the US is consumed by data centers.
  • For every 1200 smartphones or 600 tablets, a new server is added to the cloud.
  • Over 50% of American companies increased their cloud budgets in 2015.
  • The US Federal Government saved $5.5 Billion per year by shifting to Cloud Services.
  • 64% of companies have reduced waste and lowered energy consumption after shifting to the cloud.
  • 94% of managers say their business security has improved after adopting cloud applications.

And that is why YOU NEED cloud computing! #GoCloud

Improve Your Remote Printers

Filed Under (Private Cloud) by Nick Chandi on 11-09-2015

Many of our clients have been wondering how printers will be connected to the cloud environments we setup for them. Although paperless technology is emerging, hard copies are still being used in today’s business environment. When printing is a major part of our client’s processes, many of them ensure the printer technology is not overlooked. TSPrint is one of the products that is often requested for the cloud environment of our clients.

Essentially, TSPrint streamlines our client’s processes in their office. Being a cloud provider, TSPrint has been an important factor to ensuring our client’s cloud environment works in an efficient manner with their printers. There is no need to manage multiple drivers and its compression feature helps our cloud environments work more seamlessly. If you want to improve the office’s productivity, TSPrint minimizes the errors and downtime that will benefit everyone in the long run.

7 Steps Taken to Transfer to Your Virtual Desktop

Filed Under (Private Cloud) by Nick Chandi on 03-07-2015

There are plenty of benefits when working in the cloud. Using cloud technology is so simple that sometimes people don’t actually realize they’re using it today with tools like Dropbox, Google Drive and Hootsuite! Take your business to the next level by transferring your desktop into the cloud and make it accessible with any device that connects to the internet. Some people are unfamiliar with the process of transferring their on-premise server into a cloud server. Here are the 7 small steps that are taken when taking a leap into your virtual desktop!

Virtual desktop, VDI, cloud office

Many businesses are still working on their on-premise servers but have been considering transferring to cloud servers. I hope this infographic changed your perception a little and made the process look more simple and comfortable.

5 Benefits that Office 365 Provides

Filed Under (Private Cloud) by Nick Chandi on 18-06-2015

office-logoOffice 365 can be new and intimidating to a lot of us but businesses are beginning to see the benefits of switching over to Office 365. It is everything you have learned to use but enhanced to better suit the changing business environment. Technology is moving fast so it is expected that businesses must keep up to maximize their potential. Your employees are changing, your target market is changing and the future is changing.

Here are 5 benefits you can expect when making the switch to Office 365:

1. Simple Adaption Process

The only difference with Office 365 is that the software that you use and grew with are connected to your company in the cloud instead of being stored in the specific and multiple devices you would normally use every day for work. On top of that, Microsoft makes it easier for you by automatically updating and patching your licensed programs during their upgrade cycle! This is all done in the background and you no longer need to worry about who doesn’t have the latest version of the Microsoft Office software.

2. Security – Peace of Mind

Your data is one of your greatest assets. Microsoft has implemented a Security Development Lifecycle. This is a process that helps developers build and address security compliance requirements and improve the security of software. Essentially, Microsoft continuously monitors the systems and follows strict protocols to improve privacy controls. It is in their policy to not mine your data and implement layers of security features and practices to promote a safe environment.

3. Device Flexibility/Compatibility

Transitioning to Office 365 allows you to experience Microsoft Office through multiple-devices, from your office desktop to your tablet at home. Essentially, this simple transition will give you freedom to work, share and collaborate from anywhere that has an internet connection! Update a file on one device; it will sync with all the other devices automatically! Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari and Chrome are all compatible with Office 365.

4. Reliable and Convenient Access to Projects and Programs

Everything from your Excel spread sheets to PowerPoint presentations will be stored in your OneDrive and, again, be accessible with all of your devices. All files will be stored privately but you will also be able to share specific files to other users if you wish to collaborate with them in real-time. Guaranteeing a 99.9% uptime, with their multiple backup datacenters around the world, Office 365 provides reliable and convenient solutions. If one datacenter goes down, there will be another backup datacenters that will automatically support it. Additionally, Microsoft has recently announced that they are setting up datacenters in Canada sometime this year!

5. Last but not least…Improved Collaboration and Communication

Automatic syncing of documents and accessibility isn’t the only way Office 365 improves your team’s collaboration efforts. SharePoint allows teams to sync task lists, calendars and share insights to make sure everyone is on the same page with company information. Overall, it is a company’s information management system that can assist with executing strategies more effectively by keeping your team up to date. Many features are supported to also help the communication of teams.

Office 365 provides features that allow teams to connect with instant messaging and video or voice calls. These methods of communication can also be conducted in a group setting by inviting individuals to joining the call or chat room. Users are also able to communicate right on the document as they are working on it to keep it simple and convenient!

Hopefully you learned a little more about what Office 365 can provide. The possibilities are endless with the multiple features and ways of integration. Every company has their own way of working, Office 365 allows you to enhance and adapt your performance as the business environment continues to move. If the list above appeals to you, at least you know you are stepping forward in the right direction.

Quick Facts – Costs of Downtime

Filed Under (IT infrastructure, Private Cloud, Technology Trends) by Nick Chandi on 01-05-2015

The 2014/2015 tax season is over! Having fun yet? During the tax season rush it is very important to work with an efficient manner. But what happens when your systems go down? CA Technologies conducted a survey with about 2000 organizations across North America and Europe to get their insight on how downtime affects their business.

Several key findings:
1. North American businesses are collectively losing $26.5 billion in revenue each year through IT downtime and data recovery. On average, each company loses $159,331 per year.
2. When business critical systems are interrupted, companies estimate that their ability to generate revenue is reduced by 29%
3. In this post-outage period when data recovery is taking place, company revenue generation is still severely hampered, down by an average of 17%.
4. Each business suffers an average of 14 hours of downtime per year, during which time employees are only able to work at 63% of their usual productivity.
5. 44% of respondents believe IT downtime can damage staff morale and 35% report it can harm customer loyalty

Understanding the risks of system crashes can help prevent loss revenue and customer dissatisfaction. The following infographic summarizes some of the findings that the report covers.

Costs of Downtime Infographic

 

Reference Links:
The Avoidable Costs of Downtime
The Avoidable Costs of Downtime – Phase 2

Accounting Firms IT – CATCH 22 (On-Premise vs Cloud Accounting)

Filed Under (Private Cloud) by Nick Chandi on 16-04-2015

All-in-One-Cloud-Solution-for-Business

Remain On-premise Vs Cloud Accounting Jump

In recent years, accounting firms have a lot at stake, when it comes to achieving higher ROI with IT operations. As traditional IT operations turn the corner and become increasingly cloud-based, accounting firms, like many other small and large business firms, are caught in the technology dilemma of today:

Should their IT operations remain on premise?

Or

 Is a cloud-based solution more pragmatic?

Thus far, regardless of being small or large accounting firms, On-premise networks are the preferred IT infrastructure.

However the traditional on-premise network based functional features are all set to change, as the decade-old trend of cloud computing is slowly transforming office and workstation services via secure Application Service Providers (ASP) or as commonly called Cloud Services Providers.

Cloud-based business service providers provide either pure SAAS service or services that include managed IT based on private cloud infrastructure secured on enterprise-class datacenters that are compliant with local and national Canadian privacy regulations.

 

On-premise the first choice thus far

On-premise networks are secure and efficient, as accounting firms have been able to build networks running automated software, for localized multi-user access-points. Dedicated IT staff manage the complex end-to-end IT operations to keep the business running by providing services such as software/system/server/hardware purchases/maintenance, patches updates, SLAs, routine maintenance cycles, disaster recovery processes and more.

However, there are inherent limitations with on-premise managed IT operations:

Routine functioning of on-premise networks is subjective and as good as the expertise of IT staff.

Alternative solutions which can overcome these limitations are Cloud Services.

Cloud-based services solutions pragmatic

In United States, wide-ranging pubic cloud services by Amazon Web Services, Google Platform Live, Rackspace, MS Azure etc. are the technology platforms on which small and medium size businesses build their cloud IT operations but it’s not the preferred solution for accounting firms just like in Canada who opt more for private cloud based solutions.

Cloud-based Services Drive Primary changes for Accounting firms

Accounting firms transforming to cloud-based accounting services find their interaction with clients has intrinsically multiplied in terms of value. The virtual platform maximizes reporting, improves insights and allows better integration with operational systems, thereby optimizing client’s profits.

Primary drivers:

1. Basic changes in technology strategy via cloud-based services allow accounting firms to provide in-depth, category-based review of a client’s business.

2. Value-addition services can include CFO services/outsourced accounting services in real-time. This improves one-to-one as well as one-to-many user/client interaction on the secured accounting firm portal improving client servicing scope.

3. Ensures instant access to reports or information via smartphones and gadgets in real-time.

4. For accounting firms, the delivery of high-quality add-on services allows room for ‘brand-building’ and newer avenues/opportunities.

AAA Survey Forecast: Cloud accounting gradual

In May 2014, in a survey of over 100 firms by Association for Accounting Administration significant changes in the number of on-premise networks was observed.

Only 71% maintained on-premise networks in 2014 as against the similar 2012 survey where 78% owned on-premise networks. Importantly, majority of the 5.2% drop in on-premise network owners had opted for vendor or third-party cloud providers.

However, despite the availability of wide-ranging choice of cloud services, accountant firms are caught-up in a dilemma

Dilemma persists: On-premise or Cloud-based

Though the advantages and benefits of virtual computing and IT-support are well-listed, questions remain on the wisdom of reworking existing IT infrastructure entirely to the cloud.

Reasons for businesses to remain on-premise include:

1. Legacy infrastructure

2. Sensitive information that has to remain on the premises

Experts Speak

What do you do when you already have an on-premise infrastructure? Should you yet move to the cloud? Answers to these questions are at two levels.

Firstly, accounting firms will have to determine if organization is at a phase to leverage better benefits from the cloud entirely, partially or to remain on-premise. Secondly, firms will also have to evaluate if clients are acceptable on moving their private data to the cloud.

Cloud operations are usually of two kinds:

  1. Typically, firms have the option of browser-based, app-like cloud operations
  2. Moving the entire on-premise infrastructure, servers included, to the cloud

However, both options offer unique benefits but ‘end- achievable’ will be subject to the native processes of the firms as well.

Again, a key feature which compromise cloud-based working is the complexity of the platform. Multiple aspects of cloud computing sometime undermine the flexibility of operations in contrast to the agility achievable with on-premise installations. Additionally, data centers need to be located in Canada itself as data privacy laws are a primary concern for clients.

Enhanced On-premise Solutions are now the trend

Cloud service providers have come to recognize the slow-curve in moving entirely to the cloud. Therefore, their new solutions include on-premise options which work on the same set of management tools as those supporting their public, private or hybrid solutions.

For example, Microsoft just launched its on-premise solution Cloud Platform Services running on Dell device, on the same Azure on-box services. Recognizing that the market continues to demand on-premise support for in-house operations for some of its sensitive processes, other vendors too are developing their versions of on-premise products.

Increase in SaaS Portal Use

According to a recent survey by Tax Research was the most popular SaaS application used by 88% of the respondents. Significantly, 15% increase in the use of SaaS was observed in the latest survey over 2012 study.

Highest Cloud deployment observed were: hosted spam/anti-virus management services of

  • Postini
  • AppRiver
  • McAfee/MxLogic
  • MimeCast

Nearly 59% respondents had opted for outsourced services of one of the above, with 11% more to opt for remailer services by the end of 2014.

Only Payroll services appeared to remain on-premise with only 61% interested in using vendor services of:

  • Intuit Online
  • Paychex
  • ADP

Survey reiterated popularity of most used Cloud solutions and Applications:

  • XCM Solutions workflow
  • Thomson Reuters GoFileRoom
  • CCH Axcess Portal
  • QuickBooks

 

Success-scenarios of transition to Cloud are effective because:

  • Infrastructure required is close to ‘nil’
  • Virtual office-systems, encourage lean staff hiring with emphasis on remote work force
  • TOC of Cloud overrides On-premise

 

Industry Speak

Alan Salmon, the doyen of accounting technology and CEO of K2 Enterprises Canada, in his recent annual software review of popular accounting software in Canada, sprang some surprises:

  • QuickBooks and Simply Accounting for entry-level Canadian accounting firms had enhanced their database solutions
  • Mid-level to Large-level accounting firms preferred module-based software such as:
    •  Adagio by Softrak,
    • Sage Accpac, Sage Business Vision 50 Accounting, Simply Accounting
    •  Blue Link Elite
    •  Microsoft Dynamics:  GP, NAV, SL
    • SAP Business One
    • SysPro
    • Intuit QuickBooks

It is however necessary for clients and accounting firms to evaluate the benefits and the risks between continuing on-premise services or cloud-based services. The factors that need to be evaluated are:

  • Price
  • Function Features
  • Legacy applications support
  • Secure Features
  • Integration
  • Maintenance
  • Data center location
  • Backup

 

Conclusion

Cloud accounting is the best-fit technology solution for businesses. The significance of cloud computing remains the uniqueness with which it breaks down the traditional framework of working from offices and allows the novelty of remote-working. For clients too, cloud-based services are beneficial. It enhances user experience as they are no longer bound by time-zones and geographic locations and can access virtual accounting offices at their convenience.

With mobile computing already on the horizon; on-premise servers and computing will soon lose its significance. It is necessary that your organization takes nano steps towards cloud-based accounting platforms as it brings value-addition to client services: financial reporting, insights and operational system integration ensuring clients running more profitable businesses.

 

 

 

 

What Business Executives Have to Say About Cloud Computing

Filed Under (Private Cloud) by Nick Chandi on 10-04-2015

It’s no secret, the cloud computing trend is starting to become unavoidable. From start up companies to companies that make billions in revenue, business owners can benefit from these products and services. Oxford Economics conducted a survey last year with 350 business executives. Results show the correlation between cloud computing and increased revenues – mainly from the aftermath of company collaboration improvements.

Check out the infographic below and see what else was determined!
Cloud Computing Infographic

Reference Links:
Charles Babcock
OxfordEcnomics.com

Canadians – Go Local in the Cloud

Filed Under (Private Cloud) by Nick Chandi on 05-10-2014

As a Canadians business owner you need to be compliant of both federal & provincial privacy laws to protect the privacy of your customers.

In Canada as of January 1, 2004, The Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act called PIPEDA, applies to every organization that collects, uses or discloses personal information in the course of commercial activities. The law governs the information that businesses can collect on other Canadians, as well as how organizations must manage and protect that data.

PIPEDA is applicable to both private and public sector organizations & stipulates that Personally Identifiable Information (or PII) must be accessible for inspection and correction, and be stored securely. PIPEDA states that once an organization collects data, regardless of the province, industry, or the type, that the organization is now fully accountable and responsible for the protection of said data.

Once an organization collects sensitive data like name, age, SIN, income, employee files, credit records, loan records, business intentions to acquire goods or services, or change jobs etc., that organization is then 100% responsible for the protection and security of that data, and it is up to the each individual organization to fully understand the rules.

American corporations operating in foreign countries still fall under the PATRIOT ACT and don’t necessarily adhere to PIPEDA.

Your business might be required to keep your data in Canada.

You could potentially be required to keep data within Canadian borders depending on your province, sector and  industry your business operates in, For example, the province of Nova Scotia clearly states that “Public bodies ensure that personal information in its custody or under its control … is stored only in Canada and accessed only in Canada.”

Bill No. 19—the Nova Scotia Personal Information International Disclosure Protection Act, 2006, 5(1).

British Columbia in 2006 enacted its Personal Information International Disclosure Protection Act which includes similar requirements. Bill 73 defines the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Amendment Act in BC. The law requires public bodies to ensure that “personal information in its custody or under its control is stored only in Canada and accessed only in Canada.”

Canadian privacy laws also require that organizations need to make it clear to other businesses or individuals that their information may be processed in a foreign country and that it may be accessible to law enforcement and national security authorities of that jurisdiction. PIPEDA sets forth that when an organization collects sensitive data, that organization is now fully accountable and responsible for that data.

At Welcome Networks, we keep data of all Canadian clients in Canada. All our backup servers are also in Canada and data of Canadian clients never leave the shores of Canada. To learn about individual acts in detail, please the resources below.

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner https://www.priv.gc.ca/index_e.asp

Alberta’s Personal Information Protection Act

British Columbia’s Personal Information Protection Act.

New Brunswick’s Personal Health Information Privacy and Access Act, with respect to personal health information custodians.

Newfoundland and Labrador’s Personal Health Information Act, with respect to health information custodians.

Nova Scotia’s Personal Information International Disclosure Act 

Ontario’s Personal Health Information Protection Act, with respect to health information custodians.

Québec’s An Act Respecting the Protection of Personal Information in the Private Sector.

Privacy Legislation in Canada – http://www.priv.gc.ca/resource/fs-fi/02_05_d_15_e.asp

Reaching for the Cloud(s): Privacy Issues related to Cloud Computing. Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, March 2010: http://www.priv.gc.ca/information/research-recherche/2010/cc_201003_e.asp

Provincial Canadian Geographic Restrictions on Personal Data in the Public Sector – The Center for Information Policy Leadership – Hunton & Williams LLP, 2008 –

http://www.hunton.com/files/Publication/2a6f5831-07b6-4300-af8d-ae30386993c1/Presentation/PublicationAttachment/0480e5b9-9309-4049-9f25-4742cc9f6dce/cate_patriotact_white_paper.pdf

7 Advantages to Cloud Computing for SMB

Filed Under (Private Cloud) by Nick Chandi on 10-08-2011

As a small business owner or future entrepreneur, you understand that saving time and saving money whenever possible are both critical to your success. Whether you are just starting out or your business is more mature, cloud software and services can help you cut costs while also freeing up your time so you can concentrate on doing what you do best – running your business.
Cloud computing is a way of leveraging the Internet to consume software or other IT services on demand.

Users share processing power, storage space, bandwidth, memory, and software. With cloud computing, the resources are shared and so are the costs, making cloud computing very much a business model as well.

Advantages of cloud computing for SMB include:

1. Lower Initial Investment –
If you already have a computer and an Internet connection, you can very likely take advantage of most cloud offerings without investing in any new hardware, specialized software, or adding to staff.

2. Easier to Manage –
There are no power requirements or space considerations to think about and users do not have to understand the underlying technology in order to take advantage of it. You will not be responsible for maintaining and updating any new hardware or software. Planning time is considerably less as well since there are fewer logistical issues.

3. Pay as You Go –
Large upfront fees are not the norm when it comes to cloud services. Many software as a service applications and other types of cloud offerings are available on a month to month basis with no long term contracts.

4. Scalability –
Cloud computing can be scaled to match the changing needs of your small business as it grows. You can quickly add additional licenses, storage space, and more as needed.

5. Deploy Faster –
You can usually be up and running significantly faster with cloud services than you can if you have to plan, buy, build, and implement in house. With many software as a service applications or other cloud offerings you and your team can start using the service within hours or days rather than weeks or months.

6. Location Independent –
Because services are offered over the Internet, you are not limited to using cloud software or services just at work or only on one computer. Access from anywhere is a big advantage for people who travel a lot, like to be able to work from home, or whose organization is spread out across multiple locations.

7. Device independent –
Most web-based software and cloud services are not designed specifically for any one browser or operating system. Many can be accessed via PC, Mac, on tablets like the iPad, and through mobile phones.

Cloud computing is not one size fits all. That said, performance, network bandwidth, security, and total cost concerns can be allayed through a better portfolio and investment approach that considers the multitude of options available.

For companies with limited working capital resource or cash flow funds, the use of on-demand services becomes an attractive option for consumers to avoid upfront costs or maintenance of services. Likewise, companies seeking to provide better profitability from their operation and vendors managing their cost center can leverage on-demand models to target areas of their portfolio to reduce cost and maximize return.

When adopting cloud computing, companies are often driven by cost effectiveness, rather than looking at the bigger picture and asking what cloud solution is the best fit for the business. Cost savings, longevity of product, and performance aren’t mutually exclusive, and all should be factored into the decision-making process when researching and purchasing a cloud solution.

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