Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Open a Refreshing Bottle of The Cloud

Wouldn't it be great if you could just consume cloud solutions for your business as easily as opening a bottle of Coke? 
To experience the refreshing ease of having everything hosted and managed by an enterprise class data center and be free from the burden of the day to day management of IT infrastructure? 
Just say, "Aaahhhh!"

The truth is moving things like email, backup,servers and desktops to the cloud is a process that requires strategy, planning, examining processes, and taking action. Companies often do not easily address these needs and they take the approach of  "We don't have time to do all of this, so we will just stay with what we have." and  "It is more work to move things to the cloud, we can always look at that later."

Meanwhile that refreshing solution is there, just within reach!

My job as a Solutions Provider is to give each of my clients a plan and a path they can follow to reach the right solution. A client of mine had been taking home tape back ups every night and bringing them back each morning as a way of managing the business's critical data. On more than one occasion, someone would forget to take the tapes home, or not know it was their turn to be the tape back up person, and the whole process continued to burden the organization. When I proposed our Cloud based solution that managed all of their data in the cloud, it was like a cool breeze entered the room. Getting to the solution was a simple implementation plan and now they are enjoying the refreshing ease of backups in the cloud. Next on their list is their phone system. Bit by bit, they can see now how easy life can be with Cloud based solutions.

Email seems to be a hotbed of complaints and issues for companies. When I ask an IT director " What can get you fired?" they usually respond with email issues being the most complained about area for their companies.

When Microsoft  introduced their cloud based email solution to the world, this got some conversations started about moving more to the cloud more than anything had previously. A huge effort of marketing and positioning has been done by Microsoft and the message is loud and clear "Get to the Cloud". What I see as my role is to gently shepherd companies to the cloud for their email. Providing options with Hosted Exchange, Office 365™, Basic Mail, and more gives companies flexible and scalable hybrid options that they can enjoy. 

Try to insure that you fully understand your existing cost model for email delivery before making any decision to outsource. Companies sometimes find it difficult to determine how much their email infrastructure is currently costing them, so I try to help clients look at these per head costs:
  • Cost of hardware. Servers and other hardware
  • Cost of licensing. Exchange and possibly any other third-party tools along with associated maintenance costs.
  • Cost of storage per user.
  • Costs of staff time to support the mail environment.
Factoring in the cost of facilitating disaster recovery for your mail system on-premise versus having a Cloud provider take care of it for you is the last nugget that has to be looked at. Once again, that bottle of Cloud awaits, so Just say "Aaahhh!"

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Lighten Your Workload with the Cloud

Ask any employee of an organization what a lighter workload means and you will get a different answer.

Lightening the workload is not about leaving work early or taking longer lunches. As nice as those ideas seem, the real issue for most companies is that each individual has to be able to do so much more with less. Consolidation and job sharing has been accelerated up so much more in the down economy and workers are expected to deliver more and more output based on new technology available. Workplace innovation and giving people better ways to work with information is the goal of cloud based solutions.

The fact is everyone wants to know how will the move to the Cloud benefit me?
For a CIO/CFO it will matter most that the cloud can eliminate costly IT budgets and minimize capital expenses. For the IT manager and the work groups, the cloud holds much more promise of a better day to day experience. Get more done, and have a more productive work flow! 

Cloud-computing services let customers use data networks to store, access or stream information. Simple explanation, but a bit vague on the benefits.The real benefits vary depending on your role within the company.

A Shift in IT resources

With Cloud Solutions, you get to shift responsibility for IT to a provider of your choosing. You don’t buy, own, maintain, or upgrade IT infrastructure. You let experts do it for you. The cloud provider keeps you up-to-date with the most current server technology, platform tools and software releases. And the cloud is a secure, web-based computing environment. Your business communications, transaction data and records are protected with the most current authentication, authorization and encryption methods.

Taking Baby Steps
Stepping along this migration path is a lot like watching a toddler take their first steps. Some take one or two, then sit back down. Some take a step, stop, take another step, stop, and continue. There are some who just decide one day to take that step and they go and go!

What I always say is keep doing the next indicated thing.
If your organization has identified the areas where there has to be improvement in the work flow, and you
know that you’re not the best at IT, (infrastructure,platforms, software, applications and people),or you want to save on capital expense, you can rent it from someone who is an expert.

IT becomes like electricity or water, a metered utility that you pay. Take the first step and lighten your workload one step at a time.  Mary Slagle

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

A Digital Plumber- Cloud File Sharing to the rescue!

Cloud technology is changing the way that people work together, and savvy businesses are getting on board. I speak to clients on a daily basis about their operational “clogs” and one of the biggest areas is collaboration and file management. Sometimes all they need is a “digital plumber” to come along and clear a path. More than anything, my clients want to believe in a future where you can exchange data more quickly, and securely than ever before. 

The essential capability: Cloud File sharing! Not too many years ago, workers brought physical files to meetings or left them on a colleague's desk. Today, employees email files to each other or access them through corporate content management systems. Not only true of documents, nearly all work is now electronic. “We scan everything”  one client of mine boasted recently. He admits regrettably that there are now terabytes of scanned data for his research projects that need to be made functional. The growing demand for larger quantities of data to support business functions means that many small and mid-sized businesses have data management and file sharing needs that can only be supported by large capacity systems.  Medical records and images, video clips, engineering plans, financial data, business activity reports, marketing collateral, online training and seminars, and many more types of information often spend their functional lives in “digital purgatory”.

Walk through the pearly archway to Cloud File Sharing! These solutions do provide a large scale content management solution that is available to businesses of all sizes.

Big Advantage #1 -With a cloud based file sharing solution, there is no investment in servers and large capacity disk systems to store data, and there is no software deployment. Most cloud based systems are monthly subscription based services that are fully available once an account is opened.

Big Advantage #2- Cloud systems are Internet accessible. Accessing files in a cloud can be done just as easily from a tablet in an airport or from a desktop computer in the office. With these added efficiencies, those typical clogs waiting on someone or something to help access files gets eliminated. One client of mine complained that since they had all their blueprints locked into an .ftp file sharing structure, he would get no less than 20 calls a day asking for help to navigate this system. Cloud based solutions offer the ease of a solution that does not burden the staff with technical issues.

Big Advantage #3 -The last and perhaps most important advantage for business owners is the competitive advantage they have when they utilize a managed cloud based system. Usability features like file and folder management, staff file synchronization across all devices including, desktop/laptop, tablets and mobile phones. With Mobile device support, workers on the road should be able to access files from anywhere to maximize productivity.

File sharing is a powerful collaboration tool, and there are clear advantages in adopting a cloud based solution. Make sure you have a great partner! The solution provider should offer full support for corporate customers, including business account management and live(a real person)available technical support. The solution needs to be built for performance. A file sharing solution provider should be able to demonstrate they have a secure infrastructure that maintains performance under heavy loads. I encourage clients to contact me to set up Data Center tours and talk to some wickedly smart engineers. 
Digital Plumbers, always on call!!                          

Monday, May 6, 2013

Tao and The Art of Cloud

Being new to the study of Tao Te Ching, I am thrilled when I finally understand it enough to apply it to my everyday life. I embrace the words and roll them around in my head over and over like a wine lover swirls a glass of Cabernet to bring out the bouquet of the wine. I find myself indulging in deep thought and enjoying the solitude and silence that comes with meditation.

So what in the world does Tao have to do with cloud computing? Read on! The Lao Tsu wrote: " Shape clay into a vessel; It is the space that makes it useful. Cut doors and windows for a room; It is the holes which make it useful. Therefore, profit comes from what is there; Usefulness from what is not there." As a Solution Provider for Managed and Cloud Services, I am uncovering many times throughout the day just how the Cloud is useful and helps my clients gain more productivity and profit. It is by that space which is created in the " holes and windows " .

A recent example from a customer: What to do when you have a repetitious and cumbersome task like having multiple employees logging in multiple times a day to various FTP sites to view critical information like drawings and blueprints. Over and over, each user gets frustrated trying to remember the array of sites and logins and commands. Invariably the IT staff has to help out and the calls are all the same. "I can't login" , or "the site is down" or "I can't find what I am looking for.". Answer: When the Cloud environment can deliver a custom solution to meet every one's needs and streamline the process, it is making space that is useful. What can be produced is a customized interface with a wonderful new productive environment for all who now interact with these drawings and blueprints. Hours of wasted time and productivity eliminated and sanity increased!

The same can be done with backup and recovery- doing the same process over and over with volumes of wasted time and storage space. Taking it to the Cloud, a more secure and streamlined process delivers increased redundancy, security and streamlined processes. Another scenario invovled one large cellular carrier who took to the Cloud with us. They now have specific areas where there is consistent high traffic identified (Sports arenas) and we designed a custom solution. Now they are able to offload to strategic servers and maximize the experience of their cellular data network users.

Like the spokes on a wheel, there is the hub at the center that makes it all useful. I can see where the Cloud can serve so many with such a variety of applications and needs, and ultimately deliver what everyone is seeking. Inner Peace, and increased profitability of course!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Solutions Provider--Just trying to be of service.

Solutions Provider

Moving into the role at my company TekLinks as a Solutions Provider of Managed and Cloud Services is an exciting new start for me. In addition to locating myself in the beautiful Gulf Coast area of Mississippi, I am enjoying a time of resurgence for businesses here on the Coast.

The post Katrina business owner is just breathing easily now and starting to look at the horizon. Many of the IT trends that are being tossed about have some CEO's still hesitant to make a move in any direction. Despite budget wary financial concerns, owners know that their IT costs can and DO get completely out of hand without some kind of strategy in place. It is more than a chicken or the egg scenario- moving your technology infrastructure forward is critical to your ability to grow.

That is where I can help them the most. Setting in place a strategy that allows for migration to happen and their future being a much brighter one. I love looking over the wish lists I find from business owners who are willing to ask for what they want in a relationship with their IT professional.
It looks something like this:

  • Have the very best people on staff to work with
  • Put my ( the client's)  needs ahead of their own company
  • I am the client - I may not always be right, but I am always the client
  • Be honest in all communication, tell the truth and not just what I want to hear
  • Treat our relationship as a partnership
  • Be responsive and dependable
  • Be a better listener than a talker

  • The fact that I work for a proven leader allows me to place a check mark next to each of the above listed "wants". TekLinks customer testimonials, industry awards, and consistent growth as a INC 500 top pick set us apart from any other company in the Southeast.

    Settling in to my new office in the Hancock Bank building in Gulfport is a treat for me as well. I can gaze out across the Gulf and see many of the businesses we have helped continue to flourish and grow. And the view is pretty spectacular as well!
    Where will the new innovators be found? Who is out there looking for a company to partner with to make a difference in their innovation and implementation? As one client stated "Teklinks is a true partner that appreciates that our success will determine their success. Without them, we''d be intimidated about implementing new technology and planning for that implementation."  Let me be of service to your company and help to set you up to succeed with Managed and Cloud Services today. Mary Slagle (228)281-2213