Choosing a hosting package that is right for your needs can be confusing. With no two companies offering exactly the same package or displaying the information in the same way, comparing what’s on offer can be just as baffling as comparing domestic energy suppliers. However, as the wrong decision can have long term consequences for …
Identity, access, BYOD issues are surely a thing in an IT Manager’s daily routine. However, these are not the only things that need to be managed. There are the various different systems, different networks and different applications which are the veins and the neurons of the enterprise.
IT managers need to squeeze some time from their daily routines and find time to face, analyze and solve these problems. Fortunately there are really simple solutions and we discuss them in detail.
Employee self-service is the place to start. There are a lot of areas where it is a waste of resources for the IT department to support users where, in fact, they can solve their own problems. One of these areas are the password resets. In one of my clients, the analysis of the (ITIL) request data revealed that close to 70% of the calls to the help desk involved Windows password resets. We have worked with the company and selected Microsoft’s Forefront Identity Manager application to enable the users to reset their passwords. We have coordinated the launch and told the employees that they have to register themselves to the self-service portal and no more password requests will be fulfilled by the help desk. It worked magically, the help desk took additional responsibilities and the user support team (who were resetting passwords) focused on other, more important areas.
When talking about password resets, let’s also talk about the user provisioning. There are two types of provisioning: onboarding and offboarding (transfers between departments can be considered as offboarding from the old and onboarding to new). To overcome the various tasks, the first thing to do is to speak with the Human Resources department first and set down the workflows. It is best to start the workflows from the HR because their records are accurate (due to payrolls, social security and other legal issues, they have to keep accurate records). When the onboarding workflows are clear with the HR, speak with the other departments and see what the employees are using – for example the sales department, whose employees are using Salesforce application, and therefore need to have Salesforce.com accounts. When the workflows are clear and standardized, use the identity manager application to automate the flows. Not only you will save time but also eliminate the security risks of active accounts of former employees.
Then there are the shifting demands of the workplace. Other than the very traditional and conservative businesses, it is hard to imagine a company who does not have mobile employees and who does not have someone who “didn’t bring his/her own device.” This leads to a couple of additional workloads for the IT department such as accessing corporate resources, mobile device security, shared file access and the like. Again, the workloads can be defined, agreed upon with the senior management and automated. In case of mobile access permission revocation or suspending a user account, automation applications such as Microsoft’s System Center Orchestrator will dramatically help IT departments to reduce the workload. The automation applications have many plugins (some written by 3rd parties) to work with other applications, such as Forefront Identity Manager, being able to manage Salesforce accounts.
Of course there is also the issue of rights management. I find it hard to understand why almost none of my clients do not employ Active Directory Rights Management or a similar tool for managing who has access to what. It is not only automating access control but also about complying with certain legislation (plus, in some cases, procedures such as ISO 27001 – which is about information security). Of course it is not always possible to fully automate every task but at least common tasks can be consistently covered with workflows. For example, one of my clients required to have an Active Directory, Exchange e-mail, Lync instant messaging account for each white collar employee. Although this looks like a trivial task, one help desk, one user support and one Exchange administrator needed to work on every white collar employee, both in onboarding and offboarding. Of course the requirements changed for various departments but automating at least these issues saved significant time.
All these discussions have one crucial point: the directory service must be consistent and up to date. Whether it is Active Directory or the OpenLDAP, all directory data must be in top shape. I frequently discuss this issue of keeping an up to date directory with my clients. Almost all the time it comes to the HR department as I have discussed above. Keeping the directory clean can also be accomplished by ending the onboarding, offboarding and inter department transfer workflows in the domain administrator’s task pool so that he can once again check that everything is in place and finalize the workflow.
Considering how much time all these tasks take individually and how they add up brings up the importance of an identity management and automation solution. The required investment both in terms of money and time will have returns sooner than you can imagine. Especially if you further consider using the time saved from these mundane tasks in more productive projects.
A CIO has to succeed in many areas; from technology to financials, from people to service levels, a CIO has to keep an eye on all the issues. However there are times when CIOs, together with all other CxOs lose common sight and neglect things that they never should. Here are some points where CxOs are putting their companies at risk.
The first and foremost item is ensuring business continuity and with this I mean disaster recovery before everything. People sometimes fail to lose the understanding that they are in the company because of the business; if business is gone, they have no place there. It is that simple right? Wrong. CxOs fail to realize that simple point and still do not think about disaster recovery solutions. Often CIOs cannot make them realize how important this is. This is not to discuss the capability of the CIOs, but rather how other CxOs are “closed” to the subject. Disaster recovery is not just another data center to spend money. It isn’t just the business’s continuity, it’s CxOs chance to continue to earn money when all is gone.
Minimizing costs is another point where CxOs lose common sense. I am not talking about extravagant expenses, or avoidable costs, such as preferring videoconferencing instead of flying, when and where one can. I am talking about the costs of doing business. The cost of doing business is what you must do to continue your sales, to continue your business. If you are -say- a photographer you must have that lens to do your job. If you are seeing that lens as a “cost” and you are travelling to your customer’s location with taxi when you can use public transport (when you can, of course), you are doing nothing other than hurting your business.
Some CxOs also lose sight on the revenue losses and decreasing profit margins. These are where the company is bleeding. The business environment seems to value financials all above anything else and tend to take cost-based decisions. Frankly, cost-based decisions look very good both on paper and in the presentations. Many items go unnoticed: what if the best-price supplier cannot meet the demand? What if we do not have a back-up supplier? What if the lower-cost logistics company cannot place the goods on the shelves before the holiday season? What if our web server cannot keep up with the traffic during the peak times? There is yet another dangerous issue with all these problems; these are attributable to 3rd parties. “The logistics company couldn’t”, “the web hoster couldn’t”, “the supplier couldn’t” and all other excuses will obscure the truth: you made the decisions based on cost only.
When the company gets big enough, CxOs forget that it is the people who made the company great, not the IT systems nor themselves alone. Everybody in the company worked hard to get there, from the janitor to the CFO from the security to CIO. And it is not just that you can replace anybody with anybody because the unemployment rate is high. And it is not just that you do not need to develop any inside talent because there are many high-profile unemployed people. Companies who train and develop their staff proactively achieve employee engagement and commitment, and the employees pay back really good. There is an excellent dialogue that highlights this situation perfectly:
CFO: What is we train our people and they leave?
CEO: What if they don’t and they stay?
Sometimes the CxOs do not want to develop their key personnel with the fear that this personnel will be their successor and they will be replaced when the time comes. This fear marks the stumbling point for many enterprises. The loss of a key manager or an officer comes quite costly for any company. I believe any CxO who does not make succession plans should be replaced as soon as possible: he is trying to secure his future rather than the company’s.
Customer satisfaction is often measured with some numbers: sales figures or call center responses. CxOs assume that if a customer is serviced below X minutes, she is happy. One GSM operator in Turkey made that mistake for 10+ years. Then the tide turned and they were calling people and asking what it could do for them to switch back to the operator. Neither me, my family, my wife and my wife’s family switched back. They are still sending SMSs. The point here is to ensure overall customer satisfaction. In Turkey, Dell offered 2-year in-place repairs for its notebooks free of charge. I purchased one for myself and had problems the first week with my laptop computer. They kept their promise and I made 5+ people buy Dell computers. They stopped this service and I am not sure if I will go with Dell again.
And finally, the “quarter” issue. Acting only on quarterly reviews are as destructive as the cost-only decisions. Will you be shutting down the company after a quarter? If yes, then go on. If not, quarterly statements are there just to keep an eye on and see how you did. Acting only on the quarterly statements make you forget about the long term strategies and commitments. You have to ensure that your business is an established business. You have to think about years ahead. Quarters are just guides on how you used your time and what you need to do to achieve your strategies.
Cloud computing is a ubiquitous concept these days, with many major tech companies offering some form of cloud storage to consumers. Unlike other methods, cloud storage allows users to store a host of data remotely. This option is far more convenient, as it allows easy retrieval from any device that can access the internet. As a result, cloud storage is used for everything from saving important work documents to keeping photos and other cherished items.
However, cloud storage can have many more applications than are currently in use. Virtual storage can help an array of businesses optimize their current functions, as well as distribute vital work-related data with ease. As the current crop of storage technology advances, so do the possibilities of future applications.
To understand the full range of capabilities of cloud computing, one must first gain understanding of the software as a service (SaaS) concept. Cloud computing and SaaS are closely linked concepts in terms of virtual storage, though there are distinct differences between the two. A firm grasp of such differences can enable a clearer understanding of future cloud applications.
What Is SaaS?
SaaS is a subscription-based model of software licensing that offers users remote access to much needed programs. Also known as on-demand software, this concept provides desired access to software by web browser, instead of distributing software directly. At its inception in the late 90s, SaaS providers were offering a very early version of cloud storage capabilities.
These days, SaaS is extremely popular in a business capacity. This popularity has much to do with its ability to reduce costs incurred by IT support. This is accomplished by outsourcing necessary maintenance roles to the actual SaaS provider, which can be greatly beneficial to a company’s bottom line.
Utilizing SaaS is also beneficial from a convenience standpoint. Because programs are hosted remotely, all required upkeep falls to the service provider. This can include the initial set-up and installation of programs, as well as any repairs or upgrades that may crop up along the way.
SaaS vs. Cloud Computing
At first glance, cloud computing and SaaS appear to be very similar concepts. However, with a deeper understanding of these terms, many users will begin to see these systems are very different in a number of ways. One of the major differences between SaaS and cloud computing involves the purpose of each concept. Cloud computing provides a place for important software to live, yet is not directly involved in matters of payment.
Conversely, SaaS works to monetize the cloud computing structure by initiating a payment model for services rendered. In this event, a SaaS company could utilize cloud storage to house their software, but would still be tasked with handling payment methods (subscriptions, limited access, pay as you go, etc.).
In most cases, a business can accomplish more with SaaS than with mere cloud storage services. For companies experiencing budgetary restraints, developing business applications via SaaS is far more feasible than when utilizing in-house methods, which often require hardware and software purchases. This can help optimize a business’s overall output, whether by boosting productivity or enabling easier information sharing.
SaaS’s Role in Predictive Analytics
Predictive analytics is all about identifying causation among large amounts of data. By using all available information, businesses can make often-accurate predictions about a diverse range topics. In many cases, these predictions can help determine future decisions relating to ongoing business practices. This can be an important tool for many businesses looking to increase profits and heighten efficiency.
When using on-premise storage, analytical results are less useful for predictive purposes. This method of housing pertinent data tends to only show a small portion of a larger trends and processes. Such analysis can be misleading, especially for those companies attempting to identify prevailing consumer trends. By relying solely on data located in-house, a business may be missing out on numerous opportunities for advancement.
For these reasons, leading data scientists rely on cloud storage analytics for a better reading of relevant data. This is especially pertinent to the marketing world, where a vast majority of cloud analysis projects are taking place. Proper reading of applicable data can be useful for a number of reasons, from increasing profits to retaining customers. Accordingly, many companies are making use of such analytic measures, with increasingly successful results.
Future Applications of SaaS/Cloud Computing
While SaaS/Cloud computing applications are highly used today, future developments may further optimize the user experience. These methods appear to be gaining traction as more businesses look to improve their overall computing processes.
- Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) – IaaS takes the SaaS model a step further by outsourcing the actual computer equipment necessary to run a business. Such equipment can include servers, hardware, and vital networking components. This model typically entails a per-use pay structure, with all equipment maintained and housed by the service provider. This system is sometimes referred to as Hardware as a Service (HaaS).
- Platform as a Service (PaaS) – The PaaS concept also allows rental of hardware, but provides access to things like operating systems, data storage, and network capacity as well. By using virtualized servers, clients can easily design and develop a multitude of applications, all while forgoing the associated costs for such endeavors.
- Hybrid Data Centers – While physical data centers are remain in high-demand, the popularity of cloud-based storage has led many to look into virtual data centers. As a result, hybrid data centers are becoming an attractive option to many businesses looking to optimize their current data storage methods. This provides businesses with far more flexibility than typically afforded by on-premise data storage, which can prove risky in the event of damaged hardware and other issues.
On the Cutting Edge of the Cloud Evolution
As cloud computing becomes the norm, more and more companies are gladly getting on board with this innovative and convenient method of data storage. From optimized storage capabilities to a better reading of data, virtual storage methods are forever evolving. This process can help create a more efficient and serviceable computing experience.
Hanei Marketing can offer such businesses the same level of innovation when it comes to web development and business to business marketing. For more information on the many great services we provide, please contact one of our knowledgeable representatives today.
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We’re excited to announce that CloudFlare integration is now rolling out across all our managed servers! Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll have heard about the waves that CloudFlare are making. They’re the cloud CDN (Content Distribution Network) and security service that’s protecting hundreds of thousands of websites of all sizes from attacks and providing global increases in speed and security. CloudFlare works by providing a worldwide network of servers that visitors to your site connect to, which complement our own global network of locations to ensure that your site is always performing its best.
We’re currently rolling out integration between our SiteAdmin and reseller servers (including managed VPS) and CloudFlare. This integration means that enabling CloudFlare on your website requires just a couple of clicks, without leaving your control panel or messing around with changing nameservers or DNS. Just log into cPanel or SiteAdmin and look for the CloudFlare icon – the instructions will guide you through the process. If the icon’s not there yet, don’t worry – we’ll get to your server soon.
For a full walkthrough of the setup, check out our Knowledge Base article on how to set up CloudFlare. And, if you require any assistance, just call, email or raise a ticket and we’ll be happy to help.
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