Thursday, 31 March 2011

Improving Business Continuity

Cloud systems are often able to provide better disaster recovery than you can arrange in-house. But this needs assessment. The cloud also produces new continuity issues to consider and address.

For those cloud services that are business-critical, what should you be doing to ensure business continuity?

This article written for the IT Faculty of the ICAEW looks at the issues and makes some suggestions to minimise risks.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Cloud Apps – Handling Upgrades

The way cloud apps are upgraded is very different from the equivalent on-premise packages. How upgrades are handled can be a key factor in selecting a cloud solution, and making the most of an existing one.

What are the advantages of cloud app upgrades? Are there any issues? What questions are worth asking suppliers?

This article written for the IT Faculty of the ICAEW explores these questions. How will the answers affect the way you use the cloud, now or later?

Thursday, 17 February 2011

An Inside Job – Using Social Tools within Business

Social media tools are being used by businesses to communicate publicly with customers. Increasingly these tools and similar internet-based software are being used privately within a business or with trusted partners for business benefit.

This article written for the IT Faculty of the ICAEW looks at the new opportunities and how to handle the new risks. Are you ready?

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Cloud Computing – Inevitable?

This week someone asked me “Is cloud computing inevitable?” Will we only be using cloud systems in business and other organisations by say 2015?

This article written for the IT Faculty of the ICAEW provides a summary for management of the types and uses of cloud computing, together with the pros and cons.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Cloud Computing – How about Private Cloud?

Putting software applications “into the cloud” can mean different things. Often it means using software hosted by a third party on a shared, “public” basis, accessible via the internet, and paid for by some form of subscription.

But what if that isn’t practical for some technical or commercial reason? [... read more...]

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Cloud Computing – Which Type? Does it Matter?

When putting your business applications such as accounting and CRM “into the cloud”, there are various ways this can be achieved.

In each case the server that stores your data and runs the centralised software is hosted by a third party, and you typically pay a form of subscription. This is therefore called “Software as a Service” (SaaS). The main methods are: [ more...]

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Cloud Computing - Using Security Questions

Logging into Facebook yesterday I was prompted to provide the answer to one of several “security questions”. These were factual questions including “Where was your mother born” and “Last 5 digits of driver’s licence”.

Choosing one that nobody else could easily guess, I wondered what it could be used for. It turns out there is only one usage, to unlock an account if you cannot otherwise use the original email address and password. To avoid someone changing the security answer if they managed to hack the account, the answer cannot be changed.

I had hoped the security question would be asked each time [ more...]

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Cloud Apps - Functionality and Specification

When selecting a cloud SaaS system (Software as a Service), it's important to review the functionality provided. To help do this, it's worth producing a concise but comprehensive specification for all but the simplest situations.

In an article written for the IT Faculty of the ICAEW, here are some tips on what should be in a specification, and other reasons why it is worth preparing one.

Do contact me if I can be of further help, by email or on +44(0)1628 632914

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Reducing Costs using Cloud VideoConferencing

The improvements in the internet are opening up a whole new set of applications that are remotely hosted within the cloud. In each case all you need to use them is a PC (or other suitable device), a reasonable internet connection, and typically a web browser.

Videoconferencing has proved increasingly popular for multi-site organisations, to reduce the need to travel and thereby cut costs, time and hassle. But videoconferencing has typically required use of a meeting room and an expensive teleconferencing system. [ more...]

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Cloud Computing - Issues to Watch

Last week we looked at the key benefits of cloud computing and how to select a SaaS (Software as a Service) system.

In this article we will look at some of the issues to watch out for when selecting a cloud system. These need to be covered by the end-user, though in many cases with help from and dependency upon the provider.[ more...]

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Cloud Computing - Selecting a SaaS System

When I first used an application that was provided as "Software as a Service" (SaaS), there were five clear benefits:
  1. We had access to an internet-enabled system that couldn’t be afforded in-house
  2. The system could be used and maintained from anywhere in the world with an internet connection
  3. The provider looked after all the data security, administration and disaster recovery
  4. Payment only had to be made according to the extent used.
  5. We could start using the system straight away
These benefits are still applicable today with SaaS cloud systems.

However when you go looking for a cloud system [ more...]

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Cloud Computing - Benefits and Pitfalls of Upgrades

At the Business Cloud Summit 2010 last week, one of the panellists said “upgrades are a two-edged sword” with the cloud app he was using. Unfortunately he didn’t tell us what he meant, but I can hazard a few guesses.

One edge of the sword is the four key benefits of an upgrade of a SaaS app [ more...]

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Thoughts from Business Cloud Summit 2010

Earlier today I attended the Business Cloud Summit in Hammersmith. Incorporating an exhibition and panel interview sessions, it provided a very positive view of the cloud as an option for organisations of all sizes.

But some aspects did strike me:

Two Types of Providers

There are two types of providers [ more...]

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Launch of “Code of Practice” by Cloud Industry Forum

10 years ago I started using what is now termed a cloud system. This was to sell, amongst other things, tickets for 30 events in the Internet Business Forum series that I organised and chaired.

At these events, we looked at how the internet could be used for business purposes. A wide variety of applications (apps) and facilities were appearing, leveraging the rapid improvements that had just been made in datacomms speeds with the availability of "broadband".

Given the cost, remote access and other benefits of cloud computing, it might have been predicted that cloud services would have become the norm by now. But they haven’t. Why? [ more...]

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Cloud Computing – Clarification of Key Terms

As an end-user, the range of terms in cloud computing can be confusing. Here is a brief introduction to explain all the key terms in one place.

Cloud Computing covers a multitude of differing offerings. The Cloud Industry Forum defines it as covering any remotely hosted IT service of any  type, including multi-tenanted systems accessed via the internet. This is typically using [ more...]

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

SaaS Cloud Computing – Selection Tips

SaaS cloud offerings vary greatly in standards. Depending on the specific application (app) and how business critical it is, these aspects of SaaS may be important to you before you select a system: [... read more...]

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

SaaS Cloud Computing – What Is It Really?

Whether you know what SaaS is, or are new to it, it’s worth taking a closer look. It's worth understanding the implications.

SaaS stands for “Software as a Service”. This is a type of “Cloud Computing” where the computing environment you use is run [ more...]

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

SaaS Cloud Computing - Why oh Why?

SaaS Cloud computing (Software as a Service) offers many benefits. But like many things in life, it isn't perfect.

The key benefits of SaaS compared to on-premise packages include: [ more...]

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

SaaS Cloud Computing - The Security Question

Earlier today I attended a session at Softworld about Cloud Computing. This had a panel of users and vendors (providers). What was clear when they contradicted each other was that even these "experts" don't know all they need to know about cloud computing - and I mean "need to know", if they (and you) are to gain the benefits without excessive pain at some stage.

That's not a criticism of these people, as the cloud is a relatively new fangled thing. However for those of us who have been using SaaS (Software as a Service) applications in front line business for over ten years, we have had our parts bitten, and know first hand what matters. [ more...]

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

SaaS Cloud Computing - The Hype, The Truth and The Wardrobe

Last evening I had a long chat with the MD of a SaaS (Software as a Service) business. His company specialises in Service Management for larger businesses with 20-500 engineers out in the field. If his SaaS system goes down, thousands of engineers would be left twiddling their thumbs. His customers' businesses would literally grind to a halt. That's "business critical"!

He had taken his company's on-premise solution and converted it to run in the cloud. His customers have the luxury of sitting down with their SaaS provider to cover the service in minute detail. With customers that demanding, he knows absolutely what is needed for "business critical".[ more...]

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

SaaS Cloud Computing – Is It Worth The Hype?

As with every other generation of computing, SaaS (Software as a Service) cloud computing is portrayed as wonderful. Best thing since sliced bread. Or at least since silicon chips.

But does it live up to the hype?

It’s clear that there are substantial benefits with SaaS cloud computing. We looked at some of them before, including [ more...]

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Cloud Computing – Is the Big Issue “Control” or “Trust”?

What is the big issue in using cloud computing? “Control” or “Trust”?

At the ICAEW IT Faculty’s seminar on Cloud Computing last Friday, several questions were voted on at the end by the delegates. Having listened to various presentations, their main concern about using cloud computing was “loss of control”.

The industry itself, through the “Cloud Industry Forum” (CIF) is launching a Code of Practice on 18th October. This seeks to provide advice to buyers so they can make an informed choice on what they call “Cloud Service Providers”. This includes certification of specific providers against agreed criteria and information. CIF says it’s about “trust”.

Trust and control go hand in hand. If you cannot control the systems directly, who can you trust to do it?  [ more...]


Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Cloud Computing - Business Models and How They Affect You

Whether you are an end-user, reseller or software provider, the rise of cloud computing will affect you. Probably significantly. But how? What can be done?

Once upon a time the internet promised “disintermediation” - the demise of the middleman. Now this is happening increasingly in the IT software industry as a result of SaaS cloud solutions (Software as a Service).

[ more...]

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Cloud Computing - BIGGER BENEFITS, BIGGER ....

…OPPORTUNITIES. You probably already know that the cloud SaaS (Software as a Service) can provide tremendous benefits to your business. But as Intellect the computing trade body says “While the SaaS model offers significant advantages over on-premise, it does carry potential risks that must also be considered

Realistically you’ll only be able to reap the benefits of SaaS on an ongoing basis if the risks are managed down to an acceptable level. Otherwise Sod’s Law says something will go dramatically wrong sooner or later. The consequences are grave embarrassment or major business problems.  Or both.   [ more...]

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Cloud Computing - Implementation Process for SaaS - How Different from On-Premise?

A week ago we looked at how the selection process needs to be tweaked to choose a cloud SaaS (Software as a Service) solution, compared to traditional on-premise software.

Here is a quick summary of a typical on-premise implementation process ...

[ more...]

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Cloud Computing - Selection Process for SaaS - How Different from On-Premise?

Much has been written about the pros and cons of cloud SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) compared to traditional “on-premise” computing. SaaS covers the likes of accounting, customer relationship management (CRM), Facebook and a multitude of other business and consumer applications.

Here’s our own summary of the benefits and risks of SaaS. This is for anyone who wants to understand whether SaaS is something they should be using in their business; or for anyone selling SaaS who wants to understand potential customers' anxieties

But relatively little has been written about how the process for selection of business software has changed with the availability of SAAS. How much has the process changed? [ more...]

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Cloud Computing - On The Rocks?

Having just found a place in the UK which has neither broadband nor cable nor 3G connections to the internet, it set me thinking about the issues around reliance on fast data telecomms...

[ more...]

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Cloud Computing - MiFi as Internet Access Contingency Option

Last week we looked at "Cloud Computing – Internet Access is Everything". As IT Consultant Andy Scott has said “Loss of Internet = loss of information systems. PERIOD.” Not a comfortable or useful position to be in if your business is reliant on email and the internet to function, especially using cloud applications.

You will have reviewed each cloud provider, before using them, for their backup, recovery and contingency plans. You realise you have to take the internet as it is, and so far so good. But what can you do at your end?

[ more...]

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Cloud Computing – Internet Access is Everything

A short while ago I wrote an article entitled “Cloud Computing – Hot Air or Business Reality?“. This looked at the pros and cons of cloud computing – BIG BENEFITS, BIG RISKS.

Risk number 1 was summed up by IT specialist Andy Scott “Loss of Internet = loss of information systems. PERIOD.” At each place of use, it is a must to have at least two totally independent reasonably high-speed internet connections, This is often landline + 3G.

Being one of the few areas of the country that hasn’t have Virgin cable, the new Virgin boxes have reminded me ...

[ more...]

Tuesday, 8 June 2010