Saas, VaaS, Paas Or IaaS – What’s Right For You?

When it comes to Cloud Computing, there are several different platforms available for use. Some of the terminology is old and some is new. Together, it is all The Cloud.

But what does it all mean and which is right for you? Let’s take a closer look.

SaaS

Starting with the most obvious use of The Cloud, is SaaS, or Software as a Service. The SaaS movement has been around for some time and in many ways is the forefather or the very definition of Cloud Computing.

Another term for SaaS might be Public Cloud. SaaS is for the single or perhaps small business user where they don’t want to lease infrastructure or have hosted space, they just want access to their individual apps from anywhere they may be. Access and cost are usually the largest drivers behind SaaS takeup.

Think of Internet Banking and Gmail as two of the most common forms of SaaS today.

VaaS

So you’re using a few SaaS services and think it would be great if you could combine them, or take your desktop with you everywhere you go, like on your iPad or Android. This is where you may look at a VaaS, or Virtualization as a Service provider.

This market is still quite young in the Cloud market, perhaps due to licencing issues or other restrictions. But think of it as unlimited VM Ware, or as a rented Desktop with fixed applications.

Hence, you may sign up to a VaaS service, for a Ubuntu desktop with Open Source Apps (Open Office, Firefox and Thunderbird) for a very small fee, or for a little more, a Microsoft platform where you are served your stable Win 7 desktop complete with its Microsoft repetoir of Internet Explorer and Microsoft Office. Or a combination of Microsoft desktop with Open Source apps to save on licencing a little.

In any case, the term “rented desktop” pretty much settles the VaaS criteria. A stable virtual desktop you can take anywhere, along with all your files, settings and bookmarks.

IaaS

Next up we find IaaS, or Infrastructure as a Service. Here we may find an organisation who wants some control over their software and data, but do not want to maintain any hardware.

Here a medium sized enterprise may want control over choosing their IaaS provider, but don’t want control over maintaining expensive hardware, building a climate controlled room and employing a MCSE/CCNA to look after it. Usually with most IaaS providers, you can still choose the size and amount of CPU’s, amount of disk space, RAM and other items to suit your needs and the IaaS provider will discuss maintaining your hardware and software for you.

Best of all with a IaaS platform, it’s highly scalable, so you should only ever be paying for exactly what you need.

PaaS

Finally we may find an organisation who has custom ERP and CRM requirements, maybe an SAP or Great Plains platform requiring constant development and unlimited scalability options but don’t necessarily want the hardware and network overheads that come with a system of such size.

Here, the organisation will seek Platform as a Service such as Amazon, Microsoft or Google AppEngine, where the hardware and platform are provided for, but the platform is very open source and includes a ton of tools for writing one’s own Cloud venture or internal ERP system.

Microsoft Azure is perhaps the latest PaaS on the block.

 

 

 

2012: The Year Of The Cloud

2012. This is the year of The Cloud. This is the year that business is realising it needs The Cloud. But why?

Efficiencies is the answer.

If surviving the GFC taught us one thing, it’s how to be lean. If business, and especially small business is to survive and even thrive post-GFC, it must learn to operate on a strict diet.

To be lean and mean. This means not just micro-managing your Managers and Staff to greater productivity, but looking at your business systems and how they can serve you, not the other way around.

By choosing wisely with Public cloud services, business can selectively tailor a Cloud based system to their needs (and Budget) without the expensive implementation and overheads previously seen with proprietary systems.

For example, a small business (in a remote Country location) we are currently co-consulting with, was looking to decentralise their accounting work. They wanted access to big city Advisors but without the hefty fees of travelling or paying the Advisors to travel. Another hurdle was sending the accounting data in for adjustments, only to wait months for the data to return for adjusting. Then there were issues with quality Bookkeepers in their remote location, etc..

The solution was, as they were already using Reckon’s QuickBooks, was to move them on to a Public cloud solution, QuickBooks Hosted, by Reckon Online.

The business’ software costs were reduced, and the Advisors and Bookkeepers now had real time access to the data.

Momentum is another key factor.

Through our Consulting partners, Axis IT Consulting, we are seeing a massive push to Cloud based services recently.

Once a movement gains significant momentum in business, that movement becomes the key discussion topic amongst business owners and through Referrals and Word Of Mouth. The movement gains significant momentum that a switch in the way things are done occurs.

We are now seeing that switch taking place on a daily basis.

Whether the enquiries are for setting up free services like Dropbox, Google Drive or Mail Chimp, assisting with Social Media integration or Consulting for an Online Accounting System that integrates with Field Service Software, such as Connect2Field and QuickBooks Hosted, the enquiries are there.

Business wants and needs change, and it needs efficiency. Sitting down with a Cloud Consultant and discussing how your business can gain from The Cloud is the smartest thing you can do this year.

Use the feedback form below, we’d love to have a chat about your Cloud!

 

 

Cloud Backup Or Sync?

Whether your data is stored in The Cloud, on your Desktop or on your Server, you should be backing it up at least daily.

There are a myriad of backup options available on the Desktop, from Windows NT Backup to Symantec and other more advanced options.

Some are mirror image backups, some are file by file. As well as backing up we should also be testing our Restore processes to make sure our backup files are not corrupt and that we know how to restore if and when that disaster does strike!

These days, thanks to The Cloud, backing up has become more simplified and in some cases, more secure and accessible than ever.

By signing up to a Cloud based backup agency such as Livebackup.com.au or Cloudbackup.net.au, or some Dekstop providers such as McAfee, Western Digital or Symantec, you can be backing up to your very own virtual server in a matter of minutes. Should disaster strike, restoration is simply then a matter of obtaining a new PC, getting back on the Internet and signing in to your chosen service.

However, what if you need a more instant approach? What if it were free?

Lucky for consumers the Desktop to Cloud Sync market is being hotly contested at the moment mainly between Dropbox, Box and Google Drive. Depending on the service and the offer you take up on you could find yourself with up to 50GB of free storage! Now the main advantage of these services is that you can install a synching agent onto your Desktop meaning that every time that file changes, as you are working on it, the synched copy is being sent up to The Cloud!

Restoration is also extremely simple as you can login to these systems from any Desktop and even almost any mobile phone or tablet!

If you are looking for a combination of both a robust backup solution and local sync service, then something like Sugarsync might serve you best.

Which ever service you choose, please make sure you are backing up all of your important business files, including your Accounting and CRM databases, and also ensure to test your Restore methods and regularly backup your backup files for a second layer of security!

Cloudbackuping.com discuss how to choose an online backup solution here in this video.

What To Look For In A Cloud Host

As in any IT deployment or roll out in your organisation, you should have a plan, and perform your due diligence.

Part of this plan should be to interview a minimum of three Cloud Hosts or Providers, but what should you be looking for?

Here are some tips.

1. Data Location

This is at the top of the list for a reason. The location of where your data is going to be stored is the most crucial element to this whole exercise.

Do you need access to your data if systems go offline? If the answer to that is yes, then look for a Host close by, at least within driving distance, so in the event of a major circumstance you know you can go and physically retrieve your data at any time.

If the answer to the above question is no, then you should at least be aware of where your data is, and make sure it is on home soil. Data stored in Australia is subject to stringent Privacy and Data Protection laws.

Sure it will cost more to host your data in Australia, but we have amongst the highest certified data hosts in the World.

2. Security

Secondly, enquire regarding data security. Not just who has access to your data, but how secure is the Data Centre where your virtual servers are stored.

What are the disaster recovery plans for the Data Centre (DC), what fire and hazard prevention controls are in place? Physically what level of staff and who has access to the Server Floor and Data Halls?

You could also ask the Host for a copy of their Security standards and access lists.

3. Recovery and Disaster Prevention

Further questions to ask revolve around the Recovery of data and what Disaster Prevention and even ask for a copy of their Disaster Recovery Plan. If they are serious about their role as a Cloud Host or Virtual Server Provider then they should have this information readily available for you.

Quiz your potential host on what their Fire Prevention plan is, and how quickly they could get your data back online in the case of a total meltdown.

4. Uptime Certification

As in the earlier days of the internet, Uptime SLA’s were a major selling point for the more professional ISP’s, allowing them to charge a higher fee for a higher Uptime SLA.

Your Cloud Host is no different today.

Even better, ask them what their Uptime Institute Certification level is.

5. Price

Why put price at the bottom of the list you ask?

Well for good reason. If you are serious about a business Cloud deployment, sure price is a consideration, but really, I think this point speaks for itself.

Look for a Host that fits your Budget certainly, but also one that ticks all the above boxes first.


Do Great Things In The Cloud With Asana

These days, we appreciate the simpler things in life.

Email and Social Media can sometimes feel like they are overtaking our lives, and our work day.

Wouldn’t it be great if there was a way to cut out the clutter and the noise, to allow us to run our lives and our businesses with ease and clarity? To be simply organised?

Accessible from anywhere, by anyone and  best of all for free?

Say hello to the Cloud’s best kept secret, Asana.

Started by ex Google and Facebook founders, Asana has some serious heads at work, and some serious backing. Names such as Dustin Moskovitz (Co-Founder of Facebook) and Justin Rosenstein to name a few.

Sign in is as simple as the rest of the product. Simply navigate to the homepage, complete the very simple sign up process and you will have your very own blank canvas.

Start by adding a few Tasks, then slowly build yourself up to adding in Projects, assigning Tasks to the Projects, then assigning team members to the Tasks.

When assigned a task, the user will receive a simple email. You can also assign a task to anyone with an email address even if they don’t have Asana yet, they will receive an email inviting them to login and take control of the task.

Great for Service Companies who want a free and easy ticketing system. Or Collaborative Project teams looking to centralise their Project Management database.

Asana has been designed with speed and simplicity in mind with Dustin mentioning that if it was too difficult or slow, people simply wouldn’t use it.

The service is free for up to 30 users, when above that, there are subscriptions services available.

So what are you waiting for, get organised today!

Samsung Look To The Cloud With Galaxy SIII and Dropbox

Samsung have taken the lead in the Mobile Cloud Storage market, by teaming with Dropbox to offer Galaxy SIII owners 50GB of storage to use between their new phones and computers!

This is the first time we have seen mobile manufacturers looking to the Cloud to increase their products’ storage capabilities.

The deal is also significant as it will give Dropbox a competitive edge over it’s main competitors, Box and Google Drive.

More Of The Cloud For Free: Google Drive

 

One of the great drivers for cloud use, is economy. There is no better product economically than when it’s free. And we just love free Cloud!

And we love Google.

So what do you get when you combine a free 5GB Cloud based storage service with PC Sync and Google? Google Drive of course!

Google have had several attempts in the past at making an impact on the Cloud Storage market and have attempted various aspects in this space before, however now they may have just got it right.

The installation and setup are very easy, and anyone who has used Dropbox will be able to set it up quickly and easily.

Like all other Google applications, Google Drive is linked to your Gmail or Google account and login, meaning you can easily take all your information , be it documents, music, work files or other information with you where ever you go, just by signing into Google on any PC.

Optionally, you can install the free PC Sync component and start sharing local drives with users, very akin to Dropbox. You then have complete access to your Google Drive from your PC, or really any PC you wish to physically synchronise your information to.

The files are also very easily accessed and integrated into, especially, your Android mobile phone, as are all Google Suite apps. Just download the app from the Play Store, install, and instantly you can access all of your files anywhere. Also you will find all of your Google Groups saved files in your Google Drive, and sharing files is as easy as a right click, then email from your Gmail contacts! There is no mistaking this is a Google product, it is very well integrated for a startup product.

The Google Drive service starts with an impressive 5GB for free, and you can bet your bottom dollar that will be incrementally increased over time as we have seen with Gmail over the years.