Private or Public Cloud Computing Architecture- Which is Better for Office 365?

cloud-2530972_960_720.jpgMicrosoft Office 365 is available in the cloud, whether it’s a public, private, or hybrid infrastructure that you’re using to get there. While you probably knew that Office 365 was available as a low cost subscription model online, you may not realize that you have a number of choices related to how your cloud foundation will be built.

This article looks more closely at Office 365 and the public and private cloud options available to your business today.

Public Cloud

The keyword is “public,” which means that your data is stored on a shared server along with every other business out there. That isn’t inherently a bad thing, but there are pros and cons to both the public and private clouds.

The public cloud is perfect for small businesses that want the always-on convenience of the Internet, along with the scalability for growth that comes with these offerings. Other benefits include the speed in which you can deploy Office 365, and the fact that you don’t have the costly overhead associated with purchasing hardware.

Some pundits suggest one drawback to the public cloud is security. In fact, the public cloud is often safer than any on-premise network because security updates and backups are constant. The huge data farms with miles of servers that host your Office 365 applications certainly have more redundant resources and expertise available than your business can likely afford to develop.

If there was a drawback to the public cloud, it would have to be the lack of transparency. Your knowledge of what happens behind the cloud will be minimal; it’s unlikely you will know exactly where your data is stored or anything else about what’s behind the “front door” of your cloud access.

However, most businesses are content with accessing Office 365 via the public cloud, allowing the experts to control the actual infrastructure while they handle their own virtual machines and the work of running a business.

Private Cloud

The private cloud is a technology architecture devoted exclusively to your business. You can store your data on-premise in a server, or with a managed service provider like CWPS.

A disadvantage of the private cloud is that it is much more expensive to install and monitor. You won’t have the benefit of the cloud provider’s top-notch security team, so you’ll need to engage one.

The benefits of these models are especially important if you have sensitive data that falls under government or other regulatory rules. Too, the level of customization with a private cloud is much higher, along with the ability to control the equipment and access.

Choosing Between a Private or Public Cloud 

The issue is not whether Office 365 is better in a private or public cloud model. This best-in-class software can be easily utilized in either architecture. Instead, the decision is which architecture would provide more benefit to your organization? Either way, you will still enjoy improved collaboration and all of the tools that Office 365 offers.

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4 Tips to Cut Cloud Infrastructure Costs

pexels-photo-325223.jpegIn terms of budgeting, a cloud-based infrastructure is an entirely different animal than traditional on-premise architecture. In the past, businesses were mostly worried about the purchasing and maintenance of hardware and the procurement of costly software licenses. In a cloud-based infrastructure, businesses are generally focused on the resources that they are deploying and the service levels that they are purchasing. Because this can be unfamiliar, it can also potentially lead to heads of IT paying more for their cloud-based infrastructure than they truly need to. Here are a few tips to cut cloud infrastructure costs without losing functionality. 

1. Transition Everything to the Cloud

Businesses will usually save the most money if they transition their entire infrastructure to the cloud and integrate their applications and services into a single ecosystem. Attempting to maintain on-premise equipment in addition to cloud-based equipment is not only expensive but can also damage productivity, especially if there are issues in integration between the on-premise and cloud-based systems.

2. Get the Right Service Level for Your Business

A business negotiates a service level based on the amount of resources that their organization requires and the help and support that they need. When signing up with a cloud based service, it is easy to purchase more services than your business needs unknowingly. Also, depending on the company's size and their technology utilization, they may be able to negotiate better packages with their cloud service providers. Businesses should assess not only their current needs but also the needs that they will have in the future. 

3. Invest in a Third-Party Audit

Third-party IT audits will go over the organization's spending and determine whether there may be inefficiencies or unnecessary costs. These audits can be completed by neutral third-party specialists (such as managed service providers) and are often able to catch things that those on your team may not have noticed. 

4. Consider Engaging With a Managed Service Provider

One of the major improvements of a cloud infrastructure is its ability to make it easier to outsource IT.  Optimizing a cloud infrastructure does require a thorough knowledge of the technology involved -- and constant monitoring and maintenance. A managed service provider can help you build a plan to reduce your organization's expenses both now and moving forward. MSPs save an organization in many ways: they eliminate the need to keep on call staff, and they can fine-tune and customize infrastructure services.

There are many ways to optimize your cloud infrastructure, but one of the best ways to get started is to start talking to an MSP. An MSP will be able to assess the needs of your organization and your current infrastructure and will be able to ensure that your organization can meet its own needs without having to spend more than it should.

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How an MSP Can Help You Implement the Latest IT Cloud Strategies

MSP Cloud Trends.jpgThe cloud industry has matured. The sheer number of new cloud-based solutions that have popped up over the past few years has left many scrambling to figure out how they can best utilize these solutions. Creating an IT cloud strategy can be difficult, however, when the landscape keeps changing. To fully leverage what the cloud has to offer, organizations need to stay on top of the latest cloud trends and understand how these new technologies and work with their current infrastructure. A managed service provider can help. Here’s how.

Hybrid Cloud Solutions Increase in Popularity

Hybrid cloud use is up to 77%. Most organizations are now using a hybrid cloud solution, which means that they are using both private clouds and public clouds. But altogether public clouds solutions are increasing and private cloud solutions are decreasing. Organizations are going to have to learn about how to appropriately transition towards secured public cloud services, which is something a managed service provider can aid with. 

Companies Embrace Multiple Cloud Applications

In addition to using both private and public clouds, companies are using more applications than ever before, with the average organization using up to 13 applications. As on-premise applications are replaced by cloud applications, it becomes necessary for companies to integrate all of these different solutions. A managed solutions provider can program integrated solutions so that an organization has a cleaner and easier workflow. Redundancies can be removed, and services can be automated as needed. 

Moving Enterprise Applications to the Public Cloud

Enterprise applications have traditionally been located either on on-premise solutions or in the private cloud, largely due to concerns about security. However, this has changed considerably as more organizations come to the realization that the cloud can actually be the more secure solution. As a result, services such as AWS and Azure have grown 17% year over year. Moving an enterprise application to the cloud lets an organization cut its overhead while enjoying superior technology. An MSP can help migrating an organization to the cloud in a that limits the potential for data breaches and related issues

Optimizing IT Cloud Strategies and Reducing Expenses

The cloud is expected to impact approximately one trillion in spending. As companies have become used to their cloud services, it has become imperative to start optimizing and refining services and reducing expenses. Now that companies are familiar with the benefits of a cloud solution, they are looking for ways to further improve on the costs related to them. Managed service providers are able to assess the status of an organization's cloud infrastructure and make suggestions for improved efficiency. Managed service providers are also able to offer an all in one service for a low subscription cost. 

Companies have now accepted that cloud technology is a technical requirement. Trends in the cloud industry are now tilted towards refining and improving upon operations, especially those that include multiple application infrastructures and the public cloud.

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The Benefits of Cloud-Based Disaster Recovery Solutions

33819682_sMoving to the cloud has transformed from a question of “if” to “when” for virtually all organizations, regardless of size or industry, as it provides a cost-effective data access solution for businesses, in addition to a slew of other benefits. And one of the most important benefits of the cloud is disaster recovery.

The Importance of Disaster Recovery Planning

Putting off developing and implementing a disaster recovery solution can be very tempting, as it can require upfront investment in security and IT personnel resources. However, a head-in-the-sand approach in this case will place an organization at significant risk, as failure to have a disaster recovery plan can lead to catastrophic data loss, as well as a potentially permanent disruption of business operations. That’s where the cloud comes in.

How Cloud Backup Solutions Help Businesses

Most agree that one of the key components of a successful, comprehensive disaster recovery plan is a cloud-based data backup solution. While on-site redundancies are suitable for some situations, off-site storage in the cloud is the only strategy that can come to the rescue in those smaller situations, in addition to larger-scale incidents that may compromise or destroy on-site backups.

Moreover, cloud-based disaster recovery options can be very helpful to those who may be a bit light on IT resources - personnel, cost and otherwise - within their own organization. For example, having a cloud-based backup solution decreases the necessity to invest in physical data center storage.

Addressing Cloud Challenges

However, there are certain challenges every organization needs to address before implementing a cloud-based disaster recovery solution, specifically around data security and network readiness. How will data be transferred between cloud and end users, and is that transfer path secure? Is your network equipped to handle the bandwidth required to support the cloud? How long would a backup restoration from the cloud to your site actually take?

The key to the successful implementation of any cloud solution for disaster recovery is to be able to answer questions such as those in advance and to build into any subsequent considerations necessary into your disaster recovery and backup plans.

Final Thought

The benefits of leveraging the cloud as a disaster recovery resource are numerous, but your organization needs to prepare before putting anything into practice. And if you have concerns that such a solution is out of reach for your organization - either due to size or resource constraints - consider consulting with a managed services provider, as they can often provide invaluable expertise in this area, as well as full or augmented cloud options.

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You’ve Implemented IT in the Cloud... Now What?

Managed IT ServiceCloud computing services enable you to streamline and centralize system and network management tasks. If you lack the resources to do this yourself, CWPS provides a comprehensive suite of IT support services that will help you get the most out of your new cloud environment.

Two Different Types of Cloud IT Support

Our flexible offerings provide complete Turnkey Managed IT Service when you have no IT staff and Co-managed IT Service if your internal IT staff needs extra help on special occasions.

CWPS provides you with a powerful IT support team that is only a phone call away whenever you need assistance. CWPS tracks your IT assets, manages patches and updates, provides online reports, and alerts our experts when remote or on-site support is needed.

Get the peace of mind that comes from getting reliable IT support for your cloud environment when you need it! Contact CWPS today at: (877) 297-7472 or connect@cwps.com.

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When Should A Business Migrate to the Cloud?

7810627_s-1Cloud-based solutions have evolved from a neat technological opportunity for businesses who want to be on the cutting edge to an essential, cost-effective data access and recovery solution for all organizations, both large and small.

If you still haven't made the jump, you might be wondering when you should migrate to the cloud. Given the numerous benefits of cloud backup storage, it might be easy for your on-site IT professional or managed services provider to answer that question with, “As soon as possible! Yesterday is preferable!”

But the real answer is this: There are a lot of questions about the cloud you need to answer first, so you should only make your leap to the cloud once you’ve researched your organizational needs and considered your options. Only then can you develop a sound cloud migration strategy that is in-line with your business goals.

So what should you consider?

  1. Application Performance
    How do each of your applications function in both virtual and on-site server environments? This characterization of your needs is essential, as identifying load times across different accessibility platforms will dictate cloud infrastructure provisioning. Failure to do so can often cause performance of applications to degrade.

  2. Available Cloud Solutions
    Even though the concept of “the cloud” seems like a singular, easily-generalized term, there are a multitude of scalable cloud options available to businesses. For example, Amazon Web Services (AWS) offers a range of cloud solutions at different price points that are designed to be adaptive to your capacity, storage and access needs.

  3. Where You’re Going
    One of the biggest mistakes you can make as an organization is to develop and implement a strategy that only works in the short-term. When weighing your cloud backup options, take into account the objectives and goals of your organization, so that you ultimately land on a cloud solution or provider that can grow and evolve along with your business.

  4. IT Support Infrastructure
    Depending on the size of your business, you may have little IT support on-site, or you might not even have any at all. Either scenario can make the implementation of a cloud solution seem like a daunting task. Consider partnering with a managed services provider. A managed services provider can often provide the expertise and manpower you will often need to ensure the successful implementation of your new strategy, as well as proactive planning steps for down the road.

Again, answering the question, "When should a business migrate to the cloud?" for yourself is a personal journey the management of every business needs to undertake. But with proper research, planning and implementation, it can be a move which will not only provide cost savings, but will also save your business if something were to ever go wrong.

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Top 5 Benefits of Online Backup

benefit_of_online_backupOnline backup service, also known as cloud backup or backup-as-a service is a method of offsite data storage in which files, folders, or the entire contents of a hard drive are regularly backed up on a remote server or computer with a network connection. The purpose behind online backup is simple and straightforward: To protect the information – be it business data or personal – from the risk of loss associated with fire, theft, hacking, or any other kind of technological disasters.

The following are the top five benefits of online backup:

Convenience

The convenience offered by online backup solutions is indisputable. Though data can be stored on other transportable devices such as external hard drives or flash drives, even they require manual, physical handling. Online backup is accessible from anywhere, so long as there is internet connectivity; information is saved automatically as it streams in. You do not have to proactively save, label and track information. Rather, the convenience of online backup allows for you to concentrate solely on your work without worrying about data loss.

Safety

As your data is stored in the Cloud, you are not subject to the typical threats of fire, flooding or theft. In fact, data that is stored in the Cloud is generally stored on secure, encrypted servers and systems, which minimizes the risks your data can incur. However, it must be noted that while some cloud storages do tout encryption services, you can never be too secure – and depending on the type of data that you’re looking to store, you may want to invest in additional cloud security services.

Ease of Recovery

Due to multiple levels of redundancy, if data is lost or deleted, most likely through individual user error or deletion, backups are available and easily located. Multiple levels of redundancy means that your online backup service stores multiple copies of your data in locations independent of each other. The more levels you have stored, the better as each ensures that your data is safeguarded against loss as much as possible, allowing you to access a backed up version of your data should it ever get lost.

Ease of Access

As the Cloud has no singular physical location, remote access is also a simple and feasible benefit to online backup. So long as you can connect to the remote server, you have access to all the data that you have stored in the Cloud, without having to do anything differently. From wherever your contact point is, gaining access to your information backed up online from your remote device is done the same way, ensuring consistency and an easy approach across platforms.

Affordability

Cloud-based back up can be less expensive than the cost of tape drives, servers, or other hardware and software elements necessary to perform the back up; the media on which the backups are stored; the transportation of media to a remote location for safekeeping; and the IT labor required to manage and troubleshoot backup systems.

Know Your Options, Know Your Benefits

In conclusion, online backup is beneficial overall. However, different services can have more benefits in some areas than others. Before looking to make this investment, you must first determine what you need. Do you need to store large amounts of data? Do you need to look into cloud security? Once you determine what you require from your online backup service, you can go forth to find a service that will provide you with that. The benefits of online backup are many; just be sure that your online backup service fits your needs.

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How do I backup my servers in AWS?

backup_servers_in_aws_cloudData loss can be an insurmountable challenge for firms and unfortunately it is a common problem. Disasters come in many forms, such as power interruption, corrupted database, hardware failures, software glitches, or network outages. In a cost-cutting environment with intense global competition, you need a solid plan that is cost-efficient, yet ensures that backups are performed regularly and recovery from any disaster quickly.

Many companies have outsourced the data backup and recovery component of the IT function to the cloud, including Amazon Web Services (AWS) storage solutions. AWS provides secure, scalable and robust storage in a more efficient and scalable data backup and recovery environment – eliminating the need for in-house infrastructure dedicated to this purpose.

Conventional Data Backup and Recovery

Even for IT departments, the data backup and recovery environment can be complex. Typically, most companies rely on a very heavy-handed agent strategy for their backup and recovery. They backup the content on their servers over the storage area network (SAN) or over the local area network (LAN).

With the constantly evolving dynamics of data growth, data center consolidation and virtualization, traditional legacy backup and recovery approaches have become overwhelmed.

Backing Up Your Servers in the Cloud

AWS simplifies the data backup and recovery by automating the entire process. The backup and recovery process has now been reduced to a point-and-click web-based interface as software performs labor intensive and complex tasks.

Simply sign up for an AWS account and complete the setup process, including obtaining receiving root account credentials, which allow full access to all resources in the account and AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM).

IAM allows you to control access to AWS services as well as the resources for users to link to their accounts. You can create unique user credentials to define who has access to which resources for daily interaction with AWS.

Now you can begin the process of backing up your standard server, such as an application server or web server:

  • Build Your Amazon Machine Image (AMI): AMI serves as a template that contains the operating system and relevant web server applications such as Apache or IIS, and other software. Choose an AMI provider by AWS, the AWS marketplace, the AWS community, or create your own
  • Launch Instance: Click “Launch Instance” to create a new instance of your web server. You can create as many or few virtual servers you need from the AMI
  • Region and Availability Zones: Place and replicate resources – instances and data – across multiple “regions,” and within each region, specific isolated locations or “availability zones”
  • Networking and Security: Create the key pair – public to encrypt data and private key to decrypt data – to log into an instance
  • Create a security group (virtual firewall) and rules to control network access to one or more instances: Amazon EC2 provides the instances with IP addresses and DNS hostnames

Benefits of Data Backup and Recovery in the Cloud

The AWS platform provides IT departments with an easier, faster and more cost-effective approach to data backup and recovery. The advantages for companies include:

  • Eliminate hardware-based infrastructure in favor of virtual abstract resources instantiated by code
  • Scalable infrastructure, and the ability to pay for capacity incrementally, driven by demand and as resources are needed with no upfront outlay
  • Gain the ability to deploy resources, in minutes, and perform configurations in real-time
  • On-demand availability of server images, the ability to maintain them, and activate them without delay.

For many small companies, data is at the core of their operations. AWS provides a reliable, scalable and cost-effective solution, which improves your company’s abilities to optimize resources for data backup and recovery.

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CWPS Cloud Assist - Amazon Web Services

IT_ComanagementAre you considering outsourcing part of or your entire IT environment? Do you need to add capacity for growing workloads but don't know by how much?

It's becoming increasingly clear that cloud computing by Amazon Web Services (AWS) can provide some answers and bring significant benefits to small and medium businesses (SMB) such as yours. With cloud computing you don't need to make large upfront investments in hardware. Instead you can provision exactly the right type and size of computing resources you need to operate your IT department. You can access as many resources as you need, almost instantly, and only pay for what you use.

 

The Benefits of Utilizing AWS Include:

  • Pay for Infrastructure as you need it, not up front.
  • Lower Total Cost of IT
  • You don't need to guess capacity
  • Increase innovation: experiment fast with low cost and low risk
  • Get rid of undifferentiated heavy lifting
  • Go global in minutes

Amazon Web Services Infrastructure Services

 

Amazon Web Services offers a complete set of infrastructure and application services that enable you to run virtually everything in the cloud.  It is made up of four components:

 Compute: Processor, memory and operating system

  • Storage: Block or object based (EBS or S3), flexible and cost effective
  • Network: Your own Virtual Private Cloud (VPC)
  • Database: Managed database services (RDS)

CWPS Cloud Assist - Managed AWS

 

With the implementation of AWS, you will need assistance in deployment and maintenance. The CWPS Cloud Assist package consists of foundation managed services that include:

 

  • Backup and Disaster Recovery
  • Identity Access Management
  • Network Element Management       
  • Billing and Optimization

There are also optional services that include incremental offerings for customers with specific needs not addressed by foundation managed services.  One of them includes Advanced Security Services provided by Alert Logic. Alert Logic SOC and CWPS NOC work together 24X7X365 to provide deep security insights, continuous protection, and lower total costs.

 

AWS and CWPS Cloud Assist reduces total IT costs by at least 30% compared to an on premise deployment. Not only do you save money but you can also spend more time focusing on your business and not the daily IT hassles.

 

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CWPS Cloud Assist - Your Road to the Cloud

Cloud_AssistMoving your IT applications to the cloud may eliminate unpredictable capital expenditures and many "pain points" of owning your own infrastructure, but what happens once you have your workloads and applications in the cloud? When everything is offsite, your connection is critical and Quality of Service (QoS) is not available over the Internet. This is essential for voice, video and other real-time communications.

With CWPS Cloud Assist, you are able to access cloud services through a private line connected from your premises to our datacenter at Equinix in Ashburn, VA. You can also leverage an inexpensive Internet connection for a second, redundant path to the cloud. From our datacenter CWPS can provide a direct connection to many cloud services to include AWS, Microsoft, and 8x8 Hosted Voice services. With a direct connection, you can guarantee QoS, reduce your network costs, increase bandwidth throughput, and provide a more consistent network experience for your organization.

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Planning and executing the transition to the Cloud is streamlined
 with CWPS’ expertise in design, implementation, management, security, and customer service.  Let's talk about Cloud solutions for your business. Contact CWPS today to arrange a planning discussion: (703) 263-9539 x2 or connect@cwps.com.

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