As Google prepares to replace Google Talk with Google+ Hangouts, customers expect to benefit from the improved audio/video quality and features that Hangouts offer over Talk.
There are very good reasons why Google+ Hangouts are OFF by default in Google Apps for Business (Gov and Edu, too). Before you turn on Google+ Hangouts, understand the current ramifications.
Google advises enterprise environments to continue using Google Talk for instant messaging, voice, and video conferencing.
Cumulus Global shares this recommendation, as the implications of adding Google+ Hangouts is not fully understood. Organizations interested in a test domain may contact us for assistance.
Posted in General | Tagged Google, Google Apps, Google Apps for Business, Google Apps Vault, Google+ Hangouts, Hangouts, Vault | Leave a comment
May 23, 2013
This post is the fifth in a series addressing concerns organizations may have that prevent them from moving the cloud-based solutions.
When looking at cloud solutions, most organizations spend a great deal of time, appropriately so, investigating how they will move data and processes into the cloud. At the same time, organizations should understand how they will get data out of the cloud should they decide to switch solutions in the future.
While this seems like a new issue or concern, the reality remains that organizations switch systems and data migration and integration issues exist — cloud or not. The same analysis and decision making process that organizations follow for in-house systems should be followed for cloud solutions.
Platform as a Service (PaaS) solutions provide environments that, in general, enable data and application movement. Moving to a Windows Server image in the cloud is not much different from moving to an in-house Windows server. Key considerations focus on the amount of data and the time/efficiency of moving the data on or off the cloud server.
Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions can prove more challenging. Migrating to or from a cloud-based application provides the same challenges as migrating data to a new in-house application. Record matching, data scrubbing, and data translation are all issues to be considered. In addition to the strength of the import utilities, understand the strength and cost of the export utilities. Some SaaS applications only provide comprehensive export capabilities at their most expensive licensing options.
Fear of “Lock-In” should not prevent organizations from moving into cloud solutions. Rather, a small amount of due diligence will ensure that the “how” and “how much” of a future migration is understood.
Posted in General | Tagged Applications, Cloud Computing, Data, Lock-In, migration, Paas, SaaS | Leave a comment
May 20, 2013
This post is the fourth in a series addressing concerns organizations may have that prevent them from moving the cloud-based solutions.
Few topics related to cloud computing create more passion than privacy. Knowing how well your organization’s information will be safe-guarded is key to trusting a service provider and the decision to go to the cloud in the first place.
Privacy, while closely related to security, differs in that security addresses access and protection of information, privacy addresses who can access data and how it may be used.
When considering privacy, organizations should start with three documents from the service provider:
When looking to choose a cloud solutions provider, look at all three documents. Verify that they are comprehensive and clear. Understand how they address any particular regulatory requirements for your organization. Validate that they are consistent — that no conflicts or gaps exist that could lead to confusion or misunderstandings down the road.
Make sure the review of privacy policies and looks at the specific customer agreements and policies. Many cloud providers offer “free” or “consumer” services with different terms and conditions than their paid (or free) solutions for business, government, education, and non-profits. Many organizations spin their wheels and raise unwarranted concerns by not focusing on the specific, applicable agreements, and policies.
Finally, review the privacy performance of the service provider. If they have had any sort of breach, or a privacy dispute, understand the nature, scope, and response. Understand if the breach was provider-related or due to the actions or inaction of the customer. Assess the appropriateness of the provider’s response given the nature of the issue.
Again, due diligence is key. A small amount of research, a few questions, and an accurate understanding of how a service provider plans and manages privacy will help organizations determine if the provider meets the organization’s privacy needs and priorities.
May 16, 2013
This post is the third in a series addressing concerns organizations may have that prevent them from moving the cloud-based solutions.
One of the challenges in planning a move to the cloud remains the relative youth of the current industry. While the concept of cloud computing is not new (tip your hat to Control Data in the 1980′s and their mainframe time-sharing service), most cloud computing services are relatively new. Even services from long-standing, reliable vendors — like IBM and Dell — are relatively new ventures for these firms and have yet to be proven in a long-term market.
Organizations looking at any cloud service, be it SaaS, PaaS, or IaaS, must consider the reliability of the provider. In doing so, it is the customer that must also understand the benchmarks being used by vendors when reporting their statistics. Considerations include:
With a modicum of due diligence, organizations can assess the reliability of cloud solution providers before making a commitment. Reputable vendors will openly share their data and will not hesitate to discuss failures and how similar events will be prevented going forward. And while, this type of discussion feels new, it is the same process CIOs and IT decision makers have been using for decades as they evaluate new technologies and vendors. The players are new, but the process remains the same.Posted in General | Tagged Availability, Cloud Computing, due-diligence, Performance, Reliability, Stability | Leave a comment
May 14, 2013
This post is the second in a series addressing concerns organizations may have that prevent them from moving the cloud-based solutions.
Will moving to the cloud save money?
The answer is a definite, absolute … maybe!
Whether or not a move to the cloud saves money depends on the in-house services being replaced and the cloud-based services taking their place, as well as the impact the change will have on related IT services and your business.
In our experience, most companies see savings over 3-year and 5-year periods of 30% or more. Some companies see total cost of ownership (TCO) savings of up to 70%
When looking at 5-year TCO, organizations must make honest projections on IT spending to maintain the status quo and/or upgrading systems. Beyond projected hardware and software replacements and upgrades, the analysis should include the cost of services and supporting systems (backup, anti-virus, security, etc.). The analysis should also assess soft costs for administration, support, and estimated down time.
The challenge remains making the comparison equivalent. For example, moving from a single in-house Exchange server to Google Apps for Business is a move from a system with several single points of failure to a highly redundant and highly available service. If improving availability is an objective of the move to the cloud, the comparison should include the cost of upgrading the Exchange environment for redundancy.
A final consideration should include any business enablement that comes from the move into the cloud. Will the cloud service enable the business to operate more efficiently and/or in new, more productive ways? Improved collaboration, real-time communications, and access to information are all examples of how Google Apps for Business enables businesses over traditional email services.
In straight dollars and cents, not every company will see savings when moving to cloud-based solutions. With better availability and expanded capabilities, cloud computing solutions can deliver better value, even when the price tag is higher.Posted in General | Tagged Business value, Cloud, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Communications, cost savings, Google Apps for Business, MS Exchange., Value | Leave a comment
May 10, 2013
This post is the first in a series addressing concerns organizations may have that prevent them from moving the cloud-based solutions.
At some point in the evaluation and decision process, the issue of security comes to the forefront as organizations look at cloud computing. Vendors and resellers, like Cumulus Global, often provide two answers — both of which are correct:
As a first step, organizations moving to the cloud should review the security capabilities of their solution provider. Beyond the technology, look for certifications such as SSAE-16 Type I and II, ISO 27001, and FISMA. Make sure that the provider’s security practices are reflected in their terms of service, contracts, and service level agreements. Finally, verify if and how you can add security capabilities to meet business or industry requirements.
With a reasonable level of due diligence and planning, cloud solutions can overcome any security concerns.
Posted in General | Tagged Cloud Computing, cloud security, objections, security | Leave a comment
April 12, 2013
Are we really surprised? In the flurry of Microsoft’s marketing blitz for Office 2013, Microsoft promised that the “new office” would be available across every platform. That Mac, iOS, and Android users would not be left behind.
Fast forward a few months and Microsoft delaying MS Office for the iOS and Android platforms by a year. Already facing erosion from Google Apps as companies are moving into the cloud, Microsoft is neglecting one of the fastest growing user markets in the “post-pc” era.
Meanwhile, Google is offering Quickoffice to Google Apps customers at no charge and Quickoffice PRO is available to iOS and Android users for $19.99. MS Office users can now more easily integrate their legacy applications with mobility with Google products than those from Microsoft.
As noted in ZDnet, iOS and Android users — and Google — have the most to gain.Posted in General | Tagged Android, Google, IOS, microsoft, MS Office, Quickoffice | Leave a comment
April 3, 2013
With this week’s release of Quickoffice for iPhone and Android platforms, Google Apps for Business mobile users can now access and edit MS Office files on any iOS or current Android device. Word, Excel, and Powerpoint files are no longer captive to heavy and more expensive Windows laptops, netbooks, and tablets.
The Quickoffice app also expands access to all files in Google Drive. In addition to users’ My Drive content, Quickoffice provides folder views for Shared with Me, Starred, Recent, and any subfolders.Posted in General | Tagged Android, Google Apps, Google Drive, IOS, MS Office, Quickoffice | Leave a comment
March 25, 2013
This blog post is the third in a series on Data Protection issues and practical solutions.
By some estimates, as many as 60% of search results are tainted with malware, attracting users to infected sites and putting your systems and data at risk. While not every infection poses a threat, the industry consensus remains that web-resident malware is on the rise.
The problem is large enough that Google Chrome users now receive warning screens, letting users know when legitimate sites have been compromised. Google has also launched a service to help hacked web sites recover, and regain users’ trust.
While web site owners struggle to keep web sites free of malware, visitors remain vulnerable.
Fortunately, businesses can protect themselves.
Web monitoring and filtering services offer protection from malicious code embedded in web sites and allow businesses to track web activity across their networks. Advanced web filtering services also help business manage the use of web-based applications and can monitor other web activity.
Incorporating web monitoring and filtering into your computing environment adds an additional layer of data protection. In addition to protection from malware, web monitoring and filtering gives businesses additional control over web usage and provides a mechanism for enforcing policies and procedures. And, for most businesses, the value of this protection should outweigh the additional cost.
Posted in General | Tagged Data Loss Prevention, Data Protection, Malware, web filtering | Leave a comment
March 18, 2013
Last week, Microsoft’s new Outlook.com service suffered its second major outage since its launch earlier this year. The most recent outage, a 16 hour fiasco impacting Outlook.com, Hotmail, and SkyDrive users, was due to an botched firmware update resulting in overheating servers in one of its data centers. As reported in PC World, the switch-over to alternate servers also failed.
This outage follows a 9 1/2 hour Outlook.com outage in February that Microsoft acknowledge on Twitter but neglected to not on its status dashboard. February also saw a major Azure outage, caused when Microsoft failed to renew and install new SSL security certificates (a mistake they also made one year earlier). In November, the Office 365 service was down for most of a day when Microsoft was unable to allocate adequate resources.
These strings of outages, all due to operational errors and architectural limitations, raise serious questions about Microsoft’s ability to manage a multi-tenant data center.
They also raise questions about the Microsoft’s integrity with respect to marketing and customer expectations. While Microsoft promotes Office 365 and it’s other services as redundant, these outages demonstrate that service reliability is facility-dependent.
Posted in General | Tagged Failure, microsoft, Outage | Leave a comment
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