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IBM Cloud Opinion Piece: Alleviating IT headaches for little and midsize businesses

By Simon Porter, vice chairman of Mid Market Sales, IBM Europe

New technology can make the lives of small and midsize businesses (SMBs) more complicated. during a survey conducted by Techaisle, an SMB marketing research organization, 54 percent of SMBs claimed that their IT difficulties actually increased over the past 3 years. Another 39 percent said these IT struggles outweighed their business challenges.

As they constantly find themselves handling IT issues instead of reaping the advantages of those solutions, precious time and resources are being diverted from identifying new market opportunities to grow their business.

With the increase of massive Data, increasing amounts of data are available from sources starting from Facebook “likes” on a product to mobile device applications like Foursquare. this provides SMBs, an entirely new level of insight about their customers that they’ve never seen before. consistent with IDC’s Digital Universe Study, the digital universe doubles per annum, generating 2 zettabytes this year compared to only 1 last year.

There is a pressing got to simplify IT quite ever as data needs are rising, but SMBs don’t have the resources to spare for handling it. consistent with Techaisle, 72 percent of SMBs say that IT vendors should simplify technology. Technology providers got to offer SMBs personalized solutions that are integrated and straightforward to know.

Evidence from a Cloud study by IBM within the UK shows that SMBs are now looking beyond the value and resource efficiencies enabled by the cloud and focusing instead on how the cloud can improve business outcomes and convey strategic value. The study revealed that the benefits of the cloud are being recognized by the bulk of UK SMBs — two-thirds of the senior managers surveyed had either already implemented cloud services or intended to within the future, with 45% of UK businesses looking to try to so within subsequent two years. The increased ability for workers to figure with greater mobility and adaptability was identified because the hottest reason to maneuver to cloud services (39% of respondents), with cost efficiencies named the second hottest reason (33% of respondents).To help SMBs specialize in generating new revenue streams and increasing profits instead of IT headaches, many are turning to Managed Service Providers (MSPs) to affect these technical obstacles in order that employees can shift their focus to their primary task of growing the business. additionally, MSPs eliminate the necessity to rent in-house support staff. this enables SMBs to extend their technical capabilities while maintaining cohesiveness.

By utilizing cloud-based solutions, MSPs can help SMBs store and analyze before, without risking a drop-off in performance. By harnessing the facility of massive Data, SMBs gain valuable insight that may help them shape the direction of their business.

In a further survey of UK MSPs, quite 40% of MSP respondents identified the poor general understanding of the advantages of the Cloud and the way businesses can cash in on its characteristics as a true barrier to adoption. 20% of MSP executives also specified skills shortages in sales, solution design, and security as another barrier. Others commented on the necessity for effective marketing capability and management skills. Many MSPs also felt challenged by longer sales cycles, with clients taking longer to plan new projects and contracts.

With this in mind, IBM will soon be announcing a comprehensive program of support for MSPs to assist them to create new business opportunities and accelerate growth, including:

Incentives to extend profitability

Offerings leveraging IBM world-class software and hardware

Collaborate with IBM’s existing ecosystem to expand opportunities

Joint marketing programs to fuel growth

Skill-building in ways to reinforce expertise to align with high-value opportunities

There will be a worldwide virtual event on September 26th to announce the launch of this new PartnerWorld initiative for Managed Service Providers. you'll register here for this event.

There are two key points here: firstly that SMBs got to be able to cash in on advanced IT solutions and therefore the potential benefits of the Cloud, and secondly that vendors and third parties got to simplify the management of those solutions for SMBs and supply support for MSPs within the sort of marketing, financing, and skills. this mix will accelerate the MSPs’ ability to supply solutions which will successively accelerate the SMBs’ ability to specialize in creating new business and enhancing their profitability.

About the IBM UK Cloud Research Study:

For the independent study, conducted by YouGov together with IBM, the opinions of 530 senior managers at small and medium-sized companies within the Uk were surveyed. it had been conducted within the second quarter of 2012 to capture current and upcoming business and IT priorities for cloud computing.

About the IBM UK MSP Research Study:

Conducted in early 2012 this independent study which surveyed opinions of just over 100 MSPs within the UK, was supplemented with further in-depth interviews with a subset of the respondents.

About the Author

Simon Porter

Vice President of Mid Market Sales

IBM Europe

Simon was named vice chairman, IBM Mid Market Sales, Europe in January 2012, from March 2010 he was vice-chairman Northeast Europe. His team is liable for IBM’s portfolio of software, services, and hardware to organizations with but 1000 employees in Europe – a market opportunity of over $70bn in 2012. Simon led the transformation of this business from an immediate sales coverage model to a Business Partner-led model in 2010 to raised capture this enormous opportunity, working with over 1500 Business Partners and developing new channel relationships with ISVs and Managed Service providers to capture the cloud opportunity.

Between August 2008 and February 2010, Simon was vice-chairman Sales, General Business Northeast Europe, Systems & Technology Group. He led the team liable for serving all Small & Medium Business clients for IBMs storage and server business significantly growing market share, channel participation, and revenue.

Between January 2007 and August 2008, Simon was vice-chairman Sales, Global Engineering Solutions Northeast Europe, Systems & Technology Group. virtualization technology

 He led the team liable for providing innovative, semi-conductor, customized systems and consulting solutions to clients, leveraging IBM’s research, property portfolio, and merchandise design skills to assist clients to bring more innovative products to plug faster and at a lower cost than doing it themselves. This covered clients within the telecommunications, transport, and video surveillance segments.

Prior to this position, Simon was vice-chairman of Industry Systems, Systems & Technology Group, Northeast Europe. From 2005 to 2007 Simon was vice-chairman Lenovo Alliance, Northeast Europe, liable for the transition of IBM’s PC business to Lenovo and subsequent management of the Alliance between the 2 organizations. Between 2003 & 2005, Simon was vice-chairman, Computer Services Industry for Europe, Middle East & Africa. He led the team liable for relationships and business with Consultants, Systems Integrators, and Outsourcers. This role involved managing these firms as clients of IBM, also as developing business partner relationships for all of IBM’s products and services.

Before joining IBM in 1987, Simon earned a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) degree in Accounting & Finance from Nottingham University. He also holds a Diploma in Management from Henley Management College.

Go Social as a business. Smart companies are using social media tools to possess conversations externally with their customers and partners, and internally to form their teams work more effectively. Smart Cloud providers got to be adopting this within the way they work. If the provider hasn’t got sharing buttons for Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social networks on their website – do they really get the way the planet has changed? Do they blog? Do they demonstrate their expertise and their thought leadership? Are they building a customer community? they have to possess embraced new media marketing within the way they are doing business, so ask them. Business is Social in any case.

Go Social together with your product (actually I mean service). Some Cloud companies, like Salesforce.com, will roll in the hay by developing integral micro-blogging and messaging within the merchandise (with Chatter), and collaboration tools (like Chatterbox) or by acquisition (adding Radian6 and Rypple). Others will roll in the hay by integrating with external social tools like Yammer or Tibbr. almost like mobile, not many Cloud providers are going to be doing this yet, but you ought to ask the question and see where social is positioned in their product roadmap.

Don’t develop it all yourself. In the past, the standard software company would have developers who thought they might roll in the hay all. The perception was always that it might be cheaper to create the network or billing system or customer forum precisely the way we would like it to figure instead of buy. the top result was an entire load of bespoke software to support to run the business with limited functionality and no best practice. The smart development teams know what they're good at and stick with it. For things like support, they ought to be considering Get Satisfaction or Zendesk. For things like subscription billing, consider Zuora. Who do they use for customer forums or websites? Does the corporate focus their development resources on what they're good at? Do they use off the shelf products for everything else? If they don’t – determine why.

Have a robust story on security. albeit most companies are considering Cloud solutions, the safety questions are going to be amongst the primary you're asked. If you haven’t got a robust story you’re toast. one among the beauties of the Cloud approach is that even the littlest provider can piggyback on the simplest available infrastructure at a fraction of the value of doing it all themselves. I can purchase 1Gb of storage from IBM for $2 a month, or from Amazon for 12.5 cents a month, and a variety of costs in between. I can purchase Infrastructure as a Service or invest during a Platform for development which does it all. I can rent servers with an inclusive backup and failover service. Amazon and Apple are investing in huge data centers, but smaller providers like Memset do an excellent job too. they have to hide everything from making their site “hacker safe” to the way they handle privacy, data sovereignty, and ownership in their contracts. As a buyer, confirm that your provider gives you full visibility and transparency on the technical foundation of their service and therefore the terms of its provision.

Start with why! Maybe this could are first. The smart Cloud providers understand and may verbalize why they are doing what they are doing. I’m an enormous fan of Simon Sinek’s book, TED talks, and approach. Get the book, but at the very least watch the video. Companies like Apple or Salesforce.com get it, but there are plenty of technology companies who are too trapped within the what and therefore the how, and have lost the why. Search for Cloud providers who understand their own reason for being, then live and breathe it.

Interview with Antonio Ferreira of Lunacloud

CTC: Antonio, tell us about yourself and your experience within the cloud computing industry?

I have been in the web business since in 1994 I launched an online Service Provider. Back then, Internet access wasn't as common because it is nowadays until adoption took off in 1998/99.

At the instant, I might say that we substitute an equivalent place in terms of the adoption curve for cloud computing.

I sold my ISP to a US multinational back in 1999, but I even have stayed within the industry as director of other Internet companies, including VIA NET.WORKS (networks), Amen (web hosting), and Claranet (managed services provider), which acquired this US company in 2005. That’s once I met Charles Nasser, Founder & CEO of Claranet, and my partner in Lunacloud.

I also authored some books on web programming within the US in 1998/99.

Therefore, hosting generally has been my area of experience for several years, including virtualization since 2006/2007. The cloud concept was being shaped by then until it became what it's now.

CTC: Who are Lunacloud and what's your differentiator during a very crowded IaaS market?

Lunacloud may be a new company that I and Charles started in 2011, but has only seen the market light in June 2012. The IaaS market is indeed crowded, considerably an equivalent way the web access market was in 1998/99.

However, there's still a dominant player, which is Amazon, and lots of smaller players. We believe that some business models won't survive, but some will, during the consolidation phase which will inevitably follow.

Given our experience within the market and therefore the backing, we strongly believe we have a successful offer which will attract customers and can distinguish ourselves from competitors. it's a harder task when you’re small, but it'll become easier as we grow.

Lunacloud may be a pure-play cloud provider, we only do IaaS and zip else, not charging setup or recurring fixed fees, or posing for term contract commitments. Our customer may be a customer as long as he likes the service.

We provide tons more flexibility than other competitors, as a customer can choose any mixture of RAM, CPU, and disc space for a Cloud Server, which allows 307,200 different server configurations! And these resources are often changed on-the-fly, not requiring a server to reboot. this is often what we call hot resize!

Also, we engineered our platforms to use the foremost up-to-date infrastructure. information technology schools

 We did some benchmarking of CPU, DISK I/O, and RAM access against main competitors, and that we are way better in terms of the performance we provide for comparable resources (happy to share the benchmark results, by email to info@lunacloud.com).

In terms of price (and I don’t believe the worth wars have started yet), we position ourselves around 20% cheaper than the dominant player, we genuinely want to use our economies of scale to supply a lower cost for the services that we offer.

In addition to flexibility, power, and value… we are tons simpler in terms of messaging, account creation process, resources management. Simplicity is elegance.

CTC: What countries have Lunacloud deployed into?

We started with the united kingdom and Portugal and are now performing on opening France, Spain, and therefore the Baltic States (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania) in 2012.

CTC: What are the event plans for Lunacloud?

Germany and other European countries will follow in 2013 and out of doors in Europe only in 2014.

We have the ambition to become a worldwide player, with nodes across the planet, in locations that differ from our competitors (for a real alternative), all supported Tier3+ datacenters and within 40 ms of our customers, for optimized performance.

CTC: Where did the name Lunacloud originate from?

There are two ways to know it, the primary one being “Luna”, easy to spell in any language and which suggests “The moon”… therefore an analogy with “the cloud from the moon”.

The other may be a well-kept secret for now… guesses accepted. 🙂

CTC: What are the trends your organization is noticing within the marketplace?

The cloud definition provided by the NIST that splits the service models in IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS is being clearly followed now and therefore the market seems to be maturing, with the cloud not being such a “cloudy” concept now.

We notice that there's still a high tendency for organizations to deploy their own “private clouds” until they trust more public/private cloud service providers. We’re still 2-3 years from major cloud adoption that I think will only occur when organizations and customers finally trust their cloud providers.

CTC: How does one shall attract new customers onto your platform?

We will rely tons on word of mouth from happy customers, including the 100+ beta testers that we had for 3 months before launch. we all know it takes a short time, but it's the foremost effective way of winning loyal customers because they're going to believe the suggestion of a lover or partner.

However, we also are performing some traditional communications through online media. Given my past and therefore the incontrovertible fact that Lunacloud may be a new start-up, I even have also had the chance to talk with many journalists and analysts. As we make our differentiators more clear, I think we'll attract new customers. After all, opening an account with Lunacloud is free and therefore the cost of using the resources is less than anywhere else. there's nothing to lose to offer Lunacloud a try.

CTC: an issue we ask everyone “what is your definition of cloud computing?

My definition is that the one developed by the NIST.

There are 3 service models – IaaS, PaaS, SaaS – and cloud services must suit 5 characteristics: on-demand self-service, broad network access, resource pooling, rapid elasticity, measured service.

On average 60% to 70% of the so-called cloud providers do not follow this definition. This creates confusion. I state that we are a pure-play cloud provider. We only do cloud and that we roll in the hay at 100%.

CTC: Tell us what your average day entails?

It’s like being back to old start-up days, plus having to manage other skilled businesses. I actually enjoy what I'm doing, so I dedicate a minimum of 12 hours per day at this moment to running Internet businesses, with a special specialization in Lunacloud.

I usually start at 8 a.m., check statistics and news from the previous day then work on the various project streams during the day. I enjoy lecture customers once I can, so I usually take a while to try to do it too, albeit it's a little customer. This keeps me well informed about what customers need.

CTC: Who is that the team behind Lunacloud?

We have a gaggle of about 20 people within the UK and Portugal, covering infrastructure, network, engineering, operations, support, marketing, finance, and HR, also as some external outsourced functions. We even have the backing of Claranet, which allows us to be a little and versatile start-up while having some resources and processes that sometimes only bigger companies have.

CTC: and eventually if you'll change one thing within the cloud computing industry what wouldn't it be?

Although we've one among the foremost elegant brands, I might remove the branding, in order that customers could buy cloud services based exclusively on their merits of performance, reliability, and price. Communication makes it harder for patrons to perceive real value. I'd review my position once we become more wIf you see a minimum of 4 or 5 of those characteristics in your Cloud provider, then they're positioned well for the longer term. However, if you don’t see much evidence of those 10, then you'll be handling a standard software provider who is dressing up their solution in Cloud clothes. advance and find a more innovative partner.

ABOUT DAVID TERRAR

David heads up D2C, a consulting company, and Cloud Services provider. he's chair of Intellect’s SaaS Group, a Director of EuroCloud UK, an operations and governance member of the Cloud Industry Forum, and a daily speaker at social media, social business, and Cloud Computing events including chairing London’s Cloud Computing World Forum. Although his history is rooted in traditional enterprise systems he's hooked into the intersection of cloud computing, mobile technology, and social media, how these tools are often deployed to form business simpler, information technology degree and therefore the way these trends are changing the planet of labor. More here

ABOUT D2C

D2C are consultants and solution providers Dedicated 2 Cloud Computing and Dedicated 2 Customers. they supply solutions for websites, web communities, collaboration, online accounting, and Enterprise Requirements Planning (ERP). They advise companies on making the transition to the cloud and adoption of social tools and new media marketing to assist make businesses simpler. More here