Archives for : November2011

A Break in the Clouds

Do you ever have moments while you’re waiting for an ATM, and meanwhile you check your finances online with your mobile phone — feeling amazed at just how connected you are? I even feel aghast, to tell the truth, at how such moments seem to hang by the breakable thread of my mobile network access.

In theory, no interruptions need to intrude between moments when you are on a desktop computer or laptop and moments when you are out and about, freed from that bulkier tech. But, what about when they do intrude?

 

The ATM is just one example of how the basic experience of the Cloud has emerged in our lives, and it is not even the most descriptive situation. Checking online accounts from a mobile device is really just a fraction of the power of a new basic expectation (let alone what the cash machine is doing).

When we want to access anything that we use and manipulate from a ‘computer’ on other sizes of devices, which travel with us and may be wearable, in those moments we could be living in the clouds, so to speak. This technology is relatively naïve as yet, let’s not forget. Detractors still have some good reasons to balk at people who may be already overly dependent on the Cloud.

Deeper and Deeper Cloud Cover

The meteorological metaphor that has become so popular is fitting (despite Larry Ellison’s famous dislike for this term, which his company Oracle nevertheless seems to have helped along and he himself unintentionally spread?) — since clouds in the sky are quite fickle.

Online storage and access to information or tools is becoming part of the weather of modern life. The stability and predictability (forming our new and on-going expectations) of Cloud facilities may matter more to urbanites all over the world, for instance, than the actual activity of the air in the sky.

 

Dread of Cloudy Weather

It’s reasonable to think that the public’s biggest fear could be breaks in the services available in their lovely Clouds, even if this fear is not the most justifiable concern. We are still at the point where there is danger in simply not being able to access things exactly when we would want to do.

You see, something like Cloud security in fact may be the more actual liability of this technology, and yet the mass perception could involve experiences much more personal.

Security and safety from outside hackers, or even inside jobs if internal data is too loosely managed, is technical. Not getting confirmation of a bank transfer when you’re standing outside the ATM, in the cold, at night, alone, is personal.

 

Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on Our Heads

It may be useful to differentiate between enterprise level Cloud services that the public may never experience at all unless employed by a powerful corporation and dealing with high level creative and data, and, personal facilities that small business people, moms and pops or even kids are likely to use. Apple’s Cloud services would be a prime example of the latter.

Even though millions of dollars may not be on the line, nor invaluable corporate intel, when you and me check our bank balances using the mobile Web browser, or, an app from PayPal, perhaps our bank, there is enough at stake.

If a person’s entire dossier of critical personal information such as calendars, correspondence, Facebook access and activity, photo sharing — and on and on — were intercepted while using the Cloud, and if this breakdown was experienced by enough people, obviously the public’s trust in this technology is not going to expand.

And yet, society appears so ready to reap the benefits of relying upon the mobile Web (and, of course, mobile access, which includes adequate bandwidth) that a cloud-washing of numerous consumer services has occurred, as Ellison complains.

And yet, today it is common for somebody to wager their own cash playing mobile casino games like slots and Poker with PayPal on the ride home, as well as to simply check one’s available balance.

Perhaps we have arrived at the tipping point, when the performance of Cloud services may not be as flawless as the driving theory of this medium would seem to require, but anyway their usefulness is worth the risk? Let’s be very careful at this point; maybe we should be more critical cloud-lovers.

Real Life Disaster Recovery Stories

None of us ever wants to suffer a catastrophic event. That’s why we invest heavily in backups, emergency recovery plans, an worst-case scenario testing.

But no amount of practice or preparation can prepare you for the real thing.

So what is a REAL catastrophic disaster like? We decided to ask some companies that had actually recovered from a serious disaster.

The irony is that Quest is a technology management company who provides disaster recovery and business continuity services to SMBs and enterprises – it was a true test to see what happens when disaster strikes the DR guys.

We were hit with severe high winds and a week of heavy rain that ultimately caused eight utility poles to fall outside of our building.

The power went out, the road was blocked by hot wires and transformers, and everyone who made it into work that morning were trapped in the building.

Initially, battery and generator backup provided phone and Internet capability. And by utilizing resources at several other locations, the company was able to continue to function until we got the all-clear to evacuate – that’s when DR efforts began in full. We executed on our own DR plan – and by 3pm were operating completely remotely, with some of our employees at our Business Resumption Center and others working from home. Customer service calls, billing, email, phones – everything we needed to keep functioning was operational.

Lessons Learned: Conducting DR drills and testing our DR plan quarterly was and is fundamental, but even so we had to deal with keeping our 100 person staff up to-date on what’s happening, no power for 36 hours and the refrigerated food spoiled and no one fed the fish. Even little disasters can have a huge impact. You need to be as prepared for a mundane disruption as for a catastrophic one.

Tim Burke, CEO of Quest


 

One of our clients – Whiteflash.com – immediately comes to mind. Whiteflash.com is an upscale diamond e-retailer based in Houston. When Hurricane Rita threatened the Gulf Coast, they couldn’t afford to close the business. As an e-retailer, their business isn’t confined to the Gulf Coast. They process orders and inquiries coming in from every corner of the globe, 24 hours a day.

So management designated all personnel to safer locations and maintained normal business activities remotely. As a customer of cloud computing, Whiteflash.com’s interoffice communication and collaboration between sales and management went as smoothly as when all departments sat under one roof.

In their highly-competitive sector, if you’re not available to process an order or respond to inquiry, someone else will be. As an e-retailer, they can’t wait weeks or months to retrieve hard data if something should happen to its systems.

Loss of data or a prolonged inability to access to it could have put them out of business.

Yehuda Cagen from Xvand Technology Corporation


 

As the IT Manager at Breazeale Sachse & Wilson LLP, a law firm in Baton Rouge, Louisiana with 160 users, I have to make sure email is up and running 24/7.  Email touches every aspect of our business, and we can’t afford any loss of information or downtime—in a law firm, time is literally money, as we work by billable hours.

In the past, we had issues with our email appliances delaying, which lead us to seek a system that didn’t require a person to monitor a physical device.

With a location in the Gulf Coast and office in New Orleans, our business is in an area prone to natural disasters and hurricanes. When Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005, we had to evacuate and our severs had to be shut down, risking critical client information.

We had to go into New Orleans under armed guard to regain access to documents and email that had not yet been captured by the tape backup system prior to Katrina’s landfall. After this devastating experience, we began working with Mimecast.

If we ever face another natural disaster, our uptime won’t be at the mercy of our physical location. Mimecast allows us to sleep soundly knowing that our clients can send an email and get in touch with us no matter where we are, and their information is always protected.

Luke Corley, the IT Manager for Breazeale Sachse & Wilson LLP


 

When I came to TFI in the fall of 2006 they had no DR plan on paper.    They had a few laptops and a tower that were to be used in deployment but there was nothing on paper.   Disaster Recovery was not on my resume but with this position it was a new project to be explored.   By the time Hurricane Ike rolled around in 2008 we actually had a plan of action procedure and departmental agents assigned for delegation.   TFI had leased a small office in Austin to deploy to.  We had executed our office closure preparedness with Hurricane Edouard the month before so we thought we were ready.

The National Weather Service is the home page on my internet browser between the months of June 1st and November 1st.    I had been watching Hurricane Ike since its reported inception.    On Wednesday September 3rd, 2008 it was apparent from tracking models that the Gulf Coast at Galveston/Houston was going to take a direct hit between Friday evening and Saturday morning.    Mandatory evacuations were being announced and that afternoon we made the decision to close the office on Friday so we could prepare.   On Thursday we notified our employees, executed the office closure preparedness plan and prepared the physical office for hurricane as required by building management.

My car was loaded with equipment, the network was shutdown in the business office and I had taken extra supplies and backup tapes to the colo for safekeeping.   IKE hit early morning Saturday.   The TFI disaster recovery team executed the call tree and we took stock of those that did not have property damage and deployed the team to Austin on Sunday night.    The hotels in Austin were packed.    People had brought their dogs and cats and people who had not made a reservation were waiting in line to get a room.    I went to the office to setup.    We had a shared internet connection with the building services, a communication cabinet that configured a VPN connection to the collocation facility,   a server tower, 6 laptops and two printers.   I set up in a 10 X 10 leased office two reference tables, a server table and 6 chairs.

The team of 10 people arrived the next morning.   We were able to connect to databases and files at the colo but we had no email.   Our email replication solution had failed.    Plan B was we did have a website TFIEmergency.com that we broadcast to so we posted updates for mass information and we did the rest of communications through our colo fax server and a makeshift hotmail account.     We were receiving everything we needed to perform our tasks but it was tight, tense and the hours were long.    We had 10 people working for 16 hours for 5 days in a 10 X 10 room.

This was an invaluable experience.   Although we had our moments, the team bonded and those of us who deployed for IKE have a special respect for each other.    We learned a lot.   The first thing was to lease a bigger space.   TFI now has two colo facilities.  One in Austin and one in Houston.   The first IT project was to replace our replication solution for Exchange with CA ARCserve High Availability.    Later we put our primary payroll service for our customers in the cloud and migrated that process to a SaaS vendor.    We drill at least twice with staff before June 1st at both disaster recovery venues.    Whenever we make a significant change to our IT applications or infrastructure we test that modification effectiveness and availability at the colo venues as part of implementation.

Melinda Martin, Information Technology Manager – TFI Resources, Inc.

Photo Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/joelmontes/4343843789/

Web Services – Your One Stop Shop

In case you are willing to start to seriously invest in the development of your business, we are here to throw you the hand you need. We were at Website Consultants Inc are trying to constantly improve the type of services we are capable of offering our clients.

 

Top-Notch Services For Every Business

 

So we are mainly focusing on creating excellent solution design and web development solutions. Our selection of products also comprises important items such to content creation and internet marketing strategies. In case you feel you lack the necessary skills to handle all of these by yourself, get in touch with us and we will start working on a plan for your business in no time. No matter if you e the owner of an online casino or you would like for your blog to gain more visibility over the web, we can throw you just the hand you need.  

 

Don’t Forget About Your Hobbies

 

If you are particularly interested in online gambling and you consider the game of casino blackjack particularly engaging, do not hesitate to check out the website reviews for instance, and play for real cash. If you would like to cover part of your web development expenses with some easily earn money, you could start to play the game for real cash more often. For those of you who are not particularly used to the rules of the game, here is some useful information.  

Extra Details To Remember

 

Fortunately, the main point of the Blackjack game strategy is very simple, and you’ll encounter the same situation very often. You can just look at the casino games scheme to play blackjack – a table that shows what you should do in any possible situation – stop, take, double or cut. After a while you will not need this scheme, and you will only trust your experience of playing blackjack and your intuition. Suddenly, Blackjack will become one of the best games at the virtual casino, where there is almost no house edge.

 

 

Top 10 SaaS Software Providers In Every Category For November 2011

Top 10 SaaS Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

  1. Aplicor
  2. CLP Suite
  3. Commence CRM
  4. SalesForce
  5. Appshore
  6. eGain
  7. Salesboom
  8. Microsoft Dynamics
  9. NetSuite
  10. Infusion Software

Top 10 Hosted Exchange Providers

  1. 123Together.com
  2. Hostirian
  3. Exchange My Mail
  4. Kerio Mail Hosting
  5. Apps4Rent
  6. NetNation
  7. FuseMail
  8. 9th Sphere
  9. SherWeb
  10. Utopia Systems

Top 10 SaaS Invoicing Software Services

  1. BillingBoss
  2. Office Link
  3. BillingTracker
  4. LessAccounting
  5. BlinkSale
  6. FreshBooks
  7. WinkBill
  8. Zoho Invoicing
  9. Bamboo Invoice
  10. SimplyBill

Top 10 Managed Web Hosting and Dedicated Servers

  1. Hostgator
  2. Rackspace
  3. Multacom
  4. AYKsolutions
  5. Limestone Networks
  6. KnownHost
  7. MegaNetServe
  8. aplus.net
  9. iWeb
  10. FIREHOST

Top 10 Online Backup Services For Servers

 

  1. Zetta
  2. CoreVault
  3. SecurStore
  4. Remote Data Backups
  5. Zmanda
  6. Backup-Technology
  7. Novosoft Remote Backup
  8. MozyPro
  9. LiveVault
  10. BackupMyInfo

Top 10 Web Analytics Services

  1. Piwik
  2. Extron
  3. WordStream
  4. At Internet
  5. GetClicky
  6. Woopra
  7. WebLogStorming
  8. OneStat
  9. Google Analytics
  10. Logaholic

Top 10 Virtual Private Network Providers (VPN)

  1. Pure VPN
  2. Hotspot VPN
  3. Golden Frog
  4. Strong VPN
  5. VPN Tunnel
  6. DataPoint
  7. Always VPN
  8. Personal VPN
  9. Black Logic
  10. Cartish Technologies

Top 10 SaaS Accounting and Bookkeeping Software Providers

  1. Yendo
  2. Merchant’s Mirror
  3. Skyclerk
  4. Netsuite
  5. Xero
  6. Highrise
  7. NolaPro
  8. Outright
  9. Clear Books
  10. Envision Accounting

Top 10 SaaS Online Payroll Software Providers

  1. Paycom
  2. Perfect Software
  3. Paycor
  4. Paylocity
  5. Amcheck
  6. Superpayroll
  7. Simple Payroll
  8. WebPayroll
  9. Evetan
  10. Triton HR