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Why Connecting Flights are Like Premise Based IT Solutions

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When I first starting traveling, it was in the late 80′s.  Business moved at a much slower pace, life moved at a slower pace.  Technology, albeit in its early stages, had already started changing the way business was run.  As I started my new sales career on the heels of a decade of finance and IT, airplanes became my new office.

The goal was to touch our customers in person, we had to because web meeting tools like GoTo Meeting or LYNC not only didn’t exist, but hadn’t been invented yet. Flying out to the customer in the morning, staying a day or two then flying home was simple and enjoyable.  I recall many of the flights had several open seats with airlines having impressive on-time records.  The era of champagne flights with smoking in the back of the plane was coming to an end, with new regulations like being caught smoking in the lavatory would get you a fine.  But still, travel was simple with either direct or connecting flights.

I think flying was too expensive for most, but for the business traveler it was a must to conduct business.  But as flying became more affordable, and with the consolidation of the airlines, travel has become much more stressful.  The airlines now charge for bags, over book all flights, and have reduced the amount of travel options to fill all the seats.

Now to the point of my title. The business driver for choosing a connecting flight over a direct flight is usually cost.  It is a known fact that connections are a lower cost (cash outlay) than direct flights.  And for that savings, people are willing to sacrifice their time, refocus their schedules, and sit idle while in between flights, almost slowing down the business that is in their control. Although there was a cash savings, there was a cost with a much slower process to get from point A to point B.  On top of that, there is the dreaded delays that will invariably destroy a well-planned schedule. 

I recently travelled intercontinental with one of my sales managers. We flew from Minneapolis to Chicago, from Chicago to Toledo.  Simple enough.  Jump on the plane, land in Chicago, short layover then off to Toledo. Not that simple. Delay getting from Chicago to Toledo.  The delay caused us to be late for a welcome event. Matter of fact we made it only for the last 45 minutes. The trip home got worse.  Delayed (3) hours in Toledo.  Missed the connection in Chicago, and delayed (3) hours getting to home.  My colleague ended up missing an event with his son that had been planned for weeks.

Premise based solutions are typically cheaper like the connecting flight.  Although the equipment purchased for a premise based solution could be similar to a cloud hoster, a predictable solution goes beyond hardware.  Because IT has become so critical to the businesses ability to deliver goods and services, anything less than a predictable, dependable solution is unacceptable.  Some feel that a premise based solution will give them control, consistent reliability and productivity.  What they don’t think of, similar to when a connecting flight is purchased, is there are a lot of variables in a premise based solution like disaster recovery, consistent and reliable back up processes, regular pgrades,  performance testing and more.  With a Cloud hosted solution, all of these services provide a predictable solution and stability in IT systems.  Ultimately maximizing business performance.  The cheaper solution is not always the best route to go.

 

6 Things to Consider When Choosing a Cloud Partner

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Despite the increased use of cloud in businesses, its full potential still remains relatively unexplored, especially the relationships between vendors and customers when forming a partnership. Of all channel partners, managed services providers (MSPs) run the greatest risk of cloud hosting providers dropping the partnership and launching a competitive product. This can have a devastating effect on a company that relies on cloud services for a significant part of their revenue.

The Value of Cloud
While more and more MSPs are starting to build cloud into their revenue stream, not all cloud providers are the same. From small business to enterprise-level, all MSPs can realize revenue from cloud services, especially considering hosted solutions require little to no oversight. The monthly payment model characteristic of MSPs adds simplicity and predictability too, acting as a controlled IT spend alternative to on-premise IT operations. Given these factors, the decision to be made is not whether to use cloud, but which cloud hosting provider is the right choice.

Your cloud partner must be able to support you efficiently and effectively, following their own SLA’s from sales through service, which is not something every vendor can achieve. The right choice will mean a mutually beneficial partnership, while the wrong choice could mean disaster and a loss of customer trust.

Finding the Right Cloud Partner
Choosing a cloud partner involves deeper consideration than when selecting a standard vendor, as you will be putting entire aspects of your cloud business model in their hands. For this reason, MSP’s need to look for the rights signs, asking questions like, is the potential cloud hosting vendor reliable? Do they offer competitive marketing monthly marketing fees? Do they follow their stated SLA’s?

In order to feel assured that you are striking up a partnership with the right cloud partner, I suggest you consider the following:

1. Look out for the warning signs.
Treat complicated service-level agreements (SLAs), a lack of any SLA, or long-term contracts that are difficult to terminate as red flags. Watch out for hosting companies that haven’t invested the time or money to use an outside auditing firm to conduct some type of annual audit on their processes. This in particular is a huge warning sign that formal policies and procedures are not being verified.

2. Judge cloud partner responsiveness.
Start gauging a potential cloud vendor’s responsiveness from first contact. Do not accept delays, and expect quick response times that arrive without reluctance. No good can come from a one-sided relationship, as a lack of communication is a sign the cloud partner does not care enough to return your calls and answer your emails.

Obviously, you need to know if the cloud hosting provider is responsive before you begin a partnership rather than when you are already conducting business. The best way to be assured of this is to conduct research to find out about the company’s reputation, such as by reading online reviews, messages boards and blogs, and examining any case studies and testimonials available on the company’s website.

3. Understand how the cloud partner operates.
It is important to know how your prospective cloud partner works on a technological and organizational level. When vendors have an excessively complex hierarchy this can lead to problems trying to get hold of support; you may need to navigate through various customer service representatives until you find someone who is qualified to deal with the issue. Therefore, it is far better to have a single point of contact, but it is essential that you can rely on this contact to respond in a timely manner.

4. Find out if the cloud partner is established.
Look for active partners and a current customer base that will be able to provide you with referrals. Also, check to see if the vendor already has existing products and if they are mature. Finally, find out who runs the company: is it a well-known industry figure or a shady outsider? It is essential to find out all of the above as the cloud industry is full of frauds.

5. Look for experience.
While it may seem like a relatively new and novel concept, cloud has actually existed for many years. Cloud vendors with ample experience are the best potential partners you can find, as they provide stability and confidence to their partners. How much time you can expect your cloud partner to dedicate to upgrading their cloud infrastructure and integrating partners into it depends strongly on the cloud provider’s experience level.

Also, look for clues that your prospective cloud hosting partner seems enthusiastic about cloud, and that the company has a cloud product tailored for reseller and service providers.

6. Think like an IT department.
An IT department looks for fixed operating costs, and so should you when seeking a cloud partner. Similarly, as IT professionals look for a central point of management from their cloud services, partners should be delivering services from a central location.

Most often, you will find more positive factors about potential vendors than negative. However, it is important that your choice is not lacking any of the above considerations in order to have a lasting and productive relationship. Once you have made a shortlist of vendors who cover the above criteria, ensure you choose a cloud partner you can feel comfortable working with on an ongoing basis.

 

CEOs: When You Should Move to ERP Cloud Hosting

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Since the first enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems were released in the early 1980s, companies have struggled to meet the need for customization and flexibility with the expensive and complex systems on offer. The introduction of cloud-based ERP hosting solutions has changed this by greatly reducing capital expenditures, lowering overall costs, and reducing implementation time frames. Most companies already have websites or ecommerce sites on the Cloud; however, the shift to the ERP Cloud for small, midsize and enterprise-level businesses is now happening at a rapid rate.

An ERP cloud hosting solution provides all the hardware, licenses, and full time IT support staff needed for each of your users for a monthly fee. It ensures the highest availability and reliability, while your data is held in an extremely secure offsite environment with a very high guaranteed uptime. This ready access to data and infrastructure from anywhere at any time gives you more time to focus on your business.

Many business drivers may act as catalysts to compel a C-Level exec to adopt an ERP cloud hosted strategy, although there are a small number of primary drivers. These can be divided into four main categories:

Agility and Growth
When rapid business growth occurs, the company may grow too fast for the staff to handle upgrades, infrastructure, and business applications. With an ERP cloud hosting solution, it is possible to add new capabilities, increase bandwidth and users, and improve other factors that will enable the company to keep up with transaction volumes and business growth.

Alternatively, it may be that the company has one or more initiatives that require a new system to be implemented faster than internal staff are able. An ERP cloud hosting solution can help both temporary infrastructure and long term needs where a rapid go-live is required.

Whereas on-premise and hosted ERP systems often use existing templates that need to be customized to suit specific practices in a process that can take several months or even years, cloud-hosted solutions feature basic configuration with a limited range of options that can be quickly adapted to meet the needs of most businesses. This significantly reduces deployment time while the most important needs of the company are not jeopardized.

Continuity and Stability
If a company is concerned about uptime, risk mitigation, security threats, or other issues pertaining to reliability, compliance, or security, cloud-hosted solutions can ensure the data infrastructure is stable, reliable, and secure. They can also mitigate the negative impact of a lack of resource availability (for example, in places where technical resources are easily accessible, such as rural areas) and resource turn-over. In cases where an ERP cloud hosting solution is not utilized, the company is at risk of not being able to replace trained employees quickly enough.

Infrastructure Optimization and Performance
ERP cloud hosting is ideal when the company needs to flexibly scale IT infrastructure up or down with minimal effort and impact on internal resources. It can also provide improved profitability and enhance business performance for companies concerned about transaction throughput and efficiency when technology is used to help respond to customer demand.

Cost Reduction
ERP cloud hosting solutions are most popular with small and midsize businesses for good reason. These types of companies often find ERP cloud hosting to be more cost-effective than maintaining a traditional in-house IT infrastructure. One reason for this is that many ERP cloud hosting services are paid through a subscription model that includes software, hosting, and support costs. According to research from Booz & Company, up-front capital expenditures are significantly decreased, often along with operating costs, by up to 50 to 60 percent over a 10-year period compared to on-premise solutions, according In addition, vendors are responsible for maintaining hardware and software including patches, upgrades, and refreshes. They also provide backups, system monitoring, and user support, reducing the need for you to have internal IT support and allowing you to make resources available for activities that cannot be outsourced.

The right ERP cloud hosting solution should cover all of the above while providing leverage for standard industry applications, networking, and system services to enable you to become more productive. It should also allow you to adjust the composition and configuration of the installation to allow for growth or depletion in your business. By adding or removing capabilities in this way, you only have to pay for the services you need.

Finally, the right ERP cloud hosting solution should increase operational efficiency by improving your ability to respond to business changes, monetize investments, and handle increased demands through the use of existing resources.