Migrating Email to the Cloud

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In the world of competitive business, companies are moving their email from mail servers to the cloud, where they receive a host of benefits.  These benefits include:

  • Substantial cost savings
  • Removing in-house IT  maintenance
  • Unlimited growth potential

Substantial Cost Savings – By not having to pay for hardware, software, and IT personnel to maintain the email servers, companies are saving money.  Furthermore, because upgrades are handled on the cloud level, the cost is predictable and managers can rely on a certain budget for the service.

Removing In-House IT Maintenance – Removing the extra burden of hardware maintenance and software upgrade frees up resources which can be used for business enhancement instead of on computers.  Having another company handle the day-to-day tasks of managing email safely and securely allows companies to move those resources as necessary.

Unlimited Growth Potential – Companies with IT departments know how hard it is to handle growth. What worked in IT just a few years ago no longer works, which creates problems even when there are detailed plans in place to handle growth. As a company’s email system is seminal to its success, such problems must be avoided at all costs. Migrating email to the cloud means that their maintenance experts can worry about issues like scalability. Companies no longer have to purchase, upgrade, or maintain extensive equipment.

Planning the Migration

Once a company decides to migrate its email to the cloud, there are several factors to keep in mind, such as:

  • The type of data being transferred to the cloud
  • The company’s network capacity
  • The users of the new email service

Let’s look at each aspect in detail:

What Type of Data is being Transferred?

It’s easy to think that all email is the same, but it’s not. The number of items within the mailbox will greatly impact how quickly the data will transfer over. The number and size of attachments will also impact the speed of migration.  Companies need to take these factors into account when planning the migration so they can time the data transfer properly and ensure that everything remains on schedule.

What is the Company’s Network Capacity?

Before beginning the migration, companies need to be aware what their network is capable of handling and whether there are tasks that will be impacted once the migration starts. Many programs, such as backups, rely on using the network, and could seriously impact, or be impacted by, large data transfers. It is wise to contact the company’s internet service provider and confirm the network’s bandwidth before beginning the email migration procedure. Companies might consider increasing the available bandwidth temporarily to ensure a smooth transfer.

Who is Using the Email Service?

There are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Who is going to use the email service?
  • Are these users tech-savvy or do they need help learning new programs?
  • Do they need training?
  • What kinds of computers do they use to access their email?
  • Do their computers need upgrades before switching to the new email service?

Once companies have the answers to these questions, they can start planning a successful email migration, and soon reap the benefits of cloud-based communications.

An Essential Pair: Unified Communications and Cloud Services

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Cloud services are now a dominant force within the telecom and IT worlds. The cloud helps improve overall workloads within data centers, at employee desks, and in the c-suite. The cloud also has been credited with speeding development and test cycles as well as simplifying hardware expenditures.

But do companies really rely on the cloud when delivering unified communications (UC)? How do IT buyers use cloud services when collaborating and communicating?

Current & Future Cloud Investments

To answer such questions, a global study called the Current Analysis 2014 Enterprise Investment Plans Survey was undertaken. This research consisted of 646 buyers who are responsible for making IT and communication purchasing decisions.

The current and future cloud investment plans for their IT workloads were investigated. Research found that 66 percent of respondents stated that they already use the cloud. Further, 33 percent plan to adopt cloud-based UC services within the next two years.

Clouds Chosen

The type of cloud service currently in use clearly favored the private cloud. The results are as follows:

  • 58 percent use private clouds.
  • 15 percent use public clouds.
  • 28 percent use a hybrid cloud solution.

15 percent of participants stated that they use public clouds. This suggests that cloud service providers do not yet supply a one-stop-shop for all IT services.

Perhaps because of that, 28 percent of companies have adopted a hybrid solution. This involves the combination of both private and public platforms.

The hybrid solution encapsulates the UC approach. They combine two solutions and deploy it as one multi-channel service. This allows software and hardware to become connected through the desktop (such as video consoles and desk phones) and the servers (MCU, chat servers, and conferencing services).

Cloud-Based UC

From this study, it was found that 48 percent of enterprise IT buyers prefer that a trusted third party privately host their UC services. There is great potential for resellers, system integrators, and VARs to aid customers in moving their UC workload to a cloud-based system.System integrators and VARs might want to adapt to the cloud and all of its services.

In addition, they could build upon and venture into domain expertise. Here, integrations can be made with communications into front-line business processes.This is an achievement that technology vendors have sought for a long time.

Overall, the findings of this study confirm that UC cloud-based platforms are essential and that they offer ripe opportunities for those willing to venture into the area.

[Infographic] Top IT Trends of 2014: The Impact on Business As We Know It

We saw a lot of big changes and shifts in the IT and telecom space in 2014. These are our predictions for the potential effects they’ll bring to the industry in the coming year, and beyond.

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Making the Most of Unified Communications: 5 Tips for Selecting a Vendor

shutterstock_204075046Today’s conference rooms are different.

Sure, they still include long tables surrounded by chairs on wheels and phones with conferencing capabilities, but they’re also equipped with video conferencing technology, smart boards, multiple computers, and smartphones that are never out of reach.

The enhanced technology of unified communications (UC) that is making its way from cubicles to conference rooms allows companies to improve efficiency. Meeting participants no longer have to be in the same room to discuss, debate, and decide.

Of course, making the most of the integrated technology only works if a business has the right UC system—and identifying and employing the right system isn’t always easy.

New communications tools can be powerful, but they can also be problematic for IT administrators charged with integrating them into a company’s current infrastructure, training employees, and ensuring enhanced productivity.

The key to leveraging UC is choosing the right vendor. Here’s a five-step process for finding one:

1.  Identify the business goals

With so many UC tools available, it can be easy to get swept up in the latest technology and lose track of how it will actually be deployed in an organization’s day-to-day operations.

The key to finding the right UC vendor is to start with the business strategies and objectives of the organization. Audio and video conferencing might be necessary, but instant messaging and calendar sharing may not.

Once an IT administrator knows what’s needed to get the job done, it’s easier to identify the UC vendors that offer the best support and services around each tool.

2.  Consider all costs

Too often, businesses only consider the up-front costs when investing in UC. But no system can run on its own forever. There are ongoing licensing, maintenance, support, and upgrading costs associated with successfully implementing a UC system. Such items should be built into budgets on the front end.

3.  Be creative

It is not always necessary for an organization to invest in its own hardware. Cloud- and web-based software can save companies money—especially those lacking staff to properly support programs used on a national or global scale. Larger companies might also find that using a web- or cloud-based UC system frees up IT staff to focus on other business-critical technology issues.

4.  Understand the intricacies

Many IT administrators tend to take an ala carte approach to building systems. It allows them to build customized communications systems that specifically address the needs of their organizations. But it can be fraught with long-term issues.

Taking a mix-and-match approach to building a UC system can cause companywide confusion, create training nightmares for IT staff, and cause administrative problems for those charged with keeping all tools and technologies up-to-date and properly licensed.

It does, however, provide a great deal of flexibility, but only if IT employees (and all employees, really) understand how to properly use the technology.

5.  Invest in maintenance

Sometimes, it pays to invest in a third-party vendor that specializes in maintaining UC systems. Many companies specialize in maintenanceand charge less than it would cost an organization to do it itself.

Unified communications can be powerful when the right tools are used at the right times. It can also be problematic if not properly implemented and maintained. Overall, successfully integrating UC often hinges on working with the right vendor, and these five steps can help find the best fit.

Integrating Cloud with IT Infrastructure? Follow These 3 Steps

Cloud computing is at the vanguard of innovation. It’s changing how businesses make strategic decisions and how software publishers operate. The cloud is everywhere, and it is only going to become more prevalent. According to the International Data Corporation, 85 percent of all new software being developed is cloud-based.

As the cloud has become more ubiquitous, companies have come to understand its value as well as the business case for implementing it at all levels of organizations. What they struggle with, however, is how to seamlessly integrate cloud capabilities in their overall IT strategies.

The pace of innovation

The challenge businesses face comes down to one key factor: the pace of innovation. Like most new technologies, cloud computing doesn’t come in a one-size-fits-all package. There are an array of options, each with its own functionality, benefits, and challenges—and the number of options seems to change like the weather.

Determining which cloud application is the best fit for an existing IT infrastructure is a challenge that is vexing at least 50 percent of companies, according to the Institute for Business Value. However, it’s a challenge that businesses need to solve to protect continuity of IT capabilities as well as resources. The IDC says public and private investment in cloud infrastructures will soar to nearly $70 billion by 2017.

The organizations that will be best able to minimize their investments and maximize the power of the cloud are those that will be able to marry cloud and IT infrastructures sooner rather than later. That means asking tough questions, putting a stake in the ground, and demonstrating a willingness to integrate new technologies as they continue to emerge at a rapid pace.

The tough questions

The most difficult question for IT departments to answer is whether a cloud technology will meet an organization’s business objectives today as well as tomorrow—and years down the line.

The answer can be difficult to find because business strategies change—sometimes from quarter to quarter and, often, from year to year.

Before making a decision about which cloud technology is right, IT leaders need to engage those in the c-suite in a serious conversation about where the company is heading:
• How is it expected to grow?
• Will strategic focus be international or domestic in scope?
• How quickly is the company expected to grow?

The answers allow IT decision-makers to analyze options with their eyes wide open and make sure that the system they select aligns with the organization’s overall growth strategies and needs.

Putting a stake in the ground

Once the strategy is clearly defined, it’s time to assess the options and make a choice. One of the beautiful things about the cloud is that making a decision isn’t necessarily an either/or proposition. The cloud affords IT professionals a plethora of options that range from private to public deployments.

Often, the best option is to develop a hybrid cloud application, combining the best of private resources with the best of public resources.

The key to putting a stake in the ground and deciding to go with the cloud is getting buy-in at all levels of the organization—because all levels of the organization will be affected.

Be flexible

Embracing the cloud and marrying it with existing IT infrastructures takes flexibility. It will take testing and training. It will take some customization. It will require the ability measure outcomes, which are aligned with the company’s strategic goals.

In the end, it will also provide the organization with greater flexibility and the ability to continue to adopt new technologies as they become available.