Choosing the Right SaaS Solution

ROI April blog 4Cloud technology plays a significant role in modern business. As the cloud evolves and improves, so does the willingness of many businesses to give up their on-premises solutions in favor of Software as a Service (SaaS) and Communications as a Service (CaaS).

SaaS has its benefits, but it is not necessarily the right tool for every business. Following are factors that every small to medium-sized business (SMB) should consider before making the switch.

Upfront Costs

Cost is one of the major factors to consider when it comes to choosing a SaaS solution. Between the costs of installation, equipment purchases, and licensing and the continuous costs of maintenance and upkeep, on-premises solutions often represent an unfavorably expensive option to many businesses.

On the other hand, SaaS solutions don’t require any on-site equipment, nor do they need in-house management. SaaS systems can also be easily scaled up to accommodate growth – a boon for many small businesses.

Although SMBs tend to be more sensitive to upfront costs, the total cost of ownership for enterprise-level businesses may not be as noticeable when comparing cloud-based SaaS with on-premises solutions. As a result, it’s important for businesses to consider the upfront and recurring costs of both.

Disaster Recovery

Disaster recovery is another important factor to consider when choosing a SaaS solution. Unlike on-premises solutions, SaaS applications and services are cloud-driven, meaning that a natural disaster or unplanned outage won’t result in any data losses or service interruptions. This can be a major benefit for a company whose business model depends on steady, uninterrupted service.

Technical Support

On-premises solutions often require an in-house team to handle various aspects of support and management, including routine maintenance and software upgrades. Businesses that don’t have their own IT teams usually rely on outside vendors for those functions. Cloud-based solutions, on the other hand, are often maintained and managed by the service provider.

As a cloud-based solution, SaaS often comes with its own technical support. However, the level of support offered may vary depending on the client’s budget. This usually ranges from email-only support at lower price points to 24/7 live support at higher price points.

Contract Terms

Although flexibility is a key selling point for SaaS applications, many providers still favor lengthy contracts that lock clients into long-term service in exchange for more favorable pricing. If a company becomes dissatisfied with their SaaS provider in the middle of a three-year contract, the company may not be able to cancel without incurring penalties.

It’s important for businesses to study contract terms carefully before committing to any SaaS solution. An ideal contract is one that allows businesses to readily adapt whenever their needs and overall business trends change.

The decision to adopt cloud-based communications solutions shouldn’t be taken lightly. What works for one company may not be ideal for another, which is why any SaaS solution should be carefully vetted to insure that it’s an ideal fit for a business’s unique needs. To learn more about how SaaS can benefit business operations, contact ROI Networks today.

[Infographic] Mobility & the New Face of Collaboration

Meetings are a necessary evil in the workplace — even if your workforce is virtual. Scratch that, collaboration is especially important if your workplace is virtual. In fact, video conferencing and other mobility solutions can offer businesses a significant advantage.

Infographic-Finding-Holes-The-State-of-Business-IT-Security

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Collaboration in the Cloud Drives Business Growth

ROI April blog 3The cloud has paved the way for collaboration opportunities never before known in the age of snail mail and traditional telephony. It has provided more effective collaboration in board rooms, cubicles, and remote workplaces, allowing businesses to keep pace with the growing mobility trend.

Cloud Options

The cloud offers various models that businesses can choose from depending on their specific needs. Private, public, and hybrid clouds can be mixed and matched to achieve a platform that suits unique requirements.

A private cloud typically sits in a private network, making it the most secure of all the cloud types. It is, however, the most expensive because it requires enterprises to purchase and maintain their own data center infrastructure.

A public cloud is housed in a third party location and clients pay their providers for hosting and other related functions. While it may be the cheapest model, it does not provide the same level of security that a private cloud does.

A hybrid environment uses a mix of private cloud and public cloud. An enterprise can use the private cloud to host critical data and workloads but can use the public cloud for workloads that are less critical.

​Moving to the Cloud

Companies looking to build a cloud-based collaboration strategy need to partner with telecom agents that have the expertise and right carrier connections. More importantly, IT executives should choose a solution that can add value to their business and enable their organization to:

Increase network resiliency Cloud collaboration services lessen the burden on IT administrators of supporting the network themselves while reducing the risk of network downtime. Providers have heavily invested in their own network infrastructure to ensure that their clients’ networks have the capability to respond, adjust, and adapt to any situation.

Benefit from robust security Cloud service providers are under increasing pressure to make their solutions more secure in compliance with regulatory requirements. They want their security offerings to be a differentiator that helps gain the trust and loyalty of their clients. As such, a cloud environment is more secure than the on-premise security system of an individual organization with a limited security budget.

Enjoy manageability Collaboration allows for faster application deployment and simpler network management. With servers off-premise and out of sight, IT staff is relieved of the complexity of maintaining the system. Providers take care of rolling out regular software updates, backups, intrusion detection, and other relevant reports. Employees who used to wear multiple hats can now perform streamlined jobs in dashboard style.

Create and harmonize new features into the system – Open private cloud solutions allow the integration of new features into the collaboration platform. Enterprises can make use of open application program interfaces (APIs) and software development kits (SDKs) to develop their own applications. This feature eliminates the cost of buying new services and the need for reconfiguration while enhancing employee and customer satisfaction.

Minimize the cost of legacy hardware Existing infrastructure may contain outdated hardware and legacy systems that are expensive to maintain. An open collaboration platform allows companies to reduce legacy system usage and gradually move the organization forward to cheaper, cloud-enabled collaborative solutions.

The cloud helps drive innovation, growth, and business transformation. For businesses looking to explore the benefits of collaboration in the cloud, contact us for a no-commitment consultation.

Achieve Greater ROI with VoIP

ROI April blog 2One of the most innovative technologies to surface in the past decade is Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). VoIP uses the Internet to make and receive phone and video calls. An impressive number of companies have made the shift to this technology, and more are following due to the substantial ROI that implementations have shown. Read on to learn how VoIP can increase ROI.

Reduction in Monthly Charges

Whether the company makes international or only local calls, the flexible packages available for VoIP create a significant savings over traditional telephone company billing. In addition, telephone company bills include heavy regulatory fees that are typically not found on VoIP bills. Recurring billing will be more stable, predictable, and easy to understand.

Affordable Long Distance

Many businesses conduct sales pitches and customer service efforts across state lines or even globally. The per-minute costs charged by old-fashioned telephone companies eat into the bottom line very rapidly. On the other hand, VoIP packages can be tailored to include unlimited long distance and global calling for one flat fee. Predictable, economical, and budget-friendly terms like these will keep profitability high and free up funds for more meaningful expenses.

Features

Adding enhancements to a regular phone service can be expensive or even impossible. In contrast, VoIP vendors cost-effectively bundle advanced features into the system. Call handling, auto attendants, IM, and video calling are just a few of the powerful services that can be combined with VoIP to make a robust communications system at a low cost. Further, organizations can select only what they need and avoid paying for unnecessary services.

Mobile Integration

With so many employees now telecommuting or traveling for work, it’s important that the company’s communication plan support mobile devices. With VoIP, calls can be instantly transferred to a cell or remote phone or even ring both a desk and a mobile phone at once. Additional savings may even be found in real estate or office space if this solution is used to allow team members to work off-site on a permanent basis.

Message Distribution

VoIP systems can be configured with multiple distribution lists, which can then be used to dispatch meaningful announcements via email, phone, text, or voicemail. Selecting the appropriate distribution list for a specific message is a convenient and rapid means of getting information to the right audience. This saves significant time, which is invaluable in the event of weather emergencies or other urgent news.

VoIP packages are scalable, flexible, and boast features that help businesses grow and perform more efficiently while saving money. Considering the ease and small expense of implementation, ROI is very quickly realized after deployment. To learn how ROI Networks helps businesses achieve greater return on investment with VoIP, contact us today.

Staying on Top of Cloud Security

ROI April blog 1The past several years have seen a massive shift from traditional on-premise services and hardware to cloud-based solutions of all shapes and sizes. With that shift came hackers and pirates looking for easy ways to steal data. Considering that IT spending on cloud is expected to consume a company’s entire technology budget within the next few years, it’s important that IT managers learn how to protect against breaches. Constructing and implementing a comprehensive security plan is absolutely essential before deploying cloud solutions.

Choose the Right Partnerships

A cloud-based solution is only as good as the vendor’s security provisions. Using a provider that doesn’t also supply a robust security system is likely to cause trouble in the future. Select a partner with a sterling reputation and a full suite of security tools. One trend that has resulted from the need for security in the cloud is the use of data security warehouses that specialize in sensitive data management.

Read the Fine Print

Before choosing a cloud vendor, be sure to understand their methods of storage and management. In addition, read contracts very carefully and look for any unclear terms. Verify who holds the burden in the case of a security incident, as these can quickly bankrupt a business. Contracts aren’t exciting to read, but they certainly do result in chaos if they’re not what they seemed to be. It may be beneficial to pay for legal review before signing on the dotted line.

Passwords

Passwords are a basic element of security, and strong passwords can prevent a breach more effectively than most other security tools. Enforce rules for password complexity that require use of special characters, numbers, and capital and lowercase letters. Preventing the use of previously saved passwords or common dictionary words is essential. The company’s authentication/authorization system may utilize a library of easily cracked passwords to prevent their use.

Encryption

No matter where data resides, it should be encrypted. This is especially true when it is housed in the cloud. Whether at rest or in motion, encryption should be used to provide additional protection. Employ the most current encryption standards as older versions may expose vulnerabilities, and be prepared to update the company’s encryption as technology evolves.

The cloud is a powerful business tool, but is one that must be used sensibly and with security as a top priority. A company must construct and consistently enforce a security program that actively defends against new threats. Doing so can save billions in breach recovery costs as well as preserve future revenue. To learn how ROI Networks helps businesses stay on top of cloud security, contact us today.