Cloud/Online Solutions

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At 3Meet we’ve had our head in the cloud long before it became cool (pun intended!).  “Cloud” computing, online services, software-as-a-service (SaaS) are all names that are used (often interchangeably), that simply refer to the concept of taking an application or service that has historically been provided locally, on premises (on-prem), and to access it online.  Simply put, today you often have the choice of whether you want to invest in the resources to deploy a solution locally (on-premises), or online.  And by doing so, you can reduce your capital outlay for local infrastructure, as well as simplify and speed up your deployment, while offering higher levels of redundancy, and improving ease of scalability.

We’ve put this comparison chart together to help our customers make informed decisions about which applications might make sense for them to move to the cloud.  Every business is different – for some, it may make sense to move selected services to the cloud and keep others locally on-premises, while others have gone ‘all in’ and moved every service to the cloud.  The bottom line assessment is that once you’ve determined that it makes sense to move a particular service to the cloud, you must also take the adage, ‘you get what you pay for’ into account, because each of the issues below have a related cost and value relationship.  So if you find two solutions for the same service that have vastly different pricing, it’s critical to take these issues into consideration, ask why, and to really peel back the layers of a service provider’s offerings to see what is really being provided.

Issue Pros Cons
Cost You’ll pay a much smaller amount (usually monthly),
for access to significantly more resources than you could buy on your own.  You won’t have to pay for the server(s), application(s), storage, maintenance/support, and don’t forget, power and cooling.
Over time, you may spend more for access to these resources than you would spend if you were to build out comparable on-prem functionality that you would own.
Security You do not have to hire staff, or hire a competent firm who can focus on security, and you don’t have to make the investments in a multi-layered, redundant approach.

The reality is that even if not totally perfect, cloud providers are much more likely to have more security (and more security experts / IT staff) to keep the bad guys out than a company who doesn’t focus on technology as their business.

Using cloud services raises the possibility that services may become temporarily unavailable, or worse, your data could be compromised. Security is an important consideration because not every cloud service provider makes the same investments in multiple, redundant layers of security, or the qualified staff to focus on it.

Ask if they understand, and have implemented SAS-70, HIPAA or PCI compliance controls.

You should also consider that the bigger a service provider is, the bigger a target they are.  So bigger is not always better – it may make sense to keep your data local, keep it secure, and fly under the radar, without the target on your back that huge publicly traded companies often have, because when they DO get hit, hackers won’t differentiate between your data and everyone else’s.

Maintenance The cloud provider provides the maintenance for their services as part of their cost. Different cloud providers take different approaches to maintenance, and some may not invest the same resources as others do.
Scalability Computing power is provided to you on a scalable, on the fly basis, so that you do not have to pay for unnecessary resources unless or until you use or need them. As long as you have not chosen the cheapest solution, you’ll probably have a provider that’s made the investments in resources to easily scale as demand increases.
Functionality You can enjoy enterprise level software at reasonable per-user rates without paying for a full server license, maintenance and power/cooling costs.  Upgrades are also normally handled so that you’re always enjoying the latest versions.

Cloud providers are able to deploy software in days or weeks, not months or years. A critical patch can be rolled out to all customers immediately.  And they have a vested interest in doing so because when they don’t, customers can walk.

Additionally, who can best test and deploy functionality than the provider themselves, who are often the ones who wrote the code?

Some cloud applications lack all the same features that their comparable on-site solutions offer.
If you lose Internet connectivity at your office, if you have 3G/4G, or have the option of moving to a
different site (a coffee shop for example), then as long as your service provider has not also been impacted, you still have access to your cloud-based resources.

This won’t help you with backing up your server, or providing DVR for your facility surveillance cameras, but it IS an option for many other cloud-based services like email, CRM, office productivity and local backup.

Your access to your services are only as good as your connectivity. If you have multiple, redundant Internet connections, and so does your cloud services provider, you probably won’t be impacted by connectivity issues.

But if you’re like most small businesses, you probably have a single Internet connection, and when it goes down, so go all of your cloud apps.  So consider if you didn’t have access to an application or service for a day or more, what would the impact be to your business.  And then look at the provider’s uptime, and outage history, as well as your own history with your Internet provider.

Conversely, when you run an application directly on your network, you have wire-speed access to the data, without the sort of delays that can often occur when you’re accessing a resource over the Internet.

Redundancy None of this is your problem. System-level and site-level redundancy must both be considered. Some cloud service providers have multiple, redundant data centers, each with multi-homed Internet connectivity, and redundant systems within each data center, while others may have a single data center, with good redundancy, but no site redundancy, and others may have even less. It won’t do you any good if they have a generator but the building collapses after an earthquake, and there is no duplication of your data to other sites.  If Google, Amazon and Microsoft can experience outages, then NO vendor should be considered 100% redundant.
Customization Cloud apps are often one-size-fits-all, or may lack features that a traditional on-prem solution provides. Because you’re often one user of hundreds, or thousands of others, you cannot often customize the application in the way you would if you owned it.
Exclusivity Cloud services are both easy to deploy and easy to migrate. Don’t like your email or web security vendor? Just change your MX record or proxy settings and you have a new provider that same day. Try that with a special purpose hardware appliance that you just purchased and installed. If the vendor has operational or fiscal problems, or if you just decide that it’s not working, you could be stuck with them for the duration of your contract.  And although this may be cheaper than buying a product you don’t like, you may also have challenges with getting your data OUT of the vendor’s system(s) should you decide to leave.  So consider data export functionality they provide, as well as the format of the data – if they save it in a proprietary format, it won’t do you any good to export it anyway.
Interoperability If you’re considering moving an application to the cloud that needs to communicate or integrate with other applications, such as CRM, Email/messaging, or Accounting, it’s important to ask HOW it will communicate.  If the application vendors are all the same (Microsoft, for example), this is much easier to deal with.  But what about competitors, who don’t WANT to play nice?  Or applications that haven’t taken this into their design consideration?  Or services which cannot be monitored or supported by you or your service provider, due to design limitations in the products?  These may or may not be a problem for your particular needs, but they are certainly worth considering.


NetCare Online Backup & Disaster Recovery

Your data is your livelihood and losing it can be expensive, if not a game-ender to your organization.  Following are some sobering realities about the potential impact of data loss.  Of companies experiencing catastrophic data loss:

  • 43% of companies never reopened
  • 51% of companies closed within 2 years
  • 80% of companies that do not recover from a disaster within one month are likely to go out of business
  • 75% of companies without business continuity plans fail within three years of a disaster
  • Companies that aren’t able to resume operations within ten days (of a disaster hit) are not likely to survive

NetCare Online Backup is the solution to preventing this sort of a disaster.  Features include:

  • Instantly recover your data.
  • E-mail confirmation off your completed backup.
  • Low cost
  • Access your data from anywhere.
  • SAS 70 and HIPAA compliant

Hosted Microsoft Solutions

Unlock the Full Potential of Microsoft Technology to Build Business Solutions that Maximize Your Success.

At 3Meet we understand that it is more important than ever to seek opportunities to provide technology solutions that will increase your organization’s competitive advantage while decreasing costs.  Our expertise with Microsoft Cloud Computing platforms including Dynamics CRM Online and Office 365 helps provide our customers with cost saving alternatives to traditional, on-site productivity, collaboration, and communications applications.

Business Focused Advantages of Microsoft Cloud Productivity Solutions Include:

  • Decreased Costs:  Organizations no longer need to manage on site hardware and software and also have the ability to allocate IT resources to more strategic initiatives, reducing overall administrative overhead.
  • Flexibility:  The Microsoft Cloud Computing model allows Valley Network Solutions to partner with our customers to create a comprehensive, flexible solution that works best for them, 100% hosted / 100% on premise or a combination of the two.
  • Availability and Reliability:  Moving your company’s collaboration and distributed communication needs to Microsoft Cloud Computing ensures that the information you need to do your job is always at your fingertips – simply login to the appropriate Web service; and Microsoft’s Online Services are synched with Active Directory maintaining security and the ability to manage users from a central location.

Ask us how we can help you evaluate Dynamics CRM Online, SharePoint Online, Lync Online, Exchange Online, Office Professional Plus, and Office Web Apps.

Hosted Exchange

Features & Benefits:

  • 25 GB mailbox space per user
  • Month-to-Month Contract
  • Accounts open instantly 24/7
  • Administrative control panel
  • Advanced anti-spam and virus protection
  • Download of Outlook 2007/2010 or Entourage for Mac
  • Attachment maximum size of 50 MB, auto reply, aliases, filters
  • Mobility Features: Microsoft Outlook Web Access (OWA), Exchange Mobile Messaging / PUSH ActiveSync for Windows Mobile devices, BlackBerry Synchronization
  • Group Productivity Features: Full Features of Microsoft Exchange 2007 including distribution lists, personal and shared calendars, personal and shared contacts, corporate address book, group scheduling with real-time availability, disk space for public folders (per user) is 100 MB (max 2GB per organization)

Hosted Microsoft Office

Office 365 (formerly BPOS) gives you access to email, calendar, and contacts from virtually anywhere, at any time, on desktops, laptops, and mobile devices — while it helps to protect against viruses and spam.

Features Include:

  • Work from almost anywhere and get automatically updated email, calendar, and contacts on the devices you use most, including PCs, Macintosh computers, iPhone, Android phones, Symbian phones, BlackBerry smartphones**, Windows Mobile, and Windows Phones*.
  • Get professional, easy-to-manage email. Exchange Online provides each user with a 25-gigabyte (GB) mailbox and lets them send email messages up to 25 megabytes (MB).
  • Connect with Microsoft Outlook 2010 or Outlook 2007 and use all of the rich Outlook functionality you already know and use, whether you are connected to the Internet at home or in the office or you are working offline.
  • Easily schedule meetings by sharing calendars and viewing them side by side, so you can see your colleagues’ availability and suggested meeting times from your calendar.
  • Access your email, calendar, and contacts from nearly any web browser while you keep the rich, familiar Outlook experience with Microsoft Outlook Web App.
  • Help protect your organization from spam and viruses with Microsoft Forefront Online Protection for Exchange, which includes multiple filters and virus-scanning engines.

** Currently, Users of BlackBerry Internet Service get push email and can add calendar and contacts to their BlackBerry devices by wired synchronization (sync) with Outlook on the PC.

Call or email us today for a Free Consultation about your future needs in the Cloud