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The Evolution of the Cloud – End-User as a Service (EUaaS)

October 4, 2014 in Uncategorized by Brad Kessler  |  No Comments

The Smart Office Powered by LiteCloud's EUaaS

By: Brad Kessler, CTO – LiteCloud

Cloud and hosted infrastructure solutions are quickly becoming the norm for the Small and Medium Business (SMB) market.  Customers are quick to relinquish control of their aging infrastructure and closet-turned-server room for highly reliable virtualized infrastructure housed in state-of-the-art data centers.  This evolution fueled by better bandwidth, higher reliability, and the ability to eliminate lifecycle frustration has led to a fundamental change in the SMB IT landscape.

So what is the next evolution?
How can SMBs gain further efficiencies?
What more can the Cloud provide?

The answer is simply – End-User as a Service (EUaaS).

What is EUaaS you ask? EUaaS is a fully managed cloud-hosted enterprise IT solution. With EUaaS a single provider delivers the following capabilities:

  • Desktop as a Service (DaaS) Hosted Virtual Desktops
  • Hosted Unified Communications (Voice, Video) Service
  • Hosted Active Directory Services
  • Hosted File and Print Services
  • Hosted Application Services (DB, Customer Applications)
  • Hosted Exchange (Email and Calendar) and Web Services
  • Hosted and Managed Backup and Disaster Recovery
  • Hosted Fully Managed and Monitored Firewall, IDS/IPS, Anti-Virus/Anti-Malware, and Remote Access VPN Service
  • Meets Compliance for HIPAA, PCI, GLBA, SARBOX, Etc.
  • Hosted Enterprise Management, Logging, and Monitoring
  • 24/7 Helpdesk and Technical Support
  • Certified Engineers for Systems, Network, Storage, Security, Etc.
  • Continuously Modernized Best-in-Class Hardware, Software, and Networks
  • Available Anywhere
  • Cloud-Managed On-site Customer Network (Wired and Wireless)
  • Cloud-Managed Thin or Diskless Client Workstations
  • Cloud-Managed IP Phones
  • 100% Guaranteed Uptime or Money Back

***NO Servers***
***NO Storage/SAN***
***NO Network Expenses
***NO Backups or Tapes***
***NO Licensing***
***NO Phone System/PBX***
***NO Yearly Maintenance***
***NO Server Closets***
***NO Lifecycle Upgrades***

EUaaS allows customers to move into a new office or call a provider and have network, diskless terminals, phones, and a fully managed suite of back end services to include hosted desktops, email, web services, file services, application services, collaboration services, feature-rich IP telephone service, and options to reliably host critical business applications with minimal onsite hardware and little to no capital expense. Combine that with the peace of mind of knowing all data is secure, monitored, managed, and backed up to help guarantee 100% availability.  EUaaS will help customers to greatly reduce the costs and headaches associated with IT.

Stay Tuned for More about EUaaS…

 

http://www.litecloudhosting.com/2014/10/euaas

 

 

Top 10 Drivers Towards The Cloud

September 6, 2014 in Uncategorized by Brad Kessler  |  No Comments

 

1.  Enterprise Grade Hardware and Software

Many customers find themselves constantly wrestling with their IT budgets.  To implement and sustain operations customers are faced with constraints that lead them to purchase hardware that lacks redundancy and performance and software packages or versions that are limited in features.  Cloud operators must be ready for all types of customers and applications so large enterprise grade server farms, storage arrays, networks, security, and software are readily available.  By moving to the cloud, customers can pay only for what they utilize making access to a better class of IT services and platforms a reality.

2.  State-Of-The-Art Data Centers

Another common issue many companies suffer from is the closet-turned-server room is just not sufficient to run a true IT infrastructure.  These in no way compare to the mega data centers that cloud providers operate in.  Power to standard office spaces is not fed to the building redundantly, battery and generator backup are generally not available, cooling and humidity control are inadequate, and there is an increased risk of theft, vandalism, and fire.

3.  Multiple Transport and Internet Providers

Most customers are not willing to take on the expense of a multiple internet or transport service providers.  Access to customer buildings is most likely provided by the incumbent LEC or the franchise cable provider in the area leading to limited competition and lack of access path redundancy.  Cloud providers often operate out of data centers with diverse fiber paths that are serviced by multiple tier 1 transport and internet service providers.  Sufficient operational and backup capacity is a must to ensure the Cloud provider meets their SLAs.

4.  Scale on Demand

In many cases once a customer capitalizes their IT investment that is it.  More resources or capacity would require a significant amount of additional investment and if budget permits the investment, time to procure, install, test, and integrate/migrate then become a challenge.  Cloud provider’s posses sufficient resources to scale and by simply adjusting the hosting agreement the resources needed to operate optimally can be added in a matter of minutes.  Many cloud providers also offer the unique capability to not only ramp up when business needs call for it but to also scale back down when the need arises to help maintain costs.

5.  Significantly Reduce Lifecycle Headaches

Face it folks…all IT solutions have a shelf life.  Servers are usually 3-5 years, Storage and networks is 5-7 years, software is 3-5 years.  Once you make a purchase the clock is ticking as to when you are going to have to replace it, which leads to significant costs, project work, and outage time for transition.  Cloud providers significantly reduce lifecycle headaches by maintaining constant upgrade to the latest and greatest hardware and software versions. This is necessary in order to meet customer service and performance requirements, maintain vendor support, and drive sales. Lifecycle upgrades at the Cloud Provider level are handled without additional cost and with minimal operational impact to the customer.

6.  Trade CAPEX for OPEX

Fairly simple and straight forward tradeoff allowing the customer to minimize upfront expense (Capital Expenditure = CAPEX) for hardware, software, and engineering in favor of a monthly recurring cost (Operational Expenditure = OPEX) model that allows customers to focus capital funding on running or growing their business. The OPEX model also offers benefits of a predictable fixed monthly recurring cost, eliminating cost surprises resulting from failures of onsite hardware.

7.  Engineering Expertise

Cloud Providers and ISPs in general maintain a level of expertise that far surpasses that of your average organization. The SLAs that Service Providers guarantee require a level of architecture and engineering expertise to ensure that server platforms, storage, networking, security, and software is selected, architected, engineered, and maintained to provide minimal downtime. To retain this level of expertise organizations would have to fork out big dollars for employee or consulting engineering support.

8.  Reliability and Fault-Tolerance

Cloud providers have everything to lose if customers systems are down and/or cannot be accessed. They lose their monthly revenue and potentially their customers depending on the impact to the customers operations. Primary and backup operations centers, power and cooling availability (battery, generator), diverse internet and transport carriers, redundant server hardware, replicated RAID protected storage arrays, high-availability network design, proactive management, and software availability features such as HA, clustering, and vMotion are used to ensure SLA metrics are met.

9.  Security

Security of a customer’s network is as important in the cloud as availability. Once again, security vulnerabilities in the cloud lead to customer systems being impacted, SLA metrics not being met, the provider forfeiting their monthly revenue, and potentially customers leaving in fear that they may be hacked. Cloud providers leverage best-in-class security platforms, tools, and expertise to ensure that their cloud is secure, their revenue continues to flow in, and customers continue to trust their operations to the cloud.

10.  Service Level Agreements (SLAs)

I have mentioned the SLA several times so far but this is an extremely valuable tool for customers to ensure the provider is delivering services that meet the customers needs. The SLA provides leverage to the customer in the event that their service is unavailable than they do not pay. This does not make the pain of the system being down go away but it does ensure that there is some accountability on the behalf of the provider in the form of monthly service credits and ability to terminate the contract.

 

http://www.litecloudhosting.com/contact/

A Lifecycle Approach To the Cloud

August 28, 2014 in Uncategorized by Brad Kessler  |  No Comments

By: Brad Kessler, CTO – LiteCloud

LifecycleBlog

Lifecycle can be one of the easiest overlooked yet potentially disastrous scenario that can impact you organization’s IT and communications. Often we budget to build our network, storage, computing, and communications solutions and in many cases budget for annual sustainment of those solutions. But how do we plan for the time when our investments in servers are no longer powerful enough, networks are no longer fast enough, storage is no longer reliable, hardware vendor maintenance is no longer available, software is end-of-support (patches/bug fixes), and things are just starting to fail.  lifecycle is very difficult to plan for, as the capital required to finance lifecycle along with the operational challenges associated with transition and downtime are not usually justified until it is too late.

The Cloud can present an interesting and cost-effective solution to the lifecycle challenge and vice-versa, lifecycle could lead more organizations towards cloud adoption. As hardware does not meet the capability, performance, or reliability requirements and software support reaches it’s end (I.E. Windows Server 2003) it could make good business sense to evaluate the cloud as an option. There is no all or nothing requirement as many cloud customers today have certain components of their infrastructure they keep on premise and some that they have moved to the cloud. Adoption of the cloud is often swayed slowed by customers not wanting to place all their resources in the cloud at once (who could blame them). It is perfectly understandable and often recommended to gently test the waters to ensure that performance, reliability, manageability, and service are up to par with expectations. The lifecycle approach to the cloud lends itself well to this practice.

The cloud can assist an organization in eliminating any number of lifecycle challenges by moving, migrating, or standing up a new service in the cloud. These could include:

  • Aging or unreliable hardware (Compute, Storage, Network)
  • Additional performance requirements (CPU, RAM, Storage, Network)
  • New capabilities (Applications, Server Virtualization, VoIP/UC, Virtual Desktop)
  • End-of-support (no vendor patches or updates)
  • Regulatory requirements (HIPAA, SOX, PCI, GLBA)
  • Aging security capabilities (Firewalls, VPN, IDS/IPS, Virus, SPAM, Malware)
  • Complexity and scale outgrew internal staffing resources
  • Environmental challenges (outgrew onsite power, space, cooling)

Cloud providers take upon themselves the onus of maintaining hardware and software lifecycle making this a seemingly transparent process to the customer. A “Good” cloud provider will constantly be upgrading compute, storage, and network resources to meet the demands of newer customer applications while maintaining vendor relationships and software licensing agreements providing access to the latest versions of hypervisors, operating systems, and applications. Cloud providers maintain sufficient staff to operate and maintain the environment to support their customers as well as the data center resources to house and scale their platform offerings.

Next time you are facing a lifecycle challenge within your IT environment, consider making the leap to the cloud and eliminating the costs, downtime, and headache of having to face it again.

http://www.litecloudhosting.com/services/

Communications in the Cloud…Benefits Beyond Data

August 19, 2014 in Uncategorized by Brad Kessler  |  No Comments

LiteCloud_VoIPaaS

By: Brad Kessler, CTO – LiteCloud

 

The cloud has quickly become a technology trend and industry buzz word. Social networks are talking about it, articles are popping up everywhere, IT decision makers are thinking about it, and no matter what your standpoint is in regards to pros or cons, you have at least considered it to solve a computing need. But is the cloud limited to “Computing”? The cloud offers IT benefits of lower capital expenditures, ability to scale on demand, enterprise-class performance and reliability, and reduced lifecycle expense, which would lend themselves perfectly to other expensive complex services such as voice and video communications.

The days of the traditional PBX are now at our back and we are now sitting comfortably in the VoIP age. VoIP definitely has shown us benefits such as a single network to operate, advanced calling features, and reduced costs of transport trunks by using the WAN but this does not come without an expense. The initial investment of a VoIP platform from a large vendor such as Cisco, Nortel, or Avaya and even smaller vendors such as Mitel or Shoretel are significant and the lifecycle of a VoIP system is more in line with a computer system (5-7 years) versus a traditional PBX (15+ years).

The cost of VoIP doesn’t end with the initial investment. Large expenses such as the VoIP PBX, phones, and the annual vendor hardware/software maintenance is a necessity in order to protect your investment. Unfortunately, the spending does not stop after the one-time or yearly expenses (Yes…there is more). The fact that the phone system now works over the IP network does not mean that you can stop paying the Local Exchange Carriers (Verizon, AT&T, CenturyLink, Etc.). PRI or IP-based SIP trunks are still required to make calls to the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) and those often carry monthly line as well as per-minute usage costs. And as an added bonus…Your average IT tech is not likely to be voice savvy so most businesses can compound the systems costs with bills for voice experts to perform the installation, sustainment, and daily operations of the VoIP platform. This is an investment that most small and medium businesses cannot and many larger businesses are wisely choosing not to make.

The answer to controlling or avoiding these costs may just be up in the cloud (literally). The rise of Hosted or Cloud-Based Phone or Unified Communications (VoIP, Video, Chat) has made it possible for budget-conscious organizations to attain the features and capabilities of a VoIP platform without the large upfront expense or Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) expenses such as maintenance and lifecycle. Cloud-based telephony is delivered “as a service” where the provider assumes the burden of the upfront investment, annual hardware/software support, PRI or SIP delivery to the PSTN, and labor required to install and operate the system. Cloud-based VoIP allows small and medium-sized businesses as well as larger more distributed (retail, hospitality, banking, call centers) customers to have a sophisticated telephone system with many of the bells and whistles found in the expensive on-premise VoIP systems for a relatively low monthly cost per handset.

Cloud-based phone systems offer operational and security benefits as well. A move from premise to the cloud offers a built-in business continuity so that phones may be quickly relocated or soft phones can be used in the event of a disaster or power failure. Many hosted and cloud VoIP provides offer Service Level Agreements (SLA) that place redundant call platforms and outbound PSTN trunks distributed across data centers as well as carrier-class security gateways to ensure that the system is protected from hackers.

Hosted VoIP Offers:

  • Lower initial setup costs
  • Faster setup time
  • Increased reliability
  • No lifecycle requirements
  • A monthly service fee for the cloud-based PBX
  • Additional monthly service fees if adding more handsets
  • Additional monthly service fees to upgrade the feature set

On-premise VoIP Offers:

  • Higher initial purchase and setup costs
  • Higher maintenance costs
  • Slower setup time
  • No monthly PBX fees
  • No additional monthly recurring costs to add more handsets

Which solution is better?  For many small to medium organizations it would be hard to argue against a hosted system, it simply makes more sense. There is a relatively small up-front investment, less headaches, and reasonable monthly fees. However, for many larger organizations, a business case would have to be made. The per-seat monthly charges could easily get to a point where the investment for an in-house system may be more beneficial in the long term.

http://www.litecloudhosting.com/services/voip-as-a-service/

Security Challenges of NOT Using the Cloud

August 13, 2014 in Uncategorized by Brad Kessler  |  No Comments

Cloud-Security-Lock_LcloudBy: Brad Kessler, CTO, LiteCloud Inc.

The Cloud promises reduced costs and increased flexibility, but it also raises security concerns. Leveraging the cloud affords businesses reliability and scalability with reduced costs but many Cloud adversaries will cite security as being the weak link in the Cloud’s silver lining. It is a widespread myth that the cloud should be a security concern when in fact, if you examine the details, the Cloud can prove in many cases to be significantly more secure than most Business networks. This theory becomes significantly more apparent in Small and Medium Businesses (SMB).

False Sense of Security – Many customers feel that just because they have the data close to them that their data is secure leaving them more susceptible to attack and failures. Cloud providers are motivated by Service Level Agreements (SLA) to ensure the availability and security of customer data, which in turn leads to increased security and redundancy.

Enterprise Class Hardware and Software – Many SMBs are on limited budgets and usually cut corners when it comes to things such as network, security, redundancy, and vendor maintenance. Cloud vendors usually deal in Enterprise or Service Provider class to include highly available low-latency switches with the ability to provide access control lists and rapid failover. Cloud Providers employ defense-in-depth strategies using best-in-class highly available firewalls along with intrusion detection, intrusion preventions, encryption in transit, encryption at rest, monitoring, and alerting. While SMBs usually employ a firewall or packet filter, they usually do not go the additional mile to ensure data is fully protected. Cloud Service Providers cannot tolerate failures. Failures resulting in loss of productivity or data force Cloud Providers to issue SLA credits, which directly affect their bottom line. Last but not least is vendor maintenance for hardware and software. This is overlooked by many SMBs that cannot seem to justify the recurring annual cost for support but can quickly lead to inability to download patches and software updates to gain additional features and patch bugs and security vulnerabilities. Cloud Providers cannot afford to be down nor allow a hardware or software bug to cripple their operation so they take extreme care to keep current on hardware and software support.

Carrier Class Facilities – One would be hard pressed to compare the under powered and insufficiently cooled storage closet-turned-server room located in the office to the state-of-the-art compliancy audited Type 3 data centers that host Cloud Providers. The reliability of redundant power grids, multiple fiber paths in and out of the building, battery and generator backup systems, advanced fire suppression, and ample cooling systems will ensure data availability while non-descript seismic-planned buildings, 24/7 staffed security personnel, key card and biometric access control systems, closed circuit video surveillance, and alarm systems ensure the physical integrity of customer data.

The People and the Process – When providing and IT service is your business it makes sense to employ full-time professionals that understand what it takes to implement and maintain security of customer data. Cloud Providers employ highly trained and certified engineers with industry experience to design a secure reliable environment and ensure it stays that way. Many SMBs simply do not have the budget to employ qualified full time support staff so they rely on consultants, which although skilled, are far too expensive to maintain the daily security operations such as patching, monitoring, auditing, and alert response that is often found in the Cloud. Cloud Providers usually possess 24/7 security and network operations staff trained in the processes of how to deal with a security incident or handle an alert leading to a more reliable IT environment and more sleep at night.

The decision to make the jump to the Cloud is not always an easy one. The benefits of cost, performance, reliability, management, scale, and security are often “clouded” (pardon the pun) by misconceptions. There are good reasons to trust your data to the Cloud. In fact, with all of the practical benefits provided by the Cloud, using the Cloud can actually increase company productivity while saving your company time, money and a lot of headaches!

http://www.litecloudhosting.com/services/cyber-security-as-a-service/

 

7 Reasons Small Businesses Switch to Cloud Based Software

August 7, 2014 in Uncategorized by Brad Kessler  |  No Comments

LCLOUD_BLOG

Small business owners often have big dreams. Whether that dream is to keep your business small or to grow it into a big business, you want your business to run as smoothly as possible – every step of the way. You might start your business as a sole proprietor with just a laptop and a few software programs. As your business grows and adds employees, you have to start thinking about security, backup, remote access, and coordination of effort.

One of the reasons small businesses switch to cloud-based software is to reap the benefits of big business infrastructure, without having to implement and manage it directly. Until recently, your software and servers almost always resided in your office, where they would be administered by your IT staff. This type of deployment is referred to as “on premise.” In the last several years, “cloud based” software has become more popular.

Cloud based software (also called cloud computing) enables companies to access software and servers located in a secure data center, maintained by the software provider. These free or subscriber-based services are delivered in real time over the Internet.

Your Microsoft Hotmail or Live account is an example of cloud-based email. Business users might be familiar with Microsoft’s Business Productivity Online Standard Suite, which offers a subscription-based suite of Microsoft-hosted, online applications that include: Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Live Meeting, and Office Communications Online. Because applications and documents are no longer stored on your personal computer, your data is more accessible to others in your office.

Small businesses are finding the many attributes of cloud computing very attractive. Here are seven reasons why:

1. Cloud computing can improve employee productivity. Using tools like Online Exchange and SharePoint, employees can easily access documents and emails while away from the office. Many small businesses have employees working remotely, and need both mobility and flexibility. Cloud computing is a straightforward and affordable way of addressing those needs, especially when you are using intuitive, familiar software that your employees already know.

2. Cloud computing reduces upfront costs. Choosing a cloud-based solution for such things as email, document sharing, and web conferencing reduces the upfront cost associated with starting a business. There are no servers to buy. The cloud-based subscription model allows small businesses to easily increase or decrease their use of cloud services according to their needs.

3. Cloud computing boosts collaboration.Employees everywhere can access and work with the same files in real time – no more emails back and forth with attachments to open. Better collaboration improves productivity and creativity.

4. Cloud computing provides business resiliency.Numerous studies have shown that more than 50% of small businesses will go out of business within a year of a major data loss. In a cloud environment, if you lose your laptop – or worse, your whole office – you can get back to business in no time. All your business information and files are securely in place.

5. Cloud computing is easy. The transfer of business information into “the cloud” is very straightforward. No need to install new hardware or software; no IT administration. It is often seamless to the user. Saving a document to a Microsoft Sky Drive is the same process as saving it to a hard drive. No training is required.

6. Cloud computing is accessible. Offering easy access and file sharing from any Internet connection, cloud computing allows employee access via smart phone or computer.

7. Cloud computing is secure. In fact, cloud computing can be more secure than a traditional IT infrastructure. Cloud computing providers like Microsoft build multiple levels of security and redundancy into their data centers.

The great thing about cloud computing is that it’s not an all-or-nothing proposition. Even if you already have servers and an IT staff, you can pick just one application that you think would be better served in the cloud. You might decide that since your sales force is remote, you’ll invest in Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online to manage your sales and marketing processes – but you’ll keep your Exchange Server deployment in house. With few exceptions, a mix and match of in-house and cloud-computing software works just great!

 

http://www.microsoft.com/business/en-us/resources/technology/business-software/7-Reasons-Small-Businesses-Switch-to-Cloud-Based Software.aspx?fbid=6GWFezAFGNt

 

Cloud = Cost Savings

January 5, 2014 in Uncategorized by Brad Kessler  |  No Comments

By eliminating large IT capital expenditures and reoccurring lifecycle costs businesses are able to focus capital dollars on important business components such as Sales, Marketing, Product Development, Production, and Inventory.
http://www.forbes.com/sites/louiscolumbus/2013/04/10/making-cloud-computing-pay-2/

When it comes to Cloud…Bigger is not better

November 27, 2013 in Uncategorized by Brad Kessler  |  No Comments

While the Amazons, Microsofts, and Rackspaces of the world may be the largest Cloud Providers they lack the personal touch and support tail that allows small and medium sized businesses to take advantage of Cloud efficiencies.  Good read.

Flexibility and support are more key than size for Cloud Services

http://www.abc.net.au/technology/articles/2013/11/14/3890955.htm

large_small

Cloud = Enterprise reliability, scale, and performance on a small business budget

May 23, 2013 in Uncategorized by Brad Kessler  |  No Comments

The term “Cloud” is often considered a vague and scary concept but in fact there are several benefits that can assist small and medium-sized businesses focus their resources on growing their revenue instead of capitalizing and sustaining their IT. LiteCloud works with our customers to leverage our Cloud-platforms to obtain “Enterprise-grade” IT hardware and software without the costs of capitalizing and sustaining it.

Technology 205: Small Business and The Cloud – Forbes

Welcome to LiteCloud

May 23, 2013 in Uncategorized by Brad Kessler  |  No Comments

LiteCloud is the leading provider of cloud-based computing and telephony services headquartered in Baltimore, MD. We give businesses a fast, easy, and secure way to attain high-end computing environments without the tremendous costs associated with Hardware, Software, Installation, and Sustainment.

LiteCloud began offering our services in 2009 under the name Litecast Managed Services. Upon the Litecast sale to the Zayo Group in December 2012, the Litecast Managed Services business was divested and LiteCloud was born. LiteCloud’s mission is to pick up exactly where Litecast Managed Services left off and continue to expand our cloud services offerings.

LiteCloud’s commitment to provide the highest level of services to our customers begins with our provisioning of high-speed network backbones, state-of-the-art Datacenters, highly-available hardware platforms, and best-in-class software. Our cloud solutions are architected, engineered, and tested by services architects that leverage experience garnered from working with commercial service providers, fortune 500, Government, and Academia. Operations and Maintenance staff are highly certified with vendors such as Cisco, Brocade, Juniper, VMware, NetApp, and ISC2 and leverage several years of experience and a compressive enterprise management platform to proactively monitor customer services while rapidly detecting and responding to problems.