cloud computing

Backing up Cloud Applications

Backing up Cloud Applications 1280 500 Greenlight Managed IT Support Services | Sydney | Melbourne

So, you’ve migrated your company’s data to the cloud. It’s secure, it’s convenient, it enables your remote and mobile workforce, and it adds several layers of protection and security that you don’t have to self-manage.

But does this mean that all of your data is secure and available all the time? The answer is a firm – maybe. But maybe not is just as valid.

Even with all the advantages of cloud-based SaaS, such as Google Suite, Microsoft Office 365, or Microsoft Online Exchange, you could still be at risk for losing vital documents and data if it isn’t backed up adequately. Ultimately, it is still your data, and you alone are responsible for it.

Reasons for data loss in the cloud

While these managed services do provide online storage and anywhere access, it’s often at the user end that things get lost. Accidental deletion of files can mean that your data is gone for good – and even Microsoft will admit that “you can sometimes recover such items.” Note the use of the word “sometimes.” This offers no guarantee that your lost task, email message, calendar event, or even an entire folder might be retrievable.

Top reasons for SaaS data loss include (in descending order of prevalence):

  1. User deletion
  2. User overwrite
  3. Hacker/malicious deletion
  4. End of SaaS contract results in lost data
  5. Intentional/malicious deletion
  6. Application overwrite

And if you’re thinking “Google/Microsoft (insert your platform here) is too big a company to fail me,” you aren’t totally wrong – but you’re not exactly right, either.

Consider this: you are collaborating on a project in Google Docs with another member of your team. Once they have finished their part of the job, they delete it from their Google Drive, thinking that they have no need for it anymore. However, since it is a shared document, their changes – including the deletion – affects every other user connected to the document. In the blink of an eye, all that work is lost.

While this is just an example of one possible unwitting error, it is easy to see the potential for malicious damage to occur as well. Fortunately, there are solutions. Forewarned is forearmed.

Local sync is not enough: create local backups

If you have established a local folder for your Google or Office files, you probably assume that there will always be a copy available. However, these “copies” are actually just links to the networked files, and if those files are corrupted or lost, the link will not take you anywhere. It’s always advisable to save a completely clean copy of your files in a separate folder, and perhaps on a separate type of media, such as an external drive of some sort.

Establishing a strict backup program is important to the integrity of your data, and all versions of files you may need to have access to in the future. To be triple-sure of your data security, follow the 3-2-1 rule of backups: three copies (one production copy and two copies of that), two different types of storage media, and one copy stored off-site, or in the cloud.

File sync (FSS) is not a backup

While using Google Docs, OneDrive or Dropbox makes it easy and convenient to collaborate on, send and share documents, it is not a backup service. These services do not automatically backup your data, and do not update files as changes are made, and there is always potential for loss or corruption for any number of reasons.

Using a cloud backup service

Cloud backup services are integral to protecting your company’s data. It gives you the peace of mind of knowing that no matter what happens, your data is accessible, allowing you to recover files and restore systems in case of disaster. Some other advantages to cloud backup include:

It’s faster: instant access means you don’t have to go looking for your media drives to restore

It’s high-capacity: you can back up all your systems, documents and applications, and scale as needed

It’s seamless: the backup process will not disrupt your workflow

It’s secure: your data is encrypted for an extra layer of protection

It supports redundancy: all versions of your documents and systems will be saved, and the level of versioning can be user-directed

Choosing a cloud backup service

When shopping for a good cloud backup service, there are a few points to consider:

Internet bandwidth: you need a good internet connection to make cloud backup effective. A slow connection can result in delayed backups. If you have a slow or spotty connection, consider a service that you can configure to perform incremental backups to ensure it doesn’t get stuck.

Encryption: your data should be secured with an encryption key that you create. Be aware, however, that if this key is lost, your cloud service may not be able to help you recover your files.

Expense: you will have to pay for cloud backup, but it’s well worth it, simply for the peace of mind it brings. Most companies charge according to how much storage you require, and you can scale up or down as needed.

Some cloud backup services to consider include Backupify, Acronis, Crashplan, and Backblaze, all of which offer flexible features, a simple dashboard to manage it, and affordable plans to suit any company, from SMBs to enterprise.

Greenlight ITC: your cloud backup headquarters

If you are concerned about the safety of your cloud data, and would like to learn more about cloud backup services, get in touch with Greenlight ITC today. For more than a decade, we have been supporting businesses in Sydney and Melbourne with high-performance IT solutions that help them grow. We’d love to find out what we can do for you.

The Cloud and Your Data

The Cloud and Your Data 1000 450 Greenlight Managed IT Support Services | Sydney | Melbourne

It’s one of the biggest buzzwords of business journalism and advertising in 2014: what is “the cloud,” and what exactly can it do for you? Though to the unfamiliar the term may seem meaningless, working with the cloud may very well be worthy of the hype it has generated. To begin with, “the cloud” is not actually a new concept: the idea of remote storage of data has technically been around for some time, though many businesses are just now using the cloud to its potential. Essentially, rather than maintaining storage systems on-site, an off-site storage facility is used to house the hardware itself. Then, the data can be accessed online, manipulated instantly, and saved back to these remote servers. This simple function – being able to store data physically in one place while easily accessing it from another – has, with recently technology, only become more convenient.

Many of the advantages of employing cloud computing are quite clear. For instance, depending on the actual setup, employees and customers might not be dependent on a single server to access cloud data. Likewise, companies who are using the cloud will find that they are able to offer their customers more flexibility: rather than selling a piece of hardware that might be too large or inadequate, a company can charge based on how much storage space is actually need. Cloud storage also offers a sense of security based on the fact that the actual data can be stored off-site in a secure location. In the event of a physical disaster, data stored remotely will not be lost as a result of damage to the office. Finally, related to flexibility, remote storage allows for access to the cloud from nearly anywhere: no one is chained to a particular desk to access their data.

Of course, there are still a number of aspects to take into account to ensure that using the cloud for data storage will meet your needs properly. For one thing, the data is not simply disappearing into the ether, as it still requires a physical storage space; this space just happens to be offsite. It is of the utmost importance that these physical locations are both disaster-proof and quite secure. Additionally, businesses offering access to the cloud will often have different pricing options that are dependent on ease of access and the actual amount of storage available. Make sure that you research different options carefully to ensure that the many advantages of cloud computing don’t disappear before a wall of costs.

Overall, there is much to be optimistic about in the realm of cloud computing. As use of the cloud for data storage becomes increasingly popular, it can be expected that the technology that makes remote storage so convenient will continue to advance. At the very least, consider using the cloud as a backup for the data stored on your hardware. You may find it so convenient that you seek out cloud computing alone for all of your storage needs.

If you or your business are interested in cloud, feel free to give us a call or contact one of your account managers.

Dropbox

Dropbox Security Issues: Should You Worry about Your Company’s Data?

Dropbox Security Issues: Should You Worry about Your Company’s Data? 800 1050 Greenlight Managed IT Support Services | Sydney | Melbourne

DropboxShould you be worried about data security? This is a very relevant question since news of the Heartbleed bug broke out. As a result, numerous businesses implemented preventive measures and assured their customers that their data are safe.

Dropbox is one of those.  But the problem, critics say, is that Dropbox failed to do it right. Instead of sending direct emails to its users, Dropbox published a post in its blog, which is buried deep in its website. In it, Dropbox offered assurance and advised customers to regularly update their passwords.

Is That Enough to Secure Private Information?

According to the company, its security team is working non-stop. It has patched all public-facing systems that run on OpenSSL and re-issued and re-keyed SSL certificates for all domains. It also advised using strong passwords and not sharing it with other services. That’s one step to ensuring your data is safe. The next step is to check your routers and firewalls for infection. These could have been infected as well and it’s advised to get it checked by the manufacturer.

Dropbox also regularly issues transparency reports to show customers which agencies request access to user data. But critics say the reports aren’t very clear when it comes to data requests for users from countries other than the United States. If that isn’t enough reason to be concerned, Dropbox was also listed by Edward Snowden as one of the cloud providers that will soon become part of the National Security Agency’s Prism spy network in leaked documents.

Some were so concerned that they are calling for people to stop using Dropbox on a site called Drop-Dropbox. This, however, didn’t deter the company in its continued efforts to provide great service. Ross Piper, vice-president of enterprise strategy, undermined concerns about compromised data by Australian companies.

Your Data Could Still Be at Risk

Even without the Heartbleed bug, user data could still be at risk. There’s a risk of losing important data every time you use Dropbox, according to a post from Business IT. Most of the time, simple habits can result to getting sensitive information to fall in the wrong hands. Things like using a personal Dropbox account and sharing folders with others can make you at risk of hacking. That’s why everyone should exercise caution when storing and sending files through Dropbox.

What Does This Mean for Australian Businesses?

Dropbox is opening its first Australian office. And that is a strong indication of the kind of relationship the company has with its Australian market. The company claims that 95 percent of the top 100 Australian listed companies are Dropbox users. It takes pride in the fact that Australia has one of the highest per capita usage rates in the world. Dropbox is also working to meet the requirements of the Australian privacy principles.

Should You Still Continue Using Dropbox?

Although there are several alternatives for cloud storage and a couple of glitches in the past couple of years, Dropbox is still best in show. It’s easy to use. It’s universal. Plus, there’s an option for individuals to use it for free.

You can find comfort in the company’s commitment to privacy and security. One of its tools, Perfect Forward technology, prevents any vulnerability from regaining past access. According to CNET, it doesn’t allow any previous access a key might have had to be used again. That basically means you don’t have to worry about Heartbleed again.

Despite all these, Dropbox allows fast and secure file-sharing between computers. But you need something stronger for your business. Contact Greenlight if you need help in building computer networks that will allow seamless — and hack-proof — file-sharing methods. We can help protect your company’s data so you don’t have to worry about encryption flaws again.

Using the Cloud for your Server Solutions

Using the Cloud for your Server Solutions 150 150 Greenlight Managed IT Support Services | Sydney | Melbourne

The use of cloud solutions is quickly setting the field of technology alight. With the quickly dropping prices of cloud services and technology, along with the increasing acceptance of cloud products in order to provide solutions, businesses are quickly getting on the cloud bandwagon. One of the areas that the cloud seeks to revolutionize business is in providing new server solutions. But what exactly is a cloud server, and how can it benefit your business?

What are cloud servers?

Cloud servers, otherwise known as virtual servers or virtual private servers, simply refer to servers that run on the cloud computing environment, using the cloud to build, host and deliver their services.

Benefits of using cloud servers

There are a range of benefits to using cloud servers. These include:

1. Faster service

With traditional servers, precious time is spent having to configure and modify the physical hardware to suit a business’s specific needs, which may take hours or even days to do. However, cloud servers come with software that make them ready to use almost instantly, meaning that you may have a server ready to use within seconds.

2. Security

Cloud servers are far more secure than traditional servers. With cloud servers, your account will be insulated from other’s accounts. As a result, if there is any issue with the security of another account on the same physical server, then your account will still be kept isolated and secure.

3. Stability/Performance

Because of the highly customizable nature of the cloud servers, performance can be kept to an optimal level. Unlike traditional servers, one user or account cannot take control of the majority of the server resources, and you won’t have to worry about other accounts affecting your performance. Not only that, but they don’t suffer from the server hardware problems that physical servers occasionally encounter.

4. Cost effectiveness

One of the biggest benefits of using cloud servers are their cost effectiveness. With traditional servers, you are forced to pay a set amount, often in months or years. Because of the lack of flexibility with their usage, businesses often pay for resources that they simply never use. In cases where they may need resources that temporarily exceed the planned amount, your entire site may end up being shut down or you may have to pay excessive usage fees. Because of the flexibility of cloud computing servers, you can pay for what you use on a far more flexible basis, with many providers offering plans by the hour, and also allowing you to pay only for the capacity that is required at any particular time.

5. Flexibility/Scalability

It’s easy to make any changes or addition to cloud server as opposed to physical servers. For example, upgrading your server and adding extra memory or disk space can be quickly and easily done. You can also modify your operating system or make any other changes that are necessary. And of course, you pay for resources as and when they are required, instead of paying for one set amount.

6. Ease of setup/use

Because there is no complicated hardware setup involved, and because much of the necessary software has been tailored for a wide range of uses, deploying cloud servers is far easier than using traditional servers. Not only that, but managing is easier as well, since the software comes automated to conduct activities such as system updates and backups.

With the recent advances in technology, there are obvious advantages to using cloud servers over traditional servers. With cloud servers being cheaper, more flexible and easier to use than traditional servers, many businesses are now making the switch to the cloud for their server solutions. If saving money, time and effort sounds good to you, contact Greenlight ITC for a free quote on how we can help in providing the perfect solution to suit your needs.

Office 365 Guide

A Quick Guide to Office 365

A Quick Guide to Office 365 1000 837 Greenlight Managed IT Support Services | Sydney | Melbourne

Office 365 allows you access to the usual suite of software that you may have come to expect with Microsoft Office. However, it also comes with a number of other features that you may not be as familiar with. Let’s take a look at the main components of Office 365 and explore how these services can be used for your business

SharePoint Online

SharePoint is a platform which aims to help users share and collaborate on documents more effectively. Some of the exciting aspects of SharePoint include:

Sites

SharePoint allows users to design and maintain simple yet professional websites with their own custom domain name.

Document Libraries

Information can be saved through SharePoint, which will allow others to be able to quickly access data from other employees.

Blogs

SharePoint allows users to easily and quickly set up their own blog

Discussion Boards

Another feature of SharePoint is the ability to set up discussion boards, which can help productivity by providing an avenue for discussion even in large businesses.

Lync Online

Lync Online is a meeting and communication tool that lets you share and collaborate using a number of different rich media, making internal and external communication more effective and efficient. Some of the main aspects of Lync include:

Meetings

Lync gives users the ability to better share information even when meeting remotely. For example, you can share your own computer screen or applications with others, enabling a shared field of view. There are also other useful meeting features, such as a virtual white board and surveys. Of course, there’s easy integration with Outlook, meaning that you can invite contacts to participate in meetings quickly and easily.

Messaging

Lync allows users easy integration with instant messaging services such as Yahoo and Windows Live.

Voice

Lync can be integrated within phone systems, allowing you to carry out functions such as one click calling or sending voicemails to your email and Outlook

Video

Office 365 users can also use the video tool in order to communicate.

Exchange Online

Exchange Online is an email solution that provides secure, reliable access to email from virtually any device. However, Exchange also contains a number of other functions. Here’s a rundown on what Exchange Online has to offer:

Email

Exchange Online works well as the primary email server and can be used with a number of different clients such as Outlook. Not only that, but you’ll get 25GB worth of space for your mailbox, along with the ability to send emails up to 25MB.

Contacts

Exchange allows for users to store their contacts and related information. The best feature of the contact management is the ability to access your contacts anywhere, whether while at work or on the go on your mobile.

Tasks

The tasks feature within Exchange helps you to manage your activities in order to reach maximum efficiency. Since Office 365 works in the cloud, you can get updated information on your tasks from anywhere with an internet connection.

Office Professional Plus

Office Professional Plus contains the core suite of software that you would be familiar with as the essential Microsoft Office Programs. This includes programs such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Publisher, Access, and Outlook. Thanks to the cloud platform, you can edit and share these documents in real time with others, making collaboration easier than ever.

As far as productivity applications go, Office 365 is a great choice that combines familiarity of their traditional offerings with new features which can all be easily accessed and shared within the environment of the cloud. With experience in dealing with Office 365 and other related products, we’ll be happy to answer any questions that you may have on Office 365 and explain how it can best suit your business needs.

What is Bitcoin?

A Quick Guide to Bitcoin

A Quick Guide to Bitcoin 1000 667 Greenlight Managed IT Support Services | Sydney | Melbourne

If you’ve turned on your TV or gone online, it’s almost impossible to ignore the buzz about Bitcoin. Talk about the cryptocurrency has been cropping up everywhere – from major news portals to popular TV shows. Despite the rising popularity of bitcoins, many still do not understand what it is or how it works. Here’s a rundown on Bitcoin, and whether it’s a passing fad or genuine opportunity.

What Is Bitcoin?

First, it is important to make a distinction between Bitcoin and bitcoin. Bitcoin, with a capital B, refers to the technology and network of the peer-to-peer payment system and digital currency involved in processing bitcoins. The currency itself, bitcoin, is a cryptocurrency, which is a currency that uses cryptography for its creation and transfer. Bitcoin is unique because the entire system is powered by the peer-to-peer network of Bitcoin enthusiasts themselves, with no regulating central authority or government involved.

How Bitcoin Works

Bitcoin works by providing a personal wallet from which a user can send or receive bitcoins. This software generates and stores public and private keys, which act as both identifiers and safeguards for the bitcoins. The Bitcoin network is made up of a ledger called the “block chain,” which contains all the transactions ever processed.

Bitcoin’s Background

The first Bitcoin specification was published by someone named Satoshi Nakamoto in 2009. Although Nakamoto left the project in 2010, other developers stayed on to continue working on the project. Bitcoin is open source, meaning that anyone can make changes to the Bitcoin protocol. However, the protocol will only work when users have the same compatible version, providing a strong incentive to keep a consensus on Bitcoin protocol.

How You Get Bitcoins

There are different methods of acquiring bitcoins. These include:

  • Bitcoin exchanges: You can buy bitcoins on various exchanges, which serve as a platform for persons to transfer bitcoins from one wallet to another.
  • Bitcoin mining: People can use their computers in order to perform complex mathematical tasks that verify the blockchain of transactions and ensure that it is correct. As a reward, these miners are rewarded with bitcoins.
  • Payment: You can receive bitcoins as payment for goods and services, just as you would with traditional currency.
  • Exchange: You can also have people give you bitcoins.

Advantages of Using Bitcoin

There are a number of reasons why people use Bitcoin. These include:

  • Anonymity/untraceability: The only identifying information used in bitcoin transactions is the wallet ID. This allows users to make transactions without ever releasing their identity.
  • Little to no fees: People who send and receive bitcoins don’t pay fees, unless one party decides to charge fees. This makes Bitcoin a great way to send and receive money without having to pay onerous transfer or transaction fees that may be charged with traditional currencies.
  • Increasing value: The value of bitcoins has shot up recently, with a 1000 per cent increase in value within the last year and a half. As a result, Bitcoin has become a profitable currency to hold for many investors.

Disadvantages of Using Bitcoin

  • Anonymous/untraceable: The anonymity and untraceable nature of Bitcoin has also proven to be a major disadvantage. If, for example, there is ever an issue regarding services or goods that haven’t been delivered as promised, it will be nearly impossible to trace the user and dispute the transaction.
  • Adoption rate: Even though bitcoins are gaining in popularity, they are still only accepted by a small number of online merchants. As a result, even if you have bitcoins, you may have problems finding vendors who accept them for items that you would like to purchase.
  • Volatility: Bitcoins are still a volatile currency. Because of the large fluctuations in value of a bitcoin, it’s very difficult for people who offer products or services that allow for payment with bitcoins to properly price their goods.
  • Bitcoin security: Despite the extensive measures taken to ensure Bitcoin security, there is still a major issue surrounding the security of bitcoins, with several major exchanges such as Mt. Gox being the subject of major security lapses, resulting in the loss of millions of dollars’ worth in bitcoins.
  • Government limitations: At the moment, many governments such as Iceland and China have either highly restricted or outright banned the use of bitcoins in their country. This is due in large part to the difficulty in regulating and taxing bitcoins.

All things considered, Bitcoin has a promising, if not totally predictable, future. However, with a number of factors working against Bitcoin, it’s probably advisable to hold off on major investment of bitcoins until the currency has stabilised and has achieved a larger following.

Meanwhile, Australians can now run to the Bitcoin ATM. Australian Bitcoin and Krypto Currency Solutions were among the entities that installed Bitcoin ATMs in late March, with one machine installed in Sydney’s Pitt Street Mall.

A Quick Guide to Google Apps

A Quick Guide to Google Apps 150 150 Greenlight Managed IT Support Services | Sydney | Melbourne

google-appsProductivity is an important part of any organization’s effective functioning. With people expecting information almost instantaneously, the importance of collaboration and sharing of information has come into view more sharply now than ever. Thanks to a number of technologies that harness the cloud, companies are finally able to reach their maximum efficiency. One of these technologies is Google Apps, a suite of software tailored to increasing productivity in organisations

Overview of Google Apps

Google Apps is a portfolio of different tools and applications that have been tailored for business use. Since Google Apps uses the cloud, there is no need to install any software on your computer, and you can access these applications wherever or on whatever device you have an internet connection.

Google Apps Main Features

Google Apps Gmail – Probably the most well-known of Google Apps offerings is Gmail. With 25 GB of space provided with a paid Apps account, there’s plenty of room to store all your information. Also, the conversations within your inbox come threaded, allowing for easier tracking of multi-party exchanges.

  • Google Presentations – This tool is allows you to create presentations, with the ability to use image and videos and add drawings or rich tables to your presentation. In addition, users can also collect and share team feedback quickly, and your presentation can instantly be published online.
  • Google Sites – This tool is used for website building, and allows you to create your own website. You can create a website that exists in your Google apps domain that can be easily edited by others, and of course has integration with other Google Apps such as Gmail and Google Docs.
  • Google Apps Calendar – Google Apps Calendar allows employees and businesses to share information on appointments, important events, dates, and other related information in real time. A useful tool for scheduling group events, it allows users to sync their information for easier management.
  • Google Voice – Google voice is Google’s VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) programme. In addition to basic calls, Google Voice also has transcription features to allow users to make voice to text recordings, and also allows you to share messages and can make personalised greetings.
  • Google Docs – Another well-known productivity app, Google Docs allows users to collaborate on their word processing tool in order to make real time changes to s single document. There’s no need for frequent refreshing or saving since Google Docs does this automatically.
  • Google Pack – The Google Pack is basically the basic starter kit of for business needs, comprising many from the Google family of products. It includes products such as the Google Chrome Browser, Google Apps, the Spyware Doctor and Anti-Virus, as well as other non-Google applications such as Adobe Reader and Skype
  • Google Spreadsheets – Google Spreadsheets is a great tool if you’re looking for basic spreadsheet function. For example, there’s easy compatibility with Excel

Other features of Google apps

Similar to other productivity suites such as Office 365, you can request your own personal domain name or use your own, through which you can manage your information such as email addresses. Of course, with many people already using some of the Google Apps suite of products such as Gmail, access to Google Apps is made even simpler.

With Google Apps being a popular and useful tool that can assist with increasing productivity within your business, this may be the solution for you in getting your workforce more effective and efficient. Contact us for a free quote on how we can help your team to move to Google Apps and leverage their powerful suite of products today.

The Top 10 Apps No Business Professional Should Live Without

The Top 10 Apps No Business Professional Should Live Without 150 150 Greenlight Managed IT Support Services | Sydney | Melbourne

ipad-mini-apple-official-photoAs a business professional, it’s almost impossible not to be inundated with new technology and apps that seem to arise almost daily. Although apps can greatly improve workplace communication and productivity – with literally millions of apps to choose from – it’s important to sort out the noise and to figure which apps are useful from those that aren’t. Here are the top 10 apps that every business manager and employee should have:

Evernote

While Evernote is best known as a note taking app, its wide range of features give users many options outside of making generic notes. For example, this useful app allows you to clip web pages, store images and take audio notes. In addition, Evernote’s extended family comes with a wide range of additional features, such as a handwriting app and an image mark-up tool. Evernote allows businesses to share notes and additions to work with other co-workers, creating a hive mind type of collaboration. There’s also a version specifically for business, which allows companies to centrally manage employee accounts and access data or notes.

LinkedIn

Linked in is a great tool for any business professional. It allows you to track other professionals in your industry, and also to participate in relevant groups that can increase your reach and assist with branding your business.

Lastpass

Password security is critical in keeping your important data safe. With many businesses requiring a multitude of different Internet-based accounts, it can be impossible to remember the complex passwords required to access each one. Lastpass is a password management app that offers a secure method of storing those passwords in one location, and has additional features such as two step verification to ensure password security. It’s no wonder that this programme was named PC Mag’s editor’s choice for password management.

Hootsuite

With the popularity of a social media, your business probably has to manage a number of different accounts. Hootsuite allows you to manage various social media platforms from one easy-to-use dashboard, saving you time and effort from having to manually update each one.

Tripit

This useful app is a one-stop-shop for all of your business travel organization needs, helping you to organize and share your travel information. For example, you can plan an itinerary simply by forwarding confirmation emails, get directions and maps for the destinations that you’re visiting, and even sync your trip plans with other apps such as Google Calendar or Outlook.

Skype

As the world’s most popular video calling app, Skype is a must-have for most businesses. With the ability to voice or video call for free with the more than 250 million people on Skype, this is a useful tool to communicate both locally and abroad. Of course, you can still use Skype traditionally and call landlines and cell phones, with far lower calling rates than traditional providers.

Asana

This useful app makes it easier for teams to organize and prioritize information, allowing for better time management. It allows users to create lists and organize tasks, and also to get updates straight from their inbox. It can also attach files and images to tasks and has Dropbox integration.

Wi-Fi Finder

Are you an on the go business traveller who’s always searching for an Internet connection? Wi-Fi finder may just be the answer to your prayers. Wi-Fi finder displays both paid and free Wi-Fi networks, even providing directions to nearby hotspots, which is great for the on the go employee.

Square Register

Especially useful for small businesses or entrepreneurs on the go, Square Register is an innovative app that lets users accept credit card and other payments straight from their mobile device, either through their credit card dongle or through entering card details manually. Not only that, but Square charges a small and simplified 2.75 percent per transaction, with no extra hidden fees, making it easier than ever to process cashless transactions.

Dropbox

Dropbox is one of the most popular cloud storage apps, and there’s a good reason why. Its ease of use in uploading files and almost near instantaneous syncing makes sharing documents with co-workers or other employees a cinch. It saves valuable time in having to manually share information through other methods such as email or hard copy transfer through USB.

Apps are a staple when it comes to raising productivity and streamlining day-to-day tasks. By focusing on just a few key apps, your company can quickly see a rise in profits thanks to an increase in employee output. As a leader in mobile management technology, Greenlight ITC can help your company with managing company mobile devices. Contact us today for a free quote on how we can put together a mobile device plan that works for you.

Edge of the Cloud – The Horizon for Cloud Computing

Edge of the Cloud – The Horizon for Cloud Computing 150 150 Greenlight Managed IT Support Services | Sydney | Melbourne

According to the latest statistics, cloud computing is big. So big, in fact, that a full one third of IT budgets are now expected to be spent on cloud computing technologies in 2014. Not only that, but cloud computing is also growing at a rapid pace. It’s estimated that the cloud computing market generated $131 billion in revenue in 2013 and will grow to $181 billion within the next two years.

Oh yeah, cloud computing is definitely big.

Far from just being a popular buzzword, cloud computing offers a number of benefits for its users. For example, it’s estimated that users who switch to cloud computing will save 21 percent. And for many businesses, that level of savings creates a compelling case for using cloud computing.

cloud-computing-2014However, like most cutting edge technology, cloud computing is changing. Fast. And with many of these changes, it is important for companies that use cloud computing services and technology to learn about these changes to take full advantage of the benefits that they offer.

Five Trends for Cloud Computing

 

Bring Your Own Cloud

One of the major changes forecasted for cloud computing is the rise of Bring Your Own Cloud (BYOC). This phenomenon involves employees using public or private third party cloud applications such as Dropbox or Google Docs in order to complete their jobs. BYOC is quickly increasing due to the fact that it allows workers to freely access information from any location or device, meaning that they can work on projects at home or on the go. In addition, it also allows for the easy backup of data, and many of the services used are free or extremely low cost. However, BYOC does come with drawbacks. These include the fact that sensitive work data may be subject to security breaches if employees fail to set up adequate security. In addition, if all of the work parties aren’t on board with the same cloud software, then cloud sprawl occurs, where efficiency is limited due to the fact that employees are using different software on the same project.

Better Security

With more people adopting cloud computing, the issue of creating a secure cloud platform gains more and more attention. The nature of cloud computing means that there are many security issues that companies now face when it comes to sensitive data. Issues such as moderating levels of access to various users or ensuring the security of BYOC employees means there may be a minefield of security issues to be dealt with. However, with companies such as Microsoft and Okta providing new identity management solutions to deal with the security of cloud platforms, the issue of security is one that is sure to be placed on the front burner for the next few years.

Platforms as a Service

Another development in the cloud computing sphere is the movement towards Platforms as a Service (PaaS) technology. With the availability of technology that facilitates the easy development of software apps, PaaS will be pushed to the forefront due to its ability to facilitate collaboration across the cloud. PaaS provides companies an avenue to develop and run applications across the cloud without needing to have localised hardware or software infrastructure. As a result, companies with multiple locations can work on the same project almost seamlessly, increasing efficiency and collaboration. In addition, PaaS technologies cut costs due to the fact that companies no longer have to purchase the requisite hardware and software for each individual location, but instead can use the infrastructure stored in one central cloud location.

Lower Prices

As storage technology continues to get cheaper, the price for cloud computing services will continue to see a corresponding rapid drop in price. One of the leading cloud computing services, Amazon Web Services, slashed their prices by 80 percent in 2013 alone. Other cloud companies have followed their lead, with Microsoft and Google offering competing prices with Amazon. Within the upcoming few months, it is expected that price drops will continue, allowing even the smallest of companies access to cloud technology that just a year or two ago may have been out of their financial reach.

Graphics as a Service

The rising ability of the cloud to provide graphic solutions is another key change that is on the horizon of cloud computing. Graphics as a Service (GaaS) technology allows users to harness the graphics processing abilities within the cloud, making it easier for clients to run graphic needy programs without paying for expensive hardware. This new development is expected to benefit users in a wide range of fields that need high quality graphics, from the gaming industry to science and engineering.

With many companies still trying to get a hold on cloud computing it seems as if many of its benefits have not even yet been fully realised, much yet harnessed. However, by keeping in mind some of the trends in cloud computing, you will have a higher chance of being able to tap into the benefits of cloud computing and use this advantage to propel your business into the future.

Is Australia finally ready for Office 365?

Is Australia finally ready for Office 365? 150 150 Greenlight Managed IT Support Services | Sydney | Melbourne

office365On 2 April 2014 an interesting thing will happen.  Telstra will lose its exclusive monopoly to distribute Office 365 in Australia.   While Telstra may have the best mobile phone network, they can be sometimes difficult to deal with.  As such, the IT channel hasn’t been rushing to work with them.  In only a few short months, registered IT resellers will be able to resell Office 365 licenses to their customers, and given the price advantage, we will likely see a rapid uptake.

For those not familiar with Microsoft’s terminology, Office 365 is their answer to Google Apps.  The product combines web access to your office documents, as well as a client for most PC and mobile device platforms. Each license allows you to use Office on up to 5 unique devices, which could include your laptop, smartphone, tablet and even on a terminal server. While the license is more expensive than Google’s alternative, Office remains the standard in business productivity tools.

Clearly Microsoft is betting on its future being in the Cloud, and thanks to price pressures from Google has priced this product aggressively.  From a cost standpoint, the proposition looks very compelling.  Most business customers would see savings of around 40% per month compared to the Microsoft’s traditional subscription model (known as SPLA in the trade) for Office alone.  There may even be other savings in reduced server hardware and licensing costs.  The other advantage is that user subscriptions can be added or removed each month so you only pay for what you use. This will  benefit customers that with to scale up and/or down quickly.

However there are a few trade-off that you should discuss with your IT Service provider:

  1. Return On Investment.  Office 365 is a subscription service, so you need to pay for it in perpetuity as long as you want to access you data.  If you were to buy the equivalent Office 2013 license outright, you would have it paid off in around 3.5 years.  As Microsoft releases a new office version around every 3 years or so, it’s not surprising they set the pricing at this level.
  2. Data Location.  For Australian customers, data stored on Office 365 (or Sky Drive) is actually stored on servers in Singapore and Hong Kong. There is no option to have it stored locally.  This may have implications for customers that need to ensure Data Sovereignty from a legal perspective.  Also, it means that the cloud application may not respond as quickly as it would if the servers were hosted locally. If you’re interested in learning more about this you can find the privacy policy for Office 365 here.
  3. Third Party integration.  Many companies have a line of business application that has plugins to integrate Office functionality.  Applications that are a few years old may not even integrate at all, and all too often customers do not plan for this loss of functionality until it is too late, resulting in lost productivity, or a costly roll back to the original system.  It’s best to check with your application vendor first before embarking on a cloud migration.
  4. End User Support.   Large corporations are rarely known for providing the highest levels of customer service and support, and until April would have been the only option.  Fortunately there is a thriving industry of Managed IT Service providers that will rapidly fill this void.

Given Microsoft’s discounted pricing, we will certainly see many companies carefully considering an upgrade to Office 365. However it isn’t simply a ‘drop-in’ replacement for the other versions of Office, so be sure to have a chat with your IT company or give us a call on (02) 8412 0000 to see if Office 365 is right for your business.