The Right Idea for Your Cloud-Computing Needs [Microsoft]

With increasingly rich applications and a growing capability to store, manage and organize data, the power of the PC and mobile devices has grown exponentially. But these enhancements pose three critical challenges to IT departments: protecting the reliability of the IT infrastructure, developing solutions that add value to the business, and providing the end-user the flexibility and accessibility that is expected in the world we live in today.

Especially with today’s economy, the biggest challenge IT departments face is budget. Roughly 70% of IT budgets go to maintaining existing systems, leaving only 30% for development of new solutions.

Enter Software-plus-Services.

To tackle these challenges, cloud computing – or internet-based hosted services – is fast becoming a favored solution.

When it comes to cloud computing software applications, the Software-as-a-Service’ or SaaS model is when a provider licenses a hosted software application to customers for a service on demand. But there are limitations to the SaaS model, including limited feature functionality of the application, required internet connectivity, backup and synchronization of data and speed and accessibility of the application. So it is important to first make several key considerations when looking at cloud-based solutions, such as: [Read more…]

Technologies that shouldn’t be overlooked during tough times [Oracle, Sophos]

Partner Panel Featuring Oracle & Sophos

Q: At a time when cost-management is the guiding principle, what should organizations consider when making the case for new IT investments?

Oracle: IT organizations cannot be viewed as a cost-center – a necessary evil to the organization. Instead IT should be positioned as a value-center to the overall business – a business enabler. If your IT investment reduces cost of the overall business, the question changes from “how much are you spending?” to “how much is this saving?” 74% of CFO’s admit that they get their cost cutting priorities wrong because they cut what’s easy to measure rather than where it is most needed. Helping your organization see an IT investment as driving down cost of business ensures your value to the budget.

Sophos: Up front purchase costs only represent a small fraction of the overall cost of a solution. Carefully consider not only the ongoing costs, but also infrastructure investment necessary, additional workforce required to administer the solution and whether your organization actually has the resources to execute the work needed to take advantage of the new investment. Another thing to look at is what additional mileage you can get out of your existing solutions – features and capabilities that will improve your security, enhance your productivity, etc.

Q: What solutions are having the biggest impact on helping businesses get through the current economic crisis?

Oracle: Actually the answer is deceptively simple: save by using what you own. Customers can use existing investments to reduce cost and maximize the utilization of current investments. Using software to help reduce cost is huge in helping efficiency in your data center. Automated Data Management solutions are key in saving organizations time and money, plus they leverage existing resources so they’re not cost prohibitive. Maximizing resources is all about doing more with less; storage and server consolidation are two examples. You can both save 50% of your hardware cycles and increase performance 10X by virtualizing your server environment using an Oracle grid architecture.

Sophos: Virtualization remains a popular way of reducing not only infrastructure costs but staff levels necessary to maintain physical servers – make sure your technology solutions support virtualization. Encryption is now seen as a critical investment, as the fines, recovery costs and bad will associated with data leakage are many multiples higher than the cost of investing in this technology. Secure web gateways are seen as having dual benefits – improved security through reduced web risks, and improved employee productivity through control of social networking and other sites.

Q: ROI is key to building the business case. How have the expectations changed in terms of the payback period? How have your solutions evolved to reflect this focus?

Oracle: We’ve seen tremendous changes in how customers view IT investment. Finite ROIs are required and now measured in months. Capital budgets are reviewed quarterly. A “product” takes the back seat to the delivery of cost-savings. Because of this shift, customers have looked to Oracle to help deliver. Our customers are saving: 50% of server costs; 70% of storage costs; 35% of DBA’s time; and 25% of application development time. Companies big and small have changed their expectations and are looking to their trusted partners to develop the business case to drive down business cost and maximize the return of IT.

Sophos: It is widely believed that you can’t measure the ROI of security, but instead measure TCO. Security is something you must have – chose a solution which is top-notch yet can be implemented and managed at low cost. Sophos has invested heavily in simplifying security interfaces that don’t require a four week course at Security University. A single agent technology reduces the load by providing more protection with less “fat.” A single management platform for multiple operating systems and security components reduces the infrastructure required. The drive to reduce complexity has helped Sophos grow significantly during a down economy.