Have You Been Frozen

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Elsa, Anna, Sven and all thecrew! If you have not heard of the biggest Disney movie you must have been hiding on the moon, in fact I think even Chis Hadfield has actually watched the movie while in space, so you have no excuse!

But I’m not talking about the movie, more the recent cold spell. A light chill and some dusting of snow, I bet each and every employer was dreading it, you know exactly what was going to happen, staff come from all over, and of course naturally will have difficulty getting into work, and of course some, more than others might just play on this, just like a good old fashioned school day, a bit of snow and it’s an excuse for the day off, only this time you are paying for their time at home?

Now with year on year weather predictions only getting worse, why not look at your options, a new year, a new plan, as next winter may not be such a light sprinkle of snow, in fact we still might the big chill yet?

5 things you need, and all your staff can work from anywhere, anytime, and with anybody…

    1. Mobile Working – There are so many types of this at present, but get something like Microsoft Office 365 if that works for you, or a simple cheap laptop and a VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure) service is best, this is always up to date with the latest version of Office and software packages and works on a monthly rental option.
    2. Presence Tools – This allows you to see at all times who is online, regardless where they are working from, it will integrate with the overall calendar package, and show when busy, in a meeting, off line so on, it also allows for Instant Messaging and video conferencing and conference calls, all with a single click. (Services such as Microsoft ‘Lync’, now being renamed ‘Skype for business’ and Cisco ‘Unified Presence’ will both do this for you.)
    3. Cloud Services – If you have bespoke packages like , Sage, Pegasus, Swift Pages, or any CRM, accounting or in-house package, it is best to cloud these in the coming months and take the leap of faith, then all your services are usable regardless where you or your staff are located
    4. Secure Access to systems – Security is key here, make sure whoever you use for the above services hold all the top level skill sets and awards, have fully qualified engineers in security such as RSA & Cisco, why pay for all these services and not have the best people manage them.
    5. Trust – In the end, the best systems in the world still can make people work when not in the office, personally I find I actually do more when at home a day or so a week, as I have no distractions, but this is something older firms really have to grasp, the next generation won’t take jobs 9am-5pm in the office 5 days a week, and you will lose very good people, to newer more mobile firms, who have flexi time, mobile and home working options, and are more performance based than time sitting in an office chair will the people favourite.

Overall number 5 Trust is the start, the top four can be implemented in a matter of weeks and months, but if you don’t provide trust, flexi time, mobility and the tools to allow people actually do the job you pay them for, and let them do the job from where, they sometimes need to be, you will be the overall looser, as your best people will move to those companies who do offer it, remember it’s been proven that a firm that has a proper flexi / mobility offering is preferred over one that doesn’t and pays more, so it will save you on pay rises also, as people see it as a fair trade off.


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How on earth do you pick a Cloud Provider?

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Every day there seems to be another ‘Cloud’ provider launched on the market

They of course are the latest, the best, the fast, most reliable service on the market today! Funny, I seem to hear the same words about each one of the them, so how on earth can you actually know which one, does what they say, and are the one to choose for you?

Let’s have a look first at what you may require, simple server hosting, decent speeds, properly managed backup data, maybe disaster recovery, and good support desk when required, some basics really, I’m sure most providers can do this?

Now let’s look at what the above mean to ‘You’ – A trusted IT partner, who is hosting ‘Your’ data, you expect all the above from whom ever you choose, and of course they will all tell you that they have it….so again, how can ‘You’ choose…?

Simple! If you were taking on a new Business Partner, or even a new Client, what’s the first thing you would do (Once you decided this partner or client ‘might’ be the one for you)


Number 1 rule on choosing a Cloud Provider, do a credit check, lots of new suppliers to the market, lots of small companies jumping on the bandwagon, fact is many will fail, and a fail with your data on their systems is a serious nightmare for you, this has already begun to happen, recent examples are CleverSafe, Two-e-Two(2e2), Symfor, Nirvanix and Megaupload, you need to look at this area carefully.

An analyst at Gartner’s data center conference late last year predicted that one in four cloud providers will be acquired or forced out of business by the end of next year.

No. 2 – White Labelled Providers

White label providers, simply buy service from another Cloud providers and brand it as their own, you really need to ‘Ask’ who is your provider, if they own every bit of equipment to build out their Cloud they will have spent in excess of £1 million to do this, revert back to ‘rule No.1 Credit Checking’ and this will clearly show you if they even had the funds to do this in the first place!

The problem here, you now have two partners, in some cases even more, so if your contract is with company X and they fail, you now have to find out who company X was buying from, as they actually host your data, secondly, the actually hosting company may not be obliged to release you any information as more than likely they have not been paid from company X who you hold a contract with.

No. 3 – Credibility

What Credibility do they have? Do they hold the best certifications out there from the main providers such as: IBM Premier Business Partner, Microsoft Gold Hosting Partner, Microsoft Gold Partner ad core skills sets in areas such as Citrix and Cisco to name a few.

If they have a clatter of skill sets as above, they must have plenty of good engineers who will be supporting your data in their cloud platforms. You need this, and should expect this, there are plenty of option in the market, so why accept less from any provider who can’t give you all these skill sets directly in-house.

Finally……Educate yourself as much as you can!

Reminder Tips for choosing your supplier:

  • Do a detailed ’Financial background check’, just like taking on a new client.
  • Find out if they are ‘Top Level’ partners with whatever application you are using such as IBM or Microsoft, why accept lower?
  • Make sure they have plenty of ‘Certified Engineers’ in each core area.
  • If using Cloud, make sure they own and manage every piece of the equipment, not just reselling some other companies cloud platform (Known as ‘White Labelling’)
  • Talk to several of their clients, not just the one that they give you!
  • Make sure ‘Full Access’ to your data is in the contract in the event of company X going bust
  • If you can afford it, Backup to another company elsewhere.

And remember…If it seems too good to be true….It normally is!

Written by Eoin O’Reilly – Cloud Sales Specialist

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