8 Benefits of Moving to the Cloud

8 Benefits of Moving to the Cloud

With the cloud, end-users and your teams are able to access software and applications from wherever they are, using the device of their choice. They can work from anywhere.

If your business has yet to tap into the power of the cloud, these eight benefits of cloud computing should change your mind.

Reduce Expenditures, Increase Efficiencies

Migrating to the cloud reduces – and in many cases – eliminates the need for your business to purchase equipment and operate out of a data center. Now, you are seeing significant savings on hardware, facilities, utilities, and other expenses required from traditional computing. You will also reduce the need for on-site servers and expensive software, trimming your IT budget further.

Flexibility

The cloud gives you and your employees the flexibility to work from any location. Employees can complete their tasks at home or from the field. This is particularly valuable in an era when employees desire flexibility in their schedules and work environment. You can also reduce the number of workstations in your office and allow some employees to work from home, further saving costs.

Increase Collaboration

Cloud-based workflow and file-sharing applications give your teams the ability to work together more easily and efficiently. Employees can make real-time updates, see what other team members are doing and communicate effectively. This level of collaboration speeds up projects and improves customer service.

Disaster Recovery

Hosting systems and storing documents on the cloud provides a safeguard in case of a disaster. Man-made and natural disasters can damage equipment, shut off power and paralyze critical IT functions. Supporting disaster recovery efforts is one of the important advantages companies attain when they move to the cloud.

Data Security

It’s just a fact that storing data on the cloud is safer than storing it on physical servers and in data centers. Think of it this way, a breach of security on your premises can lead to compromised data security if laptops or computers are lost or stolen. However, if you have data on the cloud, you can immediately delete any confidential information remotely or move it elsewhere. It’s also a fact that breaching security protocols on cloud platforms is difficult.

Document Control

The more your employees and partners collaborate on documents, the greater the need for tight document control. Prior to the cloud, you and your employees sent files back and forth as email attachments to be worked on by one user at a time. More often than not, that ended as a mess of conflicting file content, formats and titles. However, when you move your business tasks to the cloud, all files are stored centrally and everyone sees the one up-to-date, true version of the file or document.

Automatic Software Updates

With your servers off-site and in the cloud, your hosts take care of them for you by taking charge of regular software updates – including security updates – so you don’t have to worry about wasting time maintaining the system yourself. That leaves you free to focus on the things that matter, like growing your business.

Compliance Needs

If your industry, for instance, is healthcare or financial services, ensuring data compliance is essential for your business. Moving operations to the cloud ensures that your business is using cloud-based tools and services that are already compliant, helping to remove some of the burdens of compliance from your IT team.

No doubt there are many more benefits of moving to the cloud that are not listed here, but these are some of the big ones.

Ad Victoriam has helped bring big changes to businesses all across the country. Contact us today to learn how we can help your business migrate to the cloud with little-to-no impact on daily operations, but a serious boost to your bottom line.

 

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Salesforce Heroku: A Mobile App Developer’s “Easy” Button

salesforce heroku for developers easy button

Developers have the difficult task of creating mobile apps that engage their customers or business partners.

Unfortunately, the road to get there can sometimes be plagued with many issues – from infrastructure and servers that can throw off your focus to internal organizational hoops, developers have to jump through to make everyone happy, resulting in a finished but sub-par product.

The good news is that this issue hasn’t gone unnoticed. Two forces combined to solve this problem: Salesforce Heroku.

Hold up…what’s Salesforce Heroku again?

Salesforce bought Heroku (a leading Ruby cloud application) in 2010 for a cool $212 million. In acquiring Heroku, Salesforce saw an opportunity to continue providing support for the next generation of app developers.

It is a cloud platform based on a managed container system. It allows companies to build, deliver, monitor and scale apps in open languages and frameworks…in record time.

How? Simply put:

Salesforce handles all of the technical details, giving developers more time to do what they get paid to do—deliver an amazing app.

The integration of Salesforce with Heroku enables companies to build apps that span both platforms.

Ways Heroku Helps Developers

  • Salesforce Heroku has an interface that’s easy for either developers or Salesforce business users to set up.
  • The program uses a variety of methods to integrate application data between Force.com and Heroku platforms.
  • It focuses on improving developer workflow.
  • It utilizes the leading open source database – Postgres – allowing you to focus more on building and less on database management.
  • Heroku allows you to automate the creation, maintenance and monitoring of sync operations.

This is just a snapshot of how Salesforce Heroku has elevated cloud computing and what it can do for your development process. To learn more, contact one of our knowledgeable staff at Ad Victoriam Solutions.

Compliance in the Cloud – HIPAA

compliance word cloud: Ad Victoriam Solutions Cloud Strategy blog

Today many companies are looking to move their applications and workflows to the Cloud in order to realize benefits such as minimizing cost, reducing IT overhead, and enterprise scalability.

Some of these solutions are required to maintain compliance with HIPAA, which creates concern when hosting in a public cloud platform such as AWS or Microsoft Azure. The good news is that both of these major public cloud providers have solutions for applications that require this sort of compliance.

Solutions that handle Protected Health Information (PHI) must maintain HIPAA compliance and are required to manage a number of safeguards at the administrative, technical, and physical levels. Some examples of these safeguards include:

  • Administrative
    • Privacy Officer Assignment
    • Annual Risk Assessments
    • Policies and Procedures
    • Employee Training
    • Establish a Business Associate Agreement (BAA) with all partners involved
  •  Technical
    • Transmission Security
    • Access Control
    • Auditing
  • Physical
    • Facility Access Controls
    • Workstation compliance
    • Device and Media handling

Typically, administrative safeguards are handled when a company accesses the PHI, technical controls are handled by the applications that manage this data, and physical safeguards are handled by parties that have physical access to the infrastructure.

Next, we will look at how AWS and Azure provide a platform to host HIPAA compliant applications as each provider meets HIPAA compliance at the Physical level.

AWS is a large player in the public cloud platform sector, and it provides the mechanisms to host a HIPAA compliant solution. AWS does provide a Business Associate Agreement (BAA) by request, but requires that you host your application in dedicated instances. Dedicated instances are costlier than shared instances, but guarantee that your VM is isolated and does not share resources with other VMs. Also, AWS requires that a VPC must be employed, and that their S3 and EBS services should be used to process and store PHI. Applications are required to handle encryption of the data in transit, auditing, and access controls.

Azure is another large public cloud platform, and also provides the ability to host a HIPAA compliant solution. Azure provides a BAA to all customers that are part of their Microsoft Online Subscription program, which is essentially any customer that is part of their Pay-as-you-go or Volume License agreements. Azure also provides HIPAA compliance for most of their Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) offerings, such as Azure SQL Database, Azure Service Bus, and Azure Cloud Services. This creates an advantage when hosting HIPAA compliant solutions in Azure, as their BAA covers most of their IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS offerings. As with AWS, Azure requires that the applications handle certain measures such as encryption, auditing, and access controls.

AWS and Azure, the top two public cloud platforms, each provide a solution to host a HIPAA compliant solution. Each certify their solutions at the physical level, and require the customer to handle compliance at the administrative and technical levels. As such, certain architectures and security measures should be used to ensure that the application meets HIPAA compliance.

For more information on how you can host your HIPAA application in the cloud, please reach out to Ad Victoriam solutions.

5 Tips for Creating an Awesome Documentation Process

Documentation Process

Let’s be honest…documentation is kind of a drag. The reality is that documenting a process for Salesforce, big data or IoT can be a daunting task, but more importantly, a necessary evil. Here are some tips I have for becoming a self-proclaimed documentation ROCKSTAR!

Tip #1 – Create a standard naming convention to use for all documents.

Creating a naming convention that is both descriptive and consistent will save users time and frustration when searching for the right document. There isn’t a single right way to name user guides, but developing a system that works for your business is the first step to documentation bliss.

Example: [Company Name] – [Short Description] – [Date (YYYY-MM-DD)]

Tip #2 – Add a descriptive header to each document.

Tell your readers key information at the top of your page by highlighting the topic, date created, version number and author. This will allow for an easy view of the document specs at first glance.

awesome-process-documentation

Tip #3 – Provide users with a high-level visual summary of your documentation process.

According to Hubspot, 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual, and visuals are processed 60,000 times faster in the brain than text.

By providing your audience with a visual summary, you can highlight the high-level process before diving into the meat and potatoes. Tools like Lucid Chart allow you to easily create charts and graphs to include in your fabulous documentation.

 decision-maker

Now this is the part where things get REAL…

Tip #4 Provide a clear, informational, concise guide to success.

The most important component of process documentation is a clearly, defined outline of the steps it takes to achieve success. This section should be informational, concise and easy to follow. When working on this section, I like to start by setting the stage for the actual business process – readers will be able to better follow your instruction with a real-life example.

Start with numbering each step and write down the WWWWWH (Who, What, When, Where, Why, How) for EACH step.

Keys to Success: Assume your reader has no knowledge of your current system and/or process. Walk through a real-life example and use images to continue with including visuals as described in the third tip.

Tip #5 Provide a resource for readers to get more information.

And finally, it is always a good practice to include a source for more information. Whether it is a link to a webpage, a help video or an email address, let your users know where they can find more information and ask any questions that might arise.

 

That’s all there is to it! Follow these 5 tips to turn your documentation process from awful to awesome. If you’d like more information on how to better manage your company’s Salesforce, big data or IoT documentation, feel free to reach out to the expert cloud solutions team at Ad Victoriam Solutions.

Salesforce Shows Resilience in the Cloud Computing World

In recent months, a market-wide stock selloff has occurred amongst cloud computing companies, and the results have hit hard. Even big name companies like Salesforce felt the burn.

It is speculated that one the reasons for this downward trend is that investors who want to find havens for their companies don’t typically make plays that are considered “richly valued,” leading to cases that don’t always have a positive cash flow.

Salesforce’s stock was down by more than 20% until the release of fourth-quarter numbers. These numbers showed, according to the Wall Street Journal, that Salesforce has “benefits of both scale and maturity that the company brings to a space that is still in its adolescence.”

The company’s billings—a key metrics-based system for measuring invoices during a given quarter among cloud companies—increased by roughly 28% yearly to upwards of $3.3 billion. This number is 7% higher than the 21% that analysts expected. Furthermore, the flow of free cash increased by 50% for the fiscal year.

Salesforce didn’t achieve these kinds of results by playing it safe, nor is this amount of growth cheap. Roughly half of Salesforce’s revenue for sales and marketing is still expended. This level hasn’t changed in at least the last decade. Moreover, they also provide employees with such generous access to stock options that actual profits haven’t been indicated for the last 5 years.

Salesforce’s recent metrics make the company appear highly valued compared to its peers—Salesforce stock trades for nearly 29 times the amount of its free cash flow. This statistic falls below some smaller peers, while rising above some of the larger companies in the enterprise software sector.

All of this boils down to indicate that Salesforce can’t ease up its effort. Experts suggest that the company needs to work hard to hit aggressive growth targets. Over the next several years, the Wall Street Journal expects an annual growth of 20%, whereas some larger enterprise-tech companies may continue to have single-digit growth.

The success of Salesforce is great news for businesses that use the cloud computing company’s products. Continued growth almost certain means improved features and functionality that expand Salesforce’s offerings.

If you would like to learn more about Salesforce and how its cloud computing products can be integrated seamlessly with your existing operations, we invite you to contact the Salesforce certified consultants at Ad Victoriam Solutions.

IoT Data Making Big Data Look Small

IOT Data

As the price of technology continues to level off, it’s likely we’ll continue to see an increase in objects that users want connected to the internet. This flood of internet-connected devices will lead to even more information pouring into the system—and the kicker is, experts haven’t even begun to comprehend what to do with all of this information yet, especially IOT data.

While more companies are embracing the importance of data analysis, they aren’t necessarily equipped to handle this influx of information. Not only do companies have to filter through the information they normally collect, but now they have to handle all of the information generated both inside and outside of their companies.

Some of the biggest names in the technology world recently met in San Francisco for Structure Data 2016. According to its website, Structure Data “is bringing together the world’s top computer scientists, software executives and business users to discuss how advances in data technology are already reshaping our world.”

Not surprisingly, one of the topics of discussion centered on the next big problem companies are likely to face in terms of the IoT, including:

  • The information generated by devices inside users’ homes
  • The impact the manufacturing sector is likely to feel from increased industrial internet
  • The challenges healthcare will likely face from baby boomers retiring and an influx of self-health apps

The source of these problems stems from how data analysis works. Prior to the IoT boom, once a problem was deduced, a data set was drawn up and loaded into software that analyzes the information. However, the data derived from IoT devices will easily overwhelm this kind of system. Unfortunately, many engineers are stuck in their old habits of how they’ve built data infrastructures in the past, which is unlikely to work for the potential IoT data of the future.

This means that opportunities abound for technological advancements as well as for analysis companies, developers, data scientists and engineers to break into the world of the IoT. While this may give the impression that there are not players in the IoT data game already, in actuality some big IoT players are already hard at work.

For more information about the leveraging the Internet of Things for your business, contact the IoT consultants at Ad Victoriam Solutions. Based in Atlanta, we provide innovative and effective technology solutions for businesses all over the country. Speak to an IoT professional today. 

Facing the Facts: IoT Security Concerns and Solutions

The Internet of Things is without a doubt one of the most influential tools businesses can use to gather useful data and information, allowing for smarter business decisions and improved services for customers. However, as Uncle Ben said in the Spiderman movies: “With great power comes great responsibility” – especially when it comes to securing the Internet of Things from hackers and cyber threats.

Here’s a look at the security concerns associated with the IoT and what solutions businesses are providing to protect cloud devices from fraud.

The Problems

The most obvious weakness for the IoT is its massive size. Billions of objects have Internet capabilities, and that number is growing every single day. With more avenues for penetration comes the growing risk of breaching the security measures in place. Security threats are also easily projected onto the types of devices often associated with the IoT: smart appliances, home security systems or fitness trackers. These devices are not outfitted with proper security software, leaving them more vulnerable to threats.

To add to this, the Internet of Things is so new that there is no real agreement as to how its security should be handled. What steps or programs should be put to use to protect not only the data but the privacy of the business and the public? This question, as of late, has hardly any answers.

Potential Solutions

While there is no consensus on a solution to the IoT’s security issues, there are certain steps that businesses, and in some cases the public, have been implementing themselves to secure data and privacy. They include:

  • Updating or finding new security software that may better cover IoT devices
  • Expanding networks and staff assigned to network security
  • Integrating security concerns into IoT product development
  • Informing staff and customers about the security risks associated with IoT use

Many desire a standardized, widespread security solution for the IoT, and this may become a reality in the future once more companies and individuals put investment dollars toward the research needed. Until then, the Internet of Things will continue to provide an abundance of useful data for businesses despite its security holes.

For more information about the Internet of Things and how it works hand-in-hand with businesses and expanding technologies, check out our blog or talk to one of our professional IoT consultants today.

Major Players in the IoT Space, Pt. 4: A Review

If you’ve followed our “Major Players” series, you know that over the past few blog posts we’ve discussed new technologies and advancements that Salesforce®, Amazon Web Services (AWS), and Microsoft have made in relation to the Internet of Things, which keeps information easily accessible via devices that can communicate with the cloud.

While these three major players have developed different software and capabilities, all have the same goal of making communication in the Digital Age easier and more efficient while also providing the means for further growth.

Listed below are some of the features that are allowing businesses and individuals to accomplish just that.

Wide Compatibility

Each of our major players offers extensive compatibility with Internet of Things technologies. Salesforce®’s IoT Cloud has the ability to connect instantly to all other employed Salesforce® platforms and programs and transfer data in real-time. That data is not limited to specific devices and can be accessed anywhere the Internet is available, giving an unmatched convenience.

Similarly, Amazon boasts the wide support of “billions of devices and trillions of messages,” meaning that efficient communication is available across devices and across the entire span of the Internet within seconds. The IoT devices are also tracked and managed through AWS apps for efficient action and communication.

Efficient Data

Another high point from these three companies is their ability to harness the data provided by the IoT and channel it into the productivity that businesses need to thrive in the Digital Age. As shown in the scenarios in Part 2 of our series, Microsoft provides users not only the ability to receive data in a timely manner, but also an efficient means to employ that data – whether that be through tracking and adjusting refrigeration temperatures or product availability. Likewise, Salesforce® offers a means for businesses to organize all of the data received from the Internet of Things, making studying and acting on that data a more timely process.

User Control

With the ability to manage and utilize piles and piles of IoT data comes the capacity for administrators to control settings and security for their cloud-compatible devices and information. AWS provides its users with state-of-the-art security measures needed for such large amounts of data, including encryption checkpoints and device security measures to ensure authenticity. AWS also allows administrators to customize the rules for filtering data as they see fit for their needs.

As part of its IoT Business Maturity Model, Microsoft also believes in the importance of custom rule sets that allow the technology to be tailored to the individual user or business depending on their respective needs. As stated above, all is done in the name of utilizing data as efficiently as possible.

We hope you enjoyed this series! Be sure to check out the rest of Ad Victoriam’s blog for the latest in cloud-computing technology and how to employ it for your own service.

We are also available for contact if you would like more information about how we can help your business or employing these technologies.

Major Players in the IoT Space, Pt. 3: Amazon Web Services (AWS)

In Part 1 of this blog series exploring the big players in the Internet of Things (IoT) revolution, we talked about how the “internet of things” refers to a network of objects that have been embedded with software, network connectivity, electronics and sensors, and how Salesforce® is able to integrate with IoT infrastructures to exchange and collect data. Then in Part 2, we discussed the role Microsoft plays in the IoT sphere.

In this blog, we’ll now take a look at how Amazon Web Services (AWS) has joined the ranks of IoT solutions. AWS has created an IoT cloud platform that allows devices to connect and interact easily amongst each other, with applications in the cloud and on other devices.

Below are 3 ways that AWS is working to make their IoT features a lot stronger:

1. Device Connectivity and Management

AWS’ IoT setup has massive support capability —“billions of devices and trillions of messages”— as well as the ability to make sure those messages get to where they need to go securely and easily. What’s better is that with AWS, you have the apps at your disposal to communicate with and track each device available, whether they’re connected or not.

Moreover, AWS works with both MQTT (a lightweight protocol for communication designed to communicate intermittently) and HTTP, among other protocols, which allow for even greater communication possibilities.

2. Device Security

Amazon has worked to ensure device security through SigV4 authentication and traditional X.509 certification. Harnessing the internet of things through AWS offers users encryption power across numerous connection points. This means that data is not shared across devices without identity being proven.

Additionally, secure access can be gained using granular permission. To begin a connection, users must have a certificate generated and deployed by a device. This policy eliminates “toy development boards and IoT prototyping platforms.”

3. Device Data

Finally, AWS gives IoT users the power to act upon, filter and transform all of their data whenever and wherever based on the specific rules they define. What’s more, at any time users can update rules whenever a new device needs to be added. AWS customers don’t even need to use the physical device to update the rules.

Cloud computing services, like AWS, are becoming increasingly important for businesses. If your enterprise would like to expand your company’s use of cloud computing and the internet of things, contact Ad Victoriam Solutions.

For an overview on the various IoT solutions offered by Salesforce®, Microsoft and Amazon, bookmark our blog and stay tuned for Part 4 of our ongoing blog series.

Major Players in the IoT Space, Pt. 2: Microsoft

The Internet of Things is all around us: sensors, various devices, data, and of course cloud services. Since Microsoft already commands one of the largest and most flexible cloud services, it‘s only reasonable that the tech giant would also work to provide enterprises with their own vision of IoT.

Microsoft IoT works best through the storing, gathering and processing of data. Here are two specific aspects of Microsoft’s IoT business model that are quickly growing in popularity:

Operational Efficiency

Microsoft IoT help retailers run their businesses more efficiently by employing IoT to monitor the telemetry of various scenarios. Below are three real-life business examples:

  • In-store traffic can be monitored to show which days (and times) are the busiest. This can help business owners know precisely when to have the most merchandise in stock and when to have more employees working.
  • Businesses that require refrigeration can use IoT-collected data to monitor temperatures and help reduce product loss from improper temperature storage.
  • RFID sensors can be added to products to track product availability in various retail situations.

Business Intelligence

If your business has employed any of the operational efficiency models listed above or other models, business intelligence with Microsoft can further enhance your business’s IoT. For example:

  • When employing in-store monitoring, consider using it in conjunction with other types of data sets. For instance, also incorporating weather data can help you decide which products you should stock.
  • When employing refrigeration monitoring, the data collected can be used to predict when the refrigeration unit(s) require maintenance.

Cloud computing and the Internet of Things are becoming more important by the year. In order to keep your business relevant, you should strongly consider employing some aspects of cloud computing. If you’re unsure of where to begin, contact Ad Victoriam Solutions.

Stay tuned to our blog to learn more about IoT, enterprise technology solutions and much more. For starters, check the other installments of this blog series including how the Internet of Things pertains to Salesforce®.