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 Einstein: Marketing Cloud and Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Salesforce Einstein

Internet technologies, especially concerning cloud marketing, change on a daily basis. Artificial intelligence (AI) applications are currently at the forefront of development.

In 2016, Salesforce announced its latest artificial intelligence initiative, Einstein, at the Dreamforce conference. Einstein was certainly the main attraction, and it symbolized Salesforce’s drive toward growing its cloud technology.

What is Salesforce Einstein AI?

At its core, Salesforce Einstein is a group of technological products designed to improve Marketing Cloud strategies and ideas by imitating the human brain’s own capabilities.

According to Eliot Harper, a Salesforce Marketing Cloud consultant, Einstein “works out of the box and surfaces analytical information to the user by assessing data, and identifying signals and insights that a sales or marketing person may not otherwise pick up on.”

In other words, AI systems like Einstein can be used as a fresh set of eyes for marketing professionals. Patterns in sales, potential audiences and the likelihood of engagement can go unnoticed, especially after a long examination of statistics and data.

Artificial intelligence platforms are designed to mimic human brain activity while relying on the consistency of algorithms and large amounts of data.

What’s next for the Marketing Cloud?

YouTube and Amazon use similar AI engines to offer suggested products or videos based on your tastes and previous activity on the site. Salesforce is now unlocking access to such information for marketing professionals so that they can provide the most optimal experience possible for their target user audiences.

Salesforce is currently working on the ambitious task of integrating Einstein into all aspects of its platform.

To learn more about Salesforce solutions and how you can make the latest marketing cloud technologies work for your business, contact the certified Marketing Cloud consultants at Ad Victoriam Solutions today.

Customer Success: Microsoft 365 Cloud Solution for Concurrent

Concurrent Microsoft 365

Logo courtesy of https://www.concurrent.com/

Overview

Concurrent is a software company that provides storage solutions involving core Linux and Aquari storage wanted to migrate to Microsoft 365.

As a registered Microsoft Partner, Concurrent – a strategic partner of AdVic – approached us with the need to migrate their local on-premise exchange server to Microsoft Office 365. Find out how we were able to help by seamlessly integrating a custom cloud solution.

The Challenge

  • Client had scalability and performance issues.
  • AVS needed to achieve migration in a way that minimized affect to the end user. Client didn’t want any interruption in emails.
  • Concurrent only had a small IT staff of 3 people for us to partner with, even though this was a major project effort.

Our Microsoft Office 365 Solution

We were able to successfully migrate exchange services to the cloud with the hybrid migration model. We migrated 300+ mailboxes and public folders, while keeping the client comfortable with the timeline (their comfortable pace was a 3-month period) and without interruption to the client’s email communication, ongoing business projects and process.

Solutions we employed included:

  • Microsoft Office 365
  • Microsoft Exchange

The Value of Microsoft 365

  • We minimized IT costs around technology tools.
  • We reduced IT overhead around server management, updates, backups, archiving, spam protection, office software management, which in turn will increase the company’s growth and profitability.

We’d like to thank Concurrent for trusting us to seamlessly migrate to Microsoft Office 365.

Our cloud computing consultants are experts at implementing big changes with minimal disruption to daily operations. Let us know how we can help your businesses today.

Customer Success Stories: How We Added Value to a Leading Service Industry Support Center by Leveraging Salesforce Wave Analytics

Overview

This omni-channel call center services company that provides “white glove” customer service to retailers. This includes customers being able to provide interactions with brands via website, email, live chat, sms, Facebook and Snapchat.

  • # of Employees: 5,001-10,000
  • Location: King of Prussia, PA
  • Industry: Service Industry Support Center
  • Go Live Date: 11/15/2016

Leveraging maximum value out of a Salesforce solution requires extensive planning and technical knowledge. Fortunately, our Salesforce certified consultants were able to fix a dysfunctional infrastructure to improve functionality and reliability for a omni-channel call center – just in the knick of time.

Read the case study for more info:

The Story

This well-known service industry support service was at the point of failure with their Salesforce instance. They were ready to cancel because the Software as a Service (SaaS) platform was not living up to the company’s expectations. The functionality was there; however, they need a trusted advisor to step in and optimize their instance for maximized performance.

The Challenge

  • They suffered from a lack of reporting, which led to delays in communication to their customers.
  • Due to working with many retailers, they would experience performance timeouts, throttling, and errors around the different Service Cloud functionality that included (but not limited to) live agent, email and web to case – often occurring around peak retail holidays such as Black Friday.

Our Solution

  • We configured and set-up multiple call center tracking reports utilizing Salesforce Wave Analytics and exposed them to their customer community.
  • We analyzed and optimized 8-10 pieces of code to run more efficiently under heavy load.
  • We stabilized their existing Salesforce organization.
  • We deployed optimized code in a production environment the week before peak season (mid =-November).

The Value/Results

  • Brand customers are now able to see reporting metrics in their customer community real-time.
  • The company is also able to see reports and metrics across all internal brands.
  • AVS code optimization was tested during Black Friday 2016 and all performance problem errors disappeared – no more timeouts, throttling or errors around performance.

Ad Victoriam Solutions was proud to partner with this leading service industry support center and add value to their Salesforce solution! Let us help your business leverage maximum returns from your technology investments. Contact our consultants today to get started.

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.

3 Innovative Ways Big Data is Bringing the Future Into the Present

artificial intelligence: AVS data & analytics blog

Since cloud computing emerged on the business scene, the technology has grown exponentially. Along with this unprecedented growth, there has emerged a new way of thinking about technology. One such change revolves around big data.

Here are a three examples of how innovative big data solutions are working to advance our society and businesses:

1. Machine Learning

The concept of machine learning – the algorithms that make it possible for computers to essentially learn through experience – are becoming more and more sophisticated. As big data technology advances, we should expect deep neural nets (DNNs) to become used more frequently.

DNN describes when machine learning advances to the point where algorithms can mimic nonlinear relationships, which is a fancy way of saying machines have the ability to acknowledge the environment they’re in. Siri and Cortana are the predecessors which could one day give life to full-on autonomous agents.

2. Developing a Better Grasp On Big Data

Big data has become a fixture for many businesses who want to glean information from consumer trends, and it is continuing to advance. While the goal for big data remains the same—being able to analyze and interpret the data sets – developers are creating new tools to help make the process easier and allow the data to be used in more sophisticated ways. This includes making it possible for non-tech savvy employees to analyze and interpret big data and allowing for big data to be analyzed using machine learning.

3. Software for Recognizing Emotions

Robots have always been fascinating. As our technology is advancing, we are able to produce increasingly advanced robots. Intelligent robots are at the forefront of this way of thinking. For instance, Apple has purchased a startup, Emotient, which provides for emotional analysis in real time. Apple also made a recent purchase of Faceshift, a company known for facial recognition software. This leads experts to feel an emotional aspect to mobile devices is in the not too distant future. And big data technology will power it all.

Big data is just the tip of the iceberg of technological advances that are likely to occur in our lifetime! To bring your business up to speed with the many exciting changes in the world of cloud computing technology, consult the big data experts at Ad Victoriam Solutions.

Unlocking Affordable and Scalable Hybrid Cloud Integration

In this article, we will focus on how using Azure Logic Apps can provide an effective and affordable iPaaS solution for companies of any size.

Companies today, large and small, are using a mixture of on premise and SaaS applications to run their business.  Systems such as an ERP, POS, or a home-grown application will live within the company’s four walls, while services such as Salesforce, QuickBooks Online, and Office 365 will live in a cloud based environment.

One of the challenges that many companies face is integrating on-premise and cloud systems, so that data can flow between the two systems and prevent duplication or inconsistencies.

Introducing the Azure Enterprise Cloud Solution

Microsoft Azure, the cloud platform from Microsoft, provides what is called an “Integration Platform as a Service” (or iPaaS) to integrate across enterprise and cloud systems.  With Azure’s cloud based suite of integration tools and services, companies can connect disparate systems, automate processes, and integrate with partners using hybrid cloud solutions (on-premise to SaaS, SaaS to SaaS, PaaS to SaaS, etc.).  As with all of the Azure offerings, their iPaaS tools provide enterprise-class solutions with ability to scale up and down with the company’s needs, allowing companies to pay only for what is utilized.

Azure Logic Apps are part of the iPaaS tool suite, and makes integrating disparate data sources achievable, scalable, and affordable.  Many connectors are provided free of charge to allow the Logic App to connect different SaaS systems (list of available connectors), and you have the ability to create your own connectors as well.  These connectors provide the ability to trigger a Logic App to run, and they are also used to perform actions (or operations) within that Logic App.

Example Case Study

As an example scenario, let’s say that we would like to integrate Salesforce Accounts into an on-premise ERP system, and provide a two-way integration.  The first Logic App would be created using the Salesforce connector, with the trigger of “When an Object is created/updated” using the object class Account, and the action would be to send an API call to the on-premise ERP system to update the Customer record associated with the Salesforce Account.  The second Logic App would be created in the reverse order, listening for new/updated Customers from the ERP, and using the Salesforce connector to push that change to Salesforce.  This would provide near real-time integration between Salesforce and the ERP system for Accounts and Customers.

This real world scenario is just a simple example of how the Azure iPaaS can provide an affordable and scalable integration solution for on-premise and cloud systems.  For more information on hybrid cloud solutions and how they can solve your integration challenges, please contact Ad Victoriam Solutions, or call (77) 691-1642 and ask for Eric Philips.

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.

3 Ways the Internet of Things Will Change Businesses

Whether or not you think you understand the Internet of Things (IoT), you’ve most likely familiarized yourself with it already. How, you may ask? If you own a FitBit (or any type of wearable that works alongside your smartphone) or another piece of “smart” technology (like an alarm system or thermostat)—you are a citizen of the IoT. If you don’t have one of these gadgets, chances are that within five years you will.

Use of the IoT is growing rapidly, and the trend is likely to continue. As a result, businesses (including those that churn out new gadgets) will continue to incorporate the IoT into their products. Experts feel that the IoT will work to change businesses in three major ways.

#1: Businesses will produce better products

What we really mean by “better” in this case is smarter. Cell phones are a prime example of this. Until roughly 10 years ago, the only expectation we had for phones was the ability to make and receive calls. Today, however, we expect them to be everything from our alarm clock to our calendar to our source of knowledge and entertainment. As the IoT continues to change our everyday lives, we’ll also start to become comfortable with the idea that these devices have the ability to control things like yoga mats and frying pans, and savvy businesses will jump on board this growing trend by producing integrated technology products at a faster rate than ever before.

#2: Data will lead to smarter decisions

While the newest smart devices are impressive, the real stars of the show are the sensors that make it all possible. Companies are now making sensors that can send back data by being attached to anything from an aircraft engine to a yogurt cup. The data gleaned from these sensors can (and will) be used to help make the products we use better in the future.

#3: Business will begin to evolve

Chances are, the IoT will begin changing the very models on which businesses are created – in fact, it already has begun. One such example is John Deere. John Deere has long been known for its tractors and other farm equipment. The company is now incorporating big data connectivity to its machines to allow farmers to keep track of their farm digitally.

The Internet of Things is bringing many technological changes to the world. In order to keep up with the changes or to help incorporate the IoT into your business, you’ll need the expertise and knowledge of an IoT consultant at Ad Victoriam Solutions to help get you on track. Contact us today to discuss your needs with us.

Ad Victoriam to Sponsor and Present at Southeast Dreamin’ Conference

Atlanta-highway-sign

This March, Ad Victoriam will be both sponsoring and presenting at the Southeast Dreamin’ Conference in Atlanta, Georgia!

The conference will take place from March 9-10 and has been coordinated and organized by fellow Salesforce®solutions enthusiasts. The sessions, expo, keynote speakers, and networking opportunities will provide participants various opportunities to learn more about how to utilize Salesforce and the chance to network/collaborate with other Salesforce users that are using these technologies to make business life easier.

Ad Victoriam’s own Solution Architect, David Litton, will be presenting at the conference during a session on Thursday, March 10. His presentation will be centered on utilizing Workbench and Force.com IDE to improve the efficiency of daily administrative tasks in the workplace. Litton’s presentation will include understanding these developers, how they interact with Salesforce’s metadata and other platforms, and how to deploy this data anywhere.

Not only that, Ad Victoriam is a Silver Sponsor for this conference and will be managing a booth, so be sure to swing by and say hello if you find yourself at the conference!

Southeast Dreamin’ will be held in North Atlanta’s Westin Buckhead Hotel. If you are interested in attending the conference and don’t have a ticket already, visit the Southeast Dreamin’ website to find information about schedules, admission, and lodging.

If you’d like to learn more about the technologies discussed and presented at the Southeast Dreamin’ conference, or just want more information about how cloud-computing can help your business, contact Ad Victoriam or visit our blog.