Defining Virtualisation and Cloud Computing

Cloud computing has evolved from a subject of intrigue to a beneficial service that is helping businesses transform. You don’t have to look far to …

Cloud computing has evolved from a subject of intrigue to a beneficial service that is helping businesses transform.

You don’t have to look far to find information on the cloud or hear of a company’s experience of cloud adoption. There’s still however confusion over the difference between virtualisation and cloud computing which is muddying the waters when organisations are seeking these types of solutions. Understanding these differences is greatly important to avoid implementing the wrong set up which is not suitable for your business needs.

Starting from the beginning – Understanding virtualisation

To give a brief overview, virtualisation is a ‘software that separates physical infrastructure to create various dedicated resources’. Users can run numerous applications on the same server, at the same time which is undeniably flexible for businesses. The ‘virtual machine’ that powers virtualisation limits the dependency on a physical hardware estate. This will ultimately mean that everything from servers to storage will be free of hardware and this will once again serve to boost the level of flexibility.

There are many different types of virtualisation but all of them result in a virtualised simulation of a device or resource. The change from physical to virtual results in a more cost-effective solution for businesses which is why this is an appealing option; it’s more efficient but leaves more room in the budget.

What is cloud computing?

Cloud Computing is the ‘delivery of shared computing resources, software or data as a service and on-demand through the Internet’. Cloud technology operates on a company’s server and will be accessible either by a private company or the public depending on the type of cloud. In essence, both virtualisation and cloud computing have a similar benefit to businesses – you can increase flexibility and get much more out of your business technology but with less hardware and hassle.

This similar agenda begins to stir the confusion and this is ultimately made more confusing because virtualisation is the foundation of cloud computing. But it’s important to remember that although one relies on the other, virtualisation itself can exist without cloud computing.

Another key difference is with the self-service models. Self-service is not essential in virtualisation but is key in cloud computing and plays a big role in defining the benefits of cloud in business. If your organization would benefit from a self-service model then virtualisation may not be useful in achieving your goals. This difference in model also effects the level of scalability, therefore businesses who need to scale up due to demand need to analyse their options carefully.

The final difference, which is a big consideration is cost. If you are opting for virtualisation then you are going to be paying more up-front but less at a later stage, however cloud is initially more budget friendly but will require more spend over time.

Choosing the best option for your business…

Understanding the difference between both cloud computing and virtualisation is no doubt important and then it all comes down to the needs in your business. When seeking the best solutions you need to address the needs of staff, budget, operational requirements and your long-term objectives.


The importance of a strong network in a digital business

The digital business – The vast majority of businesses are now exploring digital opportunities and discovering how new technology can pave the way for future …

The digital business –

The vast majority of businesses are now exploring digital opportunities and discovering how new technology can pave the way for future growth. The spectrum of digital transformation will vary from company to company depending on external and internal factors but organisations of all sizes are aware of the importance of technology in business. According to a 2015 Accenture survey of 2000 companies, across 9 countries and 10 industries, 62% admitted to investing in digital technologies and this number looks set to continue increasing.

The idea of the ‘digital business’ is growing in strength as a result of the pace in which consumers are adopting technology and changing their habits. It’s critically important for businesses to embrace digital channels and technologies to keep up with customer demand and optimise end-user experience. Using the cloud as an example, cloud technologies have the power to increase business agility and streamline processes, bridging gaps between colleagues, consumers and suppliers. It’s therefore no surprise that 84% of UK businesses have now migrated to a cloud service to optimise their business performance.

The power of the network:

It is however difficult to embrace the cloud and new technology which may be found in a digital business if the network is restrictive.

The pitfalls of an unsupportive network can impede progress in any business and it’s becoming increasingly essential for this to be addressed as a key part of change management and ongoing IT strategy.

If you look at the popular business technologies – IoT, big data, cloud, mobile, social media, apps – all will demand a certain level of capacity and increase the need for traffic management in the business.

The rapid changes and increase on business demand call for a modern and simplified network to boost the efficiency and support application of technology.

Even if a business is simply ‘dipping in a toe’ in the digital world and all its offerings, it’s potentially damaging to operate on a network that cannot support activity. If you think your business is restricted by the network and you therefore feel unable to embrace innovation then it’s undoubtedly time for an update.


Office 365 – A productivity tool kit for your business

Microsoft Office 365 is cloud based software with a host of professional tools designed to support businesses and boost productivity. It’s been claimed by Kevin …

Microsoft Office 365 is cloud based software with a host of professional tools designed to support businesses and boost productivity.

It’s been claimed by Kevin Turner (Microsoft COO) that 4 out of 5 Fortune 500 companies use the service which is no doubt impressive when operating in a market with strong competition (Google Apps being a prime example). Office 365 is commercially successful for Microsoft and with nearly 50 million active business users p/month it’s clear that the platform is a valuable addition to the business world.

Why Office 365?

The traditional Microsoft Office software is a familiar sight in most organisations and Office 365 provides the well-known features of these Office applications but with a pay-as-you- go payment model and a host of additional extras. In the digital age many businesses are seeking ways to streamline business by improving workforce efficiency and this is captured by Office 365.

What are the key business benefits of Office 365?

    • Increased flexibility – Anytime, anywhere and on any device.

The modern business operates with a mobile workforce who work on multiple devices and Office 365 works in harmony with this business model. According to recent reports 61% of professionals work outside of the office at least part of the time therefore on-the-move platforms are essential to maintain a high level of productivity. Office 365 allows employees to view and edit emails and documents on the move.

    • Simple Back up and storage

Microsoft provides free storage on its OneDrive cloud service which not only allows users to access documents anywhere, it keeps all of the work in one location. If employees are going out to meetings they can keep all notes in a secure location and edit work during the commute. The backup capabilities keep work stored on the cloud which is undoubtedly useful if systems crash.

    • Improved collaboration

Returning to the stats on mobile workforce, it’s apparent that with this amount of movement in an office, work teams can struggle to unite on projects. With Office 365, workers can collaborate on documents stored in the cloud and work together whether in the same office or in different countries.

    • Unified communications

Taking collaboration up a notch, the integration with Skype allows users to voice call, video call or IM colleagues, suppliers or clients once again on any device and anywhere! With Skype being a recognised, communications platform many professionals are already familiar with its functions therefore can seamlessly use the application. Skype is also popular for international calls and small businesses can benefit from the pay as you go, low cost payment plans.

The roundup of benefits confirm why Office 365 is a cloud based productivity tool kit. The functions of the platform have been devised with the modern business in mind and with uptake increasing it’ll be interesting to see where the platform goes next.


Cyber threats: A cyber security checklist for small businesses

Are you concerned about a cyber-security breach impacting your business? You are not alone Cyber security is an important topic in any business. In 2015, …

Are you concerned about a cyber-security breach impacting your business? You are not alone

Cyber security is an important topic in any business. In 2015, we’ve witnessed some very public cyber-attacks followed by reports with rising statistics showing in black and white that no company is safe. Speaking at an Info Security event in 2015 Ciaran Martin, Cyber Security at GCHQ declared that they had been “genuinely surprised by the extent and variety of UK organisations subject to intrusions.”

The government are placing cyber-security as a key part of their agenda but in the meantime where does this leave the small businesses in the UK?

It’s crucial for businesses of all sizes to develop a plan to keep information secure and work safer online. As a support arm for businesses of all sizes, we have put together a quick guide and checklist for business owners who need guidance setting up a cyber-security procedure:

    1. Start with implementing best practise

Go back to basics and assess the core procedures within your business. This includes making sure you have secure passwords, updated software and you routinely monitor the technology devices in your business.

Set aside time to update your passwords every few months and use varying passwords across different platforms. In this case predictability and consistency can be damaging.

    1. Train your employees on cyber security

A quick course or training session can arm your staff with enough knowledge to be cyber vigilant. Basic guidelines are important – do not visit harmful sites, avoid downloading from untrustworthy sources and delete unsolicited emails.

The Information Commissioner’s office have revealed that 93% of incidents that breached data security were due to human error therefore it’s also important to ensure your staff are aware of data protection best practise.

Your employees will also need to be trained on how to handle threats or ideally be encouraged to report anything suspicious to senior members immediately.

    1. Awareness is key

Your staff will no doubt need to be aware of the potential harm and risk of cyber-threats but this vigilance needs to be a fundamental part of business operations.

Be aware of the movement of your staff:

      • If they are working remotely, are their devices secure?
      • Are they logging into information outside of work? If so, they need to report any loss or theft of devices immediately.
      • Are they accessing secure servers when handling secure information online?

If you have freelancers or interns consider how much information they need to access and if an employee leaves the company remember to refresh all security passwords.

    1. Protect your devices

Adopting the right anti-virus software for your business is a basic requirement but many businesses overlook the importance. It’s an investment that will pay off when it comes to cyber security and relieves the pressure of continually monitoring your employee’s browser history. The software will not make your device invincible but it will lower the risk of an attack.

When addressing your software, also assess the security of your server and determine whether your data storage is safe.

    1. Remember to back up

To lessen the impact of a cyber-attack you will need to implement good practise when it comes to backing up your data and documents. Online back-ups are a simple way to apply this procedure to your business on a routine basis without the hassle.

Losing all of your company data and starting from scratch can be damaging – back up, back up, back up!

Most importantly remember that every business is different and the security needs will vary depending on your industry requirements, services, processes and data.

Adjust this list to suit your business and protect your business from a cyber-security breach – better safe than sorry.

Sources –