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The WebPal Wire

Get our latest updates as we bring you new insight on how cloud computing is already changing in its infancy. Security, content and business process are just a few categories within of wide range of topics covered in our blog

Archive for the ‘Cloud Software’ Category

How Cloud Data is Changing the Way We Live and Work

24-01-2014 Chris

Data-driven technologies are dominating corporate IT because, as Canadian Communications Expert Marshall McCluhan says, “A point of view can be a dangerous luxury when substituted for insight and understanding.” We are better able to do business, make informed decisions, and reduce risk when we have access to more information. It is affecting every facet of business operations: marketing, sales, and customer relations departments are now entering into IT territory to ensure the company’s IT aligns perfectly with their goals.

Less time collecting, more time analyzing

In an interview with Data Informed, one executive says “There’s been an 80-20 rule that 80 percent of IT’s time is spent gathering data, and 20 percent analyzing it, but cloud services flip this on its head.” With the cloud, data can be updated and accessed in real-time, and can be easily imported and exported for easy analysis.

Better customer relationships

Flexible cloud data tools integrate seamlessly with third-party platforms, including payment systems and CRM tools. With unparalleled access to insights on their customers and performance of their sales departments, companies are better able to respond to evolving customer preferences. Not only does it help salespeople build better relationships with their customers, it is changing how their roles are defined: “cloud analytics provides a deeper understanding of a customer’s entire relationship with the company. In fact, companies are 136 percent more likely to use the cloud to reinvent customer relationships, according to a new IBM survey.”

Mobile apps are powering personal cloud data

The average smartphone user accesses several apps on a regular basis, and they are constantly feeding their personal data through these applications. Whether they realize it or not, they are establishing their personal data on the cloud. App developers are themselves hosting their products on the cloud, so both end-users and product owners depend on the cloud. Even while data security is still a concern for many users, that’s not stopping them for using the cloud to house their personal data.

WebPal’s Secure Data Management allows import, management and connectivity of business process data, giving you the ability to query and interact online from anywhere – even your smart phone! Import and export your data, and integrate with third-party platforms to bring the power of the cloud to all your important business processes. 



Cloudy Highlights From CES 2014

10-01-2014 Chris

The consumer electronics show is arguably the biggest tech conference of the year. The fact that it occurs at the outset of the year means it is the perfect opportunity to see the consumer products that will shape the tech year ahead. There were a few cloud technologies announced during the conference, and some cloud-based discussions occurred, that made headlines throughout the week. Here are the top cloud headlines of CES:

Sony Makes Cloud Content a Priority for Playstation

On Tuesday, Sony announced two new cloud-based services that will be used across its range of devices. In line the new trend towards cloud-based gaming, Playstation Now will be a way for gamers to play legacy PS2 and PS3 games on their new consoles. Playstation Now is the rename given to the cloud-based gaming service, Gaikai, which Sony acquired in 2012. Sony also announced a new cloud-based TV service that will enable PS4 owners to view live and on demand video content on their TVs. Details of the product are still underwraps, but will surely be revealed in the coming weeks.

DVR Without the Cord

Simple.TV brings you one step closer to a cordless life. It is a cloud-based DVR that allows users to access Netflix, Hulu, and other streaming services through your TV. Many people have noted that it follows a similar business model as the now-defunct Box, but the Simple.TV execs insist they are going their own route when it comes to cordless DVR. It isn’t in stores yet, but will be soon, although a price is yet to be determined.

An industry analysis on cloud hardware

In his keynote address following their announcement of two new cloud-based services, Sony CEO Kazuo Hirai says hardware manufacturers are still not ready to adopt the cloud enmasse until new ideas emerge for how they can be implemented. He would like to see more cloud product manufacturers consider the experience for the user more holistically, rather than simply think of functionality.

“Even though the cloud promises a connected future, it’s not a wow in itself,” says Hirai. “It needs a connected experience, one where people can feel and see it through a device, hear the sounds and are amazed at the technology and what it offers… It’s not just technology or services, but emotional value, emotional involvement.”

Kazuo says a paradigm shift might be difficult to instigate, but the cloud is an easy sell to those who understand the its unparalleled ability to connect people across countries and continents, and provide a centralized source for all your computing needs.

WebPal Cloud Content Server is a business solution for secureprivate, and powerful web content managementdocument storage and online collaboration. Learn more about WebPal’s cloud solutions for enterprises. 



The Importance of Collaboration Tools in the 21st Century Workplace

15-11-2013 Chris

The workplace of the 21st century needs to ask itself, “How do we create a culture of innovation?” Innovation is now being treated as a science, as corporate executives seek new answers to the oldest problems known to business. One of the most common answers to this question is providing access to collaboration tools, and there are a few reasons why.

The 21st Century Worker Seeks Collaboration

To understand collaboration in the 21st century workplace, you must first understand the 21st century worker. Take a look at this infographic on the most sought after skills in today’s worker. Collaboration, communication, leadership, productivity and accountability are all keywords that can help organizations empower their employees. “Many businesses are adopting a participative management style, which involves employees in decision making,” says George DeMetropolis, a professor at the University of Phoenix. By creating this kind of environment, employees are motivated to go beyond their standard job description to add value to the company.

The Rize of the Social Workplace

It’s not just an organization’s workplace that needs to use collaboration tools to succeed, its the organization itself. More corporate environments are focusing on developing communities for the customers, as well as their employees. Social networks and social tools are used by large companies in multiple capacities: customer service, product updates, and employee communication. According to IDC, about 75 million instant messaging (IM) accounts were active in business in 2003.

Breaking Down Silos With Collaboration Tools

In the traditional workplace, it was common for multiple departments to become siloed. To achieve innovation, all these moving parts have to be working towards a common goal, and collaboration tools are the most effective way to do that. This is especially true with content management and creation. A 2008 IBM white paper on collaboration recognized this soon after social networks were adopted en masse, and in today’s workplace “content is developed through participation; it is fluid, contextual and leveraged to create opportunities through ongoing collaboration… Participatory capabilities can provide businesses with user-driven innovation, simpler and more productive solutions, integration of tasks, reduced cost and higher employee satisfaction.”

WebPal helps you manage all your important documents on a secure cloud server, while allowing your employees to collaborate



The Current State of Global Cloud Regulations

07-11-2013 Chris

Each country has their own unique cloud regulation policies that can be confusing to users, especially those who share their content across borders. As global Information Cloud Technology (ICT) innovation occurs, cloud policies and regulations need to constantly adapt to keep up. Here is an idea of cloud regulation policies in the U.S., Europe, and Canada

The United States of America

There are a number of specific laws that govern the use of the cloud in the United States, and each of them pertain to a specific vertical or industry. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) helps protect the privacy and security of health information using three types of safeguards: administrative measures to manage the selection, development, implementation, and maintenance of systems; physical measures used to protect electronic information systems and related buildings and equipment; and the technology and the policies and procedures that govern its use.

Meanwhile, the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA) encompasses two rules for storing financial data in the cloud: the Financial Privacy Rule and the Safeguards Rule. The Financial Privacy Rule requires financial institutions to provide their customers with details of the information they have gathered and where it is stored. The Safeguards Rule means they must outline in clear and unambiguous language their document storage policies regarding customers’ non-public information.

In education, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) requires educational institutions to get consent from students before placing their information on the cloud. Although the U.S. has been the number one cloud provider for many years, but the recent NSA surveillance scandal may change that. Some analysts are predicting American cloud providers could suffer more that $22 billion in lost revenue due to surveillance concerns.

Europe

Edward Snowden shook things up with his revelations that the National Security Agency of the United States was monitoring information on cloud systems like Amazon Web Services. Since then, the European Union is proposing new legislation to protect the digital privacy of their citizens. These legislative amendments to existing laws include launching user notifications and consent agreements when data is transferred from a cloud inside the E.U. to a cloud outside of it, which details the possibility of surveillance by a third-country authority. Although it is uncertain if all these laws will pass, there is general consensus in Europe that more regulation is needed to protect their citizens.

Canada

Canada has recently risen as a world leader in ICT innovation, from 12th place in 2012 to 9th place this year. The 2012 copyright bill, Bill C-11, helped instigate this improvement, and places Canada in a position to ratify the WIPO Copyright agreement. The bill allows content distribution and software companies to place “digital locks” on their creative content to guard it from unlawful use. Access to broadband internet still needs to improve if Canada is going to continue to raise its international rankings, as the digital divide is still a prominent issue in this country.



Box.com Users Are Concerned About Security

24-10-2013 Chris

Last week, we discussed the history of cloud computing to see how far we have come. While many enterprise CIOs top concerns are more related to user experience and downtime, users are still concerned about the cloud. A Box.com customer recently relayed the story of his scary security breach on the cloud.

The customer, named Dan, prefaces his story on ITworld.com by saying, “I am a bit of a nut about cloud storage. The ability to store all my data online, automatically sync it, and access it from virtually any machine has changed my life in a number of ways.”

Dan uses many public cloud services, like Dropbox, SkyDrive, Google Drive, in addition to Box.com. When he could not access his Box.com account, he was told that the organization “had no record of his account,” and it had “vanished into thin air,” with three years’ worth of files.

After questioning Box.com corporate further, he found out that because he had shared some folders with his wife, his account had be “rolled in” with accounts belonging to her PR firm. The PR firm had deleted his account, as they didn’t recognize his credentials.

Luckily, Box.com was able to recover his files, after they were in limbo for 6 months. Dan says he will continue to use the cloud, despite the hassle he experienced.

This isn’t the first time Box.com has had to deal with security concerns from users; late last year, a user noticed that anyone can access his corresponding file or folder if they have the correct URL – no password or ID needed. Box.com didn’t respond to the issue until April, and said “Once someone has access to the user’s auth-token they are able use that for browser login. This is a known issue and was a product decision to leave in for Box Sync.”

There are many things users can do to protect their cloud content. IT security experts suggest having a two-factor verification on public cloud accounts like Google. Large organizations should have an approved cloud vendor list to help departments follow organizational policies and guidelines, while still providing flexibility. Of course, choosing a secure and flexible vendor that you trust can really deliver peace of mind.

Learn more about WebPal secure enterprise content management options.



The History of Cloud Computing

18-10-2013 Chris

Every cloud analyst wants answers for where cloud computing will go next, and what trends they can expect. The cloud computing industry is experiencing unprecedented growth; according to Gartner, estimated spending on cloud services between 2013 and 2016 will reach $677 billion. Over its history, cloud computing has faced skepticism from industry experts, but it has now matured into a full-fledged business tool that is used by organizations across industries. To truly understand where cloud computing is going, you have to understand its origins.

Mainframe computers in the 1960s

Today, cloud computing is defined as a number of computers that are connected via a real-time communication network. The first instance of this concept was in the 1960s, when big businesses built computer mainframes to replace the vacuum-tube machines. This required expensive on-site hardware to establish a consolidated computer system that supported all the computers on their network.

Shared web hosting and the first uses of the term “cloud computing”

The next move towards cloud computing was shared web hosting, which gained popularity in 1995. Multiple sites could “sit” on one server and share the hosting service. This soon morphed into VPS hosting which provided more flexibility and “root access” to server files. The MIT Technology Review tracked the first usage to a group of technology executives from Compaq Computer who were “plotting the future of the Internet business and calling it ‘cloud computing.’” They postulated that all business software would move to the web, which spurred them to “start a $2-billion-a-year business selling servers to Internet providers.”

Amazon Web Services

2006 was the year that Amazon launched its grid utility computing system Amazon Web Services, and is still considered a number one cloud provider. For the first time, IT companies could access the resources they needed from the Internet, rather than building expensive on-site infrastructure. Companies like Google and IBM began delving further into research on cloud computing – the same year AWS was launched, Google CEO Eric Schmidt introduced the term cloud computing at an industry conference.

The cloud reaches maturity

By 2009, the cloud computing industry had reached 68.3 billion in revenue. There is no telling where the industry will go in the next 40 years.



What is the Role of IT in Cloud Computing?

09-10-2013 Chris

For business leaders who are looking for ways to reduce their staffing fees using technology, cloud content management appears to be the perfect solution. Because cloud infrastructure helps reduce the amount of on-site hardware and automates certain processes, some business leaders mistakenly believe that the role of IT is becoming less significant. While cloud content management systems certainly provide some much needed relief for IT departments, it is only through a hybrid approach involving both cloud content managements systems and a team of IT experts that you can achieve true productivity. Here are a few roles that IT departments should play after a cloud content management system has been introduced.

CIOs and CTOs should become cloud experts

As a PWC report correctly states, “Cloud computing is about more than IT cost savings; the technology create new avenues for revenue and innovation.” Again, cloud computing should enhance, rather than replace, existing IT infrastructure, and CIOs and CTOs should be prepared to discover new ways to leverage the power of the cloud. It will undoubtedly impact the functions of the IT department, and the CIO or CTO should be prepared to mitigate those impacts for their team.

CIOs and CTOs should get more involved in “business discussions”

CIOs and CTOs are often relegated to pure technology discussions. Mobile and social technology now goes hand-in-hand with marketing and advertising strategy. Since technology is playing an increasingly significant role in business, they have valuable insights that can help your company stay on the cusp of innovative industry trends.

What type of in-house development do you need?

For larger organizations, a more complex IT infrastructure is needed. A blog on Wired.com says “In-house application developers must be capable of crafting solutions that span both the cloud and on-premise resources, securing and leveraging the opportunities inherent in technology without giving up the processes that differentiate and deliver competitive advantage.” Cloud software shouldn’t stop you from innovating – it should help you achieve innovation.

Learn more about WebPal’s secure and flexible cloud content management solutions.



How Cloud Computing Can Help Bridge the Digital Divide

18-09-2013 Chris

The spread of digital technology has resulted in a global movement that provides developing nations with the same access to information that we receive in the Western world. Some of the changes brought on by this movement have been subtle, but some – the Arab Spring and internet vigilantes like Anonymous – are considered revolutionary. Digital technology has become so ubiquitous worldwide, in fact, that many North Americans would be surprised to learn how prominent the Digital Divide is here at home.

The Digital Divide in Canada

Earlier this year, researchers at Western University released a study regarding internet usage in Canada. “In unpacking data from Statistics Canada’s 2010 Canadian Internet Use Survey… Western University researchers found education, income, age and location were all linked with significant disparity in people’s digital competency.” The findings of the study indicate that families in the lowest income bracket were 40% less likely to use the internet and families in the highest income bracket were five times more likely to use the internet. Cloud content management systems are powerful tools that should be leveraged to bridge this digital divide.

Cloud Computing and the Digital Divide

According to a 2010 American study, more than 46 per cent of the poorest households do not own a computer. Cloud content management systems allow you to access your information from any computer by storing your important documents on a private or public cloud. This is invaluable to students who struggle to complete their homework because they don’t have access to a home computer. It also helps adults without access to a home computer when they are pursuing professional opportunities outside of the office.

The importance of mobile access to information

Cloud content management systems also allow you to access your important documents from a smartphone or mobile device. Earlier this week, the Torontoist.com revealed statistics that indicate Toronto wi-fi access is among the slowest and most expensive in Canada and North America. Advocates for a free public wi-fi initiative say it is crucial for helping bridge the digital divide and increasing economic development.

The effects of wi-fi access on economic development are most strongly felt in developing nations:  in a 2009 study, the World Bank found a direct correlation between broadband penetration in a developing economy and an increase in GDP. Large enterprises in these nations are adopting cloud infrastructure to address concerns of limited access to IT skills and knowledge, limited access to capital, and security.

Cloud content management systems like WebPal enable you to access all your important documents from any access point – home computer or mobile device. Find out more about WebPal’s secure private cloud options for enterprises.



3 Ways Cloud Content Management Can Make You More Productive

11-09-2013 Chris

Often, our new enterprise clients tell us that there never seem to be enough hours in the day. The world of business moves at a faster rate than ever before, and it can be difficult to not only keep up with the rate of change, but to stay ahead of it. An article on monster.com says that “Today’s businesses… are looking for improved employee productivity – people who can help their organization run lean and mean. That means hiring people who have strong IT skills and IT talent, particularly cloud technology.” Business owners want to provide their executives and employees with the tools they need to make the most out of their time at work, and adopting cloud technology is one of the ways they are doing that. Here are some ways cloud content management systems can help you make the most out of your workday:

 

Increases Collaboration and Communication

There are a lot of problems associated with sharing documents outside of the cloud. First, it takes the additional time to save the file and share it in an email link with multiple collaborators; then there is the major problem of tracking changes and having different versions of the same document without knowing which is the most updated. Cloud content management systems like WebPal manage any document type and helps you control who has access to the document and for how long. It also provides an activity log, so you can track who has made updates and when, revolutionizing dependence on email for remote collaboration.

Mobile access when you are working on the go

The past few years have given rise to the “anytime, anywhere workers” who do not confine their work lives to the office; in a 2012 survey, 29% of workers said they work from multiple locations on multiple devices. Having documents contained on one computer or device would make this kind of work-style impossible. Cloud content management systems provide the “anytime, anywhere workers” with access to their important documents online, giving them flexibility to work while they are on the go.

Say goodbye to flashdrives

For those prone to forgetfulness, relying on flashdrives can be a nightmare. Managing your documents on the cloud gives you peace of mind that you will always have access to your documents, wherever you are.

Most importantly, cloud content management systems allow companies to maintain all their important documents in one centralized and secure location. Find out more about WebPal document management solutions.



Disaster Recovery Planning Done Right

08-08-2013 Markus

Disaster Recovery (DR) is a widespread reason to consider cloud services for online storage of organizational content. The Aberdeen Group determined through of survey of 100 companies that 66% of respondents identified DR as the primary reason to utilize cloud services, followed by increased IT costs as reason #2. The report is somewhat dated today, but nonetheless very relevant. Cloud services are a natural fit for a cross-organizational backup strategy. The thought of “having a central, remote repository for all data” provides peace-of-mind for CIOs and IT Directors of cloud-adopters.

Fact is, ill-planned DR strategies prove many well-intended cloud backup initiatives useless in the event of real disasters. We find that many organizations that believe they have redundancy in the cloud, have never tested DR setup in a simulated disaster. When considering cloud storage for DR purposes, it is important to recognize the particulars or your organization, as these can significantly affect the right approach to take:

1. Does your organization host applications in the cloud and/or on-site? Consider what backup strategy is needed, cloud-to-cloud, or site-to-cloud. In many cases, a hybrid approach is needed.

2. Considering various disaster scenarios, identify a sensible DR plan. Proper disaster management takes into consideration the periods of downtime, failover latency, service impact, failover duration, and restoration to normal state. The latter is often neglected or underestimated in its impact on the daily course of business.

3. Which time intervals should be chosen for data backup? Any interval from nightly to continuous (real-time) replication is possible, however, real-time cloud-to-cloud replication is expensive. Moreover, for certain disaster scenarios, real-time replication alone is not the desired approach, as replication can potentially copy corrupt data, leaving the backup useless.

4. Application data can be backed up at the storage level (disk-to-disk copy) or the logical level (application-level). Application-level replication takes into consideration the specific business requirements, such as a document retention policies, different access control during disaster scenarios, or other details of the business workflow. To address the risks with storage-level replication alone, the ideal DR strategy should include both storage-level and application-level backups.

We believe that proper disaster planning should involve application-level backup as well as storage-level backup at all times. Contact us to learn more about DR for WebPal Cloud Server application.