Cloud services in general refers to offsite computing with data and applications running on a virtual server in a secure data center. Cloud Services is here to stay: we are seeing an increasing number of clients move their IT infrastructure to ERGOS Cloud Services!

Key Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Cloud Computing Vendor

what to know

Cloud computing has been around for over a decade now. And in 2016, it’s no secret that cloud computing lowers cost and raises employee productivity so companies can grow. In fact, the rate of this growth is 19.63% faster than those not using cloud computing as found in the Cloud Security Alliance Study.

But now that it’s available for virtually all sizes of companies, everyone needs to be armed with knowledge about how the process works before making a final decision. Cloud computing can be highly technical in some aspects, and we’re here to clear that up. The first question naturally is…

1. How much will it cost?

This is important to ask each company directly as the pricing structure is hugely variable between brands. If one company sounds too good to be true, they most likely have smaller fees that will pop up over time that they aren’t telling you about. Or, they aren’t offering you services that you probably want, like data loss prevention. Make sure you ask if you need to pay extra for the following:

  • number of CPU’s per server
  • the amount of RAM and disk storage
  • external IP addresses
  • software and OS licenses
  • network bandwidth

Remember, some of these charges are common and are industry standards. What you want to really make sure is that the company is being honest with you and has your best interests in mind. This can be done while getting a free quote quite easily after asking these questions.

2. What is commonly sent to the cloud to be outsourced?

The majority of business that use cloud computing use it mostly for backing up and storing data while using the different archive options. The second most popular use is to operate applications through the cloud like the common CRM apps. This saves money on the “per-desk” fees and makes the data held in the cloud through these apps more readily accessible.

3. Is Cloud computing right for my business?

This requires some company analysis that begins with gathering knowledge about your IT department costs and productivity levels. Get figures involving the total monthly IT fees and an estimate of the time your IT team is spending fixing on-premises infrastructure issues. After calculating the total cost of these items, get the quotes from the cloud providers and make an educated decision. Companies also commonly save money by increasing productivity without having to hire on additional staff through cloud computing.

4. Do I need to purchase any new hardware beforehand?

While your company’s network needs to be optimized for the transition to the cloud, it’s likely that your hardware is modern enough as it is. A good way to get this question answered is to ask if there is a free test configuration option available. And even if you need to upgrade, it is very often not a large investment.

5. What should I know about cloud security?

Placing sensitive data into a different company’s hands comes with a certain level of understandable hesitation. But any stand up cloud provider will be able to tell you the exact specifics about how your data is kept safe, including the encryption level, the physical security measures, the access code restrictions, and data control options. Make sure this is a part of your decision process.

6. Do I need to prepare to move to the cloud?

Companies commonly bring in an outsourcing IT consultant to ready their business. These consultants generally take care of hardware optimization, staff training, and automatic data backups.

7. Is data loss a concern with cloud computing?

If you’re engaging with a cloud provider and don’t have a data loss prevention plan in place, this is a very real possibility. But proactive options are available, you just need to ask.  All cloud providers have policies in place to handle data loss, and should be able to provider examples of how they have handled these situations in the past.

Want to find out more? See more about us here or get in contact with us here.

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How Cloud Computing Is Changing the Mobile Business

Many businesses are mobile. This can include everyone from travelling salesman to food trucks and everything in between. Cloud computing is changing how these businesses operate because of providing them with more data at their fingertips.
The managers or owners of a mobile business usually work within the day to day operations. At the end of the day, they sit inside of their home on the computer to enter such things as:
– Labor
– Sales
– Expenses
This is done to manage the budget, pay employees, and keep track of revenue. It involves a lot of data entry because it is being pulled from invoices and forms that are kept in the mobile office, food truck, or other “mobile” location.
Cloud computing is designed to eliminate all of this.
1. An app can be used for employees to clock in and out.
2. Invoices can be paid on the spot.
3. Sales data can be generated from a mobile phone or tablet.
4. Forms can be accessed from a mobile device.
5. Budgets can be maintained from a mobile device.
With all of these tasks suddenly automated and accessible with a mobile device, the time that a manager spends inside of a home office is dramatically reduced. This is because the mobile device that one owns is suddenly made to be more useful. It borrows the technology that is inside and combines it with the power of the cloud.
Cloud computing is changing the mobile business to make it run more efficiently. Many managers and owners make decisions on the fly because they don’t have data in front of them that allows them to make great decisions. That means that some decisions are wrong and they have to live with them, no matter how costly they may be.
This is no longer necessary because apps can be developed that allow managers and owners to manipulate the data from their mobile device. They can run reports and see where they stand in a real-time method. There is no worry as to whether it includes all of the labor or all of the revenue because it has all been entered as it happens.
More businesses are turning to cloud computing because it allows them to be more efficient. It’s important for an owner not to look at the cost of a cloud service. Instead, it’s important to look at the savings of a cloud service. The savings and general enhanced productivity will make up for the expense ten-fold – and that’s why the switch is being made.
If you own a mobile business, you owe it to yourself to look at the cloud and see how it can help you. You work hard throughout the day and it would make it easier if you didn’t have to spend every evening on the computer entering data that could have been collected automatically all throughout the day. Technology is at an all-time high and you can put it to work for your mobile business.

The Perks of Cloud Computing

The cloud has revolutionized the way that data is stored. Instead of relying on a hard drive that is within a location, you can rely on the cloud where data is stored somewhere offsite and can be accessed online. This provides you with more mobility – and cloud computing has a lot of perks.
One of the main perks is that you can always access the data that you have stored in the cloud. This means that you can access photos, spreadsheets, and other items from your computer at home or at work as well as with your smartphone, tablet, or any other mobile device that you may have.
Since you can access the data that is within the cloud from any device, you no longer need a portable storage device. You won’t have to waste money on portable zip drives or USB thumb drives. These can be lost or stolen and they have a finite lifespan. The last thing you want is to put a lot of private data on a portable drive and then lose it.
Another perk to cloud computing is that you can maintain digital files. What this means is that you don’t have to print things out, bring them into the field, fill them out by hand, and then go back into the office to convert them back into digital with data entry.
Through the use of cloud computing, sophisticated apps can be created. If you have inspectors, they don’t have to use a printed survey and fill it out by hand. They can have an app on their mobile device that looks just like the printed survey. It can be filled out on the device and then submitted electronically into the cloud.
The person in the office responsible for reviewing the survey can be notified of it being upload and this allows them to download it, review it, and then forward or save it appropriately. There’s no paper files and no data entry required, which reduces errors and improves overall productivity.
Cloud computing can also be advantageous because of the low costs involved. Faxing and mailing documents to the home office can be an expensive undertaking. The better solution is to use the cloud where everything can be done offsite electronically. The information is received and there is nothing involved beyond finding an internet connection. With Wi-Fi becoming more commonplace, this is a simple task.
Your goal should always be to run the most productive operation possible. Technology is improving rapidly and by exploring the new options, it can ensure that you are able to tap into the new industry standards. Portable storage drives and shipping forms back to the home office are becoming obsolete because of the new technology that is available. To keep up with the modern technology, you need to introduce the cloud into your office – and cloud computing can save you time and money.
The more that your cloud can do, the better it can be for you and all of your employees.

Questions to Ask When Finding Cloud Services

Once your company has made the decision to take advantage of cloud services to organize your organization and boost productivity, you want to make every effort to work with the best company. There are many companies that offer services within the cloud, so asking a few questions can help you to make a better decision as to who to go with.
How much space in the cloud do I get?
The space associated with the cloud is of the utmost importance because you don’t want to run out. Some companies will provide you with unlimited cloud storage while others will provide you with a few gigabytes – and then charge for every additional gigabyte that you need.
When you choose a company to get cloud services from, you want to allow growth. Unlimited accounts for this. If you do decide to go with a plan where you are limited in storage, you want to make sure you have room to grow so that you don’t run into issues down the road.
Are there back-end features that allow for data to go into databases?
Back-end features can allow for your data transmitted into the cloud to be formatted in such a way that it feeds directly into the database of your choice. This can be particularly convenient because you won’t have to spend additional time manipulating data. If you have field agents, the data that they transmit to the cloud can go through some of the back-end features and then directly into a database so that others can run the reports they need – and no additional data entry is required.
Will I get an app to use the cloud on my computer?
Having an app to be able to access the cloud services are critical. You may need an app for the computers within the office as well as all of the devices that people use. If you have a BYOD (bring your own device) policy, you may need an app that works for iOS and Android devices – and potentially Windows and Blackberry as well. To avoid having too many versions of an app created, you may want to specify devices that can be used within your BYOD policy.
Can apps be customized based on what I need?
There may be instances when you need something customized within your app. This may be an inspection form, a way of running reports, and much more. If you need customization, you need to be sure the company offering cloud services is capable of providing it for you.
What are the costs associated with the services?
Finally, you have to find out how much it is going to cost you. Cloud services may seem like an expense that you don’t’ want to deal with, but you have to remember how much it can save you in terms of productivity and labor. Still, you shouldn’t spend more than what is necessary. Contact a few companies and find out what the services are going to cost you based on the actual services and cloud space that you require.

How to Boost Productivity With Cloud Services

Boosting productivity has the ability to save your company thousands of dollars. Whether you pay your employees hourly or with a salary, you want them to do as much work within an hour as possible. Cloud services can help your employees to do this by providing them with access to more of the information that they need.
The cloud is a way of storing data on the internet. You control the access so that everyone can have access to everything or certain employees are able to gain access to some of the more important files within your business. The data can be accessible anywhere there is an internet connection. This can be beneficial in comparison to storing data on a local server where someone has to be within the office building to access the data.
By utilizing cloud services in an efficient manner, you can make it easier for all of your employees to tap into the information that they need.
If you have employees out in the field, they may have to come into the office to submit reports or pull information about the clients that they are going to visit. These stops into the office are not efficient because it is time away from the field where they could be conducting more investigations or meeting with more clients.
Many companies have adopted a BYOD protocol where “bring your own device” is highly encouraged. This saves a company from having to buy mobile devices and allows employees to use a device that they already have and are already familiar with.
Apps can be created that will allow employees to tap into the information that they need that is stored in the cloud using the mobile device. These cloud services will allow for a variety of functions, including:
– Viewing databases
– Obtaining forms
– Pulling reports
– Accessing budgets and spreadsheets
The cloud services can work both ways. In addition to allowing employees to gain items, the cloud can also be used to send. This means that they can pull an inspection form down from the cloud, manipulate it based upon the investigation or inspection that they are doing, and then send it back to the cloud where someone else can pull it from home office.
Such services make it easier for more employees to be productive and this provides better communication throughout the entire business. Any management that needs to make decisions based upon the presence of data will be able to do so effectively because of being able to get it easier and faster.
Cloud services are becoming more advanced because of the technological advancements within the mobile devices and the internet as a whole. If you want to boost productivity within your operations, you need to make sure you give your employees access to the cloud as well as a device in which they can access the cloud. Once you do this, productivity is going to be inevitably boosted to new levels, saving you money and enhancing your ability to make better decisions.

5 Reasons to Look for Cloud Services

Cloud services can be one of the best ways to boost your business in the right direction. Whether you have been struggling with productivity, access to data, or anything else, the answer can be found in the cloud. If you are unsure as to whether you should be working in the cloud, there are five reasons to convince you.
#1: Easier Access to Data
Many businesses struggle with access to data. If you are carrying a thumb or USB drive around with data that you need, you can run into problems. Not only may you be working with older data, there could be hundreds of versions floating around because everyone else is using a thumb drive with a version of the file as well.
You may need data when you are not in the office, and therefore you need to simplify access and maintain one version. By placing all files on the cloud, the access is there as long as you have an internet connection. Further, everyone is using the same file with cloud services.
#2: Mobilize Your Employees
If everyone can get their data from the cloud, it is possible to become more mobile. Field employees can have access to forms and databases. Employees that travel out of town will have access to files and spreadsheets. This means that everyone can work more efficiently without being tethered to a desk inside of the office where the server is.
#3: Boost Your Productivity
When everyone has more access to data, the productivity is going to be boosted as well. No one will have to look for the files that they need, spend time pulling reports from their computer to a USB drive, or making a special trip into the office in order to get data. For employees that travel, they don’t have to spend time on phones asking for documents to be sent to them because they can go into the cloud and get it on their own. As more cloud services are tapped into, more productivity can be gained throughout all departments.
#4: Get Reports Faster
Everyone will be able to get the reports that they need considerably faster as well. For example, if you have to turn a report into the office and you are out in the field, it may have to be submitted by fax. This means you have to find a fax machine and then someone else in the office has to data enter the information to be pulled into a report for a manager. All of this can be eliminated with cloud services because of the way that electronic transmissions are made.
#5: Clean Up the Paper Trail
When you begin to utilize cloud services to the best of your company’s ability, you are going to notice considerably less paper across your desk. The reason for this is because everything will be digital. There will be no more reason to print off forms, have them completed in the field, turned in, and then turned into a digital format. The people in the field will fill them out electronically, keeping them in digital format. This eliminates paper and reduces errors that can be made with data entry.
You can utilize the cloud for as much or as little as you want. The cloud services exist to better your operations.

How Cloud Services Can Enhance Your Business

If you are still using hard drives and even flash drives to store your data, it’s important to explore cloud services. More businesses are turning to the cloud as a way of enhancing their operations. The same can be done for yours once you learn about all of the different benefits that are available for you to tap into.
Take a look at the technology that you are currently using.
Fax Machines
Fax machines may be used to send data to satellite offices as well as to send data into the corporate office. There are various problems with using this older form of technology. The first is that the transmissions may not be as clear as they need to be. The second is that the information coming through may have to be data entered to have a true electronic form of the data.
If you were to use cloud services, the transmission of data could be organized in such a way that it would feed through to a database that is already in place within your business. This minimizes data entry and allows your business to run more smoothly.
Flash Drives
Flash drives, also known as USB sticks or thumb drives, are portable and allow you to take files with you on the go. These can be convenient in some instances so that you have photos, forms, and other files when you need them. This is not always the best way to access your files, however. Some of the main problems include the flash drives being lost, the data becoming corrupt, being unable to hold the size of the file that you need, as well as being able to access the files on the particular device that you need to use.
The flash drive plugs into the USB port on your computer. What happens when you want to use a tablet or smartphone to open a file and there is no USB port? The files are of no use to you because you cannot access them.
The solution is to turn to cloud services where you will be able to store all of your files inside of the cloud. This is a server located off premises that will place everything online. You have the files encrypted, ensuring that they are safe and visible and accessible only to you. As long as you have an internet connection, you have access to them. They cannot be lost and the cloud can hold any size file that you need. More importantly, you can access the data on any device that you have as long as you have the internet connection and the program or app to be able to open the type of file that you wish to view.
By eliminating old technology and adding new technology, you enhance your business. You can see how the use of the cloud can revolutionize the way you do business because of being able to access files at any time and maintain electronic copies of everything to avoid duplicate data entry tasks.

How Cloud Services Can Enhance Your Business

If you are still using hard drives and even flash drives to store your data, it’s important to explore cloud services. More businesses are turning to the cloud as a way of enhancing their operations. The same can be done for yours once you learn about all of the different benefits that are available for you to tap into.

Take a look at the technology that you are currently using.

Fax Machines

Fax machines may be used to send data to satellite offices as well as to send data into the corporate office. There are various problems with using this older form of technology. The first is that the transmissions may not be as clear as they need to be. The second is that the information coming through may have to be data entered to have a true electronic form of the data.

If you were to use cloud services, the transmission of data could be organized in such a way that it would feed through to a database that is already in place within your business. This minimizes data entry and allows your business to run more smoothly.

Flash Drives

Flash drives, also known as USB sticks or thumb drives, are portable and allow you to take files with you on the go. These can be convenient in some instances so that you have photos, forms, and other files when you need them. This is not always the best way to access your files, however. Some of the main problems include the flash drives being lost, the data becoming corrupt, being unable to hold the size of the file that you need, as well as being able to access the files on the particular device that you need to use.

The flash drive plugs into the USB port on your computer. What happens when you want to use a tablet or smartphone to open a file and there is no USB port? The files are of no use to you because you cannot access them.

The solution is to turn to cloud services where you will be able to store all of your files inside of the cloud. This is a server located off premises that will place everything online. You have the files encrypted, ensuring that they are safe and visible and accessible only to you. As long as you have an internet connection, you have access to them. They cannot be lost and the cloud can hold any size file that you need. More importantly, you can access the data on any device that you have as long as you have the internet connection and the program or app to be able to open the type of file that you wish to view.

By eliminating old technology and adding new technology, you enhance your business. You can see how the use of the cloud can revolutionize the way you do business because of being able to access files at any time and maintain electronic copies of everything to avoid duplicate data entry tasks.

What to Look for in Cloud Services

When you are going to use cloud services from an IT company, there are various things that you want to look into. While many companies offer access to the cloud, the services can vary dramatically. You want to get as many services as possible to ensure you have all of your needs met – and can tap into all of the technology that is available.

The cloud is a method of storing data online. You will have the opportunity to store any types of files that you want to store. This includes photos, videos, documents, databases, and even programs. By doing this, you ensure that your employees have access to anything they need, wherever they might be.

By looking at what the companies offer for cloud services, you can make sure you get what your company needs.

Amount of Storage

The amount of storage that you have within the cloud needs to be considered. Ultimately, you want to make sure you have as much as you need for all of your files – along with more space to be able to grow. Some providers will provide you with a few gigabytes of storage while others will provide you with unlimited storage.

You will need to calculate the amount of storage you need and compare it to the monthly costs involved. Often, it is best to go with a plan that provides you with significantly more storage than what you need.

Security

Security is another important aspect when you look at cloud services because you want to make sure that all of your data is safe. Encryption is evolving and you need to explore what kind of technology is being used to keep your data safe from prying eyes. The only person that should have access to the data in the cloud is you and anyone you determine should have access.

A combination of a username and password as well as encryption should be used. 128-bit encryption is one of the most common forms of encryption used in cloud technology.

Maintenance

A company should always be maintaining the servers that your data is stored on. When you look at how your information is stored, you want to explore such things as:

–          Number of servers

–          Location of servers

–          Average downtime

–          Customer service

These various factors will determine the kind of maintenance being provided to ensure you always have access to the information in the cloud. If a server goes down and you cannot access the files in your cloud, it is of no use to you.

Recovery

Finally, when it comes to cloud services, you want to look at the level of recovery that is in place. For example, will the files be uploaded to the cloud automatically or do you have to place them there? If you lose files on your computer, how easy is the recovery to get them back.

Understanding the answers to these questions is important when you look for a provider.

How Cloud Computing Can Make Your Team More Productive

It’s important that you are as productive as possible. Without being productive, you end up spending more in labor costs and potentially miss deadlines at the same time. These are issues that you don’t want to have. Cloud computing can be used to enhance productivity by providing more access to data at every level.

One of the first ways that you can enhance productivity with the cloud is by adding all of the data that your employees use on the field into it. This allows them to access such things as:

–          Field reports

–          Forms

–          Databases

With access to all of this information, they are able to do their job more efficiently – and thus productivity is increased. They won’t have to return to the office to get anything and they can pull up the information on their own using a mobile device.

Various devices such as fax machines can be eliminated because the people in the field will be able to get everything they need electronically

Another way to enhance productivity is through organization. You may find that it’s impossible to stay organized when you have paper all over your desk, in your briefcase, and even in your car. When you use cloud computing, there is no need to have everything in print. Documents can be created electronically so that you can simply view them on the screen.

As an example, a field agent can create a report electronically. They can pull up the report on a smartphone, complete it, and then submit it back into the cloud. You can then access that same report, completed, to have information at your fingertips.

Since the report is being filled out by the field agent in the field, you get the report faster. It also eliminates the need to scan it or use any kind of data entry method to get it into an electronic format because cloud computing was in place from the very beginning.

It’s important that you understand how the cloud works. You have access to data all the time and in all locations. As long as you have an internet connection, you can access the data that you need. Depending upon how you have file sharing set up, you can also minimize the time that it takes to receive reports. When you have more data in front of you, it allows you to make better decisions about your business – and this can help you to make decisions faster.

Whether you have had issues with data entry errors, field agents not having what they need, or even not getting the reports you need in time, the issues can be improved. Cloud computing can change the way that you work because it allows you to access more information, organize it, and access it from anywhere at any time.

All of these features will improve productivity and save you money. This is critical when you are operating a business because you want to maintain a healthy bottom line.