10 Ways Law Firms Can Benefit From Managed IT Services

10 Ways Law Firms Can Benefit From Managed IT Services

Lawyers and legal firms manage highly sensitive, personal data on a routine basis. As legal cases become more complex and increasingly reliant on functions such as digital case management, customer relationship management, and e-Discovery, it’s more important than ever that legal organizations do everything they can to ensure their data is protected, their network infrastructure is secure, and compliance requirements are met.

In addition to security concerns, the ability to work while on the move and immediate access to case data are key to keeping up in the fast-paced legal environment. Between paperwork, time tracking, filings, and deadlines, law offices don’t have time to waste on computer systems that crash unexpectedly or otherwise drag down productivity.

Many smaller law firms are facing a harsh reality: they simply don’t have the resources to invest at the scale necessary to keep pace with their increasing technology needs and to narrow the gap opened up by larger firms with deep pockets.

Most law firms spend roughly 70% of their annual IT budget on system maintenance. Only the 30% that remains ends up being invested in acquiring new technology. Ultimately, the bulk of their resources are spent “spinning their wheels,” instead of embracing new technologies that could help propel their business.

It doesn’t have to be this way! By partnering with a reputable managed services provider (MSP), law firms can entrust the day-to-day management of their IT infrastructure to a team of highly skilled IT professionals who specialize in working with legal organizations. This frees up attorneys and other staff to focus on the business of practicing law, without having to worry about their network failing them.

10 Benefits of Managed IT Services for Law Firms:

1) Lower Operating Costs

Smaller and larger firms alike have to keep a close eye on their budgets. The cost to employ in-house IT support can easily surpass $100,000 annually. Unfortunately, this support staff is not available 24/7 and is unlikely to possess the depth of knowledge necessary to support different technologies. MSPs give law offices round-the-clock access to an entire team of certified IT experts for a fraction of the cost of internal IT staff.

2) Maximized Productivity & Billable Hours

Whether it’s a forgotten password, server failure, or an app that’s not responding as it should, attorneys and their teams simply can’t afford to experience significant downtime. System breakdowns can be particularly costly, in terms of lost productivity and business disruption. MSPs specialize in Backup and Disaster Recovery (BDR), which is crucial for minimizing downtime and maintaining business continuity. Updating and modernizing a practice’s IT infrastructure can help maximize billing hours by reducing the risk of underperforming applications.

3) Predictable Budgeting

With fixed-fee monthly payment options, law firms can know ahead of time exactly what an MSP is going to charge them. This allows organizations to plan for IT expenses rather than being surprised by unexpected ones.

4) Compliance

The protocols and processes required for law firms to stay compliant can be quite complicated. Legal practices that handle credit cards must comply with PCI-DSS security standards. Attorneys dealing with clients’ medical records are subject to stringent HIPAA regulations. Failure to comply can result in stiff fines and penalties for law firms, as well as an increased likelihood of data breach. Reputable MSPs work diligently to keep all hardware and software up-to-date and in compliance with ever-changing government regulations.

5) Client Confidentiality & Data Security

Since legal practices are routinely entrusted with highly sensitive information about their clients, they know better than anyone else that keeping this data secure is absolutely critical. Undetected malware infiltrations and system hacks put the relationship between attorneys and clients at constant risk. If a security breach should occur, confidential data may be held hostage or distributed in a manner that harms the reputation of law firms or their clients. In the legal community, where reputation is king, this is a worst-case scenario. Managed services providers work around the clock to protect their law firm clients against viruses, alerting them to suspicious activity, and taking immediate action to contain breaches when they occur.

6) 24/7/365 Monitoring & Support

In larger firms, an in-house IT team may be tasked with monitoring environments for threats, handling day-to-day technical operations, and working on achieving the practice’s strategic IT goals. If any of these is overlooked, the firm could end up compromising on security, productivity, or growth. Small-to-medium-sized law firms often cannot afford to employ round-the-clock IT staff, nor do they have the budget to invest in the sophisticated hardware and software necessary to combat dedicated cyberattacks. In either case, it makes sense to enlist the services of a managed services provider. Their dedicated team of IT experts will take full responsibility of monitoring for and controlling any data breaches as soon as they occur. Many trusted MSPs also offer 24/7/365 help desk support for their law firm clients, an added value for an industry in which extended downtime equals lost revenue.

7) Improved Accessibility & Mobility

Since legal professionals perform a large portion of their work outside of the office, they need to be able to access data easily and securely anytime and from anywhere. Important paperwork, documents, and a variety of discovery materials are constantly being added to the existing files. The ability to obtain this information on the fly is crucial for attorneys and their staff. By storing all of the firm’s data in a secure cloud environment, MSPs can give legal professionals fast and easy accessibility to files anywhere they have an internet connection. With a trusted MSP managing their staff’s mobile devices, law firms can also gain integrated efficiency and collaboration while keeping confidential data secure – even if devices are lost or stolen.

8) Level Playing Field

Most smaller law firms aren’t able to afford the in-house IT support services that many larger legal practices maintain. In addition, small practices are unlikely to budget for major system updates or upgrades. As a result, these smaller-scale firms end up lagging on the technology curve. Partnering with a managed services provider gives smaller law firms a competitive advantage, with access to similar technology and often even greater expertise than the large firms enjoy.

 

9) Scalability

Law practices, like any business, are apt to grow and change. With this expansion comes an increased need for upgraded software packages, servers, and desktops, as well as the support system to manage them effectively. Working with a managed services provider gives law firms of all sizes access to the latest technologies and the security measures necessary to operate a growing practice.

10) Legal Application Expertise

Line-of-business (LOB) applications, such as document management systems and cost-recovery systems, are critical to the ongoing success of any legal practice. As the number of LOBs grows, so do the integration challenges tied to these tools. A trusted MSP can engineer these applications to play nicely with standard horizontal applications such as Microsoft Office Suite and Adobe Creative Cloud, helping eliminate a significant amount of frustration and inefficiency. A managed services provider that’s experienced in working with law firms is better able to anticipate potential issues specific to the profession, as well as understand each practice’s operational needs. Outsourcing IT to MSPs allows attorneys to focus on their clients and cases without interruptions or delays due to connectivity issues or backup concerns.

Outsourcing a legal practice’s IT infrastructure to a managed services provider allows attorneys and support staff to devote their time to what truly matters – giving their clients the attention that they deserve. A more focused IT organization can help emerging practices build their client base, assist lawyers with better engaging their clients, and empower firms of any size to compete in the marketplace.

A reputable MSP will take the time to understand a law firm’s business, personnel, systems, and processes and identify its short-term and long-term goals. The service provider will then develop and implement an IT strategy tailored to the practice’s specific needs.

In addition to protecting the firm’s network against cyberthreats, security breaches, and data loss, an MSP provides a variety of other valuable services that an in-house IT team simply can’t match. Legal organizations that choose to work with a managed services provider will gain access to the most up-to-date hardware and software, along with the accessibility and mobility that come with a solid cloud infrastructure. Real-time IT monitoring and support for all network applications and devices, data backup, system upgrades, layered security solutions, and disaster recovery are all key components in an MSP’s repertoire.

DataGroup Technologies has been partnering with legal organizations to provide managed IT services for over 15 years. We understand the unique challenges attorneys and their teams face on a daily basis. Our certified network engineers work with law practices to streamline operations, improve workflow, maximize overall efficiency, and ensure consistent uptime. Our technicians are available to answer your calls for service or support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

If your legal organization has outgrown the capabilities of your in-house IT staff or you’re not 100% satisfied with your current service provider, give us a call today at 252.329.1382 to schedule your free IT assessment!

Related Posts

10 Ways Commercial Construction Companies Can Benefit from Managed IT Services

10 Ways Commercial Construction Companies Can Benefit from Managed IT Services

From conception to completion, many commercial construction projects involve hundreds, if not thousands, of people working from various locations. Each step in the process, including the design and management of each project, is aided by technology.

The commercial construction industry is unique in its technology needs, with CAD programs, construction project planning, procurement of materials, and estimating software among the essential tools that supervisors, estimators, and sales teams alike rely on each day.

The Past, Present, and Future of Technology in the Construction Industry

Historically, the two-dimensional approach of pencil-and-paper building plans made it very difficult to visualize dimensions and requirements. On top of that, the difficulty of physically handling and managing large quantities of rolled bond copier paper made executing a job from start to finish tedious, hard to communicate, and susceptible to error and loss.

With the arrival of Computer Aided Design (CAD) in the 1960s, the construction industry was able to digitize their key processes to great success. The world of construction in manufacturing and printing became an entirely new challenge when CAD went 3-D. Architects, engineers, and general contractors all benefited from the enhanced efficiency and scalability of design with these newer programs.

Today, many contractors, architects, and developers rely heavily on Building Information Modeling (BIM). This revolutionary technology ensures that the processes of planning, designing, and constructing are more efficient and collaborative than ever before.

With less than 1% of annual revenue budgeted for IT needs, the construction industry as a whole has historically spent the least on technology. However, commercial contractors are realizing that if they wish to stay competitive in the industry today, they have no choice but to integrate leading technologies into their everyday business practices. With an increased focus on security and network infrastructure management, commercial construction has begun to turn to managed services providers to handle their IT needs.

How a Managed Services Provider Can Help

Commercial construction companies routinely subcontract certain aspects of their projects because it’s more efficient. In the same way, commercial contractors are better served to outsource the daily management of their IT infrastructure to a skilled, industry-specific managed services provider (MSP).

Managed IT services gives construction firms an entire team of IT professionals capable of dealing with a variety of complex and unusual issues as needed, at a fraction of the cost of a single in-house IT technician. MSPs handle troubleshooting, system updates and upgrades, and new tech implementation, freeing up in-house IT staff to focus on more pressing business needs.

By partnering with an MSP, commercial construction companies benefit from remote monitoring and management of their on-premises IT infrastructure at flexible levels of support. Advanced systems warn of any issues that must be immediately resolved, while ensuring that the network stays up and running at all times.

Whether a construction firm is looking to set up its network infrastructure from scratch or update its systems to minimize the threat of security breaches and data loss, a reputable managed services provider is fully equipped to handle it all.

Here are a few specific ways that MSPs can be particularly beneficial to the commercial construction industry:

1) Lower Operational Costs

Outsourcing IT needs to a managed services provider eliminates the need to pay salaries, benefits, or 401k to an in-house IT team. Furthermore, since most of the MSP’s operations are conducted offsite, commercial contractors can reduce the amount of physical space and equipment needed for IT purposes.

With the state-of-the-art technology offered by a managed services provider, there will be no need for constant tech upgrades, further reducing operational costs. A savvy construction firm can redirect the funds saved by outsourcing to managed IT services towards other areas of the company where the need is greater.

2) Reduced Downtime = Increased Productivity

In the commercial construction industry, time is money. When critical technology fails to operate efficiently or is subject to regular disruption, production schedules are interrupted, leading to costly delays and lost working hours.

Working with a team of IT specialists can greatly reduce downtime related to network issues. Because software and hardware are operating at maximum efficiency, staff can work more effectively and collaborate more easily.

3) Cybersecurity

From cyberthreats to system crashes to natural disasters, any number of technology-related events could lead to data loss and extended downtime. Cyberattacks, in particular, can cripple a company in a number of ways: financially, legally, and in the eyes of the public.

Many construction companies are living dangerously, with improperly configured and unmanaged firewalls and extremely basic antivirus systems. Fully managed and layered cybersecurity systems and services can help protect users and data from cyberattacks. A reliable managed services provider with extensive knowledge of even the most sophisticated viruses, malware, and other cyberthreats will ensure that threats are detected and prevented before they strike.

4) Mobile Data Management (MDM)

Since commercial construction companies have people working from trucks, construction sites, the road, and the main office, they need their workers to be able to keep in contact and collaborate – at any time, from anywhere, and on whatever devices they are already using.

MDM allows owners, foremen, and other construction personnel access to important information on the go, as well as remote management of various devices. Wireless connectivity options and the broad availability of Wi-Fi help reduce the amount of time spent waiting for management decisions and information sharing across various teams. With the services and software offered by managed services providers, construction companies can optimize the functionality of mobile devices while still protecting the data in their network.

Enterprise file sync and share (EFSS) allows authorized users to securely share and sync files among multiple devices. Since the construction industry often involves file-sharing outside of the company to clients or professionals in different fields, EFSS is an ideal choice. A reputable MSP can help a firm decide whether Dropbox, OneDrive, or some other EFSS best suits their specific needs and business goals.

A reliable voice-over-IP (VoIP) allows management teams to dial an onsite construction engineer via extension without having to fumble around for a cell phone number. When used properly, VoIP can be a significant time-saving tool that greatly increases communication while keeping it under the corporate umbrella.

5) Cloud Services

With the extensive amount of information that’s generated with each project, it’s important that commercial contractors have solutions in place for long-term data management and storage. Cloud-based services help support the technologies that run a company’s critical core applications, such as estimating, accounting, project management, document management, and scale management.

 

In addition to providing easier access to info on the go, cloud technology allows secure file-sharing and access across the network, reduces the risk of cybersecurity threats and costs, ensures the speed and quality of technology, and offers disaster-proof storage for the company’s most sensitive data.

Migrating to the cloud also makes it easier for executives and manages to order materials, oversee subcontractors, and manage cashflow. A construction company will inevitably grow, but it will also experience seasons where business is slow. Cloud-based solutions allow construction firms to scale up or down as needed.

6) Regular Maintenance and 24/7/365 Support

Partnering with a managed services provider means construction companies can count on regularly maintained systems and around-the-clock support, cutting down on the probability of technology failure at critical times and allowing businesses to run smoothly without suffering from significant downtime.

Hardware needs ongoing maintenance and updates, and software requires regular patches and upgrades. MSPs perform monthly updates and preventative maintenance, ensuring that hardware and software remain running at peak efficiency to minimize the risk of reoccurring problems.

Many managed services providers offer 24/7/365 support via a remote help desk staffed by a team of IT experts. This “always-on” approach guarantees that whenever and wherever technology-related issues happen, immediate support is available. Commercial contractors that partner with MSPs can expect quick responses to service calls, increasing project efficiency and collaborative communication.

7) Automation of Processes

Commercial contractors have a number of technology tools at their disposal which can automate tedious manual processes, enhance efficiency and productivity, and trim costs to increase profit margins. Still, over half of all contractors rely on pen and paper for everything from bids and estimates to project management.

A knowledgeable IT team can help a construction company identify which of its processes can be automated, recommend the technology tools that will be most effective for the business, and help integrate solutions into the existing IT infrastructure.

8) Data Backup & Disaster Recovery

Two things that construction companies absolutely cannot afford are the loss of valuable data and missed deadlines. Fully managed backup and disaster recovery services ensure that data is safe no matter what while giving contractors the confidence that they can and will meet all important deadlines.

A trusted MSP establishes backup systems that provide for both the security of sensitive information as well as the ability to continue to access that information. A robust disaster recovery plan helps minimize downtime and data loss in the event of a natural or cyber disaster, so businesses can continue almost instantaneously.

9) Collaboration

In order for a construction company to function successfully, real-time seamless collaboration among architects, engineers, contractors, onsite project managers, and office staff is essential. With frequently changing staff and the number of users onsite, construction teams need support and collaborative tools that make teamwork easy.

Adopting specialized construction planning software and a comprehensive IT strategy are quickly becoming necessities for commercial contractors. A professional IT team specializing in construction industry software and mobile technology can help integrate the proper tools into the company’s infrastructure to facilitate and streamline collaboration.

10) Project Management Software Support

Construction work requires companies to deliver projects on time and on budget. Project management software enables firms to execute projects more efficiently while still delivering top-quality results and improving the overall profitability of the business. Having an experienced IT team supporting this software ensures that it runs smoothly and efficiently at all times.

Managed services providers that specialize in working with construction companies have extensive experience with supporting software such as Sage, JD Edwards, QuickBooks, and AutoCAD programs. Vendor management services allow an MSP to work with a company’s software vendors to prevent excessive downtime should unforeseen issues occur.

Final Thoughts

Partnering with a managed services provider can help commercial contractors enable a mobile workforce while maintaining control of sensitive data and securing the network. MSPs can maximize the performance of a company’s in-house systems to ensure uptime; transition the business to cloud-based operations and services; provide support for third-party applications by liaising with vendors; and address ongoing technology issues to bring them to a permanent resolution. has been partnering with commercial contractors to provide managed IT services for over 15 years. Our expertise in working with commercial contractor clients makes us the preferred choice for construction firms of all sizes throughout the region.

When you partner with DTI, we take the time to understand your specific business needs and tailor a solution that will enhance productivity and enable you to get the job done faster. Our team of certified IT professionals will assess the current state of your network infrastructure, identify potential risks, validate alignment with your business goals, and suggest opportunities for technical and organizational improvements.

Our industry experience allows us to better manage remote network access solutions, construction management software, design applications such as AutoCAD, and mobile security solutions. We can work with your firm to fully support your internal IT staff or – for a fixed monthly fee – offer comprehensive IT services. Our technicians are available to answer your calls for service or support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

If your commercial construction company is ready to take the next step toward advancing its technological capabilities or you’re not 100% satisfied with your current service provider, give us a call today at 252.329.1382 for your initial IT consultation!

Related Posts

What Is The Internet of Things?

What Is the Internet of Things?

The year was 1999 and Kevin Ashton was pitching an idea to the execs of Procter & Gamble for “radio-frequency identification;” allowing computers to manager “all individual things.” The practice wasn’t necessarily new but what Ashton coined at the time was. Since the Internet was all the rage during this time, he called his idea the “Internet of Things” (IoT for short) to grab the attention of the execs. Little did they know that over 10 years later, the Internet of Things would be one of tech’s biggest markets.

IOT Explained

There is a range of definitions across the web for IoT; all varying to a degree in complexity. At DataGroup Technologies, we define IoT as “extending the power of the internet beyond computer and smartphones on a whole range of things, processes, and environments.

The broad definition is on purpose as IoT is a conglomerate of different machines communicating with each other to complete a task. An IoT optimized device has the capacity to connect to the internet in any way and is integrated with technology such as sensors, functional software, network support connections, and actuators.

Let’s take IoT in agriculture as an example.

It’s no secret that the human population is booming, but our natural resources cannot keep up with the supply and demand. A fully optimized farm can help mitigate the demand by producing more supply without negatively impacting the environment.

Irrigation systems enhanced with IoT sensors and network capabilities are able to monitor the soil quality and saturation level, evenly distributing water across the fields. An internet connection allows the irrigation system to keep track of reported weather patterns to plan for when crops need to be watered and when to save that water.

Further IoT upgrades enable farmers to reduce waste and enhance productivity. Now farmers can compute the quantity of fertilizer needed to cover their fields and reduce waste percentage, track staff performance and equipment efficiency, obtain crop health analysis, track livestock, create controlled climate greenhouses, and use predictive analysis to plan future crop production rate, storage, and risk management.

Farmers are able to collect data from anywhere at anytime on the state of their farms. IoT is a driving force for increasing agricultural production in a cost-effective and environmentally friendly way.

The Market Reaction

The concept and history of IoT begins before Kevin Ashton coined the phrase in 1999. The idea of connected devices often called “embedded internet” or “pervasive computer” had been around since the 70’s. What concepts and ideas needed was for technology to advance with our technological abilities. A little over 10 years after Ashton coined “Internet of Things” the phrase quickly latched on and soon spread like wildfire.

In the summer of 2010, information on Google’s StreetView service had leaked. Not only had the tech giant’s project captured data of the physical world with its 360-degree pictures, but had also collected and stored tons of data related to people’s WiFi networks. That same year, the Chinese government stated that it would make IoT a priority in their Five-Year-Plan; a plan we can see as a success in China as it stands as one of the most IoT optimized countries in the world.

Growth came at a rapid pace as conferences such as the Consumer Electronics Show, and tech publications such as Wired and Forbes, began to normalize the phrase in their terminology and popularize it among businesses and consumers.

Products

If you’ve never heard of IoT before, chances are you’ve at least purchased a product in the last 5 years that utilizes what IoT can do. There are a wide variety of IoT products flooding the marketing right now, all with the goal of optimizing your lifestyle with technology.

Here is a rudimentary list of different types of IoT products you can find:
-Biometric systems
-Smart homes
-Smart security systems
-Wearable health monitors
-Smart irrigation and agricultural systems
-Smart cities
-Smart phones
-Shipping container and logistics tracking

If you have purchased new electronics recently, chances are you’re assembling a smart home. Products like refrigerators with built-in monitors, voice command lights, indoor security cameras that will stream a live feed straight to your devices, or even your Amazon Alexa, who helps find new items on Amazon, play music or even turn your lights on. 

All of these products and more are collecting data and monitoring your commands. They are communicating and connecting with the internet to provide optimized services for you. If you think this all too good to be true, then you’re right, as there are substantial pros and cons to IoT services and products.

The Pros and Cons of IOT

Among the advantages of IoT, you have:
-Improved communication and interaction between devices, and between devices and people.
-Strong monitoring features
-Instant data access and documentation
-Automation of workflow
-Improved service efficiency and time-management
-Company cost savings.

On the flip side, you have:
-No international compatibility standard
-Increased complexity of IoT services
-Growing lack of privacy
-Increased chances of cybersecurity risks
-Reduction of jobs in the market, thus higher unemployment rates.

Automation of workflow with improved service efficiency leads to a reduction of jobs and employment. Smart home devices that are not properly secured and encrypted by companies and consumers are a hacker’s playground.

The Future of IOT

 

Statista predicts the number of IoT connected devices to reach 75.44 billion by 2025, a 60 billion increase from metrics reported in 2015.

As human innovation and imagination continues to grow, so too does our use and dependency on IoTs, and with the growth in dependency of IoT comes the increased potential of risks and exploitations. IoT devices create privacy concerns that echo to Orwellian literature. In 2015, a member of the Electronic Frontier Foundation discovered the following statement in Samsung’s SmartTV privacy policy:

“Please be aware that if your spoken words include personal or other sensitive information, that information will be among the data captured and transmitted to a third party through your use of Voice Recognition.”

Samsung later addressed the situation and edited the policy. No reports of abused or misused captured audio have been filed and Samsung states that it adheres to “industry-standard security safeguards and practices,” but concerns are still present in consumers.

IoT is the future of technology, from smart homes and smart cities to monitoring devices for your health and your car. Yet, public safety from cyber attacks and unauthorized data access will be a crippling addition to the growth of IoT. As more reports come out about the growth in spending and development of IoT, the more businesses and consumers should be made aware of the potential cybercrimes.

Here at DataGroup Technologies, we’re dedicated to continued research and understanding on all technological growth to improve upon our range of IT services and security. If you’re thinking about including more IoT devices in your business, give DataGroup Technologies a call to make sure your business is secured and ready to upgrade into the future.

Related Posts

10 Advantages of Moving to The Cloud

WHAT IS CLOUD COMPUTING?

Cloud-based technology allows companies to expand their technical capabilities without the hardware hassle. Businesses that implement cloud services gain so much more than simple mobility. Moving to a secure cloud can help your business streamline its critical IT processes while simplifying business application management.

Cloud computing gives users the ability to access all the data and applications on your network by logging in from any device that has an internet connection. Programs are outsourced and reside in a secure data center rather than your hard drive.

10 Advantages of Moving to The Cloud:

1) Cost Efficiency

Cloud technology eliminates the need for businesses to purchase and maintain additional hardware or software, greatly reducing your capital costs. With a cloud provider managing the business’s equipment, applications, upgrades, updates, patching, and all other IT processes, you’ll have more time to spend on running your business and more room in the budget to modernize and automate your processes.

2) Flexibility

The cloud provides you the freedom to work anytime from wherever you are, as long as you can connect to the internet. In addition, many applications have been optimized for use with tablets and smartphones, so you don’t even have to carry a laptop anymore. The flexibility that the cloud offers also makes it easy to share documents with your colleagues. With software providing version control, it’s possible for multiple people to update the same document simultaneously, increasing overall productivity.

3) Collaboration

Cloud-based workflow and file-sharing applications give teams in different locations the ability to work together more easily and efficiently. Staff can make updates in real time, see what other team members are working on, and communicate more effectively. This advanced level of collaboration speeds up projects and, ultimately, improves customer service.

4) Security

The cloud service provider is responsible for maintaining all hardware, software, and networks in the cloud. A team of IT professionals ensures that equipment and applications are upgraded regularly, updated in a timely manner, patched when appropriate, and outfitted with the latest security measures. In addition, the cloud utilizes data encryption to ensure that anyone not authorized to access your data is prevented from doing so.

5) Mobility

With cloud technology, you can provide total access to employees who work remotely or those who travel regularly, as well as individuals who work on a freelance basis. This increased flexibility allows employees to work on the go or from home, using their desktops, laptops, smartphones, and tablets.

6) Scalability

Most cloud computing programs and applications operate on a subscription-based model. This allows your business to scale up or down according to your needs and budget. This level of agility gives businesses using cloud computing a huge advantage over their competitors.

7) Data Backup & Recovery

With robust disaster recovery solutions in place, you don’t have to worry about data loss – even if your laptop, smartphone, or tablet is stolen, damaged, misplaced, or it malfunctions. You can quickly regain access to data using any computer or laptop with an internet connection. Daily data backups and recoverability tests ensure business continuity in case of an emergency.

8) Competitiveness

Migrating to the cloud gives businesses of all sizes access to enterprise-class technology. Cloud-based business applications allows smaller businesses to compete with bigger, more established competitors, all while remaining lean and nimble.

9) Environmentally Friendly

Since additional hardware and other physical products aren’t necessary, your business will help reduce environmental waste by operating in the cloud. This change will also likely decrease the production of paper waste. Not only are you cutting company expenses and freeing up physical space, you’re also empowering your employees to adopt a more proactive environmental approach.

10) Easy Implementation

A cloud service provider will work with you to outline your technical and business goals. This helps them to better understand which cloud services are right for you. From there, the provider will develop a plan and timeline to move you to the cloud. Preparing for your business’s transition to the cloud is pretty simple. You might want to consider upgrading your network bandwidth in advance of the move, as cloud computing can put a strain on local internet connections. You won’t need to hire additional staff to help with the transition. The cloud service provider will handle the move from start to finish.

Related Posts

What Is Cloud Scalability & Why Does It Matter

What Is Cloud Scalability, And Why Does It Matter?

Cloud computing has radically modified the framework of IT infrastructure over the past decade, with many organizations dispensing with in-house solutions and transferring their operations entirely to the cloud. Given its many significant benefits to businesses, scalability is one of the principal driving factors in this widespread cloud migration. Whether traffic or workload conditions increase or decrease suddenly or progressively over time, a scalable cloud solution equips businesses to react appropriately and judiciously to adjust their storage capacity and computing power in order to optimize system performance.

When your data storage is physically restricted, your ability to expand your IT infrastructure to meet demands is severely hampered. However, when you operate in the cloud there are no limits to the physical size of your server environment. This permits you to start small and nourish the growth of your business over time, without any interruptions to your workflow or costly, unanticipated changes. Simply put, scalability enables your IT environment to be flexible enough to deliver precisely the right amount of computing power and storage capacity you need, whenever you need it.

Occasionally, scalability is inaccurately used as a synonym for growth. In reality, market demand isn’t steady. Even flourishing businesses might experience times when there is more or less demand. That’s another great thing about scalability – you can downsize resources as needed just as easily as you can scale up.

In traditional data center operations, adding extra server space involves having to acquire, equip, install, and configure the hardware, then assess both the infrastructure and application in advance of making it available in production. Apart from the purchase and maintenance costs, this process expends a considerable amount of time and resources, in addition to the inevitable downtime it causes during production rollout. After all this, if your demand decreases, the organization has no alternative other than to absorb the costs.

What Is Cloud Scalability?

Cloud scalability is the ability to increase or decrease IT resources, capacity, or infrastructure to meet the changing demands of your business.

If you’ve ever created a Gmail account, added storage to your Dropbox account, or watched something on Netflix, you’ve done some scaling – at least in a limited, front-end sense – even without realizing it. Essentially, what you’ve done by executing any of these actions is create an IT resource – an email account, storage, or a streaming video – without purchasing any additional hardware.

 

How Is Cloud Scalability Achieved?

Virtualization involves the creation of virtual assets – such as servers, desktops, operating systems, storage devices, and other network infrastructure – using resources that are traditionally bound to physical hardware. Virtualization is what makes scalability in cloud computing possible.

Unlike physical machines whose provisions are relatively fixed, virtual machines (VMs) are exceptionally flexible and can be easily scaled up or down. VMs can be transferred to a different server or hosted on numerous servers simultaneously. Workloads and applications can also be shifted to larger VMs as needed.

3 Types of Scaling in the Cloud:

Vertical Scaling

This gives you the ability to expand (“scale up”) or shrink (“scale down”) the capacity of your server to adapt to changing workload volumes. This is accomplished by adding or removing resources. This type of scaling has an upper limit based on the capacity of the server or the machine being scaled. Scaling beyond that point often requires significant downtime. With vertical scaling, no code is changed and no infrastructure is added – only the number of resources needed.

Horizontal Scaling

This allows you to provision additional servers and configure them to work together as a single system in order to spread out the workload across machines for optimal performance. This is also referred to as “scaling in” or “scaling out,” depending on whether you are increasing or decreasing your infrastructure. In practical terms, horizontal scaling is superior, as it’s much easier to accomplish without downtime and it’s also simpler to manage automatically.

Diagonal Scaling

This combines elements of vertical and horizontal scaling. Each individual method is capable of solving different scalability issues, so it’s not a matter of choosing which one is “better.” The idea is to scale exactly to your business demands, which often involves both vertical and horizontal scaling. You grow (vertically) within your existing infrastructure until you hit the tipping point, at which point you can simply add more resources in a new cloud server (horizontal). Diagonal scaling delivers tremendous flexibility for variable workloads that require additional resources for specific periods of time.

6 Key Benefits of Cloud Scalability:

Facilitates Disaster Recovery

In the event of a disaster (natural or otherwise), scalability allows a business to rebuild its IT infrastructure in just a few hours. You merely have to deploy new servers and copy over your data. By comparison, it can take weeks to rebuild your local IT with new physical servers.

Incredible Speed & Flexibility

Scalability allows you to add the necessary IT resources for your business initiatives – whether you’re opening a new branch, adding a new team, or starting a new project or campaign – in minutes, hours, or days, not months or years. When demand is reduced, you can easily return to your original configurations.

Avoid Expensive, Disruptive Migrations

Scalability enables your business to accommodate increased workloads without disrupting or completely transforming your existing infrastructure. With a scalable IT platform, you only migrate to new infrastructure when you want to – not when your underlying platform lets you down. Scalability enables your business to accommodate larger workloads without disruption or complete transformation of existing infrastructure.

Cost-Effective

By migrating to the cloud, businesses can avoid the upfront costs of procuring costly equipment that could become obsolete in a few years. With a cloud service provider, you only pay for what you use, which helps minimize waste.

Having the capability to scale cloud resources up or down based on present needs eliminates a number of risks related to rapid growth. Consequently, a bad quarter or two won’t suddenly put the company in financial jeopardy, thanks to steady IT infrastructure costs. 

Some applications can operate even more economically in the cloud and can often be migrated simply through “lift and shift” strategies. The money saved on computing infrastructure can then be reinvested in the company, helping to grow the business even more efficiently.

 

Greater Storage Capacity

Having sufficient storage space to accommodate the needs of a growing company — from saving important files and hosting applications to securely storing vital customer information — is essential.

While a fragmentary setup may only need a few terabytes of data to support your everyday needs, the system could quickly find itself struggling to manage significantly higher workloads and resources after a string of successes.

Instead of maintaining an ever-expanding conglomeration of hard drives that increases every time you take on a new client, your company can use cloud computing to scale its data storage plan to fit your current needs without incurring the out-of-pocket costs that come with expanding physical infrastructure.

Saves Time

With continued growth and increasingly complicated computing infrastructure, a business that operates in the cloud can continue to boost its capacity and capabilities without jeopardizing the enterprising efforts that made the business prosperous initially.

Oftentimes with just a couple of clicks, IT administrators can effortlessly deploy additional VMs which are available immediately, and which are tailored to the precise needs of your organization. This conserves valuable time for IT staff. In lieu of consuming hours and days configuring physical hardware, teams can concentrate their time and energy on takes that are more crucial to growing the business.

Best Practices for Determining Optimal Scalability

Performance Testing

To ascertain a “right-sized” solution, continuing performance testing is vital. IT administrators must constantly calculate factors such as CPU load, memory usage, response time, and number of requests. Scalability testing also quantifies an application’s performance and ability to scale up or down depending on user requests.

Auto-Scaling

Many cloud service providers offer auto-scaling options as part of their cloud solutions. This refers to the automatic scaling of a system’s capacity, either up or down, based on predefined conditions.

Auto-scaling continually keeps track of the performance of applications and automatically adjusts the capacity to sustain stable, uninterrupted performance and to ensure that businesses are only responsible for paying for the resources they use.

Load Balancing

Load balancers offer another automated way of scaling up or down by allocating workloads across a variety of nodes in order to optimize resources.

A load balancer accepts all incoming application traffic and then acts as an usher to discover the best instance for each incoming request.

Additionally, most load balancers constantly monitor the health of each instance to ensure that traffic is only being sent to instances that are “healthy.” They can also transfer workloads they deem to be too heavy for a specific node, instead locating a less-burdened node.

Containers

Containers and container orchestration systems have rapidly become popular ways to create more scalable and portable IT infrastructure. Containers share a single kernel, yet they’re isolated from their surroundings. This confines issues to the single container, rather than the entire machine.

Containers require fewer resources and deliver greater flexibility than virtual machines because they can share elements such as operating systems and a number of other components. In this way, containers will operate the same way across platforms, and thus can be quickly and easily migrated between nodes

Final Thoughts

Businesses these days operate on data. Unfortunately, the proliferation of data is walloping business IT environments and pressuring IT executives to make difficult decisions. If your business is scrambling to keep up with the necessary infrastructure for your expanding data, the practical solution is cloud migration. The most compelling motivation to do so is scalability.

Releasing the ties that bind you to your physical infrastructure — either partially (with a hybrid cloud environment) or fully — allows you to direct your attention toward building out your infrastructure in a more proactive, methodical, and economical way. By channeling the scalability of your cloud environment through these and other methods, you can advance more quickly and easily and remain agile all the while.

DataGroup Technologies, Inc. (DTI) offers a wide range of cloud hosting services to help reduce maintenance expenses and boost business efficiency. Whether you need virtual servers or virtual desktops and phone systems, we can help with that! Virtualization helps companies decrease maintenance spend and increase server utilization. If your business is considering moving to the cloud, give us a call today at 252.329.1382! We can make the migration process simple and painless, and you will start to see the benefits of cloud computing almost immediately!

Related Posts

Common Myths About the Cloud – DEBUNKED!

Common Myths About The Cloud – DEBUNKED!

The demand for superior speed and agility continues to drive companies toward cloud adoption. But while earlier forecasts projected that more than 16% of enterprise workloads would be in the cloud by 2019, there’s an obvious delay in that actual statistic – which is thus far half as large at just 9%.

Generally, this lag in cloud adoption doesn’t derive from a lack of initiative. Many company heads have faced substantial setbacks along their journey toward the cloud or have expressed misgivings once they considered its impact on costs, security, latency, and more.

Discussions with countless CEOs and CIOs have revealed a similar set of myths that commonly trigger these roadblocks and reservations, hindering progress and adoption. Companies that have successfully countered these myths are the ones that have reaped the biggest benefits from their move to the cloud.

The Cost and the Value

Myth #1

The Primary Value of Businessess Moving to the Cloud Is a Reduction in IT Costs.

Many organizations associate cloud migration with the replacement of critical IT functions, access to on-demand infrastructure, database services, and more. While all these associations are certainly accurate, company leaders often get wind of them but then fail to take into account the larger role the cloud can play in revolutionizing the full IT operating model – and, in turn, the business itself.

Subsequently, when leaders proceed to write a business case for adopting the cloud, they end up spending an inordinate amount of time analyzing on-premises costs versus cloud costs, and dedicate far less time to the primary value driver of the cloud – the benefits to the business.

The reality is that the business benefits of cloud adoption far outweigh the IT cost efficiencies. Larger companies typically spend only a fraction of their total revenues – about 0.5% – on application hosting. Even if operating in the cloud could decrease this expense by 25%, that amount would be a drop in the bucket in comparison with the deeper potential business impacts from the cloud.

Any one of a variety of cloud-supported initiatives – enhanced analytics, quicker time-to-market, and greater innovation, for example – could ultimately have a more substantial impact than reductions in IT costs. In fact, the cloud is capable of benefiting almost every facet of an organization’s products, services, and processes.

Top-notch computing power can bring about a deeper understanding of customers’ needs, for instance, while additional processing capacity can be called upon to execute more intricate analytics or to generate customized business insights.

Since both experimentation and testing new ideas are more cost-effective and less time-consuming, innovation is faster and less risky. All this advances revenue growth opportunities in a number of ways, including acceleration of lead time for new products, entry into new markets, and response to competitive threats.

Myth #2

Cloud Computing Costs More Than In-House Computing.

Cloud economics is currently one of the most controversial topics in enterprise-class IT. The reality is complex, as cost is greatly determined by a company’s starting point – and its capacity to manage and maximize cloud consumption once there.

Organizations confronting large-scale datacenter upgrades will find cloud adoption appealing as a means of avoiding colossal capital expenditures on assets they may not take full advantage of for years. On the other hand, companies that may have recently footed the bill for a new datacenter might find that migrating to the cloud would double up some infrastructure costs.

Another fundamental difference is between companies with costly license agreements that are difficult to vacate and companies with limited penalties for transitioning. In addition, storage-intensive workloads are often less expensive in the cloud than those demanding a great deal of network bandwidth, as cloud service providers (CSPs) typically charge by the unit for network access.

Starting point notwithstanding, many companies moving to the cloud have enjoyed significant cost benefits thanks to the cloud’s shared-resource model and autoscaling. Rather than possessing a cluster on-premises and paying for round-the-clock access, companies pay cloud service providers for CPU on an as-needed basis.

In the event that the shared-resource model does not result in total-cost-of-ownership (TCO) savings, it’s commonly because companies lack proper resource governance, or they migrate applications intended to run internally without modifying their resource consumption models.

Such applications won’t fully harness the benefits of autoscaling and are costlier to manage and maintain than applications that are native to the cloud. Thus, to keep operating costs low and to optimize benefits, companies need to analyze their applications’ architectures, remediate their portfolio as necessary, and institute new transparency and governance processes.

The central concern for cloud economics is whether the reduced run-rate cost on the cloud legitimizes the up-front costs of remediation, providing that all configurations and governance are executed appropriately. Even in such cases where a company’s starting point makes remediation too cost-prohibitive, the business benefits explored in Myth #1 are often a stronger justification for migrating to the cloud and supersede the short-term IT cost obstacles entirely.

 

Myth #3

Cloud Security Is Inferior in Quality to the Security We Can Configure and Control in Our Own Datacenter.

Traditionally, executives have pointed to the security – or the perceived lack thereof – of public cloud infrastructure as one of their primary concerns and a major hindrance to cloud adoption. In recent times, however, all major CSPs have invested heavily in their fundamental security capabilities.

A CSP’s business model hinges on world-class security, and they’ve collectively spent billions on cloud security and recruiting thousands of the top cyber-experts. They’ve formulated a vast collection of new tools and techniques to make the cloud more secure, in many instances requiring developers to shoulder the security responsibility instead of looking to a traditional security team to bear the burden.

This is especially significant, as public cloud breaches have almost entirely been driven by enterprise customers’ unsecured configurations. In fact, Gartner anticipates that 99% of cloud security failures through the year 2025 will be the fault of the customer and not that of the security provider.

Hence, developers must be retrained to comply with scrupulously detailed governance and policies on how to set up the correct security controls. For instance, if policy dictates that all data must be encrypted, it is the responsibility of the developers to initiate the proper application programming interface (API), signaling to the CSP that they want data in a specific storage bucket to be encrypted.

In order for these new policies to be effective, the cloud calls for companies to adopt a DevSecOps operating model, where security is a cornerstone of every software project. IT organizations must automate security services across the full development cycle and deploy them using APIs or else run the risk of vulnerable configurations.

The central question for organizations, therefore, is not whether the cloud is more secure in the first place, but what actions they themselves need to take in order to fortify their cloud security. Companies that establish appropriate policies, implement a secure DevSecOps operating model, and develop or employ the right personnel can truly achieve safer operations in their cloud environments than on-premises.

The Technical Implications

Myth #4

Applications Running on Cloud Providers’ Networks Have Greater Latency Than Those Running on In-House Networks.

Some organizational leaders anticipate that when they shift to the cloud, they will experience higher latency (aka lag) on a CSP’s network than they will on their own. However, latency is usually the end result of the IT department trying to backhaul its data through in-house datacenters.

Backhauling, or routing traffic through internal networks, can lead to higher latency, unnecessary complexity, and a dismal user experience. IT departments that opt to backhaul generally either lack experience or trust (or both) with cloud security – presuming that they’ll have greater control by backhauling – or they’re trying to access critical data or apps housed in on-premises datacenters.

It’s imperative for IT departments that are backhauling for enhanced security to recognize that CSPs now offer more robust perimeter options and that there’s no need to suffer latency for security. While backhauling was the preferred model for perimeter security just a couple of years ago, companies are now employing alternative techniques – most notably clean-sheeting, or forming a “virtual perimeter” with cloud-specific controls. In fact, in a recent McKinsey IT security survey, 89% of cloud users do not anticipate that they’ll still be utilizing a backhauling approach by the end of 2021.

IT departments that are backhauling for critical data or applications should give precedence to creating a “data lake” in conjunction with their CSP and transport the majority of their data and analytics processing to the cloud, utilizing data replication only where absolutely necessary. This will permit them to unleash the power of cloud-enabled analytics while at the same time resolving any latency problems.

Once organizations cease backhauling their data, they’re less likely to encounter higher latency on the cloud, as there’s no intrinsic difference between a cloud service provider’s IP circuits, pipes, and cables and their own datacenter’s.

Indeed, companies may even experience lower latency in the cloud, due to cloud service providers’ advantages in content delivery. With their multifaceted, global footprint of datacenters and their hefty investment in content delivery network services, CSPs can deliver content at optimum speed – contingent upon location, content request, and server availability – on a level that most companies would be hard-pressed to attain in-house.

Myth #5

Moving to the Cloud Eliminates the Need for an Infrastructure Organization.

The concept of infrastructure as a service (IaaS) – that an outside provider will oversee your essential network, hardware, and resources – is a compelling proposition for many company executives. Nevertheless, the misconception occurs when leaders interpret IaaS as a total replacement for their infrastructure organization. While the cloud profoundly alters the actions, personnel, and operating model demanded in an internal infrastructure group (and beyond it), it does not completely replace the necessity for infrastructure management.

When enterprises transition to the cloud, they will discover a number of services that can be combined and configured in order to impact performance, security, resiliency, and more. This calls for an infrastructure team that can construct and manage standard templates, architectures, and services that can be used by the company’s development teams. Since cloud infrastructure is primarily administered through code, this infrastructure team will involve a variety of skill sets so it will be able to function similarly to an app development team. Without this infrastructure team developing standardized services and platforms, many organizations will simply duplicate the fragmentation and chaos they experienced on-premises.

To make room for this shift in function, infrastructure organizations must transition to a proactive (as opposed to a reactive) operating model. Instead of addressing customized requests from development teams – which can take months and quickly become pricey – cloud infrastructure teams should proactively evaluate organizational needs and transform this into a dependable, automated platform on the cloud. As a result, the ownership rests more directly on development teams themselves, giving them more flexibility to rapidly configure the resources they require. Not only will application teams net more direct responsibility over costs, but this additional flexibility will result in improved productivity and faster speed as well.

In general, traditional infrastructure teams running the cloud would be too massive, too cost-prohibitive, and would forfeit the benefits of having app teams bear a shared responsibility for the operating costs they incur. Conversely, not having an infrastructure team at all would neutralize an organization’s ability to manage and benefit from the cloud. Alternatively, a leaner, more specialized infrastructure organization is needed in order to obtain the broader scope of agility, innovation, and performance benefits of the cloud.

The Transition...

Myth #6

The Most Efficient Method to Migrate to the Cloud Is to Either Concentrate on Applications or on Entire Datacenters.

It’s a standard misbelief that an enterprise must choose one of these two alternatives in order to effectively transition to the cloud.

In the application-by-application approach, organizations come up against undesirable scale dynamics. While they continue paying for on-premises datacenters and IT support, they’re also paying cloud services providers for hosting a subset of applications. Moving a subset of applications doesn’t benefit the business if those applications comprise only part of a business domain’s portfolio.

On the other hand, organizations that transport an entire datacenter to the cloud may be forced to contend with a sizable up-front investment, as well as the risk involved therewith. Many of the myriad applications in a datacenter were probably never intended to run in the cloud. Organizations will need to invest in various forms of remediation, which can become expensive and precarious when carried out all at once.

Rather, companies should look to transfer business domains to the cloud – such as customer onboarding and consumer payments. By transporting these business domains, companies will be able to enjoy the complete range of potential cloud benefits: faster time-to-market, improved agility, greater reliability, and so much more. Along with the business benefits, migrating a business domain is a much smaller lift than moving an entire datacenter, meaning that cost and risk will be more convenient. Once one business domain starts to encounter these improvements in time-to-market, agility, and reliability, making the case for transferring the remaining domains will become much easier.

The Cost and the Value

Myth #7

To Move to the Cloud, You Must Either Lift and Shift Applications As They Currently Are or Refactor Them Completely.

When companies commit to moving to the cloud, they’re often pressured to move fast, keep costs down, and optimize business benefits. Subsequently, organizational leaders believe that they have to choose between a quicker and cheaper “lift and shift” transition strategy – so as to move fast and minimize costs – and a time-intensive and costly refactoring strategy – in order to harness business benefits.

While lift and shift – virtualizing the application and dropping it into the cloud “as is” – can be a quicker and more economical technique to move a great deal of applications into the cloud at once, it fails to capture the majority of the cloud’s benefits. That’s because there’s no fundamental change to the architecture of the application, which often isn’t optimized for the cloud and therefore won’t benefit from features like autoscaling, automated performance management, etc. Moreover, the non-native application will likely experience higher latency or other performance issues, and its preexisting problems will now merely reside in a CSP’s datacenter rather than the company’s.

By contrast, a total refactoring of the application and its architecture to optimize for the cloud takes a fair bit of time, skill, and money. For certain, it still achieves the advantages that lift and shift ignores, but so gradually and at such considerable cost that break-even is often unattainable. Refactoring also makes the transition more susceptible to error during the complex process of recoding, configuration, and integration.

Many organizations find that they’re better off taking a best-of-both-worlds approach that utilizes established techniques such as automation, abstraction, and containerization. These methods are more cost-effective and less time-consuming than full refactorization but still permit companies to enjoy the business benefits of enhanced agility, faster time-to-market, and greater resiliency.

Final Thoughts

Many of today’s viewpoints about the cloud are predicated on misconceptions fueled by stories of adoptions gone badly or by general aversion to momentous change. These misguided ideas only serve to impede a deeper understanding of the productive business, operational, and economic impacts of the cloud. In order for organizations to realize the full value of the cloud, these myths must be sorted out and cast aside.

If you’d like to know more about how DataGroup Technologies can help future-proof your business by moving some or all of its assets to the cloud, give us a call today at 252.329.1382 or drop us a line here!

Related Posts