Month: October 2013

VDI Healthcare and Accounting Case Studies

Case Studies OTNO Blog

The ability of virtual desktops to enhance businesses’ IT mobility, security, and cost-efficiency has made them increasingly popular. For example, the virtual desktop market in the United Kingdom now has an estimated 12.92% compound annual growth rate (CAGR).

It’s also notable that UMass Memorial Medical Center, the second-largest employer in the state of Massachusetts with 12,000 to 15,000 employees, has started to switch to a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI). Though UMass Medical Center’s primary motivation in switching to a VDI wasn’t to enhance the security of its IT infrastructure, it was still one of the major benefits, according to the healthcare organization’s Chief Information Security Officer Bruce Forman.

“[What using VDI] is beginning to allow me to do is have much more centralized access to the information, as it essentially never leaves the data center,” Forman told Patrick Ouellette of “It all stays in a vault…We can start to ensure information resides inside of the protected data center’s wall…as opposed to being out on someone’s laptop, home, USB  thumb drive etc.”

Bentleys Brisbane, a medium-sized accounting firm in Queensland, Australia, has also started to switch to a VDI. According to Rohan Pearce of Computerworld, one of the main reasons that Bentleys has adopted a VDI is because it would increase the manageability of their IT infrastructure. (With many IT infrastructures, applications are installed separately on each PC workstation, and the only way to update them is to access and change each workstation one-by-one. The applications of a VDI, on the other hand, are centralized and can be deployed and updated quickly and easily.)

Another reason that Bentleys selected a VDI deployment was that it offered a cost-efficient way to upgrade its 150 desktops running Windows XP Pro to the 64-bit version of Windows 7. (Most, if not all, of the processing and storage requirements of a VDI are handled by servers, so Bentleys wouldn’t have to upgrade its computers to correspond with its change of operating systems.) Also a motivation for switching to a virtual desktop infrastructure was mobility: according to Pearce, Bentleys wanted a solution that allowed its employees to access their files and applications from home and from the offices of their customers, and virtual desktops can be accessed from anywhere with any Internet-connected computer, tablet, or smartphone.

UMass Medical Center and Bentleys could have benefited even more from switching to a VDI if they had signed up for a Hosted VDI from Ironorbit, however. For example, our Hosted Virtual Desktops don’t require businesses to purchase or manage any on-site servers or hire any on-premise IT personnel. Other advantages of selecting a Hosted VDI from Ironorbit include:

  • Flat rate pricing. Ironorbit Hosted VDIs cost only a low, flat monthly fee. The costs of a self-hosted VDI are never as stable or predictable, however, since a VDI’s hardware can fail at any time and have to be repaired and replaced.
  • Better security. Ironorbit’s Hosted VDIs are monitored 24x7x365 and are protected with enterprise-level security measures such as firewalls, IPS/IDS, antivirus, spam blockers, patch management, and content filters.
  • Data backups and technical support included. Our Hosted Virtual Desktops come with complete daily VDI backups and 24x7x365 US-based technical support.

Switch to a VDI that’s cost-efficient, secure, and reliable by contacting Ironorbit at (888) 753-5060 or [email protected] and signing up for a Hosted VDI or Hosted IT Infrastructure from Ironorbit today!

Raise Profits with QuickBooks Hosting

Businesses use accounting applications like QuickBooks and Sage 50 (formerly Peachtree Accounting) to monitor and manage their accounts payable, accounts receivable, bills, inventory, and payroll.

The software provides managers with the relevant financial information they need to run their businesses efficiently and effectively.

Programs like QuickBooks are therefore not only useful for storing, tracking, and analyzing fiscal data; they also have the ability to make a business better (i.e., less wasteful and better organized) and more profitable.

For an accounting application to raise the efficiency and effectiveness of a business enough to affect its profits, however, it needs to be hosted by IronOrbit.

How Accounting Application Hosting from IronOrbit help businesses?

Accounting Application Hosting from IronOrbit helps to increase the profitability of businesses by (using Hosted QuickBooks as an example):

  • Making QuickBooks accessible from anywhere. IronOrbit’s QuickBooks Hosting solutions can be accessed from anywhere with any Internet-connected computer, tablet, or smartphone. Therefore, users can continue using QuickBooks and accessing all of their financial data even if they’re away from the office—whether they’re providing services off-site, conducting a business trip, riding on public transportation, or sitting at home.
  • Making QuickBooks centralized. IronOrbit QuickBooks Hosting solutions are scalable, meaning that any amount of processing power, data storage capacity, or users can be added to them at any time. They’re also (as mentioned above) accessible from anywhere. Because our QuickBooks Hosting solutions are so flexible and widely-available, businesses only need to sign up for a single deployment of IronOrbit Hosted QuickBooks, even if they have multiple offices or if their employees perform most of their work off-site. This centralization increases efficiency and reduces the likelihood of incorrect calculations by making sure that everyone in an organization is working from the same data from the same version of QuickBooks.
  • Preventing security breaches and ensuring compliance. Just because IronOrbit QuickBooks Hosting solutions are anywhere-accessible doesn’t mean that they’re accessible to everyone. To keep access to our Hosted QuickBooks solutions restricted to authorized users, we provide 24x7x365 security monitoring, firewalls, antivirus, IPS/IDS, and patch management. In addition, our solutions are fully compliant with data security regulations such as PCI DSS, SOX, and GLBA. Businesses that sign up for Accounting Application Hosting from IronOrbit therefore won’t have to deal with the hefty costs of security breaches and regulatory fines.
  • Making QuickBooks more reliable. IronOrbit QuickBooks Hosting solutions are as fast and as responsive as a locally-installed version of QuickBooks. In addition, our solutions are monitored and maintained 24x7x365, and are backed by a 100% uptime guarantee.

Contact IronOrbit at (888) 753-5060 or [email protected] to host QuickBooks with us and starting profiting from the enhanced accessibility, centralization, security, and reliability of our Accounting Application Hosting solutions today!

Why Universities Select Hosted Desktops

University Hosted Desktops 2 OTNO Blog

The IT requirements of universities are somewhat different than those of businesses. For example, though more and more businesses are moving away from traditional IT infrastructures (on-site PC workstations, servers, locally-installed applications, etc.) and adopting more flexible and mobile IT solutions like IronOrbit Hosted Desktops, most people that work in the private sector still spend almost all of their time at a single location (i.e., their assigned desk at their assigned office). A lot of the students and faculty at universities, in contrast, almost never do their work in the same location from one point in time to another—students, for example, might do some of their work in their classrooms, in one of the university’s computer labs, and in their dorm room or at an off-campus apartment, all in a single day.

How IT Requirements for Universities differ from Businesses

Other ways that the IT requirements or conditions of universities differ from those of businesses include:

  • More advanced and diverse applications. At the administrative level, universities have many of the same departments as medium- and large-sized businesses (accounting, HR, marketing, etc.) and therefore require many of the same applications, like QuickBooks, Microsoft Office, and Microsoft Exchange. In addition to those basic applications, however, universities also have to support all of the advanced, specialty applications used in faculty research and student training.
  • Tighter budgets. Thirty-eight states have lowered their spending on public universities since 2008—12 by more than 10%, nine (including California, Florida, and Massachusetts) by more than 20%, and three (Arizona, New Hampshire, and Louisiana) by more than 30%. Businesses’ IT budgets have declined since the beginning of the Great Recession, too, of course, but public universities have to be careful with every penny they spend since they rely primarily on taxpayer money and  because their tuition rates have already been criticized for being too high.
  • More effective security. Universities are a favorite target of cyber-thieves because they handle the personal and financial information of tens of thousands of people. In addition, universities are also targeted by hackers interested in their faculties’ scientific and technological research. Unauthorized users try to access the networks of the University of Maryland 12 to 15 million times per day, for example.

Why Hosted Desktop?

The IT requirements of universities and businesses are similar in this respect, however: the best way to satisfy them is to sign up for Hosted Desktops from IronOrbit. To start, IronOrbit Hosted Remote Desktops can be accessed from anywhere with any Internet-connected computer, tablet, or smartphone. That means that students can access their course materials and software from (for example) the classroom, the library, any Wi-Fi-enabled coffee shop, or their dorm room. IronOrbit Virtual Hosted Desktops also support any application; cost only a low, flat, monthly, per-user fee; and are protected with our comprehensive Orbital Security System, which includes firewalls, antivirus, spam blockers, IPS/IDS, patch management, and content filtering.

Universities that have already deployed virtual hosted desktops include:

Contact IronOrbit at (888) 753-5060 or [email protected] to add your institution’s name to the list by signing up for our Virtual Hosted Desktops today!

Why Multi-Office Businesses Should Select QuickBooks Hosting

MultiOffice QB OTNO Blog

QuickBooks is a near-perfect accounting application for businesses of all sizes. Its features include accounts receivable, accounts payable, billing, inventory, payment processing, and payroll.

QuickBooks has a dominating market share in the category of small business accounting software (measured as 94.2% in 2008 and 93% in 2011). According to Kathy Yakal of PC Magazine, the reasons that many businesses prefer QuickBooks to Sage 50 and other accounting applications are its ease-of-use, its large number of features, and its extensive selection of add-ons.

One thing that the desktop versions of QuickBooks, QuickBooks Accountant, QuickBooks Pro, QuickBooks Premier, and QuickBooks Enterprise are missing, however, is the ability to access them from outside the office. This limitation of QuickBooks is especially troublesome for businesses with multiple offices or that have employees that perform most or all of their work off-site.

The problems with not having a single, consolidated, and anywhere-accessible deployment of QuickBooks may include:

  • Having to deploy QuickBooks individually at each office
  • Having to go to the trouble of importing the QuickBooks data from the secondary offices into a centralized repository at headquarters
  • Employees not being able to access or use QuickBooks from home or when they’re providing services or selling products out in the field
  • The company’s accountant having to travel in-person to gather financial data from each office

Businesses with multiple locations or a dispersed or mobile workforce can avoid these hassles by signing up for QuickBooks Hosting from IronOrbit. Unlike locally-installed versions of QuickBooks, our QuickBooks Hosting solutions can be accessed from anywhere with any Internet-connected computer, tablet, or smartphone. In addition, IronOrbit can host any version of QuickBooks—including Accountant, Pro, Premier, and Enterprise—and, unlike the stripped-down hosted edition offered by the software developer, we host only the full desktop versions of these applications. The features of QuickBooks Hosting that businesses with geographically-separated offices and workers stand to benefit the most from include:

  • Enterprise-wide real-time bookkeeping. Because an IronOrbit Hosted QuickBooks deployment is centralized and can be accessed from anywhere, the accounting data of a business is always up-to-date, consistent, and accessible to anyone.
  • Anywhere-accessible accounting. With IronOrbit QuickBooks Hosting, employees can continue to access and use their QuickBooks even after they leave the office. Not only does this mean that accountants can put in some extra hours from the comfort of their own home or their favorite coffee shop, it also allows employees that sell products or perform services off-site to do things like check inventory, process payments, input data, and generate invoices no matter where they are.
  • Less hassles and lower costs. With IronOrbit QuickBooks Hosting, businesses don’t have to purchase or maintain any on-site servers. It’s also more cost-efficient for IronOrbit to host QuickBooks than it is for businesses to deploy the application on-site because of our economies of scale and our singular (and more efficient) focus on hosting.
  • The same power and flexibility as the on-premise version. IronOrbit Hosted QuickBooks has all of the same features and launches and performs faster than a locally-installed desktop version of QuickBooks. In addition, IronOrbit QuickBooks Hosting and on-premise versions of QuickBooks have the same licensing system, so businesses with unexpired QuickBooks licenses don’t have to purchase new licenses when they switch to IronOrbit Hosted QuickBooks. Furthermore, IronOrbit Hosted QuickBooks supports all of the same add-ons as locally-installed versions of QuickBooks.
  • Advanced data security. IronOrbit Application Hosting solutions are monitored 24x7x365 and are protected with firewalls, antivirus software, and intrusion prevention and detection systems. In addition, each of our hosted QuickBooks deployments is hosted on its own private server. Our solutions also comply with data security regulations such as SOX, GLBA, and PCI DSS.

Businesses that need to host QuickBooks in a way that is both centralized and accessible from anywhere should contact IronOrbit at (888) 753-5060 or [email protected] and sign up for our QuickBooks Hosting solutions today!

5 Reasons Your Business Needs a Dedicated Server

A managed server hosting solution has the security, performance, flexibility, scalability, and control to serve as any business’s hosted IT infrastructure.

Let’s look at the top 5 benefits of signing up for a virtual dedicated server.

1. Enhanced Protection

A dedicated server hosting solution offers much better protection than a traditional multitenant hosting plan because businesses that use dedicated servers do not share server resources with any other business. Your hosting provider also protects your dedicated server from all kinds of cyber-attacks including spam, malware, viruses, etc.

2. Maximum Speed

The shared server plans offered by other hosting companies, because they provide too little IT resources to too many clients at the same time, tend to suffer from sluggish speeds and downtime. Dedicated servers, on the other hand, consistently provide clients with the best-possible performance and reliability, since they’re always able to rely upon a physical server’s full complement of IT resources.

3. Better Customized Options

Dedicated server hosting plans give you the freedom to fully modify your hosted server. You get to choose the features you prefer, and you can leave out (and, more importantly, not have to pay for) the features you don’t want. For instance, with a managed server hosting solution, some of the things that you can customize include the server’s operating system, the server’s data storage capacity, and the number of users that can access it at any given time.

4. Easy Expansion

To expand your hosted IT infrastructure, you won’t have to purchase separate hosted servers or go to the trouble or expense of integrating the old and new systems. IronOrbit dedicated servers are fully-scalable; users and storage capacity can be added to them quickly and easily at any time.

5. Complete Control

You should consider switching your business over to a dedicated server because it can give you complete control over how your IT solutions are deployed and maintained.

Given these immense benefits, it is an excellent idea to contact IronOrbit at (888) 753-5060 or [email protected] to sign up for a dedicated server for your business.

Why Governments Prefer Private Cloud Hosting

Governments Prefer OTNO Blog

Forty-six percent of state and local governments have deployed or are planning on deploying applications in the cloud, according to a recent survey, despite the fact that governments, because of financial and regulatory constraints, are usually more reluctant to adopt newer technologies than the private sector (cloud computing is already currently being used by 54% of businesses in the U.S., for example). As might be expected, the same survey also found that the main reason that state and local governments select cloud computing is that it lowers costs through decreased hardware and software purchases and maintenance. Some of the other reasons that governments select cloud hosting are enumerated by an IBM software architect in this Wired article, and they include:

  • More predictability. By signing up for cloud hosting, governments no longer have to handle or pay for the most unpredictable aspects of an IT infrastructure, including hardware and software failure. In addition, most cloud hosting solutions—including those offered by IronOrbit—cost only a low, flat monthly fee. Predictability is especially important for governments due to their inflexible budgets and their obligation to track and keep records of almost everything they do.
  • More compliant IT management. Governments handle a lot of sensitive data that they are required by law to protect and preserve. The 24x7x365 availability and the advanced and highly-effective security technologies and techniques of hosting providers like IronOrbit make them the better choice to protect and ensure the compliance of an IT infrastructure than on-site IT personnel.
  • Increased flexibility. Governments aren’t known for being very flexible or innovative, but they have the opportunity to be both of these things when they select cloud hosting or application hosting solutions from IronOrbit, which are cost-efficient and highly-scalable. They can start new projects or expand existing ones much easier with cloud hosting solutions.

The Wired article also notes that governments spend only 10% on public cloud solutions of what they do on private cloud solutions ($118.3 million versus $1.7 billion, according to IDC). Private cloud solutions are preferred by governments for the same reasons that many businesses in the private sector prefer them: they perform better and are more customizable, secure, and reliable.

For the best all-in-one private cloud hosting solutions, governments and businesses should sign up for hosted IT infrastructures, application hosting, managed servers, or hosted desktops from IronOrbit. Around-the-clock performance monitoring, multidimensional Orbital Security (including firewalls, antivirus, IPS/IDS, and patch management), Atomic Speed Technology, and managed data backups are included with each IronOrbit cloud hosting solution. In addition, all of our solutions are hosted on dedicated (unshared) servers and can be customized to support any amount of data storage or users.

Sign up for the most secure, flexible, and reliable cloud hosting solutions by contacting an IronOrbit sales representative at [email protected] or (888) 753-5060 today!

Upgrade from Windows XP with IronOrbit

Upgrade Windows XP OTNO Blog

Microsoft will end its support for Windows XP on April 8, 2014. After that date, because Microsoft will no longer be providing free security updates or customer support, businesses running Windows XP on any part of their IT infrastructure will be extremely vulnerable to zero-day threats and will have their IT support costs go up dramatically. Businesses, unless they’re capable of developing their own XP security patches or providing their own technical support (unless, in other words, they have the resources and manpower of a $150 billion company like Microsoft), basically have no choice but to upgrade from Windows XP.

At the same time, however, many businesses, because of the costs or the incompatibility of their applications with version of the operating system after Windows XP, are simply unable to upgrade to a Windows 7- or Windows 8-based infrastructure. That’s why, as of September 2013, it was still being used by 33.66% of all computers (making it the 2nd most popular desktop OS in the world after Windows 7) and 28% of businesses were still running more than half of their applications on it—despite the fact that many of them are aware of the extraordinary risks of maintaining a Windows XP infrastructure after April 8 of next year.

Despite the seeming hopelessness of their position, there’s an easy way for these businesses to upgrade their IT infrastructure to Windows 7 or Windows 8, however, and that’s for them to sign up for Hosted Desktops from IronOrbit. These virtual hosted desktops of ours look and perform the same as locally-installed Windows desktop operating systems. Best of all for businesses that have refrained from upgrading away from Windows XP because of cost or compatibility constraints are IronOrbit Hosted VDIs’ low, flat monthly costs and their compatibility with ANY application, including legacy and customized apps.

In addition, our hosted desktops don’t require the purchase or maintenance of any on-site servers; they can be accessed from anywhere with any Internet-connected computer, tablet, or smartphone; and they come with 24x7x365 all-inclusive technical support, our Orbital Security System, Atomic Speed Technology, managed data backups, and a 100% uptime guarantee.

There are actually several different ways that such businesses can use IronOrbit Hosted Desktops to upgrade their IT infrastructure to a newer version of Windows, and they include:

  • Sign up for Windows XP Hosted Desktops from IronOrbit. Host applications that are only compatible with Windows XP on the Windows XP Hosted Desktops. To avoid security problems, don’t use Windows XP Hosted Desktops to browse the Internet or open emails. Use mobile devices or computers running Windows 7, Windows 8, or Mac OS for these tasks and to access newer applications.
  • Sign up for Windows 7 or Windows 8 Hosted Desktops from IronOrbit. Continue accessing locally-installed XP applications from a computer with a Windows XP operating system, but don’t browse the Internet or open emails when using Windows XP. Perform these actions only from within Windows 7 or Windows 8 Hosted Desktops.
  • Sign up for Application Hosting from IronOrbit. Let IronOrbit host your applications that are only compatible with Windows XP. Access the Hosted Applications from any Windows XP, Windows 7, or Windows 8 Hosted Desktop; or from any PC, thin client, or mobile device (the Hosted Applications are processed and stored on a server running the equivalent of Windows XP, so the operating system of the users’ device doesn’t matter).

We’re available 24x7x365 at [email protected] or (888) 753-5060 for businesses that want to get the Windows XP upgrade process started. Don’t procrastinate and let the April 8, 2014 deadline sneak up on you—contact us and sign up for our Hosted Desktops today!

Managed Servers Suitable for Any Business

Managed Servers Suitable OTNO Blog

A business that deploys its IT solutions (applications, virtual desktops, Microsoft Exchange, etc.) on hosted servers need to be sure that these hosted servers satisfy all of its IT requirements and preferences, since an IT solution is only as fast, secure, or reliable (for example) as the hosted server it’s deployed on. Fortunately, IronOrbit Managed Server Hosting has all the features that a business could want in a hosted IT infrastructure.

Features of IronOrbit Managed Server Hosting:

  • Flexibility. Our managed servers can be used to host any IT solution, including applications, virtual desktops, email, websites, and databases.
  • Scalability. Businesses can quickly and easily add any amount of users and/or data storage to their IronOrbit Managed Servers at any time.
  • Security. IronOrbit Managed Servers are monitored 24x7x365 by personnel with CompTIA Network+, Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA), and Network Professional (CCNP) certifications. They are also protected with Cisco firewalls, Gateway Anti-Virus, intrusion prevention and detection systems (IPS/IDS), and content filters.
  • Compliance. Our managed servers comply with SSAE 16 standards; they’re also capable of being in compliance with industry regulations such as HIPAA, SOX, PCI DSS, and GLBA, as well.
  • Reliability. Our managed servers are dedicated (or unshared), so they have none of the security, privacy, stability, or performance problems that arise from sharing a physical server with another hosted server deployment. In addition, we perform complete data backups of all of our managed services on a regular basis (including daily off-site backups and weekly server snapshots).
  • Anywhere-accessibility. IronOrbit Managed Dedicated Servers—and the applications, virtual desktops, Microsoft Exchange deployments, and databases hosted on them—can be accessed from anywhere with any Internet-connected computer, tablet, or smartphone.
  • 24x7x365 all-inclusive technical support. Our North-America based technicians provide around-the-clock technical support for not only our Managed Server Hosting solutions, but also for our clients’ applications (Microsoft Windows, Microsoft Office, QuickBooks, etc.) and local devices (including computers, printers, scanners, laptops, smartphones, tablets, and monitoring).
  • Performance. With our mixture of best practices, protocols, and technologies called Atomic Speed Technology, our managed servers perform as well as on-site servers and can launch applications in less than a second.
  • Cost-efficiency. Our managed servers—even with the Orbital Security System, Atomic Speed Technology, managed data backups, and 24x7x365 technical support all included—cost only a low, flat monthly fee. Our one-time setup and migration fees are minimal, too.

For a hosted infrastructure that’s flexible, scalable, cost-efficient, reliable, and secure enough to satisfy any business’s IT requirements and preferences, sign up for IronOrbit Managed Server Hosting today!

20 QuickBooks Plugins for Your Business

QuickBooks Plugins OTNO Blog

A version of QuickBooks Pro, QuickBooks Premier, or QuickBooks Enterprise hosted by IronOrbit is the same as a fully-equipped, on-premise version of these programs.

IronOrbit Hosted QuickBooks also have a scalable, high-performance, Atomic Speed Technology-based hosting infrastructure, so they have the same level of performance and the same amount of storage capacity as an on-premise version.

In addition, IronOrbit’s application hosting platform supports QuickBooks plugins. These plugins (or add-ons) are a way of adding analytic, CRM, e-commerce, inventory, shipping, tax, and other features to QuickBooks.

The most popular and/or notable QuickBooks plugins available include:

  • Corelytics Financial Dashboard. Corelytics helps business owners and managers make better decisions by taking unorganized financial information (revenue, costs, etc.) and turning it into actionable data (charts, graphs, forecasts, comparisons, etc.). Corelytics Financial Dashboard was named the QuickBooks “app of the year” in 2011.
    • Also see: Fishbowl QuickBooks Inventory Management and QCommission (a sales commission calculator for QuickBooks)
  • AgileShip. This shipping plugin gives businesses the ability to set up shipments using QuickBooks invoices and orders; verify addresses; create and print labels for any carrier; and find the lowest shipping rate for a given package.
    • Also see: ShipGear (integrates QuickBooks with UPS WorldShip and FedEx Ship Manager)
  • OneWay Commerce. With this add-on, businesses can turn their Facebook page into an e-commerce storefront, with QuickBooks providing the inventory and payment processing features.
  • This billing plugin lets businesses track and pay bills, as well as receive payments from customers. All transactions and documents are automatically inputted into QuickBooks.
    • Also see: AnytimeCollect, Customer Payment Analyzer, QuoteWerks, MultiCHAX (check printing software) and AvaTax (automatic sales tax calculator for QuickBooks)
  • ViewMyPaycheck and Intuit Energy Scorecard. These two free plugins from Intuit let employees view and analyze their paychecks online and allow businesses to compare their energy usage to that of similarly-sized companies and organizations in the same industry.
  • Transaction Pro Importer. With this plugin, businesses can save lots of time by automatically importing and organizing financial data from Excel and Access files.
  • Setster. Setster is an application that lets clients schedule appointments via a business’s website or Facebook account. When integrated with QuickBooks, it can also be used to accept payments from clients.
  • EverLogic Dealership Management System, Corecon Construction Software Suite, AIMS Integrated Accounting for Apparel and Garment, and MISys Manufacturing. These plugins add important industry-specific features to QuickBooks.

Contact IronOrbit at (888) 753-5060 or [email protected] today to sign up for plugin-compatible hosted QuickBooks and QuickBooks hosting!

The HIX Rollout: Another Reason to Select the Private Cloud

Private Cloud Health Insu OTNO Blog

Federal and state governments launched their web-based health insurance exchange (HIX) platforms last week on October 1st. The Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare, mandated the creation of these exchanges. These exchanges present uninsured Americans with a variety of government-approved insurance plans and give them the chance to register for any of them online. With the insurance plans that they sell on these exchanges, insurance companies can’t refuse applications based upon preexisting conditions; they can’t set lifetime or annual limits on coverage; and they can’t ask patients to pay more than $6,350 in out-of-pocket costs per year. Individuals with an income level 133%-400% of the federal poverty line that purchase their insurance through the exchanges are also eligible for subsidies between $1,400 and $5,000 per year.

The launch went less-than-perfectly: many people reported being unable to access either the federal or state exchanges on the day they opened. At first, the federal government blamed the flawed rollout on higher-than-expected demand—though it only expected a total of seven million people to obtain health insurance through all 17 exchanges (16 state and one federal) during the October 2013-March 2014 open enrollment period, seven million people visited just the federal government’s exchange on its first two days alone. Later in the week, however, the government admitted that the inefficiency, inflexibility, and sloppiness of the exchanges’ underlying software were largely to blame for the outages. For example, a web designer interviewed by Reuters pointed out that just clicking “apply” on the site results in the transfer of “92 separate files, plug-ins, and other mammoth swarms of data” between the user’s device and the government’s servers, which has the same effect as the website mounting a DDoS attack on itself. In the end, despite all the traffic to the federal healthcare exchange, insurance companies were still reporting total enrollment numbers in the single digits three days after the launch.

The ACA exchanges, from an IT perspective, are a type of cloud computing in that they process, store, and deliver an application (health insurance registration software, in this case) via the Internet. Because anyone from the general public can access and utilize the exchanges, they can also be more narrowly defined as a particular type of cloud computing: public cloud computing. The botched rollout of the ACA exchanges reinforces what we have always argued on this blog:

1) that private cloud solutions perform better and are more reliable and secure than public cloud solutions;

2) that the performance, security, and reliability of any cloud solution depends on the knowledge, experience, and skill of the organization that builds and maintains it.

Private cloud solutions from IronOrbit (hosted IT infrastructures, hosted VDIs, managed servers, hosted desktops, etc.) perform better and are more secure and reliable than public cloud solutions because:

  • They are maintained and protected 24x7x365 by our knowledgeable and experienced personnel. All of our IT solutions are continually monitored for signs of security breaches or outages; they’re also protected by advanced security measures such as Cisco firewalls, gateway antivirus, IPS/IDS, and content filtering. The substantial size of public cloud solutions prevents them from being as rigorously maintained or secured.
  • We host them on dedicated servers. Public cloud deployments share a server with other public cloud deployments. Meanwhile, each IronOrbit solution gets its own dedicated server (or servers). Solutions hosted on dedicated servers are not only more secure—they’re also more powerful and reliable, because they can draw on at least a full server’s processing and storage resources at all times.
  • Our solutions are customizable. Public cloud solutions are usually standardized and incapable of being customized. The storage capacity and supported number of users of our solutions can be customized to match businesses’ exact IT preferences and requirements. As a result, businesses get exactly what they want out of their IronOrbit solutions.
  • Our solutions feature Atomic Speed Technology. Thanks to Atomic Speed Technology—our proprietary mixture of protocols, best practices, and technologies—our hosted solutions are more powerful, secure, and reliable than even locally-installed IT solutions.

Avoid the instability and slow performance of public cloud solutions like and sign up for IronOrbit private cloud solutions such as hosted IT infrastructures, managed servers, hosted desktops, and hosted VDIs today!