The need for video and voice collaboration software revolved around mobile workers. Workers in the field needed a way to keep in touch with their peers in a central office. We’ve all had to tune in for ‘state of the union’ conference calls. How many of us can remember sitting through a long, boring PowerPoint presentation? The collaboration work-life was good.
There were a couple of pain points as workers and environments changed. The expensive telephone contracts didn’t help. Neither did those long-distance charges. To say nothing of the pile of actual telephones.
Webex broke through and changed the game, but now that arena is becoming crowded and complex. Let’s take a look at some of the solutions available. Then we’ll dive into the nuts and bolts. We’ll make sure your mobile teams can work while adhering to any security compliance.
The information technology industry is bursting at the seams.
Most business experience data sprawl. It is something IT managers and Managed Service Providers constantly have to prepare for.
We’ve come a long way since CompuServe, back in 1983, first offered a small amount of disk space to its customers.
Considering the amount of data organizations are required to host for their users, it’s not surprising to see the cost of maintaining that storage become astronomical. It’s a constant balancing act between costs and availability of resources.
Whether your business works primarily with documents or large multimedia files, ensuring data continuity through a solid business continuity, or disaster recovery, plan is more challenging than ever.
Businesses are not investing in expensive, high-performance, tiered storage services. They just want general file storage. Leveraging storage as service providers for personal files is an excellent option to offload a significant portion of that financial burden. Advantages of cloud storage, as a storage service, means dramatically improved reliability and increased organizational resilience.
Cloud Storage as a Service
Most people are already familiar with Box, Dropbox, and Google Drive due to the storage service they’ve been providing to retail consumers, but what else is out there? All 3 evolved into enterprise class competitors. Now they’ve been joined by Microsoft’s OneDrive.
All 4 offer a solution to the problem
All 4 provide a cost effective, highly available centralized service to improve storage and collaboration for your employees. Let’s explore how cloud storage works.
Specific Key Points to Consider
It is critical to maintain business continuity. File and storage service availability is necessary to ensure users are able to accomplish the work that makes a business successful. Check the capacity per user and overall ease of use.
Following a foundation of security and compliance best practices will protect users from those accidents where they share sensitive information with the wrong party. Overcoming overshare and incidents like ransomware or data destruction are important.
Finally, cost is a consideration. What’s the point of having such an amazing solution if you can’t justify the cost of ownership?
Which Business Continuity Management Framework to Use
Continuity of business enterprise relies on how much data can be stored in the service per person, and how easy it is to access. Although the first half is transparent, there are licensing implications in each of the services that impact the amount of space accessible.
* There are more granular enterprise class licenses available for Microsoft, Dropbox, and Box but the space provided is similar what’s outlined above.
Each provider has 3 business class offerings comparable with each other. Both Google and Box offer entry level offerings providing 30GB and 100GB per user respectively. Most users will need much less on premises.
Based purely on storage space provided per user, Dropbox is the clear winner with Google and Box following close behind. Both types of Storage as a Service (SaaS) offer unlimited capacity to their mid-tier licenses.
Microsoft’s licensing model grants each user a terabyte of storage, which is impressive in itself, but unlimited is unlimited.
Now that we’ve talked about space, let’s consider accessibility. Users need to access their files without incident, share with internal teams for collaboration, and share with external parties when necessary.
In order for users to access their files on the same account, they need to synchronize those accounts to the cloud through each of these prospective services. Administrators will need to maintain an identity infrastructure like ADFS, OKTA, Ping, or Centrify to handle those sign-in claims. If those servers go down, users can’t access their files in the cloud.
The Microsoft Advantage
Microsoft allows seamless single sign-on without that infrastructure. They either deploy an agent on an existing on premises server for pass through authentication, or by securely synchronizing a password hash with the accounts.
Enabling individuals to access their data, whether they’re online or not, is becoming increasingly important. Each of these solutions have a sync client that will ensure their files are stored and accessed locally on both Mac and Windows PCs (as well as Android and MacOS mobile). Changes to those files are sync’d back up to the cloud to ensure the individual is always accessing the most recent version of their file.
This is a distinct advantage offered by the Microsoft file and storage service. Microsoft’s OneDrive sync is built into Windows 10 and can be controlled via Group Policy. Each of the other clients need to be distributed by an admin and maintained individually.
Nothing is Perfect
No cloud infrastructure is perfect. Downtime is always a possibility. Each of the cloud storage services, with the exception of Dropbox, offer financially backed service level agreements of 3 or 4 “nines” of availability (99.9% or 99.99%). These numbers are measured throughout the year with 99.9% availability representing just eight hours per year of service interruption. Considering the minimal difference over between 99.9% or 99.99% uptime, we can view this as a wash.
Obviously DropBox is out of contention because they don’t financially guarantee uptime with a service level agreement. That’s not to say that DropBox doesn’t meet those lofty standards, but it means that, in a worst case scenario, they offer reimbursement for poor quality of service. Depending on your business, this may not be a concern; however, if the organization maintains a high business continuity policy standard, this may be a deal breaker.
When evaluating migration of your IT infrastructure to the cloud, security should be among the top priorities.
These cloud storage services allow for single sign-on users for businesses-on-premises accounts. The same controls placed on users’ accounts are inherently enforced by these solutions as well! Should anyone attempt to discover a password by repeatedly trying to sign in (Brute Force), having good on- premises lockout and password policies will maintain security.
Additionally, using a federation provider for single sign-on will prevent access outside of your building, or enforce multi-factor authentication for specific services. Federation services often have intelligent features built into them. For example, ADFS’s extranet smart lockout uses machine learning to assess good or bad request by determining regular sign-in locations
These protections are not typically part of the cloud services presented in this article. These are options that ensure business continuity management policies are in place regardless of the file and storage provider selected. All of these cloud storage services invest heavily to comply with global security and compliance standards, but it’s the responsibility of the organization’s leadership to develop and ensure sound business continuity practices and see that they’re maintained.
Microsoft has the advantage of having the share feature designed into the Windows interface. The interface also allows for close integration with other Microsoft office products. While it is simple to share files or folders both internally and externally with other services; Microsoft Office products have the ‘Share’ button built conveniently into the workspace.
Each of the services have a great web-based interface allowing for data storage, accessibility, and file sharing; but the benefits of Microsoft’s complete collaboration provide a real distinct advantage of its competitors.
Business level licenses offered by each of the platforms are listed above. The table below compares exactly the space costs per person. Note: there are additional, more granular, enterprise level licenses available, but not shown, for each of the services listed.
Those cloud storage providers offering unlimited storage have the advantage. Is the advantage worth the extra expense? Google has a strong stake with their Business license, offering unlimited storage (as well as several other G Suite offerings) at just $12. Box and DropBox struggle with a higher starting price point, but offer little else outside of their storage and sharing collaboration services (even though they do include data loss prevention services).
Microsoft is the clear winner even though they offer “just” 1TB per user. For $8.25 per person/month, Microsoft offers storage included with their entire Office Suite. Most organizations, if not all, would be already paying for Microsoft’s suite of programs. Why not save the cost of an additional storage service provider.
If an organization were to opt for the business premium license at $12.50 per user, they would also be getting Exchange Online with 50GB of mailbox quota per person, Microsoft Teams for collaboration services (personal chat, team based persistent chat, external sharing, etc), and SharePoint for an array of collaboration options (Intranet sites, Team sites, external file sharing, and content management services).
And The Winner Is?
While Box, Dropbox, and Google all offer great cloud file sharing and storage services for a very reasonable price (seriously, *unlimited* storage for $12 user/month?!), it’s difficult to compete with Microsoft in the business collaboration space. Users are likely to be using Microsoft Office already and logging into Windows PCs, using accounts provided by Microsoft’s Active Directory.
Integration and Security Compliance is Everything
The integration between OneDrive, Office, and Windows is fantastic and the familiarity offered to your users and admin staff is a clear enabler.
Add in the security and compliance features offered through some of the similarly priced Enterprise licensing, users not only have the ability to seamlessly collaborate with peers, they do so while the admin protects them with encryption, data loss prevention, and advanced features built into Azure AD. These features leverage machine learning to protect end users’ credentials and provide MFA.
Because Microsoft’s licensing options can be so specific, it’s possible to select the preferred features. Maybe you have a subset of individuals who share the same computer, or maybe don’t need all the same bells and whistles as your information workers, no problem; just give them a license that doesn’t include the things they don’t need (the $5.00 Business Essentials license comes to mind here).
Lower your IT costs. You don’t have to purchase or maintain any on-site servers with a hosted terminal server from IronOrbit. It isn’t necessary to hire any on-premise IT personnel, either. For a low, flat monthly fee, IronOrbit will provide all the hardware, IT management, and technical support required by your terminal server.
Improve the performance, security, and reliability of your applications. IronOrbit provides the fastest, best-protected, and most reliable hosted solutions due to our unique combination of advanced technologies (including Atomic Speed Technology and Orbital Security) and the unmatched dedication and skill of our personnel.
Raise the productivity and collaboration of your employees. You can access your IronOrbit terminal server from anywhere, at any time, using any Internet-connected device (including Windows, Mac, and Linux PCs, as well as Android and iOS smartphones and tablets). As a result, your employees can work from anywhere, and off-site workers can share the same applications and files as on-site workers.
IronOrbit Terminal Servers Feature:
Microsoft Windows Server 2008, 2012, or 2016
Atomic Speed Technology
24x7x365 technical support
100% uptime guarantee
Flat rate pricing
Terminal Server Basics
Every version of the Windows operating systems since Windows NT has included a feature alternately referred to as terminal services or remote desktop services. Thanks to this feature, users on the same network have the ability to access each other’s operating systems. This includes the operating systems of servers. A server running terminal services—that is, a terminal server—can be used to host applications. Reasons why a business might want to choose a terminal server over other kinds of servers or hosted solutions include:
The user interface of a terminal server should be pretty familiar to anyone that has ever come into contact with a Windows operating system: it basically has the same appearance and features as Microsoft’s OS. In addition, the IT personnel of a business should be equally familiar and comfortable with the Windows Server operating system.
Terminal servers will host any Windows-compatible application. They can also be scaled up to support any amount of users, processing power, storage space, or bandwidth.
Terminal services isn’t a fringe technology. It has been around for over a decade. Microsoft and Citrix, two of the largest and most successful software companies in the world, developed the technology, which has been shown to be extremely versatile and dependable. Microsoft also provides ongoing support for terminal services in the form of updates, security patches, and the occasional new operating system.
With terminal services, all the applications’ processing takes place on the terminal server. This method utilizes less bandwidth. It also lets users access their applications from any device including thin clients, tablets, and smartphones without experiencing a drop in performance.
With a terminal server, businesses don’t share a physical server with other businesses like they do with a virtual private server. Even though single-tenant and multi-tenant architectures are both equally secure for terminal server hosting, there are some data security regulations that require businesses to store data on a single-tenant server. Single-tenant infrastructures can also be more powerful, predictable, and reliable.
When looking for the right kind of server to host your company’s applications, websites, and databases you are faced with several options: physical servers, dedicated hosted servers, and virtual private servers. Physical servers tend to be expensive and difficult-to-maintain while dedicated hosted servers prove to be inefficient for most business IT requirements. Virtual Private Servers from IronOrbit, on the other hand, fulfill your organization’s need for a server that is cost-efficient, flexible, secure, low-maintenance, and high-performance.
How VPS Works
Virtualization makes it possible to divide a single physical server into multiple virtual machines. A virtual private server (VPS) is a virtual machine with semi-permanent dimensions commonly used to host applications and store data. The virtual private server of one user cannot be accessed by the user of another VPS on the same physical server. The resources of a VPS—its CPU, RAM, storage space, and bandwidth—aren’t shared with a physical server’s other virtual servers, either (in other words, a virtual private server will always possess its allotted amount of Random-Access Memory, even if another VPS on the same physical server has maxed out its available RAM). Though a virtual private server only has so much processing power, storage capacity, and bandwidth, IronOrbit users can add or subtract computing resources from their VPS at any time.
IronOrbit Virtual Private Server Features
Meets your exact requirements: CPU, RAM, storage capacity, and bandwidth
Monitoring and maintenance of your entire IT infrastructure 24x7x365
Exclusive Atomic Speed Technology for superior performance
Orbital Security provides 4 layers of security to safeguard and protect your IT
24x7x365 expert, local support: no call centers
A Managed Solution
With IronOrbit, all you have to do is sign up and sign on. Our team of experts will make sure that your virtual private server is always up and running and accessible. They will monitor, maintain, and protect the hardware and software of your solution around-the-clock.
A Multitenant Environment, But Still Private and Secure
A virtual private server usually shares the resources of a physical server with other virtual private servers. Even in a multitenant environment, however, a user of one VPS can’t view, much less access, the VPS of another user. Our VPS can be considered as private and secure as an unshared physical server.
A Server That’s Accessible from Anywhere
Virtual private servers are web-based. As a result, administrators can monitor and control them remotely, and users can access the files, applications, emails, websites, and platforms hosted on the VPS via the Internet.
An Empty Canvas with No Limits
A virtual private server can be used to host an IT solution of any type or size and with any technical requirements. It supports applications, virtual desktops, websites, email accounts, and more. If your IT solution requires additional CPU, RAM, storage capacity, or bandwidth, simply contact IronOrbit to add more.
Benefits to Your Business
No on-site servers. There’s no purchasing or maintaining any on-site IT hardware with virtual private servers; you just sign up and sign on.
Lower IT costs. It’s a fraction of the cost to sign up for a virtual private server from IronOrbit compared to purchasing and maintaining an on-site server.
Raise employee productivity and collaboration. Employees can work from anywhere and off-site and on-site workers can collaborate with a web-based virtual private server.
Outsource management but retain control. There’s nothing beyond your visibility or control with the root-level access of a virtual private server.
Optimal performance, security, and reliability—without lifting a finger. There’s no need to hire any on-site IT personnel with one of our Virtual Private Servers; our technicians work around-the-clock to ensure that your VPS is as fast and secure as possible.
We’re living in the era of green technology. As the world becomes more populated, the need for environmentally-friendly technology is increasing, with electric cars, solar power and wind turbines being among the more commonly cited examples.
One of the most important (yet overlooked) green technologies is cloud servers. The cloud helps to reduce waste, carbon emissions and electrical consumption, by reducing business’ reliance on physical infrastructure.
At IronOrbit, we pride ourselves on moving the green revolution forward, by providing environmentally-friendly cloud technologies to businesses. By hosting your servers with us, you will reduce your carbon footprint as well as your waste output, giving you good karma (as well as considerable savings).
The Top 5 Ways IronOrbit Green Solutions Save Money (And The Planet)
Less waste. By hosting your servers and desktops with IronOrbit, you’ll reduce the physical assets (computers, servers, etc) stored in your office, lessening the waste and pollution generated by your business.
Less power consumption. Cloud servers take advantage of economies of scale, reducing power consumption by storing key infrastructure in one location. In addition, the superior scalability of the cloud means you will never use more server resources than needed, thereby reducing your carbon footprint.
Lower vehicle emissions. With IronOrbit, employees can access their files and applications from anywhere in the world. This reduces the number of times they have to commute to the office, which in turn reduces carbon emissions.
Superior hardware efficiency. Cloud infrastructure increases CPU utilization, which reduces per-unit power consumption by ensuring that computers are not wasting electricity when idle.
Better space usage. Cloud infrastructure uses space efficiently, storing servers and other IT assets in one centralized location. This means less space needed for storage, and more room for mother nature to breathe.
What Studies Show…
A recent study led by the WSP Environment & Energy and the National Resources Defense Council indicates that cloud infrastructures are more environmentally friendly than traditional on-premise systems.
The report concluded that even the least environmentally friendly cloud infrastructure would produce less than half the carbon emissions of the average on-premise system. This is great news for our planet and the protection of our waterways!
Hosting applications on a shared server is much more efficient than the old-fashioned method of deploying applications. Installing applications individually on each employee’s computer used to be the only way but now, a multi-user hosted application only has to be installed once, and it’s easier to manage, secure, and back up due to its centralization. But simply installing an application on a server won’t magically turn it into a hosted application; this is where Citrix XenApp comes into play, transforming applications into hosted applications.
Applications are not the only aspect of computing that becomes more efficient and secure by being hosted on a shared server. Your desktop operating system can be centrally hosted and accessed as well. Like with applications, it’s easier to manage, secure, and back up operating systems that are consolidated onto a single server. What’s more, they can be accessed from devices without a desktop-level OS, including thin clients (low-cost, modem-sized, hard drive-less computers), tablets, and smartphones.
Citrix Servers by IronOrbit Features Include:
Accessible from Anywhere
Citrix Servers let you access your applications and/or virtual desktops from anywhere with any web-enabled device (including desktops, laptops, tablets, and smartphones).
Choose between XenApp and XenDesktop, host any application you want (including legacy apps), and scale up to any amount of users, processing power, storage capacity, or bandwidth.
We provide 24x7x365 technical support, around-the-clock performance monitoring, Orbital Security (including firewall, antivirus, IPS/IDS, and content filter), and automated data backups with your Citrix Server.
Stay in Control and Forget the Hassles
There are a few downsides to managing your hosted applications or hosted desktops yourself. The costs and hassles of managing your own IT infrastructure can overshadow the advantages. It takes large amounts of time to monitor and maintain the infrastructure; furthermore, repairs and replacements of the hardware and software can be expensive.
Fortunately, there’s a way to outsource the management of your IT infrastructure but still maintain control over your hosted applications and/or hosted desktops—by signing up for the Citrix Servers of IronOrbit.
Reasons to Switch to IronOrbit Citrix Servers
Stay in control. You have just as much control over and access to your applications and virtual desktops as you would if you were hosting them yourself.
Keep your focus on your applications and virtual desktops. We will take care of building, managing, and maintaining the infrastructure. No on-site servers or IT personnel required. All you have to pay is a low, fixed monthly fee, we take care of all the expensive parts— purchasing, repairing, and replacing hardware and hiring technical support personnel.
No drop in performance, security, and reliability. IronOrbit hosted solutions are faster, more secure, and reliable than on-site solution thanks to our Atomic Speed Technology, Orbital Security, and dedicated team of experts.
Our QuickBooks Hosting solution is perfect for businesses that want the functionality and ease-of-use associated with Intuit’s popular program, but that don’t want to spend their time or resources installing, maintaining, and monitoring the software. IronOrbit Hosted QuickBooks provides you with the same functionality as your desktop version of QuickBooks, plus all the benefits of our hosted solutions. Hosting your QuickBooks with IronOrbit allows you and your employees to securely access your financial application and data from anywhere in the world, with any Internet-enabled device.
Hosted QuickBooks by IronOrbit Benefits Include:
We know that every business is unique, that is why IronOrbit can tailor your QuickBooks Hosting solution to your company’s needs. We host any version of QuickBooks, including QuickBooks Pro, QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions, and QuickBooks Premier, so that you can choose whichever version best meets your needs. Furthermore, the scalability of our Hosted QuickBooks solution allows you to start off with the exact number of deployments you need and add more as needed.
When you choose Hosted QuickBooks, you eliminate the hassle of having to install, update, backup, and troubleshoot the software. Our team of dedicated experts installs and monitors your company’s QuickBooks for you, and provides regular backups of your data. And with 24x7x365 comprehensive technical support, someone will always be available to help you with any problems or questions you may have.
By hosting your QuickBooks with IronOrbit, your business will see IT costs drop. You no longer have to purchase expensive servers, storage devices, or end-user devices; pay for new licenses; or hire someone to maintain your IT infrastructure. You simply pay a fixed monthly fee!
A Multi-User Environment
With our dedicated QuickBooks hosting solution, all of your company’s authorized users can access your data from anywhere. Gone are the days of having to email documents back and forth; now each user can access the exact same files wherever they are.