Archive for September, 2010

Zoho CRM, Invoice & Projects now Integrate with Gmail

Zoho announced today that Zoho CRM, Invoice & Projects now integrate with Gmail through Contextual Gadgets. Gmail Contextual Gadgets is a way for users to integrate third party applications into Gmail. When a user installs a contextual gadget in Gmail, the gadget shows up when that individual opens an email. The gadget can contain information pulled in from various third-party systems (eg: Zoho CRM, Invoice and Projects) and displayed contextually within that email.

Google announced this earlier this year, but Zoho unveiled today that they have created contextual gadgets for their CRM, Invoice & Projects applications.

Following are a few examples of tasks that can be accomplished leveraging Zoho’s Contextual Gadgets.

Zoho CRM

  • With a click of the mouse, users can search to see if the sender exists in your CRM system.
  • From within an email, users can add the sender to the Zoho CRM as a Contact or a Lead without having to leave their Gmail domain.
  • Users can add a Potential to a Contact, updating it from directly within the email message.
  • If the sender exists within the users CRM database, all details relating to the contact can be viewed within the email.
  • Users can Add/View Tasks and Notes to the sender within the email.

Zoho Invoice

  • If the sender exists within the system, their information is pulled from Zoho Invoice and displayed within the email message.
  • All emails sent from Zoho Invoice to the specified user are listed within the gadget, creating an Email History for each contact within the users’ database.
  • Users can view all unpaid invoices with the status as ‘Unpaid’ or ‘Open’ being displayed prominently for the sender.
  • Gadget users are now able to view payments received from the sender within the email.

Zoho Projects

  • Users can now create a new Project directly from the email, and share it with co-workers.
  • It’s now possible to transform an email into an actionable task in Zoho Projects and share it with the appropriate agent within your organization.
  • Users are now able to redirect the relevant contents of an email and make it an open forum post available for discussion.
  • Contextual Gadgets now make it simple to assign a task to any of your team members from within the email message.

If you would like more information regarding Zoho Projects Contextual Gadgets,visit Nubifer.com.

Zoho CRM, Invoice & Projects are already part of the Google Apps Marketplace, and are currently being leveraged by thousands of businesses using Google Apps.

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A Closer Look at Microsoft’s Cloud Service Offerings

Although the Business Productivity Online Services (BPOS) is a primary component of Microsoft’s Cloud services, BPOS is not an all encompassing definition of their cloud service suite—it is simply one compelling offering available.

A Closer Look at Microsoft’s Cloud Services

It is a common assumption that Microsoft is relatively new to offering cloud services, but Microsoft has been on a journey leading up to this point for 15 years, beginning back with Windows Live and Hotmail.

During that time, their services and offerings delivered online have continued to expand. Currently, a number of cloud-based solutions are available, enabling businesses and organizations to become more efficient and scalable. Here is an outline of Microsoft’s cloud offerings, and brief descriptions of their capabilities:

Windows Azure:
A flexible, familiar environment to create applications and services for the cloud in which can shorten time to market and adapt to growing demand.

Windows Live ID:
Identify and authentication system provided by Windows Live. Lets you create universal sign-in credentials across diverse applications.

Microsoft SQL Azure:
Provides a highly scalable, multi-tenant database that doesn’t require installation, setup, patches or routine management.

Windows Intune:
Streamlines how businesses manage and secure PC’s using Windows Cloud Services and Windows 7.

Microsoft Office Web Apps:
Offers online companions to Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote, granting freedom to access, edit and share Microsoft Office documents from anywhere.

Microsoft Exchange Online:
Highly secure hosted email for your employees. Offers “anywhere access” and starts at just $4 per user per month.

Microsoft Office Live Meeting:
Provides real-time Web-hosted conferencing, enabling you to connect with colleagues and engage clients from wherever you’re located.

Microsoft Forefront Online Protection for Exchange:
Helps protect businesses’ inbound and outbound email from viruses, spam, phishing scams and email policy violations.

Microsoft SharePoint Online:
Gives your business a highly secure, central location in which employees can collaborate and share documents.

Microsoft Office Communication Online:
Delivers robust messaging functionality for real-time communication via text, voice and video.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online:
Helps you find, keep and grow business relationships by centralizing customer information and streamlining processes with a system that adapt to new demands quickly.

Microsoft Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS):
Unites online versions of Microsoft’s messaging and collaborating solutions such as: Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Office Live Meeting and Office Communications Online.

Opting for Microsoft Online Services allows you to combine the power of rich desktop-based applications with the flexibility of fully-hosted Internet services.This approach gives users an all-in-one integrated experience on the same applications your users already know with a consistent look and feel from any device, in any location.

To summarize, the opportunity that Microsoft’s cloud services offers is exciting, whether you are a partner or a business. It is important to utilize the resources outlined above to either begin or continue your journey into what Microsoft’s cloud and online services can offer your enterprise.

For more information about Microsoft’s Cloud Solutions, contact a Nubifer representative today, or visit Nubifer.com.

Interoperability, Cap Ex and Cloud Computing

At a time when organizations are coming under increased pressure to cut operational costs—especially when it comes to technology budgets—cloud computing offers companies interoperability and robust technology environment which in turn can improve cost savings. Because cloud solutions, apps and platforms are Internet-based and share compute resources, delivering software and information to computers on demand lessens the financial burden traditional IT ecosystems place on the enterprise.

A global IT research firm recently completed their second global research project on IT outsourcing practice and attitudes. The researchers polled IT and business decision makers in the U.S., U.K. and Singapore and discovered that more than two-thirds of business decision makers say upgrading infrastructure with a lighter budget is the main challenge facing them this year. Additionally, more than three quarters of decision makers regard cost savings as their main strategic priority for the fiscal year.

The pressure is not lost on IT managers either, with nearly half of respondents citing discovering a more cost-effective IT infrastructure as their main priority. Effective managing and prioritizing IT demand come next, followed by delivering faster data access across their organizations.

Reducing Your In-House IT Burden
Currently, public sector IT managers claim that only 7 percent of their infrastructure is outsourced, despite highlighting the need to reduce IT infrastructure costs as their key concern. Comparing this to the private sector, the figure changes significantly. In the private sector, IT managers say almost 20% percent of their infrastructure is outsourced.

Owning and operating your own IT infrastructure has previously been viewed as something that differentiated large from medium businesses, as it could allow for greater business flexibility of service design-once hardware and equipment was provisioned with enough capacity- and afford greater flexibility. This is changing with the availability of high-powered virtual servers and virtualization technologies, in addition to the increased standardization of platforms and ability of service providers to deliver leading-edge cloud services.

Only an exceptionally efficient enterprise can justify building and operating an IT infrastructure after a full audit of costs and impacts is taken—in both monetary and environmental terms. The ROI of maintaining infrastructure in-house rarely materializes, as replacement of machines outpaces cost efficiencies.

The Changing IT Environment
IT is heading down a path where a large-scale shift toward outsourced systems is occurring, and expected to increase into 2011 and 2012. Within the next 10 years, public sector respondents expect to have 64 percent of their organizational infrastructure under third-party management—approaching the assumed private sector level of nearly 67 percent.

The Adoption of Cloud Solutions
A large portion of this shift will result in applications moving to cloud environments where shared resources are provided to computers and other devices on demand. Currently, 59 percent of government and public sector IT teams are using or expect to use cloud for enterprise applications within five years, with the overwhelming majority expecting significant savings by switching to cloud-based infrastructure.

The primary differences between the cloud platforms are in the levels of service delivered. Both public clouds (in which resources are available for purchase by any organization) and private clouds (in which an organization shares a pool of resources amongst its divisions and partners) offer the same capabilities when it comes to rapid deployment, interoperability and scalability.

Although private clouds allow for simplified compliance auditing when the highest levels of security are required, only the modern generation of enterprise cloud services are able to offer the full range of security, application stack choice and service-level capabilities required for critical compute services.

Cloud computing offers the opportunity to do more by buying less, so the choice between cuts or the cloud is a no longer an issue. IT teams and service managers need vision and the courage to drive the required changes by working differently.

Decision makers in public entities currently lag behind their private sector counterparts in their cloud adoption ratios, and this proves to be a key barrier to a more over-arching support of cloud platforms. Currently only 8 percent of public service managers claim they understand what cloud computing is and what benefits in can offer. This shows a clear need for more dialogue between the IT teams and the wider organizations on what is now possible with cloud computing.

On the other hand, service managers do see the potential for development of new ways of working based on more flexible IT infrastructure. In fact, two-thirds of respondents agree they could change the way they plan for IT enhancements if they could reduce or reduce the cost of IT infrastructure.

This vision must apply to the regulatory environment, with virtualization being rapidly accredited for government use as an approved technology. It is important to learn from high security environments in the commercial world, in which virtualization is already accredited.

In order to benefit from the corresponding economic efficiencies, efforts must be accelerated as quickly as possible. Resources will be freed to deliver the services organizations need in a flexible, scalable and more sustainable way.

For more information about how we can implement a interoperable and cost effective cloud solution please visit nubifer.com.

Predicting, Building Toward and Defining the Future of Cloud Automation

Cloud computing is an outcome of efficient IT automation, and is a model that is only possible by standardizing core elements of computing and the automation of their operation. The cloud cannot be a self-sustaining platform without automation, nor can it scale to very large numbers of customers or systems.

As the modern IT landscape becomes more concentrated, new computing complexities begin to surface. Although this has occurred in the past with evolving programming languages, computer networks, software design architectures and system virtualization, IT automation has raised the bar on that concept more than any other.

By most industry estimations, we are only at an early stage in the grand scheme of operations automation, just the second or third of several unavoidable evolutionary stages in the growing capability of systems to stand on their own in a global IT ecosystem.

Organizational Automation
Organizational automation of server deployment is the first stage of automation. When the server is the unit of deployment, server automation is a prime idea. Each server can host a single operating system, creating that OS and formatting to apps to include is an ideal method of streamlining operations of a single server.

The difficulty of this method is that it’s difficult to execute efficiently at large scales because the system administrator is still burdened to make operational decisions on behalf of the application. You may now be wondering about the number of servers is an ideal amount to deploy? And, which types of servers should you should add instances to in order to meet peak loads and what the time-frame should be for doing that? The result of this method of operation is a significantly cumbersome manual operations environment, with most organizations Nubifer has Consulted with at this stage and scale, implementing strategic capacity planning and erect a system for expected peak.

Application Implementation
The implementation of a sectioned distributed application where the different data-sets of the application are aimed for a deployment location is a significant upgrade to single server deployment. This type of automation essentially ensures that each set of data ends up where it’s supposed to be stored and that it’s configured correctly.

Standards in Source Code
We also noticed that standardized operations code adds important functionality to simple distributed deployment automation which shifts capacity consumption based on application needs in real time. This type of scaling automation ensures that your organization pays only for what you use.

Implementing Cloud Automation
Nubifer has noticed that modern scaling automation has one primary limitation: the fashion in which the health of the application is determined has to be built into application OS’s ahead of time. The developer has to determine what conditions to examine, what state requires an adjustment to scale and what layers of the application are scaled in response. This all has to be effectively architected prior to the application being deployed into your organization’s IT environment.

Interop and Identity Management
Leveraging the interoperability and intelligence of behavior learning algorithms enabling cloud systems to receive a wide variety of monitoring data is the next logical step, followed by picking through that data to determine normal and abnormal behaviors and to determine appropriate ways to react to any anomalies. These forms of learned behavior turn the application system an adaptive system which becomes increasingly better at making efficient choices the longer the application is in production.

Even though the issue discussed above is a complicated one, successful migrations will be exceedingly important as they will continuously evolve strategies for dealing with app performance, security and cost management.

Why Give Up Control?
You may be wondering why you want to give up control over operations of your key apps to an automation system. The reasoning lies under the same motivation for turning over of your operating systems to virtual machines, your phone systems to managed service providers or your compute resources to cloud environments: agility, interoperability, scalability and cost.

The Take-Aways
Companies that adopt one or more cloud models for a large percentage of their workloads will see key advantages over those that don’t, and cloud providers that adopt the best infrastructure and service automation systems will improve their chances in the marketplace. Visit Nubifer.com to learn more about the past, present and future states of cloud computing and to gain insights and key research into the field of cloud computing, software-as-a-service, platform and infrastructure-as-a-service.

Developing Cloud Applications: Pattern Usage and Workload Modeling

For enterprise companies today, the process of determining one or more common application usage profiles for use in cloud platform performance testing is known as ‘application workload modeling’. Cloud application workload modeling can be accomplished in a myriad of ways, and is a critical piece to properly planning, developing and implementing successful cloud solution technologies.

Some General Best Practices when Developing Cloud Applications.

  • Understand your application usage patterns. New business processes are prime candidates for building out such apps. Silo-ed departmental initiatives often evolve into organizational best practices that get adopted by the entire enterprise, and because most of the programs are developed organically from the ground up, they can leverage the interoperability of the cloud and be scaled depending on demand. This also allows the app to be discontinued with minimal cost if the initiative isn’t deemed efficient or necessary to the organization.

  • Develop and Deploy Your Application. Creating a plan and sequence of key metric drivers help you keep your cloud deployment efforts on track. Start small, grow fast is a common mantra of many start-ups (including ours), the overwhelming majority of which are intimidated by the significant cost of on-premise infrastructure.
  1. Define and Identify the objectives
  2. Document and Identify primary usage scenarios
  3. Develop and Determine navigation paths for key scenarios
  4. Design and Determine individual user data and variances
  5. Determine the likely-hood of such scenarios
  6. Identify peak target load levels
  7. Prepare and Deploy the new cloud solution
  • Monitor Spiked Usage Patterns for “Common Utility Apps”. Within every organization, large or small, there’s at least one program or application that receives spiked usage during a certain time of the year, quarter or month. One example of this pattern is related to corporate tax software, as this app is lightly used for many months, but becomes a highly leveraged application during the end of the fiscal year tax calculation process. Another example is Human Resource Information Systems (HRIS) and the periodic need for employees to subscribe to new company health plans, insurance plans, etc. Other examples include e-commerce websites like Ebay and Buy.com which experience this “peak load” requirement during holiday or special sales seasons.

The common thread across all of these types of “on-demand” cloud apps is that their usage rate is relatively standard or predictable most of the time, but become the most demanded of resources periodically. Utilizing a scalable cloud solution approach in this manner enables greater cost savings and ensures high availability of your enterprise business systems.

Application Load and Scalability, and Dynamically Reacting to Peak Load

As it is most often associated with consumer-facing web apps, unpredictable load occurs when an inordinate amount of traffic is directed toward your site, and the app is subsequently unable to meet this demand—causing the entire website to return a load error message. Nubifer has noticed sudden spikes in traffic when organizations launch fresh marketing campaigns, or receive extensive back-linking from prominent authority sites. Apps and sites eminently susceptible to these load spikes are ideal candidates for the cloud, and the most prominent advantage of this methodolgy is the auto-scale or on-demand capability.

Monitoring, a Primary Key to Any Successful Cloud Deployment

Your cloud platform monitors the patterns of Internet traffic and the utilization of the infrastructure, adding additional server resources if the traffic crosses your preset threshold. The extra servers that are added can be safely deactivated once the traffic subsides and the environment isn’t so demanding. This creates an extremely cost-efficient use case for leveraging a cloud platform for app and site hosting.

To the contrary of unpredictable load occurrences, e-commerce sites commonly experience predictable spikes in traffic. For instance, when Amazon launches pre-ordering for the next novel for Oprah’s book club, they prepare their infrastructure to handle these peak loads. Organizations of this size typically have a ballpark budget figure of the infrastructure cost because of its inherent predictability. There are many occurrences in the public sector that experience predictable bursts as well, such as electoral results and the examination of the latest census reports.

Understanding Application Usage Pattern Trends

Within your business, these patterns are manifested during a virtual company meeting or initiation of a compulsory online training for all employees, but the primary difference between this pattern of usage and the first is that there may not be a periodic recurrence of this particular pattern or spike in resource demand.

It’s paramount that your IT personnel remain cognizant of these peak load times, whether they are predictable or not, as this is a key element for effectively leveraging a cloud solution that offers support and business intelligence data regarding peak load and latency issues.

How We Have Evolved to Solve for Peak Load and Usage Monitoring

Nubifer has solved these business scenarios by developing a robust set of tools and monitoring applications for private and public clouds, named Nubifer Cloud:Link. To learn more about Cloud:Link and Nubifer’s approach to enterprise cloud monitoring visit CloudLink.pro

Google Apps Receives Federal Certification for Cloud Computing

On July 26, Google released a version of its hosted suite of applications that meets the primary federal IT security certification, making a major leap forward in its push to drive cloud computing in the government. Nearly one year in the making, Google announces its new edition of Google Apps as the first portfolio of cloud applications to have received certification under the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA).

The government version of Google Apps has the same pricing and services as the premier edition, including Gmail, the Docs productivity site and the Talk instant-messaging application.

Google Business Development Executive David Mihalchik said to reporters, “We see the FISMA certification in the federal government environment as really the green light for federal agencies to move forward with the adoption of cloud computing for Google Apps.”

Federal CIO Vivek Kundra announced a broad initiative to embrace the cloud across the federal government last September, as a way to reduce both costs and inefficiencies of redundant and underused IT deployments. The launch of that campaign was accompanied by the launch of Apps.gov. An online storefront for vendors to showcase their cloud-based services for federal IT manager, Apps.gov was revealed at an event at NASA’s Ames Research Center and attended by Google co-founder Sergey Brin. At the same time, Google announced plans to develop a version of its popular cloud-based services that  would meet the federal-government sector’s security requirements.

Mike Bradshaw, director of Google’s Federal Division, said, “We’re excited about this announcement and the benefits that cloud computing can bring to this market.” Bradshaw continued to say that “the President’s budget has identified the adoption of cloud computing in the federal government as a way to more efficiently use the billions of dollars spent on IT annually.” Bradshaw added that the government spends $45 million in electrical costs alone to run its data-centers and servers.

Security concerns are consistently cited by proponents of modernizing the deferral IT apparatus as the largest barrier to the adoption of cloud computing. Google is including extra security features to make federal IT buyers at agencies with more stringent security requirements feel more at ease. These extra security features are in addition to the 1,500 pages of documentation that came with Google’s FISMA certification.

Google will store government cloud accounts on dedicated servers within its data centers that will be segregated from its equipment that houses consumer and business data. Additionally, Google has committed to only use servers located in the continental U.S. for government cloud accounts. Google’s premier edition commercial customers have their data stored on servers in both the U.S. and European Union.

Mihalchik explained that security was the leading priority from the get-go in developing Google Apps for Government saying, “We set out to send a signal to government customers that the cloud is ready for government.” Adding, “today we’ve done that with the FISMA certification, and also going beyond FISMA to meet some of the other specific security requirements of government customers.”

Thus far, Google has won government customers at state and local levels such as in the cities of Los Angeles, California and Orlando, Florida. Mihalchik said that over one dozen federal agencies are in various stages of trialing or deploying elements of Google apps. Mihalchik states that several agencies are using Google anti-spam and anti-virus products to filter their email. Others, like the Department of Energy, are running pilot programs to evaluate the full suite of Google Apps in comparison with competitors’ offerings.

Find out more about cloud security and FISMA certification of Google Apps by talking to a Nubifer Consultant today.

Zoho Sheet 2.0 launches on August 31st 2010, with support for Million Cell Spreadsheets

Zoho, an industry leader in cloud hosted officing software, announced today the launch of Zoho Sheet 2.0. Among the many added features of Zoho Sheet, is the newly added support for million cell spreadsheets.

When a user logs-in to Zoho Sheet 2.0, they will not notice much change visually, but there have been many performance improvements on the back-end. Frequent users of Zoho’s increasingly popular spreadsheet app will notice the performance and interoperability improvements instantly. Regarding the performance of the app, Zoho enhanced the back-end engine significantly upgrading its performance, allowing users of Zoho Sheet 2.0 to load large and complex spreadsheets with instant response times.

Zoho Sheet’s One Million Cell Spreadsheet

At Nubifer Inc., we are constantly working with extensive spreadsheets, and were infinitely familiar with constant freezes and over-consumption of local compute resources. This is no longer an issue for our teams, as Zoho Sheet is completely online with all the heavy lifting being done on the server side, keeping our client side agile and nimble.

With Zoho’s latest product update, subscribers can now create a million cell spreadsheet. Zoho Sheet 2.0 supports 65,536 rows and 256 columns per worksheet, creating 1 Million Cells per spreadsheet project. Supporting a million cells is an important feature, but maintaining efficient load-times with large spreadsheets was the primary goal with Zoho Sheet 2.0. Waiting as long as 5 minutes to load very large spreadsheets is no longer an issue, this can now be experienced instantly within your web browser. We here at Nubifer encourage you to give it a test drive, and witness for yourself how agile and efficient response is while using Zoho Sheet 2.0.

Here is an example embedded spreadsheet with 25,000 rows. The performance on the return is quite impressive.


In addition to the improved performance metrics, here are some other great features designed to aid functionality and work flow.

Chrome & Safari Browser Support

Zoho Sheet now officially supports Chrome 4+, Safari 4+, Firefox 2+ and IE 6+.

Some Additionally Impressive Improvements

  • Users can now directly input Chinese, Japanese & Korean characters without having to double-click on a cell.
  • Improved ‘Find’ functionality. Control+F will now bring up the ‘Find’ panel at the bottom of the spreadsheet with options to search within the row, column or sheet.
  • The ‘Undo’ and ‘Redo’ actions now work across the spreadsheet and are maintained on a per-user basis while collaborating with other users.
  • You can now set formats and styles on column, row, and sheet tiers.

Are you an existing user? If not, you probably wont see many changes visually, but you will experience these enhancements when working with Zoho Sheets 2.0.

Zoho is tirelessly working on performance updates to their cloud-hosted officing applications. Some updates are cosmetic for look and feel, while others are performance based. The overwhelming majority of Zoho’s updates go under the hood. For these updates, users may not notice anything visually, but these updates are significant and lay the groundwork for things to come in the future.

For more information about Zoho Sheet, or other Zoho officing applications please visit Nubifer.com.