Posts Tagged ‘ Microsoft ’

Fujitsu to Deliver First Windows Azure Appliance This Summer

The “private cloud” Windows Azure appliances that Microsoft announced a year ago are here. There’s an August, 2011 ship date slated for the first of them.

Fujitsu, one of three OEMs that announced initial support for the Azure Appliance concept, is going to deliver its first Azure Appliance in August 2011, Fujitsu and Microsoft announced on June 7. Fujitsu’s offering is known as the Fujitsu Fujitsu Global Cloud Platform, FGCP/A5, and will be running in Fujitsu’s datacenter in Japan. Fujitsu has been running a trial of the service since April 21, 2011, with 20 companies, according to the press release.

Microsoft officials had no further updates on the whereabouts of appliances from Dell or Hewlett-Packard. Originally, Microsoft told customers to expect Azure Appliances to be in production and available for sale by the end of 2010.

Windows Azure Appliances, as initially described, were designed to be pre-configured containers with between hundreds and thousands of servers running the Windows Azure platform. These containers will be housed, at first, at Dell’s, HP’s and Fujitsu’s datacenters, with Microsoft providing the Azure infrastructure and services for these containers.

In the longer term, Microsoft officials said they expected some large enterprises, like eBay, to house the containers in their own data-centers on site — in other words, to run their own “customer-hosted clouds.” Over time, smaller service providers also will be authorized to make Azure Appliances available to their customers as well.

Fujitsu’s goal with the new Azure-based offering is to sign up 400 enterprise companies, plus 5,000 small/medium enterprise customers and ISVs, in the five-year period following launch, a recent Fujitsu press release noted.

For more information regarding the Azure Appliances, and how they can provide you with a turn-key private cloud solution, visit Nubifer.com/azure.

Cloud Computing: A Guide for Small Businesses

Cloud computing is all the rage these days, being generally described as a computing model in which services and storage are provided online When small business owners or new software companies refer to cloud computing, they most often mean an application that runs on the Internet; as opposed to operating from a desktop that is connected to the Internet—Software as a Service (SaaS). 

Everything from phone services to marketing operations has a cloud based solution. Oftentimes, you are using SaaS without even realizing it. For example, your email provider is likely delivering service from the cloud, without on-premise hardware and software.

The following is a guide of different factors to consider when deciding to adopt a cloud solution for your business.

The growth of cloud computing is astonishing.
The worldwide cloud computing market is estimated at $8 billion, with the U.S. market accounting for $3.2 billion of that sum, or 40%. Gartner’s 2011 predictions place Cloud Computing at the top of their list of Top Strategic Technologies. Additionally, Gartner predicts that the SaaS market will reach $14 billion in 2013.

Says Gartner, “Cloud computing services exist along a spectrum from open public to closed private. The next three years will see the delivery of a range of cloud service approaches that fall between these two extremes. Vendors will offers packaged private cloud implementations that deliver the vendor’s public cloud service technologies (software and/or hardware) and methodologies (i.e., best practices to build and run the service) in a form that can be implemented inside the consumer’s enterprise. Many will also offer management services to remotely manage the cloud service implementation.”

A recent study conducted by AMI-Partners revealed: “Small and medium business (SMB) spending in the U.S. on software-as-service (SaaS) will increase exponentially over the next five years, eclipsing growth in investments in on-premise software by a significant margin. AMI forecasts growth in investments in on-premise software by a significant margin. AMI forecasts a 25% CAGR in hosted business application services spending through 2014. This will come against a modest 5% uptick for all other categories of on-premise software combined. However, this growth will not be uniformly spread across all hosted applications. Mature applications such as ERP, SCM, procurement, finance, and core HR will turn over more slowly than those that are less saturated and have lower switching costs.”

Cloud computing software solutions vs. desktop applications.
Small businesses choose cloud computing solutions over desktop applications because it is less expensive. You pay a small monthly amount rather than a one-time fee, like with traditional desktop software.

Another reason small businesses choose cloud computing solutions is that the SaaS application is often a simplified version of what you are currently using, which is installed on your machine. The developers of many cloud computing apps have created just the basics required to get the job done.

One of the market leaders in the cloud computing industry, Salesforce.com, has over 52,000 customers in 2009 while hosting provider Rackspace has over 1,000 SaaS apps in its new AppMatcher.com service.

Cloud computing solutions are available whenever you want, wherever you are.
The application often needs to be accessible from a web browser for many small business users operating virtual offices or operating remotely on different machines depending on location. Cloud computing is available wherever you have access to a computer and browser, and that is one of its biggest advantages.

If you aren’t connected and operating your laptop offline, many apps have either a mobile app or a widget that you can download to run a lighter version of the software. Some Google Apps, for example, offer a desktop version called Google Gears, which will sync your data when you’re back online. Google Apps has over two million businesses and 25 million users in its cloud computing marketplace.

Simple, focused cloud computing solutions can often get the job done.
If you don’t use all of the features of your desktop, a cloud computing application might offer a “forever free” plan, which will allow you to do the same work as a desktop application, but limited in some way. A billing solution might let you run an unlimited number of voices, for example, but only for two separate clients.

With that said, all apps that live in the cloud are not more basic than their desktop equivalents, but rather they offer a paired down basic package that can help you complete the task at hand when you don’t require the feature-risk version. Zoho, for example, offers a simple bookkeeping app that is free. You can also integrate it with other financial SaaS apps to do more, or purchase the more feature-rich SaaS version.

Pay attention to the security of your data.
It is important to remember that you are still responsible for making sure data is where it needs to be—onsite or in a cloud. Your cloud computing vendor isn’t responsible for your data, security or data privacy. They may promise certain aspects of security, but your are responsible if regulators come calling if you are a financial institution, for example. It is important to make sure you aren’t violating any compliance concerns and that your data is safe.

A May 2010 ‘USA Today’ article told the story of a small business owner whose store was robbed. Eight desktops were stolen. They purchased eight new computers and were back in business in no time thanks to cloud services, like Salesforce.com, Microsoft Office 365 and QuickBooks Online.

Choose a stable and reliable cloud computing vendor.
It is important to ask questions like, What type of Service Level Agreement (SLA) do they have? How long have they been in business? Can you talk to users directly? How many customers do they have? It is often possible to read testimonials and get good information, and if the testimonials are real, they will often link to the person who made the comment. You can also do a search on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.

Consider the uptime of your cloud computing applications.
Uptime refers to the time a hosted application’s performance record and most are in the range of 98-99.9%–which acknowledges that servers go down for maintenance or unexpected issues. Make sure to read SLAs carefully and talk about changing terms with the vendor if you have to.

Pay attention to customer support.
Be sure to check if there is an extra charge for support and maintenance or if it is included in your monthly subscription fee. While it is often included, it important to read the fine print to check and also to see if you have access to a customer support team via phone, email or social media.

Choose a flexible cloud computing vendor.
Your monthly frees are usually dependent on how many users you have and you can add and subtract users as needed. Your capital outlay to “purchase” cloud based apps is often lower than traditional on-premise or desktop apps. Cloud computing is one streamlined way to scale with your needs.

Evaluate your requirement for software upgrades.
Cloud computing apps are regularly improved and upgraded, and you benefit from each and every improvement without additional direct cost and without the effort and time of downloading and configuring upgrades. Enhancements often happen more quickly and in shorter development cycles, often based on customer requests.

Make sure your cloud solutions integrate well.
Cloud computing might just be for you if your need involves some type of integration, as many of the current cloud based apps offer an API (application programming interface) which other synergistic apps will leverage. You might find an accounting package, for example, that ties into a CRM package. You would have to pay someone to customize both apps for you if you wanted to do this with your current desktop application. A web-based app would save you time and money and might have already done it for you.

You can look into an offering like CastIron (recently acquired by IBM) if integration is your concern, as it “pre-configures a number of apps” so that you can connect to the solutions you are using already.

Cloud computing offers a distinct advantage if rapid deployment is integral to your project, as many cloud computing projects are up and running in hours—sometimes in minutes. Although you may not get every feature set configured to your need, you can start working right our of the gate oftentimes. If the provider you evaluate has an API connected to another application you need, it may offer advantages over a desktop application—which will require more money to customize later.

Cloud computing isn’t always the least exciting solution.
Cloud computing may be the perfect option if cash-flow is an issue. While on-premise software purchases often involve high upfront licensing costs, cloud computing apps often require no large up-front licensing fees requiring department or board approval. There are usually no annual maintenance fees either.

On a website pricing page, SaaS pricing is often clear, and if a cloud computing app vendor requires a demo or doesn’t reveal its pricing, it usually means that there is a more complicated solution that demands some installation process or customization that will cost more upfront.

Pay attention to how quickly your software needs to change.
User are often forced to choose between a.) Upgrading at a high cost and experiencing delays as the new features are evaluated and plans for adoption are formulated, and hire or enlist local IT talent to develop, test, debug, deploy and train personnel on the new application, or b.) Continue using the older version of the software and avoid advantages of an upgraded version when an application packages requires an upgrade.

You are left waiting for software changes to be made by the software company in both cases, but with the cloud computing model, you will see those upgrades sooner than with a desktop application. The vendor applies upgrades at the data center and the upgrades are made available to users immediately via online connection and there are only minor delays—they also come at no cost to the user.

Remember: your monthly fee covers the upgrades so make sure to compare this when you need to consider this. If you upgrade each year, than the monthly outlay may be lower from a total cost perspective over time, while with a desktop application you are waiting until the next—often annual—release.

Many goals can be accomplished without all of the bells and whistles.
Because they are often focused on a particular area or business niche, cloud based applications can be less robust. While it can be argued that you have to operate your business—from a software perspective—using the Pareto Principle in which 80% of the effects come from 20% of the solution, this isn’t entirely accurate because most desktop users routinely admit that they don’t use all of the features of a desktop application. This partly explains how many cloud based applications get developed—they look at core problems rather than a large feature set that most users won’t even try.

If the cloud computing application lacks some of the features you need, you can add features via customization or premium levels of vendor service. Each application provider is different, but most offer extensive interface capability, usually via Web services that integrate both internal and hosted systems.

A common myth is that cloud computing software doesn’t play well with legacy applications/data sources, but there are two primary methods of integrating cloud computing apps: batch synchronization (which initially involved exporting/importing your data into a cloud based applications, after which your data can be incrementally synchronized on a scheduled basis) and real-time integration via Web services (which is like a neural middle layer where your application talks to the cloud computing company).

It is important to note that you have to evaluate the implications and limitations of cloud computing software for your needs. Some gaps remain for complex end-to-end processes that require complicated workflows or business processes.

Engage your technical team.
It is important to keep lead technical people in the loop for security and integration issues for a number of reasons. If you are a business owner and are unsure about what information you are sharing, you could be sending information out that onsite applications need or you could even be putting corporate information at risk.

Applications and services are now easily accessible to end-users, who can acquire SaaS capabilities without input from their IT or data management teams, which is a major challenge with cloud computing. Other related issues like data replication, outages and the complications of outsourced data storage can complicate cloud integrations. And if your tech team isn’t aware that your are running certain cloud based apps, you could create  challenge in multiple functional areas.

Good cloud computing companies have built their web apps on a Web-services based architecture because it is less proprietary and easier for these apps to share data with one another. These standards make it easier for companies to integrate services, but they can inadvertently create security problems by making a hacker’s job easy if the proper security isn’t in place.

Internal training is still required.
Most SaaS vendors provide online video tutorials in addition to robust user communities and forums where you can get your questions answered. This makes cloud applications easier to use with less training involved. Direct access to these teams means less of a burden on your own internal technical teams.

Conclusion
Cloud computing is drastically shaping the current small business market and if you are trying to grow your business and are limited by cash flow, cloud computing is an attractive option. The addition of Smartphones and other mobile technologies—aka mobile computing—makes for a dwindling audience for on-premise applications. The previously listed 16 things to consider before choosing cloud computing solutions will help give you a new outlook on how to get work done and solve problems.

For more information on how cloud computing can help your small business contact a Nubifer representative today.

Cloud Computing’s Popularity with SMB’s

There is no simple answer as to whether or not 2010 was the year small business IT finally adopted cloud computing once and for all. On behalf of Microsoft, 7th Sense Research recently conducted a study on cloud computing in small business computing environments and found that 29% of SMBs view the cloud as an opportunity for small business IT to be more strategic. The study also found that 27% of SMBs have bought into cloud computing because it integrates with existing technology investments, while 12% of SMBs have used the cloud to start a new business.

Despite those figures, overall, small businesses are largely unfamiliar with cloud computing. Josh Waldo, director of SMB Marketing at Microsoft reveals, “Roughly 20 percent of SMBs claim to know what cloud technology is.”

The numbers just don’t match up, but Waldo points out that just because people may not identify with the term cloud computing doesn’t mean they aren’t using the technology. Take Gmail or Hotmail, for example: They are both prime examples of the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) form of cloud computing and are extremely popular—without their many users even realizing they are using cloud technology when checking their inbox.

“People might not understand what cloud is. But they are using it. They’re using it in their private life. In some cases they’re using it in their work life. But they might not necessarily identify it with the term cloud,” says Waldo.

He believes that the lack of familiarity SMB’s have with cloud computing can be an opportunity for Microsoft, Zoho and other providers of small business technology. Says Waldo, “For Microsoft, what that means is that this gives us a big opportunity to really educate SMB’s about cloud technologies and how they can benefit their business. Our goal is really going to be to help SMB’s evolve how they think about technology.”

According to Waldo, the benefits for small businesses that embrace the cloud are potentially huge: “First, SMBs can get enterprise-class technology at a fraction of the price, where you’re not purchasing on-premises technology that’s going to cost you an enormous amount upfront. Second, it really allows companies, whether you’re a development shop and you’re building software, or you’re an end customer—like a financial or insurance firm—to focus on your business rather than your IT requirements.”

By outsourcing data-center needs, for example, small business IT can eliminate building out capacity to handle potential strikes in data or transaction processing, because they buy the processing power they need when they need it. This leads to another key benefit of cloud computing: elasticity and the expectation of mobility. Waldo defines elasticity as the capability to scale up or down rapidly, based on need. While that includes processing power, it also means being able to add new users from a seasonal workforce—without having to deal with per-seat licensing associated with traditional desktop software.

When it comes to the expectation of mobility, Waldo says that today’s notebook, smartphone and tablet-totting employees want to make their work more flexible by making it mobile. SMB’s can let employees access the information and applications they need while on the go by exposing core applications as SaaS via the cloud.

Embracing Cloud Computing
Waldo recommends that SMB’s that have decided to embrace the cloud by adding cloud computing to their small business technology portfolio seek expert advice. “We really think it’s important that SMB’s choose carefully. And if they’re uncertain, they should work with a third party or a consultant or a value added reseller or some type of agent who understands the various elements of cloud technology and [who] can advise clients,” he says.

According to Chad Collins, CEO of Nubifer.com, a provider of turn-key cloud automation solutions, the first thing a small business should consider is which problem it is trying to solve: “The most important thing is that the cloud really isn’t just about infrastructure. It’s about solving problems. It should be about scalability, elasticity and economies of scale.” Collins adds, “What our enterprise clients are asking for is the ability to create virtual environments, run applications without code changes or rewrites and, most importantly, to be able to collaborate and share using single sign-on interface.

Collins says that the person responsible for small business IT should ask a range of questions when considering a cloud services provider. Among the most important is: Does the cloud provider allow you to run existing applications without any code rewrites or changes to code? Microsoft’s research reveals that 27% of SMBs have already bought into cloud services because it integrates with existing technology, while another 36% would be encouraged to but into the cloud because of that fact. “Being able to migrate custom applications over to the cloud without rewrites is not only a huge cost saver but also a huge time saver for SMBs,” says Collins.

Another important question is whether the cloud provider offers granular user access and user-based permissions based on roles. Can you measure value on a per user basis? Can you auto-suspend resources by setting parameters on usage to avoid overuse of the cloud? The latter is important because although cloud services can result in immense cost savings, their pay-as-you-go nature can yield a large tab if used inefficiently.

Collins recommends paying special attention to the level of responsive support offered by a cloud provider. “I think for SMBs it’s really important. Having to log a Web form and then wait 24 to 48 hours for support can be really frustrating,” he says, adding that the provider should guarantee that a support team would respond in mere hours. Agreeing with Collins, Waldo points out that a service-level agreement with a high-availability and 24 hour support is key.

To discover how the power of cloud computing can benefit your SMB, please visit Nubifer.com.

Cloud Computing’s Varying Forms of Functionality

Although everyone associated with the industry is likely familiar with the term cloud computing, what remains ambiguous are its offerings, both now and in the future. The benefits of cloud computing can essentially be classified into as many as five categories, the majority of which are discussed in the paragraphs to follow.

The Internet allows for you to market your brand internationally, whether you are a SMB or a multi-national organization. It also enables organizations to reach out and offer their products/services to an international audience, and the ability to combine data/applications with the ability to use remote computing resources thus creating exciting new opportunities.

Take the latest and greatest mobile app, for example. This new application has the ability to travel anywhere the user is, whether they are surfing on their TV, phone, or laptop. A tremendous amount of information has to be transferred online and shared with several services in order for that application to operate seamlessly, while guaranteeing privacy and security.

Cloud computing offers more than the storing of data off-site and allowing access through their browser. Cloud computing also has the ability to adapt and scale its services to fit each users’ needs through intelligent algorithms. The basic usage of the cloud results in a more personalized experience, as the platform acquires greater familiarity about the intents of the user. In turn, this allows users to effectively use smart services, acquire better information so they can take action wherever they happen to be.

We as human beings are social entities. We naturally and instinctively interact with those around us. In the past, communication was done by telegraph, letters, telephone and faxes, but it is now largely through the Internet. The Internet has created a plethora of communication opportunities, such as instant messaging, Internet telephony and social media. Cloud computing expands on this concept and offers the opportunity to make it possible to incorporate interaction and collaboration capabilities into areas that were seemingly beyond our reach previously.

Due to this progression of the common-place, our expectations become higher and higher over time. At some point in our past it was unthinkable for a cellular phone to be able to surf the net, and provide driving directions. But today, not only do we expect our mobile phone to give us the Internet at our fingertips, but also we expect it to guide us where we need to go.

Because of these expanding expectations, the cloud must be intelligent as well. There will be corresponding pressure for devices to catch up to cloud computing as it becomes increasingly intelligent and more intuitive.

Hand-held devices are great examples of this. Smart phones have a multitude of functions in additions to communications, such as GPS, voice recorder, camera, fame device, calculator and the list goes on. If a phone is paired with an operating system like Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7, it becomes a smart device capable of using cloud services to their full capabilities.

Because the cloud is built upon the capabilities of servers, it is appropriate to imagine large data centers when thinking of cloud computing. This means that server technology must advance as the cloud does—but there is a catch. Cloud services will become more powerful as a server software does. In this way, server and cloud improvements mutually drive each other, and the user greatly benefits from this, whether the user is an individual, organization or company.

Once we tap into cloud computing fully, web sites will no longer crash because of surges in traffic—the cloud will accommodate to computing activity peaks accordingly.

For more information about the form and functionality of the cloud, visit Nubifer.com.

BPOS to be Enhanced with Office Web Apps

Although the software giant has yet to reveal a specific timeline for the integration, Microsoft announced plans in October to add Office Web Apps to its hosted Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS). This integration will give Microsoft a much-needed edge, and keep BPOS ahead of rivals like Google Apps. Google Apps offers office productivity applications as part of their broader cloud-based collaboration and communication suites.

Described by Microsoft officials as “online companions” to Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote, Office Web Apps offers hosted versions of Microsoft’s Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote that feature the use-ability found in the on-premise Microsoft Office suite. The software company says they are aiming to let users “access, view and edit” documents via a the Internet.

With about 20 million users, Office We Apps is currently available free for individual consumers as part of the Windows Live online services. Office Web apps is also a component to the free Live@EDU collaboration and communication suite for educational institutions. Office Web Apps can also be accessed by organizations that own the on-premise versions of Office 2010 and SharePoint 2010.

It has been widely reported that the absence of Office Web Apps from BPOS has not hindered the adoption of that collaboration and communication suite for businesses (which features Exchange Online, Office SharePoint Online and Microsoft Office Live Meeting).

According to industry analysts, BPOS licenses have more than tripled since the start of 2010, but it is unknown how many BPOS seats have been sold overall. Microsoft stated recently that there are 40 million paid seats of Microsoft Online Services—of which BPOS is a part of. In October, Microsoft announced a number of big customer wins for BPOS, such as DuPont (58,000 end users), Volvo (18,000 end users), Australia’s Spotless Group, Godiva and Sunoco.

Industry analysts have observed that the familiarity of Microsoft’s software interfaces and tools (because it is present in many enterprises), as well as the links between Microsoft’s cloud and on-premise software, will be an advantage for the company.

Gartner explains, “I’d expect to see a growing opportunity for companies looking to move to a more cost-effective collaboration environment to consider Microsoft in the mix because of its experience in delivering enterprise collaboration.”

Analysts have also seen that Microsoft’s sales-teams are being aggressive about spreading the word about BPOS and promoting it as part of the renewing of enterprise contracts. A Gartner analyst has been quoted as saying, “Microsoft has tapped a deep root of demand for cloud services with BPOS.”

Additionally, Microsoft announced new customers, including several California State University schools, the University of Montana, Northern Kentucky University, the College of DuPage, Washington University in St. Louis and Aston University in the U.K., for Live@EDU. Live@EDU now features more than 10,000 academic institutions with over 11 million end users. Live@EDU includes Office Web Apps, Windows Live Sky Drive and Outlook Live.

For more information regarding BPOS contract a Nubifer representative today. Nubifer is a Microsoft Certified Partner.

Microsoft Announces Office 365

Announced October 19th 2010, Microsoft is launching Office 365, the software giants’ next cloud productivity offering syncing Microsoft Office, SharePoint Online, Exchange Online and Lync Online in an “always-on” software and platform-as-a-service. Office 365 makes it simpler for organizations to get and use Microsoft’s highly-acclaimed business productivity solutions via the cloud.

With the Office 365 cloud offering, users can now work together more collaboratively from anywhere on any device with Internet connectivity, while collaborating with others inside and outside their enterprise in a secure and interoperable fashion. As part of today’s launch  announcement by Microsoft, the Redmond based software company is opening a pilot beta program for Office 365 in 13 different regions and countries.

Microsoft relied on years of experience when architecting Office 365, delivering industry-acclaimed enterprise cloud services ranging from the first browser-based e-mail to today’s Business Productivity Online Suite, Microsoft Office Live Small Business and Live@edu. Adopting the Office 365 cloud platform means Microsoft users don’t have to alter the way they work, because Office 365 works with the most prevalent browsers, smart-phone hand-sets and desktop applications people use today.

Office 365 developers worked in close association with existing customers to develop this cloud offering, resulting in a platform that is designed to meet a wide array of user needs:

“Office 365 is the best of everything we know about productivity, all in a single cloud service,” said Kurt DelBene, president of the Office Division at Microsoft. “With Office 365, your local bakery can get enterprise-caliber software and services for the first time, while a multinational pharmaceutical company can reduce costs and more easily stay current with the latest innovations. People can focus on their business, while we and our partners take care of the technology.”

With Office 365 for small businesses, professionals and small companies with fewer than 25 employees can be up and running with Office Web Apps, Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Lync Online and an external website in just 15 minutes, for $6 per user, per month.

Microsoft Office 365 for the enterprise introduces an wide range of choices for mid and large organizations, as well as for governmental entities, starting at $2 per user, per month for basic e-mail. Office 365 for the enterprise also includes the choice to receive Microsoft Office Professional Plus on a pay-as-you-use basis. For less than $25 per user, per month, organizations can get Office Professional Plus along with webmail, voicemail, business social networking, instant messaging, Web portals, extranets, voice-conferencing, video-conferencing, web-conferencing, 24×7 phone support, on-premises licenses, and more.

Office 365 is creating new growth opportunities for Microsoft and its partners by reaching more customers and types of users and meeting more IT needs — all while reducing the financial burden for its customers.

Product Availability

Office 365 will be available worldwide in 2011. Starting today, Microsoft will begin testing Office 365 with a few thousand organizations in 13 countries and regions, with the beat expanding to include more organizations as the platform matures. Office 365 will be generally available in over 40 countries and regions next year.

Towards the end of next year, Microsoft Office 365 will offer Dynamics CRM Online in order to provide their complete business productivity experience to organizations of all varieties and scales. Additionally, Office 365 for education will debut later next year, giving students, faculty and school employees powerful technology tailored specifically to their needs.

October 19th at Noon PDT, Microsoft will launch http://www.Office365.com. Customers and partners can sign up for the Office 365 beta and learn more at that site, or follow Office 365 on Twitter (@Office365), Facebook (Office 365), or the new Office 365 blog at http://community.office365.com to get the latest information.

Nubifer is a Microsoft Registered Partner with expertise in Office, Windows 7, BPOS and Windows Azure.  Contact a representative today to learn how the Office 365 cloud platform can streamline your business processes or visit www.nubifer.com and fill out our online questionaire.

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.