Saturday, December 29, 2012

Part 4 - Cloud Storage

Understanding Cloud Storage

In this segment of my “Cloud” discussion, I’d like to explore the recent growth in businesses utilizing the “Cloud” for their storage needs……

In past years, businesses would purchase servers and maintain them at their business locations.  IT staffs were responsible for maintaining the servers, constantly updating storage capacity and maintaining adequate bandwidth for the business’ customers to access the information.  Sounds simple?  Well, it worked OK, but not great.

IT staffs needed to order new equipment to add storage capacity.  This came with lag time in getting the equipment and the added capital expense (CAPEX) of buying the additional equipment.  Throw in the need for additional network bandwidth and the time to have it installed, we’re now looking at a significant time period before a new program or offering could be implemented.

There were other detriments to this approach…..  Disaster recovery.   Take the recent super storm Sandy.  It knocked out businesses all along the eastern US seaboard.  Many companies were unable to open their doors for weeks, resulting in unknown loss of business.  If you’re an auto parts store in NJ, when a loyal customer calls from California looking for the custom part they always get from you, and no one is available to take their order and fulfill the shipment, do they wait for you?  Nope, they feel sorry for your situation, but they call your competition whose business remained open and get the part.  You might or might not ever get that customer back!  Think about it, what is the value of a lost Customer?

How can all of this be avoided?  The latest advances in technology have created an opportunity for small and mid-sized businesses to improve their IT solutions.  “Cloud Storage” enables a business to take advantage of virtually unlimited storage capacity, unlimited bandwidth, disaster recovery, and data backup.  All in a one-stop location, and at VERY reasonable prices.  By determining the size number of CPU’s, amount of RAM, size of required storage, and amount of bandwidth, companies can easily and quickly upload their IT needs to a cloud provider and free up both CAPEX dollars and their IT staff’s time. 

Today’s cloud providers have large data centers throughout the United States, providing inherent redundancy for a business’ vital data.  Gone is the lag time to add storage or bandwidth.  Additional storage or access can often be added in minutes from a computer terminal through the cloud provider’s portal.  Imagine adding 100Mb of additional bandwidth for your new promotional video in a matter of minutes.  Using the outdated method of self-hosting, this could take 60-90 days and involve substantial upfront build out costs.

The use of a “Cloud Storage” solution makes sense for every business.  No longer does a business have to maintain equipment rooms, back-up generators, off-site storage for retention, etc.  The cloud solutions solve all the problems, and help a business focus on what they do best….improving profitability. 

The advantages of entering the “Cloud” are vast.  A business can upload any number of hundreds of supported platforms for use on the “Cloud”, including Microsoft Office, Exchange, Lotus, Salesforce, VMware, etc.  The cloud package can be customized and/or the business owner can choose from a pre-packaged option.  Monthly costs can start at under $100.  A very small price to pay for peace-of-mind and an upgraded IT solutuion.

I’m always happy to help explain any of my topics….to get more information on available cloud offerings, please contact me either via email at or via Twitter @DaveHanron

Saturday, October 20, 2012

100 mbps Residential Internet vs 100 mbps Business Internet..Why the Price Difference?

“Why can I pay ~$115.95 at home for 100Mbps internet download speed but 100Mbps download speed for my business is $2800 or more per month?”

This is a great question and becoming more and more popular as people look for high speed internet access.  Let’s take a look at the reasons behind it.

A view of a typical 100-500 mbps fiber cable
In residential areas, there are multiple families on a single street or in a specific block.   The local carriers will typically install a large capacity “pipe” or cable into a central location in a neighborhood and then divide the bandwidth amongst their clients.  The large capacity cable will usually be in the 500Mbps range.  The 500Mbps pipe would cost the carriers ~$4,000 in monthly expenses to install and maintain at a reasonable profit level.  (Remember, the carriers are in business to make money.)

Before we go any further, it’s important to understand the difference between “asynchronous” and “synchronous” transmission capabilities.  Synchronous transmission refers to communications where the sending and receiving speeds are exactly the same.  Asynchronous transmission has different speeds on the sending (uploading) and receiving (downloading) ends.  This is the key to understanding the costs differences we are discussing.

Now that we understand the difference between “Synchronous” and “Asynchronous” let’s continue.  At your home you may select an internet plan with “Up to 20/5 download upload speeds”.  Now exactly what does this mean?  First, understand you are NOT getting a direct link to the carrier, rather you are on a type of shared service.  The carrier will split off a portion of the large capacity pipe going down your street and put a “drop” (the drop is the connection from the pole to your home) in to give you internet access.  If you read the fine print, it will say “speeds not guaranteed”.  They can’t guarantee speeds on this type of service because they are dependent on how many users are simultaneously using the pipe in your neighborhood.   You can almost always see the difference in performance at 3:00 pm vs. late night or early morning.  Why?  Because schools get out at this time and the students are all doing their homework, using the internet.  You MIGHT get the 20mbps download and 5 upload speed at 3am when you’re the only one in the neighborhood using it, but I doubt it.   Some carriers are even offering businesses 100 mbps download, 10 mbps upload for under $500 per month.  Not guaranteed speed, but it sure sounds good.  I wouldn't want my business with 15 or more reps running applications using it though.  You'd better have a good backup program for them.  They'll have plenty of spare time waiting for the screens to move.

You can check the actual speed of you connection for free at  Here’s the one from my home connection at 3pm on Saturday……

The carriers will also provide a residential type router (they're not very expensive, which is why the carriers are willing to send you a replacement whenever you report trouble).  How many times have you called to report a problem, only to be told to “Unplug the router for 30 seconds, then plug it back in?”.  If that doesn’t work, you’ll have to usually have to wait to have a replacement router mailed to you.

Now let’s look at your business.  With true “Business Class” a carrier dedicates a single large capacity “pipe” to one customer and will guarantee the 100mbps/100mbps speeds. (Don’t get fooled by false claims from sales people about their service being “Business Class”.  Remember asynchronous vs synchronous.  If the carrier is quoting you 100mbps/10mbps speeds, this is merely residential service masked as business class.  True business class has synchronous speeds.)    Business class service comes with a business class router which is capable of being troubleshot remotely and will rarely fail.  These routers are substantially more expensive and far more functional than the ones you get at home.

If you want a great question for the sales rep pushing business internet at 100mbps/10mbps speeds, ask them what their guaranteed MTTR is? That's "Mean Time To Repair" should you ever experience a outage.  I'd love to hear what you think of their answer?  True Business Class internet access should have a MTTR of no more than 6 hours before credits are issued.

Finally, let’s look at the pricing.  On residential service, the large capacity pipe (in this example let’s assume 500mbps) is broken down for multiple residents use.  At 20/5 speeds, with only lower speeds guaranteed (remember the fine print), they can put up to 100 customers on one pipe.  100 customers @~$115 per month equals $11,500 in access fees.  This leaves the carrier with a tidy profit.

The true Business Class pipe is typically priced in the $4,000 (based on bandwidth & distance to the central office) range per month, equaling the price we talked about earlier to provide the 500mbps capacity and maintain a reasonable profit level in the residential neighborhood.

There are certainly other factors that go into the access costs and reasons behind it but we’ve touched on the high points.  As many carriers have exited the small to medium size business markets and no longer maintain a field sales staff due to profitablility issues, be cautious when working with a field sales rep offering "Asynchronous" service as "Business Class".  It's true, it comes at a lower price, but you get what you pay for.

If you need additional info or have questions, please let me know in comments and I will try and address them.  If you want to contact me directly to discuss the options you may have for internet and/or cloud access for your business, please complete my “For more information” form or email me at

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Part 2: "SaaS" vs "PaaS" vs "IaaS"

In my previous segment, we covered a general overview of “Cloud Services”.  We mentioned “Public and “Private” clouds, and gave some examples of each type.

In this chapter, we will be discussing “Cloud Computing”.  There are 3 major types of “Cloud Computing”:

                           Software as a Service (SaaS)
                           Platform as a Service (PaaS)
                           Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)

Here's a basic screenshot of Expedia
Software as a Service (Saas) should be a familiar term to many of us.  Loads of sales folks lay claim to selling “SaaS” services.  But what exactly is that?  SaaS refers to a program where the Customer utilizes a platform belonging to a provider (the company who owns the application) which runs on a cloud service infrastructure.  A good real world example of “SaaS” would be the travel service provided by Expedia.  The consumer goes to Expedia's website and enters information on the destinations, dates, and times for their travel and Expedia’s “SaaS” returns available options to choose from and offers booking capabilities.

Zimbra is a type of "Paas"
Platform as a Service “PaaS” is a bit more complex.  In “PaaS” a company can create their own applications and merely run them through a provider’s platform.  A popular example of a “PaaS” in use today would be Zimbra Desktop which enables a person to aggregate accounts across platforms (like Gmail, Yahoo Mail, Zimbra) and social accounts (like Facebook and Twitter), to make reading and posting information more simple.

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) clouds are created consisting of virtual machines (servers, storage, routers, firewalls, etc) which are made available to companies on demand to run their own in-house applications.  The hardware is housed in a "Data Center".  These applications are harder to identify, as one of the main purposes of IaaS is to allow the company to give the impression the platform is exclusive to their company and hosted and maintained by their staff.

The major advantage to IaaS is additional servers and storage may be configured in minutes, not days or weeks, and allows almost instant growth of network resources.  Multiple platforms can share a single physical server, but be completely isolated from one another, ensuring a totally secure computing environment.

The ability to run multiple platforms on a single server creates tremendous cost benefit to a customer.  There is little CAPEX (capital expense) associated with additional capacity and the finance department can “pay as they go” for resources (CFO’s are thrilled with this!).  With the proper provider, customers can benefit from virtual control panels, firewalls, nearly unlimited storage capacity, and many other features.  All this comes with savings in energy consumption, real estate costs, network, hardware expenditures, and dollars spent on IT resources.

In the next segment, we will explore the world of “IaaS” in greater detail, touching on additional specifics and overall cost efficiencies available.

I’m always available to assist individually should you have “cloud” questions prior to my next entry. Please either email me at or complete my form for “More Information” located on the side of my blog page.  If you have any comments or questions, they can also be entered in the comments section below.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Next Chapter in Outsourcing...

In many of my previous posts, I’ve addressed some of the networking angles and options for “Business Process Outsource” or “BPO” products.

I’d like to take an opportunity to begin series of posts on some of the processes behind the network which are available for you to take advantage of, namely “The Cloud”.

Let’s start by explaining exactly what “Cloud Services” are.  Here is the official definition from Wiki:

Cloud computing is the use of computing resources (hardware and software) that are delivered as a service over a network (typically the Internet). The name comes from the use of a cloud-shaped symbol as an abstraction for the complex infrastructure it contains in system diagrams. Cloud computing entrusts remote services with a user's data, software and computation.”

As a simple example of how you may already be using “Cloud Services” in your day-to-day activities, if you use online banking services to pay bills, write checks, or simply check your account balances, you’ve entered a “Cloud” provided by your banking institution.

There are many types of “Clouds” to consider.  The first type would be a “Public Cloud”.  Public Cloud services are those that are available to the general population and are available for free.  Some of the better know “Public Cloud” applications would be Hotmail (hosted by Microsoft) and Gmail (hosted by Google).  Services which are available in the public cloud range from email, to blog hosting, to data backup, and to calendars, etc.  

The second type of “Cloud” would be the one I am going to discuss in the next few posts from “The Business Outsource Guy”, namely “Private Clouds”.  Private clouds are just what the name implies, a private version of the public cloud, designed and installed for a particular business.  Private clouds have tremendous flexibility and can offer not only revenue savings but also peace of mind for a company.  Private clouds off-load the responsibility for a business’ primary operating systems to a hosted solution provided by a 3rd party vendor.  By outsourcing to the cloud, a company can realize operating and cost efficiencies.  It frees up valuable resources in both the IT and technical staff, which can be better utilized to help close new revenue producing sales and installs.

In my next few posts, I’ll try and focus on some of the specific programs available through the use of a “Private Cloud”.  There are many services which can be incorporated into the cloud, including email, IP phone technology, internet security, asset management, laptop security, anti-virus protection, software license compliance, disaster recovery, data back up and archiving, encryption, and many more….. Plus the “Cloud” can provide security for a business to allow secure access, both remote and mobile, to their internal platforms, easing strains on their internal IT department.

Check back for the next chapter on “Cloud” services coming soon.  If you have any particular service you would like me to address, please let me know. 

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Colleges are "Missing the Basket" during March Madness

Some colleges are “missing the basket” this season during March Madness.
With all the upsets during this year’s March Madness, a great opportunity has developed to gain some valuable advertising for their respective school through the use of social media.  This is a perfect example of where a properly managed social media program can impact enrollment.
Last year we had Butler University.  This year we have Creighton, Belmont, and St Mary’s.  While their alumni and friends know where these schools are located, the average fan or more importantly, the average high school junior or senior doesn’t.   The use of a well-run Twitter or Facebook campaign could realize immeasurable returns on enrollment.  At $33k+ for Creighton,  $19k+ for Belmont, and $38k+ for St. Mary’s, successfully recruiting even a few students by taking advantage of the publicity options available by participating in the NCAA Tournament can be invaluable.  After all, who wouldn’t want to go to a college or university whose athletic programs offer the student body the opportunities to participate in big time college athletics? 
If anyone can think of a better time to enhance your school’s reputation and public awareness, I’d love to hear it.  With all the options available today for companies to take advantage of social media outlets, it’s surprising I’m not seeing these schools “trending” on Twitter. 
There are many companies who provide outsourced social media programs for those companies who don’t possess the computer skills or staff to manage it themselves.  The extent to which a company jumps in to social media can also be dictated, for far less overhead cost than it would take to hire a full time staff to manage it.
To find out more information on the available social media options for your business or brand, please contact me @davehanron and I’d be happy to help.

Friday, February 3, 2012

SuperBowl XLVI Ads & Effect on Social Media Sites

It’s that time of year again…..SuperBowl XLVI.

I can’t wait to see how advertising and social media takes off during THE GAME this year.  Whether it’s Wes Welker talking about Tom Brady’s toilet, Gronk’s ankle sprain, Bill Belichick talking about retirement, or just the old fashion TV and radio commercials, all of these things will potentially be leading world-wide “trends” on Twitter and leading the way with “likes” on Facebook.  It will be interesting to follow the effect the ads and discussions have on the various social sites.
Let’s list a few to follow……there are lots so I’ll list a few randomly (Stats as of 2-3-2012 7:00pm est)
Toyota is planning to highlight its newest Camry by showing a plant and some of its workers in Kentucky.  Showing US production of its car may be just the kicker needed to boost its sales.  Toyota’s Facebook page (Toyota) currently has 40,897 likes and their Twitter account (@Toyota) has 74,974 followers.
Pepsi is planning on using Regis Philbin in a convenience store skit, giving a customer a year’s supply of Pepsi.  Should be funny!  Pepsi has 7,338,977 “likes” on Facebook and 632,785 followers on Twitter (@Pepsi).
Here’s a new one for us.  The job opening company, Career Builder is planning on showcasing why you should be looking for a new job.  In these tough economic times, this could be a good fit.  The question will be are chimpanzees the right actors to deliver the message.  We’ll see.  They have 147,601 “likes” on Facebook and 64,773 followers on Twitter.
Then we have Doritos.  Looks like no matter how attractive a woman may be to men, it can only get better when you cover yourself in Doritos!  Wonder how this one will work?  Doritos has 10,416 followers on Twitter (@DoritosUSA) and 2,728,151 “likes” on its USA Facebook page.
There are many more to follow but you get the idea.  It will be interesting to follow up on this after the Superbowl to see which ad campaign actually returns the best results on social media.  Could this type of measurement be the future in calculating the costs of advertsing?
Let me know what you think?  If you have a favorite commercial coming up and know the statistics from Facebook and Twitter, please post in the comments for everyone to read and follow.
Enjoy the game and GO PATS!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Sale vs. Process.....What's More Important?

I had to bring this to my readers’ attention this week. As a seasoned sales professional, I witnessed a disturbing scene this past week.

I was having my car serviced at the dealer and I was walking around on the sales floor looking at the 2012 models when I saw a gentleman walk in to the dealership, immediately go to a car and open the door. Sensing a potential customer, the salesman approached the prospective buyer. The man looking at the car immediately informed the salesman he had decided to purchase the particular vehicle he was sitting in.

Sounds like an easy sale, right? Take the order and move on to the next one. Not in this case. Here’s how it played out…….

The salesman congratulated the customer on his decision and immediately began to discuss features, colors, warranties, financing, test drives, and trade ins, among other things. I was speechless! This sales person just made the most fatal mistake in sales: Talking himself out of a sale. One of the first lessons you need to master to be successful in sales is don’t talk after gaining acceptance on the sale. I’m sure the salesman’s intentions were honorable and he was trying to help, but the customer told him he wanted THAT car! Please just take the order, and send the customer in to the finance manager. This deal is done.

In this case, the buyer explained to the salesman he had done his research through Consumer Reports and other internet sources and this was the car he wanted. He was convinced the price on the floor model was the best in the area and he was sold.

The problem that was illustrated here is that there is so much emphasis put into training employees to “follow the company line” that basic common sense sometimes falls to the curb. There are many times when using the old “Assumptive Close” technique is the perfect solution. Managers and trainers need to be prudent when training new hires in their process so that they don’t brainwasher a sales professional to the point where they either aren’t able to or are afraid of the repercussions of going outside the proverbial “Box” and simply doing what they are there for….Selling the deal!

So next time you’re sitting through (or maybe you are the one giving the training) sales training, try and remember that what you are hearing should only be a guideline on the sales process. Sales is a skill not everyone has, and sometimes it's difficult for those who aren't in sales roles to understand it isn’t always necessary to follow a rigid checklist of steps in the process to succeed. Many times it’s best to trust your instincts and proceed along the process you think will give you the best chance of securing the order.

If you follow this simple advice, at the end of the day, everyone will be happy…..the Customer will be happy with their decision, your company will have a new order, and you’ll have your commissions.

what do you think of the "Sale" vs. The "Process"?  Which one takes precedent?