Category Archives: Misc.

Cloud Roundup: Cloud Computing Expected to Produce 14 Million Jobs

Analyst firm IDC released a study March 5 revealing that spending on cloud services will produce nearly 14 million jobs worldwide by 2015. IDC, however, said the numbers are the result of adoption in the private sector rather than in government. The U.S. government’s slow adoption, even as agencies are encouraged to consider cloud computing first for all new IT investments, is largely due to security concerns, according to Washington Business Journal. The report reiterated what many have already predicted: The federal government will seek out private IT cloud services, which bring enhanced security by not commingling data with other customers, and reserve the more open public clouds for less risky applications such as email, Web portal development and collaboration.

Workers: Give Us the Cloud

A report released by Gartner March 5 claims workers will circumvent traditional systems to access cloud services if their employers don’t provide these services. Many companies are using a hybrid model for their IT, with some applications remaining in-house while placing others in the cloud. The ease-of-use and functionality available in some of the newer cloud versions of traditional solutions, however, is enticing for many employees, according to CloudPro. “IT organizations that do not match the request for IT as a service run the risk of internal customers bypassing the IT organization and consuming IT services from the external cloud, thereby placing the company at greater risk,” said Chris Howard, managing vice president at Gartner.

Cloud Computing’s Impact on India

As companies continue to adopt cloud-computing practices, more than 2 million jobs are expected to be created in India by 2015 because of this, according to an IDC study commissioned by Microsoft. “A common misperception is cloud computing is a job eliminator, but in truth it will be a job creator, a major one,” Chief Research Officer and Senior Vice President John F Gantz of IDC said.

Job growth will occur across continents and throughout organizations of all sizes because emerging markets, small cities and small businesses have the same access to cloud benefits as large enterprises or developed nations, Gantz added, according to NDTV.com.

A Clouded Terminology

InfoWorld’s David Linthicum sounds off on what, exactly, cloud computing is and how the term is often misused and over-hyped in a recent blog post.

Linthicum says cloud computing is “so widely defined, and thus so vague, that providing a crisp definition is nearly impossible. More disturbing, there seems to be an increasing overuse of cloud computing concepts as saviors for all past IT mistakes.”

He says “the concept of cloud computing is about the ability for organizations to stop solving all IT problems by themselves. It’s certainly about sharing resources, such as storage and compute services, but it really should be more about sharing solutions and pushing risk out of the business.”

 

 

How to Select a Cloud Backup and Recovery Vendor

(This article is the first in a three-part series exploring how to evaluate and select a cloud backup and recovery service. Future articles will explore how different data types are treated by backup services and different backup methods. Read Part 2 here, and Part 3 here.)

How to select a cloud backup vendorFor anybody whose computer activities include creating “data,” frequent, reliable backups are as important as, perhaps even more than an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) or an anti-virus security suite.

This applies to everyone from those using their laptop purely for personal activities to Small Office/Home Office (SOHO) folks like me large enterprise organizations.

And like any purchase, whether you’re looking to buy a new car, big-screen television, smartphone service plan, a hamburger — or an account with a cloud-based backup service — it’s important to do some research and think before you choose.

With a car, for example, you need to know what you want it for — commuting 50 miles each way every day to work? Being a “tornado chaser” in bad weather on bad roads? Transporting half a dozen teen soccer players? A two-seater electric vehicle is good for the first, but not the other two. You get the idea.

For backing up your computer data to a cloud service, the same holds true. Different backup services work differently. In order to select one that one, you need to both know what your backup requirements are, and how backup services work.

Making copies

Backups, of course, mean, “a separate copy of data on your computer, in case something happens to your computer.”

“Data” can include not only Microsoft Office-type documents (word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, databases, email) which business and personal life increasingly rely on, but also address books and contact information, photos and videos you’ve taken with your digital camera, scans you’ve made of important documents. And it can include copies of data from your smartphone(s), tablet(s) and other mobile devices. Plus music, videos, ebooks and other multimedia you may have purchased and downloaded.

“On your computer” may include not only data on its hard drives (including solid-state drives) but possibly also on external hard drives, and removable media. And data uploaded from your smartphone, etc.

Safekeeping

Having a backup means that if you accidentally delete a file, or if your computer is damaged, lost or stolen, you still have to replace the hardware, but at least you can recreate your files, documents, spreadsheets, presentations, contact information, photos, scanned documents… all the information that your personal and/or business life relies on.

“Local” backups, typically done to an external hard drive or even to a USB flash drive, are affordable and increasingly easy to do. But they can require daily attention — remembering where they are, to plug them in, turn on the application. And because they’re local, which typically means right next to each other in the same room, the odds are good that the same incident — electrical surge, theft, fire, flood, tornado, meteor strike — may also wipe away your backup, leaving you with no copies of your data.

Plus, “local” backups can be harder to do if you’ve got a notebook and are travelling away from your home or office.

To the cloud

Online backup, saving copies of your files to a service in the cloud, avoids the problems of local backups. Backing up to the cloud does, of course, require your computer to be connected to the Internet, but the odds of this are high. (For example, otherwise you couldn’t read this article.)

Cloud backup services — like local backup products — come in a range of approaches, with a corresponding range of prices, features and options. Selecting one isn’t “which one is best?” (Although some will be better than others.) Of course you want one that’s good. But it’s also a matter of determining which one best matches what you need in a backup.

So you shouldn’t pick a cloud backup service without first identifying what you want to back up, and how different cloud services do backups — so you can pick a cloud backup service that matches your goals.

 

 

How the Cloud Reduced Our Newlywed Stress

Cloud Storage for PhotosDespite having been through it all once before, I made the rookie bridegroom mistake of thinking that once the wedding was done, all of the stresses involved in that specific day in our lives would be over. After all, the wedding had gone off without a hitch, everyone involved had a good time, we had a great destination event with family and friends, and being in our 50’s, I thought we had all of the bases covered. After all, this was the second time around for both of us.

I was wrong.

Despite a pretty high level of technical awareness, my years of focusing on business technology, from basic hardware through designing data centers had ill prepared me for the changes that had happened in a small corner of the  consumer technology world; the wedding photographs.

The first time I got married, sometime back in the 20th century, the wedding photo book process went like this: The photographer sent you proofs, you picked out the photos that you liked, the photographer delivered a wedding book made up of those prints. You complained about some part of it, then went on with your life.

It doesn’t seem to work like that anymore.

We received 7 gigabytes worth of pictures on CD; this might seem like a good thing (it did to my wife) but to me it meant that there were close to a thousand images that had to be sorted through. And as a fairly decent amateur photographer, it meant that I could look at an image and see how just the right post processing might make it a better picture.

So much for the simple yes/no judgment for each of those images.

To make it worse, my wife really wanted to be able to create lots of different photo books, with the intent to eventually print them. A book for her parents, a book for mine, one for her bridesmaids, one for my only sibling (we had taken lots of pictures the day before the wedding itself).  And while she was more than willing to start sorting images, it was up to me to do the post processing. And get her the two or three hundred images that she had narrowed her selection down to for all those different photo books.

Traveling photos

To make my life just a little more complex, my wife’s job requires that she travel a fair amount. And when she traveled for business she often met up with old friends and wanted to show them the wedding pictures. This meant that before she left on each trip she would ask me to put a selection of the pictures on her tablet. Of course, I never seemed to have the pictures she wanted available to be copied to her tablet, with the post processing of the images being relatively low priority in the crush of events that define our lives.

Fortunately for our marriage, the cloud actually came to the rescue. Using a cloud backup service with a client for her tablet, I was able to create some working directories that replicated to the cloud from my desktop, and she was able to pull images that she wanted to show off down to her tablet whenever she wanted them, eventually deciding on a core set of images that she stored locally, and others that she downloaded to show specific people. Most importantly, from the husband perspective, was that it took me out of the loop. She had all of her images available, without using up a large percentage of her local storage, she could see what images were in the pre-or post-processing stage, and with a simple email to me, while she traveled, she could ask to have a specific image edited to her liking, often so she could have it printed out for a family member she was seeing in her travels.

It’s been six months and she’s still trying to decide which images get printed for who, but with the cloud making all of the pictures available to her wherever she happens to be, my honey-do list has gotten significantly shorter.

 

 

5 Tools to to Run a Small Business in the Cloud

Mozy Online BackupIt can be a challenge running a small business. As a small business owner, you’ll often find that no task is too big or too small for you to handle, from contending with macro problems such as rising fuel costs, to more at-hand issues such as discovering that a part-time employee mistakenly unplugged a tucked-away power strip and that’s why half the work stations in the office are offline.

With much to worry about and never enough staff to cover all the bases, cloud computing has the potential to ease the strain of running a small business while cutting costs in the process.

Small and midsize businesses in the United States will spend more than $49 billion on cloud services in 2015, nearly double the size of the market today, according to research from AMI Partners. Donald Best, an analyst at AMI, chalked up the growth to a combination of reliable broadband, thin applications and the financial incentive to smaller businesses – namely, that cloud services do not require significant costs to acquire.

“It’s a factor of IT spending increasing, and it’s also an increasing percentage of total spending that’s going to the cloud,” Best said in an interview with InformationWeek.

The AMI study revealed that SMBs are currently setting aside 10 percent of IT budgets for cloud services. This number is expected to grow to 15 percent by 2015.

The number of cloud services aimed at SMBs also continues to grow, which is a great benefit to business owners. The following services or products cover some of the essential components of running a small business in the cloud. While there are many choices out there, here are just a few that make running a business a little bit easier with a little help from above – the cloud.

Productivity

Google Apps

This is an obvious choice, but it’s tough to beat the cost and simplicity of running Google Apps. If you plan to integrate Google Docs into a collaborative workspace, complete with email and calendaring, Google Apps is the way to go.

Communication

Skype

Skype continues to improve its VOIP quality. Its updated interface makes video calls a snap. Since Microsoft purchased Skype, Redmond is working to integrate Skype across its entire product portfolio, with more robust software being developed for both server and client environments.

Database

QuickBase

Ultra-customizable, Intuit’s QuickBase is a business-class online database that comes from a long-established vendor that can be trusted. QuickBase can house any type of data, from invoices to inventory. It’s fast, reliable and has many native applications to get you up and running in a flash.

Finance and Accounting

Bill.com

Bill.com automates small-business accounting by reducing the time and paperwork required for accounts payable. With Bill.com, you get a complete Web-based “finance department” to organize day-to-day finances and optimize cash flow.

Storage and Backup

MozyPro

MozyPro lets you manage multi-user environments, schedule automatic backups and monitor the health of your backups from a single Web-based dashboard. Mozy maintains strict security policies, military-grade encryption and world-class data centers for optimal data protection. Mozy’s pay-as-you-go model saves time and money with no setup fees, no hardware to purchase and little management required – ideal incentives for a small business.

 

 

Roundup of Cloud Computing Coverage and Links

As cloud computing continues to evolve from a novelty to a buzzword to a household term, its impact will undoubtedly be felt in organizations both large and small. The following posts provide some insight into the latest issues with cloud computing that are definitely worth a closer look.

The Cloud: Mover of All Things Across the Internet

ZDNet’s Cloud Builders blog touched on the recent Cloud Expo Europe (CEE) and the state of cloud computing today. According to Cloud Builders’ author Alan Priestley, “One of the most interesting speeches was delivered by David King, CTO of Logica, the outsourcing company. He compared the cloud of today with the railroads of the last century, in which the movement of goods across continents became vastly easier and in turn helped transform business.”

King said the sharing elements of cloud usage are where new business models are forming, which he attributes to public sector services and business services finding new ways to share information and extract greater value from that information.

Big Data Today Is What the Web Was in ‘93

GigaOM’s Structure blog recently tackled the growth of big data, its adoption issues and how big data jibes with cloud computing. Mark Thiele, executive vice president of Data Center Tech at Switch, wrote on the Structure blog that “big data today is what the Web was in 1993. We knew the Web was something and that it might get big, but few of us really understood what ‘big’ meant. Today, I believe we aren’t even scratching the surface of the big data opportunity.”

With this opportunity comes many complex issues, such as

  • Where will that data reside?
  • If your big data is running in a public cloud, what tools and strategies will you use to make that data available to customers and other applications?
  • If you store your data with a service, how often will you use it?

Put Your Money Where Your Cloud Is

The venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers is considering a fund for startups looking to deliver cloud services to enterprises, according to Wired’s Cloudline blog.

The VC firm could invest $100 million in the cloud space this year. The announcement isn’t very surprising, with groups such as Market Research Media projecting the cloud computing market will grow at about 30 percent a year, reaching $270 billion in 2020.

A Cloud Computing Revolution and the Barriers It Faces

As fast as cloud computing seems to be moving across the IT landscape, there are some troubling signs that demonstrate how conflicting laws and regulations could threaten to keep the market from reaching its full potential on a global scale. According to BSA’s TechPost blog, there is a pressing need for governments to better harmonize their policies to smooth the flow of data across borders.

BSA offers governments a seven-point policy blueprint for expanding economic opportunity in the cloud with a more level playing field, including protecting users’ privacy while enabling the free flow of data and commerce.

 

 

Mozy Halloween Story Contest Winners

Thanks to everyone who submitted a story to our “Dark and Stormy Night” contest. We had over 140 entries, and we enjoyed reading all of them (Over 28,000 words!) We had some difficult decisions to make, but our judges have decided on our four winners. Each of the entires was chosen based on their creativity, originality, scariness, and Mozy-ness. We’ve posted them below for you to enjoy (some entries slightly edited for readability):

Scott Kruger:

It was dark, despite the full moon, as he made his way to the campus library with laptop in hand. The wind blows through the trees lining the walkway. The last remnants of fall clung desperately to the branches silhouetted against the moon as they thrashed about violently. He pulled his jacket up against the chill, trying to warm himself with the knowledge that the only thing left to complete on his final exam paper was the bibliography that he’d fill out upon reaching the library.

The fluttering of a bat in the empty branches above him gave him pause. The noise quickly subsided, and he continued up the walkway toward the lights of the library. Off the path he heard the crunch of leaves. A figure stepped out of the shadows onto the pathway behind him. He looked over his shoulder at the figure. Blood red eyes caught the light of the moon. A fog began drifting in through the woods. He runs toward the lights beyond, dropping his laptop. He leaves it knowing he can recover his paper from the safety of the library. Throwing open the doors he turns around to see wet footprints and nothing more.

D Steinberg:

She was in the middle of reading her friend’s blog when she heard a sound.  It was just after midnight.  Her husband Ed was asleep.  Quietly Judy got up to look around.  The doors were locked, the alarm was on.

“Probably the wind, or a twig brushing against a window,” Judy figured.

Then, suddenly the phone rang.  Who could that be?  Judy answered with growing alarm.  “Oh Judy,” the male voice on the other end of the phone cried out.  “I need help.”

The voice was familiar. “It’s Al.”  “Al Smith,” Judy queried.  Yes, he answered.

“You must come quickly he said.  What’s wrong, Judy asked.  It’s my wife, said Al, now sobbing and noticeably shaken.  What’s wrong with Milly, Judy asked.

Just then Al shrieked and Judy heard a thud as Al’s phone dropped disconnecting the call.  Judy was beside herself.

She woke Ed hysterically, saying “You must go to Al Smith’s house.  Something is wrong with Milly.  I’ll wait here with the kids.  Call me.”  Ed left.   Judy was now alone waiting.

There it was again.. the sound she heard before, now louder and closer.  What had she done?  And who was it really who had called?

David Goldstein:

All was quiet as I finished my term paper, but my blood chilled when a pop-up message appeared on my screen: “MozyHome is protecting your subconscious. Click to view which fears are backed up.” That was replaced a few seconds later with, “One of the fears that paralyzed you in the past
will be restored at midnight.” I sat shuddering in my chair, wondering which of the unbearable possibilities I had pushed to the dark recesses of my mind for self-preservation would be brought to the surface. Would the snake I knew was living in the bathroom sink come out and eat me? Would the nasty e-mail I had thought about writing, and definitely did not write, get “restored” and sent out?
10:30
11:30
12 … “Restoring your fear, please wait … Your fear has been restored successfully. Click to reveal your fear.” I clicked. “Read fault error on drive B: all contents may be lost. Abort, retry, ignore?” Ha ha, boo and pooh to you! My computer doesn’t even have a drive B: Mozy is there for the drives it does have.

Leslie Borghihi:

The laptop sat open on the table I stared in disbelief.  “Account not found.”

“What now?”  I muttered.

I retyped in my login and password, “Account not found.”  I tried another account.  What was going on with this computer?  I restarted it and tried again.  I called tech support.  India did not answer.  Panic was setting in.  I called the bank punched in my account number and password.

The automated voice kindly told me, “We’re sorry unable to authenticate please try again, or press zero for assistance.  Again, no one answered.

I tried my mother.

“Hello, hello, who is this?  I don’t think this is funny.”  The line went dead.

I grabbed my wallet: everything was there.  My door opened, the property owner, and another woman entered.

““We will everything out by Thursday.””

““Great, I’ll take it, where is the previous tenet?””

“Excuse me, I’m right here!”  I shrieked.

“”She died suddenly, no family, and no one she listed as her references knew her.  I assure you we are screening tenets better.””

The two left.

Trying to follow, I found I could not leave the apartment.  The laptop sat open on the table, flashing, “Who are you?”

Again, thanks to all who participated. If you submitted a winning story, you will be receiving an e-mail with more information. Happy Halloween!

Sometimes You Just Need (a little) Help…

Even the smartest people sometimes need help. Take my dad for instance: he taught math, physics and chemistry; started writing software in the ‘70s, and yet he still calls me from time to time asking me how to install some piece of software or some other computer-related question. Most of these questions are simple to answer, but since he isn’t an expert on everything, he still calls his geeky son for help.

So, what’s my point? Sometimes even the brightest, most experienced of Mozy customers needs help. That’s where Mozy Support comes in…

How can we help you out?

The table below outlines what support options are available for which products:

Mozy Support Types

If your product is eligible for Phone Support (see the above table!), call us at +1 866-789-6699. Make sure you have your SupportID before calling, because our phone system is going to ask you for it. You can get more thorough instructions on contacting support in our Knowledge Base.

Our Knowledge Base is top-notch, so if you are a tinkerer that would rather do it yourself, that’s the best place to start. You can find it at http://mozy.force.com/support/mozyKnowledgeBase

.

Anyway, if you have a question about Mozy or otherwise need some help setting up, backing up or restoring files with Mozy, let us know how we can help!

Be safe,

Craig Cole
Sr. Technical Education Specialist

HDD vs SSD

Is the battle for data storage supremacy over? Have hard disk drives finally left solid state drives eating their dust or have SSDs finally overtaken HDDs and left the old-timers behind?

For those who aren’t familiar with the differences between the two, here they are in a nutshell: hard disk drives or HDDs rely on a moving actuator and a read/write head to read or write data on spinning disks. Solid state drives or SSDs, on the other hand, have no moving parts. In most cases, they rely on NAND-based flash memory.

So, as of today, which technology holds the upper hand for data storage? Have a steaming cup of coffee while I fill you in on the latest.

Which drive can store more for less?

Aside from being more affordable, hard disk drives are still preferred because of their larger storage capacities. But the disparity between their capacities is gradually shrinking.

Unfortunately, the same thing cannot be said for their price tags. Today, you can find 1 TB hard disks below $100. As for 1 TB solid state drives, you’d be extremely lucky to find one that would cost below $1,000. As a matter of fact, $2,000 to $4,000 pricetags for 1 TB SSDs are quite common.

And by the looks of it, things aren’t going to change much in the near future if we talk about their differences in costs per GB. Some analysts even think they’re going to remain this way for 5-10 years.

Drive Performance

This is where SSDs reign supreme. Because HDDs have to move an actuator arm, read/write head, and disk platters to access data, there’s a substantial delay compared to SSDs. While this may be unnoticeable for regular users, power users – who typically open multiple applications at the same time – will easily see the difference.

Start up, random access, and reading activities are all faster for solid state drives compared to hard disks. Remember those times when you had to defragment your drive to improve performance? This isn’t necessary anymore with solid state drives.

To top it all, an SSD does all this at a lower power consumption rate. Hard disks drain energy faster because some energy has to be allocated for moving the heads and spinning the platters. That’s why computer manufacturers once successfully sold out large quantities of notebooks with SSDs. Some users were attracted to their long battery lives.

Storage reliability issues

Now, what about reliability? In this aspect, which one has a clear advantage over the other? Most businesses – and perhaps even regular users – will prefer a storage device that can offer a better guarantee for the safety of their data

Having a drive with a large capacity or faster performance is great, but if you haven’t backed it up and can’t retrieve any of your data from it again, that’s going to translate to huge financial losses, missed opportunities, and wasted time.

So which technology has the edge in this department? Let’s take a closer look.

HDD Storage Reliability

Theoretically speaking, HDDs are supposed to be more susceptible to failures because of their moving parts. They can also fail for a variety of reasons: head crashes, too high temperature, too low temperature, static electricity, power surges, vibrations, or pollution of the air inside the sealed unit.

Failure rates of different HDDs can be as low as 3% and as high as 13%. As HDDs get older, they suffer from wear-and-tear and hence become more prone to failures; they typically exhibit failure rates of at least 6% for those units that are more than 2 years old.

HDDs can maintain acceptable failure rates only up to 3 years. Beyond that, you’d be exposing your data to high risks. By comparison, SSDs are expected to stay reliable up to 10 years… but again, that’s theoretical.

SSD Storage Reliability

When the netbook craze first started, manufacturers opted to use SSDs was because of their low power consumption and low failure rates during lab tests.

Interestingly, however, their supposed reliability didn’t manifest in the outside world. Failure rates of 10% to 20% were being reported for some netbooks carrying SSDs (many times a SSD can fail due to the controller, not the drive itself). By contrast, netbooks carrying HDDs had failure rates of 2% or less.

Still, because of their relatively higher prices, SSDs haven’t been used as extensively in desktops and servers as HDDs have. Thus, the experience of netbook users can’t be the sole gauge in determining whether HDDs are more reliable.

Summary

What can learned from these figures is that over time, SSDs and HDDs can have failure rates greater than 10%. That’s not good by any standard and that doesn’t bode well for people who rely so much on their data to keep their business running (and in this age, who doesn’t?).

Therefore, regardless what type of drive you use, it is important that you perform regular backups to your data. Just because you have a solid state drive holding your data doesn’t mean it’s safe from failure.

About the Author

Eric Nagel manages OnlineBackupsReview.com where he reviews online backup services, including Mozy, and reports on the latest industry news. He also provides readers an exclusive 15% off Mozy promotional code so they can save on the only 5-star-rated online backup service, Mozy.

Back Up, Don’t Smash Up!

Imagine if someone offered you a shiny new MacBook (or PC, if you don’t follow the Cult of Jobs) to replace your dinosaur of a laptop. You’d jump at the chance, wouldn’t you?

But what if you had to hand it over right there, along with all your files, documents, pictures and music that you had stored on it? And what if you then had to smash it to pieces and watch all your work be destroyed right in front of you?

It turns out that mom was right. It really is what’s inside that counts. Our research shows that people in the UK valued their data, on average, at £12,484. Suddenly the swap doesn’t seem such a good idea, does it? Of course, if you’d backed up your data, all you’d be handing over would be worn-out keys and a smudged screen.

Our team in the UK took to the streets of London to tempt a stream of commuters with an incredible offer: a brand-new MacBook – if they smashed up their old laptop right there. Was anyone confident enough in their backup to take our challenge?

Check out what happened in our video:

Mozy Support Video: How to Sign Up For MozyHome

This is the first in a series of videos we’ve created to help you get the most out of Mozy. This video explains how to sign up for a new MozyHome account.

For more tips, tricks, tutorials, and help with Mozy, go to http://support.mozy.com.