Define Cloud Computing:

The practice of using a network of remote servers hosted on the Internet to store, manage, and process data, rather than a local server.

To the user, cloud computing is something we now use every day. It’s not scary.  We purchase products online, communicate in real time by audio and video with our family and friends, we transfer money from checking to savings through our bank.  We use cloud computing without even thinking about it.  It works!  That’s because it’s based on networking technology that has existed since the 1950’s when mainframe computers were extremely expensive and access to the resources was provided via a thin client (or sometimes called a dumb terminal).  When you access Facebook or Amazon today you are doing things much the same way— the computing resources are in a Data Center but you access them through a browser (Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox) which is much like running a thin client app on your computer.  The power is in the Data Center not required on your local device.  And it can be any device, a laptop, tablet or phone.

Why don’t we do this all the time?

Data Center computing remains very expensive— so years back we came up with different ways to do networking by producing lower cost local servers.  This allowed many small and medium sized businesses to do corporate computing without the extreme expense of maintaining a professional network in a World Class Data Center.  The problem is, it was never as secure, robust, and flexible as the Data Center Model.  It did not provide the advantages of scalability and balancing workload across multiple servers.

But the small business model worked for the most part, and it is still widely used today.  As a design model it has grown too.  Slowly we add multiple servers to split up functions, we also separate file storage to it’s own device or devices.  We have to centralize management of the whole Enterprise and try to capture reliable backups.  So the cheaper model ends up becoming expensive itself.

What’s changed? What do you get out of it?

Meanwhile things have changed in the Data Center, costs have come down.  Due to Infrastructure developed for those large Internet based companies, now we can all use servers housed in the Data Center.  To support the growing needs of those Internet companies we all know and love, new industries have developed.  New companies that provide the infrastructure needed.  You no longer have to purchase your own hardware, you can simply rent it on a monthly basis.  You don’t need to capitalize your equipment and installation expense, it’s now just a monthly expense.  Your company Network becomes a Service, or Network as a Service (NaaS).

This can mean your network is protected in the Data Center just like the big business.  And the beauty is you don’t lose control, you actually gain more control and security than you probably had before. You probably didn’t even know you were working in an inferior environment.

With Cloud Computing, the building where your Network resides is guarded 24/7 by security staff.  The environment is controlled for temperature and humidity.  The building is protected from fire as well.  The building has redundant power and internet connections. Your data is backed up daily and in some cases throughout the day.  Your data is protected against outside threats as well by World Class Firewalls, much better than what you typically have in the office.  Virus and other threats are scanned at the firewalls as well.  And your Network is actively monitored by network personnel.  Duplicating this type of security could cost hundreds of thousands for you to even get close, but to match would cost millions.

Do you really want to do it alone?

Why would you want to duplicate it though?  You can have a completely secure network in the cloud just like large organizations do, and you don’t have to pay for all the infrastructure—you share the costs of the facility with other small or mid sized companies and get all the advantages.  You don’t pay if a server goes out or needs to be upgraded, that’s done as part of the service.  You don’t pay for licenses of the Basic Server Operating System or the Workstation OS either.  With us, you don’t even pay for licensing Microsoft Office.  That’s all included.  You don’t need to have somebody do the backups of your data, or move tapes around wondering if anything is even on the tapes.  You do however have the option to keep a local backup if you wish.  Your Network is in The cloud, and your users can access their own personal workstation through a thin client device or through a browser on just about any device (some companies even allow their employees to bring their own device, referred to as BYOD, so they don’t have to maintain that hardware either).

The user experiences a typical Microsoft Windows Workstation with Word, Excel and Access. They can use Outlook to get to their corporate email and calendar.  And they print on printers in your office.  You may still buy some hardware which doesn’t have to be very powerful, the power is in the Cloud.  You can even use thin client devices which are much cheaper than a typical computer and don’t need a Windows license to operate.  You buy printers which can either connect directly to the workstation or are Network Printers.  You of course also need a decent Internet connection.

Can we help?

Interested?  Are you ready to remove much of the stress and expense associated with maintaining your own network?  Maybe you still want to find out a few things.  How much for example?  Well first let’s tell you how.  We charge by the workstation, all the licenses and servers and firewalls and security and everything is bundled in most cases into the per month workstation fee.  For most people that fee is $145 per user/per month.  That’s right.  It includes Microsoft Office, Email Server and Shared Storage.  This often also includes your regular server based programs like accounting or other database related products you have purchased the license for.  You buy those, but they can be installed on your virtual server and workstations in the Cloud. Sure there are customizations available that don’t fall within the normal.  We can talk about that, but many people do just fine with the basic package we provide.  If you want to talk about proprietary systems or have other questions please send us an email with your questions or concerns to advantage@ashmar.com

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