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PSPinc will help your business thrive by providing for all of your technology needs. We offer a wide array of products, including Web & Email Hosting, Website Development, Email Marketing and Data Storage Solutions. Visit pspinc.com to learn more.

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Advancements in Artificial Intelligence and the Cloud

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Advancements in Artificial Intell...
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is becoming the norm in these modern times. With cloud computing, AI is just as available to small business as it is to big enterprises. For example, IBM’s Watson commercial shows us technology that can understand, reason, learn, interact and work with humans to solve issues and create more efficient processes. Watson is not a future story, but rather, it’s available today.

With so much data and information around us these days, we surely need help analyzing it all. AI can make it easy for us.

Take social media, for instance. In the past, if you wanted to analyze your social media performance, you would have to upload data into the software and specify or modify the data accordingly. Today, some of the cloud-based AI can analyze what it receives intelligently and provide analysis for you automatically.

AI can formulate solutions by ‘learning’ from patterns of information coming in (input) and going out (output).

Google has something called Front End Processors (FEPs) that accommodate computer input to learn foreign languages by capturing the data from everyone who uses it. That data then becomes the learning ground for future input, by suggesting the translation even before users finish typing a word or sentence.

Voice recognition is another form of AI. Hearing your speech (input), machines gather more patterns to create possible solutions (output). The more information a computer pools, the higher the possibility of getting the correct output.

With cloud computing and internet, and the continuous input of information, the world is moving faster than ever to create more sophisticated Artificial Intelligence.
#PSPinc #Blog #CloudComputing #CloudTechnology #ArtificialIntelligence #AI #BusinessTips #SmallBusiness

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Beware of Security Breaches in the Cloud

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Beware of Security Breaches i...
The best way to keep your files secure in today’s internet age is to keep things offline, period. Unfortunately, that’s not possible with present technology. We can’t move backwards in business, but to keep moving forward with new conveniences such as cloud computing, we all need to be aware of new risks and challenges that may arise. Here’s what you should know when it comes to security breaches:

Data Breach:

You may have heard about celebrity photos being stolen from the cloud storage space. When we rely on cloud computing, we are all exposed to this same risk. Unless you have your data stored on your local computer, which is not online, we all face this risk anytime we are transmitting data online, email, in the cloud. Be aware of who has access to your files in the cloud, change the password to something memorable that has characters, numbers and capital letters in it, and keep changing it on a regular basis. (Definitely do NOT use something like “password” or “0000.”) Audit the status of your cloud access on a regular basis and make sure your team is following policies you’ve put in place for access, sharing and password changes.

Hijacking:

Browser hijacking occurs when scammers install malicious software (malware) to take control of your web browser. It can occur more often than you think. It can happen again with weak passwords, or with the security issues in the software itself. You need to make sure your software is up to date (most current version) and put in place strong password policies. Sometimes, hijacking can occur without you realizing it, and scammers can figure out deceptive ways to get your password or your account information. Do not use your password for a site that is not yours, and review your credit card and bank statement often.

Malicious Files:

Malicious files may be placed in your desktop from an innocent website which looks just fine. Hackers will inject malicious code into legitimate JavaScript hosted on a site – and the site’s owner may not even be aware their site is infected. Run an anti-virus, anti-spyware/malware software program on a regular basis to catch them before it’s too late.

DoS Attacks:

DoS stands for Denial of Service, and it is basically when an attacker tries to prevent a legitimate user from accessing information. According to US-CERT.gov: “The most common and obvious type of DoS attack occurs when an attacker "floods" a network with information. When you type a URL for a particular website into your browser, you are sending a request to that site's computer server to view the page. The server can only process a certain number of requests at once, so if an attacker overloads the server with requests, it can't process your request. This is a 'denial of service' because you can't access that site.” This type of attack can similarly happen over email and in the cloud. When this happens, contact your service provider.

Social Engineering:

Of all the technology we have in this new age, humans are still the cause of major scams using a technique called Social Engineering. This occurs when they call or email your office, pretending to be your staff, or your bank, or someone familiar, and try to get sensitive information such as your passwords, social security numbers and such. Again, you will need to have a policy and procedure for recognizing and handling these types of phony calls or emails to prevent any type of fraud.
#PSPinc #Blog #CloudComputing #CloudTechnology #Malware #Hackers #BusinessTips #SmallBusiness

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Collaboration in the Cloud

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Collaboration in the Cloud
One of the benefits of cloud technology is collaboration. It is a new way to share and work together through cloud computing and shared storage of documents, SaaS (Software as a Service) and more. Because our devices can also connect to the cloud, our physical location in the world becomes less important. No matter where we are, the cloud enables us to work together virtually.

Here are some popular cloud technologies to consider:

Online Storage:

The most commonly used cloud collaboration tool today is online storage. Instead of sending files as email attachments, you can create a folder with shared access in the cloud so you and others can share documents with each other there. You can go beyond that with tools that allow multiple people to access a file at the same time, but first you should have a policy in place to make sure the authority and ownership of certain files are clear in order to successfully and effectively work together.

Remote Telephones:

You may have heard the term “Hosted PBX.” For those who do not know what PBX is, it is an abbreviation of Private Branch Exchange which is basically a telephone system to manage multiple lines with multiple phones for an organization. In the good old days, you had PBX in your office, which then handled incoming and outgoing calls for your offices, but now with a virtual hosted PBX, you are not tied to your physical office location. As a matter of fact, you don’t even need a phone to work with virtual PBX. You can literally have a “soft” phone on your computer, answering your office extension from your home computer using a headset.

Virtual Conferencing:

Now there are programs available for video conferencing and screen-sharing via the cloud such as WebEx, Microsoft, and Adobe. In every case, you will need to have a supported device with an internet connection. Depending on your connection speed, you may find this kind of collaboration more difficult to do in the cloud.
#PSPinc #Blog #CloudComputing #CloudTechnology #CloudCollaboration #SmallBusiness #BusinessTips

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What to Know about Internet Speed

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What to Know about Internet S...
One thing to consider when moving to the cloud is the speed of your internet – which is where the cloud lives. When researching different internet service providers (ISPs), you hear different terms that describe what you are getting. You need to be “in the know” when selecting your type of connectivity because it will affect your team’s productivity once you move to the cloud. Here are some key things to consider:

Speed:

Yes, “the bigger, the better” rule does apply to internet speed. Did you notice we use lowercase b instead of uppercase B when describing internet speed?

Usually your connection speed is described with a unit called Mbps (Mega bits per second). It’s measured in terms of “bits” rather than “Bytes,” hence, the lowercase b reference. And how many bits can move per second is commonly used to measure the speed of internet. 1 Byte consists of 8 bits. So, if you are thinking 10Mbps is the same as 10BM (Megabytes), you are mistaken. In actuality, 10Mbps = 10,000Kbps / 8 = 1,250K Bytes (or 1.25MB).

You might want to review your internet connection by speed testing it in your browser. You can type “speed test” in Google search and find a program to run a test of your computer’s connectivity.

ISPs tend to give you faster download speed instead of upload speed. They generally offer options where you can get the same speed for uploads or downloads, but the price may be higher than your regular connection.

Types of Connections:

There are different types of connections: DSL, Cable, Ethernet, and Fiber. In certain areas, you may have radio and satellite connections.

Most of us are familiar with DSL, Cable and Ethernet. They all transmit over copper cables. Although the delivery methods are different, the speed is not affected by the distance from the ISP's Point of Presence (POP) to your office, however, the signals do get weaker as you get further away. Also, be aware that your internet speed may be slower than what the ISP tells you on paper.

Fiber relies on light instead of electricity to transmit data, which makes it faster, and it does not wear off like the signals over copper do. Unfortunately, Fiber installations are not yet available in all cities and streets so check with your providers to see if they can deliver it for you.

Research your choices for internet connectivity and speed before you purchase. Don't be deceived by how fast technology works on television. You need to ask questions about your connectivity options, especially when it comes to your business.
#PSPinc #Blog #CloudTechnology #CloudComputing #InternetSpeed #SmallBusiness #BusinessTips #Connectivity

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What to Consider before Moving your Business into the Cloud

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What to Consider before Movin...
According to statista.com, the size of the cloud computing and hosting market worldwide grew from a $30 billion size industry back in 2011 to $80 billion today, which will grow to be over $100 billion industry in a year or so. That is big.

The accessibility, availability, and affordability of the cloud are driving that cloud computing growth because those benefits to businesses are almost too good to be true. But there are a few key elements to consider when evaluating whether or not your business should move into the cloud.

Cost:

The initial cost to move into the cloud may be way lower than trying to get a similar system in your office. For example, if you are looking at a new inventory software, you will not need to purchase any computers, server operating systems, etc. Depending on your choice of software, you could subscribe to a SaaS (Software as a Service) instead. You will need to analyze the initial costs vs. the subscription-based running costs.

Workflow & Policies:

Once you move your data and software into the cloud, your business workflow and policies must be reviewed and re-established accordingly. For example, your cloud-based data storage may be charged based on the average space used. In which case, you don’t want your employees to save every single thing in the cloud since it will cost you more. Make sure they know what needs to be in the cloud and what doesn’t, and ask your team to follow those procedures accordingly.

Internet Speed:

You will be at the mercy of internet connection once you move to the cloud. Luckily, even our cell phones now have faster speed but be aware - it will not work the same as you running your software on your own computer. Your office (or home) internet speed may affect your productivity once your projects move into the cloud.

Monitoring & Troubleshooting:

When your in-office server access was slow, you used to just reboot it. But once you move your server to the cloud, how will you monitor and troubleshoot any issues? Depending on the service you choose, you may have different protocols to follow. You can’t simply unplug the power of the server. You and your office staff need to know who to call and what to do at any time.

Plan B:

No matter how you put it together, no system is 100% perfect. Trust me, at PSPinc Web Hosting in Bellevue, we have run our own servers and data centers over 20 years. Murphy’s Law does exist: “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.” So be prepared, have a Plan B, and don’t put all your eggs into one basket.
#PSPinc #Blog #CloudComputing #CloudTechnology #TheCloud #SmallBusiness #BusinessAdvice

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Types of Software in the Cloud

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Types of Software in the Cloud
In my last post, we talked about the basics of the cloud, and I mentioned accounting software as one of the applications you can get in the cloud. Today, we will cover some of the other services available for your business in the cloud:

General Office:

One of the most commonly used cloud solutions is online storage space. You might be familiar with:

- iCloud
- Dropbox
- Google Drive

Many have similar features to keep your files “in the cloud” with the ability to access them from other devices. Most of them now have sharing features so you can define other users and let them access the files you have. In coming years, new features will roll out that focus on collaboration but I will expand on that point in a future article.

Accounting:

Accounting and ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) can be helpful if you need people to work remotely on your books and financials. It enables outside help to access your company’s accounting files without being in the office. No longer would you need to set someone up with remote access to your accounting machines.

CRM:

Customer Relationship Management also used to be on local machines but now it is shareable via the cloud. Like our own service, www.FlatCRM.com, being able to access the company’s data outside of the office allows us to work more efficiently.

What you need to be aware of is not all systems are perfect. Your access to the cloud relies on the speed of your internet, for one. Many of these programs are run on web browsers so sometimes the controls and the user interface will not work the same as when you run it on your local computer.

Remember, if your software is running as a service in the cloud, you have to allow a bit of time between you and the server in the cloud to communicate. And no service is perfect, so always have a backup and a plan B.
#PSPinc #Blog #CloudComputing #CloudSoftware #CloudTechnology #SmallBusiness #BusinessTips

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Cloud Computing Service Models & Environments

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Cloud Computing Service Model...
Cloud computing enables us to access information anywhere, anytime. Essentially, by working in the cloud, we have access to all of the information and resources on our computers via the internet. Today, many service providers are offering cloud computing services.

There are three types of cloud computing service models that build on each other:

1) Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS): Customer rents networking space, storage and processing power.

2) Platform as a Service (PaaS): Customer develops its own applications using cloud provider’s operating system and platform.

3) Software as a Service (SaaS): Customer uses the cloud provider’s applications/software via the network.

For example, a payroll processing company may run their management software on PaaS so they can share the resources of infrastructure with the platform already built in the cloud. An example of applications that run on SaaS are Gmail, GoToMeeting or WebEx.

These cloud computing tiers exist in different settings and different environments.

- Private cloud
- Public cloud
- Community cloud
- Hybrid cloud

Private cloud is an environment for one organization to provide IT services for its internal users. Public cloud is a multi-tenant environment where you can get server space hosted by an outside provider. It’s appealing because the provider is responsible for management and maintenance of the data center – a great option for small businesses that lack internal resources. Unlike Public cloud, Community cloud is where infrastructure is shared between several organizations from a specific community with common concerns or objectives. The combination of any of the cloud environments is called Hybrid cloud.

In each cloud model and environment, there are pros and cons, costs and security concerns. As with all new technology, new challenges arise, however, I’m confident they will improve as the technology evolves. Even if you are not interested in cloud computing and doing business in the cloud, we should all be aware of what is trending in online technology. It’s important to keep up with the way the world is moving, particularly when it comes to business.
#PSPinc #Blog #CloudComputing #CloudEnvironments #CloudModels #SmallBusiness #TheCloud

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What it Means to be 'In the Cloud'

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An Original Mainframe Compute... An Original Mainframe Computer
Photo Credit: computerhistory.org
Once upon a time, computing was limited to businesses with enough money to afford big, centralized machines known as “mainframes.” (See image above.)

Today, even our smart phones are more powerful than those big mainframe computers of yesterday. During the 20th century, with the evolution of personal computers and internet, we became empowered with quick access to information and faster processes. In the 21st century, smart phones and tablets revolutionized and mobilized our internet and computer access.

Now we’ve entered the age of “cloud computing,” which is “a type of Internet-based computing that provides shared computer processing resources and data to computers and other devices on demand,” according to wikipedia.org.

More simply, cloud computing means storing and filing data on the internet versus on your computer’s hard drive. So when you hear someone say a file or photo is “in the cloud,” they’re likely saying they’ve saved it within an online network that is connected to our computers and devices for easy information retrieval and file sharing – wherever you happen to be. By putting files in the cloud, you reduce the storage taken up on your hard drive and you gain the ability to pull up a document remotely from any device.

Before cloud computing became popular in business, we had to process information on our computers and on-site company servers. Many big companies like Amazon and Google have always needed big data centers with powerful computers. Technically, in the cloud those companies now have data centers, infrastructures, and computers connected to each other online.

Now that cloud computing is available, many content providers are moving into the cloud. For example, your accounting software might have been on a server in your office before cloud computing. Now software companies offer their solutions in the cloud so you don’t have to install it on the server in your office. In fact, they won’t charge you to purchase or download such software, but rather charge you a subscription fee instead, or charge based on your usage.

In the end, many businesses are now running in the cloud instead of owning the centralized servers and software. The benefit of being in the cloud is being able to use various applications and IT resources and have unlimited storage for files that are backed up and easier to share.
#PSPinc #Blog #CloudComputing #CloudTechnology #SmallBusiness #Internet

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