Private-vs.-Public-vs.-Hybrid-Cloud

2013 brought about even higher adoption of cloud based services across nearly every technology industry. From accounting software to streaming music to video conferencing and collaboration, the cloud has clearly come of age. What can be confusing about cloud-based services is the different ways they are deployed both internally and externally. The three types of cloud deployments are public clouds, private clouds and hybrid clouds. To help you understand the differences, here are the definitions and examples of the three types:

Public Cloud
Public Clouds provide services over the public Internet. These types of clouds provide access to a significant amount of shared resources and can more easily provide scalable capacity. As an example, if a website is having a special event and expects a spike in traffic, public clouds can be configured to provide that needed capacity at the right time and then be scaled back. Additionally, public clouds make it easy to collaborate with other people and organizations, as the service is accessible to all.

Examples of public cloud services included Salesforce.com (one of the first commercial available public cloud services) as well as IVCi’s own Cloud Video Experience (CVE).

Private Clouds
Private clouds provide services over a private network. In these deployments, organizations must make the investment in the infrastructure and technology, negating a significant portion of the cost savings associated with public cloud based services. Private clouds are preferred when organizations want complete control over security and customization.

Examples of private clouds include financial organizations that provide secure systems to their employees in order to maintain compliance with federal privacy regulations.

Hybrid Clouds
Hybrid clouds deliver services via a combination of public and private clouds. There are a number of reasons an organization would want to create an environment like this. For example, a company might want to leverage a public cloud service (in this case let’s use Rackspace’s Public Cloud Storage service as an example) for older archived data while building and maintaining a private cloud for more timely and current business data. A secure VPN connection could then be established to allow data to move from the internal cloud to the archive in the public cloud at the appropriate time.

The cloud has come of age, as has its ability to be molded to fit the particular needs of many different types of organization. While it can be somewhat confusing to understand all of the deployment models, one thing is for certain: the cloud has truly redefined the way technology is deployed and consumed.

This-week-in-collaboration

Welcome to our bi-weekly recap of the week’s best articles surrounding collaboration.

First Look: Why Banks Should Copy Amazon s Mayday Video Support

Financial institutions should take notice of Amazon’s video on-demand customer service feature and think about utilizing a similar service on their mobile and tablet applications. Giving customers the ability to speak to a customer service representative face-to-face from their mobile device or tablet could exponentially improve their users digital experience.  This could not only help customer service but also be further extended as a sales tool when branch personnel help with remote assistance to their customers.

Getting Great Audio in a Video Call

Video conferencing has helped to make communication an increasingly enriching experience. However, quality audio in a video call is an essential aspect that cannot be overlooked. Some of the important ways to get great audio include; good echo cancellation, a wide range of frequencies carried by a system, directional microphones, specialized signal processing, high quality speakers and an audio visual optimized room. Any effort to achieve better sound will quickly pay off with more productive and energetic meetings.

Virtualizing Video

Cisco announced it is virtualizing Videoscape, their leading immersive video solution, by putting it in to the cloud. It now is offering cloud software capabilities that can run on public and private clouds, enabling service providers to deploy new video applications on demand. They are also offering Videoscape Cloud Services functionality “as a service” using a unique consumption based model. Cisco Cloud Fusion for Videoscape ties all of the implementation options together. It allows SP’s to seamlessly integrate various models of deploying Videoscape to best support their business needs, maximizing return-on-investment.

A Third of Meetings Use Mobile

According to Blue Jeans Network’s bi-annual “State of the Modern Meeting” report, a 1/3 of all meetings now include a participant on a mobile device. Some other findings include that 71% of people believe they lost a deal due to the lack of face-to-face interaction and 6% admitted to falling asleep during an audio-only meeting. Using video conferencing has proven that visual collaboration is possible regardless of budget-cuts, holidays, bad weather, or geographic dispersion.

Collaboration Wanted; Employee Buy-In Required

Collaboration technology promises many benefits. These advanced solutions remove traditional communication barriers and make it easier to conduct business and speed up decision-making. These solutions can also provide travel savings and reduced office space necessary when implementing telework policies. However, to truly benefit from collaboration tools, end-user buy-in is critical. Because collaboration technology is designed to improve the way people interact, it is very personal. Due to this, users need to have a firm understanding of how the solution is going to meet their own unique needs.

2013 has been another great year for collaboration. A few trends that continue to be at the forefront of innovation include big data, SaaS, Mobility, Content, Social, and Telework. Below we will look back on some of these popular collaboration trends of 2013 and why they continue to help shape collaboration.

Domination of SaaS and the “Cloud”:
SaaS and the Cloud have continued to influence the IT industry this year. SaaS companies have continued to grow, and many providers of on-premise software and hardware options are now introducing SaaS solutions to both complement existing solutions and give alternative options in order to retain their customer base. The benefits of these SaaS solutions include no installation of hardware or software, faster release cycles, pay as you go usage and no maintenance costs. Another reason organizations are moving to cloud-based options is the ability to scale. This flexibility with cloud services allows organizations to purchase for their current usage, expand the solution as demand and usage increases, and add functionality as the business grows.

Mobility Wars:
BYOD is here, and it is not going anywhere. According to IDC, there will be 6-7 mobile devices to every PC by 2016. The challenge is no longer if you will support BYOD, but which devices will make up your BYOD strategy. The mobility war between mobile device manufacturers remains as well, and applications to make these devices more effective continue to expand at rapid rates. With that said, questions are now centered around vendor preference/combination, security, versions, scrubbing and customer data. No doubt, these concerns and decisions will be a main focus this coming year as mobility continues to dominate the forefront of technology and collaboration.

Collision of Video & Content:
Although most people think of video collaboration as only video calls, the ability to display, discuss and annotate content while conducting a video call is extremely important to achieving effective collaboration. Video collaboration and content collaboration have both been around for years as separate entities. This integration of the two has finally matured this year resulting in companies experiencing better collaboration, faster decisions, and ultimately, BETTER experiences!

Convenient Social Collaboration:
Social collaboration is about the casual interactions among colleagues, business partners and even customers that enable creativity and drive innovation. Creating both formal (video/web conferences) and informal (IM or quick video chat) collaboration sessions enables colleagues to brainstorm and make decisions in the most effective manner. Unified communication tools with presence makes it easy to tell when people are available and easily hop from email/IM to video chat. This quick and convenient connection increases interactions among colleagues, which in turn increases productivity and drives innovation.

The Year of the Video Start-Ups:
This year could be called the year of visual collaboration start-ups. Some noteworthy ones include Videxio, Pexip, & Acano. Pexip introduced a scalable software platform that provides personal meeting rooms for any number of users on video, voice, & mobile. Videxio, a subscription based, infrastructure as a service (IaaS) offering, makes large scale and rapid deployment of video conferencing both possible and easy. Acano brought us coSpaces; virtual meetings rooms where users can connect with any device or application they have with the added benefit of dedicated spaces for people to organize and exchange ideas by storing chat logs, content, and meeting notes. These companies continue to bring innovative solution to the visual collaboration world.

Big Data Boom:
Data continues to grow and based on IDC estimates, will continue to grow at 50% a year and more than double every two years. Companies continue to need to analyze large amounts of data streaming in, understand the voice of the customer in the social media world, and find better ways to create visual data in order to facilitate better and faster decision-making. The growth in big data has created a culture of data-driven analytics used to make key business decisions. Organizations have also been forced to take a closer look at data security and data privacy in order to address and prevent security threats. How organizations use data to gain competitive advantage continues to be a debate, however, the information gathered from handling and managing big data collaboratively is advantageous to any organization.

To Telework or Not to Telework? –  That is the question:
The telecommuting debate has emerged with a vengeance this year due to noteworthy announcements like Yahoo’s CEO Marissa Mayer discontinuing telework policies and the Federal Government’s  introduction of the Stay in Place Cut the waste initiative. Marissa Mayer’s controversial ban on telework centered around her belief that collaboration and communication are important in continuing to build the business and for that to happen effectively, people need to be working side by side. This new policy received harsh criticism ranging from anti-feminisms comments to the belief that Yahoo was moving backwards by removing the ability to telecommute. On the other end of the spectrum, the Stay in Place, Cut the Waste Act was introduced in July. This would require the government to develop a plan that reduces agency travel expenses by up to 50% by 2017 by implementing video conferencing technologies. By utilizing video conferencing, individuals can stay connected face-to-face without the need for expensive travel and loss of time. Other advocates for telecommuting argue that not only does productivity increase, but employees are also happier and achieve a better work/life balance when they have the option to work remotely. As research continues on both ends, the debate will remain.

Looking back at 2013 illustrates just how important collaboration has become. Organizations throughout the world have upgraded collaboration technologies to mission critical applications. The above trends tell a compelling story about the need to address not only the technological challenges of connecting people but also the social, psychological, and business issues involved in people working together. Ultimately, moving any business forward requires a keen eye on the power of people. In 2014, organizations who have not embraced those ideals will find themselves struggling to compete.

Cloud VIdeo Experience

Today IVCi is incredibly excited to reveal our newest service, Cloud Video Experience (CVE). This new offering is a subscription based, Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) offering that makes large scale and rapid deployment of video conferencing not only possible but extremely easy. CVE was built to address the key challenges organizations face with video conferencing implementations including:

1. Infrastructure – CVE provides cloud based infrastructure that supports video conferencing endpoint registration, the ability to assign a standard name to your video device (name@domain.com) as well as a global directory and B2B calling.

2. Scalability – All CVE devices and software clients are auto-configured with the click of a link in an email. There is no need to provision additional infrastructure or licenses, it all happens seamlessly.

3. Mobility – Personal Video Accounts, a key feature of CVE, allow users to easily video enable laptops, tablets, and smartphones with full video conferencing capability. These users are able to connect with other users seamlessly.

4. Interoperability – Virtual Meeting Rooms enable multiple users to meet in one “meeting space” in the cloud. These rooms support standard video conferencing systems as well as Microsoft Lync and WebRTC. And for those users who don’t have access to a device with a camera, the Virtual Meeting Rooms support standard audio dial-in.

Video conferencing continues to grow in usage and popularity and CVE is designed to make it easy for organizations of any size to experience the power of visual collaboration.

Here is some additional detail about CVE:

When it comes to understanding how collaboration services are delivered, there is much discussion surrounding cloud-based options versus on-premise and everything in between. The language used to describe the design of these services can be somewhat confusing and many of the terms are often used in the wrong way to make understanding them every more challenging!

Let’s start by discussing cloud services themselves.

What is a Cloud Service?

A cloud service is basically any service or resource that is delivered via the internet or other remote network. There are several classifications of cloud services, including:

  • Software as a Service (SaaS): These services deliver software applications to customers; think Salesforce.com (Customer Relationship Management) or NetSuite (ERP software). The customer is not required to purchase hardware or servers and generally pays for access to the software based on a monthly subscription.
  • Platform as a Service (PaaS): In PaaS, operating systems and other connected services are delivered without the need to download or install components. These types of solutions include things like Windows Azure and Amazon Web Services.
  • Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS): With IaaS, service providers purchase hardware (storage, services, bridges, etc.) and allow customers to utilize portions of the hardware on a monthly or pay-per-use basis.

The interesting thing about collaboration cloud services, and specifically video collaboration, is that the solutions offered are a mix of the different models mentioned above. In some cases, a service provider will offer access to hardware video conferencing bridges (MCUs), firewall traversal devices, and more for a monthly fee. In these cases, the provider has purchased the equipment and is maintaining it for multiple customers.

Other collaboration services are purely software that is then delivered via a SaaS model. Blue Jeans Network, for example, is entirely software based and delivered to customers throughout the world via their data centers. The hardware involved is off-the-shelf Intel based servers.

What is Virtualization?

When discussing cloud services, the topic of virtualization will almost always come up. Virtualization itself is not a cloud based service. Instead, virtualization technology enables service provides to deliver cloud services.

In a virtualized model, multiple instances of operating systems can sit on one physical server. Therefore, a provider can own one large-scale, hardware based server then effectively chop the computing power up into multiple instances that can then be delivered to customers. A software application must be designed to work with these virtual instances.

The real power of virtualization, however, is the ability to easily scale up or down based upon user needs. Since hardware resources are allocated via software, it is very easy to spin-up additional physical processing power and then have it immediately add to the power of a particular instance. This can even happen automatically. If a virtualized application detects the need for additional power, it can call for additional processor power to be allocated.

How does this translate into a real world situation? If an organization is having a special video event and requires access for 20 additional users who don’t normally connect, the needed processor power can be added, the application will dynamically adjust, and the meeting can go off without a hitch. When the event is over, the added processing power can just be turned off.

Cloud services and computing are the biggest trend in technology and collaboration services. Understanding the differences in the ways the services are delivered and what technology is involved can help make the evaluation process a little bit easier.