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November 27, 2013

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Thanksgiving and Hanukkah Greetings from ICG!


November 26, 2013

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Cloud Computing for SMBs: Understanding IaaS

Most small-to-midsize business owners are aware of cloud computing and recognize the business benefits. However, many SMBs have a limited understanding of the models for delivering cloud computing solutions. The most straightforward and fastest-growing cloud computing delivery model is Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS).

What is IaaS?

IaaS is the virtual delivery of IT infrastructure to an organization by a service provider, who is responsible for purchasing, managing and maintaining the technology. Essentially, the organization outsources IT equipment, including hardware, servers, networking, storage and other computing resources, rather than buying, installing and configuring this technology in-house. In an IaaS model, the organization can run any necessary software on this equipment and typically maintains control of operating systems and applications.

What are the pros and cons of IaaS?

The most appealing benefit of IaaS to budget-conscious SMBs is the cost. There is no upfront capital expense and no need to hire and train in-house IT personnel. Cloud computing can be extremely cost-efficient because you pay only for what you need. The cost for powering and cooling an in-house datacenter is also dramatically reduced.

A service provider can offer access to enterprise-class equipment and security solutions that are constantly monitored by the provider’s IT team. This leads to better network reliability and performance, which in turn leads to improved employee productivity. Additional resources can be quickly allocated and deployed, making it easy to scale as the organization grows without purchasing new equipment or expanding the IT department.

The cons of IaaS are centered on third-party control of corporate data. Organizations need a reliable, internet connection to access data and should provide a backup connection in case of an outage. Because data is no longer kept in-house, you also must rely upon the service provider to store and secure sensitive information. While security is improved with an IaaS model, onsite security still must be addressed, especially in a bring-your-own-device, or BYOD, environment.

Why is it important to partner with a local technology provider?

While IaaS is typically a turnkey solution, the implementation of cloud computing involves more than flipping a switch. You need to know how much of your existing IT infrastructure can be leveraged to keep costs down. You need to trust your provider to prevent data loss, corruption and security breaches. You need to know that your network performance and reliability won’t be compromised. You should be able to see exactly how an IaaS solution will affect your bottom line.

A local provider can visit your place of business, sit down with you face-to-face, and address each of these concerns. In fact, a recent study revealed that 82 percent of SMBs believe it’s critical or important for a provider of cloud computing services to have a local presence.

ICG specializes in bringing the benefits of cloud computing to SMBs. Let us help you determine if IaaS is right for your organization and implement a solution that lowers costs and improves how you do business.

November 22, 2013

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Cloud Computing for SMBs: Avoiding Pitfalls and Maximizing Benefits


According to the 2013 Small Business Technology Survey from the National Small Business Association, small to midsize businesses (SMBs) are embracing cloud computing and mobility while recognizing the business value that new technology brings to their organizations. The survey of small business owners revealed:

  • 43 percent use cloud computing vs. five percent in 2010.
  • 74 percent use smartphones vs. 57 percent in 2010.
  • 41 percent use tablets, which first hit the market in 2010 with the release of the iPad.
  • 97 percent believe their organization’s success is tied to keeping up with the latest technology.

SMBs are moving to the cloud because it represents a practical, commonsense business solution. Rather than building and managing an in-house IT infrastructure, you can use a service provider’s enterprise-class hardware, software, applications and tools, which most SMBs would never be able to afford. Cloud computing allows you to leverage the provider’s investments in the latest technology instead of buying it yourself.

IT provisioning and management become the responsibility of the service provider, who has the expertise and resources to ensure optimal network performance, availability and security. Essentially, a cloud computing model removes the burden of owning and maintaining an IT infrastructure so you can focus on running your business. Buy the services you need and scale up or down according to your business requirements.

While you devote your time to strategic business initiatives, your service provider will monitor your network, make all necessary hardware and software upgrades, seamlessly deploy new applications and services, and guard against security threats and data loss.

Even if disaster strikes, your data and applications will be protected and accessible thanks to the provider’s data backup and disaster recovery planning. The state-of-the-art data center where the provider hosts your data and applications will have redundant and backup power and redundant Internet connectivity to protect against downtime.

Despite the proven business advantages of cloud computing, you don’t want to simply move everything to the cloud and assume all of your problems will be solved immediately. Cloud computing requires a strategic approach that will optimize IT resources and enhance business processes.

Many IT functions can be seamlessly migrated to the cloud and will perform very well. These include email and email security, collaboration and conferencing tools, telephone systems, Internet and video hosting, customer relationship management (CRM), and data backup and disaster recovery.

On the other hand, certain applications are best kept in-house. Core business applications that demand the highest levels of performance can be accessed more quickly through your local network than the internet. There’s no reason to move legacy or custom applications that you don’t plan to update, or industry-specific applications that are only compatible with certain technology.

Let ICG assess your existing IT infrastructure to determine if your company is cloud-ready and help you develop a cloud computing strategy that reduces costs, boosts performance and improves security.

November 5, 2013

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Welcome to the ICG Blog!

Things have sure changed over the past 35 years. Back in 1977, when ICG opened its doors, a new novelty — the “personal computer” — had just been introduced. Today we all carry much more powerful computers in our pockets, and can access our applications and data from virtually anywhere. Getting from then to now has been an interesting journey.

Of course, some things never change. At ICG, we have remained steady in our commitment to developing deep, long-lasting relationships with our customers by focusing on each customer’s unique business needs. Now, by launching the ICG blog, we are offering a new forum to chat about some of the technology trends that are impacting your business, and provide a medium through which you can ask questions and share your challenges and successes.