What is the Cloud?

The Cloud, or Cloud Computing, is the delivery of services over a network.  A cloud symbol was traditionally used to represent a complex or unknown network, most typically the Internet, and so services delivered over these became known as cloud services or cloud computing.  These services can take many forms, both commercial and free – although nothing is truly free, most are supported by ads, links or looking for ways to monetise their services.

More recently we’ve seen a split into ‘Private Cloud’ and ‘Public Cloud’.  Services in a ‘Private Cloud’ are run and available only to you or your company, but are being delivered from a central point over a network.  Examples of this might be you corporate email service or company intranet, and these can be hosted within your network or contracted and supplied over the Internet exclusively for your use.  Services in the ‘Public Cloud’ are shared by and open to everyone, generally over the Internet.

You may also see some acronyms use for cloud services, the most common of these is SaaS, which stands for Software as a Service, and include services such as email, office applications, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems and games.  Other acronyms use are Platform as a Services (PaaS), which includes web servers, database servers and other computing platforms, and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) where you rent a whole machine or server over the internet, most commonly a virtual machine.

Some examples of common public cloud, SaaS services are listed below, some you are very likely to be using already and others you might like to explore.

Social

Social networking sites some of the most popular examples of cloud services :

Email

There are many different cloud based email offerings :

Storage

Cloud based storage solutions, used for temporary storage, synchronisation between computers and backup :

  • Dropbox – an online storage and synchronisation tool, good for access to documents anywhere.
  • Microsoft Skydrive, Google Drive – storage and synchronisation with some inbuilt viewers.
  • Cloud Backup –call us with your requirements and we’ll give the best match.

Picture and Video Storage, Display and Sharing

This is a very full area, below are the dominant players :

There are many others within these categories, and even more outside, for example web hosting, eCommerce, DNS, authentication and chat/telephony services.  If you have any requirements on these or others, or would like support or services on any of those mentioned please get in touch on 0845 8622 353 or email info@bluecompassit.com.

By Laurie Calverley

What is a Managed Service Provider?

A Managed Service Provider (MSP) working in the IT Support and Services arena like Blue Compass IT is a company that provides you with the full support for your Information Technology (IT) systems under an ongoing contract, effectively outsourcing the support of a your IT systems to the MSP. This goes beyond the ‘break-fix’ calls, where you wait for something to go wrong or an issue to crop up before calling someone in, although that is a service we offer as well.

A MSP will monitor your systems, servers, workstations and network, gathering information and building up a picture of how you work to allow them to pro-actively diagnose and fix issues, sometimes even before you know they are happening or have a chance to affect the running of your business.

There are different levels of service offered, all should have a monitoring and reporting component but vary in response times and requirements. For example Blue Compass IT offer a Bronze, Silver and Gold level contracts which include different mixes of support, response times and reporting on your IT infrastructure to meet your needs. These can include service requests (e.g. application installations, configuration changes, PC moves), Firewall, Anti-Virus and Application management, Workstation and Server Patching, Software and Hardware Asset Registers and Licensing, and many more options as can be seen on our Price and Service Structure Page.

The advantage of using a Managed Service Provider is that they have in-depth knowledge of systems, solutions and infrastructures gained over many years, along with a view over many different clients to allow them to see common or developing issues and resolve these for each client much quicker. They also have relationships with manufacturers, for example Blue Compass IT are Microsoft Partners, to give them faster access to support and advanced knowledge and use of new technologies to better support and advise you.

A good MSP should also become a trusted adviser to your business, just as an internal member of IT staff or IT Manager would be, helping and advising you on your future strategy for your IT needs to help you better forecast and budget for any costs, requirements or technology changes that may be coming up.

At Blue Compass IT we also believe it is important to use industry standard methods, for example the ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library) standard for Service Management or PRINCE2 (Projects In Controlled Environment) standard for Project Management to give you the confidence everything is being done in the best way possible to give you a fast response and smooth resolution to any issues or requests you may have.

If you would like to discuss your requirements or receive a quote please contact us on 0845 8622 353 or email info@bluecompassit.com

By Laurie Calverley