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Improving Cooling Efficiency in Small Data Centers

  • Data Centers
  • Hardware

Ice Cold

Typically when people talk about data center efficiency, the primary point of focus is underutilization. However, cooling also uses huge amounts of power – sometimes as much as half the bill. By focusing on power use, companies can become much more efficient.

  • Underutilization
  • Cooling Inefficiency #1 – Redundancies
  • Cooling Inefficiency #2 – Hot Spots
  • A Shift in Focus

Underutilization

Much of the discussion about data center efficiency has to do with servers not being optimally utilized. For instance, a 2012 New York Times piece looked at the abysmal utilization rates of servers and estimated generator exhaust emissions. A Stanford report published in 2015 thoroughly assessed the issue of underutilization, finding that data centers are often incredibly inefficient with their equipment. In fact, Stanford estimated that $30 billion worth of servers, the equivalent of 10 million of them, were going unused at any given time.

Underutilization is not the only data center efficiency or sustainability issue though. Another way in which hosting facilities often don’t make the best use of resources is cooling. Cooling typically accounts for a huge portion of power use – up to 50%.

Massive enterprises such as Microsoft or Facebook will often adopt incredibly efficient tactics, generating publicity. However, the major tech giants are a relatively small piece of the whole.

RELATED: For instance, Superb Internet’s core network and backbone connectivity consists of 11 core network sites, located in five different states, with three SSAE 16 audited data centers from coast to coast. Learn more.

Data centers at colleges, SMBs, and local governments also must be concerned with efficiency. The data centers at smaller organizations are where most of the servers are located and the majority of power is used, notes Yevgeniy Sverdlik of Data Center Knowledge. “And they are usually the ones with inefficient cooling systems,” he adds, “either because the teams running them don’t have the resources for costly and lengthy infrastructure upgrades, or because those teams never see the energy bill and don’t feel the pressure to reduce energy consumption.”

Data center architects Future Resource Engineering determined a series of conservation steps they could take in 40 data centers that were between 5000 and 95,000 square feet. With cooling as the primary point of focus, the firm was able to reduce power use by 24 million kWh.

The main issue is simply that companies are overdoing it with cooling. Companies are aware they are cooling excessively, explains Future Resource engineering director Tim Hirschenhofer. “A lot of customers definitely understand that they overcool,” he says. “They know what they should be doing, but they don’t have the time or the resources to make the improvements.”

Cooling Inefficiency #1 – Redundancies

Why does overcooling take place? There are two basic reasons: hot spots and redundancy. If you improve the air management, you won’t really have to worry about either issue, according to Lawrence Berkeley National Lab tech manager Magnus Herrlin.

Since reliability is typically the top priority for businesses (rather than efficiency/sustainability), data centers will often have redundant cooling that is running all the time at 100% power. That’s unnecessary. By setting up mechanisms to monitor cooling and by gauging your real day-to-day demand, you can put redundant machines on standby and switch them on automatically when the load rises or when the main cooling system goes down.

Many small data centers do not have systems that allow them to manage air in the most efficient possible ways. Air management basically isn’t something that’s in place in these situations. Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, which is under the auspices of the Department of Energy, is committed to helping small data centers become as efficient with cooling as possible.

Cooling Inefficiency #2 – Hot Spots

Hot spots are also often overcome with overcooling, but that is not an efficient strategy at all. Basically, hot spots occur when certain machine are particularly hot, so the infrastructure team pours in ample cooling to bring those servers down to a safe temperature. The result is that the general temperature in the facility is excessively low.

An additional issue is that cold and hot air often aren’t kept apart sufficiently. If you aren’t controlling the air reasonably and moving it properly, you end up with hot exhaust air warming the air that’s used for cooling. Then you have to cool additionally. The cooling system itself will also sometimes pull in a combination of hot air and its own cooled air, rather than directing all the cold air to the server’s air intake.

A Shift in Focus

As noted above, Silicon Valley companies often have extraordinarily complex cooling capabilities. However, the household names in technology “don’t represent the bulk of the energy consumed in data centers,” says Herrlin. “That is done in much smaller data centers.”

Leonard Marx, who handles business development for the sustainability-focused engineering company Clearesult, says that data centers are generally not very efficient. Usually the people who work directly with the servers aren’t incentivized to lower the power cost, so it stays high.

The top concern of those who manage data centers is to make the system as reliable as possible. The problem is that when these facilities build in redundancies for reliability, inefficiency naturally results.  If the infrastructure is reliable, even if it using way too much power, you typically won’t become more efficient if the data center manager has no immediate and compelling reason to make a change. “Without changes that divert more attention in the organization to data center energy consumption, the problem of energy waste in the industry overall will persist,” says Herrlin, “regardless of how efficient the next Facebook data center is.”

Google reviews = more sales (and how to get them) – Part 2

  • Business Talk

Yesterday, we covered registering our .reviews domain name and setting up our hosting account so we can build our ‘Reviews Engine’.

If you need to take care of those, you can read the article here for complete instructions: http://www.superb.net/blog/google-reviews-more-sales-and-how-to-get-them-part-1

I’m going to assume you have taken care of both and all we need to do now is build the website.

Please don’t get overwhelmed. I’ll walk you through step-by-step so you can see exactly how to build this website.

All told, you maybe will spend an hour or two building this. The installation takes most of the time… while editing the templates is super easy to do.

Let’s start by installing WordPress…

Step 3: Install WordPress

The main engine behind the scenes is WordPress.

WordPress makes everything work…it creates the website we will use to let customers post reviews and read reviews. In turn, this website will be submitted to Google for indexing.

I’ve created a demo site to show you how to setup WordPress.

So let’s start building the website… first, you will need WordPress in order to use the review system I am recommending.

You will also need a basic template and a plugin that will handle reviews that are ‘Rich Snippets’ friendly.

First, install WordPress.

The myCP portal (https://mycp.superb.net/index.php) makes this incredibly easy:

superbblog-2-1

Click the ‘One-Click Install’ link. Then click ‘Configure WordPress’.

superbblog-2-2

Very simple.

Now, let’s move on to the template you need. WordPress comes with pre-configured templates so you don’t need to spend a penny.

However, they aren’t great aesthetically. Let’s work on our template now.

Step 4: Install WordPress Template

Next, install a template that you like. Here are a few good free ones I have located for you:

https://wordpress.org/themes/auberge
http://justfreethemes.com/italian-restaurant
http://justfreethemes.com/demo?theme=Italian%20Restaurant

Alternatively, you can go the paid route which includes everything you need for your Review Engine.

Here’s the one I used to create the demo site for you: http://restaurant-sample.reviews

And here’s the Theme Author page so you can see how versatile this template truly is: http://theme.co/x/

This is a very versatile theme… that comes with a lot of pre-built site designs. Installing a restaurant, church, and many other sites. It really is as simple as changing the logo and the text on the templates.

Further, the template comes with a point-and-click website builder. You can drag things around and click on text boxes to update.

The cost was just $64. Compare that to a web designer who is going to charge at least $2000 for a similar result.

Again, this is very easy… as easy as using a word processor. It may take you an hour to learn how to use the web building tool and WordPress. The advantage is being able to edit this site at any time, easily.

Of course, if you need help installing a theme – don’t hesitate to contact the support gurus at Superb Internet. In fact, I needed some help getting a few things taken care of. I opened a ticket and was on my way in just a few minutes.

Now, here’s the secret sauce… the reviews plugin.

Step 5: Install Reviews WordPress Plugin

To qualify for Google’s Rich Snippets (https://developers.google.com/structured- data/rich-snippets) inclusion, your plugin must follow Google’s structured data that is relevant to your type and content.

Your plugin should adhere to the Google standards so that the algorithm will index and understand the content.

Here’s one that is highly rated from WordPress.org: http://plugins.nuancedmedia.com/wordpress-reviews-plugin

I used this on the demo site at http://restaurant-sample.reviews

Here’s a look at the control panel where you can manage the reviews:

superbblog-2-3

Once you have downloaded the plugin, installed and activated it inside WordPress, you just need to add a page where the reviews will be listed.

Step 6: Create Your Reviews Page

You’ll go inside WordPress and create a new ‘page’. In the content area, you’ll add the smart code you need and save the page. That’s it.

Here’s what that looks like on the new ‘page’ I created:

superbblog-2-4

Now, we just need to make the reviews pop on our home page.

Depending on your template, you may need to edit your new reviews page from the visual editor for that template.

Next, we need to set the reviews page so it is the first page on our website (home page).

Let’s do that now…

Step 7: Set Reviews Page as Home Page

This will make your reviews page the first thing visitors see… which is what you want.

The way we are setting up the website – we are positioning to deliver and receive reviews for our business – in the format Google prefers for indexing.

Go to the ‘Settings’ column on the left-hand pane of your WordPress section.

Click ‘Reading’. From here, you’ll select your new Reviews page you created as the home page.

superbblog-2-5

Now test this by going to your main domain URL. In our case, we are using: http://restaurant-sample.reviews

The home page now shows the reviews as well as a review form.

Perfect… now we need to make sure Google can read these reviews properly. Let’s take care of that now…

Step 8: Add Test Reviews and Test Integration

Go to the left-hand pane of WordPress and click ‘Rich Reviews’. Then click ‘Add New Review':

superbblog-2-6

From here, you’ll be able to add a test review. Click submit once you have entered all of the required fields:

superbblog-2-7

Now, that gives us enough information to test our integration.

Test your integration here:

Find the URL where your reviews are listed (on the page you created and inserted the shortcode on):

For me, I used the main URL for http://restaurant-sample.reviews to list my reviews.

You can go below and enter your URL to test your feed: https://search.google.com/structured-data/testing-tool

Here are the results from my test for http://restaurant-sample.reviews

superbblog-2-9

There were no errors and it clearly listed all 9 reviews.

Success!

Now, we need to print business cards, make flyers, add notes to receipts, and tell our servers to let customers know about the reviews site and how it will help us.

Most people are good natured and want you to succeed… especially if they love your service.

The more reviews you can get, the better!

Chris

PS. Please leave a comment and let me know what you think of this series… or if you have a question! I would love to help you.

Google reviews = more sales (and how to get them) – Part 1

  • Business Talk

A better search ranking on Google almost always means more sales…

… if your online or local business has good reviews.

While it is true that you will get more visitors with a higher search ranking, this does not always equal more sales.

Consumers in today’s world understand how to use the Internet. Basically, consumers do their homework. The ease of Internet search makes it easy for any one to post a review of your business.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen someone at a store Googling and comparing prices or reading reviews of a product. Consumers are smart and search the web for reviews. They don’t want to make a mistake.

While most of these reviews are good, some are going to be downright unfair.

I know…I’ve had my fair share of bad reviews on books I’ve written. The reviews were baseless (the people didn’t even read the books or put the advice into action).

That’s just the way it goes sometimes, but it doesn’t mean you have to give up control on what is presented for your business on the web.

What reviews would you rather potential customers read?

For example, authors do not have any control over reviews for books listed on Amazon. Sure, they are allowed to respond… but the most ridiculous review will still be published. Even unfair ones.

The best way to control your reviews is to own the ‘Review Engine’ and encourage happy customers to use this engine. I’ll give you a simple strategy to ‘stack the deck’ in your favor later.

Now, I’m not advocating that you delete bad reviews… I would suggest you respond to those clearly and calmly.

These make for good interaction and prove your business is the real deal. Of course, if you get someone who is totally baseless and just wants to smear your name, feel free to remove them. I’ve actually read articles where businesses were targeted by trolls and smear campaigns… and while this is uncommon – it does happen.

And who knows…you might be able to turn an unhappy customer into a happy customer and earn their repeat business. You can showcase how good you are at handling customer issues and making them happy. This is quite powerful to shoppers reading reviews.

So how do you ‘stack the deck’ in your favor?

Create your own review website.

Creating your own review site allows you to optimize it based on Google’s suggestions. This also allows you to interact easier with happy and unhappy customers.

What I am advocating is a separate domain from your main website. This second domain will support your main website. This is rather easy to setup and I’ll cover the basics in this series.

In addition, I’m encouraging you to open up reviews on your main website if you do not currently.

A 2-for-1 punch here.

Google values reviews and uses reviews to boost your rankings in their search.

By stacking the deck with a lot of reviews for your business, the better your odds of owning page 1 on the Google search for your local business.

Keep in mind, these are REAL REVIEWS. Totally white hat. DO NOT POST FAKE REVIEWS.

Here’s an example of how Google displays reviews for restaurants:

superbblog-1-1

Looks pretty good, and the 4.5 rating is the average of the 56 reviews above. I’ll show you how to setup your website later on how to deliver this information to Google using ‘Rich Snippets’.

But first, we need a platform that not only delivers these reviews to Google in the proper format (Rich Snippets) – but also collects reviews from your customers. The more reviews the better.

How to setup your own review site

The great thing is that Superb Internet makes building your own ‘Review Engine’ easy.

You need:

  1. Domain Name (get that here: https://registrar.superb.net)
  2. Webhosting (get that here: http://www.superb.net/web-hosting/web-hosting-plans)
  3. WordPress
  4. Rich Snippets Plug-in for WordPress

I suggest setting up a brand new .reviews website that compliments your existing website.

The advantage of setting up a separate .reviews website is that you can offer customers an easy to remember URL where they can review your business.

To get reviews, I’ve seen quite a few places that offer a chance to win a gift certificate for taking a survey…you could do the same for posting a review.

Reviews are the lifeblood of restaurants, hotels, mechanics, and practically everything on the web including physical products.

The goal here is to build credible reviews so Google places those stars by your business name… one that is easy to find by customers and with a memorable URL.

So let’s get started by first registering a .reviews domain.

Step 1: Register a .reviews Domain

The first thing you need to stack the deck in your favor for Google rankings is register a new domain name. This is in addition to your .com, .net or existing domain extension. This is used to create more review content of your business for Google.

.reviews is the new domain extension I recommend for your new Review Engine.

If you don’t want a second website, you can purchase the .reviews domain for your business and have Superb Internet ‘map’ it to your existing website. This makes it easy for customers to remember.

Go here to lock down your .reviews domain name -> https://registrar.superb.net

In fact, Superb Internet now offers over 400 brand new domain extensions you can search from the above link.

The new .reviews domain will only set you back $19.99 for a full year. You can also get .review as a domain extension for $25.99 for a year.

If you’re a current customers, register your domain by logging into your myCP portal (https://mycp.superb.net/index.php) and hoverover ‘Domains’ and then click  ‘Register Domain’.

superbblog-1-2

Select your domain name choice and the .reviews extension.

YOURCOMPANYNAME.reviews

The .reviews extension is important because it tells what it is about in the domain name itself. While this may not be factored in by Google (I have to think it carries some importance).

Currently, here’s what most Google search results look like:

superbblog-1-3

The above is an example of a page that has ‘restaurant reviews’. We are aiming to have our restaurant name AND reviews in the URL: http://restaurant-sample.reviews

This means if we place reviews content on the home page – we have an excellent chance at a good ranking with Google as long as we use their recommended Rich Snippets format.

Having ‘reviews’ in the domain name will help potential customers attention searching for reviews about your business. This will hit home with them because this is the exact information they are looking for. Your restaurant name AND reviews in the same URL.

In a nutshell, your target will be reading a review site that you control and delivering exactly the information they searched for.

Let’s move on, assuming you have the .reviews domain and let’s start to build the ‘Review Engine’.

Step 2: Setup Hosting

If you already have hosting with Superb Internet, you just need to add a new domain using step 1 above. Superb Internet offers great plans and you can host multiple domains (even with the $4.99/month GridLITE package).

Essentially, with the GridLITE and above package, you are able to add a few more websites (11 in GridLITE, 50 in GridPRO, and UNLIMITED in GridMAX)… for no additional cost per month.

If you need hosting, just go here and find the package that best suits your needs: http://www.superb.net/web-hosting/web-hosting-plans

Now that we’ve registered our .reviews domain and hosting is dealt with, let’s move onto the engine itself.

We’ll build the site in tomorrow’s article. See you tomorrow!

Chris

Arizona Goes Aggressively Cloud-First with State Computing

  • Cloud
  • General

Arizona

A bill that the Arizona governor is expected to sign in the next few days will make transitioning to cloud systems a major state priority.

  • Cloud First in Federal IT
  • Arizona May Head for the Cloud
  • Business speed

Arizona has decided to prioritize cloud computing. Without getting into the politics, let’s look at how “Cloud First” has been a prominent notion in government for years. Then we’ll review the particular case of Arizona.

Cloud First in Federal IT

In 2010, the United States government, through the Office of Management and Budget, released 25 directives to improve the management of federal IT. One of the most important points was a new position that required a “cloud first” policy toward any computing adoption. Vivek Kundra, the federal CIO, included the policy toward cloud along with other ideas to streamline government technology in an address on December 9.

The gains the government could see from cloud are massive, said Kundra. For instance, he mentioned that agencies would be able to provision services immediately and sometimes could cut costs in half.

RELATED: It’s true that cloud has generally strong attributes, but it’s important to choose the right cloud provider – since there is significant variation. At Superb Internet, our cloud hosting plans go beyond the competition with distributed rather than centralized storage (for no single point of failure) and InfiniBand rather than 10 GigE (for tens of times lower latency).  

As for the federal government, some agencies had already started the cloud transition when the “cloud first” policy was announced. The General Service Administration had Web-based email in place that was patterned after Gmail, according to Government Technology. “The GSA is the first federal agency to make the Internet switch, and its decision follows the Office of Management and Budget’s declaration last month that the government is now operating under a ‘cloud-first’ policy,” reported the Washington Post, “meaning agencies must give priority to Web-based applications and services.”

There were several items on Kundra’s list that were specific requirements.  The chief technologist of each agency had to pick out three of its systems that it would be switching from traditional to cloud computing. One of those systems had to be moved to cloud within a year, while you could take up to 18 months to migrate the remaining two.

Now keep in mind, that policy was released in 2010. Still, though, many government systems at the federal level are still on their legacy equipment. That’s true with many state IT services as well. In Arizona, that’s about to change (if this bill is signed by the governor as expected).

Arizona May Head for the Cloud

The legislature in Arizona passed State Bill 1434 (SB 1434). It is currently sitting on Governor Doug Ducey’s desk. The bill mandates that state offices would switch everything over to cloud. In essence, it’s very similar to Kundra’s rules, as described in StateTech.

“The department shall adopt a policy that establishes a two-year hardware, platform and software refresh evaluation cycle for budget units,” the bill reads, “that requires each budget unit to evaluate and progressively migrate the budget unit’s information technology assets to use a commercial cloud computing model or cloud model as defined by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.”

Furthermore, says the bill, cloud systems should be evaluated every time any agency is getting ready to deploy a new system.

It’s a strong move to require that agencies basically explain themselves on any systems that aren’t in the cloud every two years, says Ricky Ribeiro of StateTech. The decisiveness of this action, assuming its signed, would effectively put Arizona in a leading position in terms of cloud adoption.

Business Speed

This law is very committed to cloud obviously. Why? According to the state’s CIO, Morgan Reed, Arizona is trying to become as adaptive and efficient as businesses are. Reed notes that companies have been taking advantage of cloud services to access environments that we trust and use every day. “Government needs the same benefits that the cloud provides to the private sector,” he says. “agility, scalability and reliability, as well as an operational expense model that allows us to only pay for what we are using every month.”

Notably, Reed came to government from the private sector. He was the head of infrastructure at Expedia prior to becoming the Arizona CIO.  He has been promoting cloud adoption in part because he has seen the positive impact it had at his previous employer.

Both companies and governments switch to cloud because it’s affordable, fast, and improves productivity. Those positives allow the government to center itself on providing services rather than managing infrastructure, notes Reed.

“IT is woven into the business processes of the state,” he says, “so including cloud in our IT strategy will free the state to focus on our core competencies of managing applications and delivering services.” He thinks the total cost of ownership of systems will be reduced and that it will be easier to quickly meet the needs of the public. Plus, it will make it easier for people to work together, he says, and for different agencies to be able to more easily access shared datasets.

Regardless of your perspective on this particular bill, the situation in Arizona is one example of a “cloud first” policy moving forward at the state level.

Smart Tactics to Reuse Your Data Center’s Waste Heat

  • Business Talk
  • Data Centers

Heat

Many companies want to figure out ways to turn their waste heat into a positive. After all, data centers produce it in the normal course of operation. Figuring out how to turn it into a sustainability initiative can increase job satisfaction, provide opportunities for press, and even build your bottom line. Here are a few tips on how to reuse your waste energy wisely.

  • Transforming Energy Isn’t All Bad
  • It’s Getting Hot in Here
  • Collaboration with Power Plants

At Superb Internet, we are always looking toward the future in planning our business, and part of that forward-thinking focus includes addressing the growing concerns of climate change. Conservation is both our responsibility as a business and a way that we embrace efficiency for cost reductions that we pass on to our clients.

One innovation we’ve adopted is floor-mounted air conditioners with electronically commutated (EC) plug fans. They reduce energy use 30%, as described here.

Sustainability isn’t just about reducing waste, though. It’s also about using waste wisely. Let’s look at how waste heat can smartly be used by your data center.

Transforming Energy Isn’t All Bad

Data centers around the world essentially serve as energy transformation facilities. They take in electric power, cause electrons to spin, and perform tasks. Almost all of the electricity – 98% – is released as heat energy. It’s similar to being the exact reverse of a wind turbine or hydroelectric dam that takes the kinetic energy of rushing water and turns it into affordable, portable power to be used in distant cities.

It’s possible, though, that data centers don’t have to be the opposite of a power plant or other energy generator. Energy transformation isn’t essentially negative. Sustainability expert and author William McDonough trains organizations on how to look at their process waste as something not just to limit but to reuse. Waste is a form of nourishment, either for the earth or for industry, he says. “We manufacture products that go from cradle to grave. We want to manufacture them from cradle to cradle.”

It’s possible to use this same line of thinking for pairing of facilities. Data centers could work in conjunction with facilities that use heat, such as local energy systems, so that waste isn’t just released but utilized to its full capacity.

The idea of reusing waste heat is not new. There are many situations worldwide in which data centers are partnering with nearby companies to use that heat that would otherwise be waste.

For instance, one corporation in Switzerland started reusing its heat to warm a public pool. A couple of firms in Finland offload their heat energy to local homes, which provides enough power for the annual needs of 500-1000 families. This reusing of heat, in some form or another, has been accomplished in the United States, the UK, and Canada as well.

It’s Getting Hot in Here

A couple major obstacles hold back these heat-reuse projects. First, heat waste isn’t at an exceptionally high temperature. It also is difficult to get from place to place – which is why many projects send the energy to a pool or greenhouse that’s directly adjacent.

Data center return air is typically not extraordinarily hot, usually about 80-95 degrees Fahrenheit. Transporting it means that you need insulated ducts or pipes rather than low-cost electrical cables, explains Mark Monroe in Data Center Knowledge. “Trenching and installation to run a hot water pipe from a data center to a heat user may cost as much as $600 per linear foot,” he says. “Just the piping to share heat with a facility one-quarter mile away might add $750,000 or more to a data center construction project.” Right now, it isn’t easy to get those costs down.

In order to get the temperature higher so that the waste heat is worth more, data centers have started using heat pumps to boost the temperature. If it comes out in the range of 130-160 degrees, it can then be transported as a liquid for use in local heating, manufacturing, laundromats, or various other applications. You can get specialized heat pumps that increase the temperature even more.

You want a heat pump with a Coefficient of Performance (COP) between 3 and 6. It’s affordable. If you use heat pumps with COPs of 5.0, and your power costs $0.10 per kWh, you should be able to get the low-grade heat up to a valuable level for $0.0083 per kWh.

Your waste heat could make you money. Steam heat is generated by Con Edison at $0.07 per kWh. “For a 1.2MW data centers that sells all of its waste heat, that could translate into more than $350,000… per year,” says Monroe. “That may be as much as 14% of the annual gross rental income from a data center that size, with very high profit margins.”

Collaboration with Power Plants

It’s an interesting possibility to consider the idea of combining a data center and a power plant so that waste heat can be reused easily and immediately. A couple basic arguments for this type of arrangement are:

  1. 8-10% of power is lost in transmission throughout the US. Building data centers next to power plants would mean the data center doesn’t experience that reduction in energy or the cost of getting it to their facility.
  2. “[A] co-located data center could transfer heat pump-boosted thermal energy back to the power plant for use in the feed water heater or low-pressure turbine stages,” explains Monroe, “creating a neat closed-loop system.”

Working with a power plant is of course just one idea. When you look for a way to make the most of your waste heat, consider businesses or other projects that would benefit from the heat throughout the year. Also, be certain to choose heat pumps that are efficient and designed for high temperatures to make your heat energy as valuable as possible.

Consultant: Cloud and Mobile Are Central to Innovation

  • Cloud

Cloud Capable Devices

Bob Egan, founder of Sepharim Research Group, says that mobile cloud is a wise choice for business investment. It enhances your staff’s ability to perform their jobs and allows you to dominate your market by targeting your competitors’ weaknesses.

  • Interconnected Technologies
  • Why IT Decision-Makers Should Embrace Cloud
  • Mobile Cloud is about ROI, Not Savings
  • The Key to Tesla’s Success
  • Using Mobile Cloud to Attract New Business

Interconnected Technologies

As two key components of computing’s third platform, cloud computing and mobile devices are growing and improving hand-in-hand. Cloud’s ultra-fast storage and delivery of data has greatly expanded the possibilities with tablets, phones, and e-readers. In turn, the need for mobile-friendly technology has increased the use of cloud computing.

These dual, integrally connected tools make digital life more fluid and adaptable, both for companies and for consumers. If you want to consider the full impact of cloud and mobile, it’s important not to think in terms of the raw technology but instead in terms of what your business will be able to achieve if you embrace them to a greater extent.

Bob Egan, who is the founder and chief research officer at Sepharim Research Group, believes that the third platform is critical so that businesses aren’t outperformed by rival businesses. He also thinks that companies sometimes hesitate to fully adopt use of mobile devices; instead, they should be facilitating their broader implementation among all users.

Below are a few of Egan’s thoughts:

RELATED: It’s important when you adopt cloud to make sure the provider you choose is using the most advanced approaches with their infrastructure. At Superb Internet, our storage is distributed rather than centralized, so there are no bottlenecks or single point of failure. Plus, we use InfiniBand rather than 10 GigE, for practically no jitter and guaranteed-zero packet loss.

Why IT Decision-Makers Should Embrace Mobile Cloud

Mobile is about creating revenue for the company and building the brand, but you obviously want to know it’s worth it. Egan recommends two ways to check your return-on-investment (ROI). “One is the dollar return on revenue per employee that’s been mobile-enabled versus those who are not,” he says, “And look at the dollar return on the base assets that you have.” You also want to consider your assets in relationship to those of other firms in your sector.

How is that done? Take the example of the United States Postal Service (USPS) in comparison to Box, and Tesla in comparison to General Motors. The value per asset at the Postal Service is $2.80, while the same figure is an incredible $3630 at box. The value for each employee at the USPS is $113K, while it’s $1.4M at Box. In the car industry, you see a similar phenomenon: Tesla’s value for each asset is $11, while GM’s is just $1.85. Similarly, the value per employee is $2.9M at Tesla, versus $240K at General Motors.

Mobile Cloud is about ROI, Not Savings

Don’t think of cloud or mobile as an expense, advises Egan. “One of the big mistakes that a lot of organizations have continued to be plagued by in terms of innovation investment is that they still put IT on the expense side, the balance sheet,” he says, “rather than as an organizational weapon on the revenue side.”

Remember that, by creating greater engagement and access with your users, mobile builds revenue. It’s a form of business development, not a standard expense.

The Key to Tesla’s Success

It’s easy to see from the above examples that the more innovative companies have much better return on their assets than some of the old-school enterprises. The incumbent businesses tend to have lots of assets and a vast bureaucracy of employees. Plus, they have to monitor and maintain their internal networks and hardware that’s housed in on-premises datacenters.

The newer and more cutting-edge organizations don’t have huge amounts of equipment or personnel, notes Egan. However, “they do weight themselves in distribution and analytics,” he says. “They create ways to anticipate the needs of customers in more proactive ways.”

Using Mobile Cloud to Attract New Business

Making your business more mobile-ready isn’t just about making lives easier for your employees and boosting productivity, of course. It’s also about leveraging tools for competitive advantage and to get more customers.

Egan says the best way to look at new technologies is to think of them in terms of a portfolio. Within that portfolio are cloud, security advances, mobility, analytics, the Internet of Things, and big data.

With this portfolio of innovative tools, cutting-edge firms are able to analyze the top companies in their market and formulate the most powerful attack. Egan explains: “If you have a new-idea company that takes a look at a particular [incumbent] and says, ‘You know, … [t]hey really haven’t made the move to the cloud. Let’s go attack them at that front with a suite of services, and go try and steal the customers.’”

In other words, the mobile cloud, along with related technologies, gives you the agility, speed, and power to build your business both internally and externally.