Tag Archives: affordability

New SaaS Offer: The Lifesize Cloud

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Lifesize, a division of Logitech

The revamped and refashioned logo of Lifesize indicates its desire to rebrand itself in the video collaboration circuit and bring in new innovations and technologies to better suit the needs of organizations and businesses today. Having brought in HD video conferencing nearly a decade ago, an introduction that changed the face of business communication, Lifesize has reinvented its video conferencing technologies to suit today’s need for easy, flexible and economical collaboration to ensure effective and efficient transfer of data and information within and among organizations. With “cloud” playing a predominant role in video collaborations in recent times, Lifesize has come up with the new “Lifesize Cloud” to bring the benefits of cloud into video conferencing.

What is “the Cloud”? And what is it not?

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Clouds on summer sky (Photo: fastjel)

The Cloud – One of the hottest buzzwords and most abused in describing products or services recently. In this article I would like to mix facts with personal experiences I made, in order to assist everyone, who would like to find out what the cloud is and does and the things that is does not do (hence the title). Cloud has been buzzing around for a while now but when I witnessed both my parents talking about “the cloud” and how they use it in private I understood that this technology has arrived in mainstream and it is here for good.

Cloud??

So what is the cloud in few words? The cloud, or cloud computing is a technology design to enable users working with solutions independent from device, location and network. Of course there are specialisations with a larger or smaller focus on one or two subjects but in general this is it.

Origin of the Term

There are many theories on the origin of the term, yet there is no proven story. Feel free to check some good options on the Wikipedia article for cloud computing. My theory is that it developed from the use of cloud clip-arts and stencils in technical drawings or presentations, created to visualise a network setup. I am sure that even before the term became a buzzword, most of you have seen presentations with little black boxes, switches and routers in and around a large cloud to set a virtual border between realms.

Is the Cloud something new?

I am afraid it is not. The ideas and designs for such concepts have already been around since the 1950s but like with many breakthroughs in the user world, it required certain cultural and technological thresholds to be reached before the adoption could take place on wide-scale.

What is the Cloud?

  • Agility – The cloud is agile and therefore allows users to upscale or downscale their service based on business demand. Further the actual hardware, used to host a virtual machine, can be re-purposed if necessary. This is however not a cloud-only benefit, please read further down on infrastructure virtualisation.
  • Availability – Services have the technological possibility of being available independent from devices, network and location. This is of course relative to the design of each service along with its purpose but technically this is no limitation. For instance you can use cloud video conferencing services to join any enterprise-grade video conference call from your smartphone, notebook, office workstation, tablet or even from a private computer at your home or maybe somewhere else. Of course your conference partner needs to have their own environment set up to accept connections from outside in general. Cloud technology is not a wall-breaker and cannot bypass security of an organisation, if they don’t allow such connections by policy.
  • Business Continuity – Cloud services are set up with redundancy and failover automation in place. So that even if single devices would fail, users would not notice and can proceed using the service. Such reliability would traditionally cost a lot of money when investing in owned or dedicated infrastructure black-boxes.
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Asus product presentation event of cloud-enabled tablet device with Windows 8 (Photo: Tecdencias)

What is the Cloud NOT?

  • Cloud = VirtualisationVirtualisation of infrastructure is a great way of deploying new solutions and upgrading your environment. But if you do this within your WAN this does not automatically mean you are using the “cloud”. You are just virtualising your infrastructure. Fair and square.
  • “No more hardware” – Well that’s a lie. Using software solutions or virtual infrastructure there will still always be servers and databases that require a physical body. Only the deployment and usage is changed but there will always be hardware. You might not own the hardware and you will most likely never see or touch it but it’s there, somewhere in a physical data centre.
  • Grid computing – No, grid computing is not the same as cloud computing in my opinion. Even though, it might be its scientific opposite. Where grid computing allows many computing units to work on a common target (e.g. movie rendering in render farms or Bitcoin mining), cloud computing allows a single user to utilise just any infrastructure in the pool offered by the cloud service provider to achieve their objective.
  • “Private Cloud” needs to be on-premises – No that’s not correct even though it seems to be a common assumption. A cloud service can be deployed dedicated for your organisation without anyone else having access to it, but the location of the physical hardware is irrelevant in order to provide that. In most cases the service provider will utilise hardware that is physically near to the user base in order to avoid performance issues that could occur on long “open internet” routes.

Challenges of Cloud Technology

  • Security – Any cloud service can be set up in secure manner if the solution and the environment of the clients allow it.
  • Privacy – Yes, privacy is a hot topic nowadays. But actually, it always were even in pre-internet age. Privacy is nothing impossible even in the cloud, even in the internet if you choose the right service provider. And if you are looking for good providers but affordability is a concern, make sure that your selected partner has a few good reference clients to show-case to you.
  • Compliance – When you are in phase 2 of the provider selection, bring in the techies of your organisation to make sure all offered functions and features are compliant to any active IT security policies that you need to consider.
  • Vendor Strategy – Cloud providers equal single vendor lock-in? Yes, it can be the case but if you want to avoid that, talk about this particular subject with your provider candidates. A few providers out there have established alliances and offer support to avoid any lock-ins.
  • Online works, offline it doesn’t – Depending on what your solution looks like make sure that your workforce  can use the solution when they are online and when they are offline. For instance when changing a file being on a flight, the data should update and synchronise itself in the cloud again when they are online. However there are some services which this does not apply to such as real-time communication (e.g. WebRTC, video conferencing, VoIP telephony, instant messaging).

Examples of Public Cloud Solutions

Summary

I hope this cleared some confusion around cloud terminology and technology. Further I hope it helped you through your process of picking a good service provider for your organisation if that was your objective. Further I would like to thank Simon Dudley of LifeSize and Phil Karcher of Forrester Research for hosting the webinar, which sparked the inspiration to write this article. LifeSize is often arranging interesting webinars and announces them on their social media platforms. Maybe I will see you on their next event – until then.

Have anything to add or feel I got the wrong picture? You are welcome to comment below and join the discussion. We at Telepresence24.com love your feedback!

Telepresence Technology Connect Remote Employees

The benefits of working in a home office and using telepresence from the perspective of the employee.

Seven years ago, I was pregnant with my son when my husband decided that it was imperative for me to find a job. At the time, I couldn’t imagine leaving my baby to go to work, and so I decided that even if it made my job search an arduous one, I would hold out for the opportunity to work from home.

I was lucky, and within a month or so, I was offered a web content writing position with a tiny, semi-local internet marketing firm. The manager wanted me to come in for weekly meetings, but preferred for me to do the rest of my work from a home office. The company was only occupying a small space at the time, and finding a place for me to work there would have been a difficult feat, so I was able to sign on for the remote work I wanted without inconveniencing my new employer. I was thrilled.

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The Early Stages

In the beginning, I had a lot of questions, and finding useful ways to stay in touch with my supervisor led me to investigate affordable video conferencing options. Often, I felt as though it would be easier for me to do my job if I could still see and interact with my co-workers as if they were right there in my home. We tried Skype and other free services, but eventually I began doing more work with clients, the company grew, and our sales team expanded. At that point, it became worthwhile to research and employ more advanced telepresence solutions both at home and in the office.

When my employer presented me with what seemed like a giant monitor and camera set up, I was initially uncomfortable. It wasn’t life-sized, but it was much more intimidating than popping up on his 13” laptop screen when we needed to work on a project. Still, the possibilities for collaboration were endless.

Afterwards

I used multipoint video conferencing from my home on the East Coast to present information to clients in California. When a new customer was having trouble understanding our service, I set up my HD video conferencing equipment, and used a white board and my computer screen to walk them through the process. Technology connected me to meetings, sales events, and significant opportunities, all from the comfort of my own home. It was an ideal way to work, especially with young children in the house.

As more and more companies begin seeking out talented employees while paying less mind to their location, the video conferencing industry has taken massive steps forward in connectivity, user-friendly operations, mobility, definition, and more. Remote workers are signing in from tablets, mobile phones, and advanced equipment alike, all in an attempt to stay close and connected while doing their jobs from afar. Some, like myself, are parents who need to be at home for their children. Others are simply located at a great distance from the businesses that can most benefit from their services. Many are freelancers, but many more are doing full-time work for large and small corporations.

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… turns to this.

The Future has Arrived

Telepresence solutions are increasing in affordability and quality as well, and as they do, I predict that more offices will shut down. Start-ups and small businesses will cut costs by eliminating monthly rent and allowing their employees to connect from home. This is the sort of technology that, when used correctly, can attract a wider base of clients and pull staff from the widest possible pool of talented individuals. Video conferencing isn’t just a high tech toy these days – it’s a real solution that can help businesses grow their bottom lines while also contributing to employee satisfaction, and it’s just another indication that the future we dreamed about years ago is finally here!