Reflections on 2016

Normally, I prefer to look forward and share my thoughts about the technology advancements and new opportunities the new year might bring as well as the potential pitfalls that I can help our clients avoid. However, a long drive back from Virginia to upstate New York got me reflecting on the significant changes we saw in 2016.

First, people who haven’t spent much time in this part of the country (or those who haven’t managed to escape the city much) may think of this area as one big metro after another. Actually, there are a lot of rural areas from mountains to rolling farmland. It’s a feast for the eyes, but I also enjoy listening to the radio while I drive, and reception can be a bit of a challenge in spots.

While “scanning the dial,” I stumbled across something called Federal Radio. This station carries programs dedicated to offering advice to businesses, mainly small, looking to win contracts with the federal government. The segment I caught was all about cloud computing. The content wasn’t deep, nor could it in any way have been considered “thought leadership,” but it left a lasting impression on me nonetheless.

At StoredTech, we do a significant amount of business with government agencies as well as the businesses that serve them. Just a couple of years ago, we were assuring these organizations that the cloud was a safe, secure place for applications and data.

 

Now, the message from this station was “if your application can’t be deployed in the cloud, don’t bother selling to us.” If the federal government has taken a cloud-first attitude, that tells me the cloud is here to stay.


The Cloud Hits Mainstream

We’re seeing a huge uptick in interest in the cloud both from first-time cloud customers as well as from those looking to expand their presence in the cloud. In Right Scale’s 2016 State of the Cloud Survey, 95% of respondents were using a cloud of some form or another. If that sounds high, rest assured it’s not an outlier. Other studies tend to show rates of between 80 and 90%, often depending on what types and sizes of businesses make up their sample.

We work with businesses from large, multi-national organizations to smaller mom and pops. While some of them are early adopters of new technologies, many of them are cautious and reasonably risk adverse. Almost all of them have dabbled in cloud computing with Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications. This was a no-brainer for applications like expense reporting that weren’t dealing with mission-critical data. These days, however, we’re seeing a lot more interest in moving core applications like Microsoft Office (Office 365) and even CRM and ERP to the web. It helps that Microsoft has a very convincing and thorough cloud security message that spans its applications and infrastructure resources. Microsoft Azure has been around for a while, but 2016 was the year Microsoft hit its stride with their public cloud platform.

With security less of an obstacle to cloud adoption, the path has been paved for small and midsized businesses to confidently adopt the cloud in increasing numbers and for a greater percentage of their workload. In 2015, Forbes claimed that 78% of small businesses will have fully adopted cloud computing by 2020. I think cost concerns may drive the percentages may be even higher.

One reason so many of our clients have adopted cloud computing is that it allows them to reclassify a capital expense as an operating expense and is easier on their budget. Instead of shelling out hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars in hardware that will be outdated within a couple of years—if not sooner—cloud computing allows you to pay a monthly fee for infrastructure and applications that are continually refreshed. (By the way, ensuring your hardware and applications are up-to-date not only improves performance, but it also helps thwart the latest security threats.)

We’ve had more than one client come to us, asking for a proposal to replace their existing hardware. We’re happy to give them one, but often with the caveat that we believe they would be better off in the cloud. It’s not always the case with every situation and every application, but when we feel it is best for them, we don’t hesitate to say so. Thankfully, most of them take us at our word. Our bottom line suffers a bit, but it’s the right thing to do.

Blog
Mark Shaw

Armed with remarkable business acumen, Shaw’s experience in product development, sales, and marketing led him to found StoredTech in 2010 after identifying significant inefficiencies in the current IT marketplace.

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NEWS AND EVENTS
STOREDTECH HOSTS LIVE UNIFIED COMMUNICATIONS DEMONSTRATION
On April 27, 2017, StoredTech invited local IT leaders and business owners into its Collaboration Center for Beers and Gears, an event designed to bring people together and show off the latest IT solutions for communications and collaboration. With a focus on integrating Microsoft Office 365 and Avaya phone systems, it was a ‘dramatic’ evening as the company’s engineers pulled out their acting skills in a live skit. The ‘actors’ showed how cloud-based collaboration tools can help multiple remote individuals work seamlessly together to solve real-life problems for their customers. While based on a fictional scenario at an airport, the functions are shown in the skit – video conferencing, file sharing, multi-way calls, and find me/follow me chat – are usable in common business settings. Many of the features used in the skit are already available to Microsoft Office 365 customers, such as Skype for Business. Adding an Extreme Network and Avaya phone system expanded the capabilities and exponentially increased the communication and collaboration potential. Or, as Alan VanTassel said, “helps customers get more out of their IT investment.”   VanTassel talked about the company’s rationale for hosting Beers and Gears. “At StoredTech, we like to call ourselves your IT Advisor. Because, with new technology coming to market all the time, it can be challenging for business owners or IT leaders to stay competitive and ahead of the curve. With events like this, we can deliver the information you need to make educated decisions for your business.” During the demonstration, Doug Gillson, vice president of infrastructure, talked about what the latest updates to Office 365 and Avaya phones can do for customers. “This is an exciting time for businesses as new, enterprise-quality tools are becoming available in realistic, small business pricing packages. These cloud-based platforms offer impressive flexibility as more and more of you work from home, on the road, or are growing through remote offices. What’s important tonight is to see that increased productivity and team collaboration is already at your fingertips.”  After the live demonstration, guests enjoyed food and drink from Coopers Cave Ale Company as they tried out the programs themselves at various hands-on stations. Interested guests learned about how to apply the tools to their unique business as they engaged with StoredTech’s engineers and vendor partners from Avaya, Extreme Networks, and Plantronics, an audio communications equipment company. 

HEADQUARTERS:

543 Queensbury Avenue

Queensbury, New York 12804

ALBANY BRANCH:

100 Great Oaks, Suite 113

Albany, New York 12203

PLATTSBURGH BRANCH:

19 Clinton Street

Plattsburgh, New York 12901

PHONE: 518.793.1111

TOLL-FREE: 877.331.5220

FAX: 518.670.0120

NEWS AND EVENTS
STOREDTECH HOSTS LIVE UNIFIED COMMUNICATIONS DEMONSTRATION
On April 27, 2017, StoredTech invited local IT leaders and business owners into its Collaboration Center for Beers and Gears, an event designed to bring people together and show off the latest IT solutions for communications and collaboration. With a focus on integrating Microsoft Office 365 and Avaya phone systems, it was a ‘dramatic’ evening as the company’s engineers pulled out their acting skills in a live skit. The ‘actors’ showed how cloud-based collaboration tools can help multiple remote individuals work seamlessly together to solve real-life problems for their customers. While based on a fictional scenario at an airport, the functions are shown in the skit – video conferencing, file sharing, multi-way calls, and find me/follow me chat – are usable in common business settings. Many of the features used in the skit are already available to Microsoft Office 365 customers, such as Skype for Business. Adding an Extreme Network and Avaya phone system expanded the capabilities and exponentially increased the communication and collaboration potential. Or, as Alan VanTassel said, “helps customers get more out of their IT investment.”   VanTassel talked about the company’s rationale for hosting Beers and Gears. “At StoredTech, we like to call ourselves your IT Advisor. Because, with new technology coming to market all the time, it can be challenging for business owners or IT leaders to stay competitive and ahead of the curve. With events like this, we can deliver the information you need to make educated decisions for your business.” During the demonstration, Doug Gillson, vice president of infrastructure, talked about what the latest updates to Office 365 and Avaya phones can do for customers. “This is an exciting time for businesses as new, enterprise-quality tools are becoming available in realistic, small business pricing packages. These cloud-based platforms offer impressive flexibility as more and more of you work from home, on the road, or are growing through remote offices. What’s important tonight is to see that increased productivity and team collaboration is already at your fingertips.”  After the live demonstration, guests enjoyed food and drink from Coopers Cave Ale Company as they tried out the programs themselves at various hands-on stations. Interested guests learned about how to apply the tools to their unique business as they engaged with StoredTech’s engineers and vendor partners from Avaya, Extreme Networks, and Plantronics, an audio communications equipment company. 
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