Category Archives: Cloud Computing

Recent Functions Attended

I have recently attended three work-related functions.

  1. Microsoft/Intel “Go Wild” promotion;
  2. Xero http://gjscomp.com/OWtuOt Partner; &
  3. ICT123 Telstra Dealer.

A few observations about the above attendances.

It is very clear nowadays the popularity of Tablets versus Desktop Computers and even Laptops. A figure was provided at the Microsoft Function that over 70% of technology devices purchased via retailers are now Tablets.

It is further apparent that Microsoft has been very unsuccessful in the Tablet Space and is hoping to recover some ground with releases of new Windows Tablets and Laptops, and in particular Hybrid Devices (Half Tablet/Half Laptop). These Hybrids are in my opinion vastly superior to the likes of iPads as both work related as well as consumption devices. Battery life is great.

It is also clear that Microsoft is under constant pressure due to sluggish PC sales.

What was fascinating about the Xero Partner event was the number of attendees at the Hilton. They were predominantly Accountants and Bookkeepers, not IT people as such. It is hard to imagine that an MYOB or a QuickBooks function would gather such numbers of attendees. Additionally interesting were the number of companies present that have applications and services that hook in to the Xero Platform.

There are many Xero attributes to like; whether from an Accountant’s perspective or that of end users. Two in particular:

  • Customers can see their accounts in real-time, and
  • The Platform is always up-to-date.

The ICT123 function was interesting in three particular respects.

Firstly,  there was an overview of the National Broadband Network [NBN] as it currently stands. Incredibly complex is the best words to describe it. If you are interested to see when your address might be getting the NBN enter your address here http://gjscomp.com/1hIIBEs. Secondly, Telstra is serious about further developing its SMB offerings together with Telstra Partners. This includes upcoming changes in how Office 365 will be sold in Australia; no longer exclusively via Telstra. Last, there was a demonstration of the SlideShark & BrainShark products – http://gjscomp.com/1n6tXZY & http://gjscomp.com/1i9I81v.

On Wednesday 5 March 2014 I will be the official photographer for ESET And The Channel Function. It is being held at the Langham Sydney. For more information click here http://gjscomp.com/1jwz83P.

 

Can I run my business in the Cloud?

I am often asked if it is possible to run a business using only cloud technologies and online services.

The simple answer is yes. Furthermore, if you are a business starting out one should ask the question why wouldn’t you? There are significant cost-savings, and less potential anguish for business owners if set up correctly.

If you were a new business you could be pretty much up and running within 24 hours!

Businesses no longer need to have an on-Premise Server (and all the management this entails). It should be noted that Microsoft’s Small Business Server as a product ended on 31 December 2013. Businesses requiring a Server can still have all the functions provided by SBS as standalone products e.g. Microsoft Exchange, but with costs of licensing increasing, set up costs & ongoing maintenance, it would seem no longer a feasible cost to bear for SMBs.

Many businesses have already started migrating some technologies to the Cloud, in particular Microsoft Exchange (either Hosted or via Office 365) or Google Apps for Business, i.e. they are running a hybrid system (some on site and some in the Cloud). If a Server is required maybe worth considering having a physical Box installed at a Data Centre, or run a Virtual Server (in the Cloud).

For a new business husbanding cash is an important consideration. So why not move from a Capex model to knowing ‘exactly’ what you are spending each month, whilst also allowing the flexibility to gear up quickly if business is a success, e.g. adding additional employees. So you have cost savings and flexibility.

Whilst any individual can set this all up themselves I have found there are many pitfalls if you try to do so. Better to spend some of the money you have ‘saved’ on purchasing expensive equipment on an IT Professional whom has done this for others previously and can put it all in place for you, and have it set up properly at the start. This allows the business owner to get on with running and marketing their business.

So what does a New Business require?

  • Register a Company and/or Business Name, including an Australian Business Number [ABN];
  • Register a Domain Name;
  • Set up email;
  • Create a Website,;
  • Marketing and Promotion of your business online & offline;
  • Purchase Hardware – Laptop, Tablet, Mobile Broadband, Printer, SmartPhone, External Hard Drive(s);
  • Software – Internet Security, Password Management, Online Backup, Remote Management, Microsoft Office, Specific Line of Business [LOB] Software related to your Business type;
  • Virtual Assistant;
  • Accounting System;
  • Business Cards;
  • Put others to work for you and project manage your tasks;
  • If your business requires an office then an ADSL2+ Connection, requiring then a likely wireless/modem Router, or renting a Serviced Office to meet prospective customers. Increasingly, with Mobility does your business (at least at the start) require physical premises? Would you purchase or lease an ISDN Phone connection? Unlikely. So what about VoIP, which can be set up for use no matter where you are physically located.
  • A social networking presence.

With the right guidance a new business can be up and running using the range of tools & services of today’s Internet almost before one knows it.

Google Helpouts – updated

I have been trying to obtain a Google Helpouts Invitation Code for some months now and I received mine today.

Google Helpouts

To begin with What is Google Helpouts? It is assistance using live video. Check this link for more information http://bit.ly/17WGnAr.

Although the Live Video Concept is not new, it seems to me for a lot of businesses having a listing (be it free or paid) is something they should consider.

You must have a Google+ Account to offer Helpouts. You can register to receive an invitation code via http://bit.ly/1aH4Eoa, Click on Green coloured “Give Your own Helpouts” and Request a code (below the Enter Invitation Code Box).

Once you receive your invitation code via email in the Capitalised Alpha-Numeric Format XXXX-XXXX-XXXX-XXXX copy and paste it and follow the instructions to Create your First Listing.

Google Helpouts Signup 1

Google Helpouts Signup 2

Once you have filled in the required details, add a photo of yourself or a logo, Preview and Submit.

During the process you will also be prompted (if it is a Paid, rather than a Free Listing) to confirm your login details and create a Google Wallet Account (if you do not already have one). This is where any earnings less Google’s Commissions go.

You will then be prompted to download and install Google Voice and Video Chat on to your computer. You should also check that your computer meets the necessary requirements to run your Helpouts.

Before you can start with Google Helpouts you need to book a “New Provider Introductory Session” with the Helpouts Support Team, and have your Helpout approved.

Google Helpouts Signup 4

One last thing it is recommended that you record an introductory video (length up to a minute).

Once you are live any sessions booked by potential customers will show up in your Google Calendar. You decide when to make yourself available.

If any business out there wants to get a feel and understanding Browse Categories such as ‘Computers & Electronics’, ‘Cooking’ ‘Health’ and ‘Home & Garden’.

Aside from Businesses it seems to me that this could be an excellent vehicle for retirees, who may have some spare time on their hands.

As Google says “Happy Helpouts”.

Let me know when you have received an Invitation Code and any thoughts you have about Google Helpouts.

On 4 January 2014 I had my “New Provider Introductory Session” with Kevin at 11:45 AM.

Helpouts 2

All went well. Sound & Video was excellent for both of us. Part of the process is for Kevin (in this instance) to hear how you would interact with someone who has contacted you for a Helpout. He then approves his part of the Content process, which then goes in the queue before your Helpout goes live. If Google requires any changes they will contact you via email. Such a change may include a suggested better description of the service you are offering.

Mine is still currently pending.

s Google Helpout Pending

Helpouts List of Options to Interact

As Google Helpouts grows those Helpouts with the best ratings/reviews will go to the Top of the List for Searches. Clearly, visibility to prospective customers is going to be a challenge for those offering Helpouts.

The Introductory session was followed up by a short survey to complete.

For those who may be interested in offering a Google Helpout if you go to the Helpouts site and go to the Settings Star (next to ? near to the Top right) , Select Email, Complete the Form (and mention that Geejay from GJ’s Computer Services) suggested you request an Invitation Code, and Click Send. Let me know if you have any difficulties.

Accounting firms risk losing SME clients if they fail to embrace cloud computing, survey finds [CCH Australia 18 April 2013]

“A majority of small- to medium-sized enterprise (SME) owners in Australia will consider replacing their accountant if they fail to make the transition to cloud-based computing software, according to new research into accounting firms servicing small business.

The research found that only 23% of accountants servicing SMEs have moved to cloud-based software to manage their client’s accounts, with these early adopters skewed toward younger accountants”. Full Article can be viewed here http://bit.ly/JhcM9J

Although this article relates to Accountants and Cloud-Based Accounting Systems, for example, Xero, the take home message is clear. Technology and its users (businesses and home users, including all mobile users) are increasingly moving to Cloud-Based Services.

From Xero Limited’s Interim Report for the Six Months Ended 30/9/13 there was an increase of 89% compared with the same period in 2012 from 111,800 to 211,300 Paying Business Customers globally. In Australia Paying Customers grew from 32,500 to 79,100. If one considers there are appproximately 1 million SMEs (Check Stats) in Australia one can see that there is still significant growth in this particular market segment. Additionally, the Partner Channel (Accountants & Bookkeepers) increased by 91% from 4,600 to 8,800. Such explosive growth is indicative of this Move to the Cloud Trend across a range of Cloud-Based Services. http://www.xero.com/nz/about/investors/reports/ 20 November 2013.

GJ’s Computer Services can assist via our partnerships with Zero Partners to move your business from your existing Accounting System.