Thursday, 29 November 2012

Cost Effective SIP IP Phones

Recently our team at Cloud Solutions reviewed the IP-T22P entry level phone from Yealink.

Yealink is an established Chinese company producing products of good quality yet half the price of the market leader, Polycom.

Polycom still offer top quality products and have a new series of colour touch phones that are leading the market.

With the increasing move to VoIP there is a need to have quality entry level phones on the desks of the majority of staff. We found the T22P an excellent phone offering HD Voice and 3 SIP lines. All of this for under US$100.  The phones offer an easy set up function. Simply press the enter button to display the IP address then open the browser and enter the address.

More details on the Yealink Phones are available at www.cloudshop.com.hk

Dell-Wyse Xenith 2 Now in Stock!

The Dell-Wyse Xenith 2 is now available in Hong Kong. The first shipment has been sent to our customers and we are open to take more orders now.

The Dell-Wyse Xenith 2 model is designed to work specifically with Citrix XenDesktop and Citrix VDI-in-a-Box. The price is HK$2750.

For more information about virtual desktops please visit www.vdi.com.hk

If you are using VMware then the model P20 is what is required. The ideal zero client for VMware View that’s smart, small and simple is the P20.

For entry level device that is Citrix, RDP and VMware ready. use T10 or T50.


Sunday, 16 September 2012

Managing Google Apps for Business User Licenses

Google Apps for Business requires a license for each mailbox created. This does not matter if the mailbox is active or inactive. For example, if an employee leaves and you make the mailbox inactive, this still requires a license. If you then have a replacement employee join you have a couple of choices:

  1. buy an additional mailbox license for the new employ and retain the old employee's mailbox
  2. delete the old employee's mailbox to free up a license and then add the new employee
  3. rename the mailbox and continue to use it for the new employee
As time passes it may not be economical to continue to pay for a mailbox for each ex-employee simply to retain their emails.

Of course with Google Apps for Business it is a little more than just email. There is calendar items and documents to also consider.

For document ownership the Google Apps administrator can use a system feature that will reassign document ownership from one user to another. This would be important to carry out this step.

For email retention a great solution is called Snapshot from Backupify. This allows an administrator to take a complete snapshot of the user's email and download it as a zip file. This can be used even with active users if required. If used for ex-employees the mailbox can then be deleted once the zip file is downloaded.

"Snapshot for Google Apps extracts the content from a single Google Apps account, converts the data into useful file formats, compresses it all into an easy-to-extract ZIP file, and downloads it to your local machine"

If the domain has Google Message Security and Archiving services enabled, either via Postini or Google Vault, then it may not be necessary to use Snapshot as all emails will be in the archive vault, however this is only email. 

Cloud Solutions provides Google Apps consultancy services in Asia.

Monday, 10 September 2012

NETGear ReadyNAS Pro Offers Excellent Storage Options

NETGear's ReadyNAS Pro is a fast networked storage device designed for the SMB market. The ReadyNAS Pro comes in three models providing either 2, 4 or 6 disk bays. Hard drives do not ship with the device so this allows a company to install 1T or 2T disks to meet their storage requirements.

Chinese menus as well as folder and file names are all supported. 

With the smart X-RAID2 disk management system, simply plug in the disks and the device will configure itself and expand the volume on the fly when additional or larger disks are added.With two drives, the X-RAID2 creates a mirror array. With three drives, your capacity doubles; with four, it triples.

If you are a MAC user, Time Machine is supported along with backup jobs for Windows PCs or servers.

Support for streaming of any multimedia files stored to any Smart device that can accept them. The onboard DLNA 1.5 media server delivers multiple full HD video streams without a problem. FTP is supported as well as RSync. A printer can also be centrally attached to the USB drive of the device.

For the more technically inclined it is also possible to install WordPress server on the device along with MySQL.

Cloud integration is offered via Egnyte's Hybrid Cloud File Server. This is an excellent feature. Subscription service is needed for Egnyte and then files can be backed up in real-time off site. File can also be shared with other offices as well as business partners. Office Local Cloud is deployed on Intel® based NETGEAR ReadyNAS devices. Duo or NV+ ReadyNAS devices are not supported.

Just to make things even better, ReadyNAS Pro offers a 5 year warranty.

Cloud Solutions in Hong Kong & Singapore offers NETGear's ReadNAS products integrated with Egnyte's Hybrid Cloud File Server. 

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Google+ for Google Apps Enterprise available

This past week Google released a few new features to Google Apps users. This is the integration of some more of the Google+ for business features. The coolest feature is really the group video conference system. This allows up to 10 people to hold a video conference and share documents etc on-line.  This has been available in Google+ for some time via the Hangout feature but now this is available direct from your Gmail Inbox. A hangout is a multi-user video room.



The calendar is also integrated so a meeting can now be organised on-line and the correct hangout, where the meeting will be held indicated on the calendar appointment. In the same way a "Room" can be booked for a meeting, an on-line meeting can take place and launched from the reminder.




What's more is the administrator can now control if users can share documents with circles or groups, that include people outside the company domain.

With more cool enterprise based features on the way Google continues to keep a head of the market. We do expect to have a couple of editions of Google Apps next year whereby customers can select if they wish to pay for some of the enterprise features or leave them out and pay less.

You can preview Google+ premium features for Google Apps for Business, Education, and Government for free through the end of 2013. These features make it even easier for your users to share and collaborate with each other, while ensuring that confidential information stays inside your organization.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Microsoft Exchange Migration to Google Apps

Businesses still running Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 are perfect contenders for migrating to Google Apps for Business. The cost of upgrading your out dated server hardware, the purchase of new backup systems, the licensing costs of Microsoft Windows and Exchange, and don't forget the service fees required to perform the upgrade makes Google Apps for Business an easy decision.

"Google Apps for Business at US$50 per mailbox including 25GB of storage each is very compelling"

 

Google Apps for Business offers very good integration with Outlook via the free OutlookSync application. This allows Outlook to continue to perform the same as it did with Exchange. Your email, calendar, contacts and tasks are kept in sync with your off-site Google copy in the Cloud.

Most of our customers stop using their outdated Blackberry and start using iPhones and Android phones that offer excellent integration to Google Apps. The iPhone uses the Exchange Sync application available on the iPhone to sync your email, calendar and contacts. So now your Outlook, on-line Gmail and iPhone are all in sync. Read a message on your iPhone and it will show as read in your Outlook. In addition your calendar will now send you an SMS reminder each time you have an appointment!


So if you are considering a Microsoft Exchange upgrade, think again. The benefits to your company are great if you migrate away from a premise based server to Google's Cloud based server. No upgrades will ever be required again! And you will always be using the latest technology and be protected at all times against spam and viruses.

I still debate the value of stop using Outlook. I am very confident about the value outsourcing the email server to Google brings to a business owner, but if users like Outlook and prefer not to change then you can have a completely new system without making a huge change or impact on your users. Over time you can explore the benefits of using the browser client.  Many of our users use Gmail as their private email client so have no issue using Gmail in the office. So we leave this option open. I would estimate 75-80% of your value comes from migrating to a Cloud server, an additional 20-25% will come when everyone can leverage the functionality of Google Apps that is only exposed via the browser. Those who stay using Outlook will never be able to progress past where they are today; 2003. The true collaboration benefits only come with use of the browser however staying with Outlook as a first step works very well for most of our clients.

"staying with Outlook as a first step works very well for most of our clients"


Migration of Exchange to Google Apps

We have performed many migrations over the past few years. We have good tools available to migrate the Exchange Server, in the background, to the Cloud without any downtime. The size of your Exchange data store will determine the time it will take to upload all the data to Google's Cloud. In some cases this may take 1 or 2 weeks. Where no data is stored in Exchange and the users have all their email stored locally on their PC, then the process is more distributed so instead of doing a server side migration a client side migration process must be adopted.

Where you have 2-3 Exchange servers it is possible to migrate a single server at a time. And even within a single server, it is possible to take groups of users and migrate them at your own pace.

So there is no reason you should delay your Cloud adoption. Exchange 2003 is now 10 years or more out of date. Move your organisation forward and stay up with the latest technology for only US$50 per user.

Cloud Solutions is a Google Reseller and Consultant in Hong Kong. Singapore, Malaysia and Philippines.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Cloud Computing Adoption in Asia

Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong are leading the adoption of Cloud hosted email and collaboration SaaS applications. However our observation is Singapore is now a head on the number of companies adopting Cloud.

Our observations come from direct enquiries to our company with most now coming from Singapore. We believe this increased demand is a direct result from the Singapore Government offering businesses based in Singapore a 400% tax deduction for all Cloud related services, including training. This incentive along with the cost savings associated with the Cloud has driven many small and mid-sized companies to consider and then adopt cloud computing.

In Hong Kong we believe the driving factors to adopting Cloud computing include:

  • reducing IT costs, including office space and salaries
  • reduce the reliance on 1-2 individuals in the IT department 
  • inability to attract or access quality staff

Other issues include using the latest technology in their business for competitive advantage as well as sharing data with China based staff without the traditional costs associated with private networks. 


While we do see some IT managers holding back their company's move to the Cloud, once we engage with business owners directly, there is no doubt their objects are in line with the benefits offered by the Cloud and we see the company quickly adopting Cloud.

With Hong Kong businesses having close ties to China it is important to work with a platform that can work in China. One Cloud suite that works is the Award Winning Business Suite from Zoho. This includes Zoho CRM, Zoho Database  Creator and Zoho Email.

While the Hong Kong office may benefit from full access to Google Apps and Google's mobile platform, the staff working in China may simply need to co-ordinate production with the factory or the sourcing process so simply having an email and chat enabled CRM application works and is all that is needed. This keeps everyone on the same page. Where large design or graphic files need to be shared a Cloud based file server such as Egnyte, allows files to be accessed from a central system or synchronized between several locations.

We have a number of clients now operating their Hong Kong and China offices in the Cloud. For the small business owner there has been no technology in the last 20 years, apart from the Internet, that has helped share information more cost effectively than Cloud Computing.

Where should a company start when adopting Cloud Computing?

This does depend on a number of factors and to some extent the size of your business. For example, a larger business may be able to adopt a Cloud based CRM system for their sales and marketing team without a lot of time or money.  Whereas the migration of Email would be a corporate wide issue and more planning and work may be required. For a small company, Email can normally be done quickly and requires minimal planning and re-training of staff.  On-line backup can also be added with no major impact on the organisation.

The key idea here is to identify the business application that makes your business better or more competitive. Focus your IT spend on this application. If you don't have one then it is time to think about getting one!

All the "need to have applications", like email, word processor, spreadsheet etc simply use SaaS apps. These applications do not make your business any better than the next company so spend the minimum on these but of course make sure they are reliable. So Google, Microsoft and Zoho are leading providers. 

Once you have sort this then look at moving all that data you currently have in Excel files to a database application like Zoho CRM. This will help you manage your leads and customer information and then automate much of your sales processes. Where you have developed a complex line-of-business application consider placing this in a private Cloud where all hardware and infrastructure is rented. Adopt on-line backup.

Finally consider moving your desktops to a virtualised private Cloud. Great benefits in reducing IT support and costs while improving overall security.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Anti-Virus and Anti-Malware Protection for Virtual Desktops


Not all anti-virus solutions are made equal. One player that continues to come up with solutions for the corporate is Kaspersky. For companies that wish to adopt VDI or Virtual Desktops, Kaspersky offer an agentless anti-malware approach to virtualisation.

Adopters of VDI realise the benefits include lower cost, rapid deployment, and fast ROI however there is still a need to protect those desktops from malicious attacks. In a mixed environment with VDI endpoints and physical machines you need an anti-virus and anti-malware solution to manage both and automate the process of how the protection is enabled.


When a new virtual endpoint is created, Kaspersky Lab’s solution promptly provides it with the necessary 

protection. The solution is automatically set up on VMware, Citrix VDI-in-a-box, Microsoft Remote Desktops and other types of virtual machines. The new endpoint is also automatically connected to the administration console. The solution can differentiate virtual endpoints from physical endpoints and unite them into separate groups, providing maximum convenience when working with a virtual infrastructure. Kaspersky Lab’s solution can randomise tasks for virtual endpoints based on one host system. 


Resourceintensive tasks can be performed by virtual machines at different times, optimising the load on system resources and getting the most efficient performance from a virtual infrastructure Kaspersky Lab’s solution can automatically detect non-persistent virtual endpoints and delete them from the administration console. This ensures the administrator has the very latest information about the security status of the corporate infrastructure.


Kaspersky Endpoint Security 8 for Windows, in conjunction with Kaspersky Security Center 9, provides fast and easy protection for virtual endpoints, optimizing system performance and decreasing the administrator’s workload, meaning you can derive the maximum benefits of running virtual machines.


Cloud Solutions offer Kaspersky for Virtual Desktop protection.


Sunday, 15 July 2012

NAS Drive with Cloud Sync

The NETGear ReadyNAS is an excellent product and with the integration of Egnyte's Hybrid Cloud it offers a great solution for small to mid-sized organisations. Keep your files locally, yet safely backed up in the Cloud. Access your files from your iphone or ipad, or replicate to your home for off-site storage. Use a MAC or Windows PC. All are supported.


The performance of the NETGear ReadyNAS is very good. The ReadyNAS does not come with hard drives. This provides each business flexibility to purchase 2 x 500GB or may be 2 x 1T drives to place in the device. The device can be set up to mirror so if one disk fails the second is available and with Egnyte agent installed, all data is backed up and synchronised to the Cloud.

This is an excellent choice for small to mid-sized businesses needing central storage without the need to purchase larger servers or more Windows licenses.

NETGear ReadyNAS can be purchased in Hong Kong for around HK$4500 for the entry level device. Installing 2 x 500GB disks cost around HK$800 each. Egnyte starts around HK$800 per month including 1000GB of storage in the Cloud and integration to the ReadyNAS device. Contact Cloud Solutions for more details.

Another nice product from NETGear is their 3G/4G LAN Router. This provides your network a backup if the Internet connection is disconnected, the 3G/4G mobile network can be used by your company until the Internet connection is enabled again.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Migration of Outlook to Google Apps

More and more small to mid-sized businesses in Asia are looking to adopt Cloud Computing. The first step is often Email with a close second being file storage on-line.

The problems with using an Outlook POP account is well documented. For example, no backup on the user's workstation, no remote access, no ability to share contacts or calendars. Access via your mobile phone is also limited as nothing is in sync. You open a message in one location and it does not open in the other.  So no wonder adopting Cloud is of big interest to many smaller organisations.

Small companies are not penalised when adopting the Cloud. If you have 5 users or 200 users, the price, per user is the same. This is around US$5 per mailbox per month.  Both Google Apps and Microsoft Office 365 are around this price.

With many people using Gmail for their personal email it is an easy move to migrate your complete company to Google Apps. You can transfer your company domain so your email address is @yourdomain.com and not @gmail.com.


Google offer some great tools to help copy your existing emails in Outlook to your new secure Google Apps  account. Even if you are using a Mac and use Mac Mail, there are tools available to migrate you fully to Google Apps in the Cloud.

Continue to Use Outlook!

After the migration is complete each user is free to select to continue to use Outlook in full Sync mode with their cloud mailbox or stop using Outlook and use the Gmail client with the Chrome Browser. Of course Office 365 offers similar options. To use Outlook Online or to Sync the cloud hosted mailbox with Outlook.

Mobile Device Support

As Google own the Android operating system, which now runs many of the HTC and Samsung phones and tablets, there is no issue at all running your Gmail account on these device. For iphone fans Google uses the ActiveSync option to connect to your mailbox. This works fine. Both for Office 365 and Google Apps. 

Cloud Solutions has implemented hundreds of users of Google Apps over the recent years. If your company wants to move forward and adopt the Cloud, contact our team leaders for a proposal. Cloud Solutions is a Google Apps Reseller. 

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Protecting and Encrypting Laptop Harddisk and Data

We have discussed a few ideas on how to protect yourself when removing data from your office. Of course we recommend not taking any data outside your secure environment and of course cloud computing ensures data is available everywhere however if you have data that does reside on your laptop then you must protect yourself.

The best way to protect yourself is to at least backup your laptop. Use MozyPro for Business to backup your laptop. This is a great first step.

The second option would be to use a virtual file server such as Egnyte Hybrid File Server. This would allow your data on your laptop to be in sync with the Cloud file server and of course in sync with files in your office or office desktop.

Of course all of this is great and even common sense as if you have lost your laptop or simply had a hard disk failure, then all your data can be recovered. I have had two disk crashes on my laptop this year and never lost any data!

However if you have data on your laptop that others should not see you should encrypt your complete laptop disk along with any USB disk drive you use. There are a few solutions available, for example, the Sophos Data Protection Suite. Another option is to use open source (free software). Sophos provide free file encryption and can be downloaded here. This can be used for creating archives or for emailing files safely. Ths Sophos Data Protection Suite also provides for Cloud based encryption when using the Egnyte Hybrid File Server so even your Cloud data can be protected.

A popular solution is called True Encrypt. True Encrypt is free open-source disk encryption software for Windows 7/Vista/XP, Mac OS X, and Linux.

I would recommend encrypting the complete laptop's disk. However if you wish to have double protection you can then create volumes on your laptop that are additional containers that can be encrypted. So keeping top secret information in this container will give you another layer of protection. So while you may be legally forced to pass over the login password, you should not have to provide the password for that container. So try and keep one step ahead of our friends that want your data!!  Look after yourself when you are travelling.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Secure Your Location, Identity and Data

How safe are you and your data when on line?  How many countries do you visit that monitor your Internet and VoIP traffic? Singapore? Thailand? Indonesia? Malaysia? China?

If you are staying in a hotel in China how do you know if your company secrets stored on your laptop are not being copied as you communicate with head office? Do you not think hotels are the perfect place to monitor Internet traffic in China?

There may also be many reasons why you may wish to hide your identity when on-line. While I have no reason to be worried about doing anything illegal or wrong, I am always careful when not working from a secure network that I manage or control.

What are the alternatives?

There are a number of options available and of course in China some of these are very important as some people have a lot to hide if they are speaking out against human rights or other anti-government issues. As I said, while this is not my main concern, I am concerned for my clients having trade secrets on their laptops and these being stolen without their knowledge. But saying that, the way Hong Kong is heading, people should be very concerned about the way the government and police are moving to monitor and control how people demonstrate or publish their views. Certainly Hong Kong people's freedom has declined over the past 5 years so people should be concerned and be careful when on-line.

Cloud Computing

Of course Cloud Computing is one solution in combination with VPN's and encrypted tunnels either back to corporate head quarters or simply outside of China, Thailand, Indonesia or even Singapore.

Cloud Computing offers more security simply because there is no data on your laptop. There are Netbooks available which allow you to connect to the Internet where all your data is stored and secure. If your data never leaves the Cloud it remains secure. Of course you do not have access to your data unless on-line. But may be this is the price you need to pay for better security?

Global VPN Service Providers

Using a secure VPN service provider also allows your computer to appear to be located in a different country, e.g. a USA / UK / Australian based IP address can be obtained. You would want to do this when access is blocked to certain web content, e.g. Facebook in China. Another example may be, if you are a US citizen and you wish to access Netflix or Hulu and live in Asia, then simply obtain a VPN connection to a USA server and you will not be blocked from using these services. Of course these services also require a credit card or PayPal account payment and unless these are also US based you generally cannot get connected. I say generally only because someone has worked out if you purchase a Gift Card for these services you may not need a US credit card but do still need a US IP address to access the stream servers.

For just protecting your Internet data traffic when you travel or even from your mobile phone as you move around town, you can use various VPN solutions including SuperVPN.net, StrongVPN.com or Overplay.net.  Overplay also provides something very clever called SmartDNS. For those that wish to watch TV in a different country then this works. It is fast so you can enjoy HD quality. However it does not encrypt your data so is not the answer for safety, VPN does that.

If your mobile phone connects to your corporate network what security do you have in place to ensure it will not infect your systems?

For a secure tunnel that always encrypts your data and provides either a UK, Swiss or US IP address consider Privatetunnel.com and OpenVPN. China have already tried to block this company but there are ways to stop China doing this. Details on their web site.

While there are many provides of VPN services, some take your money and do nothing, just a scam so be careful. Cheap does not mean it works.

VPN and Proxy services are different. A Proxy service provider may provide you an IP address outside of your location country so you can access blocked content however the provider receives all your Internet traffic in readable format and can skim off key data like credit card numbers etc. So avoid using these. Use well known or written about VPN service providers only.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Cloud Email for China

Google Apps for Business has some difficulty working consistently in China if you are not within a corporate network environment. If your office is connected to any country outside China, typically by VPN, then Google Apps and many other SaaS applications currently blocked, will work. Once you travel outside of the office a PC based VPN would need to be established to the office before the application may work.


If this all sounds a little confusing then one system that has no issues in China is Zoho. Zoho were smart and partnered with a mainland company a couple of years back and then established a data centre in China. Today they are friends with China so their products work without any blocking. If you are a Google Apps user you can integrate Google and Zoho together. We have clients that visit China and use Zoho Mail for their email Client and they love it. Zoho is also free for 5GB of storage.

Zoho Mail integrates into their award winning Zoho CRM application. The integration of email is a very nice feature as it allows you to see what has been going on between your clients and team members without the need to CC email to each other.

Another Zoho product I have been testing under final beta is Zoho Campaigns. I have used many of these applications including Constant Contact, Mail Chimp, Active Contacts, Email Brian and more. Zoho Campaigns is by far the best newsletter tool I have used and with the bi-directional integration between the mailing lists and the contact in Zoho CRM it saves a great amount of time in managing your lists. So once Zoho Campaigns is available be sure to try it out as it is easy to use and 9/10 for functionality.

So check out Zoho EMail, Zoho CRM and the other Zoho products.

Cloud Solutions is a Zoho Alliance Partner and a Google Reseller.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Google Apps Backup Solution Improves - Backupify

Backupify continue to add new functionality to their Cloud based backup solution. What makes Backupify different is it backs up Cloud to Cloud. It does not backup files in your office to the Cloud, we use Mozy Pro for that. But backing up Cloud to Cloud is very clever. They have a focus on Google Apps and Social Media like Linked In, Facebook etc.

Google Apps Migration App

Backupify is launching a migration tool to transfer data between Google Apps accounts and domains. The beta will be available mid-May. Use cases for this tool include: migrating whole domains after a company acquisition or company re-branding, migrating data from a departing employee into a current employee account, or for a school to transfer graduating students onto an alumni account.

Backup of Google Drive

Backupify for Google Apps backs up Google Drive, including all native Google Docs as well as those uploaded. All drive items can be found in the user's docs archive.

Enterprise and Education (EDU) functionality

With the increasing number of schools and larger companies adopting Backupify they will be rolling out features specific to larger organisations in the second half of 2012. Some of these features include multiple admins with roles/privileges, configurable backup frequency and backup retention periods, and advanced search and export for e-discovery.

Storage based pricing is now available for larger accounts.
Cloud Solutions is a Google Apps Reseller and Partner along with Backupify which we recommend for Google Apps backup services. 

Monday, 14 May 2012

Dropbox in China BLOCKED!

If you are a Dropbox user you may already know China blocks this application. We do not recommend Dropbox for company use anyway and would recommend the adoption of Egnyte. This offers similar features to Dropbox and then some more enhanced sharing and security features.

We have had several customers call us about the issues with China and Dropbox. Once Egnyte was installed all files can be shared with China. Files can be replicated to the computer of a user or can be accessed via iPad , iPhone or Android phones.

Set up advanced security for read-only or read-write access to folders and files.

Forget about Dropbox. Businesses should be looking for business based tools and not consumer products that have crept into the corporate environment. Egnyte starts at US$29 per month for 5 users and 150GB of storage.

For more details on Egnyte visit here.

Saturday, 12 May 2012

New Business Adopts Hybrid Cloud and it Works!!

Egnyte Hybrid Cloud File Server
When you start a new business keeping control of your costs is key to your business surviving those first two years. This past week we helped set up a new business with people based in Singapore and Hong Kong. All staff had laptops, iPads, iPhones or Androids. The business owners believed Cloud would save them money and remove the need for high upfront investments in computer systems and people.

We recommended Google Apps and Egnyte Hybrid Cloud File Server along with some additional advice for security in regard to the use of public Wifi's and storing data locally on each laptop.

The complete system was set up in a matter of hours including the Singapore users. Outlook is used on the laptop and synchronised with Google's Cloud and then back to the user's iPhone or Android phone. All documents that are created on each user's laptop is synchronised with the Cloud file server via Egnyte's Hybrid Cloud model. This model allows a select number of folders that reside on the company's Cloud file server to be replicated and stored locally on the user's laptop. The advantage of this design is users can access documents fast as they are stored locally; as soon as documents are saved they are synchronised with the Cloud file server as a backup and to be made available to others. Document version control is automatic and security is supported across all users in the company.

All user's are very impressed with the speed and simplicity of the solutions. Egnyte offers an iPhone and Android client so everyone was access their emails and company documents in no time at all.

Other Reference Clients

This is not the first time Egnyte's Cloud file server has been implemented around the region. Last month we worked with a Singapore based early childhood education provider to implement Engyte Hybrid Cloud to create a single file server for their business. This allowed all 12 branches to see and share a single file server and securely store and share documents as if they were in the same physical building.

In Hong Kong we have a trader who shares files between their local office and their team in China. Egnyte provides a single file server for files to be shared and accessed between Hong Kong and China without being blocked by China. The client tried Drop Box but it did not work as it is blocked in China.

Both clients now have 1T (1000GB) of storage available from as little as US$45 per month, the solution pays for itself in no time as well as providing a level of business protection not available before.

Cloud Solutions is a Google Apps Reseller and an Egnyte Partner in Asia.


Sunday, 6 May 2012

Wyse PocketCloud for Remote Access and Private Cloud

Wyse Pocketcloud
If you are looking for a very good remote access client that can support RDP and VNC the the Wyse PocketCloud is the answer. In addition PocketCloud can connect to your personal PC if you download and install the Wyse PocketCloud client.  PocketCloud allows you to securely access your desktop anytime and anywhere on your iOS or Android devices.

The RDP client will support Microsoft Terminal Server, Remote Desktop and VMware View.

There are three offerings at the Wyse Pocketcloud.com web site, these include Remote Desktop,Web and Explorer.

PocketCloud Explore brings an intuitive view of your Windows/Mac file system to Android smartphones and tablets, and lets you search, view, organise, and share files across all of your computers. It also allows you to create a personal cloud out of your computers plus an online "Cloudbin" for anytime, anywhere access and sharing.


PocketCloud Web is a browser-based application and service that lets you search, view, organize, and share files across all of your computers and online storage called the "Cloudbin". Create a personal cloud of your computers and Cloudbin for access and sharing from any Web browser.

Cloud Solutions is a Wyse Reseller in Hong Kong and can provide all Wyse devices.

Monday, 30 April 2012

Google Drive is Here

First impressions of Google Drive. Quite good. In fact very good. A number of business challenges facing Google Docs in the enterprise have been resolved with the 5GB Google Drive. This is available to paid Google Apps users only.

I believe one of the reasons Google Docs has not been adopted by more Google Apps users within the enterprise is the need to train users and for users to start and work with a document manager. Users have been so used to using folders for so long, the need to learn a new way to store and locate information just becomes a little too much for some.

With Google Drive a user can now save documents to their local PC folders and they will be synchronized with the Cloud. Any documents that have been stored in Google Docs will be available for downloading to your local PC. This can be done in total or by selected folders. So the best of both worlds. Google Docs becomes a subset of content stored in Google Drive.

And mobile access? No problem. My HTC Android has no problem locating files in a more structured (folder view) way compared to the dynamic way Google Docs presents the documents. While I believe Google Docs is clever I think the average 9am to 5pm worker has little time for these things and would prefer to simply keep working on their documents in a folder view.

While I see more to come with the hybrid cloud model Google are now supporting, this is a great first step and something that should see Google Docs used more in the enterprise. For no other reason but auto backup of your files!

Cloud Solutions is a Google Apps and Google Drive Reseller in Asia

Friday, 27 April 2012

Wyse VDI Devices in Hong Kong - WHICH WYSE?

Wyse offer a range of cloud computing devices. Some are general purpose and some have been designed specifically for a particular desktop hosting environment. Pricing starts at HK$1,995 per device. This includes the keyboard and mouse. Wifi can normally be added for an additional $350 or thereabouts.

So our picks are the Wyse  P20 for VMware View 5.0+. The Wyse P20 device supports PCoIP which allows a one-click start to connect to your desktop.

For Citrix VDI-in-a-Box or Citrix Xen Desktop the best Wyse device would be the Wyse Xenith Pro. This device would support the HDX client from Citrix.

For Windows there are a few options. The RDP client is available on a number of devices and it is really your preference if you run embedded Windows or Linux as the OS on the device. General purpose devices are available in the C Class range of devices and they support clients for Citrix, VMware and Microsoft. The Wyse T50 offers a Ubuntu Linux OS on the device and the various clients to connect to your virtual desktop.

The entry level T50 or C Class devices offer a good place to start, but if you have already decided on your VDI platform it may be best to go with the device specifically designed for that environment. In some cases there will be a need for Microsoft access licenses if these have not been purchased as part of your VDI project.

Cloud Solutions is a Wyse Reseller in Hong Kong.

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Virtual Desktops VDI in Hong Kong and Asia

The demand for VDI or a virtual desktop infurstructure is growing in demand. Over the past few weeks we have seen an increase in Cloud demand coming from Singapore, Hong Kong and Shanghai. While the demand for Google Apps and Microsoft 365 remains constant, what we are seeing is a big increase in companies wanting to migrate everything to the Cloud. Not just their Email or CRM database, but their complete office.

So what are we talking about with VDI?

The concept is simple. Instead of giving a user a local PC running a local copy of Windows 7, you run the Windows 7 desktop software on a server in the Cloud (or your datacenter). Then your users remotely connect to and control their own instance of their Windows desktop in a one-to-one manner from their own client device. The client device can now be a Wyse thin client, an iPad, a MAC,  a laptop, Netbook, Unix client or an existing Windows XP machine.

VDI is quite new however we have had server-based computing (SBC)  for quite some time with many companies using either a Microsoft terminal server and/or a Citrix Presentation Server / Farm to host  desktops for their users.

However today's  VDI solutions do “compete” with the traditional local desktop and the SBC desktop solutions from Microsoft and Citrix. When compared to the traditional local desktop of Windows XP or Windows 7, VDI does offer the following advantages:
  • Data containment
  • Desktops are running on server-class hardware
  • Client device independence
  • Ease of management
In addition, it may be possible to save up to 40% or more on your desktop costs.

So what are the options for VDI?

There are a number of solutions that a company may consider when adopting VDI. The decision will often come down to price but depending on your size and current IT infrustructure there are a few choices from well established companies. The leading solutions coming from Microsoft, Citrix and VMware. There are a few niche players like nComputing which specialise with schools and the education market.

VMware have a strong hold on the server virtualisation market. Based on this they have a good foothold in many larger organisations. Their VMware View client can provide hosted or virtual desktops to those cusotmers. Microsoft have a couple of solutions, including Remote Desktop Server and Hyper-V. Citrix may well be the best positioned as their solutions integrates and improves both VMware and Microsoft as well as operate independantly with XenServer and VDI in a box. It is not easy to have a simple answer for every case but for the companies we have been engaged with recently they have say 100 staff over 4-5 offices in Asia. Often they do not have great IT infrustrature and see VDI at helping bringing things into control. I believe Citrix's VDI-in-a-box offers a cost effective solution for most companies.

If the you only have one office in Hong Kong and are less than 50 people, then Microsoft's Remote Desktop Server (Windows 2008 R2) works very well and is not as expensive to deploy as some the full VDI solutions. So I am suggesting Microsoft's Remote Desktop solution is not a true VDI but is excellent in delivering server hosted desktops and I believe should not be overlooked. Windows Server 2008 R2 is a good solution for many companies.

The true VDI solutions from Microsoft, VMware and Citrix offer some great features but the resources to run some of these solutions, from a server point of view, can often be overkill if your office only has 30 or 40 people. Serious consideration needs to be given to the work each user performs and their location compared to where the desktop server is located.

There is a need to group your users into like teams or application users. Those that simply use Word, Outlook and say Chrome all day can be treated as basic knowledge works and their resource requirements are low. On the other hand if they were AutoCAD or Multi Media users the computing resources are much higher and the right solution would need to be designed for those user. Consideration for use of USB drives, Web Cams, DVD players,  YouTube etc all need to be taken into consideration when selected the server and the user's cloud computing or thin client device.

Is Cloud Computing all about VDI?

Not at all. While the desktop can be Cloud based. The key to cloud computing is migrating your business applications to SaaS based applications like Google Apps or Office 365. Of course big players like SalesForce dominate the CRM market however we have had a lot of success with Zoho CRM in Asia.

Other applications include backup, PBX, Email, CRM, BI applications and more.

So the desktop is one application we need to deliver to the users; email, word-processing, accounting etc are all applications that need to be delivered to your end users.

Cloud Hosted Desktops

For small companies we simply have desktops on demand starting from US$20 per month. If you wish to understand more about Cloud hosted desktops please make contact.  These are hosted on Amazon in Singapore.

Friday, 16 March 2012

Microsoft Office 365 drops pricing

Prices for the four plans named E1, E2, E3 and E4, dropped, in that order, from US$10 to $8; from $16 to $14; from $24 to $20; and from $27 to $22.


Office 365 also comes in a plan for small businesses, called P1, which has a 50-user limit, and in an email-only option with just Exchange Online, as well as in other alternatives. The price for the P1 plan remains the same at US$6 per user, per month.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Visitor Management in the Cloud

This month saw Cloud Solutions add a new Cloud application to our portfolio. The application is from Vitar Software and is a Cloud based Visitor Manager


Vitar designed their Visitor Manager solution from the ground up to include all the benefits from both the legacy paper based solutions and more modern electronic systems. By adopting a true SaaS cloud computing model Vitar are the only global player who could provide facilities management companies and their clients either a single or multi site, multi-lingual or multi tenanted solution under one simple web based management application.


We feel there is great opportunity in Hong Kong for this type of application with so many residential and commercial buildings with registration desks. What is better, is the cloud model means "NO UP FRONT INVESTMENT!"


Vitar Secure Visitor Management Software is a suite of easy to use tools to help professionally manage all visitors and contractors on any customer premise. With the number of multi tenanted buildings in Hong Kong, and the increased demands for health and safety requirements including building fire lists, Vitar addresses many issues of facilities managers may have. We are keen to have some Asia based businesses using Vitar so are offering the first 10 organisation to register an interest and extended free trial period. 


Visit the web site here. Contact me for further information +852 9101-7795.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Mozy Shuttle - Cloud Backup for Servers, Workstations and Laptops

Mozy continues to offer great Cloud backup solutions. The new Mozy Shuttle helps address the issue of thousands of files needing to be backed up off-site. Often 1T or 2T could take a week or even longer to copy off site. Mozy Shuttle speeds this process up. Contact Cloud Solutions for more information on Mozy. A great solution for any size organisation wanting to backup their data and keep it off-site and online.





Thursday, 9 February 2012

Call Tracking with Google Apps Calendar

A nice little application for your Android phone is CallTrack. The application logs your phone calls and then sends the activity back to your Google Calendar as a history archive. Download for free, login to your Google account, select your target calendar and select if you wish to track all call types, including incoming, outgoing and missed calls. I recommend setting up a calendar just for your phone so it does not clutter up your main appointment calendar. The sync process is manually performed from the phone menu.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Meraki - The First Cloud Controlled Switch

I am currently waiting on delivery of the first Cloud Controlled PoE Switch in Hong Kong.

The Meraki MS is the industry's first cloud managed switch. What a great idea!

With cloud based management, hundreds of switch ports can be configured and monitored instantly from any browser in the world.  A company can now provision remote sites without on-site IT, deploy network wide configuration changes and easily manage large and distributed networks without training or dedicated staff.

Meraki is winning awards for their innovation bringing Cloud management to hardware devices. The company started with wireless access points and has moved into security and switches.

Configurations include PoE, 12, 24 and 48 ports. Pricing from US$1999.

Keep tuned as I report back on how my test drive went.  If you are also interested to evaluate please let me know and I will arrange.

Which PDF solution?

There are a number of PDF solutions on the market, not just Adobe. Many are free and offer viewing of PDFs, annotations and  editing. Some features require the license to be purchased.

The PDF solution I use is PDF-XChange Pro from Tracker Software. Their corporate bundle offers great features and for the price is well worth it.

The latest add-on includes full-OCR or character recognition. This allows an image PDF, or a scanned PDF to be converted to a fully searchable PDF so you can cut and paste text from the document into an email or a word processor. The ability to merge another PDF document at printing time is also cool. This allows a letterhead to be merged with a document when it is printed so you have a perfect letter ready to be emailed out. No more printing! This can be sent as a zipped PDF file or simply a PDF.

The PDF Viewer is free but upgrading gives you a load of features include editing of the file so pages can be removed or added. The viewer can plug into your browser for default viewing of PDF's on-line.

For a full list of product comparisons visit:
http://www.tracker-software.com/pdf-xchange-products-comparison-chart

The licensed PDF-XChange Viewer 'PRO', is a PDF creator in it's own right, allowing users to create PDF files directly from scanners, image files and can even take a .txt or a .rtf file and convert it to PDF or build your PDF document from scratch.

OCR functionality supports a base language set of English, French, German, Spanish and Chinese (S&T).

You can download the free viewer but recommend upgrading to the Pro Viewer. Pricing for 10 users starts US$45.15 per use or US$58 including 3 year's of upgrades. Contact me for further information or to buy.


Saturday, 4 February 2012

Postini vs Backupify - Which one to use?

Customers evaluating Backupify for Google Apps product often ask me to compare a feature list to Postini, specifically Postini Message Discovery (also known as Google Message Discovery). The answer is simple:
  • Backupify for Google Apps is a backup solution
  • Postini Message Discovery is an archiving tool

Archiving and backup are two very different use cases, and it’s important to understand the distinction when evaluating products designed to meet each demand.



The rule of thumb: Archiving is for discovery, backups are for recovery.


More broadly, archiving tools are for expediting auditing and compliance tasks, backup tools aid in error correction and disaster recovery. While you can use most backup tools to aid discovery tasks, and it’s possible to employ some archiving systems as recovery solutions, neither are ideal for those use cases.


Why You Need An Archiving Tool
Because you have to know where your data has been, and have to be able to prove it.


Archiving tools are designed to make compliance audits and legal discovery requests simpler. Archiving systems create copies of data that are intended to illustrate who had access to emails and documents when, and who made which changes at what time. Their interfaces and data exports are designed to satisfy regulators and investigators.


If you ever get sued, you’ll be glad you deployed an archiving tool beforehand. However, if you try to restore an email or document with your archiving tool, you’ll be upset you didn’t have a backup system instead.


Why You Need A Backup Tool
Because you can’t live without your data and, if it’s ever lost, you want to get it back as fast as possible.


Backup tools are designed to keep your business data secure and intact in the event of natural disasters, security breaches or good, old-fashioned user error — the latter of which makes up nearly one-third of all data loss, and two-thirds of data losses within Google Apps. Backup systems create copies of data that are intended to maximize speed of recovery, such that you can restore any lost items or accounts with the absolute minimum delay. Their interfaces and data exports are designed to satisfy I.T. professionals.


If your system ever gets hacked or someone maliciously deletes your data, you’ll be glad you deployed a backup tool beforehand. However, if you try to piece together an audit trail with your backup records, you’ll be upset you didn’t have an archiving system instead.


Backupify vs. Postini
Backupify and Postini are not competing products, they are complementary solutions. Archiving is a best practice in regulated industries, and backup is a best practice for any critical system. It is entirely possible, and often best practice, to deploy both Postini and Backupify on your Google Apps domain. That said, there are specific differences between the two products, and you should know beforehand exactly what functionality you require — and are legally obligated to possess — before deciding whether Postini and/or Backupify is the right solution for you.


Contact me for more information... Backupify starts from as little as US$3 per month per user.