Get Your Business Moving. In partnership with Nomis Connections

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1 Get Your Business Moving In partnership with Nomis Connections

2 Get Your Business Moving Mobile devices + the cloud = biggest business opportunity to come along in quite a while Businesses have more opportunity than ever to get moving. Smart phones and tablets are getting smarter, 4G is being rolled out, and the cloud is used by many more businesses. That s a massive change from just a few years ago. So with powerful mobile devices, fast connections and cost-effective cloud services, how can businesses make best use of these new technologies? The opportunity with mobile Smarter mobile devices, plus cloud technology, opens up opportunities for businesses of all sizes. This white paper focuses on how businesses can create cost effective custom mobile applications designed for their needs. Although there is a wide range of package software available, it doesn t always work the way your business works, which means you have to change your ways of doing things. Custom applications and database, hosted in the cloud and used on mobile devices, let you capture exactly the information that s important to you. It can then be analyzed it in a way that is useful Key opportunity for business The cloud makes it easy to create custom software applications for mobile devices. People can work from more locations and enter or use data wherever they are. That improves customer service and differentiates you from your competitors. to management. You are not constrained by packaged off the shelf software. All of which adds up to a competitive advantage for your business, and better service for your customers.

3 Introduction Cloud-based applications can be accessed by people with the appropriate permissions, from anywhere where there is an internet connection. This opens up opportunities for businesses to help people be more productive, and make better decisions when staff are away from the office. In this white paper we first put this in context by considering what cloud computing is, then we look at two of the most popular ways of using the cloud: software as a service and platform as a service. We then look at how businesses can use of platform as a service to increase revenue, increase efficiency and create new opportunities. We specifically consider the benefits Windows Azure as a platform. What is cloud computing? Cloud computing is the friendly name for a group of technologies that enable us to use someone else s computing resources over the internet. By computing resources we mean everything you need to run a robust software service: servers, software, updates to software, and the right data center environment. At the heart of cloud computing are two key technologies: 1. The ability to virtualize servers, that is to be able to run more than one virtual server on the same hardware 2. The ability to operate a number of servers as though they were one Now that we have fast connections to the internet through Wi-Fi or 3G (and soon 4G), it makes it possible to use resources that are located elsewhere. Put everything together and businesses can now think differently about their IT. For small and medium sized businesses, there two primary ways that the cloud can be used. These are known as SaaS (software as a service) and PaaS (platform as a service). Although software as a service isn t the focus of this white paper, we will discuss it first as it is the better known of the cloud s offerings.

4 Software as a Service With software as a service you pay to use software over the internet. This is normally a monthly fee and both the software and your data are located on remote servers, ie in the cloud. You don t have to worry about providing hardware, paying for licenses, configuring PCs, or creating recovery plans if something goes wrong. You just set up an account, give your credit card details, and off you go. Microsoft Office 365 is an example of software as a service can be accessed from anywhere and from a range of devices as the data is stored in the cloud. The advantages are that costs are all inclusive and transparent, you only pay for what you use, and you don t have to install software on individual PCs or mobile devices. Plus you can access the application from wherever there is an internet connection. The simple model, the speed of getting started, and leaving the headache of managing the software to someone else, all make this a very attractive proposition. Software as a service is liked by many businesses and the take-up has been rising steadily. Microsoft reports that Office 365 has been their most popular release yet. Platform as a Service Platform as a service gives you even more flexibility. You can you use someone else s computing resources as if they were your own and pay only for what you use. Instead of having to buy, configure and install the hardware and software, it is provided ready for use from someone else s data center. You can then run your own applications in the cloud. This gives businesses flexibility and agility that was simply not possible a few years ago. The advantages are numerous, but here are a few: 1. Saves time. Buying a new server is expensive, and selecting the right one for your needs takes expertise and time. Meetings have to be held and what ifs explored. This is time that could be spent on thinking about core business activities. By using a cloud platform, such as Microsoft Azure, experts make these decisions for you. And because they are specialists, they do it better than you could, even if you have very smart people in your organization.

5 2. Improves focus. All the time and energy that is spent worrying about hardware and capital costs is time and energy taken away from worrying about your business, and improving products and services. 3. Improves cash-flow. Regardless of how much it costs over a period of time to use the application, cloud computing lets you spread the cost. On-premise applications typically have high up-front costs that are recouped over a number of years. The cloud is the opposite, with low up-front costs that are spread over the lifetime of the application. This is important because it means the risk is lower and you can afford to try things without worrying about capital expenditure. 4. The platform is managed by experts. IT staff even in large organizations need to be knowledgeable in a range of subjects, including business functions. This means they often don t have specialist expertise in specific areas. But that s exactly when you get with cloud platforms such as Azure: people who work 100% of their time on specific activities. The quality of the service they provide is therefore higher. So you enjoy a stable platform for less money. 5. Greater agility. When someone within the business comes up with a great idea for increasing efficiency or taking advantage of an opportunity, they normally meet some resistance. That s normal, because even if it is a great idea, it is still unproven and businesses need to put their money where they will get the highest return on their investment. The cloud makes it easier to try out good ideas, and minimize the risk. For example, you can create a database application in the cloud for people to access and test. You can monitor how frequently it is accessed for inputting information, and how useful the information is once it s collated. A trial can be done for very little money to let people see whether the concept is worthwhile. That makes it easier to take advantage of good ideas, without unnecessary risk. 6. Handles peaks well. You can scale up very quickly and only pay for what you need. If you ve ever tried to buy tickets for the Royal Opera House, you will be delighted to hear that this peak demand is now being handled in the cloud. More resources are brought in as needed, without having the cost the rest of the year. The Olympics also made great use of the cloud. Your peaks may not be quite as dramatic, but it does demonstrate that costs can be made, and demand catered for, by using someone else s computing power. Cash-flow and agility benefits are significant, as are the low initial costs. Costs for cloud services are allinclusive and take into account management time, redundancy and the inevitable hardware failures. These are items that are rarely included when considering in-house costs. Plus the cloud also provides stronger security and redundancy than is practical for many in-house systems.

6 How one business is using the cloud Now that we have looked at the different ways the cloud can be used, we consider how one business is using both mobile and cloud for stock control. The Tea Bush saw the opportunity of having a well-managed, always on computing resource that they could use for relatively little cost and without having to find office space for servers. The Tea Bush is a gift business, selling antique china with fine teas and chocolates. Their concerns are providing quality products and service to their customers. So having systems and computing that do not take up a disproportionate amount of management time is important. The Tea Bush have a slightly unusual requirement for stock control. Because each antique is different, they need to see photographs of the items in order to know what they have in stock. Words do not adequately describe their stock. In addition, they needed to be able to access their information from a number of different locations. A cloud application with a back-end database was a good solution. Ideal for Growing Businesses Growing businesses often underestimate the pressure that is put on existing systems as they expand. System gaps are exposed when people get busier. The cloud enables new systems to be up and running quickly and used from wherever people are working. A prototype was hosted in Windows Azure so the software could be used in the business. Details about the stock, including photographs, can be accessed from a mobile phone. It s convenient, fast to use, and inexpensive. The prototype has proved the concept, and no money was spent on hardware, operating systems, etc. The only cost has been software development and a monthly fee to Windows Azure. This business cannot operate effectively without being able to quickly and accurately locate the correct product to ship. The application is a success it s easy to use and highly cost effective. Who is best placed to take advantage? There are many situations when the cloud is a good choice, but the following are ideally suited to cloud applications: 1. Start-ups either start-up companies or new divisions within a company. They have no legacy systems, and are normally on a tight budget. The cloud is a perfect solution and it helps them focus on systems and processes, without worrying about hardware and operating systems.

7 2. New applications these typically carry some risk as no one knows how well new systems or procedures will work. The cloud provides the opportunity to prototype new ideas quickly and easily. Staff can try them out and give feedback. This helps make informed decisions about what systems and processes are best for the business. 3. Growing businesses when a business grows it must ensure that gaps in systems are plugged. What might previously have been handled by a manual process or someone s expert knowledge, often comes under massive pressure as the business expands. The cloud provides a low-risk platform to trial systems and ensure gaps are covered with good systems. 4. People located in different places - when people work in different locations, even different countries, the cloud provides a low cost way of ensuring everyone works in the same way. You can standardize reporting, ensure everyone enters information into a common system, and enable them to access data from wherever there is an internet connection. Get Connected Over recent years broadband connectivity in the UK has been improving rapidly, and the trend is set to continue. The UK has a target to have the best broadband network in Europe by providing superfast broadband to 90% of premises and universal access to standard broadband with 2Mbps minimum speed. Already cloud solutions are popular, as more businesses have access to a super-fast connection. And now that almost 50% of households 2 also have access to fast connections, people can work just as easily from home. As well as wired services, wireless data connectivity has been rapidly improving. 3G signals are available across most of the UK and the release of 4G is set to surpass this over the coming years. There are also an increasing number of Wi-Fi hotspots in public places and communal meeting points. As network coverage increases, 3G and 4G connectivity means that users are free to work away from their home or office. People can access cloud services on their smartphones and tablets from wherever they are - making work truly mobile. 1 https://www.gov.uk/government/news/next-phase-of-superfast-broadband 2 ns/britainssuperfastbroadbandfuture.pdf

8 Choosing the right solution for your business Choosing the right data connection for your business is vital. While standard broadband packages have a contention ratio (the number of users who share a single line), leased lines and EFM (Ethernet in the First Mile) connections offer a dedicated 1:1 connection between the end-user and the internet. That gives speeds, reliability and service levels that standard business broadband packages don't offer. As businesses have different needs, it pays to get specialist help. Advancements in wired and wireless connectivity make cloud services more effective and reliable. Workers can access services quickly from wherever they are and benefit from fast download and upload speeds to enhance productivity. Match your Needs to the Connection Type 1. A fast and reliable service allows users to connect to cloud services without a lag 2. Mobile connectivity allows users to access the cloud from anywhere 3. Technology such as fibre make the connection more stable - making faults and data drops less likely The Future Mobile devices are changing the face of computing. For the first time in many years, PC sales have decreased, while sales of smart phones and tablets have increased. Whilst mobile devices may not replace PCs, they are certainly changing how we work. We are getting used to working on the move, wherever and whenever. Cloud computing is just another step along a continuum. At the moment we have IT specialists, IT departments, or we outsource it to a specialist company. But not so long ago people had their own generators, now we would no more think of generating our own electricity than making our own clothes. As with many industries, it makes sense to use centralized resources and centralized skill: costs are reduced, and standards increased. It is likely that for some time companies will operate a hybrid approach with some applications being run in-house and some in the cloud. The rapid up-take of the cloud indicates that the advantages are big enough to make this a key element in competitive strategy.

9 Working in Partnership to Make Life Easier Anatec Software and Nomis Connections are working in partnership to help businesses make the most of mobile technology. About Nomis Connections Nomis Connections is an independent supplier of unique and innovative telecoms and data connection solutions to businesses throughout the UK. With experience spanning over 40 years, they provide professional telecoms consultancy and incorporate solutions that set them apart from the competition. Nomis has extensive expertise in both telecoms hardware and finding the right data connections for business needs. They are devoted to making businesses more efficient through outstanding customer service acting as a single point of contact for all your telecommunications needs. Web: Call: About Anatec Software Anatec Software is a software house that specializes in Microsoft mobile and cloud applications for businesses. They design and build custom database applications to help business stay efficient and productive in a mobile world. Anatec has developed applications for businesses of all sizes for many years including for some of the world s most admired companies. Anatec adheres to best-practice business analysis, coding principles, producing documentation and early prototyping, to ensure the system works in practice not just in theory Talk to Us If what you ve read has sparked some ideas to make your business more effective, then we d love to talk to you. We understand that business systems are important, and need to be considered carefully. We also understand that getting the best solution for business isn t always straightforward. We re happy to give advice on specific problems, and how they might be best tackled: all without obligation. Our unique partnership of software development and data connection expertise means we can propose solutions that are both cost-effective and efficient. Talk to us we re here to help.

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