Over the last year, TNT has seen a shift in technology spending comparable to nothing that we have experienced. The shift towards putting both data and computing power in the cloud is unprecedented. Previously, the only “killer apps” that existed in the cloud for small and mid-sized businesses were online banking and perhaps payroll. Now, directory services, databases, email and office applications, and even file services are online-only services for many of our customers.
TNT's customers have been part of this technology shift. At the start of 2017, only a few TNT customers had mission critical data and applications running on servers that they could never touch or see. Now, over a quarter of all active TNT customers are using TNT to both migrate and use cloud services for their day-to-day functions.
- A manufacturing company is migrating its primary manufacturing application to the cloud. Considering they already have email and business continuity services in the cloud, they are about as “all in” as a company can be.
- A local government put all of their messaging and message archives in the cloud.
- A property management company moved to the cloud.
- A car dealership went “all cloud.”
It seems like all sectors that can use the cloud for day to day operations ARE using the cloud.
Our sales team is seeing the shift as well, as they are helping educate our current and new customers on the advantages of moving to the cloud. We think this trend will continue into 2018.
There is some attrition. Some of TNT’s main vendors (Cisco and Microsoft) are publishing decreasing financials as the world cares less about “owning” the best IT and migrates towards “renting time” on the best IT services on the market. Cloud only ideas are really taking off; not just Instagram and Salesforce. Webroot cloud-only security products are gaining fast traction and monthly networking services that include no upfront equipment charges or installation fees are ideas that business owners have been looking forward to.
The technology shift has affected TNT internally as well. Our engineers earned lots of cloud certifications in 2017 from Datto, Axcient and Microsoft. We felt only limited need to train on non-cloud services, as their future isn’t what it used to be.
Like most companies, we bought and maintained the hardware for our servers, but after reviewing the total cost of ownership in comparison to using a cloud based infrastructure, we decided to migrate to Azure. All business operations are now in Azure, and provisioning new servers or increasing resources to accommodate new business processes has never been easier. Engineers can now focus on more important things like secure operations rather than dealing with failed hard drives or airflow to servers.
As the shift into the cloud grows in 2018, TNT plans to be on the leading edge, and help empower our clients the enhance their business outcomes through IT.
There are several things to consider before moving your servers to the cloud. Without question, you have used servers in the cloud. Remember online banking that you started using a decade ago? Those were servers, made available to you “in the cloud.” Sure, those who made that service available to you had no idea how prolific that technology would become.
Now, you have some server(s) that you think might be best managed and maintained by having them be cloud based. Here are a list of 5 things that you need to take into consideration before you pull the trigger.
Considerations when Moving Servers to the Cloud
- There are one-time setup fees and monthly recurring charges for moving servers to the cloud. Get a handle on the difference. Some companies charge no fee to migrate, but they get that money back on hidden/back end fees based on your usage. Some charge a setup fee, but they give you very predictable recurring fees that you can count as accurate. Keep in mind that you are buying this service from a business that makes money. One way or another, they will get back their costs from you. Otherwise, they will go out of business, and so will access to your server.
- Take a tour! If you can’t go to the facility, get them to give you a test account, so you can see what the experience is like. Not all servers or services are created equal.
- Ask about backup. Nearly every vendor out there gives you a monologue about their uptime. They spout off facts and figures that sound like this…. "Our servers are up 99.999% of the time, or your money back.” That said, events happen, and your servers’ data gets corrupted/deleted/hacked, etc. What does your vendor do if you discover that everything got hacked on Friday night and you didn’t find out until Monday morning? You need to know what they are going to do for you to get you access to the server that was running on Friday at lunch, before it went down. FYI-most providers don’t include backup until you get to a premium level service
- Ask what support looks like. Having a phone number and an email address is better than having only an email address. Ask where support is! Many folks struggle to be understood when support is on the other side of the world with a non-English native speaker. The importance of communication only increases as the urgency increases.
- If you are seeking assistance in the move (which you should do, since your experience is limited, at best), ask for a plan. Find out which servers and services were selected to be moved first, and learn why they were picked.
Moving to the cloud shall happen, whether it be on your watch or your successor's. Be a part of the change, but be smart about it.
If you are interested in learning more about moving servers to the cloud, especially the point about backup,
As president, I am often indirectly asked to talk about the direction of IT/2017 technology trends….like I have insight into something that you don’t.
Sometimes, I do have insight, not because of my title, but we because and I read and talk to leaders in the IT leadership community. Some trends that will continue to grow are:
- Security will remain the pink elephant of 2017 technology trends. Many people will conclude that there is no problem for their business, because they have no evidence to prove them wrong. When these people are proven wrong, it is often too late for them and often a long overdue indicator that leadership is out of touch. Security requires more budget than ever to stay on top of. Ransomware in 2017 should invoke a Tora, Tora, Tora response in all of our hearts and checkbooks.
- Virtualization is still in the stone age. We have servers and desktop running virtual software. We don’t have mobile phone and tablet OS running in VM, yet. With most of the world using mobile devices to access the internet more than with wired devices, we have a lot of room for many vendors to come up with the “final answer” for virtualization.
- Screens will be more and more important. We stare at 27” monitors for 9 to 10 hours a day, and watch TV on a 55” TV for an hour or two. That shall continue to evolve with screen size tilting towards bigger work screens.
- Online everything will continue to grow. A few years ago, swipe right meant nothing to anyone. Ask a single person what swipe right means, and you will get a chuckle. Ask a single person in your office now, if you don’t believe me.
- The Internet of things will continue to impress. IP enabled Clothing will expand. Safety issues will generate wide scale acceptance of IoT devices.
- IT will move to the cloud at a faster and faster rate. Fear of “what if” will lose the battle to “its not my problem” thinking. The hardware business for individual IT folks will contract.
There are many more 2017 technology trends that I could express and expand on. That said, this list is already too long for anyone intelligent to address. Perhaps you can do a good job on one or two of these issues, but not all of them.
You need help addressing this stuff. We can help you with this. And it costs less than you think…so I think!
by: Jeff Gaura, President
Have you ever been in an office/house/space, and the Internet is horribly slow? You ask someone “WTF with the slow Internet?” They tell you that it isn’t normally this way.
And they are liars.
OK, maybe they aren’t liars, but you sense without any words that their network stinks.
The truth is that the network is probably OK, but there is some device on the network that is hogging up the bandwidth.
Recently, at TNT, we experienced a slow Internet issue. Yan just came back to the office after a 3-month hiatus, and he went to work on his computer. Within an hour or two, both Jessica (the marketing director) and I experienced a train wreck called, “no Internet.”
I checked all the equipment to confirm that there were no equipment failures or configuration changes on the router, switch or firewall, and all seemed OK. The only “thing” that was different was that Yan had come back to work.
Back to work means that he plugged in his IP phone, cell phone and PC. After a bit of troubleshooting, we found that when he disabled his PC, everything went back to “fast” on our network. When he plugged it back in, everything slowed down.
Yan, being the professional that he is, denied all of it. He even did a system restore to try to show us that it wasn’t his PC that was the problem. Nope.
The real question came up: what is it that Yan’s PC is doing that is killing the bandwidth. Running a couple of tools on his PC showed the processes that were using the bandwidth, but the built-in tools didn’t show what apps or what websites he was hitting. For the techies reading this, his scvhost.exe was using up all the bandwidth. Since that program controls how DLL are used, there is no way to sort out quickly what the culprit is.
My Plan B gave us an answer in literally 30 seconds. I used Meraki’s free Dashboard to run a tool to view client bandwidth usage. Meraki’s portal produced this info in a matter of seconds.
The culprit of the slow Internet? Windows updates and One Drive syncing. Yan hadn’t turned on this PC in 2 ½ months, and Windows didn’t like that. It decided to run Windows updates and synchronize all of his files. Within 2 hours, he had consumed 2 GB of bandwidth, and we were all unable to do anything other than type.
Had I not had the Meraki tool, I would have had to resort to some advanced Windows tools or download a 3rd party tool, learn it, and try to run it to sort out what is going on, all from Yan’s computer. Problematic at best, since the act of turning his computer on the network was slowing everything to a halt.
Cloud-based networking made this possible.
Looking for a reason to go cloud? Here you go.
by: Jeff Gaura, President