It is finally that time of year for all things pumpkin, and boy are we excited! Here are some interesting facts about why fall is the best season around!

  1. Those Halloween frights can be good for your heart.
  2. It’s cobbler season.
  3. It’s a great time for a campfire.
  4. Johnny Appleseed was a real guy.
  5. There’s a distinct “fall” scent that you can only smell in certain months.
  6. The Northern Lights are stronger in the fall.
  7. And you’ll be able to spot Mercury in the sky this fall.
  8. There’s a whole new set of seasonal fruits and vegetables to eat.
  9. And the largest pumpkin pie ever weighed nearly 3,700 pounds.
  10. And leaf peeping is a billion-dollar business, too.

Some of these facts are crazy, and things you wouldn’t even believe were true. The best part of fall is getting to spend time with family, spooky season, and chilly weather. After the year that we have all had, it is a much needed time to relax!

Sep 24 21
Christina Zumwalt

What do companies that outperform their competition have in common? They are able to generate a lot of business value from their data. According to an Aberdeen survey, organizations that utilize data lakes outperform their competition by 9% in organically derived revenue growth. Data lakes make it possible for an organization to engage in new types of analytics, including machine learning used with new sources such as data from click-streams, social media, log files, and even devices connected to the internet that are stored in the data lake. With new types of analytics, companies can act faster on opportunities for business growth. Data lakes and new analytic activities help attract and retain customers, boost productivity, and provide new insights for making informed decisions.

What Is the Difference Between Data Warehouses and Data lakes

Companies use data warehouses and data lakes for different needs and use cases. Depending on business requirements, most organizations will need a data warehouse and a data lake.

A data warehouse is really a database that is optimized to analyze relational data that comes from various business applications and transactional systems. In this case, the data structure and scheme are defined in advance. This allows for fast SQL queries. Data is first cleaned and then enriched and transformed. This data is generally considered the “singular source of truth” for users of organizational data for reporting and analysis purposes.

Data lakes are a bit different because not only does a data lake store relational data from business applications, it also stores unstructured or non-relational data from various sources like social media, mobile apps, and IoT devices. Because the structure and scheme are not defined when data is captured, all of your data can be stored without any careful design. You don’t even need to know what questions you may need answers to in the future. You can use many different types of analytics on your data, including big data analytics, SQL queries, real-time analytics. Machine learning and full-text search to find new insights from your data.

Organizations are quickly learning the benefits of data lakes, and many with data warehouses are adding or transforming their data warehouse to include data lakes. The real benefit of the data lake is that it provides your organization with the ability to utilize diverse query capabilities, data science use cases, and advanced capabilities to discover new information models. 

Data Lake Benefits

In general, data lakes enable you to collect more data from many more sources in a lot less time. It helps you leverage analytics on external data sources. Because a data lake can combine different sources of customer data, including information from a CRM application, social media analytics, incident tickets, and buying habits and history data, lakes provide much deeper insight into who the customer is, what types of rewards or incentives will increase loyalty, what promotions or partners might be most profitable. It helps your organization learn how to attract new customers and retain current customers.

Another benefit of data lakes is that they can assist your research and development teams to test their hypothesis, fine-tune assumptions and assess results to help identify the right materials for a product design that results in faster performance or more effective medications or what attributes a customer might be willing to pay more to get.

One of the most useful benefits of the data lake is that with more sources of real-time data and the ability to get data from IoT devices, more analytics can be run to increase operational efficiencies, reduce costs and improve quality.

Challenges

Apart from the many benefits a data lake provides, they also present a challenge. The primary challenge of data lakes is that raw data gets stored without any oversight of the contents. For a data lake to make the stored data usable, it needs defined mechanisms to catalog and secure it. If these elements are missing, data cannot be found or trusted and often results in what is termed a data “swamp.”

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Sep 22 21
Christina Zumwalt

The private cloud initially promised the same scalability, elasticity, and manageability as public clouds, but with the security and control over on-premise data center environments not possible with the public cloud. The promise seemed unjustified for many years. The fact of the matter was that rather than being the best of both worlds, private clouds were private or clouds at all. Many “private” clouds ran in public cloud environments (making them not “private”), or they failed to deliver any cloud benefits.

The landscape has shifted these days. Private clouds have become the prime part of a hybrid IT or a multi-cloud environment that offers a mix of public and private clouds as well as on-premises virtualized and legacy environments. The question is, do the current private clouds deserve respect, or are they simply another version of earlier vendor cloud washing?

Early Private Clouds Fall Short

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) formulated the basic definitions of cloud computing in 2011, including the definition of private cloud. “Private cloud: the cloud infrastructure is provisioned for exclusive use by a single organization comprising multiple consumers (e.g., business units).”

Private clouds can be owned, managed, and operated by a private enterprise, a third party, or any combination of third-party providers and private enterprises. 

Private clouds can run on or off-premises. In the beginning, when the private cloud was new and just emerging, the goal was an on-premise private cloud to bring the benefits of the public cloud to the corporate data center.

A lot of cloud vendors jumped on the bandwagon, establishing various ‘cloud in a box’ offerings that touted they met the requirements for a private cloud. These offerings were met with limited success because getting the private cloud right turned out to be harder than anyone ever imagined. These early private clouds could not deliver the scalability, elasticity, and resilience of the public cloud. 

These hybrid cloud solutions have matured over time. The private cloud leverages the benefits of the public cloud, including rapid deployment, scalability, ease of use, and elasticity. Still, it can also offer additional capabilities including greater control, increased performance, predictable cost, tighter security and flexible management options.”

Public cloud providers stepped up to play the private cloud game. Virtual private clouds were an early offering. “Virtual private cloud is an on-demand configurable pool of shared computing resources allocated within a public cloud environment. It provides a certain level of isolation between different organizations using the resources.”

Virtual private clouds finally delivered on the cloud characteristics that enterprises desired, but they were only ‘private’ because their network settings were logically behind the corporate firewall. Virtual private cloud resources, however, shared data centers, racks, and even servers with third-party cloud resources outside the private.

The Hybrid IT Future of Private Cloud

Private clouds still retain their identity as a separate offering from the public cloud, but they are more likely to be one part of a broader hybrid IT strategy. One of the primary reasons driving the hybrid IT strategy is the recognition that public clouds can’t meet all of the needs of an enterprise. In fact, the records show that there is almost no movement of large enterprise companies that have put their major systems of record (legacy systems)  into AWS, Azure, or any other public cloud. There is a growing desire and realization that there is a greater benefit in creating the cloud near where the data is processed than to move it to the cloud. The development of containers and Kubernetes also impacts the role private clouds play within enterprise hybrid IT strategies. The move is toward increasing Kubernetes support for private clouds and even multi-clouds because many private clouds are based on containers.

In the end, any discussion about private and public clouds boils down to a discussion about the hybrid IT cloud. And even then, the discussion is really more about implementation options rather than a strategic decision. It is about the application and the outcome and the best ways to take advantage of modern systems.

Sep 20 21
Christina Zumwalt

As businesses continue to realize the overwhelming need for digital transformation, the idea of unified communications has taken center stage. UC allows you to link all communication devices and platforms into one comprehensive system and works through the cloud. This creates reliable and efficient communication across your organization and has become essential to business continuity.

What Is Unified Communications?

Gartner defines UC as “Unified communications (UC) products — equipment, software and services — provide and combine multiple enterprise communications channels, such as voice, video, personal and team messaging, voicemail, and content sharing. This can include control, management, and integration of these channels.”

Key Benefits Of Unified Communications

Simplicity: Deploying, maintaining, and managing a unified communications platform is faster and easier than traditional PBX systems.

Reduced Risk: Continual updates are one of the major differentiators that UC platforms hold over traditional systems. 

Business Agility: Creating an agile business model is essential to remain competitive in an ever-changing business landscape. Organizations need to be able to scale at will and work from anywhere. 

Reduced Costs: Since you don’t need to buy physical equipment and can scale up or down with ease, there are significant savings involved with a unified communications platform.

Global Reach – Companies that operate on a global scale with locations and remote workers across the globe are still able to manage operations from a centralized platform that only requires an internet connection.

Business Continuity: The year 2020 put every organization’s business continuity plan to the test, with many realizing their plans were not comprehensive enough. 

Flexibility: New functionality can be added to a UC platform in minutes. With continual updates, you won’t have to worry about replacing or upgrading your communications every few years as with a traditional PBX.

Integrations: By leveraging APIs and integrations, cloud-based UC platforms allow seamless connections with a wide array of applications, allowing your team to continue working with their preferred software while maintaining a unified front.

Achieving unified communications should be your organization’s primary goal for everyday operations and your business continuity plan. Contact Alto9 today to schedule a free consultation to discuss and address your business continuity needs.

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Sep 17 21
Christina Zumwalt
The Power Of The Cloud And Predictive Analytics For Your Organization

Predictive analytics has become the main focus for cloud computing due to the cloud’s increased computing power. Companies and organizations of all sizes and industries are looking to the data they are collecting to see if they can use it to make predictions that will help them be more efficient, effective, customer-focused, and ultimately more profitable. The rise of Big Data or data in different formats and in huge quantities has sharpened this focus on predictive analytics. New varieties of data create new analytic opportunities, while the increases in volume and velocity create new challenges.

Businesses and organizations need to know and understand how to use predictive analytics and the cloud in combination. Enterprises want to know what opportunities are available with predictive analytics in the cloud, what trends exist, and what impact Big Data has on the choices they make.

Predictive Analytics in the Cloud

Predictive Analytics is a form of shorthand to develop mathematical models and algorithms capable of making predictions by applying various mathematical techniques to historical data. The models created can demonstrate patterns of association, such as clustering in the data to assess the probability that something is true or statistically significant.

Predictive analytic models are developed and used to predict four basic elements: risk, fraud, opportunity, and demand:

  • What is the risk level of this deal?
  • What is the likelihood that this claim is fraudulent?
  • How can we maximize customer profitability?
  • What will the future demand look like for this product or service?

Many different techniques can be applied to a wide range of data. The data can belong to an organization or come from external sources. There are increasing structured and unstructured data that are currently available for analysis. The goal of data analysis is to gain actionable insights for a business or organization. The ability to use predictive analytics to generate new insights to improve decision-making quality creates great value for companies and organizations in every industry, regardless of their size.

Enterprises cite customer engagement as the most dominant use for predictive analytics. When asked which areas had been most positively impacted by predictive analytics, most areas related to customers. The most positive outcomes were identified as customer satisfaction, profitability, retention, and management. This focus on customers was also specifically around improved customer satisfaction rather than around marketing or selling to customers. While the use of predictive analytics in marketing and cross-sell/up-sell is very important, the clear message is that customer management and engagement can be improved using predictive analytics too.

There was a very wide range of specific areas cited for using predictive analytics to improve business results.

In digital marketing, use cases for predictive analytics include:

  • Predicting which advertising will be most effective
  • Predicting which marketing campaigns, channels, touches, behaviors, and demographics are delivering positive business outcomes
  • Predicting how customers will respond to specific segments, tests, or personalization

Predicting the probability that a user will click on an ad, download a whitepaper, respond to an email, or respond to an offer

  • Predict which leads are the most likely to convert
  • Predict which customers are the most likely to buy one or more products for a cross-sell or upsell.
  • Predict the number of purchases or revenue that will occur in the future from a specific customer or customer
  • Identify and predict which customers will provide a high/medium/low lifetime value.
  • Predict which customers are the most likely to stop purchasing products or services (attrition rates)

Other business activities that utilize predictive analytics include:

  • Health plan resource utilization
  • Fraud detection
  • Customer buying patterns
  • Collections strategies
  • Planning and scheduling optimization
  • Reducing Operational Risk
  • Optimization of care
  • Propensity to buy across product categories
  • Predicting and understanding the customer journey
  • Allocating budgets effectively

Experts in the predictive analytics arena remind us that algorithms search for patterns among values and not the values themselves. Furthermore, they do not believe insufficient data will hold back the expansion of predictive analytics.

More and more user-friendly SaaS platforms are emerging. For most businesses, the ability to create models and predictions from historical data still requires dedicated employees to navigate often complex software solutions or outsourcing that work to a third-party vendor. Even so, the benefits of predictive analytics make those investments in staff or a third-party vendor worthwhile.

For companies postponing predictive analytics projects, it is important to continue filling your data lake so that when you are ready to implement big data analytics, you have enough data to get started.

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Sep 14 21
Christina Zumwalt

With the Labor Day holiday coming up, we will all spend it differently. Whether you are planning time with friends and family, having some you time, or even working this holiday, here are some fun facts to take with you:

1.   Labor Day was originally celebrated on a Tuesday. The Central Labor Union planned the first celebration holiday in New York City on Tuesday, September 5 1882. This was a parade to show support for all the unions.

2.   There are a lot of people that often wonder why there is no white after labor day. Though it is not as much of a Fashion faus pax anymore to wear white after the holiday, in the 19th century it was. The driving thought behind it is that wearing white is for relaxing during the summer time, not to be worn when returning to school.

3.   It marks the end of hot Dog Season. Peak Hot Dog Season is considered between Memorial day and Labor Day. During this time it is estimated that Americans will eat 7 billion of them!

4.   The largest union today is the National Education association. Including inactive and lifetime members, they have roughly 3 Million members.

5.   In 1887, Oregon was the first state to celebrate Labor Day as a legal holiday.

6.   The decision to make Labor Day the first Monday of September was approved on June 28, 1894.

7.   Americans worked 12-hour days seven days a week during the 19th century. Thankfully, The Adamson Act was passed on September 3, 1916 to establish an eight-hour work day.

8.   In 1894, President Grover Cleveland and the US Congress make it a national holiday.

9.   Labor Day is celebrated on a different day in most countries. Many choose May Day, which is on May 1, as their day to honor working people.

10.   There is controversy about who actually proposed Labor Day as a holiday. Some say it was Peter J. McGuire, the cofounder of the American Federation of Labor. Others believe that it was Matthew Maguire, a member of International Association of Machinists.

Alto9 helps companies create great web applications, adopt DevOps processes, and maximize cost savings in the cloud. With practiced cost saving techniques and dedicated expert management, we help businesses scale effectively and control costs on any cloud platform.

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Sep 3 21
Christina Zumwalt

When you shop for a car or a home, you wouldn’t just ask for a car or a house. You would have a list of things you want from your car or your home. You will describe the functionalities you need from the car or the house you want to buy. The same is true when you have discussions with cloud providers. You can’t start the conversation asking for a cloud. You need to ask the right questions and choose your cloud vendor wisely.

To have a productive conversation with a cloud vendor, you will need to provide a lot of information in order to get what you need. Clouds are different, so you have to have questions that will narrow down your options to what fits your enterprise best. You can think of cloud vendors like car dealers with lots of different models. Some are bare-bones, and other models have all the bells and whistles.

The most important question you should be prepared to answer when you start your search for a cloud provider is what do you want to do with the cloud?” Your cloud provider is likely to phrase this question differently. They will often ask what your use case is or something as simple as your goal for cloud computing? It is important to be able to identify the functions you want to move to the cloud and the business goals you hope to achieve by moving to the cloud. These questions will also help you prepare your enterprise to migrate to the cloud. Saving money alone is a very vague answer. To get a good, solid quote on an appropriate cloud solution for your use case, you need to be able to articulate what you want to do with the cloud clearly. Here are some examples of things your enterprise may be looking to do by moving to the cloud:

  • DevOps-developing custom applications
  • Interact with consumers
  • Use open-source and off the shelf applications
  • Move your infrastructure to the cloud
  • Data storage
  • Machine learning and artificial intelligence
  • A virtual cloud-based call center
  • Internal employee services for HR or finance

There are many specific use cases, and the better you are at defining your requirements and needs from the cloud, the greater the likelihood that you will end up with the right cloud vendor and the right-sized solution because different clouds are appropriate for different types of tasks and audiences. Provide the specific requirements and functionality you will need to use your applications and who needs to access the applications.

Another important area to understand and be able to articulate to your cloud vendor is precisely how much you want to manage and how much you want your provider to manage. The fact is even if you migrate to the cloud, there are things you will still need to manage. Moving to the cloud does not eliminate maintenance, security patches, access, or the blue screen of death. The difference is who you want to handle maintenance issues-your IT staff or your cloud provider? The answer to this question involves cost, so it is important to understand what you can afford and what the cloud provider can actually provide in terms of cloud management.

Finally, it would help if you also questioned your provider. The best question to open the conversation is, “What do you do better than any other cloud vendor?” Keep in mind that no one can do everything equally well. They may be good at one or two things, and those are the areas you want them to describe in detail. After all, if a cloud provider doesn’t do at least one thing better than everybody else, why would you want to do business with them.

The goal of asking and answering these questions is to ensure you find the provider that aligns most closely with your IT needs. If what they do best is high on your list of priorities, you may want to investigate their offerings more thoroughly.

Any productive conversation will include what you want, why you want it, how you plan to use the cloud and your expectations of the provider. If you have all of these areas covered, you have all the basic elements for a successful discussion.

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Aug 31 21
Christina Zumwalt

Companies continue to move data into the cloud. Research indicates a there will be a continued increase in cloud storage and use in the coming years. Companies are migrating data storage to the cloud because it’s cheaper to rent applications and storage than it is to build or buy infrastructure. Software designed for the cloud allows employees to get access to data anywhere, at any time on just about any device.

This move to the cloud creates a complex hybrid world in which some corporate data is in the cloud, and some data remains on-premises. The new challenge is to find efficient ways to manage security in both places.

Cloud providers have certain security advantages. Cloud providers are more likely to be more conscientious than an underfunded information technology (IT) group about basic security protocols, including keeping software patches up to date, malware scanning with the latest signatures, and enforcing physical security. Nonetheless, moving data to the cloud doesn’t mean you will no longer have data access governance and data security problems. It may surprise you to learn that data access controls, data usage auditing, and security analytics capabilities in much of the cloud are just as limited as with on-premises data stores. 

You might assume there would be some built-in protections for data, but data in the cloud is still vulnerable when basic security principles aren’t followed. Cloud providers do not update your passwords for you, and they do not decide who gets access to the data you store with them. These same issues apply to all other cloud providers as well as Amazon. 

The reality of the situation is that you can’t outsource your data security to a cloud provider. You still need to apply the same data access governance and security practices to your cloud data as if it was in your own infrastructure.

Hybrid Security

“Cloud-access security brokers,” or CASB, is an area of emerging technology to assist organizations in managing their security needs across the multi-cloud. CASB provides cloud-centric products that usually operate between users and cloud services and/or make use of cloud service APIs.

CASB allows you to extend your cloud security, but there is still a bigger issue you have to deal with, and that is how you are going to unify the two different security environments. Even if you utilize, a cloud access security broker, cloud data security reporting and monitoring only covers the cloud and not the enterprise.

If you have no on-premises controls, you may accidentally expose sensitive corporate data to the entire internet. It can also be more challenging to spot security issues without adequate data and behavioral context across both environments.

What is needed is an alternative security technology that covers both on-premises and cloud data stores. A technology that provides a data-centric platform approach to security. Fortunately, there are several hybrid cloud security solutions on the market.

Organizations will continue to move into the cloud to take advantage of cloud economics, performance, and reliability. 

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Aug 30 21
Christina Zumwalt

Get ready to witness a major generational shift in the world of cloud computing. A new generation of CIOs and CEOs are in charge, and this generation has grown up using cloud-based tools, which will lead to faster and greater cloud adoption for enterprise organizations. How will this affect the way the cloud looks, acts, and feels? 

Modular Software

The ability to scale will also impact hardware and software. With the huge stores of hardware available in the cloud, individual software applications will continue to grow and expand to leverage the availability of hardware at scale. As a result, software development processes will focus on modular software that offers components that allow for modifications without shutting down the program.

You can expect to see a shift in the way people look at software development. Not only will the software be based in the cloud, but it will also integrate with multiple clouds and on-site applications. Different parts of applications will float around in abstract space in and out of service providers to simplify the concept.

Software Becomes Social

Software will start to look and act like some of our current social media applications. Program needs will likely begin developing automatic, fleeting associations with different bits of hardware and software. For example, a cloud-based infrastructure might be engineered so that a database might “like” or be “attracted to” a server or storage array. Another way of thinking about social software is that the infrastructure and software will adapt and mold around a task rather than the task adapting to the infrastructure or software requirements and demands. The need for provisioning will disappear because it will happen automatically.

Low-power processors and cheaper clouds

Lower power ARM chips with 64-bit capability will start flowing into the market in about 12 months. This will drive greater workload efficiencies and lower the cost of cloud computing. Cloud providers like AWS will benefit from lower electric bills, and those savings may get passed on to customers as the market continues to become more and more competitive. 

Super Interconnects

The increasing number of high-end processors and the growth of massively distributed applications will bring about a new generation of super-fast interconnects into the data center estimated to run in the low hundreds of gigabits.

Interconnect technology will be central to allow information to be passed between data centers at faster rates and lower costs. It will enable developers to build more complex, larger, automated applications at lower costs.

Data Center Ecosystems

Cloud data centers will look and behave like living organisms. Abstract software and commodified hardware will combine to make them function much more like an ecosystem. The data center will transform into a biological system capable of automating many tasks like patching and updating equipment.

Quantum Computing

Many consider quantum computing the holy grail for the biggest players in the computing world. Some believe quantum computing could be just around the corner. IBM is already offering quantum computing as a service to select customers who are willing to test the system, so large-scale production is likely to be closer than many analysts have predicted.

The Stratification of the Cloud

2020 saw the development of specialized clouds in addition to the basic cloud types of infrastructure-as-a-service, platform-as-a-service, and software-as-a-service. It is likely we will see middle virtualization tools and dynamic BPO services. Infrastructure capabilities will determine cloud differentiation. The differences in capability will define the categorization of the specialized clouds such as utility clouds and medical clouds.

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Aug 27 21
Christina Zumwalt

Over the last few years, a huge question being asked is “Why Cloud Computing”? Cloud computing has undoubtedly become the hottest trend in the tech world in recent years, and cloud computing is here to stay. With all-new technologies developed, there are generally three categories that organizations fall into, ones that move quickly, ones that are reluctant to move, and the ones that question everything. Here are several reasons why cloud computing is always the best choice.

Streamlining Content

The years 2020 and 2021 showed as to be real reasons as to why having streamlined content is a huge necessity. Many companies found themselves unable to have employees working inside the office due to a global pandemic. Using the cloud for streamlining allowed those companies to have several employees and partners collaborating on documents in real-time, without sending the files as an attachment and waiting to get a response. Having this type of visibility helps to improve your bottom line, as less time is used when not using antiquated methods of email attachments.

Security

In the news, we often hear about computers being stolen or data breaches, which is a significant concern of every company regardless of size and industry. With using cloud computing, documents are no longer stored on a computer, helping eliminate the risk of data breaches from computers being hacked or stolen. Several security features are offered for the cloud, such as access control, authentication, and encryption. With these added features, most organizations can use their own security measures and the added features to bolster their cloud data protection as well as tightening access to the sensitive information that is stored in the cloud.

Data Loss Prevention

Imagine working on a huge project for work, and your hard drive crashes and cannot be repaired. You have now lost all your hard work. With cloud computing, everything is stored in the cloud, and it will always be available from any device. Despite all efforts made when using on-premises approaches, computers and servers can malfunction for various reasons. Anything such as failures, or viruses, and malware can deteriorate the data, as well as simple user errors.

Cloud computing is definitely a benefit to all companies who use the cloud. It gives the security, availability, and reliability for all data housed inside it. There are many benefits to cloud computing not listed here that are equally as important. If you find yourself wondering why cloud computing is, here are some of the best reasons to use cloud computing.

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Aug 25 21
Christina Zumwalt