Posts by "ShuttleCloud"

Does Moving to the Cloud Sound Scary? Read This.

Despite the rapid growth in cloud services adoption, there are still significant hurdles that must be overcome for certain types of businesses to make the leap. The objective of this article is to describe those obstacles and elaborate on how to overcome the challenges they present.

Legacy Data
Many businesses that otherwise anticipate moving to the cloud have legacy business data with which to contend.  For a number of individuals and small and medium size businesses (SMBs), the complexity and costs associated with migrating that data to a cloud service may cause enough friction to slow or stop adoption.  Additionally, many SMBs with either a small or nonexistent IT team do not have the internal resources to solve these issues.  Despite the continued presence of these obstacles, few solutions aid individuals and SMBs to migrate to the cloud with legacy.

Similarly, educational institutions also find themselves in a precarious position as they consider cloud services.  While cloud services allow universities to save on both cost and support time, the issue of legacy data for educational institutions is even more complex than for SMBs discussed above. In particular, educational institutions have many inactive or infrequent users, making the relative value of that data less than it might have been at a private enterprise of the same size.  In addition, cloud services offered to educational customers are often low-cost or free, leaving little incentive for cloud service resellers to pursue these clients versus more lucrative SMB or enterprise opportunities. Although the economics of working with these entities makes it difficult for many IT services companies to focus on winning their business, the fact remains: universities want to migrate their old data to new cloud services.

The desire of individuals, SMBs, and EDUs to move to cloud services, coupled with the hurdles described previously, has created an opportunity for low-cost, high-quality tools to enable these types of clients to migrate and manage their data.  It is these tools, rather than high-cost custom services, that will provide the solution to these issues.

Vendor Lock-In
Assuming you’ve made it through the legacy data migration challenges described above, you are now faced with a new problem: vendor lock-in.  One of the benefits of local and on-premise solutions is the high degree of data control that they provide.  But moving email, documents, pictures, or other data, however, typically reduces the flexibility to manage these resources.

Not all vendors were created equally. To make money, many vendors actually rely on the fact that once you are using their service, it is difficult to leave and export your data somewhere else.The methods of access for your data are highly dictated by the parameters of the vendor\’92s cloud service, and the APIs that service providers make available do not address the need for cloud data management tools.

As users come to rely heavily, and even exclusively, on cloud services for their business data, there is an increased need to have insight and control over where and how that data is stored and made accessible.  Likewise, this need creates an opportunity for data management tools to meaningfully visualize information about user data and to empower users to move data out of a service, between accounts on the same service, or even to other services.

Our experience working with clients on these issues indicates that there is a strong desire from both IT professionals and non-technical users for tools that enable data mobility and management.

Data Mismatch
Currently, many users of cloud services may have data stored across multiple services. When a user wants to interact with a piece of content in one services, the changes are made only in that single cloud silo, and not applied to identical data in other locations. Although the data management tools described above will enable users to move data from one service to another, one can envision a bolder concept in which the perception of data in various services is different.

Our vision for the future of cloud services is to significantly reduce the degree to which users concern themselves with the issue of where their data is stored.  We are working towards providing a single hub with the framework to integrate with various cloud services, which will allow users to access and edit data in one place and have the content changes pushed to the other services.  This type of tool removes the concern over disparate data resources across different cloud silos and harnesses the true power of cloud computing.

As cloud data management tools help to solve the adoption issues today, new paradigms for how we interact with cloud data are on the horizon.

As a leading cloud data migration company, ShuttleCloud provides individuals, SMBs and EDUs with data management products to overcome these challenges. We are particularly interested in issues associated with migrating to the cloud, data management across cloud services and working towards a fundamentally different way to interact with cloud data.

Bob Greenlees is the Director of Operations at ShuttleCloud, a company that specializes in cloud data migration and management products.

 

The Cloud Condenser – Volume 2

ShuttleCloud is proud to present notable cloud industry news from December 2012.

This series is updated bi-weekly with the latest and greatest resources on all things cloud.

Google Apps: The Numbers You Need to Know | David Politis of bettercloud
Over 5 million companies are using Google Apps for employee email and other back-office tasks. But what types of companies? Bettercloud puts together a great data set with viusual cues and analysis of why certain industries are more prone (or reluctant) to make the Google Apps switch.

IBM Launches SmartCloud Docs, New Cloud Collaboration Features | David Roe of CMS Wire
IBM’s SmartCloud Docs is the newest direct competitor to both Google Docs/Drive and Microsoft’s SkyDrive. This webapp software allows users to create all types of documents and then share and collaborate on them with colleagues. The initial emphasis of differentiation for SmartCloud Docs seems to be enhanced security, which is still dubious at best in regards to Google Drive and similar services. The SmartCloud Docs product is available for free to SmartCloud Exchange Advanced users, but comes at the nagging price tag of $3 per user, per month for regular IBM SmartCloud users.

Why The Enterprise Renaissance Will Be Big On ReadWrite In 2013 | Jon Mitchell of readwrite
Instagram may have been a disruptive acquisition with its $ billion price tag and $0 revenue stream, but software visionaries argue that real software, fixing real problems, will begin to take over the acquisition market in 2013. Great quote at the end, too: “There really isn’t a difference between Enterprise and Consumer software anymore. The line is between playing around and getting things done.”

Changes to Google Apps For Businesses | Clay Bavor of the Official Google Enterprise Blog
There used to be free and premium versions of Google Apps. Individuals were signing up for the business package, while businesses were signing up free Google Accounts. The experience wasn’t optimal for anyone, so now Google is offering one premium product and recommending individual consumers to just create a free Google Account. Also, Google Apps for education is free.

New Zealand and The Cloud

ShuttleCloud’s Director of Operations Bob Greenlees recently sat down with TechDay, a technology resource for new startup businesses in New Zealand. They talk about both the present state and also the future of the cloud, along with New Zealand’s position in the dynamic cloud marketplace. 

What role does the New Zealand channel have to play in cloud?
Bob: The cloud is global, so as cloud services continue to be adopted by businesses worldwide there will subsequently be a need for local value-added partners and resellers to assist New Zealand’s businesses and educational institutions (both small and large) as they move into and within the cloud. Shuttlecloud works with clients and resellers in New Zealand and we see this as a significant opportunity within the cloud services ecosystem.

Are there any specific areas New Zealand should be capitalizing on?
Educational institutions are rapidly embracing cloud services due to the large expense of implementing and managing on-premise solutions. With substantially reduced infrastructure and support costs, as well as a lower total cost of ownership, cloud services are becoming very attractive for schools.

As these entities being migration their populations to the cloud, we’ve witnessed exponential increase of interest for customized and cost-effective educational solutions such as ours. While working with Harvard University and Stanford University, for example, we implemented custom (university-branded) self-service email migration portals with consumption-based pricing, rather than a flat fee. Schools are ideally suited to this type of solution as they simply want to offer email migration as an option, allowing them to avoid the expense and complexity of a large-scale data migration.

What are some of the key issues keeping businesses (customers) from moving to cloud?
One hindrance is the fear of having their data locked into a certain provider, which is actually a concern that we address with our data migration service. Our goal is to provide users with flexibility of their data and the freedom to migrate between different cloud services.

Some customers may have a lack of confidence in cloud-based systems, most often derived from mis-information. In reality, cloud applications are generally more stable
than in-house solutions in terms of up-time and speed.

Anything else you’d like to add?
This is a very exciting time to be a part of the cloud services ecosystem. The promise of low-cost, high-quality cloud alternatives to on-premise solutions has not only arrived, but is rapidly expanding. These services provide businesses and schools of all sizes, and particularly those in the SMB category, the powerful tools with minimal overhead that allow them to focus on their core business or educational goals. Ultimately, cloud services greatly reduce the complexity and expense of IT support.  

We have also seen significant interest from companies surrounding the issue of data ownership, given they migrate to the cloud or have already done so. Since data confidentiality, security, and ownership are of paramount importance, it is helpful for companies that are evaluating the cloud to partner with cloud data management vendors like ShuttleCloud to help manage their cloud data.

ShuttleCloud’s Felix Lopez joins the Google Security Hall of Fame!

Felix Lopez, a developer at ShuttleCloud, found a critical security vulnerability in Google’s Groups/Mailing List software. The vulnerability was specifically in the Groups Settings API and, if not fixed, private Google group archives could have been made public and browsable by employees, for example, and even by the public in some cases. Google immediately fixed this security issue and awarded Felix with a Google Security Reward.

Felix has joined the Hall of Fame many years before it’s time to hang his jersey from ShuttleCloud’s rafters.

ShuttleCloud is proud to have a team member listed in this prestigious group. For the complete list, check out Google’s Security Hall of Fame page.

Google Apps Domain Migration Case Study: Lore

Lore, at the time known as Coursekit, reached out to us about migrating their domains in tandem with a strict timeline for their company rebranding.

Summary
Formerly known as Coursekit, Lore decided to change their branding. In order to do this, they also needed to change some of the back end functions of their business, which included moving their existing Google Apps domain data. The company decided to utilize ShuttleCloud, a company that is highly adept at performing cloud migrations, to migrate over from coursekit.com to lore.com as the primary Google Apps domain.

Client Background

lore-courses
Lore is a social network for learning, currently focused on course management. Started by students at the University of Pennsylvania to help turn their courses into communities online, the company was also a graduate of startup incubator TechStars NYC just like ShuttleCloud. Since being part of the TechStars summer 2011 class, Lore has seen adoption grow to professors at 600 colleges in their first semester live.

Originally Lore positioned itself against Learning Management Systems, like Blackboard, to make it easy for people to understand what the value of their service. Early on, this messaging, combined with the name Coursekit allowed them to effectively communicate their offering to the market. The company knew early on, however, that this name would be a temporary tactic, and to take the next step toward their vision of being the social network for learning, they would need something broader.

In April 2011, the company launched the rebrand from Corusekit to Lore, which is explained on their blog here.

Client Scenario
When Lore approached us about helping with their migration, it was clear to they didn’t want to simply place a band-aid on their Google Apps domain by just making their newly registered lore.com domain as an alias under coursekit.com.

There are a series of limitations that are connected with simply rebranding with an alias. Over time, it can become problematic to rebrand using this method. Instead, the company sought out the guidance of ShuttleCloud to help them move their Google Apps Mail, Calendar, Contacts, Docs and Sites.

ShuttleCloud’s Solution
One of ShuttleCloud’s project managers assisted Lore with moving all of their Google Apps cloud data using a managed migration format. This consisted of transferring Google Apps information for 19 users in total and the entire process was completed in five days, a very short amount of time. Once all of the data was moved over and data was verified the coursekit.com domain was moved to an alias under lore.com from the Google Apps management console.

With this method coursekit.com emails would still be received under the new lore.com domain and users could receive as well as reply to messages with the new lore.com domain name without any loss of email. Just like the way that coursekit.com now directs to lore.com, emails addressed to accounts at coursekit.com are sent as an alias account to lore.com. The end result is a complete domain switch for both customers and employees of Lore.

Managed Migration Benefits
The key benefits involved with ShuttleCloud’s managed migration process is the ability to work with a project manager to ensure a smooth transition. The managed migration process utilizes a set of procedures that enable minimal downtime and impact for users of a Google Apps domain. Communicating with the end-users of the timing of the domain switch is all that is needed. Since continuous business operations are incredibly important in the digital age, relying on the expertise of ShuttleCloud can be highly advantageous to ensuring a simple transition from one Google Apps domain to another one.

“Fantastic service. When hiccups came about, their team was on the phone and making things happen into the wee hours of the night.” – Hunter Horsley, Operations & Marketing at Lore, Inc

To learn more about the ShuttleCloud data migration process and how it can help organizations switch their brand while forwarding an old brand name as a domain alias, please check out our Google Apps to Google Apps domain migration page.

The Cloud Condenser – The Best of the Cloud

Sometimes it’s difficult to keep up with news from various sources on a topic as broad and diverse as cloud computing.

We hope our new Cloud Condenser series will help you find some of the best reading in recent articles on the cloud.

Government adoption of Google Apps picking up steam

by Mary Shacklett – Tech Republic

Manage staff transition in Google Apps: A 10 step checklist
by Amy Wolber – Tech Republic

Gmail finally blows past Hotmail to become the world’s largest email service
by Sean Ludwig – VentureBeat

Google, Yahoo, VMware Just Buzz Compared to Microsoft Office
by Elliott Markowitz – The VAR Guy

The New Microsoft Office Web Apps: Still Free, Still Almost Good Enough
by Mark Hachman – ReadWriteWeb

*Check back bi-weekly for the latest and greatest resources for all things cloud.

Google Apps Domain Migration Case Study: Bluedrop

Bluedrop acquired Serebra and turned to ShuttleCloud in order to execute a data migration between the two existing domains.  

Summary
Bluedrop utilized ShuttleCloud’s migration products and services in order to move Google Apps domain data due to an acquisition. The company that they acquired, Serebra, needed to have data migrated to the Bluedrop domain and then have serebra.com setup as a part of the bluedrop.com Google Apps instance with very little impact on their system.

Client Background
Bluedrop is a Canadian-based performance learning company. This includes training, courseware, learning platforms and simulations for both business and governmental organizations. Beginning over twenty years ago as an IT consultancy, Bluedrop now employs over one hundred people. As part of their mission to continue to invest in their business the company decided to purchase Serebra, based in Vancouver.

Client Scenario
Both companies were already using Google Apps domains and Bluedrop wanted to combine them both under the Bluedrop brand name.  The process would include adding the serebra.com domain as an alias under bluedrop.com and the end result would be all data merged into one domain under the Bluedrop brand name which all Bluedrop users would be a part of.  Additionally, Bluedrop’s legacy email users would also need to be migrated onto the new domain.  Bluedrop required a partner that would be able to complete this process smoothly in a matter of days using a hybrid migration solution.

ShuttleCloud’s Solution
To aid in getting data moved over from Serebra’s old domain, ShuttleCloud used a hybrid migration method. In order to move over all the Google Apps data from Serebra, a managed process was used that was guided by one of ShuttleCloud’s experienced project managers. This included moving all data for selected users – Gmail, Google Calendar, Contacts, Docs and Sites information from serebra.com to bluedrop.com. During the migration, there was no email downtime and minimal impact on users for all other Google Apps services.

For the migration of select legacy email accounts over to the Bluedrop Google Apps domain a self-service migration process was used. A simple portal like this one required users to enter in the relevant login information for their legacy accounts. By also putting in a contact email address, they were even notified when the process is complete. This allowed users the ability to start the migration process on their own accounts and was easy to do for anyone who wanted to move their messages over.

Hybrid Migration Benefits
In total, seven users from the Serebra domain had all of their Google Apps data moved over to Bluedrop using a managed migration. The remaining thirteen users were able to use the self-service migration portal to consolidate their old email data into the Bluedrop domain.

Using a hybrid migration model is beneficial for getting important data moved over to a new Google Apps domain. Domain-wide Google Apps service data is ideal for a managed migration where a project manager from ShuttleCloud is able to lead and guide the process along the way. Organizations that have users on legacy email accounts will benefit from a self-service process that allows the user to take ownership of their legacy data.

This can be done from a variety of hosted email providers that support IMAP such as AOL, Yahoo!, Zimbra, GroupWise, GoDaddy and Gmail. In the case of the Bluedrop migration, this allowed the complete migration process to complete in a very short period of time. All data was moved over within five business days.

“Top notch service with superior customer service skills.  Would recommend to anyone.”
– Brad Yetman, Manager, Technology and Infrastructure at Bluedrop

Google Apps Domain Migration Case Study: Clean Coalition

A nonprofit decided to swap from its alias under Google Apps to its main domain and used ShuttleCloud’s data migration services in order to facilitate the process.    

Summary
In an attempt to better convey their vision, Clean Coalition made the decision to change their name. Previously, the organization was called FIT Coalition and their email domain was fitcoalition.com. With the name change to Clean Coalition, the organization also wanted to move their email to the clean-coalition.org domain.  As part of the move to a primary “.org” suffix, Clean Coalition was also able to take advantage of the Google Apps pricing breaks afforded to non-profit organizations. The company relied on ShuttleCloud to assist with making the transition simple and easy for its end-users.

clean-coalition-windmill

Client Background
Clean Coalition is a nonprofit that works to make clean energy accessible in local markets. They do this primarily through the implementation of policies and programs aimed to raise awareness and influence energy providers to take action towards this goal. The organization was started in 2009 as FIT Coalition but in January 2011 decided to make a change to Clean Coalition. This was done to better communicate their goal of policy work and programming and better set forth their vision for the long run.

Client Scenario
To best promote Clean Coalition’s principles of promoting renewable energy resources, they made the decision to change their branding. To save money they decided to enroll in the Google Apps for Nonprofits program, which offers the basic Google Apps for Business platform to qualifying customers for free. For some time after they changed their branding, they simply used the clean-coalition.org domain as an alias under their existing Google Apps domain, fitcoalition.com. This became problematic, however, because users were still logging in with their old fitcoalition.com accounts.

They also had to deal with the limitations that come with using an alias in Google Apps for their primary branding. Google lists the technical limitations that this can cause a domain. Since that configuration was less than ideal, Clean Coalition reached out to ShuttleCloud to help them switch their Google Apps account to the clean-coalition.org domain, while also switching over to a Google Apps for Non-Profits designation.

clean coalition migration

ShuttleCloud’s Solution
A managed migration was proposed, which was accepted by Clean Coalition. This involved ShuttleCloud performing a migration of Mail, Calendar, Contacts, Docs and Google Sites data from fitcoalition.com to clean-coalition.org for 26 users. During this time, Clean Coalition worked through the process of gaining approval for Google Apps for Nonprofits.

ShuttleCloud used a forwarding process during the time it took to get the approval for nonprofit status from Google, enabling Clean Coalition to continue to operate business as usual until the switch was complete. Using ShuttleCloud’s proven migration methods, the organization saw little impact and tremendous upside, eliminating technical limitations and better executing their long-term vision for the organization.

The goal of a ShuttleCloud managed migration is to utilize the expertise of a project manager to aid the transition process. Since the ShuttleCloud project manager has done a number of managed migrations in the past, they can make the entire experience much easier for an organization that might not have experience with cloud data migrations or other technical issues that come with Google Apps.

In this specific example, MX forwarding was a key element to pulling off this migration. The account switch from Google Apps for Business to Nonprofit status is a bit more involved than other domain-to-domain cloud migration. Using ShuttleCloud’s managed migration process included extended MX forwarding in order to cover for any downtime that might occur during the switch and subsequent Google Apps for nonprofits approval procedure.

“ShuttleCloud was a great asset in our organization’s Google Apps domain migration. They made a complicated process very clear and manageable.” – John Bernhardt, Manager, Operations and Communications at Clean Coalition