August 16, 2017

Royal Blue in the Cloud

Flickr Creative Commons: Charlie

Flickr Creative Commons: Charlie

Since the entire city of Kansas City is decked out today in Royal Blue to celebrate our World Series Champion Royals, and since, according to Wikipedia, Royal blue describes both a bright shade and a dark shade of azure blue, this seemed like the perfect day for a Tech Talk Tuesday on Microsoft Azure.

Microsoft has created two over-arching brand names for their cloud services. Office 365 is the brand that contains all of the cloud based applications such as Word, Excel, Dynamics, Exchange, etc. Azure is the brand name for cloud based infrastructure such as domain servers, application servers, storage, routing, firewalls, etc.

Most of Onsite Logic’s client have servers, however, almost none of our clients started their businesses because they really wanted their own server closet. Just as web hosting and Exchange hosting have taken away the need to own your own web server or Exchange (email) server, Microsoft Azure seeks to do that for the rest of your infrastructure.

The concept is simple. You lease a virtual office network space in the cloud. You connect to a virtual computer in that virtual office which, in turn, is connected to virtual servers, storage, switches, routers, and firewalls. The servers and everything else work just like the servers you might own today, except they are not physically in a little room in your office.

The benefits include everything from less capital expense and less equipment to maintain to the ability to work from any location as if you are sitting in the office from virtually any device (desktop or mobile).

Microsoft Azure is not (yet) the thing for every small business, but for others it makes a lot of sense to have on the radar screen. Next week’s Tech Talk Tuesday will discuss some key questions to help identify if this is something you should consider for your company.

Compute Sticks

In the spirit of keeping an eye on new technologies that can revolutionize business, this week’s TechTalkTuesday is about Compute Sticks.

This is a very interesting new technology that has been around for a little less than a year. Basically, it is an entire computer in a device only slightly larger than an USB flash drive. It connects to a TV or monitor via the HDMI plug. It includes WiFi to connect to the network, connectivity to a wireless keyboard and mouse, 2GB of RAM, 32GB drive with an MicroSD card slot for expansion storage on the device and it runs the regular Windows 10 operating system.  There is even an app so you can use your smartphone or tablet as the keyboard and mouse if you want.

This device is not like a computer, it is a computer, and it costs less than $150.

Obviously we probably aren’t going to replace desktop computers with Compute Sticks, but there are niches where this could be very helpful. Think about digital signage either for customers or for your own staff that can access and run any of your system dashboards or powerpoint or other programs. Think about the conference room TV (or projector) that could now become a fully functional PC.  Think about connecting a webcam to the USB port on the Compute Stick and you have a conference room teleconferencing solution. Think about a doctors’ office with a simple monitor in the patient room and the doctor has full access to any of the systems or files on the network. Or a dentists’ office with a monitor above the chair where you can show not only slide shows and videos but digital x-rays, appointment calendars, etc.

If you are interested in learning more about Compute Sticks or other new technologies that might revolutionize your operations, call Onsite Logic. We get excited about finding ways that new technologies can help you achieve and exceed your business goals.