June 25, 2018

Virtualized Office Environment

amazon-workspacesAmazon rolled out a new service this week that provides an insight into what the future of small business computing may look like.

Many of us think of Amazon as an online retailer.  Behind that electronic storefront is a massive computing infrastructure, and, for several years, Amazon has also been in the business of renting virtual slices of their network.

Amazon Web Service (AWS) and Amazon Elastic Cloud Computing (EC2) provide the backbone storage and server operations behind many major organizations.  As they have ventured into the small business market their server pricing is beginning to approach a comparable level to buying the server, but without the up-front costs and with significantly better redundancy and security than most small businesses can afford on their own.

This past week Amazon rolled out Amazon WorkSpaces.  WorkSpaces provides a local area network (LAN) in the cloud.  Basically, a user remotes in to their WorkSpaces computer running a Windows 7 like operating system and they conduct all of their business on that WorkSpaces computer.  The WorkSpaces computers of multiple employees are networked together and can be connected to an Amazon virtual server or servers through EC2.  Programs such as Quickbooks, MS Office and other business apps can be installed/licensed into the server and WorkSpaces.  Users can share files and folders, access shared databases, and run client/server applications.  Basically, it provides the ability to create an entire business office that is virtual and scalable and accessible from anywhere.

This ties into a BYOD (bring your own device) work environment.  Employees can remote in to their WorkSpaces computer from any device, PC, Mac, tablet, iPad, smartphone and have full access, as if they were sitting at a business computer.  From a business security and proprietary information standpoint, all information stays on the WorkSpaces computers and EC2 servers, not on the employees’ personal devices.  It also corresponds with the virtual employee and “laptop lifestyle” approach where a team of workers can work together from anywhere in the world at any time.

Prices are heading in the right direction.  Before this new announcement, creating this type of environment would have cost about $80-$120 per month per employee.  Starting price for Amazon WorkSpaces is $35 per virtual computer per month.  It also removes capital expenses allowing for much greater flexibility in scaling up or down.

For example, an entrepreneur is considering launching a new business venture.  Previously, they would have needed to rent office space, purchase or lease furniture, buy computers, servers, software, networking equipment all to be able to hire their team.  With this option, that all can go away.  They contract or hire workers, equipping them with voice-over-IP phones or cloud based PBX hosting to their cell phone and providing them with a virtual WorkSpace computer that they remote into from their personal PC or mac.  The team has the ability to do everything they could do if seated together in cubicles, but without any of the purchased infrastructure.

We expect pricing to continue to decrease.  If you would like more information, please contact your friendly computing experts at Onsite Logic.

Keyboard Shortcuts

5609005485_41f1eb8082One of the things that separates the hunt and peck computer user from the power user is the use of shortcuts.  Since its beginning, Microsoft Windows and Windows programs have been ripe with key combinations that speed things along.  While the most recent versions of the program are built around touch or mouse click graphics, the underlying shortcuts are alive and well and growing.

Here are links to a few of our favorite printable lists of shortcuts:

Windows 8 Keyboard Shortcuts

Windows 7 Keyboard Shortcuts w/ Word, Excel, Outlook

Windows 7 Little-Known Shortcuts

Mac OS-X Keyboard Shortcuts

If you have others you know and love, pass them along to us so we can share them.

 

Photo credit: Flickr Creative Commons BFIShadow