5 Reasons Your Organization Should Move To The Cloud

5 Reasons Your Organization Should Move To The Cloud

How many reasons do you need to transition to cloud-based IT infrastructure? For most companies, it’s more than just one. At Oakwood Systems Group, Inc., we know the benefits of the cloud outweigh any of the hassle.

Microsoft cloud services offer with increased scalability and security, not to mention flexibility and ease of use. You’ll also save your business time and money by reducing maintenance of on-premises IT infrastructure.

Here are 5 reasons your organization should consider adopting the cloud.

1. Cloud Based Applications Are Here To Stay

  • The value of the cloud – The cloud market is expected to pass $500 billion by 2020.
  • Adoption is growing – 72% of organizations had at least one application in the cloud in 2015, a 15% increase from 2012.

2. Security Comes Standard

As cloud technology improves, security fears lessen. In a survey of enterprise IT managers, security is no longer ranked as the #1 concern when it comes to cloud computing.

One of the biggest advantages of moving to the public cloud is the security team that comes with it. By moving to an enterprise-level public cloud, you’ll experience:

  • Scale – A public cloud will always be large enough to store and secure your data.
  • Intelligence – Public clouds monitor for millions of threats. As soon as one is detected on one customer tenant, the cloud provider can mitigate the attack across all other tenants.
  • Automation – Less human touch results in fewer mistakes and fewer opportunities for security breaches or insider threats.

Benefits of Cloud Technology

We’re saving time and money. And every dollar we save is making it to the field to help those that need it.

Marc Julmisse – Chief Nursing Officer, Partners in Health

3. Move At Your Own Pace

Cloud migration does not need to happen all at once, and it’s recommended to migrate to the cloud over time with a hybrid approach—the combination of an on-premises, private cloud and third-party, public cloud services.

On average in 2015, businesses were simultaneously experimenting with and running data on 3 public clouds and 3 private clouds.

4. Using The Cloud Doesn’t Mean New Tools

Moving to a cloud-based solution doesn’t have to mean retraining employees. Many solutions allow you to use the same applications your employees are used to, with access to files anywhere online.

The switch to Microsoft cloud services makes us significantly more efficient in normal times but will make us far more effective when we respond to a disaster moving forward.

Mike Manning – President and Chief Executive Officer, Greater Baton Rouge Food

Cloud Benefits: Scale, Intelligence & Automation

The Sky’s The Limit

Cloud adopters see various benefits from their technology, although businesses’ top-cited benefits include:

  • Faster access to infrastructure
  • Greater scalability
  • Increased availability

3 Reasons To Modernize Your Data Estate

3 Reasons To Modernize Your Data Estate

There are major benefits awaiting organizations that modernize their data estate, including enhanced security and compliance, significant cost savings, and the ability to empower employees with business insights and advanced analytics capabilities.

With an out-of-date data platform, you could be…

  • Missing out on game changing cost benefits
  • Opening your business to potential vulnerabilities
  • Falling behind without modern analytics capabilities

What does it mean to ‘modernize’?

Modernization means taking advantage of the latest technologies to create transformational business benefits. With Microsoft, you have the flexibility to modernize your data estate in the way that’s right for your business:

  • Upgrade to SQL Server 2017: Move to a database with industry-leading performance and security—now on Windows, Linux, and Docker containers.
  • Modernize in the cloud: Move to Azure to get greater cost efficiencies, state-of-the-art security, and powerful data and analytics services – with fully-managed database-as-a-service (DBaaS) solutions.
  • Take a hybrid approach: Deploy across on-premises and the cloud to extend your infrastructure and improve business continuity.

Why modernize now?

Reduce cost & maximize your investment

Benefits of SQL Server 2017

  • #1 database in Online Transaction Processing (OLTP) price/performance
  • Unmatched Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) with everything built in
  • Get a comprehensive solution at one-fifth the cost of other self-service solutions with comprehensive BI
  • Reduce costs and create efficiencies with faster transactions with In-Memory OLTP and up to 100x faster analytics with in-memory Columnstore
  • Cut productivity losses and speed query performance without tuning using Adaptive Query Processing

Benefits of Microsoft Azure

  • Scale up or down quickly with pay-as-you-go, consumptionbased pricing and reduce licensing and hardware costs
  • 50% of businesses reported reaching ROI at a faster rate with cloud applications
  • Optimize costs for database workloads with different VM sizes
  • 75% lower costs on software licenses with Azure

Gain state-of-the-art, award-winning security

Benefits of SQL Server 2017

  • Least vulnerable of any enterprise database over last 7 years
  • Encrypt data at rest and in motion with Always Encrypted
  • Conceal sensitive data with Dynamic Data Masking
  • Control access to database rows with Row-Level Security

Benefits of Microsoft Azure

  • Meet a broad set of international and industry-specific compliance regulations
  • Continuous security-health monitoring across Azure, on-premises, and public clouds

Solve bigger problems with advanced business insights

Benefits of SQL Server 2017

  • Real-time operational analytics when you combine in-memory technologies
  • Visualize data anywhere with Mobile BI
  • Scale and accelerate machine learning by pushing intelligence to where the data lives with in-database R and Python analytics

Benefits of Microsoft Azure

  • Leading AI innovation to discover insights faster
  • Advanced machine learning capabilities at your fingertips

With the tech available to every business, modernization is now the norm. With a solution like SQL Server, you can reduce costs and maximize your investment, gain state-of-the-art, award-winning security, and solve bigger problems with advanced business insights.

If that sounds great but you’re unsure of how to proceed, it’s time to call the experts at Oakwood Systems Group at (314) 824-3000 or drop us a line in the form below. We’re industry professionals who have in-depth experience with helping businesses just like yours to plan, integrate, and execute with new technological solutions like SQL Server. Contact us today to find out more on how we can help your business.

Interested in a 212% ROI?

Interested in a 212% ROI?

When you think about switching from running and housing your SQL Server on-premises to Azure, the first thing that comes to mind is probably the infrastructure maintenance savings.

But what about hidden savings? Like efficiency savings for your IT team and database admins? Or the freedom to expand your capacity as soon as you need it?

Just last week we detailed that SQL Server 2008 and SQL Server 2008 R2 will no longer be supported by Microsoft starting in July 2019. Outside of the reasons stated above, here’s a few more on why this is an issue to be addressed sooner than later.

  1. Mitigate risks with platform security and compliance: There will be no access to critical security updates, opening the potential for business interruptions and loss of data.
  2. Upgrade to better cost efficiency: Maintaining legacy servers, firewalls, intrusion systems, and other tools can get expensive quickly.
  3. Modernize to innovate: Grow your environments with data, analytics and the cloud.

In a recent financial impact study by Forrester, they detail all of the potential savings, costs, frustrations, and advantages associated with switching to the Azure cloud and the results are exciting!

At Oakwood Systems Group, Inc., we want what is best for your business. Contact us to learn more.

Move Forward Securely with Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery

Move Forward Securely with Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery

When thousands of hospitals, health systems, community practices, and pharmaceutical companies rely on your software to deliver smarter, more effective patient care, you had better make sure it’s secure and reliable. That’s why Allscripts, a leading healthcare software manufacturer, uses Microsoft Azure

Having a reliable and secure IT service provider was more than acquiring 1,000 VMs needed to run the show. Allscripts, a leading healthcare software manufacturer, acquired two companies in 2017. To ensure their new datacenter assets had a home fast, they brought on Microsoft Azure. The reliability of built-in disaster recovery protections means Allscripts doesn’t have to worry about losing their data. You can do the same.

Using Azure Site Recovery, Allscripts was able to easily move 500 development VMs running critical healthcare applications to Azure. In just three weeks, the company lifted and shifted dozens of acquired applications running on 1,000 virtual machines, ensuring they met & Allscripts’ governance policies and security requirements.  

Running your business on the cloud was never easier thanks to Azure. With Oakwood Systems Group, Inc. and Microsoft, your business can achieve the same security and reliability of Allscripts. Email us today to find out more information on how we can help. 

80/20 Spending Rule – Get Better 1% at a Time

80/20 Spending Rule – Get Better 1% at a Time

80/20.  What exactly are we talking about?  As humans, sometimes we make projects so huge that there's no way to get them done.  “We must reduce our IT maintenance budget by 10% so we have more money to spend on innovation” isn't that much different from the conversation I had with my young neighbor over the weekend.  “We desperately need new windows, but we just can't afford them,” she said with a sigh.  “Well,” I asked, “Can you afford one window?”  “Well…. yes…” she said, confused.  “Then replace one window each month or every other month, and before you know it, they will all be done,” I suggested.  “Just make a plan and stick to it as best you can.”  Her face brightened considerably.  “We can do that.”

The 80/20 Spending Rule

The same thing happens in business, and especially in IT.  To break the 80/20 spending rule – typically 80% of IT budgets go to just “keeping the lights on” and 20% is available for now – let's not create a 10% reduction target and create a giant project to make it happen.  Create a 1% reduction target.  That's right, just 1%.  1% every month.  What tiny thing can we do to reduce our IT maintenance spend by 1% right now?  Get the team together and ask that question, and you'll be amazed at the suggestions you'll get.

Our Ideas

  • Stop paying third-party software licensing fees for services we can provide with the licensing we already own (typical for Microsoft shops with Enterprise Agreements in particular) – a couple of examples:
    • Are you paying anti-virus vendors instead of using Forefront?
    • Paying systems management vendors instead of using Systems Center
    • Paying for desktop security instead of upgrading to Windows 7 and using its features
  • Virtualize as much of the server farm as possible
  • Take inventory of our software usage and reduce our licensing fees where possible
  • Switch away from third-party conference call providers and use a software-based approach (Microsoft Office Communications Server, as an example)
  • Off-load non-proprietary services, like email, into the cloud
  • Put systems and/or processes in place to better manage projects
  • Add the phone systems to the IT group responsibilities much like IT took over copiers a few years back

Next Steps

These are just a few examples, and each can lead to a 1% reduction – or more – every month.  And, if we reduce our maintenance spend by 1% every month, at the end of the year we will have exceeded our 10% target.  One window at a time.

Recommended Reading

Racing Fans By Ken Blanchard.  Although the book is about wowing your customers with fantastic service, it applies to all areas of the business – and does a great job of explaining the 1% rule.  Enjoy!

About Oakwood

Since 1981, Oakwood has been helping companies of all sizes, across all industries, solve their business problems.  We bring world-class consultants to architect, design and deploy technology solutions to move your company forward.   Our proven approach guarantees better business outcomes.  With flexible engagement options, your project is delivered on-time and on budget.  11,000 satisfied clients can’t be wrong.  Let's have a discussion to learn more about your business needs and goals.

Mapping the Customer Engagement – Where Does IT Touch? Where Can IT Touch?

Mapping the Customer Engagement – Where Does IT Touch? Where Can IT Touch?

Hey IT Teams.  Got an idea.  Grab a piece of paper and draw a circle in the middle of it.  Label it “Customer.”  Now draw lines out from the circle, each line representing the way that a customer can interact with the business.

Customer Engagement

Now recolor the boxes to represent all of the places where IT intersects, or where IT can intersect, with those interactions.  How many of these boxes do you have in a different color?  Think about pulling together a meeting of your peers who head different groups, and collaborate on the mapping and re-coloring project.  Get their thoughts about how IT can strategically enable their customer engagement.

You might look at these boxes and think “what the heck is that doing there?

What We See With IT Teams

We have seen IT have a profound effect on the execution of the process in nearly every one of these boxes (recognizing that of course IT cannot control personalities – like salespeople and service technicians, but IT can provide tools to help them do a better job).

This is just a sample and your organization might have more boxes, different boxes, or fewer boxes.  It is a noble target – and an achievable target – to be the best and easiest company in your industry with which to do business.  Aligning IT strategically with the customer engagement process is the path to aligning IT strategically with the business itself.  And sometimes, the answer is as simple as understanding where IT can hurt a process and get out of the way (don't be the Sales Prevention Department).

Recommended Reading

Branded Customer Service: The New Competitive Edge – by Janelle Barstow and Paul Stewart – not directly related to IT but certainly gets the brain cells moving in a possibly different way.

Case Studies

Review our case studies and see how we have helped companies conquer business projects and challenges.

Next Steps…

Contact us.  Let's have a business conversation about your key challenges.  Our qualified staff is skilled at moving quickly to develop a scope of work and align the best resources for the job.  We will time identifying your needs, business goals, budget, timeline and then get to work.

We Solve The IT Talent Pool Issue

We Solve The IT Talent Pool Issue

What's going on with the IT talent pool?  How fierce is the competition for tech talent? Software developers right out of college can demand starting salaries of up to $90,000. Once in their jobs, they get as many as 20 recruiting calls a day trying to convince them to leave for another company. And when they do, a pay increase of 20 to 25 percent is not unusual. Many employers cannot compete when it comes to paying, benefits, and recruitment tactics.

IT Talent Pool | We Save You Money

Oakwood solves this challenge for our clients by bringing to the table a deep talent network. As our client, you can tap into this network anytime.  In the same way, you might engage with a traditional staffing firm. The difference with Oakwood is that we offer both transactional and consultative engagement models. Unlike traditional staffing firms, our talent network includes highly skilled senior-level professionals who work as consultants in a number of critical roles, including business intelligence, software architecture, and strategic operational planning.

IT Talent Pool | Flexible Engagement Models

Our flexible engagement models mitigate risk for our clients by addressing your immediate needs now, and also providing strategic planning services for the future.  Get in touch with one of Oakwood's expert technology consultants today, and let's get you started on your digital journey.

Next Steps

Review our case studies and engagements where we helped companies just like yours solve a variety of business needs.

About Oakwood

Since 1981, Oakwood has been helping companies of all sizes, across all industries, solve their business problems.  We bring world-class consultants to architect, design and deploy technology solutions to move your company forward.   Our proven approach guarantees better business outcomes.  With flexible engagement options, your project is delivered on-time and on budget.  11,000 satisfied clients can’t be wrong.