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  1. #1
    MWT
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    IT, cloud computing, iPads

    I have a question for knowledgeable IT folks. I work for a small consulting firm where many employees are on the road frequently. They typically take a laptop and connect to our file and Exchange server through a VPN. I don't travel, but from all accounts it works fine. Nevertheless, some consultants think a cloud solution would be better, but I don't see the advantages - at least not yet. How is accessing files and email from a cloud easier than through a VPN? I've heard our current set-up is an "internal could."

    Along the same lines, the firm's CEO is in love with her iPad. She would like to access company files - mostly Word, PowerPoint, and Excel - from her iPad through the cloud (she's been reading too many management articles!). I'm no iPad expert, but I thought the Office suite wasn't availabe for it? Is her vision even doable? Or, does it offer any advantages over our current set-up?

    I'd greatly appreciate any advice.

  2. #2
    Jerkhard Sirdribbledick
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    If you get roadies on iPads you can get them connecting to Exchange via ActiveSync, thereby eliminating the hassle of VPN.

    The obvious advantage of moving actual data to the cloud is you don't have the network overhead of a bunch of people accessing stuff remotely. But if you have a lot of people in the office it negates it, since the workers in the office would then be using a lot more bandwidth. I'm not on the cloud computing bandwagon yet.

    As far as Office apps on the iPad, I'm sure there's an app for that.
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  3. #3
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    As far as email goes, you don't need to use a VPN to have outlook connect to exchange via the internet. Office 2010 (and also 2007, I think) allow you to configure it such that it uses the lan when available and can go through webmail otherwise. I don't know exactly how to set it us as I'm not our corporate IT guy but I know it works nicely. Our VPN was always slow and now that I am using 64-bit Win 7, it was becoming hard to find a 64-bit VPN client.

    File sharing is another matter, however.

  4. #4
    No hero that's understood
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    Our company switched our e-mail from internal to a g-mail corporate solution. Although this is not exactly the same as a cloud for everything, it has been really good. The power was out at my office for 36 hours during hurricane Irene. The only thing that worked was e-mail. I could access it from my phone or any other computer and we had zero down time. Our network was inaccessible at that time.

    In think there are a lot of benefits to cloud computing once they get everything nailed down. Like Roebuck said, I'm not sure we're there yet, but we will be.
    Often wrong, never in doubt

  5. #5
    eminence grease
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    The thing about VPN is not its use for connectivity, its about security. If your people travel outside the US, particularly in APAC, you want a VPN. And given the amount of computing that goes on in US airports, you probably want one here too. A decent version doesn't have to be slow - mine wasn't - and there are good options for iPad.

    Office per is not available for the iPad, at least the last time I checked. But you can read and interact with Office files via other apps. iWorks manages pdf and docx files, there are others for ppt and xls. But if your users are Office savvy, they won't like the options because aside from iWorks they're kluges.

    The idea of moving road people onto the cloud is attractive, but it will be a long time before I'd be willing to cede 100% control of my company's competitive advantage to someone else's data center and server management policies. There will almost certainly be a moment where someone is going to need something right now and they won't be able to get it. Of course, that's true of your own IT staff but it's far less embarassing to admit guilt for a personal screw up than to take the "why did we ever go outside, things used to be fine" beaten that will inevitably come.

    I think the iPad is still far too weak to be able to do serious business computing on the road.
    You'd be better off with a netbook, they do everything better.

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  6. #6
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    * posted by Creakybot 2013 all rights reserved.
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  7. #7
    I like waterboarding...
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    Funny that Creaky posted up Office365. I've done a few deployments of this for some of my clients. Its a decent solution but requires total commitment. The hosted Exchange is flawless but the Sharepoint can be sketchy.

    A few notes collected from deployments of Office 365.

    Sharepoint
    • Unable to preview PDF documents direclty from the library. PDF documents must be downloaded before they can be viewed.
    • Limit of 5000 items per library. Exceeding the configured limit results in the ability to control configuration items, like cascading permission changes.
    • Explorer view issues, these are many and highly inconvient.
    • Drive mappings to libraries do not stay connected even with SSO. You are forced to visit the library from IE before the WebDAV session can be reestablished.
    • Bulk data uploads. Limited to 100 items using Upload Multiple Documents.
      Upload speed limit of around 300-500KB/s when using Explorer View or Upload Multiple Documents.
    • Lack of migration tools, unless you drop serious coinage with a thirdparty solution.


    Exchange
    • Inability to assign multiple email aliases from secondary domain suffixes when no on-premise Exchange server is configured and SSO with AD Sync is also enabled. To enable additional aliases from domains other than the primary requires editing your user objects with ADSIEdit….
    • You cannot email external users when you have the same domain enabled with NO services associated. Example, domainabc.com is hosting additional mail for a subset of users via third-party POP service. You configure this domain but don’t enable any services. When you email users at the configured domain all mail is returned undeliverable. This is a flaw in 365 were backend service connections are automatically created.


    Single Sign-On / AD Sync

    • Microsoft AD Sync has to be installed on a 32bit server. In most cases you need an additional licensing so you an install AD Sync on a 2008 32bit server.
    • Cannot disable sync once its enabled.
    • ADFS Proxy cannot be installed on Windows 2008 w/o Hyper-V. The ADFS 2.0 installer has a very specific OS SKU requirement.



    I can talk on the cloud subject for days. In my opinion its the most misunderstood highly sought after gimmick out there. At its core, you're moving your data out of your privately held and controlled data center into a public data center that you have little control over. So many other things need to be considered before you head down this route: compliance requirements, backup strategies, getting your data back when the solution becomes obsolete.... The list goes on, think long and hard before you jump to the 'cloud'.

    Edit: If you want to talk shop, PM....
    Last edited by mymilkexpired; 10-02-2011 at 05:33 AM.
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  8. #8
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    LOL at mymilkexpired.

    I've cleaned up a mess or two that this has caused....wait until you get your hands dirty with IaaS....

  9. #9
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    It seems like bandwidth speeds remain the biggest impediment to cloud computing. If you're on 3G, it is still pathetically slow. Many wireless networks top out at 4-5 m/ps as well. Whenever I have the opportunity to plug into an ethernet cable, I still do. I think it's another couple of years before people will want to store the majority of their most-used content on the cloud. For the foreseeable future, local storage, I think, will remain far more reliable and practical for most people.

  10. #10
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    Cloud computing is already huge in the IT world. Have a look at HP and their future. There are already several very large companies that use cloud computing.

  11. #11
    donuts?
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    the cloud is a buzzword like proactive and synergize. what does moving your data to a 3rd party buy you and what is the overall cost. how much control of the data will you have once it's out of your hands? it's not like someone at the 3rd party could sell that data or anything...
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  12. #12
    I like waterboarding...
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    Quote Originally Posted by asciibaron View Post
    the cloud is a buzzword like proactive and synergize. what does moving your data to a 3rd party buy you and what is the overall cost. how much control of the data will you have once it's out of your hands? it's not like someone at the 3rd party could sell that data or anything...
    I wouldn't go quite so far to say that they would sell your data, but loosing control over your intellectual assets is a big deal and far to many companies dont take it seriously enough. I took on a new client about 2 months ago that got totally bent over by someone offering to put their data "in the cloud". They got totally caught up on the idea that they were sold a single terminal server with office licensing for 20k... Top it all off with the fact that they were infact actually sold the service and not the hardware........ 20k for a years worth of email hosting and file storage on a slow azz 2008r2 terminal server. Mind you this was straight TS no Citrix or any other jazz. Their data was not being backed up properly, they lost probably the equivalent of 50k worth of productivity over the course of the year due to their "cloud" provider mismanaging the infrastructure....
    .......__o
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  13. #13
    Jerkhard Sirdribbledick
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    Quote Originally Posted by asciibaron View Post
    the cloud is a buzzword like proactive and synergize. what does moving your data to a 3rd party buy you and what is the overall cost. how much control of the data will you have once it's out of your hands? it's not like someone at the 3rd party could sell that data or anything...
    This is kind of where I'm at.

    I get it with certain services ... Exchange, database (if you're using a web-based interface), etc., because with a small companies usually better off not having to worry about maintaining those respective servers. But otherwise, I agree it's more buzzword than anything else.
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  14. #14
    waterproof*
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    I think MSFT and the others are on to something. In-house IT has a new competitor. Exec's like that.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails IT, cloud computing, iPads-167394_480930228861_546873861_6084027_6629964_n.jpg  
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  15. #15
    waterproof*
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    Quote Originally Posted by MWT View Post
    I have a question for knowledgeable IT folks. I work for a small consulting firm where many employees are on the road frequently. They typically take a laptop and connect to our file and Exchange server through a VPN. I don't travel, but from all accounts it works fine. Nevertheless, some consultants think a cloud solution would be better, but I don't see the advantages - at least not yet. How is accessing files and email from a cloud easier than through a VPN? I've heard our current set-up is an "internal could."

    Along the same lines, the firm's CEO is in love with her iPad. She would like to access company files - mostly Word, PowerPoint, and Excel - from her iPad through the cloud (she's been reading too many management articles!). I'm no iPad expert, but I thought the Office suite wasn't availabe for it? Is her vision even doable? Or, does it offer any advantages over our current set-up?

    I'd greatly appreciate any advice.
    Office365 is not quite ready for your dream yet... but... soon

    http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/i...scription.docx
    * posted by Creakybot 2013 all rights reserved.
    * not actually waterproof.

  16. #16
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    If you connect to your email server - in house or in cloud - over SSL then you don't need the VPN since the connection will be encrypted. iPads can connect over SSL no problem. As for the files, you could get this:

    www dot grouplogic dot com /enterprise-file-sharing/ipad-file-system/

    (sorry only 3 posts can't do links yet)

    The cloud is great and all, but if your company has recently invested in in-house IT solutions then itncan be cost prohibitive. Might as wellnwait until the next refresh rolls around and re-evaluate then. If the cloud lives up to the buzz and hype then it'll still be there and better than ever.

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  18. #18
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    you can get you exhange email to connect to the ipad- i personally dont like it as much as my iphone but it works

    for the rest- well, gotomypc works on the ipad now, bypass all that VPN bs.
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  19. #19
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    +1 for Citrix Receiver

    The solution is Citrix Receiver for Ipad from Itunes; it's free. Your company will need SecureID tokens and a Citrix server virtual office web address that contains all of your MS Office applications including Internet Explorer. The Citrix receiver app just needs to be installed on the ipad; that's the client. From there your CEO can use the MS applications once she is logged in.

    I use my Ipad for work instead of my laptop. I have a desktop PC that has Remote Desktop enabled. I enter a Remote Desktop Server web address that is accessed through Citrix Internet Explorer. Once I enter my PC name in Remote Desktop, I have complete control of my office PC as if I was working in the office. Also, I can use Flash enabled websites.

    Citrix Receiver also has key shortcuts for FN keys, F keys, CTRL+ALT DEL etc. You are also able to scroll and drag items. As for printing i do not have that setup locally. However, i have many physical locations that I send my print jobs to.

    So far so good.
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  20. #20
    Windrider (Stubborn)
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    We have been experimenting with the cloud for the past 2 years by migrating our CRM system to SalesForce.com. I am pretty certain that the cloud is the future and, while skeptical, felt we, as a small business needed to understand it and develop the internal compentency to manage it properly.

    I have to say, I've been impressed. Couple use of the cloud with applications specificially developed to take advantage of the cloud and it's a big win. It's not ready for an ERP system deployment, but I suspect within 4 years it will be.

    As to office. Exchange 2007 or 2010 makes the need for a VPN unnecessary. It's absolutly seamless....I open the same client on my laptop I do in the office, and see the same results. If you are not on Exchange 2007......take your time and do the upgrade right.

    IPad is not ready for primetime for any creation stuff...but viewing dashboards and e-mail and using them for client presentations is awesome.

    IME

    Len



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  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by carveitup View Post
    As far as email goes, you don't need to use a VPN to have outlook connect to exchange via the internet. Office 2010 (and also 2007, I think) allow you to configure it such that it uses the lan when available and can go through webmail otherwise. I don't know exactly how to set it us as I'm not our corporate IT guy but I know it works nicely. Our VPN was always slow and now that I am using 64-bit Win 7, it was becoming hard to find a 64-bit VPN client.

    File sharing is another matter, however.
    Cisco have a 64bit VPN client. Shrewsoft also make a free 64bit VPN client called Access Connections that is cisco compatible.

    If you open specific ports on your firewall, you can allow webmail access to the exchange server, but some offices are strict and block those ports to prevent attacks. So VPN is needed.

    As far as cloud, it is good for a new company that wants functions and services without dropping the cash on all the hardware and licenses.

    But the cloud isn't a magic bubble, your data sits in someone else's data center. If they have a failure, you loose access to your data, with no guaranty of when it will be restored. A well designed backup solution can have data back online and accessible within minutes (depending on the failure).

    Moving to the cloud, you loose control and security.

    If you use iPads, they don't have a decent file browser, editing data is ok, but not as easy as on a PC.

    It's a nice idea, but the implementation isn't there yet.

    VPN is only as good as the connection you are running on. Also, your onsite staff are using the same bandwidth, you could have a second Internet connection for your VPN office access. In Japan, we have high speeds all around, I am regularly VPNing into servers and remoting between offices, even running multiple VPN tunnels to access very remote servers that can only be accessed from specific locations. Speeds are fine. Even when accessing from my cell phone Internet.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by thedago View Post
    you can get you exhange email to connect to the ipad- i personally dont like it as much as my iphone but it works

    for the rest- well, gotomypc works on the ipad now, bypass all that VPN bs.
    Good point ... I forgot about GoToMyPC

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  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by MWT View Post
    I have a question for knowledgeable IT folks. I work for a small consulting firm where many employees are on the road frequently. They typically take a laptop and connect to our file and Exchange server through a VPN. I don't travel, but from all accounts it works fine. Nevertheless, some consultants think a cloud solution would be better, but I don't see the advantages - at least not yet. How is accessing files and email from a cloud easier than through a VPN? I've heard our current set-up is an "internal could."

    Along the same lines, the firm's CEO is in love with her iPad. She would like to access company files - mostly Word, PowerPoint, and Excel - from her iPad through the cloud (she's been reading too many management articles!). I'm no iPad expert, but I thought the Office suite wasn't availabe for it? Is her vision even doable? Or, does it offer any advantages over our current set-up?

    I'd greatly appreciate any advice.
    You could use Dropbox to store the files, but any competent IT Security team will shoot down anything involving non-corporate imaged computers pretty quickly.
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  24. #24
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    This explains it nicely:

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  25. #25
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    Exclamation

    Our company recently bought a number of ipads (one for myself) and basically we're using them as email clients for email, contacts, calender. All done thru exchange activesync - not vpn.

    I understand the iWork app has capability to read/write microsoft office files but I haven't tested this as yet.
    Last edited by aliensporebomb; 10-05-2011 at 11:08 AM.
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