Cloud Technology is the Future – Time to Upgrade (Part 1 of 2)

This is the fifth in a series of six blogs, which attempt to provide airport accounting managers with information on how they can improve their financial management processes.  The previous blogs covered the following topics:

This blog post and the next post, coming next week, will describe cloud technology and how airports can take advantage of this new technology.

In addition, readers are encouraged to read my white paper (Modern Airport, Modern Tools) that covers the same topics in a summarized form.

Introduction: What is the Cloud?

There has been much discussion in the media about cloud technology, but it can be confusing since each vendor has their own terminology and description of what their cloud service offers.  I will attempt to clarify what it all means in this post, and show you how you can take advantage of the new technology at your airport. Before we start discussing the cloud, let’s first take a quick look at how computer systems have evolved over the last 40 or 50 years to the current cloud technology that we have today.

How did the Cloud evolve?

Some of us may remember the old “mainframe” computers, which were large multi-million dollar centralized computers that were accessed by “dumb” terminals.  They were called dumb terminals because they had no processing capability – all the processing was done at the mainframe.

Then came the “mini computers” which were an attempt to offload some of the processing load onto smaller distributed computers which may have been located in local offices of the company, or even in departments.

Next, we had the rise of the “personal computer” which provided processing capabilities at the client level.  PC’s were connected to local area networks and servers were connected to these networks to handle various tasks like file serving or application hosting or acting as email servers. This is essentially what we have today in many companies and is called a client-server model.

In the last few years, cloud technology has developed, which essentially puts the processing capability back into a centralized location which is called a “data center”.  Data centers can be huge facilities the size of 10 football fields, with thousands of computers connected together and controlled by software to provide you, the user, with a host of services.  Microsoft is a global leader in the data center market, and has invested over $15 billion building dozens of these large data centers around the world.  The old mainframe architecture was the best design in terms of providing centralized services, but communications technology did not support this architecture 40 or 50 years ago and remote users experienced slow response times.  We have now gone full circle, in my opinion, since the technology has now evolved to the point where communications are fast enough to allow processing to be centralized again with access from any device that can connect to the internet.

The concept of cloud services is similar to the idea of outsourcing any service that can be done more efficiently and at a lower cost than you can do yourself.  If providing a data center is not your core competency, then the idea is that you will be better served by outsourcing your IT needs to a company that specializes in this service.

2015 was the tipping point in the adoption of cloud services. According to Microsoft, more than 50% of new systems were implemented on the cloud instead of on-premises in 2015. Some of Microsoft’s business application systems are now offered only on the cloud, for example Dynamics 365 (covered in the next blog).

Cloud vs. Hosting

What’s the difference between a cloud service and a hosting service? A hosting service is a basic form of cloud service – a company provides service remotely by allowing you to install software on their server for a monthly fee.  Cloud computing takes this simple approach and extends it by offering all sorts of different levels of service (IaaS, PaaS and SaaS) as well as providing the capability to scale the service that you need.  A hosting service can be thought of as the first generation or forerunner of cloud computing in its most basic form.

Cloud Services Explained

Simply put, cloud computing is the delivery of computing services—servers, storage, databases, networking, software, analytics, and more—over the Internet (“the cloud”). Companies offering these computing services are called cloud providers and typically charge for cloud computing services based on usage, similar to how you’re billed for water or electricity at home.  You are probably using cloud computing right now, even if you don’t realize it. If you use an online service to send email, edit documents, watch movies or TV, listen to music, play games, or store pictures and other files, it’s likely that cloud computing is making it all possible behind the scenes.

The following diagram shows the three different types of cloud computing paradigms according to Microsoft. The blue-shaded boxes indicate on-premise computing and the green boxes indicate cloud computing. On-premise computing is the traditional model where each company has their own server or servers installed locally on-premise.

In the right-hand bar, labeled “Software as a Service (SaaS)”, all the services are on the Cloud. For an airport using SaaS solutions, you would not need any local servers — just workstations or laptops on a local network with a connection to the internet. In this case, you would typically not need substantial, full-time IT staff to manage the software, and could outsource any IT support that might be needed to support your local network and computers.

Cloud computing is a confusing topic since different companies talk about their cloud services in different ways. However, one thing is certain: cloud computing is the way of the future. Microsoft’s vision for the future is highly focused on cloud computing and they have invested approximately $15 billion dollars in their cloud data centers. Some of their new business software only works on the cloud. Other companies like Amazon, Google and IBM are following the same path.

The following diagram shows the three different types of cloud computing according to Microsoft:

  • IaaS: Infrastructure as a Service
  • PaaS: Platform as a Service
  • SaaS: Software as a Service

cloud services

IaaS: You manage the blue-shaded boxes (applications, data, runtime, middleware and O/S) and you rent the infrastructure (virtualization, servers, storage and networking) from the cloud provider.  This is the most basic category of cloud computing services. With IaaS, you rent IT infrastructure—servers and virtual machines (VMs), storage, networks, operating systems—from a cloud provider on a pay-as-you-go basis.

PaaS: You get more services from the cloud provider compared to IaaS, to the point where you only manage your applications and data.  PaaS refers to cloud computing services that supply an on-demand environment for developing, testing, delivering, and managing software applications. PaaS is designed to make it easier for developers to quickly create web or mobile apps, without worrying about setting up or managing the underlying infrastructure of servers, storage, network, and databases needed for development.

SaaS: This is a method for delivering software applications over the Internet, on demand and typically on a subscription basis. With SaaS, cloud providers host and manage the software application and underlying infrastructure, and handle any maintenance, like software upgrades and security patching. Users connect to the application over the Internet, usually with a web browser on their phone, tablet, or PC.

For an airport using SAAS, the airport would not need any local servers other than a server to provide the local network but instead would just have workstations or laptops with a connection to the internet. In this case, you would typically not need any IT staff and could outsource any IT support that might be needed to support your local network and computers. In a true SaaS environment, all you need is access to the internet and a device with a browser like a laptop, tablet or smartphone.

Don’t be confused by the terminology since the acronyms can mean different things to different people depending on who you are talking to.  Notice that I said the above diagram shows the three different types of cloud computing according to Microsoft.  If you spoke to a different vendor, they might have different definitions for IaaS, PaaS and SaaS services, but at the end of the day you are paying for services and you can decide which services you want.

What is Azure?

It would be difficult to talk about the cloud without mentioning Azure.  What is Azure?  Microsoft Azure, formerly known as Windows Azure, is Microsoft’s cloud computing platform. Azure provides a range of cloud services including those for databases, business intelligence, storage and networking. Users can pick and choose from these services to develop and scale new applications, or run existing applications, in the cloud.

Azure is available in 34 regions around the world, with plans announced for 4 additional regions. Microsoft places a high priority on geographic expansion to enable higher performance and to support your requirements and preferences regarding data location. For example, if it is important for a Canadian airport to keep its data within Canada, there is an Azure region in Central Canada.

Azure has the most comprehensive compliance coverage of any cloud provider with 50 compliance offerings.  Azure has been recognized as the most trusted cloud for U.S. government institutions.

Take Action…..

There are many advantages to implementing a cloud solution, and you could reduce the cost of your system while improving the performance, services offered and security of the system.  Contact me if you need help with understanding the benefits of cloud computing, or help with any of the other topics covered in this series of blogs.

Paul Fernandez B.Sc., ACMA, CMA
SBS Group Pacific Canada

About Paul
paul-fernandezPaul Fernandez is the general manager of SBS Pacific Canada, which is part of the SBS Group. He has worked as a professional accountant in industry for 25 years in various senior financial positions. He founded his consulting practise 15 years ago and has worked as a consultant implementing accounting systems at many companies, drawing on his own experience to advise clients on the design of their chart of accounts and multi-dimensional reporting structures. Contact Paul at pfernandez@sbsgroup.ca.

 


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SBS Group’s AXIO Core Financials Now Available for Dynamics 365 for Operations on Microsoft AppSource

AXIO Core Financials is one of the first solutions available on AppSource for Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Operations.

axio core financials for microsoft dynamics 365 for operationsInformation technology innovator and leader, SBS Group, announced the availability of AXIO Core Financials on Microsoft AppSource. This announcement comes after the release of Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Operations on November 1, 2016.

“Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Operations is the new frontier for ERP for enterprise-level organizations,” explains Robbie Morrison, Chief Solution Strategist. “Optimized for cloud deployment and mobile use, SBS Group’s AXIO Core Financials fits hand-in-hand with Microsoft’s new vision for ERP.”

AXIO Core Financials is a business software solution specifically built for companies with global needs such as multi-entity, multi-currency, multi-taxation and multi-language requirements. AXIO Core Financials specifically focuses on the financial processes in a firm such as accounts receivable, accounts payable, fixed assets, general ledger, and banking. The solution provides global scalability and compliance with all GAAP, IFRS, Sarbanes-Oxley and DCAA requirements.

AXIO Core Financials is built on the flexible and comprehensive Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Operations platform, bringing enterprise-class extensibility and built-in intelligence. The user adoption process is smooth, and ROI is accelerated due to the rapid implementation approach and its native integration with Microsoft Dynamics 365 – Microsoft’s new approach to intelligent business applications.

To view AXIO Core Financials on Microsoft AppSource, visit: https://appsource.microsoft.com/en-us/product/dynamics-365-for-operations/sbs-group.e85238f6-0820-4f7a-9ad1-4c1f889c9ebd?tab=Overview.

About SBS Group

SBS Group is a national Microsoft master VAR (Value Added Reseller) with Gold level competency in enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM). Over the past 30 years, they have been recognized as Microsoft Partner of the Year, Inner Circle Member and Microsoft President’s Club member multiple times. The company is headquartered in Edison, New Jersey and operates offices across North America. For more information, please visit SBS Group’s website at http://www.sbsgroupusa.com. Follow us on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/company/sbs-group, on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/sbsgroup and find us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/SBSGroupUSA.


To read the full release, visit here.

SBS Group’s Robbie Morrison Promoted to Chief Solution Strategist

Morrison’s new role is effective immediately after previously holding the position of Vice President – Enterprise Group.

Information technology innovator and leader, SBS Group, announced the promotion of Robbie Morrison to Chief Solution Strategist. The announcement was made by James Bowman, President and Chief Executive Officer of SBS Group.

“Accelerating our clients’ digital transformation is of utmost importance for them to grow their businesses. Robbie combines the digital acumen, business process skills, and implementation expertise to lead the development of new innovative solutions for our clients. This new role allows him to drive innovation both within SBS Group and with our clients as well. Robbie’s expertise and strategic vision will continue to push our business forward,” said Bowman.

Robbie Morrison most recently held the position of Vice President – Enterprise Group at SBS Group. During his tenure in this role, he oversaw the development and strategy of SBS Group’s AXIO Enterprise Solutions as well as coordinate marketing, sales and operating efforts for Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Operations. Morrison joined SBS Group in 2013 as the Practice Director for Microsoft Dynamics AX after SBS Group purchased Solugenix’s Dynamics AX practice, Morrison’s previous employer. Prior to working at SBS Group, Morrison had a long history of technology innovation and executive leadership. Morrison previously held various senior-level positions at Solugenix after selling the two consulting businesses he founded before then, Creative Business Solutions & Consulting, LLC and MCM, Inc. He earned a Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) degree from the University of Georgia after earning a bachelor’s degree in Business Management and Manufacturing from Kennesaw State University.

As Chief Solution Strategist, Morrison will provide executive-level business and technical leadership to marketing, sales and operations across all SBS Group’s solutions and products. Additionally, he will be a major visionary in SBS Group’s digital transformation while continuing to carry out SBS Group’s strategic vision.

About SBS Group
SBS Group is a national Microsoft master VAR (Value Added Reseller) with Gold level competency in enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM). Over the past 30 years, they have been recognized as Microsoft Partner of the Year, Inner Circle Member and Microsoft President’s Club member multiple times. The company is headquartered in Edison, New Jersey and operates offices across North America. For more information, please visit SBS Group’s website at http://www.sbsgroupusa.com. Follow us on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/company/sbs-group, on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/sbsgroup and find us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/SBSGroupUSA.


To read the full release, click here.

SBS Group to Sponsor Children’s Education in India through Aasraa Trust

Three young girls from India will receive financial support to help fund their education and learning.

SBS Group has announced it is sponsoring the education of three young girls living in India. SBS Group is partnering with Aasraa Trust to help fund the educational expenses needed to buy books, school supplies and other educational resources.

These three children are among the most impoverished children in their area. Aasraa Trust chose the children sponsored by SBS Group through various criteria including their eagerness to learn. SBS Group will be supplying the financial support these children need to succeed in the classroom as they grow. Employees of SBS Group are also able to sponsor additional children or donate additional resources to help the three children SBS Group is currently sponsoring.

“Giving back to the community is one of the fundamental principles we have here at SBS Group,” said James Bowman, President and CEO of SBS Group. “Our India Team is a vital piece of our fabric and we are proud to extend our support to those in need in their community. We are grateful that we can help provide an education for these children in need. As here in the U.S., supporting future generations is a focal point of our efforts.”

Aasraa Trust, established in 2009, is a social work trust focusing on the education of underprivileged children, in response to a crisis for intervention for the welfare of children from the riverbed slum under the Bindal Bridge. Today, Aasraa works towards empowering street and slum children through education, vocational training, nutrition, medical care and providing shelter homes. Their mission is to level the playing field for children who have neither seen books nor stepped into a school. Aasraa Trust work provides over 1400 children with educational support.

To learn more about Aasraa Trust, visit http://www.aasraatrust.org.

About SBS Group
SBS Group is a national Microsoft master VAR (Value Added Reseller) with Gold level competency in enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM). Over the past 30 years, they have been recognized as Microsoft Partner of the Year, Inner Circle Member and Microsoft President’s Club member multiple times. The company is headquartered in Edison, New Jersey and operates offices across North America. For more information, please visit SBS Group’s website at http://www.sbsgroupusa.com. Follow us on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/company/sbs-group, on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/sbsgroup and find us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/SBSGroupUSA.


To read the full release, please click here.

SBS Group Prepares for New Year at Annual “Kickoff” Meeting

“Growth Requires Ingenuity” is the theme of SBS Group’s Kickoff 2017 event.

“Kickoff” is an annual meeting convened for the purpose of performance review and yearly planning. SBS Group employees will have an opportunity to discuss the activity of the past year and learn about the plan for the year ahead. The event starts the night before, February 9, with an awards banquet where leading performers are recognized through various awards. The next day, February 10, is an all-day event that consists of breakfast, lunch and multiple sessions including business unit presentations, an HR and training overview, and breakout team meetings. This year’s “Kickoff” event will be focused on the opportunity for SBS Group to grow through ingenuity. Each employee will be encouraged to think creatively in order to deliver the best results to SBS Group’s expanding client base.

“With so many remote employees, it’s important to develop a sense of community and to share common best practices,” said James Bowman, President and CEO of SBS Group. “Our Kickoff Event gives us the opportunity to do just that.”

In November, Microsoft officially released their new, revolutionary business solution: Microsoft Dynamics 365. At Kickoff, SBS employees will learn about the solution as well as how this new announcement changes the industry for Microsoft Dynamics Partners. SBS Group is committed and prepared to evolve to the future market and bring the best solutions to its clients as well as electronic purchasing through SBS Group’s Cloud Marketplace, shop.sbsgroupusa.com.

About SBS Group

SBS Group is a national Microsoft master VAR (Value Added Reseller) with Gold level competency in enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM). Over the past 30 years, they have been recognized as Microsoft Partner of the Year, Inner Circle Member and Microsoft President’s Club member multiple times. The company is headquartered in Edison, New Jersey and operates offices across North America. For more information, please visit SBS Group’s website at http://www.sbsgroupusa.com. Follow us on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/company/sbs-group, on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SBSGroup and find us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/SBSGroupUSA.


To read the full release, click here.

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