Posts Tagged ‘cloud’

Sharing Business Resources without Using Microsoft Exchange

Friday, October 21st, 2011

File sharing is the storing and distribution of digitally stored information. File sharing has quickly become an integral part of most businesses. With file sharing, companies and their employees can easily share resources such as computer applications, multimedia content, and documents.

Companies utilize a file sharing environment to:


from, Oct 2011

  • Save time
  • Cut costs
  • Increase productivity
  • Organize and centralize information for easy retrieval
  • Make content sharing faster
  • Share of hardware
  • Protect data and make backups
  • Increase the performance of existing PC equipment

File sharing can occur in a couple of different ways, the two most popular being a centralized server on a network and a collaborative cloud based service. Recently more and more businesses have been moving more towards the cloud based services, which is why we decided to look into some of the most popular collaborative cloud applications. The one that stood out the most was Zimbra Collaboration Server. Zimbra is advertised as the leader among open source email and collaboration systems. Zimbra uses a cloud infrastructure as its primary storage as opposed to using the desktop or a network server like Microsoft Exchange and Outlook.

Zimbra is a browser based enterprise class open source email, calendar, and collaboration platform that is designed for portability over private and public clouds. Along with its mobility it is also simpler to manage and more cost effective to scale. Zimbra keeps you organized and productive because your information is always assessable.

The Zimbra Collaboration Server offers rich email, contact management, group calendars, Tasks, sharing and document management, mobility, desktop sync, archiving and discovery, and powerful administrative tools. With the free Zimbra desktop client you are able to combine both online and offline services. The desktop client enables users to store and sync their information from email, calendars, contacts, files, or documents in the cloud and access it from any location with an internet connection. You can save your files locally on your desktop and continue working while offline, once you reconnect your files will automatically be synced.


Whether you use Yahoo! Mail, Gmail, Hotmail or AOL mail, all of your emails, calendar and contacts are now integrated into a single user interface along with your Zimbra mail. Similar to Microsoft Outlook it’s easy to compose, edit, delete, reply, or make drafts and utilizes “Drag and Drop” to move messages from folder to folder. Zimbra’s email supports plain text or html message formatting and adds email signatures for each account. Even while offline you can compose email it will be sent once you connect again.

Conversation Views, Tags, and Search

You can collapse email threads into a single conversation view to clean up your inbox and tag messages for quick identification. The advanced search makes it possible for you to quickly search for text, pictures, documents, and attachments. You can also create and save custom searches with details like folder, date, person, or subjects.

Web mash-ups

Open source extensions called Zimlets allow developers and administrators to incorporate third party applications or customer creations directly on the Zimbra user interface. When connected you can view addresses as Yahoo! Maps by hovering over the contact’s address. The interface also automatically detects your location to determine points of interest with Yahoo! Local. Zimbra provides previews of webpages as thumbnails instead of opening a browser and see your calendar schedule from within an email message if you hover over a date. Web Search powered by Yahoo! is built directly into Zimbra Desktop and it also automatically saves downloaded pictures to Flickr.


Zimbra’s address book allows you to store all your contacts in one place for all your accounts and lets you create groups or tags to organize them. You can add photos to your contacts and it has auto complete to help out when composing and sending emails. Zimbra enables you to easily import new contacts from other applications as .csv files or export contacts as .csv files for backup.


The Zimbra calendar lets you view by day, week, work week, month or even as a list. You can manage a multiple color-coded calendar and “drag and drop” events to new days or time slots. In the month view you can view or edit thumbnails of events. You can also sync the Zimbra calendar with your other calendars and even import event from other public web calendars. With this calendar it even easier to invite others to meetings and view their free or busy times. Zimbra is fully compatible with standard messaging systems like Apple Mail, Microsoft Outlook, and Microsoft Exchange so you can share calendar events with others whether they use Zimbra or not.

Documents, Tasks, Briefcase

Edit Documents by adding images, tables or spreadsheets and share them all directly in email. Track your collaborative tasks with start/end dates and percentage completed. Save attachment in the Briefcase rather than a message attachment, the Briefcase is used as a common folder to share important documents.

Extra features with Zimbra Collaboration Server

  • Email, contacts, calendar, documents, tasks synchronize to the Zimbra Server
  • Access to shared data from peers (email, contacts, calendars, etc.)
  • Works with both Open Source and Network Edition (ZCS 5.0+ servers)
  • Existing user preferences (folders, signatures, settings, etc.) are imported
  • Access to mobile devices, the Zimbra online Web Client and much more

Zimbra Desktop is free to download and can be used with or without the Zimbra Collaboration Server. Zimbra works on Windows, Mac and Linux computers. Check out the VMware Zimbra Video.

Also considered was Novell GroupWise , IBM Lotus, ZoHo Docs, and several freeware like Google Docs, Google Calendar, and DropBox.

Have a Great Day!


Providing Tech Support for Businesses in Maryland

US Government Continues Plan to Shutdown 40% of their Data Centers by 2015

Thursday, July 21st, 2011

On Wednesday July 20, 2011 the Obama Administration announced their plan to close 800 of their 2,000 data centers over the next four years. The Federal Government initially scheduled the shutdown of 137 data centers by the end of this year. However, currently the process is ahead of schedule with already 81 sites closed so they now expect the closure of 195 facilities. In addition to the revised figure of 195 data centers for 2011 the White House also announced that nearly 200 complexes will be closed by the end of 2012, making the accumulative shutdowns just shy of 400 data centers.

Data Center Shutdown Graph

from, July 2011

Since 1998 the United States Government has quadrupled their amount of data centers. Throughout the years the development of software that allows for multiple platform access has enabled the government to become more efficient and reduce their need for most data centers. It is reported that many of these sites operate only using 27% of their computing power even though taxpayers continue to pay for the entire infrastructure (land, facilities, equipment, cooling processes and special security elements).

According to the plans of the United States Government, the elimination of these data centers will help them be more efficient during this time of deficit. Over the next four years the shutdowns will allow for more real estate and a drastic reduction in unnecessary spending. The data centers that are marked for termination range in size with some occupying over 200,000 square feet and others residing on only 1,000 square feet of land. The geographic locations of these data centers also vary with locations scattered throughout 30 states. Due to the special equipment contained within these data centers the average power consumption can be 200 times more than regular office buildings and is enough to power 200 residential homes.

As a component of the President’s Campaign to Cut Waste, the closures will assist in locating misused tax dollars. The 800 sites scheduled for elimination further build on the Administration’s ongoing effort to create a more efficient, effective and accountable Government. According to Jeffrey Zients the Federal Chief Performance Officer and Deputy Director of the U.S. Office of Management and BudgetBy shrinking our data center footprint we will save taxpayer dollars, cutting costs for infrastructure, real estate and energy. At the same time, moving to a more nimble 21st century model will strengthen our security and the ability to deliver services for less.”

This data center efficiency plan is aimed to save taxpayers over 3 billion dollars and greatly decrease environmental impact. Along with the plan to close these data centers the Government’s goal is to go in the direction of cloud services, first focusing on email and storage. The transition to cloud based computing provides a tremendous savings opportunity. According to an interview with Vivek Kundra, chief information officer for the federal government, tapping into cloud computing services could save an additional five billion per year. She also expressed that as the services continue to grow they will continue to transfer their efforts from redundant systems to improving the citizen experience.

Absent from the announcement was the mention of job impact. Although data centers do not typically employ a tremendous amount of manpower, analysts still believe that tens of  thousands of jobs could be displaced or impacted by future shutdowns.

What do you think? Are the closures a good opportunity to reduce the Government’s wasteful spending and taxpayers to save money or is the possible effect on IT professionals too much?

For more information visit The White House’s Blog.

Thanks for Reading and Have a Great Day!


Providing Tech Support for Businesses in Maryland

Amazon Cloud Drive: A Great Way to Save Hard Drive Space for Free.

Friday, April 8th, 2011

Recently on March 29, 2011 introduced a new feature called the Amazon Cloud Drive.  Amazon’s newest business venture is an online storage center that offers Amazon customers a free 5 gigabytes (GB) of online storage space with the option to purchase additional space if needed.  Online storage and backup systems have been gaining popularity over the past several years because they enable users to conserve precious hard drive space, provide the option to access data from multiple locations, and limit the need to purchase external hard drives.

Amazon Cloud Drive

Amazon Tag Cloud
from April 2011

Although it is not the first type of online storage product offered by Amazon, the first being Amazon Simple Storage System (S3), it seems that the Amazon Cloud Drive was the next logical step.  Amazon S3 is an online storage that is more geared towards large developers who need to share resources, access information from multiple locations, and store information in a secure online infrastructure. The Cloud drive offers the same storage and sharing power however the system is more focused on the individual everyday user.

The Cloud Drive is a great new feature offered to all Amazon customers that can be very helpful for users who either do not have room on their hard drives, want to backup files or want to have an online and centralized sharing system for their files.  With the Amazon Cloud Drive users can easily upload audio, video, document, and photo files to a secure location within the cloud infrastructure. Even though this product is meant for individual users it can be a great tool for small businesses that need to conserve hard drive space, access files from various locations, allow multiple users access using the same login, and ensure that they have the space for other more important files on their hard drives.

Each Cloud Drive user has the option to utilize the 5GB storage plan for free and also has the option to upgrade their storage space for $1 per GB.

The Amazon Cloud Drive offers storage space plans that include:

  • 5GB for free
  • 20 GB for $20 a year
  • 50GB for $50 a year
  • 100GB for $100 a year
  • 200GB for $200 a year
  • 500GB for $500 a year
  • 1000GB for $1,000 a year

It is also worth mentioning that when a user purchases an online music album they are given a 20GB free account for a year as opposed to only 5GB.  Once the year ends Amazon will modify the user account to the original 5GB unless the user decides to purchase the $20 option.  Additionally when a user makes a purchase for a video or audio digital download it is automatically stored within the users Cloud Drive.  These files are playable using Amazons Cloud Player that comes free with the Cloud Drive account.

The Basic Features of Amazon Cloud Drive:

  • Upload your music, movies, documents, and photos from any location using your secure Amazon login
  • Purchase and download a file directly to your Cloud account
  • Organize your files with the option to move files, create folders, copy files, rename files, delete files and recover deleted items
  • File search allows users to search their entire cloud drive
  • Users can access their files from any computer or Android device that has an Internet connection.

In conclusion the Amazon Cloud Drive is a helpful resource whether you choose to utilize the free option or pay for additional space.  This feature is ideal to save space on your computer and is extremely convenient for any necessary offsite access.

Keep your computer running fast by preserving important hard drive space and learn more by trying out the Amazon Cloud Drive for free at Get Started, Amazon Cloud Drive.

Have a Great Day!


Providing Tech Support for Businesses in Maryland