Life without Power at Cumulus Global

Good Day,

Cumulus Global’s offices and many of our team members’ homes (like the majority ofhomes and businesses in our area) are without power due to the October blizzard.

Living in the cloud, however, we are working from libraries, relatives’ houses, and the occasional pizza place.   While are responses may be slightly delayed, we are up and running and here to serve your needs.

Allen Falcon

Tuesday Take Away: DLP in Google Apps

In at least one prior post, we have written about the nature of data protection and the reasons for backing up information in the cloud.  Backupify, one of the vendors we work with often, recently conducted  a study of known data loss incidents in Google Apps with known resolutions.   Here is what they learned:

  • 0.00% = Due to Google systems or software
  • 4.05% = Due to an integrated, third party application
  • 10.81% = Due to unauthorized use of a users’ credentials
  • 85.14% = Due to user action

What does this mean?

For most Google Apps users, the best mechanism for Data Loss Prevention (DLP) is to protect your data from user error and malicious acts.  In other words, back up your data!  Assess your needs with respect to retention period and retention points, and pick the backup solution that best meets your business needs.  And remember, backups solutions for Google Docs should do more than export with conversion.

In addition, users should understand the importance and risks involved in sharing account information or using weak passwords.  If you want to enforce best practices, consider Google Apps Directory Sync or an affordable Single Sign-On (SSO) solution.

Drop us a note if you want to know more.

Friday Thought: Comfort with the Cloud Grows Rapidly Among Business Execs

As reported by Dow Jones via Fox Business News back in May, IBM published results of a bi-annual survey of more than 3000 CIOs.  The results indicate that adoption of  cloud computing will continue to grow rapidly.  Over the past two years:

  • The number of CIOs planning to use c loud computing has jumped from 33% to 60%
  • The number of CIOs stating that cloud computing is a top priority has jumped from about 33% to about 70%

What does this mean for you beyond “cloud computing is not going away”?

  • Mid-market and large enterprises will continue to demand enterprise-class features and capabilities from cloud computing solutions
  • PAR (performance/availability/reliability) concerns will continue to be addressed by vendors
  • Security architectures will continue to evolve to meet market demands.

Small and Mid-Size Businesses (SMBs) will benefit from the continuing, rapid evolution of cloud solutions.  As demonstrated by Google’s increasing rate of feature releases in Google Apps, evolution will rapidly close the gap between new, cloud solutions and traditional in-house systems.

SMBs should expect to re-evaluate current vendors and IT partners against new players in the market.  Avoid letting inertia keep your business on a path without fully exploring options.  Change may mean moving away from vendors uncomfortable with the growing role of cloud solutions.

At the same time, avoid moving to cloud solutions for the sake of being in the cloud.  Businesses should always map business objectives into IT initiatives and priorities, and then select the best solution.

Cumulus Global CEO Clouds Up New England Business Expo

Boston, MA – October 18, 2011 – Allen Falcon, CEO of Cumulus Global ( will be clouding up the New England Business Expo at the DCU Center in Worcester.  As a featured speaker, Falcon’s seminar — Ground to Cloud in 30 Days! — will provide small and mid-size business owners with a road map for secure, cost-effective use of cloud computing solutions.  While most small businesses are aware of cloud computing, many are unsure about how to take the first steps.  Falcon will cover the basics of planning and moving to cloud computing, including the reality of security concerns and service level agreements.

“For most businesses, cloud computing solutions hold great potential for improved efficiency and cost  savings,” notes Falcon. “This seminar will take the mystery and fear out of cloud computing and will provide a road map for sound decisions and plans.”

Ground to Cloud in 30 Days! is scheduled for 4:00 pm in the New England Business Expo seminar rooms, on the 3rd floor of the DCU Center.  Interested business owners can learn more at Cumulus Global’s News and Events page or by visiting the expo site.

About Cumulus Global
Cumulus Global, formerly Horizon Info Services, helps small and mid-size businesses, non-profits, governments, and educational institutions thrive by delivering cloud computing solutions.  Serving clients from 1 to more than 1000 employees across numerous industries, we align technology with our clients’ goals, objectives, and bottom lines. We leverage our expertise, vendor relationships, and a diversified range of best-of-breed cloud services to create custom solutions with tangible value.

Tuesday Take-Away: New Security Standards for Cloud Computing

It is common for cloud computing vendors often promote their security credentials, and doing so gives prospective customers valuable information about the vendors’ security operations and capabilities.

If your vendor is still promoting their SAS 70 Type II certifications, however, they are a little bit out of date.

As of June 15, 2011, the American Institute of CPAs replaced SAS 70 with SSAE 16, a much more rigorous standard for service provider security audits and attestations.  SSAE 16 is also in line with a separate, international security audit and attestation standard, ISAE 3402.

If you use Google Apps, Google Postini Services, Google App Engine, and/or Google Apps Script, you are in good shape.  Google is one of the first cloud computing vendors to move to the new, more rigorous, standards.

Google has attained SSAE 16 Type II and ISAE 3402 Type II certifications for these services.  SAS 70 Type II certifications are still valid for audits conducted before June 15, 2011.

While third party audits are part of the security and compliance benefits of Google Apps and Google App Engine products.  Google’s security efforts go well beyond audit requirements.  You can learn more about Google’s security by reviewing the current security white paper and watching this data center video tour.

Want to know more?  Contact us.  We would be happy to discuss your needs.

Friday Thought: Is BYOD Right for Your Business?

A new trend is emerging in corporate IT that may make sense for small and mid-size businesses:  BYOD, or Bring-Your-Own-Device.  Companies with BYOD policies allow workers to pick their own smartphones, tablets, and, in some cases, laptop computers.  Most BYOD policies provide a fixed stipend for each type of device with employees free to spend more personally for a better device.

Recent articles in the New York Times and on have focused on this trend.   For large companies, BYOD policies …

  • Save money on purchases as employees often pick up part of the cost for better devices
  • Reduce demand on IT staff as BYOD employees often turn to other sources for help
  • Overcome the “my technology at home is better than at the office” syndrome

The challenge, of course, is security.  Not just access control, but virus and malware protection require standards and verification.

As more small and mid-size businesses move into the cloud, BYOD will make sense for smaller businesses as well.  Cloud computing solutions are more likely to be device independent, enabling users to pick their preferred smartphone, tablet, or laptop.  Google Apps, for example, provides native support for Android, iPhone, and Blackberry devices.

With BYOD, users pick the device or platform that works best for them, helping them be more productive.  As the recent articles note, colleges and universities have supported BYOD programs for some time with good results.  Users pick devices that best serve their needs, IT facilitates connectivity and support.

BYOD shifts some of the responsibility for support to the end user, so IT departments would be wise to ensure that end user support is available from key software and cloud solution vendors or resellers.   End users may turn to Apple for help with their iPad 2, but will need guidance from IT for issues of connectivity to applications and services.  Tier 2 support from the vendors or resellers should be a cost effective means to reduce demand for IT support.

The IT team needs to be prepared to help users navigate vendor support and, more importantly, configure devices to keep business and personal accounts separate.   And, if necessary, new SSO and identity management tools are available for smartphones and tablets.  While these tools add cost and a management layer, they can provide provide a level of security that may be appropriate whether the device is owned by the company or the employee.

Finally, a solid “usage” policy should be in place governing the use of company computing resources and how personal equipment and software may and may not be used for company business.  Having a policy in place sets guidelines and boundaries that will keep a BYOD program from getting out of hand.

With a sound set of usage policies and a reasonable stipend, BYOD can help small and mid-size businesses increase productivity.

Tuesday Take-Away: Tools to Ease Scheduling Woes

Have you ever notices that the number of emails it takes to schedule a meeting seems to increase exponentially with the number of people you invite?  With our electronically organized days, it seems to get harder and harder to find a common time to meet, particularly when setting up meeting with people outside your company or organization.

While most calendar services give you the ability to see individuals’ free/busy times within your organization, scheduling meetings with others gets more tricky.   Fortunately, you have some tools.

With a new feature, appointment slots, in Google Calendar, you can block off and share blocks of time, enabling others to schedule appointments with you at your convenience. The user interface is simple and lets you create a single large block of time or multiple appointment windows.

By sharing a link with others, they can select a block of time and schedule a meeting with you for a mutually convenient time.

If you want to give it a try, click here for a full set of instructions.

Appointment slots in Calendar work well for arranging meetings with individuals, but what if you are trying to schedule a group?

We have found that Tungle to be an effective, free service.   Tungle lets you invite one person or many to a meeting by providing them multiple times when you are available.  Each person responds with their availability, then you pick the meeting time when all, or most, (or the most important) attendees are available.  At that point, everybody receives a confirmation of the booking and a formal meeting invite.  Tungle syncs with your Google Calendar and, if you want, your contacts.

Using either or both of these tools, you can reduce the time and stress involved in scheduling group meetings.



Friday Thought: Cloud Computing Changes IT Roles

Jason Hiner recently kicked off the annual TechRepublic Live 2011 event in September by asking “What will the IT department look like in 2015”?  His conclusion is that larger centralized IT departments will give way to leaner teams with more IT consultants.  He also states that IT departments will focus resources on software, the cloud, and mobile devices.

What is really changing, however, is the roles IT will need to play, particularly as organizations move services to the cloud.   Rather than focusing on IT services, such as server maintenance, email, and other core/infrastructure services, IT departments will be able to focus on services that are closer to the business and end user needs.

As businesses implement cloud computing solutions, the need for hardware and software administration drops to near zero.  Time consuming activities such as managing patches, updates, and revision upgrades will almost vanish.  Backups, disaster recovery, spam/virus protection, and many other tasks will no longer require the time and attention they do today.

Instead, IT departments will be managing software systems.  IT departments will need to understand business processes and models and the software and data that support them.  In-house or in the cloud, IT staff will be expected to be able to help businesses manage and use its data, and ensure that applications support how users work.

While Mr. Hiner sees the IT pros that perform these tasks losing their jobs and being replaced by consultants that can bridge the gap between business and applications, I see a different path.

Smart IT pros will update their skills as companies migrate into cloud solutions.  These skills will develop over time as the migration happens, particularly in mid-size and small businesses where so many IT roles are often left unfulfilled.

I see network administrators that used to spend time managing email, spam/virus, and backup servers getting trained as database administrators and gaining skills in data management and reporting.  I see help desk teams learning to respond to business application requests as the number of “it’s not working/infrastructure” requests decline.

The move to cloud computing will change the role of IT professionals, but does not necessarily correlate to job loss.  Organizations use consultants when they do not have the skill set or resources in house.  IT pros that “get” cloud computing will migrate their expertise from infrastructure and toward the business.  In the process, they will become more valuable to the organization.


Google Docs and OffiSync Back on Track

Many of our OffiSync customers experienced authentication issues over the past several days when connecting to Google Docs.

These errors were due to changes made by Google in the Google Docs API.  OffiSync has released a new version that fixes the issue.

The new version should install automatically the next time users open an MS Office application.  If users do not see the prompt, they should click on Settings -> Check for Updates on the OffiSync menu/toolbar/ribbon.



Cumulus Global CEO to speak at SpiceWorld 2011

Allen Falcon, CEO of Cumulus Global ( will be speaking at the SpiceWorld  2011 on October 20, 2011 in Austin, Tx.  SpiceWorld is the annual Spiceworks IT User Conference. The keynote panel discussion, “The Cloud: Should I Stay or Should I Go?”, will focus on decision points for IT professionals considering moving their organizations to cloud computing solutions.

“This panel reflects an evolutionary change in thinking about cloud computing,” notes Falcon.  “In past conferences, events focused on the ‘what’ and ‘if’ of cloud computing.  This panel focuses on the ‘how’.  Businesses are moving to the cloud, the challenge is to find the best path forward.”

For more information on the panel discussion and Spiceworld 2011, visit the News and Events page on the Cumulus Global website at: or visit

About Cumulus Global
Cumulus Global, formerly Horizon Info Services, helps small and mid-size businesses, non-profits, governments, and educational institutions thrive by delivering cloud computing solutions.  Serving clients from 1 to more than 1000 employees across numerous industries, we align technology with our clients’ goals, objectives, and bottom lines. We leverage our expertise, vendor relationships, and a diversified range of best-of-breed cloud services to create custom solutions with tangible value.

About Spiceworks
Globally, over 1 million companies and 1.6 million IT professionals at small and mid-size businesses use Spiceworks to monitor and manage the IT systems.  Spiceworks is free to users and is funded by advertising to spiceworks members.