Posts

5 Ways We Can Lower Your Chrome Device Costs

As part of our ChromeCycle Program, we help you manage the total cost of ownership of your Chrome devices. Here are five (5) ways we can lower the purchase cost for your next round of Chrome devices.

  1. Preregister Your Purchase: We can often secure preferred pricing when we preregister your intended purchase with your preferred Chrome device manufacturer. Letting your manufacturer know now how many units you plan to buy later helps them plan production and distribution. Some of those savings come back to you.
     
  2. Competitive Bidding: If you do not have a preferred Chrome device manufacturer, we can bid your intended purchased out across manufacturers and distributors to obtain the best purchase price possible.
  3. Trade-In: Trading in devices at the end of their life cycle can lower the cost of refreshing your devices by as much as 20%. We can estimate trade-in value now, to help with your budgets for purchases later in the year.
     
  4. Buy-Back: Even if you are not buying your refresh fleet from us, we can buy back devices you are retiring. The international market for used devices and parts can save you money.
  5. Financing Services: We work with multiple finance partners to offer both finance and fair market value leasing options. We can put your purchase financing out to bid to help get the best rate and terms possible.

Click here to learn more about our ChromeCycle services, or contact us for a no-obligation Cloud Advisor consultation.


 

Businesses Should Consider Chromebooks — Gartner

ASUS Chromebook
In a May 21, 2015 release looking at the global Chromebook market, Isabelle Durand of Gartner sees Chromebooks as a viable option for SMBs and startups.

Noting that in less than 4 years, Chromebooks have garnered just over 60% of the US Education market and close to 39% of the consumer market. Business adoption of Chromebooks in the US remains low at just over 1% market share.

Durand, sees Chromebooks a cost-effective solution for SMBs and Startups, as well as larger enterprises. for SMBs, she states, “Chromebook is a device that can be considered by SMBs or new startup companies that do not have the resources to invest too much in IT infrastructure.”

The opportunity for larger enterprises is different, as users need access to new web-based applications as well as legacy systems.  Durand notes that unless specific applications force a Windows decision, “Chromebooks will become a valid device choice for employees as enterprises seek to provide simple, secure, low-cost and easy-to-manage access to new web applications and legacy systems.”

This may already be proving true in other parts of the world, as Chromebooks hold 16.5% of market share in the Asia/Pacific region as defined by Gartner.

Across our customer base, we note that Windows-specific application needs are often limited to specific, small groups of users. Most users are willing and able to move fully to Google Apps.

In these instances, we move most users fully to Google Apps for Work and provide virtual MS Windows desktop to those users with Windows-specific applications.  This solution creates an affordable environment that allows all users to work efficiently without overbuilding infrastructure. It also creates an opportunity to replace aging desktops and laptops with Chromeboxes and Chromebooks, dramatically reducing the total cost of ownership for end user devices.


 

If you would like an analysis of your environment to see how Chromebooks may benefit your users and your bottom line, please contact us.


 

 

Take Another Look at ASUS

ASUS Chromebook
When we started providing Chrome devices to schools, options were limited. Today, nearly every major and secondary workstation manufacturer has at least a small line of Chrome devices. While this gives you more options, the choices can be overwhelming.

Recently, we took a fresh look at ASUS, and we think you should as well. Here are 4 reasons why:

1) Quality
When ASUS entered the Chromebook market, they did so with a low-cost, low-end unit that had a spinning disk drive. The brand was perceived as not having the quality to survive the K-12 environment. Since then, however, ASUS has led the market with advances in the Chromebox and has released models like the C200 and C300 that are proving themselves in the real world.

2) Service and Support
ASUS is standing by its products. ASUS is the only brand that includes accidental damage in its standard 1 year warranty. The coverage covers one repair during the year, but can be customized to extend the number of years and/or incidents covered.  The need for 3rd party coverage is gone.

3) Creativity
Looking at ASUS’s line of Android Tablets and in their Windows products, we see ASUS bringing many of the same creative form factors (advanced touch screen, flip, and “2 in 1”) to the Chrome device market. And we reasonably expect these new devices to be price competitive with the bigger players on the market.

4) Market Position
While not a small company by any stretch of the imagination, ASUS is still a relatively small player in the Chrome device market. ASUS is eager to grow and makes it easier for resellers to create custom solutions for you, our customers.


Interested enough to kick the tires, contact us to arrange a free evaluation kit.


 

 

Chromebook SSO Eases Access Administration

google-chromebook
Single Sign-On (SSO) enables users to access multiple systems and applications with a single username and password, and a single login screen.  And while many schools and businesses use SSO for Google Apps and related solutions, Chrome devices have always required a separate login.

To easy access administration and simplify user logins, Google has launched SAML-based SSO login for Chrome devices.   Organizations running current versions of Chrome on devices registered via Chrome Management licenses can now extend their Google Apps SSO login to the registered Chrome devices.

Feel free to contact us if you would like more information or assistance with your setup.

 

Lease vs Buy: Time to Rethink Your Options

Key for buy and lease
Historically, the “lease versus buy” decision for IT purchases focused on a business’ cash flow and the impact major projects would have on company financial statements.  CFOs would look at leasing options when cash flow was an issue, and to see if the capital expenditures or operating costs would best benefit ROI and other key metrics.

Three factors drive the need to take a fresh look at leasing versus buying:

  1. Trends in End User Devices
  2. Moves to Cloud Computing
  3. Interest Rates & Economy

End User Devices: With organizations moving away from traditional desktops and laptops to Chromebooks, tablets, hybrids, ultra-portables, and smartphones, the life cycle of end-user devices is changing.  These devices are not designed to last as long and compatibility with advancing systems and services is lost more quickly.  The original iPad, for example, was release in early 2010 and became obsolete with the release of iOS 6 in September 2012.

The impact on businesses is that, even though they are much less expensive, refresh and upgrade cycles will need to happen more frequently if devices are to remain connected to applications and systems.

Moves to Cloud ComputingAs companies move to cloud computing the need to maintain hardware platforms to support legacy applications is dwindling.  And, the impact of IT as an operating expense versus capital expenditure is advantageous to the vast majority of small and mid-size enterprises.  The concept of monthly recurring fees is generally accepted, although many vendors charge a small premium for monthly versus annual prepaid fees.

The impact on businesses is that the flexibility in licensing and costs, and cash flow benefits come, at a higher price than one-time purchases and annual payments.  Leasing can mitigate these costs.

Interest Rates and the Economy: With a long, slow recovery and continued low interest rates, the finance costs for leasing have rarely been as low as they are currently. Even as the Federal Reserve tapers and ends its bond-buying stimulus, interest rates are expected to remain low as job growth struggles.

The impact for businesses is that the finance costs for most leasing opportunities are probably less than expected.

The Big Opportunity: Fair Market Value Leasing

Fair Market Value, or FMV, leases offer a unique, big opportunity for small and mid-size businesses today.

Win #1: FMV leases assume that you will return the equipment to the finance company and upgrade at the end of the lease.  As such, they match well with planned refresh cycles needed with today’s end user devices.

Win #2: The leasing company assigns a residual value to the assets.  Financing is based on the purchase price less the residual value, lowering the overall cost of the asset.

Win #3: At current interest rates, the interest cost of a 3-year lease may be less than the residual value of the asset, effectively creating a 0% or “Near 0%” financing option.

Win #4: Bundling annual prepaid cloud services lets you get the prepaid savings and still make payments monthly.  At current rates, the you will likely still pay less than monthly plans.

Win #5: You can combine hardware, cloud licenses, and services in your lease, giving you one payment for all services.  Leasing companies are flexible, with monthly, quarterly, semi-annual, and annual payment plans in order to best meet your business’ financial needs.

Granted, leasing is not for every business.  But, it is probably worth some exploration before your next purchase.  Feel free to contact us to discuss your needs and available options.

 

 

Is Your PC a Dead-End?

xplogo
While security updates for Windows XP will continue well into 2015, the end of support and non-security updates is less than 50 days away.  According to IDC, as reported by Reuters, shipments of PCs fell 9.85 is 2013 and are expected to drop another 6.1% this year.  As more knowledge workers rely on mobile devices, the need for, and desire for, traditional desktops and laptops is vanishing.

So what is your next move?

If you upgrade from XP, your choices are limited.  Windows 8.x has been soundly rejected as a productivity killer and support challenge by enterprises as well as small and mid-size businesses.  With the expected release of Windows 9 sometime in the next year, Windows to 7 is a dead end.

Even worse, moving off XP triggers a wave of related costs, as your hardware, endpoint protection, Office suite, client access licenses, backup software, etc. must all undergo upgrades at the same time (see our prior post on this topic here).

Maybe, the “same ole, same ole” just does not work anymore.   Maybe, it is time to explore new options.  Here is some food for thought.

Hosted VDI:  Hosted VDI, or virtual desktop infrastructure, environments provide you with your operating system, productivity apps, endpoint protection, disk space, and data protection — as a service.  Rather than capital expenditures, project fees, and on-going maintenance and support costs, hosted VDI services charge monthly fees for the resources you need/use and each user with an account.  Most hosted VDI services (including ours) let you install legacy and custom applications as well.  You get the environment you need without huge expenditures and version lock-in.

Cloud Back Office:  Google Apps is the best example of how businesses can provide back office IT services without building infrastructure.  Leveraging Google Apps as a platform, businesses gain email, communication, collaboration, and productivity services.  As important, Google Apps can provide robust and secure file services and cloud print services.  Beyond replacing your email server, Google Apps can replace file and print servers as well.

L.O.B. Cloud:  With greater cloud acceptance comes greater availability of cloud-based line of business (LOB) applications and systems.  From CRM and service applications to professional service automation (PSA) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, many businesses can find the line of business applications they use in the cloud.  Moving to LOB Cloud solutions, eliminates the need for complex on-premise systems as well as significant operational expense.

New End Devices:  As reported by CNET, Meg Whitman, CEO of HP, says that Chromebooks “have surprised us.”  Here is why. When you move to the cloud, you can change your end-user devices. To access cloud services and hosted VDI, you need an Internet connection and a compatible browser.  Tablets, thin clients, and Chromebooks become viable, lower cost solutions that give users access to the applications and data they need, without the acquisition and operating costs of heavy hardware and the Microsoft ecosystem.

So what is your next move?

Do you follow your current vendors without question?  Or, is it time to look at the innovative options and new market leading solutions?

Do you continue to carry the full Microsoft burden? Or, do you move to nimble hardware and cloud/hosted solutions, renting only the Microsoft environment you actually need?

Leave a comment, below, or contact us to explore your options.

CIOReview names Cumulus Global a Top 20 Education Tech Solution Provider

The Navigator for Enterprise Solutions
Annual list showcases the 20 most promising education technology solution providers.

 

Boston, MA, December 13, 2013 – CIO Review (www.cioreview.com) has selected Cumulus Global (www.cumulusglobal.com) as one of CIOReview’s 20 Most Promising Education Tech Solution Providers.  The annual list, published in CIOReview’s December issue, identifies solution providers offering innovative, value-add solutions to the education market.  CIOReview’s selection panel and editorial board selected Cumulus Global after reviewing the company’s growing portfolio of cloud-based solutions for K-12 and higher education, as well as Cumulus Global’s track record of success.

“Cumulus Global is helping transform the in-classroom learning process,” stated  Harvi Sachar, Publisher & Founder of CIO Review. “Beyond helping schools move to Google Apps for Education and deploying Chromebooks in the classroom, Cumulus Global delivers the professional development and consulting services necessary to use the technology in a transformative way.”

Cumulus Global assists schools and districts with both educational and administrative computing initiatives.  The company’s services extend beyond the technology to include policy and administrative guidance for Google Apps for Education deployments, staff development, and 1:1 programs.  Examples of these services include: the company’s Google Guides program, which creates a peer-to-peer support team within the school, and 1:1 program policy guidance, asset planning, and financing services.

“We are honored that CIOReview recognizes our work with schools, nationally, as innovative and forward thinking,” noted Allen Falcon, CEO of Cumulus Global.  “We continue to learn from schools about how they want to improve the learning process and outcomes.  We will continue to find and deliver solutions that enable success.”

Cumulus Global is a Google Apps Premier SMB Reseller and an authorized reseller for Google Apps Vault and Chromebooks for Education.

About CIO Review
CIO Review (www.cioreview.com) constantly endeavors to identify “The Best” in a variety of areas important to tech business. Through nominations and consultations with industry leaders, our editors choose the best in different domains. Top 20 CIOReview Education Tech Solution Provider is a listing of 20 Most Promising Education solutions companies in the U.S.

 

Surface RT Deal for EDUs: Too Good to be Good

Out of JuiceWhen you see a prominent industry headline that reads “Microsoft Surface RT: Dumping Inventory Or Investing In Education?, you know something isn’t quite right.  Earlier this week, Microsoft announced it was slashing pricing on Surface RT tablets for schools down to $199 per unit with keyboard options bringing the price to $249 or $289.

The industry cannot help but wonder if Microsoft is trying to compete in the EDU market, or just looking to unload devices.  Microsoft’s intent is easy to question.

The dismal sales of Windows 8 in general is well-known, as ZDnet reported that through May 2013, Windows 8 sales under-performed the maligned and openly mocked Windows Vista operating system. And the industry is openly questioning Microsoft’s claims of licenses sold versus in use. In this blog, Preston Gralla of ComputerWorld summarizes criticism and challenges to Microsoft’s claims from sources ranging from IDC to the New York Times.

What is Going on Here?

Microsoft built an expensive tablet with and operating system that nobody wants. Even Microsoft OEMs, like Acer, dismiss Windows RT as “not influential.” And, the Surface RT only runs Windows RT… meaning that you are limited to applications designed to only run on Windows 8 (and not all of them will run cleanly on RT).

At $199 to $289, Microsoft has lowered the price of Surface RT tablets below those of iPads, to an amount that compares with the Acer and Samsung Chromebooks. The higher priced packages include a keyboard, a clear effort for the Surface RT to get closer to functional equivalence with Chromebooks.

Do not be fooled, however.  The end cost to schools (and businesses) is much greater than the buy price of the device. Going with a Surface RT tablet means leaving your existing applications behind and upgrading to the latest and greatest releases for compatibility. It also means investing in new endpoint protection solutions and mobile device management systems.

In addition, you have two soft costs to worry about. While almost all teachers and students can use a browser and browser-based tools, learning Windows RT is like starting over. With the release of Windows 8.1, Microsoft itself is acknowledging that users did not like Windows 8 and struggled with the transition.

The second soft cost: Obsolescence. Business and education software built for Windows 7 will not run on the Surface RT.  And with non-existent sales, betting that software publishers will invest in the Surface RT platform is risky.

In comparison, the catalog of web-based applications for education (and business) is skyrocketing. Picking end computing devices tied to growing markets and trends simply makes more sense.

 

 

 

 

Guest Post: Why Half of Our Company is Using Chromebooks Full-Time

Originally posted by David Politis, CEO of BetterCloud.  BetterCloud offers FlashPanel, an integrated management and administrative tools for organizations using Google Apps. Cumulus Global recommends and includes Flash Panel with most Google Apps implementations.

Being a Gmail and Google Apps fanatic, I’ve always been intrigued by the concept of Chromebooks and Chrome OS in general. And with every 3 minute reboot of my aging Windows laptop this past spring, I became more tempted to take the plunge and go 100% web with a Chromebook, at least for the large portion of my day when I’m working in Google Apps and not installable software programs. So when the new Samsung 550 Chromebooks came out this past June, I made my case to the bossman that we should order a few of these devices. They’re cheap, and if we’re true Google Apps experts developing for the Google Apps ecosystem, we need at least a basic understanding of how Chromebooks function and are managed in a business environment.

What I didn’t expect, however, is that I’d be using a Chromebook nearly 100% of the time in the months to follow – we’ve even converted the office’s Controller, an Excel power user, to a Chromebook and Google Spreadsheets. So with about 4 months of Chromebook experience under my belt, I thought it would be a good time to share some of the top reasons why a few of my coworkers and I find Chromebooks indispensable.

Speed

You’ve heard the stats, “8 second boot, instant wake from sleep” etc. etc. I can tell you this: you won’t fully appreciate this kind of speed until you use it. I used to come into the office, turn my laptop on, go get a cup of coffee and chat with a couple coworkers, then come back to a laptop that was still rolling out of bed. The Chromebook is ready to go when you are, and over the course of days, weeks and months, saving a few minutes here and there really adds up. You can get similar speeds with any computer using a solid-state drive, but if you don’t have $1,000 to spend on a new MacBook Air, you can get the same speed with the new $249 Chromebook.

Simplicity

While the simplicity of Chrome OS is certainly a big reason for its speed, the simplicity in and of itself actually makes working in Chrome OS a very nice experience. The tools you need to access consistently throughout the day, like Gmail and Google Drive, are always at your fingertips in the launch bar. Obviously you can do this on a “real” laptop with hot keys, browser shortcuts, etc. but with a Chromebook it’s just so easy. And I find that the stripped-down nature of Chrome OS creates far less distractions.

Security and Standardization

There’s definitely a security benefit for personal Chromebook users, as the device doesn’t truly store local files (more security by limitation) and the OS only boots from a read-only version, but the security benefits are even greater for an organization deploying Chromebooks. As an IT administrator, not only can you implement security settings like restricting sign-in to accounts on your domain only or wiping local files after every log out, but you can also standardize certain aspects of the Chromebook experience by proactively pushing out useful Chrome extensions, or even pre-configuring WiFi network logins for every Chromebook on your domain, or particular Org. Units (useful if you use geography to group your OUs).

Using Chromebooks has been a great experience for our team. Not only do we get lightning-fast, affordable laptops, we also have seen Chrome OS evolve significantly over the past 4 months alone. The user experience has improved pretty significantly every few weeks, while the Chrome OS team continues to add more “traditional” PC features like extended desktop and better multimedia support. It’s certainly a Google-centric solution so we wouldn’t recommend it for everyone, but if you’re a Google Apps customer and are already spending the majority of your day in a web browser, it’s worth checking out a Chromebook.

Editor’s note:  Click Here if you are interested in learning more about Chromebooks, or taking one for a test drive.

Cloud Solutions Drive Rapid Growth for Cumulus Global

BusSuccess.med

Cumulus Global today announced revenue growth exceeding 300% for 2012 as the company’s cloud solutions business continues to expand. Sales for 2012 surpassed $3.3 million dollars compared to $972,000 in 2011. Net income before taxes jumped over 400%, to more than $200,000 for 2012. This growth reflects increasing demand from Cumulus Global’s core small and mid-size business markets, as well as the company’s expansion into new market segments.

“In the last 18 months, we have helped more than 120 school districts migrate to Google Apps for Education, deploy Chromebooks for Education, and protect their networks and in-house data,” noted Allen Falcon, CEO and co-founder. “We see increasing opportunity in the educational market.”

The company also sees increasing demand from local, municipal, and county governments and agencies throughout New England and nationally. Falcon expects revenues from Google Apps for Government and related services to “more than triple over the next twelve to eighteen months.” Falcon attributes this growth to the migration, education, and support services offered, including the company’s participation in the FCC E-Rate program for schools and libraries.

Serving the needs of small and mid-size businesses, those with 1 to 1000 employees, remains a core market for Cumulus Global. According to Falcon, “Our core SMB market grew by more than 30% last year and we see that rate of growth accelerating.” Falcon attributes this growth to the company’s focus on solutions rather than technology.

“We do not sell hype or technology,” stated Falcon. “We work with our customers to identify if and how cloud solutions can improve efficiency, expand services, drive revenue, and lower costs. We bundle products and services that overcome challenges and enable growth.” Partnering with more than a dozen ISVs and solution providers, Cumulus Global can meet customers’ regulatory compliance, security, data management, and IT administration needs.

For companies, non-profits, government agencies, and schools interested in learning more, Cumulus Global conducts regular webcasts and Q&A sessions.