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Why it is vital to have a first-class cloud-hosting services partner

The hidden pitfalls of transitioning to public cloud-hosting service environments Attracted by cost-saving opportunities at the same time as being able to improve the quality of resources, many UK businesses have transitioned from a privately hosted on-premises environment to a public cloud-hosting service. However, research by ‘415’ has revealed a range of issues that can arise from transitioning, and of the businesses surveyed, 21% advised they were considering a return to an on-premises based solution. A possible explanation for this could be that businesses often underestimate the complexities of switching to a cloud environment and find themselves dealing with issues of reliability and efficiency that are beyond their level of expertise. Working with a first-class cloud-hosting services partner can give you that depth of knowledge and technical skill that reduces risk and enables you to fully benefit from the transition. Public Cloud-Hosting– advantages vs. risks Advantages A public cloud service provider offers resources over the internet, such as software, data storage and applications. For a growing number of businesses, it makes sense to transition their on-premises environment to a public cloud-hosted environment for three main reasons: inexpensive – pay for what you use on an ongoing basis flexible – instant provisioning and on-demand access to high-quality services from any device scalable – easy to expand server base in line with business needs. Another appealing benefit is the ability to take advantage of these high-level services without facing the same set-up costs. Risks The reasons for transitioning your environment to the cloud are compelling, however, without the proper expertise to correctly configure and manage the environment, you run the risk of: uncontrolled escalation of ongoing costs confusion arising from increased complexity using the wrong tools leading to ineffectiveness inaccurate reporting and tracking of digital assets lack of proper support from the providers themselves. Choosing the right cloud-hosting services partner Working with a partner who has the right kind of knowledge and expertise can help you to develop, implement and deploy an effective plan for transitioning, as well as maintaining it properly afterwards. This would mean: costs being kept to a minimum and maintained at a predictable level solving issues of reliability and efficiency faster response times assessment of virtual machine use correct use of tools effective analysis of workloads. With over 20 years of experience in assisting UK businesses with their IT requirements, Awareness offers first-class expertise and technical skills in supporting your business migration to a cloud-hosted environment. We partner with you and your cloud service provider to maximise the advantages for your business while keeping costs at predictable levels. We can offer valuable insight into how your virtual machines are performing and help with aspects concerning efficiency, agility and flexibility. For further information on our cloud-hosting services, call us at ASL on 0345 862 0350.

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ASL industry leading IT support services across Manchester, Cheshire and the UK

Wide-ranging IT support available on your doorstep. As a Manchester based IT service support provider, we are perfectly positioned to deliver industry-leading, managed IT support services to businesses around the UK. We have years of experience helping small, medium and large corporations with their IT issues, and offer an extensive range of services that deliver flexibility and value, that can be easily scaled up or down according to your business needs. 6 reasons to choose ASL Fully trained locally based IT experts – we offer first-line IT support services to businesses based anywhere in the UK by phone and email. Wide-ranging IT experience – we deliver industry-leading IT support. We are specialists in Microsoft Technologies, Microsoft Dynamics, Cloud and High Availability Systems. We offer advanced support covering a wide range of hardware and software products – including SAN’s, printers, firewalls, PCs, and SQL servers. We can help you, whatever your requirements and deliver affordable IT support so that you don’t have to pay to hire, train and manage your own IT department. Easy access to disaster recovery – outsourcing your backup and disaster recovery to us ensures your business quickly gets back up and running after a disaster, whether that’s a malicious ransomware attack, human error, power outage or weather-related disruption. With our help, you can remain operational. Onsite Surveys – we provide onsite surveys to give you the opportunity to discuss your business IT support requirements. Cost control – recruiting and training your own in-house IT support team, and keeping them up to speed with every development, can be very expensive.  We constantly update our skill set, provide training and keep up to date with developments in the marketplace, so you don’t have to. Stay competitive – because your resources are not being stretched by maintaining your own IT department, you can direct your finances and expertise towards developing your business. To discuss your IT support needs, call us at ASL on 0345 862 0350. 

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ASL private Cloud hosting solutions for ERP vendors

Taking a flexible approach to hosting ERP solutions Many claims are made about cloud computing, in particular – cloud-based solutions are faster, easier, and cheaper to implement than traditional ‘on-premises’ alternatives. While the cloud certainly requires less upfront capital investment and alleviates some technical complexity, the claims made don’t always match reality. As an ERP vendor, it’s likely that your customers and prospects (heavily influenced by software giants such as Microsoft), are expecting you to offer a cloud-based alternative to your traditional ‘on-premises’ ERP solution. With so much hype, it’s not surprising that your customers are being persuaded that the future belongs to the cloud. Overcoming the complexity of ERP hosting. Unfortunately, ERP in the cloud is not quite as simple as the hype would have you believe.  ERP is often complex, customer specific and must be capable of changing to meet differing business demands. The one size fits all philosophy doesn’t apply, and that has implications for the cloud deployment of solutions where: customisation is the norm integrating with third-party ‘on-premises’ solutions is essential exporting data is a daily occurrence 24/7 access to the entire operating environment is non-negotiable adding to existing IT resources needs to be fast, efficient and cost effective multiple environments are necessary for testing and upgrades. Where companies are able to standardise their business processes, it may be true that cloud-based ERP software, on platforms such as Microsoft Azure, are faster to implement than traditional ‘on-premises’ solutions. However, in reality, it’s often the case that standard packaged solutions fail to meet the needs of many businesses, which is particularly true within the manufacturing and distribution sector. These businesses need: package software that can be modified to meet their specific requirements IT environments that can adapt quickly to a change in market conditions freedom to change software to gain competitive advantage immediate access to systems during unexpected emergencies a flexible charging structure to reflect the uncertainties of complex ERP implementations pricing models that are transparent and allow reliable budgets to be set throughout the lifetime of the project. The implications for independent software vendors (ISVs) are clear: project delays, resourcing issues, capacity planning, shifting goal posts and bespoke software can be costly and inefficient under a restrictive cloud model. A flexible approach to hosting is therefore required for ERP vendors. Why ASL’s private Cloud ERP hosting is the right way to go. Our Private Cloud Hosting Solution for ERP vendors overcomes the challenges of ERP hosting. Our pragmatic approach enables ISVs to work with professionals who understand the challenges of implementing ERP solutions. We come from an ERP background and have more than 20 years of experience providing robust hardware and infrastructure solutions that truly accommodate the needs of fast-paced, high transactional manufacturing and distribution businesses. We’ve taken everything we know about robust on-premises deployments of ERP solutions and made certain that our cloud solutions follow the same principles. Our ISV partners can confidently promote the cloud without worrying about the restrictions and pricing uncertainty that typifies the big cloud providers. The following table identifies key points of difference between ASL and Microsoft Azure: Requirement(s) Azure ASL Hosting Availability requirements with SLAs ✓ ✓ Ability to respond quickly to incidents *Refer to MS guides ✓ Incident escalation *Refer to MS guides ✓ Disaster recovery and business continuity *Refer to MS guides ✓ Ease of integration with third party in cloud and on premise solutions *Refer to MS guides ✓ Speed of deployment ✓ ✓ System performance ✓ ✓ Proactive system monitoring ✓ ✓ Moving out of the cloud to on-premise *Refer to MS guides ✓ Easy management of the system *Refer to MS guides ✓ WAN Integration (e.g. MPLS) ✗ ✓ No in-house IT Knowledge required ✗ ✓ Pricing clarity ✗ ✓ Working with ASL, you can be confident that your customers’ cloud deployment will be straightforward, expertly managed and delivered on time with no hidden or unforeseen costs. To learn how your business can deliver ERP cloud solutions that work in the real world, call 0345 862 0350 to discuss partnering with ASL or email

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Essential hardware & infrastructure considerations for ERP upgrades.

Why factor hardware and infrastructure into your ERP software upgrade plan? When planning an ERP upgrade, it makes sense to take time to examine the hardware and infrastructure systems underpinning your business. The reason for this is to ensure that your ERP software is supported by the right hardware and infrastructure types, to ensure long-term ERP success. When conducting a systems review, there are many factors that you and your software supplier need to consider: Does your current system meet the minimum requirements for the latest software release? Is there sufficient capacity to run both the new software and a test upgrade environment in terms of: memory resources hard disk space processor requirements If you’re considering the implementation of new hardware and infrastructure to support your ERP software upgrade, has your provider explained the options and made recommendations on best practice in relation to: physical or virtual deployment of servers scaling the deployment to cover all aspects of both the IT systems in place and new systems proposed system resilience and high availability SQL server mirroring or other protection and performance offloading deployment for a consistent experience restrictions in terms of scalability ease of backup system monitoring remote access to the application based on latest technologies Does your wider IT environment adequately support and allow for the most effective deployment of the hardware/software upgrade in terms of: internet bandwidth internal networking PCs /printers server room environment suitability power capacity Have the implications of integrating with existing 3rd party products been considered from an infrastructure point of view, particularly relating to overall system performance such as: EDI WMS BI tools Prior to implementing an ERP upgrade have you ensured that all your IT assets are up to date in relation to: security patches firmware updates expiring service contracts end of life issues and vulnerabilities Recovery point objective (RPO)* relates to the age of files to be recovered from backup storage in order to allow normal operations to resume after a network, system or computer outage due to a program, communications or hardware failure. It’s an important consideration in disaster recovery planning (DRP). RPO is expressed backward in time from the moment the failure occurred, and is specified in time units ranging from seconds up to days. Once the RPO for a given network, system or computer has been defined, the minimum backup frequency can then be determined. RPO, in conjunction with recovery time objective (RTO), enables administrators to choose optimal disaster recovery technologies and procedures. Recovery time objective (RTO)** is the maximum length of time a network, system, computer or application can be down after a failure occurs. It’s a function of the extent that the interruption disrupts normal operations, and the amount of revenue lost per unit time due to the failure. These factors both depend on the equipment and application(s) affected. RTO is measured in time units ranging from seconds up to days and is an important consideration in any disaster recovery plan. Disaster Recovery considerations In addition to making certain that both your hardware and infrastructure meet the minimum requirement for the successful deployment of an ERP upgrade, you also need to address the broader issue of your organisation’s attitude to risk.  Specifically, has your organisation clearly defined what is acceptable in terms of system loss and downtime? When considering this, you must factor in: What is the acceptable Recovery Point Objective (RPO*) for critical business data? How long can critical systems be unavailable? Recovery Time Objective (RTO**). Backup and disaster recovery points to consider: If there is a system failure or ‘disaster’, what are the options for rebuilding the system and recovering data? What elements of the system are replicated (if any), and how are they replicated? How frequently is data replicated and what is the methodology? Is it onsite or off site? How reliable and secure is this methodology? How quickly and how far back can data be restored? If it’s only the data that’s replicated, what are the implications if a critical server fails, and how does that impact your RTO? What is the hardware provider’s response time, and what are the guarantees for getting engineers onsite with replacement parts? Following hardware failure, are system rebuilds reliant on the close cooperation between the ERP software provider and the hardware engineers? What is the true cost to the business of system downtime – such as the loss of productivity, time required to “catch up” and staff overtime, and has it been discussed at Board level? If you would like help in answering any questions you might have regarding ERP upgrades or you would like to discuss related hardware, infrastructure and backup & recovery considerations call us at ASL on 0345 862 0350.

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Why book an onsite IT survey?

How does an onsite IT survey improve and protect your business? For all businesses, a thorough IT site survey/assessment offers a means to appraise the current health of IT systems and assess potential future vulnerabilities. It delivers an overview of how your current technology is helping or hindering your core business efficiency and productivity. It incorporates systems and network performance reviews, software audits, technical reviews and risk management. Does your company need an IT health check? Evaluating the health of your IT environment is necessary in order to work out its vulnerabilities, and mitigate future risk. The ultimate goal of an IT assessment is to identify areas where improvements can be made that will; increase efficiency, decrease cost and reduce risk. By bringing in a ASL specialist IT assessor to identify your systems strengths and weaknesses, you are enabled to develop a blueprint to improve your technology and security. We help you to work out: The effectiveness of your technology in supporting your overall business goals. The steps you need to take to improve your overall IT environment. How to plan for an unexpected disaster. We attend site to review your: network servers and end user devices software infrastructure backup, recovery and business continuity plan What can you expect from our onsite IT assessment? After an in-depth analysis we are able to assess any weaknesses, and then come up with a plan to upgrade and improve efficiency, security and availability. We can ensure you have the right technology in place to run your business at optimum efficiency. Software issues – we can evaluate your existing software and advise on vulnerabilities, software updates, licensing issues and necessary upgrades. Security issues – we can review your security measures to ensure your data and systems are protected and safe from attack. Backup and recovery issues – we can ensure your business has IT continuity.  We can devise and implement an IT disaster strategy to ensure your business can keep on running – no matter what happens to your hardware, software or vital business data resources. Network issues – we can analyse your network, leading to recommendations and the implementation of network changes to ensure your IT network is fast, resilient, free from bottlenecks and fully monitored. Hardware issues – we can identify where hardware is under specified or vulnerable to future failure or overloading. Booking an onsite IT assessment. If your business is in need of an IT assessment, contact us at ASL. Call us to discuss your requirements, and find out how we can help you discover your IT issues before they strike and lead to disaster. Call 0345 862 0350 to book an onsite IT survey.      

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