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  • Part 1: ​Can a Small- or Medium-Sized Business Move Completely to the Cloud?
    10 July 2015
    1:00 PM

    Category:Cloud Services; Infrastructure and Messaging; B2B Tech News
    Post By:Frank Fuerst

    Over a decade ago our CTO, Don Wolf, first described the rationale behind the drive to cloud computing by comparing it to the electrical grid. Everyone needs electricity but few of us want to or need to be in the business of generating our own. We can buy it much cheaper from a power company which specializes in generating electricity at the lowest cost and delivering it with the highest reliability. At that time, this was more of a vision than a reality. Are we at a point where the vision has turned into a reality?  It very nearly is, especially for small and medium-sized businesses. Let’s look at the major IT systems and services these businesses utilize.

    Major Business IT Services​​

    Email – Email is an IT service that has one of the clearest cases for moving to the cloud. By far, the most common on-premise email system has been, and is, Microsoft Exchange. With the Office 365 service Microsoft now offers all of the functionality of Exchange is in the cloud.

    Document Sharing and Management – Along with Email, Microsoft’s Office 365 service includes SharePoint Online for document management and OneDrive for personal or professional file storage.

    ERP and Accounting Systems - All of the major ERP vendors, from SAP and Oracle to Microsoft Dynamics to Quickbooks, are available as SaaS (Software as a Service). 

    CRM – No software vendor has done more, or benefited more, in legitimizing the SaaS concept than Salesforce. Built from the ground up, as a cloud service, they quickly came to dominate this market. Every other CRM vendor had to play catch up, but now they all have similar offerings.

    Custom Apps – There are millions of applications, custom-developed by companies who have unique requirements, that aren’t fulfilled by commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) software. Because of this, there is now a major battle raging amongst software vendors to be the company that runs these for you. Amazon’s AWS (Amazon Web Services) offering literally created the market for Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS); additionally, Microsoft’s Azure service is now running a close second. It’s best to think of these services just as servers and operating systems you access over the Internet. They are just as accessible if you were to access the apps on your own in-house network.

    Identity Management – Perhaps the final frontier in moving completely to the cloud is Identity Management. When you log onto a laptop that’s attached to your network, one of the most important IT services of all is invoked – authentication (determining who you are) and authorization (determining what IT services you have access to). To perform these services, your ID and password, along with attributes about your authorizations, must be stored in some sort of directory such as Microsoft’s Active Directory. Nearly all companies are running these directory services on in-house servers now. With Microsoft’s Azure Active Directory, this directory can now be stored and maintained in the cloud.

    In this quick overview you can see how many of the important IT services can be run in the cloud. So, the simple answer to the question in this blog’s title is yes. In Part 2, we will look at two other areas that have to be looked at for any company considering migrations of their IT services to the cloud. First, are there some reasons why an app should not be moved to the cloud? Second, what are the costs of migrating?

  • The Big Three from WPC: Cloud, Data & Security
    31 July 2014
    12:48 PM

    Category:B2B Tech News; Cloud Services
    Post By:Chelsea Stephens


    We just got back from the Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) last week and we're still trying to wrap ourselves around all of the information shared. Five full days, literally sun up to sun down, were spent in sessions, meetings and keynotes covering Microsoft's vision and goals for the coming year. B2B Tech has attended this conference for over a decade and we've always come away excited; but, this year will have some truly incredible results for us as we continue to grow and align ourselves with the future of enterprise technology.

    1. Cloud First, Mobile First!

    Sitting in the opening keynote on Monday morning, the buzz of excitement could be felt in the entire arena. We all knew what was going to be announced, and for those that have worked alongside Microsoft for the past decade, we have seen a dramatic shift in thought for how technology is first applied to the corporate world.  Gone are the days of waiting three or four years between large software announcements that require huge server farms to manage; and, arriving is the new dawn of a cloud based, unified Microsoft with updates whittled down to months giving birth to features that will quite literally blow your mind. We watched a live demo by Julie White, Microsoft's Office 365 General Manager, where she demonstrated a salesperson's experience of setting up a project quote, gathering information from co-workers, and sending it to a prospect using the Enterprise Mobility Suite (EMS) for protection of classified information - all from a tablet. A Surface Pro 3 to be exact. The demo used Lync and Yammer for communications, Office Web Apps (OWS) for content creation and then the new security features of EMS to identify a specified end user and grant viewable rights with email identity access. ALL of these steps were performed on cloud-based SaaS and IaaS solutions. A few years ago, I would have laughed at the prospect of doing this within an hour, she did it live on stage in ten minutes.

    2. Data, Data, Data

    Just like the big announcement of turning the Microsoft engine toward cloud first thought leadership, we were anticipating a play toward Big Data (harkening from hints dropped at last year's WPC.) The numbers were in, pun intended, and they were eager to share the news and industry trends on where data consumption and interpretation tools were taking us this year. It might seem like common sense for some, but we still have clients that have not fully developed a data capture and analysis plan for their Operations, Human Resources, Finance, Marketing & Sales departments, you name it. As the trend for data creation skyrockets year over year, Microsoft realizes there has to be a way to host, store, protect and allocate the right data to the right person. That person then has to have the right tools to make sense out of it for educated decisions on running their company.  


    - An example shown from a travel cost analysis demo from WPC 2014

    For those familiar with Power BI, you can see where this product enhancement came from and why it's going to change the face of analytics for nearly every department head around the world. No longer do you have to wait months for data to be collected and organized in an easy to digest manner. Pass that report over to an analyst to generate overviews and forecasting material that an executive can use for critical business decisions. Now, that same data can be sliced and diced by the executive herself with easy to manage functions and smart form technology. Imagine the possibility of asking, "What are the total sales for product XYZ in Arizona versus California for Q1 of FY14?", and the answer is a chart that automatically populates giving a visually representative answer. You can then drill down into the chart and take a closer look at the data if you want, but the magic has been done for you and the next step gets you back to your job instead of crunching numbers. Oh yea, did we mention cloud before? For the IT folks, the SQL servers holding all this data can now be hosted in Azure, where you only pay for what you use. How's that for going full circle?

    3. We're In the Security Business

    Time and again, Microsoft has been deemed the front-runner in corporate based security needs. This year, we're happy to see a launch of even more tools and protections built within their cloud platform and strategy. As I mentioned before, the newest security package, known as the Enterprise Mobility Suite, has skus for Windows Intune, Azure AD Premium and Azure Rights Management. The three musketeers of mobile device management were the stars at WPC for protecting end-users and their respective business data. Since one of the biggest challenges for businesses, schools and public sector organizations is data security and rights management, there is often a fear of moving to a cloud based productivity suite. Where does the data go?  Where is it hosted? Does it fit within my governance and compliance needs? What about end-point protection on mobile devices? Can we get to a BYOD environment with the cloud? The announcements at WPC were all affirmative in saying yes, we can get you there, safely and without hesitation on protecting all levels of data from Personal Identity Information (PII) to Health Records to sales quotes meant for a specific individual. The point is that Microsoft is doing everything it can to ensure your company doesn't fall victim to a breach and lose millions in revenue from a problem that can be easily addressed.


    I know this is a lot to take in; we were the same way on our flight home. In fact, we're still trying to get our strategy put together post-WPC 2014. We can tell you, as one of Atlanta's few cloud-focused partners, we can answer any questions you may have regarding this article or others you may have read. Please feel free to reach out to us: and we will get back to you as quickly as possible. Go ahead and send us some tough questions too, we like the challenge.

  • B2B Technologies has Officially Moved to the Sweetwater Design District and We Love it!
    27 August 2014
    2:53 PM

    Category:B2B Tech News
    Post By:Chelsea Stephens

    ​​​outdoorlogo(600).jpgWe have be​en talking about this move for what seems like years now, and we can finally say we are so excited to be in our new office. There is still a lot to be done - finish unpacking boxes, settling in to our personal spaces and some of us are still getting acclimated to the new drive into work. Not only do we have a lot left to do, but there is still construction going on all around us. We are the first company in this new building but all other office spaces are not yet complete. In fact, there are still final touches being done within our office right now. indoorlogo(300x225).pngDespite the remaining chaos and noise, we are more than thrilled to be here and happy to call 225 Ottley Drive our home for many years to come.

    The move occurred on Friday, August 22nd, and we have been officially occupying the office as of Monday, August 25, 2014.  The office is more than what most of us ever envisioned - with extra office space, storage space, a large upgraded kitchen, multiple conference rooms, a complete work/copy area, skylights, and vintage décor with accent walls that align with our company branding.  

    new office kitchen(300x225).jpgThe extra office space allows for company growth as it was obvious we were quickly outgrowing our last office at 1776 Peachtree Street. The full kitchen and large conference rooms will allow us to host our own marketing events, future prospects, current customers and company happy hours without the worry of having adequate space. With the recent rebranding of B2B Technologies including: a new logo, fresh color scheme, new website, and the launch of our Fresh Face Campaign – the move couldn't have come at a better time giving us the ability to customize our office layout and décor based on our renewed brand and vision. copyarea(200x267).pngAlso, with the seasons changing and autumn quickly approaching, we are excited about the outdoor eating space and private patio we can utilize on cool, fall days when the weather permits. All-in-all, the space is conducive to growth, future company goals and set in a prime, Atlanta location ready for renovation and rebuilding.  

    largeconf(200x274).pngParkside Partners did an excellent job in providing an office with a modern, edgy feel but offering the sophistication of a professional, technology company. We are very pleased with the work Parkside Partners and it​s affiliates put into this office and can't wait to see the completed project once the other offices and common areas are finally finished. 

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