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Increasing the hardware Essay

Abstract

As any business grows, they are always looking to expand all aspects of their business. With this expansion, the cost of increasing the hardware and software needed for the expansion is also increasing. Many companies are looking for ways to keep or even streamline the hardware they currently have yet expand. They want a way to have their customers log into their site and go to a central server but want all the necessary files for the customers to be stored elsewhere which will increase the speed of the server. To be successful in today’s market, many businesses are realizing the necessity of using technology. As more and more companies use more technology, their IT infrastructure cannot handle all the traffic due to the lack of available server/storage space needed to meet the increasing demands of the customers. Whether the business is small or a large corporation, finding the needed available server/storage space is becoming an ever increasing problem. Trying to solve this problem, many businesses have begun to look for an alternative solution to store many of their business files away from their own main computers, this is called cloud storage.

Think about how you have an external hard drive that you use to store files away from the hard drive of your computer, the cloud storage works in the same way. The only exception is that you do not own the external storage, you rent the storage space from someone who takes care of all the maintenance and updating of the site. JPCexpress has been operating for many years with their own internal storage capabilities and now are in the market to expand their business. The current server space that the company owns is being bogged down by the amounts of data it needs to use daily so they need a newer solution to their storage problems so that they can continue to offer their production facilities and customers the best possible service. Next day service sets this company apart from other online businesses and I will show what needs to be done to help then continue to accomplish this with a simple server space solution.

Company Background

JPCexpress is an innovator in the online printing industry. They use advanced technology that allows the customer to place an order and have it printed and delivered the next day. There are many online printing organizations, but JPCexpress was one of the first that offered next day delivery if you place your order by a certain time the day before. The company was founded in 2001 that offered printing as a service so that the customer has access to all the company printing business solutions allowing them to place their orders right on the company website. The customer does not have to invest any monies into their own printing infrastructure and the staff that would be needed to maintain it. JPCexpress offers its services to many different organizations of all sizes that do not want to hassle with having internal printing capabilities. Due to the customer being able to upload all their information to help us perform the needed services, this takes up a lot of storage space.

JPCexpress operates three huge warehouses that are strategically placed across the country. Within each facility, they house all the hardware and software needed to conduct the printing business along with all the hardware and software needed for the IT side of the business. The customers are able to use our site as their own so they know they will get exactly the product they want. Our teams of engineers are always introducing new services and solutions for the customers and they have them integrate the new technologies into our platform monthly. The reason we have the fastest turnaround time for online printing companies is due to the fact that our customers are able to use our site as their own to make and order their printing needs. We have become a leader in the online printing world because of our customer service, ease and speed of our online services and the fact that we guarantee you will have your order the next day if you meet the daily cut off time.

Discussion of Business Problem

During times of peak use, the amount of data used is overwhelming. JPCexpress is a top of the line printing business but due to our storage capabilities, we do have issues that will slow the service to our customers. This is an issue because the timing of the slowness (can prevent customers from making the cut off time for next day service) which directly relates to customer service and customer satisfaction. The main issue is that when there are many users on the system, it slows down and prevents ease of use. I think that JPCexpress could benefit from emerging technology as cloud computing or could storage. Increasing our storage capacity would prevent the system from slowing down and loss of data. Any IT department within any business always needs new ways to increase the capabilities of their current infrastructure without investing in new hardware, new licensing requirements or having to spend the time and monies to train and hire new personnel.

Due to the increasing amounts of data needed by our existing customers and the addition of new customers, members of our IT department has to manually go into the system and get rid of old files and clear any redundant data. This happens when our system becomes slow which slows the use of our production tools and this all adds up to a loss in the amount of work that can be performed. If the organization was to use cloud computing, the problem of overwhelming the system could be avoided. Cloud computing encompasses any subscription-based or pay-per-use service that, in real time over the Internet, extends its existing capabilities (Gruman, 2012). Use of the cloud could begin at our centrally located facility for trial purposes until we see if using it would be beneficial to both the customers and to our stockholders.

High Level Solution

For many businesses, having enough storage space to hold all the information they have acquired from their customers and the working of internal business practices is a real challenge that becoming increasingly harder. Many organizations have turned to deleting huge amounts of data to open up room for the new data they need to stay updated and to continue to provide their customers with excellent customer service. Many businesses have turned to cloud storage to help relieve this problem. Cloud storage acts as a centrally located server whose main purpose is for storage only. Using cloud storage, each of the three facilities can store and retrieve files as they are needed without investing in more infrastructure. When deciding to move to cloud storage, a few concerns will be raised. Some people think that cloud storage is less secure than local data centers and this is not true. . When the cloud host that IT manager work together the cloud host will encrypt the data and the business will store the keys to that encryption on it local network (Marsh, 2013).

Many cloud providers offer dashboards to the client so they can log and manage the company’s data center. They can add more storage if they need and all this is completed without adding any equipment to increase storage. I have checked two of the major providers of cloud storage for pricing and flexibility. Amazon S3 is 99.9 percent reliable and it is scalable to fit your current business needs and also can be changed to fit your future needs as well (Amazon Web Services, 2013). All data going into this cloud storage is encrypted for data security and you can decide what region you want to have your data stored in. Another excellent benefit is that once the data is entered into the cloud, it is automatically backed up in case one system fails you will lose your data. All data uploaded is for free but they do charge for each GB of data that is transferred or downloaded from the cloud.

This seems pretty reasonable since we will maintain a central server with only our servers logging into the cloud to retrieve the customer information. Google cloud storage offers secure and safe cloud storage. It has configurable security controls and the cloud is flexible so that you can get what you need now and later on if you need more storage you can always add more (Google Cloud Storage, 2013). Looking between the Amazon and Google sites, they both offer the same types of features but I could not find any data that says how reliable the Google cloud is. Also, checking the pricing from the two sites, it appears that Amazon is slightly cheaper than Google is. Moving to cloud storage is a viable option to help solve latency issues and website lag due to the enormous amounts of data being transmitted over our site.

Benefits of Solving the Problem

Solving this problem using cloud storage will increase the speed of the servers the customers use to conduct their business. The increased speed of the server will also take the customers’ orders quickly and get them to the desired printing facility to ensure they make the cut off time for next day delivery. Implementing the cloud storage solution at only one facility will allow the business time to see if the cloud is a viable option to investing countless monies in upgrading our current facilities. Using the cloud will save us money because of the increased speed at which the customers can use the system, the speed in processing the orders and also save us money because we will not have to hire additional personnel to maintain additional hardware or pay for licensing for additional software. In an article written by Joe McKendrick for Forbes magazine, he talks about the benefits of cloud computing for a business.

Cost reduction – using cloud as storage lowers transaction costs, minimizes the investment in hardware and software and also reduces the need for a huge IT staff or for adding additional personnel to manage you IT infrastructure. Cloud as storage is scalable so you can take as much or as little as you need and then increase as your needs increases. You only pay for what you use; most uploads are free so you pay when you download data from the cloud. Businesses of all sizes will have access to more up to date technology while using the cloud. Letting someone else manage your IT for you reduces the need for expensive licenses or buying software or hardware.

Business/Technical Approach

Conducting thorough research before deciding which provider of the cloud services we will go with. When a cloud provider has been chosen, our CIO and his team will work with the provider to ensure we get what storage we need and also to ensure the security of the files we will move to the cloud for storage. Only have one facility use the cloud as a test case to see if it will improve the speed of our system and also to see how reliable the cloud services are. Conducting technical inspections using our IT department will ensure that we are keeping control on what goes into the cloud storage and also to help us determine if the cloud is useful. When we move older files from our servers into the cloud, we should see an immediate improvement in the speed of our system and also improvements in order processing and order filling. The IT department must ensure what files are being put in the cloud and that they are being encrypted for increased security.

Also inspecting the files in storage routinely to ensure the data is not being corrupted. To ensure we do not lose any of our major customers, we will move only the older files to cloud storage to increase space on our servers. When we have determined (Senior management/CIO approval) that the cloud is a viable option to investing in hardware/software, we will move more files to the cloud in an effort to free up more space which should increase the speed even more. Also, once the one facility has proven more efficient and profitable, we will migrate another facility to cloud storage. There is no set timeframe for this to happen, we just want to ensure the cloud is meeting our needs in the ways we want it to. Using the current IT staff at the first facility to check usage and speed of the system will help us in our decision whether to stay with the cloud or invest in our own infrastructure.

Business Process changes

Implementing cloud storage will allow the company to store more files without causing the system to run slow which increase productivity. This is going to be a big move for JPCexpress in the way they do business at each of their facilities. We will use the current IT department at each facility to maintain the data stored in the cloud and to ensure that only the less used files have been migrated to the cloud until its reliability has been proven. There will be one central location for all the internal storage of customer information. When the customer logs onto the site with his credentials, they will log onto our central server who will access the cloud and pull their information off for the customer to use. When the order is placed, the server will then send that order to the printing facility closet to the customer location for fast, reliable completion of the order. When the cloud is implemented for use by all facilities, the IT departments at those facilities will be reduced.

Setting up a team to continually monitor the cloud for reliability and security will also be accomplished. Senior management with the CIO will have to make a decision on implementing other facilities and how that will be accomplished. Technology or business practices used to augment the solution After thorough research I have decided that implementing cloud storage is the best solution to help fix the problems at JPCexpress. Moving the files to the cloud will free up valuable space which will increase the processing speed of our current servers. The IT department will maintain our current servers and monitor how effectively the cloud is to the company.

The IT department will also routinely perform inspections on our equipment to see how well it is working and also to ensure what files are being moved to the cloud. Having someone compile quarterly reports on how well the cloud implementation has helped the speed of the system and to see if it truly has increased the speed at which orders are shipped. We will not have to hire additional personnel to accomplish any of these tasks; we will use the current staff at each facility. This alone will save the company huge amounts of money.

Conclusions and overall recommendations

The current system that JPCexpress has, it is not capable of handling the enormous amounts of data that goes through it during peak operating times. JPCexpress will have to upgrade their current hardware/software or find other alternatives. Cloud storage is just that alternative solution. Moving files to cloud storage will free up much needed space that will allow the system to run faster during peak operating times. Using the cloud offers different ways that it can be beneficial to the company. Using cloud instead of investing in new hardware/software to upgrade our current system will save on ongoing support, maintenance and upgrades and having to hire additional IT staff to work the new system. When switching to the cloud we will replace all the up-front expense of investing in a new system and replace that cost with a manageable monthly subscription cost.

David Linthicum discusses why companies should invest in the cloud. All the upgrades and maintenance are handled by the cloud host. The software will always be current without the company having to pay for expensive licensing. The fear of cloud storage’s security being an issue is being proven invalid. Cloud providers have been working hard to prove how secure their storage is. Cloud based companies offer the highest level of customer service because they cannot afford to lose customers because they are unsatisfied with the service and with all the blogs out there, a bad review could mean countless lost customers. Every data storage center or data processing center has some downtime at some point but many cloud providers offer higher than a 99 percent reliability rate.

High level implementation plan

* Conduct thorough research to ensure the right cloud provider is selected
* Work with provider to ensure we get the security we need and also the plan that fits the amounts of storage needed
* Schedule when to transition to the cloud storage
* Determine what files will initially be moved to cloud storage
* Reroute all traffic from one facility to the other two
* Shut down one facility and transition to the cloud
* Once all files are transferred to the cloud activate the cloud
* Bring the shutdown facility back on line
* Test the new configuration for speed and user ability
* Monitor the cloud for potential problems
* Produce monthly reports as to the speed of the facility and improvements in the processing of orders

Summary of Project

JPCexpress’ system runs slow because each facility has access to all the files that are stored on the server. The storage problem can be handled either by investing countless monies into a new upgraded data system or to use cloud storage to alleviate this problem. Business processes are slow due to the servers being bogged down during peak hours resulting in delays in processing and delivery of orders placed by the customers. When we transition to the cloud storage we can increase the processing speed which will increase the speed of the orders being printed and then shipped to the customer. This will save on time and money because we will not have to pay additional shipping costs when we can’t meet the next day delivery. This is not meant to be a permanent solution but will benefit the company until we can determine if this is the best solution.

References
Amazon Web Services. (2013, Oct 1). Retrieved from Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3): http://aws.amazon.com/s3/ Google Cloud Storage. (2013, Aug 1). Retrieved from Google Cloud Platform: https://cloud.google.com/products/cloud-storage/ Gruman, G. K. (2012, Feb 2). What cloud computing really means. Retrieved from InfoWorld: http://www.infoworld.com/d/cloud-computing/what-cloud-computing-really-means Linthicum, D. (2013, June 25). Cloud adoption’s tipping has arrived. Retrieved from InfoWorld – Cloud Computing: http://www.infoworld.com/d/cloud-computing/cloud-adoptions-tipping-point-has-arrived-221335 Marsh, J. (2013, Oct 3). The Top 5 Myths about Cloud Storage. Retrieved from Formstack: http://blog.formstack.com/2013/top-5-myths-cloud-storage/ McKendrick, J. (2013, July 21). 5 Benefits of Cloud Computing you aren’t likely to see in a sales brochure. Retrieved from Forbes.com: http://www.forbes.com/sites/joemckendrick/2013/07/21/5-benefits-of-cloud-computing-you-arent-likely-to-see-in-a-sales-brochure/


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