Should there be a cloud in your forecast?

With the proliferation of cloud computing options, should you be considering adding cloud computing to your IT portfolio?

There certainly seems to be considerable momentum driving the ongoing development of cloud computing platforms. With the big names like IBM, HP, Dell, Microsoft,

Amazon, and Google very much in the mix, there must be something to it. If you are like most of us, you are already using cloud computing, if only to host your personal email accounts. Does it make sense to consider some of the other cloud alternatives for your business computing as well?

While cloud server hosting provides compelling benefits, security is an essential part of any discussion of cloud adoption. Mitigating security risks is imperative to creating a comfort level among CIOs and CISOs, to transition applications and data to the cloud.

When implementing the INTERAC Accounting System, particularly in a multi-user setting, the advantages of a Terminal Server (Remote Desktop Services) will become readily apparent. Whether you choose a traditional server, a virtualized server, or a cloud hosted server, the same remote desktop functionality is available. Following are just a few of the key considerations.

Ease of Access
Remote Desktop connections provides the same Windows desktop interface you are used to using, but because the applications run on the server, it can be accessed using a variety of network devices. Make the system available to users on the device they prefer whether it is a PC, tablet, or thin-client. Not only can your office staff benefit, field personnel and remote staff can easily log in and run their business applications on demand. Create an icon on your desktop for easy access to log into the Terminal Server. When logged in, each user gets their own customizable remote desktop on the server, with their applications and user configuration settings. They can even use their own local printers and scanners.

Remote Desktop is an easy way to provide access to the INTERAC suite of applications to workgroups in multiple office locations. All that is required is a reliable internet connection, or you may choose to utilize a more secure virtual private network connection. Either way, all the data and processing is done on the server. Only the keystrokes and display information are being transmitted between the server and end user.

Mobile field users can also utilize Remote Desktop connections to access the system, providing on-demand access the critical reporting information they need. INTERAC security controls what applications and information each user is allowed to access.

Data Security
Allowing individual silos of data on each PC creates all kinds of data management issues. Knowing that hard drives are one of the most frequent failures on a PC, it is much better to have your files on a server with more robust storage and backup options.

Because servers typically have higher grade disk drives and utilize RAID drive configurations to further protect data from drive failures, they are a much more reliable and secure environment for critical data storage. Consolidating the data to a Terminal Server brings the data storage under the control of the server, which allows for much better data security and makes it much easier to assure that important data is properly backed up. This is particularly important with sensitive accounting data. Utilizing proper security protocols, prevents unauthorized access. In addition to Windows server security options, INTERAC security controls which portions of the INTERAC suite each user may access. Centralizing these settings to the server, it is very easy to maintain and update security settings when necessary.

System Performance
While it is certainly feasible to utilize a file server for data storage, it consumes significant network resources when opening and saving files. This is likely to create performance issues that can easily be avoided by utilizing a Terminal Server. A file server configuration may be acceptable for small work groups, but we recommend a Terminal Server for workgroups of five or more users.

System Maintenance and Software Updates
One of the biggest advantages of a Terminal Server is realized in the time saved in doing system updates. Because there is only one master INTERAC installation on the server, only one installation needs to be updated, making ongoing updates much easier to manage. Running the update on the server takes care of all the users at one time. That is much easier than trying to manage separate installations for an entire workgroup.
Instead of routinely upgrading a whole group of personal computers, you can focus the resources on a single server solution which will better utilize the processing power. With the important business applications hosted on the server, the requirements for the user PC or thin-client are minimal, allowing you to extend the useful life of existing computers.

Remote Desktop (Terminal Server) Technology is built in
The Microsoft Windows Server 2008 & 2012 operating systems include these Remote Desktop capabilities. It is simply a matter of enabling these features and providing the user licenses. Likewise, the desktop operating systems are also capable of running the Remote Desktop client software to connect to the server.

When the time comes to consider your next INTERAC server upgrade, Intersoft Systems would encourage you to take advantage of a Terminal Server with Remote Desktop connections. Take advantage of all these time saving features on a traditional server, a virtualized server, or on a hosted cloud server. We would be happy to help you select the appropriate option, or even supply the hardware or hosting services.

Following are some additional resources:
Is there a cloud in your forecast?
The cheap, convenient cloud (The Economist)
IT’s cloud security concerns do not correlate to actual failures (InfoWorld)

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