Category Archives: applications

If You Could Transform Your IT Strategy, Would You?

GreenPages-Transformation-Services-LogoAs you may know, GreenPages recently launched our Transformation Services Group, a new practice dedicated to providing customers with the agility, flexibility and innovation they need to compete in the modern era of cloud computing.

This move was designed to allow us to help companies think beyond the near-term and to cast a vision for the business.  As we look at the market, we see a need to help organizations take a more revolutionary and accelerated approach to embracing what we call “New World” IT architectures.  While this is something we have been helping companies with for many years, we now believe that this is a logical evolution of our business that builds on our legacy of delivering high quality and competency deploying advanced virtualization and cloud solutions.

When we think about some of the great work we have done over the years, many examples come to mind.  One of these is a complex project we completed for The Channel Company, that helped them truly transform their business. Coming off a management buyout from its parent company, UBM, The Channel Company was tasked with having to migrate off the parent company’s centralized IT infrastructure under a very tight timeline.

Faced with this situation, the company was presented with a very compelling question: “If you had the opportunity to start from scratch, to transform your IT department, resources and strategy what would you do?”

Essentially, as a result of their situation, The Channel Company had the opportunity to leapfrog traditional approaches.  They had the opportunity to become more agile, and more responsive. And, more importantly, they took it!

As opposed to simply moving to a traditional baseline on-prem solution, The Channel Company saw this as an opportunity to fundamentally rethink its entire IT strategy and chose GreenPages to help lead them through the process.

Through a systematic approach and advanced methodology, we were able to help The Channel Company achieve its aggressive objectives.  Specifically, in less than six months, we led a transformation project that entailed the installation of new applications, and a migration of the company’s entire infrastructure to the cloud.  This included moving six independent office locations from a shared infrastructure to a brand-new cloud platform supporting their employees, as well as new cloud-based office and ERP applications.

In addition to achieving the independence and technical autonomy The Channel Company needed, the savings benefits and operational efficiencies achieved were truly transformational from a business standpoint.

It is these types of success stories that drove us to formalize our Transformation Services Group. We have seen first-hand the benefits that organizations can achieve by transforming inflexible siloed IT environments into agile organizations, and we’re proud to be able to offer the expertise and end-to-end capabilities required to help customers achieve true business transformation.

In our view, the need for business agility and innovation has never been greater. The question is no longer “is transformation necessary?” but rather  “if you had the opportunity to start from scratch and achieve business transformation, would you take it?”

If you’re interested in hearing more about how GreenPages has helped companies like The Channel Company transform their IT operations, please reach out.


By Ron Dupler, CEO

5 Ways to Understand Your Applications and IT Services

How do you view your organization’s applications and IT services? At GreenPages, we often suggest that organizations begin to conceptualize IT services as corporate IT evolves from a technology provider to an innovation center. Now, there are ways to establish and maintain a service portfolio through ITBM (IT Business Management or IT Financial Management) systems, but these are often out of reach for customers less than enterprise level. However, you can conceptualize IT services by looking at your applications from five different perspectives. Let’s use Microsoft Exchange as an example.

applications and IT servicesExchange is an enterprise application that provides email and calendaring. If you’re reading this, there is a good chance that you own servers that host the various components that comprise Exchange. One way to think about cloud is to identify the Exchange servers, their operating systems, the application version, performance requirements, etc. and identify a “place in the cloud” where you can procure servers of similar specifications and migrate the instances. I consider this as the infrastructure perspective. When it comes to cloud computing, this is perhaps the least important.


To take full advantage of cloud computing, understand your applications and IT services from a few additional perspectives:

  1. Functional
  2. Financial
  3. Operational (including lifecycle)
  4. Organizational
  5. Use-case


Hopefully, after looking at these different perspectives, you’ll see Exchange as part of an IT service that fits this description:

“In operation for over 20 years, E-Communications is a business service that allows each of our 1,200 employees to communicate through email, coordinate meetings, find coworkers’ contact information, and organize tasks using their PC, Mac, mobile device, or home computer 24x7x365. The service is supported by Microsoft Exchange and Active Directory, which both run under VMware vSphere. The service requires 1 full-time administrator who added 12 new users and logged 157 support tickets in 2014. In 2014, charges for software maintenance, personnel, infrastructure depreciation, and outside support services totaled $87,456. A software upgrade is planned for 2015. Users do not generally complain about the performance of the service, other than the size of their mailbox quotas (which are limited to 10GB per user). The company as a whole plans to offer telecommuting packages to more than 250 employees in 2015.”

Armed with this understanding of your IT service that includes Exchange, you might take the following action:

  1. Fund an Office365 migration with capital you had allocated for the Exchange upgrade project
  2. Provide copies of Office applications to telecommuters (without additional charge)
  3. Expand the mailbox quota from 10GB to 50GB
  4. Repurpose your Exchange admin to help telecommuters establish their home offices in 2015
  5. Reduce your spend on E-Communications by more than 50% (from $72.88/user to $35.00/user)


Of course, not every application is easily identifiable as belonging to an IT service. The functionality or financial aspects of IT services are often difficult to quantify. However, at GreenPages, especially when looking at cloud computing options, we recommend examining all of your applications through these five perspectives. For this reason, GreenPages has embedded this process in a piece of software that can quickly build your services portfolio and recommend optimizations based on current offerings available – such as Microsoft Office 365.

What are your thoughts?

You can hear more from John in his eBook, “The Evolution of Your Corporate IT Department

By John Dixon, Director of Cloud Services

The Internet of Things – There’s no stopping it!


This post was written by ConnectEdu CTO Rick Blaisdell and was originally posted on . You can follow Rick on Twitter @RickBlaisdell


“The Internet of things is coming, be the disrupter or prepare to be disrupted. There’s no stopping it” said Joe Tucci, CEO of EMC, during this year’ Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

The term “Internet of Things”(IoT) emerged as a buzzword over the last year to describe the phenomenon of network-connected sensors incorporated into devices that in the past were standalone appliances. Basically, the Internet of things is a scenario in which objects, animals or people are provided with unique identifiers and the ability to automatically transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction.

There are many specialists that say just about every business will become an IoT business, and the benefits are so profound that it is inevitable that this will happen. By connecting devices over the Internet and wirelessly over mobile networks, companies can manage a wide range of new services for their customers. This is why Google announced in January that it would pay more than $3 billion for Nest’s smart thermostat and smoke alarm technology.

The numbers being forecasted for the Internet of Things are truly spectacular. BI Intelligence finds that the number of everyday and enterprise devices that will soon be connected to the Internet — from parking meters to home thermostats — will be huge: 1.9 billion devices today, and 9 billion by 2018, roughly equal to the number of smartphones, smart TVs, tablets, wearable computers, and PCs combined.

In the consumer space, many products and services have already crossed over into the IoT, including kitchen and home appliances, lighting and heating products, and insurance company-issued car monitoring devices that allow motorists to pay insurance only for the amount of driving they do.

Here are some of the top business-to-business and government applications for the IoT:

  • Connected advertising and marketing – How would Internet-connected billboards look like? This will sure be one of the top three IoT categories, along with smart factories, and telecommuting support systems.

  • Intelligent traffic management systems – Machina research sees $100 billion in revenue by 2020 for applications such as toll-taking and congestion penalties. A related revenue source will be smart parking-space management, expected to drive $30 billion in revenue.

  • Waste management systems – According to BI’s research, in Cincinnati, residential waste volume fell 17% and recycling volume grew by 49% through use of a “pay as you throw” program that used IoT technology to monitor those who exceed waste limits.

  • Smart electricity grids that adjust rates for peak energy usage – These will represent savings of $200 billion to $500 billion per year by 2025, according to the McKinsey Global Institute.

Finally, what we need to keep in mind is that the Internet of Things is a vision, it is being built today. The stakeholders are known, the debate has yet to start.

Photo credit:

Grading the Internet’s 2014 Tech Predictions


The time is here for bloggers across the internet to make their tech predictions for 2014 and beyond (we have made some ourselves around storage and cloud). In this post, a couple of our authors have weighed in to grade predictions made by others across the web.

Prioritizing Management Tool Consolidation vs. New Acquisitions

Enterprise customers will want to invest in new tools only when necessary. They should look for solutions that can address several of their needs so that they do not have to acquire multiple tools and integrate them. The ability to cover multiple areas of management (performance, configuration and availability) to support multiple technologies (e.g., application tiers) and to operate across multiple platforms (Unix, Windows, virtual) will be important criteria for enterprises to assess what management tools will work for them.  (eweek)

Agree – I have been saying this for a while.  If you want a new tool, get rid of 5 and consolidate and use what you have now or get one that really works. (Randy Becker)


Bigger big data spending

IDC predicts spending of more than $14 billion on big data technologies and services or 30% growth year-over-year, “as demand for big data analytics skills continues to outstrip supply.” The cloud will play a bigger role with IDC predicting a race to develop cloud-based platforms capable of streaming data in real time. There will be increased use by enterprises of externally-sourced data and applications and “data brokers will proliferate.” IDC predicts explosive growth in big data analytics services, with the number of providers to triple in three years. 2014 spending on these services will exceed $4.5 billion, growing by 21%. (Forbes)

Absolutely agree with this.  Companies of all sizes are constantly looking to garner more intelligence from the data they have.  Even here at GreenPages we have our own big data issues and will continue to invest in these solutions to solve our own internal business needs. (Chris Ward)


Enterprises Will Shift From Silo to Collaborative Management

 In 2014, IT organizations will continue to feel increased pressure from their lines of business. Collaborative management will be a key theme, and organizations will be looking to provide a greater degree of performance visibility across their individual silo tiers to the help desk, so it is easier and faster to troubleshoot problems and identify the tier that is responsible for a problem. (eweek)

Agree – cross domain technology experts are key!  (Randy Becker)


New IT Will Create New Opportunities

Mobility, bring-your-own device (BYOD) and virtual desktops will all continue to gain a foothold in the enterprise. The success of these new technologies will be closely tied to the performance that users can experience when using these technologies. Performance management will grow in importance in these areas, providing scope for innovation and new solutions in the areas of mobility management, VDI management and so on. (eweek)

Disagree – This is backwards. The business is driving change and accountability.  It is not IT that creates new opportunities – it is the business demanding apps that work and perform for the people using them. (Randy Becker)


Here comes the Internet of Things

By 2020, the Internet of Things will generate 30 billion autonomously connected end points and $8.9 trillion in revenues. IDC predicts that in 2014 we will see new partnerships among IT vendors, service providers, and semiconductor vendors that will address this market. Again, China will be a key player:  The average Chinese home in 2030 will have 40–50 intelligent devices/sensors, generating 200TB of data annually. (Forbes)

Totally agree with this one.  Everything and everybody is eventually going to be connected.  I wish I were building a new home right now because there are so many cool things you can do by having numerous household items connected.  I also love it because I know that in 10 years when my daughter turns 16 that I’ll no doubt know in real-time where she is and what she is doing.  However, I doubt she’ll appreciate the ‘coolness’ of that.  Although very cool, this concept does introduce some very real challenges around management of all of these devices.  Think about 30 billion devices connected to the net….  We might actually have to start learning about IPv6 soon… (Chris Ward)


Cloud service providers will increasingly drive the IT market

As cloud-dedicated datacenters grow in number and importance, the market for server, storage, and networking components “will increasingly be driven by cloud service providers, who have traditionally favored highly componentized and commoditized designs.” The incumbent IT hardware vendors will be forced to adopt a “cloud-first” strategy, IDC predicts. 25–30% of server shipments will go to datacenters managed by service providers, growing to 43% by 2017. (Forbes)

Not sure I agree with this one for 2014 but I do agree with it in the longer term.  As more and more applications/systems get migrated to public cloud providers, that means less and less hardware/software purchased directly from end user customers and thus more consolidation at the cloud providers.  This could be a catch 22 for a lot of the traditional IT vendors like HP and Dell.  When’s the last time you walked into an Amazon or Google datacenter and saw racks and racks of HP or Dell gear?  Probably not too recently as these providers tend to ‘roll their own’ from a hardware perspective.  One thing is for sure…this will get very interesting over the next 24 to 36 months… (Chris Ward)


End-User Experience Will Determine Success

Businesses will expect IT to find problems before their users do, pinpoint the root cause of the problem and solve the problem as early as possible. IT organizations will seek solutions that will allow them to provide great user experience and productivity. (eweek)

Agree – 100% on this one. Need a good POC and Pilot that is well managed with clear goals and objectives. (Randy Becker)


Amazon (and possibly Google) to take on traditional IT suppliers

Amazon Web Services’ “avalanche of platform-as-a-service offerings for developers and higher value services for businesses” will force traditional IT suppliers to “urgently reconfigure themselves.” Google, IDC predicts, will join in the fight, as it realizes “it is at risk of being boxed out of a market where it should be vying for leadership.” (Forbes)

I agree with this one to an extent.  Amazon has certainly captured a good share of the market in two categories, developers and large scale-out applications and I see them continuing to have dominance in these 2 spaces.  However, anyone who thinks that customers are forklift moving traditional production business applications from the datacenter to the public cloud/Amazon should really get out in the field and talk to CIOs and IT admins as this simply isn’t happening.  I’ve had numerous conversations with our own customers around this topic, and when you do the math it just doesn’t make sense in most cases – assuming the customer has an existing investment in hardware/software and some form of datacenter to house it.  That said, where I have seen an uptake of Amazon and other public cloud providers is from startups or companies that are being spun out of a larger parent. Bottom line, Amazon and others will absolutely compete with traditional IT suppliers, just not in a ubiquitous manner. (Chris Ward)


The digitization of all industries

By 2018, 1/3 of share leaders in virtually all industries will be “Amazoned” by new and incumbent players. “A key to competing in these disrupted and reinvented industries,” IDC says, “will be to create industry-focused innovation platforms (like GE’s Predix) that attract and enable large communities of innovators – dozens to hundreds will emerge in the next several years.” Concomitant with this digitization of everything trend, “the IT buyer profile continues to shift to business executives. In 2014, and through 2017, IT spending by groups outside of IT departments will grow at more than 6% per year.” (Forbes)

I would have to agree with this one as well.  The underlying message here is that IT spending decisions continue to shift away from IT and into the hands of the business.  I have seen this happening more and more over the past couple of years and can’t help but believe it will continue in that direction at a rapid pace. (Chris Ward)

What do you think about these predictions? What about Chris and Randy’s take on them?

Download this free eBook about the evolution of the corporate IT department.



Top Ten Considerations When Investing in BYOD

By Chris Reily, Director of Solutions Architecture

Every year has its own special IT acronym and 2013 has been no different. During client meetings, in the pages of IT trade publications and on the minds of vendor partners – the term BYOD pops up more frequently than Psy’s “Gangham Style” does on pop radio. For the record, Psy is the smartly dressed Korean pop music sensation sporting Risky Business-style Ray Bans as opposed to the (also trending) bearded Uncle Si of Duck Dynasty (reality-TV) fame. If this is all meaningless to you, you’ve been working too hard. Ask your family, they miss you.

Consumerization of IT is finding its way into the enterprise rapidly. Choice, personalization and mobility are no longer simply appreciated but are ultimately demanded. BYOD in theory sounds like a terrific plan and if executed properly can be an outstanding component of an end user computing (EUC) solution in many environments. Success however goes far beyond an employee stipend and flexibility in choice. BYOD is not for every organization and even in those organizations where it makes sense, it’s not for every employee. Here is a list of the top ten considerations when investigating a BYOD solution for your organization:

  1. What are the core applications you need to deliver to end users? Are these applications supported by recommended or allowed devices? What are the corporate use cases?
  2. Will your infrastructure support connectivity and desktop/application delivery to new devices on your network? Storage, compute and network – it all matters.
  3. Do you have the budget to support this initiative? Hint: it will be more than you expect. Hint #2: don’t expect to “save money” (at least in the first year). The ROI (return on investment) may come but expectations inside 36 months are unrealistic.
  4. Who needs what? Organizations are diverse and dynamic. Not every employee will need to be part of a BYOD initiative. Different categories of associates will have varying device needs. The road warrior sales guy, administrative assistant and mechanical engineer will all have different needs.
  5. A well-executed plan will drive employee job satisfaction. Figure out how your team will deal with happy IT-using employees; it may be a new experience for all involved.
  6. Are you ready to set policy and stick to it? There will be challenges that make you question what you were thinking in the first place. Get managerial support and be confident.
  7. Be flexible. Sure, this may seem somewhat contrary to comment #6. Of course you’ll encounter situations where the intelligent response is to modify and improve.
  8. Get “buy in” from the board room and the corner office(s). The support of senior management and investors is critical; don’t even go there without serious majority support.
  9. Seek advice and approval from legal, accounting and human resources. Ask the art department and maintenance team too if you think it can help.
  10. Talk to others. I know this is hard for many of us who have spent careers in IT, but give it a shot and see what happens. Speak to partners who have delivered BYOD solutions. Reach out to similar organizations who have implemented their strategy. Heck, speak with companies who tried it and failed. Arm yourself with information, do your research.

This is a lot to digest. A poorly executed implementation has the surety of employees abandoning the program. Small steps and a detailed approach work best – don’t be afraid of running test groups and proof of concept (POC) trials. The risk of not exploring your options may leave your IT environment seeming as outdated as last decade’s pop dance craze. Is your organization considering BYOD? Have you already implemented a policy? If so, how has your experience been?


Just providing best- of – breed is no longer good enough

By John Zanni, Vice President, Marketing and Alliances, Parallels


In this ever changing cloud environment, service providers are telling us that whenever they think they have a handle on what SMBs want, SMBs indicate their “wants” are expanding. What this means is that service providers cannot linger on what was a key service last year. SMBs are constantly trying to grow their business and furthering their understanding of their customers, so as their customers branch out into new territories whether accounting, health care, entertainment, retail (you get the picture), SMBs will look to service providers to be nimble enough to accommodate those developments with cloud offerings they can use – and use with ease. In fact, best-of-breed is no longer as relevant or as meaningful as are specificity and ease of use.


Luckily for everyone, need generates innovation and development. There is a burgeoning of cloud services applications for a world of vertical markets, and many SMBs are looking for the application that specifically serves their needs rather than the most well-known or most often used applications.


From open source applications to complex solutions, through Application Packaging Standards, ISVs can create any applications that are needed or can be invented. (You can learn more about APS at Of note, this is an open standard, and Parallels does not need to approve an application for it to become available through APS.


There are a number of examples of such offerings in the Parallels APS catalogue, including:

  • ·         MoySklad – a Russian business that produces a contact resource management and accounting service
  • ·         SpamExperts – an Anti-virus/anti-spam/archiving solution very popular throughout Europe
  • ·         BackupAgent – produces backup services for hosters and service providers and is popular in Europe and Asia.


Service Providers have access to these cloud services and applications and can easily enable them on Parallels Plesk Panel or Parallels Automation service providers; it then simply becomes a matter of marketing those applications to their customers with those particular requirements.   


For service providers looking for more information on how to grow their business through the bundling of new applications that live in the cloud, Parallels Summit 2013, Feb 4-6, at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas is the place to be. Hundreds of ISVs with be demonstrating their services. There will be technical, developer, and business tracks on how to enable and promote applications in the cloud along with best practices on working with Parallels products that push your business up the ladder. Be there to experience and assess what you could use for your customers.


Changing World of End User Devices

Let me start out by saying that I am not an Apple fan boy. I am not a Microsoft zealot or a Linux aficionado. I use them all daily; it is all about usability to me.

I wanted to talk about the shift I have seen in technology that we use in business every day. This transformation has been just as large and disruptive as virtualization. 10 years ago, the end user hardware and software was set and had very little diversity or customization. It was Win/Tel (Windows running on Intel processors) all the way with Microsoft Office. There was very little or no working from home, and you had to be in the office or have a VPN to the office to do your work.

Fast forward to today and the end user client and software environment has a lot more options. The other architects and I have daily conversations about thin clients, zero clients, iPads, iPhones, Android phones, VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructures) so workers can work from anywhere. I am also seeing many more Apple Macintosh’s in business environments. Exchange is moving into the cloud as in storage, social networks and many companies we work with consider Instant Massaging as a key business application.

You can blame Apple and the usability of the iPad and iPhone, Samsung and other Android tablet and phone manufacturers or the continued advances in technology, but you cannot deny that providing applications and data to end users is not just Windows, Office and a desktop anymore.

I had an interesting personal experience with this recently. I have been a Windows user for most of my life. I do have an iPad and have been using that more and more. I needed a new personal laptop and after much soul searching and justifying the additional cost, I purchased a MacBook Pro. It took me years to talk myself into paying more money for essentially the same hardware. Well, I am very happy that I did. I find the Mac has almost all of the applications that I use, and I have VMware Fusion for any Windows applications that are not supported. I really enjoy using the Mac more and find it much more usable than the Windows laptop I use for work. Gestures and the awesome usability of the mousepad (trackpad) make this my personal choice of hardware going forward.

The bottom line is that today’s IT department has many more choices in how to deliver applications and data to their end users. This can be a management nightmare, if not planned correctly, but does offer end users many more options to stay connected and do the work they need to anyplace, anytime, and on (almost) any device.