Imagine Cloud

Cloud Solutions for Small Business

Imagine IT: Imagine Cloud

Imagine IT offers Cloud based server hosting, with the option of having the actual Cloud hardware located at your office or at a secure Datacenter. This allows for a secure location for documents and databases, just like a traditional server, except stored in a 99.9% uptime Cloud system. Permission based file access can be performed via either Remote Desktop or VPN. Microsoft, Google or Egnyte applications can complement the Imagine IT Imagine Cloud. Desktops can also be run as virtual machines, which allows for easy rollback of infected or corrupted systems. Low-maintenance “thin-clients” can replace traditional desktops (local Imagine Cloud only). Backups of your data are run continuously (not just at night).

Cloud Solutions for Small Business - Minneapolis, St Paul, Edina
  • Imagine Cloud includes:
    • Windows or Linux Server Virtual machines: Just like a local server, you can install applications, Active Directory, databases, and store documents or just about any kind of file.
    • Automatic Backup: backs up as files change.
    • Share Files: permissions can be assigned to files and folders, and shared appropriately, just like a local server.
  • Strengths:
    • The physical location of the Imagine Cloud can be at your main office or in a secure datacenter.
    • Most if not all applications and data will be located in one central place.
    • Can run just about any server application or database.
    • Easily expandable.
    • 99.9% annual uptime for the hardware platform.
    • Faster file access because of solid state disk cache.
    • Backs up as files change – not just at night.
    • Rollback of server or desktop virtual machines is easy.
    • Zero maintenance thin-clients are available to alleviate the cost of expensive and high maintenance desktop computers.
    • Increased user productivity due to high availability and fast data access.
    • Microsoft Online Services, Google Apps or Egnyte can be included as part of the service.
    • Appears to be expensive compared to the other services at face value, but most or all of the monthly support costs are included in the price. The competitor service prices do not include any support costs. And the increase in user productivity will save thousands in the long run.
  • Weaknesses:
    • The “Desktop in a Cloud” option may require some end-user workarounds.

Feature Comparison

Typically a combination of these solutions will be implemented.

Feature

Microsoft

Google

Egnyte / SugarSync

Amazon / Rackspace

Imagine IT

Hosted File Storage

X

X

X

X

X

Hosted Email, Contacts, Calendars

X

X

 

N/A

N/A

Server Virtual Machine Hosting

 

 

 

X

X

Syncs Documents To Computers Or Sites

 

 

X

Optional

Optional

Document Creation Apps

X

X

N/A

N/A

N/A

Full Microsoft Office Compatibility

X

 

N/A

N/A

N/A

Integrates with On-Site Active Directory

X

 

X
(Egnyte only)

 

Private Cloud Only

Works Well With SmartPhones

X

X

X

N/A

N/A

Exchange Migration Tools Available

X

X

N/A

N/A

N/A

Can Host Databases or Accounting Apps

 

 

 

X

X

Can Run Any Server Based App or Database

 

 

 

X

X

Virtual Machine Rollback

 

 

 

 

X

Backups Up Daily

X

X

X

X

Continuously

Backs Up Continuously As Files Are Changed

 

 

X

 

X

Can Be Setup On-Site Or Hosted

 

 

 

 

X

Solution Scenarios

(not all possible scenarios are covered – just some common ones)

Scenario #1

  • Customer Requirements:
    • You are a company with 8-200 users.
    • You cannot afford much downtime – ever.
    • You are comfortable with Microsoft Office and don’t want to switch to another office document system any time soon for compatibility and training reasons.
    • You run databases locally, which may include accounting, CRM, industry specific applications, and also may have other programs installed on a local server.
    • You currently use (or want to use) Exchange server, and possibly SharePoint.
    • Some of your users work remotely or travel, or you have branch offices.
    • You don’t want the expense or maintenance of keeping Exchange server in-house.
    • You don’t mind that the performance of Outlook will be a little slower than if the Exchange server was in-house.
  • Solution – On site dedicated server with some data in the Cloud
    • Install local hardware to run Windows Server 2008 R2 or Small Business Server 2011 Essentials.  This will allow central user account control, and provide an on-site location for accounting, databases and other documents that won’t work well in the Cloud.
    • The hardware would need to be the Imagine Cloud “Private Cloud” virtualized system, to achieve 99.9% uptime for the server hardware.  Traditional servers can be used, but there could be more downtime.
    • Setup proper backup for the local server and data.
    • Implement Microsoft Online Services for Exchange, and possibly SharePoint.
    • Purchase desktops and laptops with Microsoft Office pre-installed, or rent the Microsoft Office license as part of Office 365.
    • Possibly add a fail-over Internet connection at the main office and branch offices.
  • Functionality Limitations:
    • Remote users may have to use workarounds to perform a small percentage of their tasks.
    • If the Internet goes down, some of the data may not be accessible.
  • Cost compared to a 100% on-site Microsoft Exchange solution:
    • A slightly smaller or much smaller up front cost, and future migration projects should be smaller in nature.
    • Average monthly IT support costs could be slightly less.
    • A Microsoft monthly hosting cost per user will be incurred.
    • If Microsoft Office is “rented”, it will probably cost a lot more long-term.
    • Internet connection costs could be slightly more if fail-over connections are implemented.
    • Long-term, the overall cost of IT (hardware, Internet, and support costs) should be less.

Scenario #2

  • Customer Requirements:
    • You are a company with 8-200 users.
    • You can afford a small amount of downtime, and you desire a high level of physical security at the datacenter.
    • You are comfortable with Microsoft Office and don’t want to switch to another office document system any time soon for compatibility and training reasons.
    • You run databases locally, which may include accounting, CRM, industry specific applications, and also may have other programs installed on a local server.
    • You currently use (or want to use) Exchange server, and possibly SharePoint.
    • Some of your users work remotely or travel, or you have branch offices.
    • You don’t want the expense or maintenance of keeping Exchange server in-house.
    • You don’t mind that the performance of Outlook will be a little slower than if the Exchange server was in-house.
  • Solution – Dedicated server in the Cloud, with some data in other Clouds:
    • Implement a hosted server solution running Windows Server 2008 R2 or Small Business Server 2011 Essentials, using Imagine Cloud or Amazon/Rackspace. This will allow central user account control, and provide a central server location for accounting and databases.
    • Setup proper backup for any local data.
    • Implement Microsoft Online Services for Exchange, and possibly SharePoint.
    • Purchase desktops and laptops with Microsoft Office pre-installed, or rent the Microsoft Office license as part of Office 365.
    • Add a fail-over Internet connection at the main office and branch offices.
  • Functionality Limitations:
    • Users may have to use workarounds to perform a small percentage of their tasks.
    • If the Internet goes down, most of the data will not be accessible.
  • Cost compared to a 100% on-site Microsoft Exchange solution:
    • A slightly smaller or much smaller up front cost, and future migration projects should be smaller in nature.
    • Average monthly IT support costs could be slightly less.
    • A Microsoft monthly hosting cost per user will be incurred.
    • A monthly server hosting cost will be incurred.
    • If Microsoft Office is “rented”, it will probably cost a lot more long-term.
    • Internet connection costs could be slightly more if fail-over connections are implemented.
    • Long-term, the overall cost of IT (hardware, Internet, and support costs) should be about the same.

Scenario #3

  • Customer Requirements:
    • You are a company with less than 8 users.
    • You are comfortable with Microsoft Office and don’t want to switch to another office document system any time soon for compatibility and training reasons.
    • You may run some databases locally, which may include accounting, CRM, and industry specific applications, but do not require a dedicated local server.
    • You desire to use Exchange server, and possibly SharePoint.
    • Some of your users work remotely or travel, or you have branch offices.
    • You don’t want the expense or maintenance of keeping Exchange server in-house.
    • You don’t mind that the performance of Outlook will be a little slower than if the Exchange server was in-house.

Solution – No dedicated server machine, with some data in the Cloud:

  • Solution 1:
    • Utilize a local workstation as a peer file server for accounting, databases and documents.
    • Setup proper backup for local computers and local data.
    • Implement Microsoft Online Services for Exchange, and possibly SharePoint.
    • Purchase desktops and laptops with Microsoft Office pre-installed, or rent the Microsoft Office license as part of Office 365.
  • Solution 2:
    • Utilize a local workstation as a peer file server for accounting and databases.
    • Setup proper backup for local computers and local data.
    • Implement Egnyte or SugarSync for document storage and sharing.  This will allow document synching between the Cloud and each user or branch office.
    • Implement Microsoft Online Services for Exchange, and possibly SharePoint.
    • Purchase desktops and laptops with Microsoft Office pre-installed, or rent the Microsoft Office license as part of Office 365.
  • Functionality Limitations:
    • Some databases or applications require a dedicated server.
    • Remote users may have to use workarounds to perform a small percentage of their tasks.
    • If the Internet goes down, some of the data may not be accessible.
  • Cost compared to a 100% on-site Microsoft Exchange solution:
    • A much smaller up front cost, and future migration projects should be small in nature.
    • Average monthly IT support costs will be less.
    • A Microsoft monthly hosting cost per user will be incurred.
    • If Microsoft Office is “rented”, it will cost more long-term.
    • Internet connection costs could be slightly more if fail-over connections are implemented.
    • Long-term, the overall cost of IT (hardware, Internet, and support costs) will be less.

Scenario #4

  • Customer Requirements:
    • You are a company with 2-200 users.
    • You want to save money by switching away from Microsoft Office, and are comfortable with the potential compatibility and training issues.
    • You may run databases locally, which may include accounting, CRM, industry specific applications, and also may have other programs installed on a local server.
    • You want to use shared Email and Calendar, and other features of Google Apps.
    • Some of your users work remotely or travel, or you have branch offices.
    • You don’t want the expense or maintenance of keeping Exchange server in-house.
    • You don’t mind that the performance of documents will be a little slower than if the data was in-house.

Solution – Google Apps, with some applications and data on-site:

  • Solution 1:
    • Utilize a local workstation or a server running Windows Server 2008 R2 for accounting, databases and other types of documents.
    • The hardware could be traditional, or could be the Imagine Cloud “Private Cloud” virtualized system.
    • Setup proper backup for local computers and local data.
    • Implement Google Apps for corporate Email and Calendar.
    • Purchase desktops and laptops without Microsoft Office pre-installed.  It would be wise to have a small percentage of computers with Microsoft Office installed for compatibility reasons.
  • Solution 2:
    • Implement a hosted server solution running Windows Server 2008 R2 using Imagine Cloud. This will allow central user account control, and provide a central server location for accounting, databases and other types of documents.
    • Setup proper backup for local computers and local data.
    • Implement Google Apps for corporate Email and Calendar.
    • Purchase desktops and laptops without Microsoft Office pre-installed. It would be wise to have a small percentage of computers with Microsoft Office installed for compatibility reasons.
  • Functionality Limitations:
    • Some databases or applications require a dedicated server.
    • Remote users may have to use workarounds to perform a small percentage of their tasks.
    • If the Internet goes down, some of the data may not be accessible.
  • Cost compared to a 100% on-site Microsoft Exchange solution:
    • A much smaller up front cost, and future migration projects should be small in nature.
    • Average monthly IT support costs will be less.
    • A Google annual hosting cost per user will be incurred.
    • Internet connection costs could be slightly more if fail-over connections are implemented.
    • Long-term, the overall cost of IT (hardware, Internet, and support costs) will be less.