There was a time when people used to run applications and software downloaded to their own devices or servers. This meant increased threats of data loss and less flexible systems – you actually needed data to be in the system to be able to complete the work.
With cloud hosting, people can now access all the application through the internet, no matter what the location is. The solution has become popular over the years, especially among small and medium enterprises, that run on a modest budget.
Companies can look at increased collaboration with cloud, enabling employees to share and work on data seamlessly, and individuals to pick up their work from any machine that has access to the cloud. Cloud services have also opened a world for businesses and users to interact. You can save your word files in cloud or just use a cloud invoicing system. There are different cloud host providers offering you space to store data online and collaborate easily but the development of SaaS has been the most significant.
According to the latest statistics issued by Cloud Industry Forum (CIF), 84 percent of all the companies in the United Kingdom have adopted at least one cloud service. The research also shows that about 78 percent companies in the country adopt two or more cloud services. In fact, this technology has evolved in phases, starting from utility and grid computing, application service provision (ASP) and the latest Software as a Service (SaaS).
Why Cloud Hosting?
There are different reasons that have owed to the remarkable success of cloud hosting:
- Flexibility: Need more bandwidth or storage space instantly? The cloud has you covered. The ability to meet ever-changing business demands is what cloud services are known for.
- Disaster recovery: You no longer need a sophisticated disaster recovery plan as cloud computing would take care of it. As a matter of fact, using a cloud service reduced the time to resolve issues by as much as 50 percent.
- Software updates: According to statistics released in 2010, UK-based companies spent over 400 hours each month to manage website security. On the other hand, cloud computing suppliers such as Microsoft and Amazon would take care of this.
- Work from anywhere: According to a recent survey, 42 percent of employees in the UK would give up some of their salary if they were given the option to telecommute. This would have a positive effect on the person’s work – life balance.
- Eco-friendly: Businesses that require cloud services only use the space they need. This reduces carbon footprint by a considerable margin as switching onto a cloud is known to decrease the energy consumption by as much as 30 percent.
Comparing Arch Rivals – Amazon Web Services versus Microsoft Azure
Both Microsoft and Amazon are head over heels in grabbing the market share with their cloud-based services. While Amazon did have an amazing head start, Microsoft Azure is soon catching up. Both these companies have the resources to lure individual as well as enterprise customers.
Amazon Web Services Vs. Microsoft Azure: Computing
Amazon employs an Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), which allows users to configure virtual machines in a pre-configured fashion or customize it according to their needs. Users get to choose the size, power, memory capacity and the number of VM. In addition, they can also choose the location and availability zone. Load balancing and auto scaling, are a couple of additional features supported by EC2.
Microsoft Azure was made available to consumers in May 2013. Users of this service can choose a virtual hard disk to create a virtual machine. This can either be pre-defined or user-defined. You would have to specify the number of cores and memory capacity.
Amazon Web Services Vs. Microsoft Azure: Storage and Databases
Amazon Web Services use temporary storage, which is allocated once an instance begins and gets destroyer once it has been terminated. Storage is provided that can either be attached to an instance or kept separate. Amazon also has full support for relational and NoSQL databases as well as Big Data.
Similar to AWS, Azure too user temporary storage as well as Page Blobs (Microsoft’s block storage) for virtual machine – based volumes. Azure too provides complete support for relational and NoSQL databases and Big Data, made available through HDInsight and Microsoft Azure Table.
Amazon Web Services Vs. Microsoft Azure: Networking
Amazon’s virtual private clouds and Azure’s Virtual Network give users the flexibility of grouping virtual machines into isolated networks on the cloud. Therefore, users would be able to precisely define a network topology, create route tables, subnets and private IP address ranges.
Amazon Web Services Vs. Microsoft Azure: Pricing
While customers using Amazon Web Services are charged, by rounding up the number of hours used, Microsoft charges customer based on the number of minutes used on demand.
You need to choose a service that suits to your needs. Talk to an expert or evaluate the pros and cons of each. Your choice of cloud hosting can directly affect the organizational productivity and performance so it’s a great idea to do your research on which cloud hosting provider can work to your advantage.
The building block of every IT system is ‘data’. Optimal and secured storage of data has always been the key concern for any organisation. The volume of data is growing every minute and it is a difficult task to manage it. This immeasurable digital data is named as big data.
The Internet, by reaching out to each and every computing platform has led to an outburst of information, thereby making big data too big to be handled. A scenario where the data grows beyond the reach of the present management techniques, will lead to total chaos.
Some of the challenges faced with big data are:
- Managing data appropriately is a challenge for any organisation. The optimal use of data in an organised way is a priority task.
- Accessibility and connectivity of huge data are a hurdle. Data points are not integrated and there is no precise platform to manage data between various projects.
- The ever-growing data volume demands a larger technological landscape.
- Security of big data is another important aspect that is of concern to companies.
The following chart explains the growth of big data in the recent years:
Fig 1. Graphical Representation of Rise of Big data
Business Intelligence – A Resourceful Solution for big data:
Business Intelligence (BI) provides a solution to big data in the form of data analysis process. BI includes a variety of tools, applications and methodologies that streamline management of huge data.
This system incorporates technologies that provide a correct decision making platform for the organisations.
Some of the important advantages of Business Intelligence solutions are:
- BI simplifies the process of data management, by collecting data from various sources and organising it, to create reports and for other data analysis requirements.
- BI accelerates the decision making process, thus enabling us to increase the productivity of internal business processes, enhancing efficiency and directing the flow of revenue.
- The simplicity of operation allows BI tools to be accessed by anyone from an IT professional to a business executive.
- BI provides data visualisation in the form of charts and other graphical methods.
- It simplifies advance data analysis functions like data mining, text mining, statistical analysis and predictive analysis.
Microsoft, the Leader in BI Solutions
A Business Intelligence Solution can be leveraged to its fullest, when it is able to collect data from all possible data points.
To be more specific, the solution should be able to provide all users with the required data, anytime. Microsoft has achieved this apical level by utilising the functionalities of various in-house tools.
Exhibiting exceptional competence, Microsoft has emerged as a leading name in the Business Intelligence Solutions segment.
The various formats of Business Intelligence Solutions from Microsoft are more than capable of meeting the growing expectations of the users.
The aspects that make Microsoft the leader are explained below:
Microsoft BI Development
There are various BI technologies provided by the Microsoft BI Development team. The customer can use them independently or utilise a suite of applications. This completely depends on the customer’s requirement.
A good example is Power BI for Office 365. Microsoft allows customers to build a BI system on applications like SQL Server, Sharepoint and Excel.
The complete assembly is called Power BI for Office 365. The result of grouping powerful tools has brought about a revolutionary change in managing Big data.
The various Microsoft BI technologies are:
- MS SQL Server
- Power BI for office
- MS Power View
- MS SSRS (SQL Server Reporting Services)
- MS SQL Server Analysis Services
- MS Excel and Excel Services
- MS SharePoint
- MS Power BI
- MS Power Query
- MS SQL Server Data Tools
- MS SQL Server Integration Services
- MS SQL Server PowerPivot for Excel
- MS PerformancePoint Services
Microsoft BI Stack
Microsoft BI Development has designed various BI tools and applications which the consumer can select from. The requirements of the customer are matched with a specific software tool.
Based on the requirements, Microsoft Business Intelligence can be classified into three categories vis. personal, team and organisational. All these types are interdependent and any change in one aspect can affect the other two.
As an example, an application like Performance Point server uses MS Excel, Office Sharepoint server and Excel services to complement its BI requirement. Every corporate BI system thus has dependable personal and team BI systems.
It is basically related to fetching of data for individual use. Personal BI is independent and is not always connected to databases. The most commonly used personal BI is MS Excel.
Team BI is for a group of individuals working as a team. The system focuses on improving coordination and transfer of data amongst the team members. This helps in acceleration of the decision making process. The most well-known Team BI tool is Office SharePoint Server and Excel Services.
Corporate BI constitutes the Business Intelligence requirements at the organisational level.
It is a collection of tools to support coordination and promote goal congruence. It provides streamlined synchronisation of data and showcases individual efforts in the form of scorecards and strategy maps. The most commonly used Corporate BI is PerformancePoint Server 2007.
The graphical representation of the various levels of Microsoft BI solutions include:
Fig 2. Graphical Representation of Various BI Frameworks
The Business Intelligence Solution has two types of containers vis. the On-premises containers and Cloud containers.
On-premises containers are BI solutions that are implemented in a local setup. Examples of On-premises containers include MS office tools, Share point applications and SQL server.
The Cloud containers deal with the Internet and portable applications. Examples of Cloud containers are Excel Service Power BI and Asure IAAS solutions.
The Microsoft BI Ecosystem
The Microsoft BI Ecosystem is the environment created using various BI tools. The ecosystem supports the ever-changing needs of users
The various important aspects of Microsoft BI Ecosystem include:
This the most widely used feature of the Microsoft BI Ecosystem. The strength lies in its ability to reach every user.
A complete self-service BI solution is delivered through Excel and Office 365. This tool facilitates fast data search, analysis and visualisation. It helps the user in getting valuable insights from the data.
The Power BI for Office 365 allows an even more advanced level of data management. It allows easy sharing, access and integration of data using the cloud technology.
Dashboard and Reports:
Reports are one of the most important features of data analysis. The BI tool, SharePoint server provides a convenient platform for report generation and dashboard management.
Filtering of search attributes, interactive analysis and visualisation are the key features of these Microsoft BI solutions.
Analysis of data from various perspectives is another key feature of any important decision process. The Microsoft BI solution i.e. the SQL Server Analysis Services platform supports multi-dimensional analysis of data.
This feature can be used for visualisation, reporting and data analysis. It supports solution prototyping at the enterprise level.
Microsoft BI Ecosystem allows gathering of data from various sources including historical data. The data analysis is even more precise when a detailed gathering of data i.e. data mining is done.
This helps in projecting a concept more assertively. Some examples of predictive analysis can be the Data Mining Add-ins in Excel or SQL Server Development tools.
Bigger the Data, Sturdy is the Microsoft Solution
The various challenges that IT organisations faced earlier, while dealing with huge data, has found an optimal solution in form of Microsoft Business Intelligence Solutions.
The vast array of BI tools allow the users to customise the solutions as per their requirements. The previously forecasted scenario of unmanageable data at the local and cloud level can be precisely managed by Microsoft BI solution.
Being the pioneers in providing various IT solutions, Microsoft has also stood strong to lead its way towards Business Intelligence Solutions.
So when do you plan to embrace BI? Do you have any points to share? Please feel free to share your opinions below and thanks for reading!
PHP open source and ASP.NET have been major contributors to web development for many years now and continue to be used for their flexibility and other strengths in the programming arena.
In our experience as knowledgeable website development agency, we are often asked by clients whether we feel they should move forward with an ASP.NET or a PHP based solution for their project.
ASP.NET was designed as an enterprise wide solution platform
In response to this question there are a few points that we like to make clear to clients who ask for our opinion. But before we get started in our exploration of these two powerful platforms, it’s important to understand that PHP was originally built as a platform for building Personal Home Pages.
PHP was designed to be a web language, more than an enterprise wide solution platform. ASP.NET was designed as a platform for enterprise wide solutions and therefore was built for scalability and to be robust.
One is open source and the other is from Microsoft
First of all we mention the fact that ASP.NET is produced by Microsoft and PHP is an open source product. Quite often the client hasn’t got a lot to say about that. After all, it’s not really as important as what the difference are between them when it comes to areas such as:
- Whether it’s possible to extend
- Average development time
PHP is available as an open source product and therefore does not come with the background support that ASP.NET is provided with. The latter not only has Microsoft user support available with it, but also potentially a more structured developer culture that we can expect so see associated with MS products.
Regarding the first three points. They are actually remarkably similar in performance of them. Similar results are possible with either platform. Good security is down to the work of the programmer, they need to ensure that the application is secured well and safe.
The big differences between ASP.NET and PHP
The big differences lie more within these areas:
Microsoft ASP.NET is equipped with just several frameworks just as PHP open source is. The big difference lie in the requirement in question. On a case to case basis, we feel, one framework is better suited to a project than the other. We have the experience to be able to advise on this
Scalability works better in ASP.NET in our experience with smaller projects working better in PHP. In fact PHP is good for start-up solutions whereas ASP.NET has industrial strength with many different features. If you’re looking for flexibility and scalability then go with ASP.NET.
With regards to average development time, it is sometimes more advantageous to use PHP. Very small projects can often be created faster on this platform as it’s easier to find web hosts and development machines are so very easy to set up.
Which programming knowledge does a company have access to?
One of our main considerations is whether a client wants to work with one type of technology stack vs another. They may have already invested in in-house programmers who have more knowledge and experience of one over the other.
In some cases, our clients prefer the stability that going with Microsoft offers. They will be able to gain support, look forward to upgrades and more if they go with ASP.NET. Some clients will prefer the idea of a product that is open source.
Our clients may well have Linux servers already set up what they want to use to their full capacity. Of course, open source comes with little overheads in terms of cost due to it being free.
However, if our clients don’t know which they prefer, or come to the conclusion that it really doesn’t matter, then we will choose for them based on what we feel they will gain the most overall value from. We may even look forward to what else they may need in the future, and make the decision based on what makes sense.
A couple of our developers even have the viewpoint that it’s not so much a matter of ASP.NET vs PHP as more a case of PHP vs C# when it comes to programming. Now that C# has had optional parameters added in its version 4.0, then the advantage that PHP had over it is now defunct. It’s possible to perform dynamically typed variables, which of course keeps the abilities of the language very flexible.
What about cost?
When it comes to cost, we feel that PHP is first over the line. Although it’s possible to run ASP.NET on Mono on a Linux server, it will not be without issues. However, Webforms (one of the frameworks of ASP.NET) can be run on SQL Compact and SQL Server. Although we do sometimes use Webforms, we find that there is more control using ASP.NET.
In our opinion PHP is perfect for starter solutions, but if you are representing a large enterprise and are looking for a solution that is robust and capable to being scalable then we would recommend ASP.NET to you. We are fans of both as they both have their virtues. However, we would guide you based on what the future is for your project.
Which one do you prefer and why?
We are excited to announce that we got our Microsoft Gold Certification today. We are a Microsoft Gold Partner in Application Development competency. We are also a small business specialist. We have been providing services on Microsoft technologies from last 11 years. We never focused on getting ourselves certified but finally the time arrived and we started the exercise earlier this year. Our customers were kind enough to share references and fill surveys for the work which we have done for them on Microsoft technologies. This is a prerequisite amongst other things to get gold accreditation.