Cloud

Get the Most Out of Your Business with Microsoft Power BI

Get the Most Out of Your Business with Microsoft Power BI

Get the Most Out of Your Business with Microsoft Power BI 700 500 Xcelpros Team

Introduction

In highly regulated industries like Chemical, Pharmaceutical, and Life Sciences – being able to quickly analyze your data has become critical for everything from ensuring a good customer experience to understanding changes in the market.

Microsoft Power BI connects your data to all the tools you use every day, from Excel and Outlook to Microsoft Dynamics 365, and dozens of applications in between, aiding collaboration and the generation of actionable insights. Compared to older manual processes, Power BI doesn’t just save you time—it helps you get the most out of your business, so you can focus on moving your company forward. Learn how Power BI Connectors can help you today by giving your business access to the data it needs to grow faster and reach new heights.

The future of analytics

Data and analytics have become increasingly important for a wide range of businesses, especially in recent years where adoption is growing.

Figure 1:Worldwide BI & Analytics Growth

Worldwide BI & Analytics Growth

Source: Apps Run the World; Statista 2022

While regulations have traditionally been enforced by a group of people inside a company, these regulators expect to see evidence-based decision-making from businesses at all levels. Maintaining visibility into data from various sources is essential for compliance with certain regulations. Because of the number of data sources and systems that can be in use by companies today – often including disparate technologies or providers – it can be difficult to extract data across platforms for analysis purposes.

In the Chemical, Pharmaceutical and Life Sciences industries, where regulatory oversight has always been a top priority, the need for reliable analytical tools has significantly increased over time.

Immediately, you may not know what would make a difference in terms of driving customer behavior or improving customer experience without proper analytical tools; without data showing trends like customer purchases in relation to prices and features offered by competitors, or where customers spend most of their time within your site, or which pages result in the highest bounce rates?

Data collected from marketing campaigns is being used to help answer questions about customer engagement, usage habits, and preferences in order to improve engagement throughout the entire user journey. It’s necessary to understand the general pattern of what makes your customers tick in order to gain insight into their behaviors and needs – even if they don’t give you direct feedback! With regular monitoring through powerful analytic solutions like Power BI, this type of feedback becomes easier than ever.

Where does Power BI fit in?

Power BI is a cloud-based business intelligence and analytics platform from Microsoft that helps businesses running on multiple systems to get the most out of their data. Power BI has a growing library of connectors that helps businesses connect different sources to analyze data and create unique reports and role-based dashboards. Power BI can be used to track key performance indicators (KPIs), monitor sales and marketing campaigns, and understand customer behavior.

Power BI can help businesses in the Pharmaceutical, Chemical, and Life sciences industries use their data more efficiently to make better decisions. For example, a company that manufactures chemicals for use in other products could run simulations based on different product characteristics and use Power BI to analyze the output from these simulations. If one type of product was found to be more profitable than another under certain conditions, then they would know which products to produce more of or discontinue producing altogether.

Additionally, a company that produces vaccines needs to know exactly how much demand there will be for their vaccine before it’s released into production; with Power BI they can plot a forecast for where demand might be higher or lower than expected, letting them adjust their production accordingly. As Microsoft continues to grow its library of Power BI connectors, companies will have easier access to all sorts of valuable data and insights.

What Are Power BI Connectors?

Power BI connectors are a part of the software that allows you to connect different data streams in one location – perfect for any business that runs on multiple systems. For example, suppose you’re a chemical manufacturer that also offers consulting or testing services. You could use Power BI connectors to link the two systems together in order to generate automatic reports and analyses.

This lets you import data from one system into another system or export data from one system into another. This makes it possible to see all your information at once without having to go back and forth between each system. Power BI connectors work by linking data sources together based on predefined rules and patterns. They also come pre-built with smart visualizations and customizable dashboards which allow you to view all your information at once without having to switch between each company’s app or website.

Once you implement Power BI you can start using available connectors for free! The library of power bi connector options continues to grow as more businesses find the value in using them for their own purposes. These days, you can use Power BI connectors to do anything from importing bank statements into payroll management software to analyzing customer sentiment over time. In fact, there are many benefits to using power bi connectors.

One major benefit is the ability to analyze your company’s data in depth without ever having to step foot outside of Microsoft Office 365. This makes it easier than ever for employees who don’t normally share responsibilities related to finance or sales reporting, for example, because they know they can stay within their comfort zone while still getting the job done efficiently.

In addition, those employees will always know what needs to be done because they’ll always have access to not only relevant information but also relevant charts and graphs that provide additional context around certain trends.

What about security, privacy and compliance

When it comes to business data, security and privacy are always top concerns. Microsoft is aware of this and has taken steps to ensure that the data it collects with Power BI is not only secure but in full compliance. For starters, all data is encrypted both in transit and at rest.

Power BI is compliant with major industry standards like HIPAA, SOC 2, and GDPR. It’s easy to see why so many companies trust their data to Power BI for their own analytics needs. Data is processed on an isolated instance, ensuring there’s no possibility of a breach from a compromised network server.

To stay on top of any potential breaches that could arise from things like malware infections or unauthorized access attempts, administrators can monitor the system for any suspicious activity. They can also set up alerts and audit logs to track who accessed what data when and where they did it from.   If something does happen, the company will have information about how it happened and what was lost as well as how they were able to mitigate the damage.

Power BI works hard to keep your data safe by having dedicated security features designed specifically for businesses including:

  • A dedicated infrastructure architecture, which separates workloads into individual virtual machines and prevents cross-contamination among them.
  • Several built-in protections against SQL injection attacks.
  • Protection against cross site scripting (XSS) via double validation tokens.

These protections help make sure you’re safe while you work on your dashboards!

Next Steps

While it’s true Microsoft’s Power BI is a powerful tool that can help businesses gain insights into their data, even across different systems, to get the most out of it you need an experienced partner who can implement Power BI seamlessly and connect it to your other systems. Working with a partner that understands your industry means less time is spent trying to figure it out on your own.

An experienced partner will be able to help you maximize the value of Power BI and ensure that you are getting the most out of your investment. With an experienced partner, you’ll also have a strategic advisor who can advise on how to address your needs through customizations and integrations. Plus, they’ll help you keep your system up to date so that you’re always maximizing the value of your investment in power bi.

Maintaining an enterprise-wide analytics platform requires expertise from partners who understand not only what software does but how to use it as well. For instance, if a company has never used SQL before or if they don’t have any knowledge about R scripting, you’ll want to investigate more experienced support.

Xcelpros offers hands-on industry experience implementing Microsoft Power BI analytics with custom extensions and connectors that provide customers with deep insight into their data and seamless integration between disparate business systems.

Contact us today to see how we can help you meet your business goals.

About XcelPros

XcelPros is a Chicago-based company and delivers transformation through technology. We offer business and technology solutions with deep industry experience in Chemical, Pharma, Life Sciences (including Medical Devices, Bio-Medical & Biotech), Insurance, Discrete Manufacturing, Process Manufacturing, Distribution and Food & Beverage.

XcelPros is a Microsoft Gold Partner, Direct Cloud Solutions Provider (CSP) and a Systems Integrator (SI) offering software licensing, implementation and consulting services for Microsoft Dynamics 365, CRM, Microsoft Dynamics AX, Business Intelligence & Analytics (Power BI), SharePoint, Office 365 and Azure (Cloud, IOT, Microsoft Flow amongst many others).

Our mission is to provide integrated technology solutions that amplify impact and empower our customer’s businesses. We believe technology is the key enabler of exponential growth for us and our customers.

Contact XcelPros today to transform your business.

Call us toll-free – 1.855.411.0585 (or) visit www.xcelpros.com

Key Features and Benefits of ERP Systems

Key Features and Benefits of ERP Systems

Key Features and Benefits of ERP Systems 700 500 Xcelpros Team

At a Glance

  1. 1.Poor software fit /inaccurate requirements
  2. 2.Business leadership is not committed to the implementation
  3. 3.Insufficient team resources
  4. 4.Lack of accountability to make timely, high quality decisions
  5. 5.Lack of investment in change management
  6. 6.Insufficient training/support
  7. 7.Insufficient funding
  8. 8.Insufficient data cleansing
  9. 9.Insistence on making ERP look like legacy
  10. 10.Lack of testing

Sources: ERPFocus.com

Introduction

Overall cost reduction, improved security, and interoperability are why small businesses invest in newer and agile enterprise resource planning (ERP) software.

The biggest question companies have at the start is: Do we use an on-premise solution or a cloud-based ERP?

On-premise solutions require more up-front costs for:

  • Purchasing servers
  • Creating databases
  • The initial implementation
  • Consultants

Ongoing costs involve:

  • Information technology (IT) staffing
  • On-line security
  • Data back-up
  • Duplicating this set-up for every site

Keeping everything local requires ongoing maintenance, specialized in-house or on-call consultants, upgrades, and updates. You’ll likely need more hardware as your company grows. As you add additional facilities, your computer infrastructure will also continue to grow.

Moving to the cloud can help reduce most of these costs by about 30 percent. Depending on the age of a company’s existing equipment, there may be some hardware costs in the form of upgrading existing equipment to ensure compatibility. These costs will pale compared to the expense of having to add or outright replace servers.

Among the features of a successful cloud-based ERP implementation are:

  • The vendor is responsible for the cloud servers since it hosts and manages the software
  • No additional IT costs for staffing, maintaining the hardware and software, software updates and upgrades
  • The host (vendor) is responsible for your data security

This is just a small example of features and benefits of an ERP that pay off over time, especially when a company grows.

Other Cloud-Based ERP Advantages

Purchasing a cloud-based system has several other advantages beyond hardware and maintenance costs, including:

Scalability: A key reason growing companies move to the cloud is their ability to grow with it. Adding another 100 users might require expanding your server. As your company grows, adding new users to your ERP is just an internet connection away.

Agility: Does one part of your company require extra help with Supply Chain Management? An open-source-based ERP likely has a module designed just for that. Assuming you start with financial management, adding a sales component is a logical complement.

Disaster Recovery: Natural disasters such as fires, floods, or earthquakes are common everywhere. So are unnatural disasters in the form of riots and even wars. Cloud-based systems keep your data on multiple servers in different regions. When one server goes down, your data is safe on another. How safe are they? One ERP provider estimates that cloud systems are so secure and redundant its customers experience less than eight minutes of unplanned downtime a year.

Storage and access: This same geographical dispersal that means your data is safe from disasters also means that when you need more space, it’s easy to get. When your server farms occupy large warehouses, adding more terabytes—Western Digital has 18-20TB drives available for home computers with those in the 100TB territory made for commercial firms—is a power and data connection away.

Automatic updates: Cloud service providers provide around-the-clock monitoring. They are constantly finding ways to improve performance and data security. Microsoft, for example, employs 3,500 security engineers. They protect customer data in part by ensuring the Azure cloud computing platform is safe from all attackers.

Get started to learn more about key features and benefits of ERP systems

I’m Interested

Plan Your Implementation

No matter what software your company has, and how robust your network may be, it’s still possible for your ERP implementation to fail. In fact, the average estimate of all ERP installations that fail is between 40% – 60%

Successful implementations often require focus on seven critical aspects.

Figure 1:Plan Your Implementation

Pharmaceutical Analysis using Power BI

  1. 1. It is choosing the right team. Your implementation team must have a good mix of talent. It should include people with experience in your particular business segment. Include business analysts, developers, software architects and project managers. The team must also include a strong-willed and senior management Champion from your company whose goal is ensuring the highest priority tasks are accomplished first.
  2. 2. We are planning a phased approach. Install the implementation in logical sections. This reduces disruption, especially when moving data from the old system to the new.
  3. 3. It was moving useful data only. Client data that is no longer relevant is not worth keeping. Bring over material that helps now and in the future. Reformat your data as it’s brought from the old system to the new while you perform the build. Separate that data into static, one-time entry data like customer lists, and dynamic information such as transactions.
  4. 4. It is setting achievable goals and expectations. A great way to accomplish long-term goals is by breaking each into a series of smaller steps, each with its payoff. Build on the previous step to accomplish the next and keep going.
  5. 5. Using the implementation to fine-tune your business. Many companies purchase an ERP system to reduce costs. Use the implementation to take a critical look at each business process. Where are the bottlenecks? Where is effort duplicated? How can each process be streamlined to be more efficient and effective?
  6. 6. Time is a sixth critical part of an effective ERP implementation. Don’t be in a hurry to turn the key; fire it up and race off. Successful implementations take six months to two years. Effective, thorough planning and a thoughtful, well-researched approach before purchasing will help ensure your ERP implementation is successful.
  7. 7. Another important task is understanding that a new ERP will look different from the old one. While having a familiar look and feel is nice, your staff will embrace an optimized newer version once they understand how well it performs. Microsoft’s Dynamics 365 line of products may look different than your old ERP, but it will retain some familiarity for Office 365 and Azure users.

Final Thoughts

Online ERPs are designed for flexibility and expansion. A cloud-based ERP is less expensive to maintain over time, no matter where your company has its production plant, warehouse, or office. Small businesses considering ways to improve efficiency and encourage growth will want to examine the many top ERP solutions available.

Before you buy, though, make sure you have:

  • A plan with short-term, medium and long-range achievable goals
  • An upper-level management champion
  • A budget based on hard facts
  • A willingness to change
  • The strength and stubbornness to know that growth requires pain, the pain of change.

Taking the right approach will help your company prosper and grow.

About XcelPros

XcelPros is a Chicago-based company delivering transformation through technology. We offer business and technology solutions with deep industry experience in Chemical, Pharma, Life Sciences (including Medical Devices, Bio-Medical & Biotech), Insurance, Discrete Manufacturing, Process Manufacturing, Distribution and Food & Beverage.

XcelPros is a Microsoft Gold Partner, Direct Cloud Solutions Provider (CSP) and a Systems Integrator (SI) offering software licensing, implementation and consulting services for Microsoft Dynamics 365, CRM, Microsoft Dynamics AX, Business Intelligence & Analytics (Power BI), SharePoint, Office 365 and Azure (Cloud, IOT, Microsoft Flow amongst many others).

Our mission is to provide integrated technology solutions that amplify impact and empower our customer’s businesses. We believe technology is the key enabler of exponential growth for us and our customers.

Contact XcelPros today to transform your business.

Call us toll-free – 1.855.411.0585 (or) visit www.xcelpros.com

Protecting pharmaceutical data with Azure

Protecting pharmaceutical data with Azure 700 500 Xcelpros Team

At a Glance

  • $985 million: The median cost of getting a new drug into the market
  • $1.3 billion: The newer, lower average cost of getting a new drug to market
  • $2.8 billion: The previous average cost of getting a new drug to market
  • $200 billion: The estimated size of the counterfeit drug market
  • 13: the number of new drugs not brought to market each year because of revenue losses from counterfeit drugs

Sources: Wikipedia and Statista.com

Introduction

On average, the cost of bringing a new medicine from idea to market – aka the drug development process – has dropped significantly, from $2.8 billion per drug to $1.3 billion each, according to an online encyclopedia. Counterfeits still have a measurable effect on the number of drugs being brought to market. Recent studies published on Wikipedia and Statista.com show that prescription drug makers continue to get hammered by counterfeit competition.

Statista’s 2022 study provided interesting data on different scenarios showing changes based on market size. The number of new medicines not brought to market ranged from six at $100 billion to 28 at $431 billion

So, what does all this mean? The short version is big pharma and even smaller companies have a considerable investment in intellectual property (IP) they must protect.

IP and Drug Manufacturers

“IP rights, if sufficiently limited, are typically justified as necessary to allow pharmaceutical manufacturers the ability to recoup substantial costs in research and development, including clinical trials and other tests necessary to obtain regulatory approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA),” the Congressional Research Service states (CRS).

Pharmaceutical companies are protected by two types of intellectual property (IP): patents, which give exclusive rights to the holder for 20 years, and regulatory exclusivities. According to CRS, these exclusivities range from six months to 12 years, depending on the specific type of drug or biologic.

These companies have a substantial financial investment in their research, development, and testing data. The only way to recover their vast assets is by making and selling products.

It can cost millions of dollars and over ten years of dedication to developing a single drug. With the money levels involved, thieves have a solid incentive to capture this research for themselves.

Protecting Your IP Investment

Take a look at another statistic: $590 million. That’s the amount the U.S. Treasury Department estimates was paid by victims of 450 ransomware attacks in the first half of 2021 alone.

Using that short time frame alone, the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) stated that “ransomware is an increasing threat to the U.S. financial sector, businesses, and the public.”

Ransomware is one of many cyber-attacks that share a common goal: stealing money. This attack works by infiltrating a company’s computer network and taking control of it. Companies face a difficult decision: pay the ransom, have their data destroyed, or worse, share it worldwide.

Distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks is another standard weapon in a hacker’s arsenal. “In computing, a denial-of-service attack is a cyber-attack in which the perpetrator seeks to make a machine or network resource unavailable to its intended users by temporarily or indefinitely disrupting services of a host connected to a network,” a Wikipedia article states.

Many of these attacks start with simple phishing schemes. If they get one employee out of thousands to open an infected email, they have a doorway into your data. Microsoft does everything it can to block these attacks and protect its investment and yours.

As with ransomware and other attacks through stealth or brute force, the goal of DDoS attacks is money. The thinking is, “Hit a company badly often enough, and it will pay you to leave them alone.

Figure 1:Key Strategies to avoid cyber security attacks

Book a free consultation to discover more about Azure protection in the pharma industry.

Get Started

Protection in the Cloud

Every company has another option, though: investing in its security.

One method of stealing data involves capturing it as it moves from place to place. Microsoft has invested millions of dollars to continuously protect its customers’ data through its Azure cloud computing platform. The company stated in a recent blog post that they detect 1.5 million attempts per day to compromise its systems, spending about $1 billion a year on computer infrastructure security.

With the ongoing need to invest in protecting their on-premise equipment from attacks, more firms are migrating to the cloud, with platforms like Azure gaining importance with each thwarted attack. Moving data from on-premise network servers to widely spread cloud data centers means attackers have to hit moving targets if they want to control a company’s data.

“The cloud has some built-in advantages. Unlike the internet, it was built from the ground up with modern security and privacy in mind. It’s also a controlled ecosystem protected by people who spend all day thinking about data security and privacy,” according to a recent Microsoft online store.

Traditionally, internet and computer security safeguards were bolted onto a tool rather than built into it. “With cloud infrastructure, security considerations are part of the development process,” Microsoft states. “The cloud is an opportunity to do security better,” security analyst Doug Cahill added.

Azure’s status as a cloud platform means that all of the money, and the 3,500 security engineers Microsoft devotes to making it secure, also benefit the software running on top of it. For example, Microsoft Dynamics 365’s Supply Chain Management, which helps companies track raw materials and finished products from the warehouse to the customer, runs on top of Azure.

Companies using this software get the bonus of automatic protection for their cloud data. While these updates can’t directly help prevent thieves from making a physical attack on their buildings, it can make it harder for them to steal data on the move.

“If we detect a set of attacks on one tenant or a handful of tenants, we can synthesize that and start using the things we learn to protect all the other tenants out there,” Bharat Shah, Microsoft’s vice-president of Security for Azure platform, said. “That’s the cloud effect. We learn. We react. We turn something on, and we protect everybody else.”

Azure benefits from Microsoft’s investment in machine learning – a branch of artificial intelligence – to track attempted attacks. Microsoft takes what it learns and uses it to benefit not just Azure but all the companies who’s multi-million-dollar intellectual property investment rides on top of it.

The Bottom Line

Citing the NETSCOUT Threat Intelligence report, Forbes.com estimated 26,000 cyber-attacks per day, or 18 per minute, in 2020 alone. The report indicated that security threats against industrial control systems and operational technology tripled in 2020, while DDoS attacks will grow to 15.4 million by 2023.

These numbers should make any executive who doesn’t have a significant cyber security team on their staff nervous. Thankfully, companies who use Microsoft Azure’s cloud computing platform have the security of more than 3,500 security engineers devoted to protecting it and the data running through it.

With the livelihood of pharmaceutical companies depending on keeping their data safe, secure, and private, you don’t risk your company’s data with poor security. Investing in Azure services today can make a huge difference in your bottom line.

About XcelPros

XcelPros is a Chicago-based company and delivers transformation through technology. We offer business and technology solutions with deep industry experience in Chemical, Pharma, Life Sciences (including Medical Devices, Bio-Medical & Biotech), Insurance, Discrete Manufacturing, Process Manufacturing, Distribution and Food & Beverage.

XcelPros is a Microsoft Gold Partner, Direct Cloud Solutions Provider (CSP) and a Systems Integrator (SI) offering software licensing, implementation and consulting services for Microsoft Dynamics 365, CRM, Microsoft Dynamics AX, Business Intelligence & Analytics (Power BI), SharePoint, Office 365 and Azure (Cloud, IOT, Microsoft Flow amongst many others).

Our mission is to provide integrated technology solutions that amplify impact and empower our customer’s businesses. We believe technology is the key enabler of exponential growth for us and our customers.

Contact XcelPros today to transform your business.

Call us toll-free – 1.855.411.0585 (or) visit www.xcelpros.com

How Azure secures your data against cyber attacks

How Azure secures your data against cyber attacks

How Azure secures your data against cyber attacks 700 500 Xcelpros Team

Introduction

Members of your U.S. sales team schedule an online meeting with their European counterparts, the video and audio conferencing is run through Microsoft Teams. All of your employees, from the chairman of the board to the people in the mailroom, have an email account they access through Microsoft Outlook. Your accounting department ensures everything it does is backed up on the cloud using Microsoft OneDrive. Nearly everyone in the office uses Microsoft Office 365 for everything from writing memos to generating invoices and keeping track of inventory.

What do all of these actions involving distributed computing have in common? Teams, Outlook and OneDrive and the corporate versions of Office are just a few of Microsoft’s many office programs that run on top of Microsoft Azure.

“Azure is the cloud platform that underpins all of Microsoft’s cloud services, including Microsoft Teams. Our workloads run in Azure virtual machines (VMs), with our older services being deployed through Azure Cloud Services and our newer ones on Azure Service Fabric,” ZDNet quoted Microsoft as reporting on its own blog in early 2021.

Whether you know it or not, the odds are your small to medium-sized business is using Azure, even if you have no idea what it does.

What is Microsoft Azure?

“The Azure cloud platform is more than 200 products and cloud services designed to help you bring new solutions to life—to solve today’s challenges and create the future. Build, run and manage applications across multiple clouds, on-premises and at the edge with the tools and frameworks of your choice,” according to Microsoft.

Azure is the foundational program Microsoft uses for all of its cloud computing offerings. To put Azure in perspective, consider a table. It has four legs and a top. You could not put anything on the table without the four legs, which are the core hardware components of computer processor, memory, motherboard and power supply. Just having four legs alone would be worthless without a top, which in this case is Azure’s function: it serves as the underpinning of your other programs. The tools you use, like Microsoft Dynamics 365, Teams and Microsoft Office don’t run in a vacuum: they’re all supported by Azure.

Azure provides three primary services:

  • Software as a service (SaaS), which is subscription based
  • Platform as a Service (PaaS), which lets customers run, develop and manage applications
  • Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), which are online services

Considered a hybrid cloud product, “Azure is the only consistent hybrid cloud, delivers unparalleled developer productivity, provides comprehensive, multi-layer security, including the largest compliance coverage of any cloud provider,” while also being less expensive than Amazon Web Services, Microsoft states. AWS is Azure’s main cloud computing competitor.

One report showed 234,731 companies using Azure from 2015 to July 11, 2018. It was ranked third out of 81 competing cloud platform and service products used by nearly 2 million companies. Two offerings from Amazon lead the list. Products from Google and Rackspace complete the top five.

What Is Azure’s Best Feature?

The reason why 95 percent of Fortune 500 companies rely on Microsoft Azure is security.

“Everything sent within the Azure environment is automatically encrypted. The Azure network has automatic detection to prevent distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, similar to some of the largest services on the Internet, such as Xbox and Microsoft’s Office 365,” Cloud Business states.

Figure: 1Organizations compromised by cyber attacks

Organizations compromised by cyber attacks

In fact, according to Cloud Business; Microsoft invests $1 billion every year into security, which includes protecting Azure. In terms of security features that Azure uses to protect Microsoft’s many clients, including:

  • Automatic encryption, hiding everything that goes through it from prying eyes.
  • Automatic smart traffic monitoring and profiling that detect and deflect threats that look out of the ordinary. This approach helps reduce risks caused security threats that broke through external systems.
  • Smart access control, which routes management (i.e., administrator) accounts over separate networks from most employees. Azure lets managers control and restrict down to the individual document level, further protecting your secrets.
  • Regular hardware and firmware code revisions, which helps protect against threats before software is loaded and active.
  • Providing access to Azure through an encrypted virtual private network (VPN) regardless of where a customer is located. People in Milwaukee and Mumbai access Azure through a VPN.
  • Special computing environments known as Trusted Execution Environments or TEEs, which ensure that no matter where encrypted is—stored, in transit or inactive—is safe.

Microsoft also has 3,500+ cyber security experts on staff. Of that, 200 focus on finding weaknesses in Azure. The resulting information then becomes part of Azure’s operational security procedures.

Book your free Azure demo and secure your data from cyber assaults.

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Is Azure’s Infrastructure Secure?

If Microsoft trusts Azure’s security, your company should, also. In a series of four blog posts by Azure Security’s Director of Program Management, Avi Ben-Menahem, he provides three reasons why Azure’s infrastructure can securely keep their customer’s data safe.

  1. 1.A secure network infrastructure. “Management (Microsoft-managed) networks and customer networks are isolated in Azure to improve performance and ensure the traffic moving through the platform is secure,” Ben-Menahem wrote. The system is designed to help keep unauthorized people off a customer’s network. Microsoft manages an essential part of network cabling, the equipment to support and secure the network, and the integration of systems used to monitor the network.
  2. 2.Integrated security controls in Azure’s hardware and firmware. This ensures Azure is secure by default throughout its lifetime. Hardware security is enhanced by Project Cerberus, which is a chip containing a CPU, memory and programmable input/out that protects against unauthorized access and malicious updates.
  3. 3.Regular competition between Red an Blue teams of cybersecurity experts. Red team members try to compromise Azure’s infrastructure while the Blue team attempts to stop it. “At the end of each red and blue team exercise, the overall team codifies what they’ve learned into the Azure operational security process, so the team becomes more effective at continuous detection and response,” Ben-Menahem explained.

“Microsoft’s scale of investments across infrastructure, hardware and experts are unparalleled. Microsoft provides a secure infrastructure for our datacenters, composed of segregated networks, well-maintained hardware and firmware, and industry-leading operational security processes so that you can have more resources available to deliver business value,” he concluded.

Data is seamlessly altered into a stream of meaningless numbers when encrypted and then decoded into everything from words and numbers to videos, all without human interaction.

Final Thoughts

Today, businesses of any size need to give serious thought to adopting Azure as their cloud computing platform of choice if they haven’t already.

Azure’s focus on security means you don’t have to worry that some external group is going to use a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack to damage or steal your intellectual property.

Constant, ongoing efforts by over 3,000 cyber security professionals as well as Microsoft’s ongoing effort to improve their products means your data is safe, not just today, but well into the future.

About XcelPros

XcelPros is a Chicago-based company delivering transformation through technology. We offer business and technology solutions with deep industry experience in Chemical, Pharma, Life Sciences (including Medical Devices, Bio-Medical & Biotech), Insurance, Discrete Manufacturing, Process Manufacturing, Distribution and Food & Beverage.

XcelPros is a Microsoft Gold Partner, Direct Cloud Solutions Provider (CSP) and a Systems Integrator (SI) offering software licensing, implementation and consulting services for Microsoft Dynamics 365, CRM, Microsoft Dynamics AX, Business Intelligence & Analytics (Power BI), SharePoint, Office 365 and Azure (Cloud, IOT, Microsoft Flow amongst many others).

Our mission is to provide integrated technology solutions that amplify impact and empower our customer’s businesses. We believe technology is the key enabler of exponential growth for us and our customers.

Contact XcelPros today to transform your business.

Call us toll-free – 1.855.411.0585 (or) visit www.xcelpros.com

How Azure helps SMBs grow

How Azure helps SMBs grow their businesses

How Azure helps SMBs grow their businesses 700 500 Xcelpros Team

Azure is

Small and medium businesses and enterprises (SMBs/ SMEs) looking to move into a secure and versatile cloud computing environment need to take a closer look at Microsoft’s Azure platform. About to enter its 12th year, Azure has provided a wealth of open-source programs, renowned security, cloud computing services, and scalability to help small and medium businesses grow.

Microsoft’s Azure is:

  • Hybrid cloud computing, letting companies create virtual machines on Linux or Windows platforms.
  • Application development including E-commerce and mobile products.
  • AI (artificial intelligence) aimed at helping mine knowledge from your existing data.
  • Cloud migration and modernization, moving information from an on-premise server farm to a distributed cloud.
  • Data and analytics, including blockchain.
  • The Internet of Things, allowing manufacturers to attach sensors to machine components and be alerted before critical failures strike.
  • Security, including disaster recovery.
  • Industry solutions covering financial services, government, healthcare, manufacturing, retail, energy, media, entertainment and space.

Azure features are helpful in all of these situations and more. Companies can create custom applications for their unique needs using open-source programs and run them through Azure. Additionally, Azure can seamlessly share data with other Microsoft products like Dynamics 365, Microsoft’s flagship enterprise resource planning (ERP) suite.

Azure and IoT: A Perfect Match for Manufacturing

IoT in manufacturing refers to a set of intelligent machines and equipment communicating in a network. Hundreds of connected sensors can monitor wear on equipment, relate temperature and pressure settings, and monitor flow rates.

Each of these sensors feed information into a computer network. The data then needs to pass from its source where it can be analyzed and turned into actionable intelligence.

This is a huge benefit if your company has a manufacturing plant in another country. Every team is aware of what the other is doing, and if there are any issues in the manufacturing process.

Connecting other Microsoft programs, like Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management on top of Azure ensures your small to medium enterprise (SME) has accurate control of its inventory. With the global supply chain issues ongoing, knowing what’s where and how to get your products to your customers has become critical.

Azure is Open Source

Azure’s being open source means your developers can create programs that help your business and other companies. As a bonus incentive, as of Sept. 28, 2021, your company can earn Azure credits for open-source projects for one year.

Among the programs already taking advantage of Microsoft’s incentive are:

Figure: 1 Advantages of Microsoft’s incentives

Advantages of Microsoft's incentives

  • FreeBSD, a Unix operating system for servers, desktops and embedded platforms. The credits help developers work on custom kernels.
  • Alma Linux is an enterprise distribution system.
  • Snakemate, a workflow management system for creating scalable data analyses. The workflows can be scaled to server, cluster grid and cloud environments.
  • Promitor discovers Azure Metrics for easy use anywhere.

Often, taking advantage of open source technologies like these helps SMBs getting just started with Azure identify a number of new opportunities for growth. Quoting a 2020 McKinsey and Co. report, Microsoft states, “organizations that adopt open source technologies score 30 percent higher on innovation and 20 percent higher on developer satisfaction.”

One of the oldest open source programs around is Linux. Linux virtual machine(VM) images make up 60 percent of Azure Marketplace VM images. Pairing Linux with Microsoft’s Azure lets developers and businesses:

  • Spend less time on administrative tasks
  • Streamline the creation of fully governed environment using Azure blueprints
  • Protect your intellectual property (IP) and digital assets with the Azure IP Advantage program.

Among the seven products listed on the Azure Linux home’s website is one that lets you provision Windows and Linux virtual machines in seconds, one letting you migrate your current on-premise virtual machines to Azure, and another letting you gain deeper insights into your data.

Azure is IoT

Azure is designed for the Internet of Things (IoT). Azure IoT Central is a secure, industry-focused, enterprise-grade, and scalable app platform. As your business grows, your investment can scale with it.

Since IoT is able to create stacks of big data in real-time, Azure has been designed to provide quick connectivity between IoT devices and the cloud. This lets you track what’s happening and modify commands when unexpected situations occur, like an unexpected breakdown on the production line.

Azure’s IoT-based design provides a bridge between business applications, such as the Dynamics 365 ERP suite and your IoT data. Complex custom intermediate software is not required to interpret what your IoT sensors are telling so it can communicate with your ERP. Azure handles it for you.

The IoT Plug and Play app helps simplify device interactions, enabling easy device-to-cloud integration. This cuts development time, cost and complexity. It lets you build devices that integrate easily with Azure IoT cloud solutions without writing embedded code.

Azure is About Making Data Useful

One of the programs built for the Azure cloud services program is Azure Databricks. Azure Databricks offers three environments for generating data intensive applications:

  1. 1.Databricks SQL for analysts wanting to run SQL (structured query language) queries, letting them explore your data from different perspectives.
  2. 2.Databricks Data Science & Engineering provides collaboration between data engineers, data scientists, and machine learning engineers. Ideal for big data pipelines, Azure Databricks, can turn information from multiple sources into insights your SMB can turn into profits.
  3. 3.Databricks Machine Learning is an end-to-end machine learning environment for experiment tracking, model training, feature development and management plus feature and model serving.

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Azure is Innovation

Being open source, Azure has access to a host of shared programs.

CsharpCorner lists nine ways to run an application in Azure. They include virtual machines, Azure Kubernetes service, Azure Container Instances service, Azure Batch, Azure App Services Web Apps or Mobile Apps, Azure Function Apps and Logic Apps.

With more than 180,000 open source projects and more than 1,400 unique licenses, the odds of finding pre-built, easily customizable open source software are in your favor.

For example, the Azure Marketplace is promoting featured apps that support innovation and software needs in several industries:

  • Digital Factory: Digitize manufacturing processes such as performance tracking, production scheduling and log-keeping quickly and cost-effectively
  • Exact Globe: Designed for financial services, it integrates financial and operational processes creating best-in-class financial administration
  • Personalization Platform: Made for online retailers, it lets your customers have a personalized, relevant and intuitive experience

The Bottom Line

Azure provides security and flexibility with unparalleled potential growth in terms of computing. This in turn will help your company grow, especially if it wants to digitize production. Designed with the IoT in mind, Azure has features that let it seamlessly move information from machine sensors to ERPs. Any SMB considering moving beyond on-premises computing to the cloud should take a long, hard look at Microsoft Azure, and the growing number of open-source solutions. What’s your next move?

About XcelPros

XcelPros is a Chicago-based company delivering transformation through technology. We offer business and technology solutions with deep industry experience in Chemical, Pharma, Life Sciences (including Medical Devices, Bio-Medical & Biotech), Insurance, Discrete Manufacturing, Process Manufacturing, Distribution and Food & Beverage.

XcelPros is a Microsoft Gold Partner, Direct Cloud Solutions Provider (CSP) and a Systems Integrator (SI) offering software licensing, implementation and consulting services for Microsoft Dynamics 365, CRM, Microsoft Dynamics AX, Business Intelligence & Analytics (Power BI), SharePoint, Office 365 and Azure (Cloud, IOT, Microsoft Flow amongst many others).

Our mission is to provide integrated technology solutions that amplify impact and empower our customer’s businesses. We believe technology is the key enabler of exponential growth for us and our customers.

Contact XcelPros today to transform your business.

Call us toll-free – 1.855.411.0585 (or) visit www.xcelpros.com

How a Cloud-Based ERP Helps Chemical Manufacturers

How a cloud-based ERP helps in Chemical Manufacturing?

How a cloud-based ERP helps in Chemical Manufacturing? 700 500 Xcelpros Team

Introduction to Modern Manufacturing

We’re seeing a radical change in production methods overtaking the chemical industry. Technology is gaining more attention in almost every sector, including manufacturing and distribution. The introduction of this new technology is forcing business leaders to upgrade their stack and replace outdated processes to meet the changing demands of the market. Today’s market requires a rapid transformation of the chemical manufacturing value chain to improve customer service, efficiency, productivity, quality, precision and pricing.

Complexity serves no purpose for business, yet it’s been part of the chemical industry for decades. Many companies still suffer from siloed department structures, disparate systems, inefficient data management and a lack of streamlined processes. Each of these complexities creates roadblocks that can affect a business’s bottom line. Most companies don’t realize how their complex independent system affects them until the lack of integration between the floor and functional areas becomes an issue. The lack of system integrations can lead to lost orders, or lower quality products because of suboptimal production runs or poor capacity planning.

Many of these companies suffer these effects for one reason: lack of an agile enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution. Chemical manufacturing companies must take action by redefining their business models and re-evaluating their IT roadmaps. The most successful chemical companies invest in transformation projects such as integrating a cloud-based ERP solution with operations to streamline processes, drive collaboration and efficiency and offer informed decision-making.

Figure 1Agile ERP Solutions in Various Phases of Chemical Manufacturing

Agile ERP Solutions in Various Phases of Chemical Manufacturing

Unforeseen Circumstances: COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic is still having an effect on every industry. Production and shipping departments are still facing challenges nearly two years after Covid-19 first appeared. Hundreds of companies have been forced to scale down their manufacturing operations by as much as 40%-60% in part because shipping containers are not where they’re needed. A lack of adequate containers, coupled with the loss of port workers and truck drivers means fewer raw materials are arriving at production plants. By February 2021, the global production of chemicals fell by 2.4%.

The inability to make products is still severely impacting the revenue of chemical companies. Rising transportation costs and a lack of raw materials mean priority has shifted to essential functions. This financial pressure is forcing companies to downsize their workforce while continuing operations. The result is added pressure on leadership to implement a rapid technology transformation.

An Agile Manufacturing ERP

Unlike other sectors, chemical industry businesses can’t simply stop production and send workers home, though some are pivoting operations to meet the demand of the market.

The chemical industry is facing a unique set of challenges including:

  • Fluctuating raw materials prices and their impact on margins
  • The need for constant product innovation
  • Increasing risks in supply chain and manufacturing
  • Tightening regulations
  • Market uncertainty, budget and controlling costs
  • Difficulty in resource management

To overcome these complexities, companies need to possess a detailed overview of the market. Having accurate information lets them identify shifting customer dynamics and plan their production runs appropriately. Cloud-based ERP systems for manufacturing can help identify market needs, shape the manufacturing processes, and inform a chemical company’s financial business processes.

Maximum your ROI with our cloud based ERP system tailored for chemical manufacturing companies.

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6 Ways Implementing an ERP Improves Chemical Manufacturing Operations

01.Improved Visibility

An agile ERP unifies data across departments, increasing the visibility of information. Organizations can share information, eliminating unnecessary infrastructure costs while providing higher data security. In a chemical company, process automation add-ons to a cloud ERP can ease resource overload by optimizing workforce utilization on the shop floor. All departments across the company—including inventory management, purchasing, accounting, human resource management, production and finance—function together with a minimum breakdown and maximum operational clarity. Versatile cloud-based ERP systems for manufacturing help companies access real-time data on a uniform platform, boosting throughput and reducing downtime.

02.Enhanced Flexibility

As market conditions fluctuate, the manufacturing supply chain needs to be highly adaptable. Using the right ERP solutions provides this needed flexibility. For example, a chemical company can share important updates plus revised manufacturing plans and schedules using an ERP’s supply chain planning system to plan stock availability.

An effective agile ERP system for chemical manufacturing should follow a tiered approach that includes:

  • A Secure database
  • A Simple user interface with easy access to key functions
  • Easy integration with external tools

Along with basic business requirements, the chemical industry needs to accommodate health and safety regulations to protect workers and the environment. Cloud-based ERPs give these companies the flexibility to customize solutions to suit their needs without moving data or altering the entire piece of software.

03.Better Collaboration and Transparency

Having the right computer software designed for your industry leads to better collaboration across a company. Complex business procedures are simplified, making them understandable to more people. These procedures can then be modified to meet changing government regulations. All modern systems have enough access controls to enable a disciplined method of functionality. A process and rule-based system improve transparency, helping organizations operate more efficiently.

04.Better Supply Chain Efficiency

Companies investing in newer, more robust and flexible ERP systems find that managing their supply chain becomes easier. They have access to more accurate, real-time data letting them plan shipments based on accurate demand forecasts. Data insights collected from an ERP system designed for chemical manufacturing can reduce inventory costs, enhance supply chain efficiency and optimize production processes. These improvements help build a robust, efficient supply chain, with the added benefit of reduced raw materials spending, increasing profit and capital growth.

05.Improved Production

Chemical companies often pay a hefty price when the system they use lacks functionality. The typical end-to-end chemical production process contains many steps with data moving between multiple hands and devices. Every time your data moves from one silo to another, it increases the chance of errors. A poorly designed manufacturing execution system can drain resources and add unplanned costs to the company. An agile, cloud-based ERP system for chemical manufacturing eliminates many of these unplanned costs.

06.Enhanced Customer Service

With the right ERP and customer relationship management (CRM) solutions in place, companies can more easily meet customer-centric objectives, including understanding the customers’ needs, improving service levels and enhancing their experiences. An agile ERP that helps companies meet the needs of their customers makes a huge difference in customer retention.

Final Thoughts

Every day, chemical manufacturing companies face challenges. What matters the most is how these challenges are handled. Whether you produce specialty chemicals, bulk chemicals, private-label, co-pack or you’re a contract manufacturer, having the right cloud-based ERP systems for manufacturing helps to build operational efficiency. Having software helps you bring products to market faster and reduce your operational costs while adding flexibility and responsiveness to any future market changes.

About XcelPros

XcelPros is a Chicago-based company delivering transformation through technology. We offer business and technology solutions with deep industry experience in Chemical, Pharma, Life Sciences (including Medical Devices, Bio-Medical & Biotech), Insurance, Discrete Manufacturing, Process Manufacturing, Distribution and Food & Beverage.

XcelPros is a Microsoft Gold Partner, Direct Cloud Solutions Provider (CSP) and a Systems Integrator (SI) offering software licensing, implementation and consulting services for Microsoft Dynamics 365, CRM, Microsoft Dynamics AX, Business Intelligence & Analytics (Power BI), SharePoint, Office 365 and Azure (Cloud, IOT, Microsoft Flow amongst many others).

Our mission is to provide integrated technology solutions that amplify impact and empower our customer’s businesses. We believe technology is the key enabler of exponential growth for us and our customers.

Contact XcelPros today to transform your business.

Call us toll-free – 1.855.411.0585 (or) visit www.xcelpros.com

Revamping Your Cloud Data Strategy

Top Reasons To Revamp Your Cloud Data Strategy

Top Reasons To Revamp Your Cloud Data Strategy 700 500 Xcelpros Team

Introduction

More and more companies are moving to the cloud for easy data storage and to boost technology innovations. Modern businesses understand the strategic competitive advantage and availability of customized applications to suit their needs. Especially during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, many companies are considering letting go of their onsite infrastructure and hardware, opting instead to store their data on remote servers, a process known as cloud storage.

Cloud storage makes sense for business survival, pushing all enterprises to move faster. Going forward, more and more companies will need experts who understand what cloud computing is and how it can help their business. These same people monitor and implement an organization’s end-to-end cloud computing journey.

Now more than ever cloud migration is imperative to avoid glitches in infrastructure, as the market is trying to survive the pandemic.

Figure: 1Key reasons companies are switching their operations to cloud

Key reasons companies are switching their operations to cloud

In an Aug. 2, 2021 report, Gartner compared worldwide public cloud services end-user spending and 2022 forecasts, which suggest:

  • $171,915 million for Cloud Application Services (SaaS)
  • $121,620 million for Cloud System Infrastructure Services (IaaS)
  • $100,636 million for Cloud Application Infrastructure Service (PaaS)

Many companies are looking at how they can focus on their technological and process reengineering needs. Why consider revamping your cloud strategy and what steps should you take to successfully complete the reboot?

Figure: 2Factors that drive a cloud transformation

Factors that drive a cloud transformation

5 Reasons to Revamp Your Cloud Strategy

There are five main reasons to revamp your cloud strategy today:

  1. 1.Becoming more agile in terms of the ability to adjust to customer orders
  2. 2.Better position to adopt next-generation software
  3. 3.Monitoring the transition in terms of equipment and people
  4. 4.Improving data security
  5. 5.Building a skilled worker base

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Becoming more agile

Every organization has a specific roadmap layed out to fulfill the big picture of their IT landscape. Being agile lets your company quickly change the pace at which it adapts the transformative–and at times, disruptive—process of moving into a cloud-centric architecture. By restructuring your cloud strategy, IT departments can move from slowly delivering big, single-origin and rigid applications to rapidly deploying flexible, smaller applications. Some people call this process, “byte-sized transformations.”

Revamping your cloud transformation also affects your software development lifecycle. Making changes helps make the company and its staff more nimble. It can conduct continuous development (CD) and continuous integration (CI) using the DevOps model to boost your overall business.

Better position to adopt next-generation software

The future of cloud computing is all about speeding up the process of application development. Companies are adopting cutting-edge technological advancements like artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), data analytics and machine learning (ML). An organization’s strategists must determine if their IT roadmap can access and use these cloud-native solutions.

In today’s virtual world, everything is connected. A rapid innovative delivery model is needed to predict future customer demand after analyzing historical data. Your company IT team can achieve its goal with better accuracy by starting with cloud transformation and ending at the ultimate goal: full optimization.

Cloud technologies like Microsoft’s Azure, and Power Platform efficiently handle day to day business operations while also letting your company work toward its long term strategic vision.

Monitoring the transition

No matter what solutions your organization decides to employ, the changeover needs to be watched carefully. Implementing a cloud strategy affects the organization and its people. The entire update needs intricate monitoring of the transformation through:

  • An infrastructure supporting the organization’s cloud journey.
  • On-boarding experts who train workers while implementing the upgrades, boosting the staff’s digital skill levels.

One way to achieve your goals is a willingness to alter your implementation strategy so it aligns your roadmap with a comprehensive cloud transition plan.

Figure: 3Companies are expecting a holistic development in operations from hybrid cloud

Companies are expecting a holistic development in operations from hybrid cloud

“Through 2022, at least 95% of cloud security failures are predicted to be the customer’s fault.”Source: Gartner

Improving data security

The instant data moves online, companies start worrying about security and data privacy. Backing your cloud strategy with a robust infrastructure like Microsoft Azure ensures the security, authenticity and longevity of your organization’s data, processes and applications is not compromised. The Azure platform is continually evaluated and updated automatically to protect against potential security threats.

Building a skilled worker base

Moving away from in-house technology to the cloud can impact roles, responsibilities and accountability across a company’s organization. Having a strategic plan to make the move should also include making sure workers are able to take advantage of the new technology.

Especially when it comes to Customer Service, the relationship between companies and their customers is more than just “order to shipments.” Solutions like Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance use artificial intelligence and predictive analytics to more accurately forecast customer behaviors and needs.

Steps to Revamp Your Cloud Strategy

While every organization has its set of challenges and requirements when it comes to strategic rethinking of its cloud journey, some pointers to remember are:

  • Build and update your employees’ skills to ensure your organization’s cloud migration is successful. A comprehensive, organization-wide training plan is an integral part of any migration.
  • It’s ok to make the change one step at a time to make it easier to move from older programs to newer ones.
  • Take advantage of predictive data analytics to preempt the expected technical and operational glitches.
  • Define your cloud milestones before starting your migration. Stick to them. Your strategic roadmap to cloud reboot is going to be as unique as your requirements.
  • Create a blueprint of the cloud revamp and let it guide you at the pace of your employees’ ability to accept the changes.
  • Hire highly-skilled subject matter experts to make the end-to-end implementation of a new cloud strategy as smooth as possible.

Revamping your cloud strategy may sound unnecessary but following these suggestions will benefit your organization. Taking in a broader, “30,000-foot view” of the core of your cloud journey makes it easier to create your transformative blueprint.

Figure: 4 Strategies to successfully complete the cloud transition

Strategies to successfully complete the cloud transition

Key takeaways

  • Cloud infrastructure is a comprehensive and disruptive technology that helps businesses operate more efficiently.
  • Rethinking your cloud architecture helps you achieve your cloud computing goals.
  • Ensure your transition is compatible with cloud-native solutions such as IoT, AI and machine learning.
  • Moving to the cloud works better when your staff knows how to get the most out of it.
  • For added security, many organizations take advantage of products like Microsoft Azure.

About XcelPros

XcelPros is a Chicago-based company delivering transformation through technology. We offer business and technology solutions with deep industry experience in Chemical, Pharma, Life Sciences (including Medical Devices, Bio-Medical & Biotech), Insurance, Discrete Manufacturing, Process Manufacturing, Distribution and Food & Beverage.

XcelPros is a Microsoft Gold Partner, Direct Cloud Solutions Provider (CSP) and a Systems Integrator (SI) offering software licensing, implementation and consulting services for Microsoft Dynamics 365, CRM, Microsoft Dynamics AX, Business Intelligence & Analytics (Power BI), SharePoint, Office 365 and Azure (Cloud, IOT, Microsoft Flow amongst many others).

Our mission is to provide integrated technology solutions that amplify impact and empower our customer’s businesses. We believe technology is the key enabler of exponential growth for us and our customers.

Contact XcelPros today to transform your business.

Call us toll-free – 1.855.411.0585 (or) visit www.xcelpros.com

DISCLAIMER:

All statements and/or opinions expressed in this article were based on experience and / or third party materials available to the authors which formed the basis of such statements/opinions. XcelPros does not warrant the accuracy, completeness, or reliability of such underlying information (or the Company’s interpretation thereof) which has formed the basis of the Company’s and/or author’s opinion. We strongly recommend that you consult an expert from XcelPros before you take action as a result of this collateral.

Three actions CEOs can take to get value from cloud computing

Three Actions CEOs Can Take To Get Value From Cloud Computing

Three Actions CEOs Can Take To Get Value From Cloud Computing 700 500 Xcelpros Team

Three Actions CEOs Can Take To Get Value From Cloud Computing

The last decade has seen accelerated growth and transformation in various industries as they embrace digital trends. There’s a pressing need for companies to streamline their processes and optimize their operations in an effort to go agile. Simply implementing cloud is not going to generate value for a business. Higher-level executives (especially the CEO) need to take lead in the journey towards digital transformation. For more information see the full article here.

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Migrating to the cloud through lift and shift

Migrating to the cloud through lift and shift

Migrating to the cloud through lift and shift 700 500 Xcelpros Team

Introduction

Most businesses had never heard of cloud computing before Google CEO Eric Schmidt introduced the term on Aug. 9, 2006 even though it originated in the 1960s. During an industry conference, Schmidt was talking about the potential of network-based computing. “It starts with the premise that the data services and architecture should be on servers. We call it cloud computing,” Schmidt said.

Now, more than 15 years after the term “cloud computing” was born, the numbers show its effectiveness. A report from Hostingtribunal states:

  • 94% of enterprises (i.e., companies with more than 1,000 employees) are already using a cloud service
  • 66% of enterprises already have a central cloud team or cloud center of excellence
  • 50% of enterprises spend more than $1.2 million each year on cloud services
  • 30% of all IT budgets went to cloud computing in 2018
  • By 2025, data stored in cloud centers is expected to top 100 zettabytes (i.e., 100 trillion gigabytes)

A majority of these end-users prefer to “lift and shift” their applications into dispersed cloud server banks. Lift and shift gained prominence in the early days of cloud computing when organizations used this approach to shadow on-premise applications into the cloud.

Lift and shift is a common and simple first step toward embracing the power of cloud.

In simple terms, lift and shift means moving an application without changing the workload framework or software architecture from the existing hardware and operating system when it moves to the cloud. It is essentially rehosting your software on someone else’s distributed computing network. This approach helps companies save time, money and resources required to redesign the applications.

In this article we will touch upon the merits of the lift and shift approach and in the process find out whether moving to the cloud is worth it?

Advantages of Using Lift and Shift

The lift and shift approach is designed to help companies wanting to explore cloud computing without replacing their current software. This method is cost effective, rapid and has higher acceptance from its users because the functionality of the application remains the same.

Advantages of the lift and shift approach include:

  • Application familiarity – Moving an existing application to the cloud means the functioning and usability of the application to end users does not change.
  • Low migration costs – The program is not modified, eliminating the need and cost of rearchitecting the application.
  • Faster deployment – Since there is no need to rebuild the application, speed of delivery is higher compared to building an app from scratch.

For example, consider a Plant Manager in charge of Production Scheduling. This person has a lot to do. They need to maximize their productivity. When the company is expanding and needs to scale up its software, some form of cloud computing—public, hybrid, private or multi-cloud—is the more efficient method than doing it on-site. Replacing an existing program with a newer, unfamiliar one is likely to be met with resistance from staff unwilling to learn new methods of performing the same tasks.

Lifting a familiar program from in-house computers and shifting it to remote servers reduces the fear of change while balancing the need for agility and scalability. According to a 2018 study by IDC, 66% of the end users preferred to lift and shift their production scheduling application to the cloud for higher efficiency compared to 33% who favored keeping it on-premise.

Figure: 1Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) perceive lift and shift.

Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) perceive lift and shift.

How do Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) perceive lift and shift?

When IDC conducted its 2018 survey, 45% of independent service vendor customers preferred the lift and shift cloud migration method for moving business applications. Combined with cloud computing, 69% of end customers understand the positive implications of using cloud-based software. These include agility, scalability, cost effectiveness, efficiency and others.

Is Cloud Computing Worth the Cost?

The most important reason to move company software to the cloud, even at an initial infrastructure as a service (IaaS) level, is cost reduction. Companies save money by lowering hardware maintenance for servers, adding computing power and virtual machines plus the expense of managing the infrastructure on-site.

Using managed services can significantly lower a company’s operating costs, directly impacting its bottom line.

In terms of actual savings, the combined benefit of minimal hardware support, higher efficiency, better manageability of resources could result in a 20 – 30 % average savings on virtual machine (VM) resource configuration alone.

Upgrading an existing application on the cloud provides an integrated platform. Other resources—such as Microsoft’s ecosystem—can be leveraged, adding agility and improving speed by up to 33%. Savings can be much higher.

For example, a multinational insurer was able to save 80% on the cost of a specific development testing environment in an application suite by lifting and shifting it to the cloud. Achieving similar results demands meticulous planning and the ability to gauge savings beyond dollar value. The wider definition of savings must also include intangibles such as the value of time and money from the faster rollout of products enabled by new cloud-enabled capabilities.

Why Microsoft Azure is best suited to lift and shift your applications

There are many cloud computing platforms to choose from. Organizations looking to adopt a cloud model need to ensure everything works correctly after the move. This means interdependencies that exists between applications, data in the system and the workload continue to function even though they are now remote.

Microsoft has a transparent lift and shift process that give you a heads-up on the cost estimates before a company makes the decision to migrate. Microsoft offers a cost calculator that assesses all dependencies and variables involved in the lift and shift process. It helps better assess the migration from a complexity and cost perspective. After analyzing your requirements and determining the effort involved in the lift and shift process, the calculator determines the cost and sequence required in migrating to Azure.

Microsoft’s Azure Migrate can help plan your cloud migration with ease, ensuring you are on top of every move. The service details the mechanisms involved in the process. It provides guidance and insights to smooth your cloud journey.

Benefits of using Azure Migrate include:

  • Discovery and assessing on-premises virtual machines
  • Inbuilt dependency mapping for high-confidence discovery of multi-tier applications
  • Intelligent right sizing to Azure virtual machines
  • Compatibility reporting with guidelines for remediating potential issues
  • Integration with Azure Database Management Service for database discovery and migration

With Azure Migrate, you can be assured that your workload and application will smoothly be lifted and shifted to the cloud without any adverse impact on the business. With the right guidance and tools from Microsoft, the ROI can be maximized, while your application performs seamlessly with the highest security and reliability.

Summary

Companies unwilling to make wholesale changes to their computer software environment can still take advantage of many cloud computing benefits: they can move their existing programs to the cloud using the lift and shift method. Working with Azure Migrate allows the software and data to move with minimal impact on daily operations.

Book a free assessment to know more about Azure lift and shift cloud migration abilities.

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About XcelPros

XcelPros is a Chicago-based company delivering transformation through technology. We offer business and technology solutions with deep industry experience in Chemical, Pharma, Life Sciences (including Medical Devices, Bio-Medical & Biotech), Insurance, Discrete Manufacturing, Process Manufacturing, Distribution and Food & Beverage.

XcelPros is a Microsoft Gold Partner, Direct Cloud Solutions Provider (CSP) and a Systems Integrator (SI) offering software licensing, implementation and consulting services for Microsoft Dynamics 365, CRM, Microsoft Dynamics AX, Business Intelligence & Analytics (Power BI), SharePoint, Office 365 and Azure (Cloud, IOT, Microsoft Flow amongst many others).

Our mission is to provide integrated technology solutions that amplify impact and empower our customer’s businesses. We believe technology is the key enabler of exponential growth for us and our customers.

Contact XcelPros today to transform your business.

Call us toll-free – 1.855.411.0585 (or) visit www.xcelpros.com

Dynamics 365 Business Central vs Finance and Operations

Dynamics 365 Business Central vs Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations: Comparison

Dynamics 365 Business Central vs Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations: Comparison 700 500 Xcelpros Team

At a Glance

  • Microsoft Dynamics has a range of products that are designed from the ground up for different functionalities.
  • As an enterprise, picking the right product (for eg. Data migration from NAV to Business Central and choosing between Business Central vs Finance and Operations) requires intricate knowledge about the in’s and out’s of these platforms.
  • The Microsoft Dynamics family of products offers a wide array of business applications that can provide you with the maximum efficiency and ROI for your enterprise.

Microsoft Dynamics is known for upgrading or in some cases even overhauling its range of products to:

  • Make them compatible with the changing technologies (rewriting on-premise enterprise products for the cloud)
  • Enhance business applications
  • Streamline operations management, resource planning, and/ or financial management functionalities

As an existing Microsoft Dynamics suite customer or an enterprise looking to invest in a modern product, it can be an overwhelming decision to understand the differences between Microsoft’s vast range of products. Whether it’s understanding the minute differences between Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central and Finance and Operations, or determining the additional features that these products offer, making an informed decision is critical.

This article discusses the major differences between Dynamics 365 Business Central and Finance and Operations.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central vs Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations: Picking the Right Enterprise Resource Planning System

First, it’s essential to understand that Dynamics 365 encompasses both Business Central and Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations. Business Central is essentially a cloud-based ERP solution on its way to replace the older Microsoft Dynamics NAV product. The dual functionality of Business Central (on-premise and on the cloud) is what makes it more efficient for operations management and resource planning. The cloud functionality of business central can be leveraged to access data 24*7 anywhere you go. This can be especially useful in recent times where remote work has jumped in scale.

Here’s an In-depth Comparison Chart to Understand the Difference Between Dynamics Business Central and Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations

Dynamics 365 Business Central Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations
User-base Previous Dynamics NAV Users Financial Compliance Teams, Vendor Management, Inter Company Stock Transfers etc
Analytics Maturity Dashboards, Reporting, Ad-hoc Analytics Advanced and More Intricate Analytics, Richer Reporting Options, Machine Learning-enabled Features, Advanced Business Intelligence Tools
Options for Customizations Developers can access open codebase for customizations Multiple plug-in options, Many Modules Available on AppSource
Implementation Cost Generally, 30% of Cost of Implementation of Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations All infrastructure costs are included
Licensing Subscription-based Model Monthly Subscription-based Model

Dynamics Business Central vs Dynamics for Finance and Operations are often compared for their scale. While Business Central is usually targeted towards smaller-scale operations (companies that want to move on from basic accounting models to intricate business analytics functionality), Microsoft Dynamics 365 offers two ERP products: Business Central and Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations.

It’s widely considered that In time, Business Central will take center stage, possibly phasing out Dynamics NAV completely. Here are some of the more compelling reasons for this hypothesis.

Dynamics Business Central Key Benefits and Distinguishing Features:

  • Easily accessible on-cloud and/or hybrid models available
  • Better safety with its cloud-based and web-based applications
  • With Business Central, companies can get maximum use and ROI from other applications such as SharePoint, MS Excel, Outlook, and MS Word
  • Business Central offers a variety of new functionalities
  • The flexible upgrade and licensing model allows companies to be digitally agile in the implementation of software
  • Data migration from Nav to Business Central is a fully-supported, streamlined process
  • Overall implementation of Business Central is much faster, thanks to customization options, add-ons development and combination option with other Office 365 products.

In conclusion, companies that are looking for nimble, cloud-based software options for their enterprise’s accounting requirement can opt for Dynamic Business Central. On the other hand, companies looking for intercompany stock dealings, transportation management, and financial compliance solutions should opt for Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations. Depending on the requirement of companies, their IT infrastructure maturity and growth strategies, an informed choice has to be made.

Key Takeaways:

  • Dynamics 365 is an umbrella encompassing Business Central and Finance and Operations ERP solutions.
  • Business Central offers intricate analytical functionalities with the option of going cloud-based or local (on-premises) or hybrid.
  • Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations has a more niche user-base.
  • Companies can get support from experts and consultants to make the right call and for faster, smoother implementations.

Trouble choosing between Dynamics 365 Business Central and F&O? Get help from experts today!

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About XcelPros

XcelPros is a Chicago-based company delivering transformation through technology. We offer business and technology solutions with deep industry experience in Chemical, Pharma, Life Sciences (including Medical Devices, Bio-Medical & Biotech), Insurance, Discrete Manufacturing, Process Manufacturing, Distribution and Food & Beverage.

XcelPros is a Microsoft Gold Partner, Direct Cloud Solutions Provider (CSP) and a Systems Integrator (SI) offering software licensing, implementation and consulting services for Microsoft Dynamics 365, CRM, Microsoft Dynamics AX, Business Intelligence & Analytics (Power BI), SharePoint, Office 365 and Azure (Cloud, IOT, Microsoft Flow amongst many others).

Our mission is to provide integrated technology solutions that amplify impact and empower our customer’s businesses. We believe technology is the key enabler of exponential growth for us and our customers.

Contact XcelPros today to transform your business.

Call us toll-free – 1.855.411.0585 (or) visit www.xcelpros.com