A Look Inside Steadfast Networks
May 21st, 2012
We want to give public recognition and praise to the City of Chicago on how it handled this past weekend's NATO Summit with the respect and atmosphere of free speech it fostered. Before the summit there was concern in the air about the incoming protesters and how our city would handle the marches, sit-ins and gatherings. The last thing anyone wanted was violations of civil liberties or accusations of improper force. Likewise, there was concern that the protesters would elevate their activities beyond trying to get a point across and resort to violence or lawbreaking. We are so happy to see that none of those concerns came to fruition as there were plenty of protests with a visible, but peaceful police presence. What few incidents that arose were quickly handled and without any major flare-ups to report.
We also want to thank our customers for their patience throughout this process. The NATO Summit required very stringent, very specific security in and around our 350 E Cermak data center and it certainly caused inconveniences and delays for us all. That said everything went as smoothly as expected and no complaints have arose as a result. Our customers' security is paramount, but so is access to their equipment and we believe there was a perfect combination without too much lost from either side.
Lastly we wish to thank our staff for their efforts this past week. Adjusting to heightened security protocols and adherence to guidelines made life for Steadfast easy and relatively uninterrupted. Shifts moved, some people had to work from home on occasion but we all got through the week unscathed and in good spirits. Our staff is the lifeblood of the company as we believe Steadfast's human component sets it far above other companies in the industry. Our flexibility and understanding through the past week drives home the fact that our staff is adaptable and resilient, exactly what we want and what our customers need.
At Steadfast we support freedom of speech and are happy to see that NATO was able to gather in our grand city and have opposing viewpoints be heard without incident. It was truly a proud moment for Chicago and its citizens.
May 18th, 2012
Steadfast is proud that the official Chicago NATO Summit 2012 site, ChicagoNATO.org, has made its home on our network.
Leaders from around the world are gathering in Chicago this weekend for the NATO Summit 2012. NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization is an alliance made up of 28 countries including the US, Canada, France, the UK, Germany and Spain. NATO has served as an international peacekeeping force whose mission is to defend and enforce member nations' sovereignty. Holding the 2012 summit in Chicago has proven to be a challenge, but a welcome one for our city. Stepping up security, bringing outside law enforcement in to bolster our own and constant communication with the public has shown to be vital in preparing people for the impact the NATO Summit will have. Street closures, enhanced security procedures and an increased visible police presence are only a few of the obvious changes to our everyday lives brought about by the summit.
Expected visitors include:
- Mr. Hamid Karzai, President of Afghanistan
- Mr. Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada
- Mr. Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council
- Mr. Yoshihiko Noda, Prime Minister of Japan
- Mr. David Cameron, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
- Mr. Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General of the United Nations
- Mr. Barack Obama, President of the United States of America
- And many, many more.
Steadfast operates one of its data centers out of 350 E Cermak which is mere blocks from the McCormick Place Convention Center, home of the 2012 NATO Summit. As a result we've had to adjust to the increased security and our customers have too. With so many foreign dignitaries and heads of state in town the need for securing the surrounding area is paramount and that's being felt by everyone in the area. Still, the NATO Summit is bringing a lot of publicity and press to Chicago which, in addition to our burgeoning local technology scene is now seen as a destination for increased international business.
May 16th, 2012
Business Intelligence that won’t Break the Bank
Many small and medium-sized businesses are failing to take full advantage of the data that is available to them. We are in the decade of Big Data, where sales and social interactions have moved from meatspace to cyberspace, inaugurating an era in which human activity is recorded and can be processed and analysed. If your company isn’t taking advantage of businesses intelligence software for marketing, sales, and social analytics, then they might as well be doing a dance and hoping it rains.
The purpose of business analytics software is to corral all that data and help users to make connections and spot trends that otherwise would be very difficult to see. To get the maximum ROI for marketing and sales budgets, it’s crucial to be able to target campaigns where they will do the most good, and that requires an empirical approach to planning. A couple of years ago Gartner predicted that 35 percent of the top 5000 global corporations would fail to make insightful decisions about changes in the markets they address because of a lack of business intelligence, and what goes for international megacorporations applies even more to SMEs who neglect the power that leveraging the data available to them can bring.
The big names in business analytics are well known: SAP, IBM Cognos, SAS; they are also very expensive, often well beyond the budgets of SMEs. There are, however, a number of open source, “freemium”, and free-to-use services available.
One of the foremost open-source business intelligence suites is the Business Intelligence and Reporting Tools (BIRT), an Eclipse-based collection of tools that can be integrated with Java and Java EE applications, among others, to provide a rich set of reports, data transformations, and business logic and presentation features. Integrating BIRT with an application hosted on Steadfast’s cloud or dedicated servers will help companies to extract the maximum value from their data.
The advantage of using open source platforms like BIRT is that users avoid vendor lock-in. They can go it alone with the Community edition, or pay for full support and additional modules from experts and developers, all without having to sink a huge investment in licensing fees.
For companies that have very large amounts of data to process, the infrastructure costs can be prohibitive. Infrastructure-as-a-Service products like Google BigQuery offer a way for companies to easily and quickly analyse large amounts of data without having to make significant capital investments. BigQuery is a RESTful web service that can carry out interactive analyses of huge datasets using an SQL dialect to make queries. BigQuery can handle billions of rows and many terabytes of records. As with most cloud services, users pay for only the processing and bandwidth they use.
Companies who would like to dip a toe in BI before committing to a larger scale project, should take a look at the newly launched Small Business Dashboard from Yahoo!, which offers a free tier with reputation management and web analytics. The services offered are limited when compared to comprehensive BI projects like BIRT, but it’s a great start for those looking to discover how business intelligence can improve the focus of their social media and email marketing efforts.
Do you find business intelligence software useful? Are you using it? If not, why not? Let us know in the comments below.
May 14th, 2012
In our continuing commitment to nurturing the local Chicago technology community we're happy to announce our sponsorship of the food and beverage for Built In Chicago's May 15th meetup at 1871! 1871 is a fantastic collaborative and shared workspace in the historic Merchandise Mart in downtown Chicago. They're graciously hosting Built In Chicago's monthly meetups and have partnered with Steadfast Networks to provide the food and libations! We've chosen Goose Island Catering for the job based on their excellent reputation and lineage as a Chicago startup success story. Their wares are excellent and their beer cold and delicious, it's going to be a fantastic night for all!
So for those lucky enough to have gotten tickets to the bash, we'll see you there. For those who missed out, there's always next month!
May 8th, 2012
Could Cloud Hosting Reduce U.S. Federal Spending by $12 Billion?
A new study shows that federal government CIOs and IT managers have cut IT costs by 7 percent because of their adoption of cloud technologies.
Meritalk, a community of government IT professionals, polled 108 civilian and Department of Defence CIOs, CTOs and IT Directors in April of 2012, asking them about their current cloud deployment. Based on next year’s IT budget of $78.9 billion, the results predict a saving of $5.5 billion. Total federal spending on the cloud is expected to be $8.7 billion or 11 percent of the total budget.
The most interesting figures are Meritalk’s extrapolation of what might have been saved had IT departments aggressively focused on cloud over the last three years. If government agencies had implemented programs of clouding steady- state applications and concentrating new infrastructure and development efforts on cloud technology, they could have made savings of $36.1 billion over the three years or $12 billion per year. To put that in perspective, $12 billion dollars is not far short of NASA’s budget, and is significantly more than the total cost of the Large Hadron Collider (which depends heavily on cloud computing).
DoD IT professionals believe that over the next 4 years IT budgets will decrease by $6 billion per year. If agencies delay making a move to the cloud, over the next few years there will be significant shortfalls, possibly necessitating program cuts and reduced levels of service.
Currently, many government agencies are planning on moving collaboration tools and email into the cloud as a priority, before beginning to transfer administrative and mission applications. Much of the historical reluctance about cloud computing among government IT professionals concerns doubts as to security and availability, but over recent years there has been a cultural shift, which, along with the necessity of dealing with stagnant budgets, has seen many agencies and departments shifting to a model which mirrors a lean startup philosophy for IT projects, including the use of cloud technologies to reduce infrastructure costs.
As the Department of Defence institutes its IT Enterprise Strategy and Roadmap and other departments strive to adopt the best practices of enterprise IT departments, we can expect to see rapid growth in the deployment of cloud technology throughout the government, driving significant cost savings for the American taxpayer.