Monday, October 28, 2013

How Bleak do Entrepreneurs think 2014 will be?

I couldn't help but fixate for a moment on the headline atop a recent article on the Bloomberg Businessweek site. In bold letters the editor's proclaimed: Post-Shutdown, Small Businesses Foresee a Bleak Economy.

Scary stuff. That might have been enough to get me to click through from my Feedly account to the article, but the editors wanted to make sure so they included a summary:

"Confidence has cratered among people running companies with $1 million to $20 million in annual revenue, according to a new survey"

Cratered? I've read about this kind of thing. The dinosaurs ran afoul of this kind of thing once. Once. Naturally, I clicked through.

It turns out the story was written around the most recent monthly survey of Vistage International, a peer advisory organization for high level executives usually working in smaller businesses. According to the survey, which hit during the second week of the government shutdown, about 12% more executives thought that the economy would get worse during the next 12 months then did the previous month. Last month 15% of respondents thought things would get worse.

Wait a minute. During a partial government shutdown, arguably one of the worst things you can do to a country while it's trying to recover from the worst recessionary event since the Great Depression, about 10% more top level, small business executives think things are going to get worse. Meanwhile and despite the Beltway Shenanigans, three-fourths of American small business executives aren't worried about things getting worse.

Somehow, this is supposed to be a cratering of executive confidence? More like the pitting you might see in the fender of a very old car.

This is just one more example of how data can tell all kinds of stories -- and they really don't care what you say about them. If it sells more magazines or gets more eyeballs on your site, it's fine with them. I'm not sure it's fine with me.

Yeah, the government shutdown was a stupid move perpetrated by a group of politicians who we hope thought they were executing a last ditch attempt to do what is best for America when what they were actually executing was their careers. It will be interesting to see how many survive their next election. Of course, if it's more than 18 months from now, most American voters will have forgotten.

Oh, now I'm just getting cynical. Here's my bottom line -- and thanks for reading this far: I don't want to know what some "reporter" thinks about politics by reading what I think is a fact-based article just to see them tell me that a 12% increase in pessimism means that American small business people are ready to throw in the towel on the future. They're not. They won't. That's not what they do.

If you want to tell me that you're angry about the methods our elected officials use to get their way in Congress, with not a care to the impacts their actions will have on the rest of us, just say it. I'll agree with you. Don't take a wrench to a dataset and try to tell me how it says the sky is falling. It's not.


Here is a source that agrees with me. Of course, they have a study to back them up.

Monday, October 21, 2013

MortgageFlex wins award for best use of the Cloud

I guess we should blame the lack of graphic arts skills among technologists for everyone calling any slice of the Internet -- either public or private -- the Cloud. That's the way we always visualized it on our workflow schematics and I guess it just stuck. Regardless of how you draw it, we all know what it means. Increasingly, it means making use of cheap resources that are controlled by someone else.

Much of the software we use today (well, practically all of it) has at least some functionality coming from a cloud somewhere. That's not to say that all software designers are making the best use of the Cloud. Recently, a company in our space was recognized for its use of the Cloud.

MortgageFlex Systems, Inc., Jacksonville, Fla., providers of one of the industry's most successful loan origination systems as well as servicing technology, announced this week that the company has won a BizTech Innovation Award for Best Use of Cloud Computing from Jacksonville Business Journal. MortgageFlex has provided hosting services to mortgage lenders for over a decade.

The company managed their own hardware, data centers, and co-los for many years, but recently decided to consolidate, move resources to the cloud, and provide global access to the LoanQuest application from multiple public cloud data centers.

“Moving to the cloud wasn't a lightly made decision. We evaluated all of our options and we feel that we made the best choice for our customers and ourselves,” said Tom Soyars, vice president of support services. “Our focus is not just cost effectiveness but security. Our customers require the highest levels of data security and we undergo yearly audits to guarantee their confidence. Being honored with the BizTech Innovation Award from over 100 competitors validates our decision and we are proud to be part of this elite group.”

Multiple site cloud computing provides numerous business and strategic advantages - a high level of security without the high audit costs, the most modern technology available, flexible load balancing capabilities, faster implementation times, lower infrastructure expenses, and more robust disaster recovery options.

According to Asher Lohman, director of information technology, “The cloud gives us the ability to expand quickly without purchasing and configuring new hardware - we simply spin up a new server and away we go within minutes - all while maintaining the SSAE 16 SOC 1 Type 2 audit standards”.

Beyond expansion ease, the cost savings are appreciable. MortgageFlex consolidated their data centers and have downsized from four data centers in which they owned and maintained equipment, to one small physical and two cloud data centers. To further guarantee disaster recovery and high availability capabilities, the company strategically positioned the use of the cloud locations to multiple data centers with geographic disparity.

Data centers have sprung up all over the world and offer all kinds of advantages to businesses operating here. For a weekly update of all things IT, including Cloud Computing, check out our Walking the Virtual Dog podcast.