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Cloud-Based Office Automation

MetaSoft Ltd is a software development company which works for clients across Australia and New Zealand. The company is considering moving some of its computer infrastructure into the Cloud. The MetaSoft Board is contemplating this move as a way to increase the company’s flexibility and responsiveness, as well as to achieve some savings on the cost of maintaining their ICT infrastructure.

MetaSoft has engaged you as a consultant to advise them on the use of Cloud Computing in their daily operations. They have some 100 software engineering and support staff that work on different projects for clients in Australia and New Zealand. They have been advised that a move to using a Cloud based infrastructure would be an advantage to them.
Your task is to:

1. One of MetaSoft’s first undertakings is to provide all their staff with the ability to access office automation, such as email, word processing and spreadsheet capabilities, as well as online storage for their files, whether they are in the office, at home, or deployed on site in the field. The MetaSoft board is very concerned to learn about the critical issues, other than cost, that may affect the supply of Cloud based office automation to their staff. You will need to prepare a report on the best way to provide office automation for MetaSoft. Your report should:

1. Provide MetaSoft with TWO different approaches to providing office automation to their staff;

2. Outline the major benefits and issues with each approach;

3. Provide a summary of your advice to this company along with your recommendation about which option to choose.

3. MetaSoft has data centres in Sydney and Melbourne. The Australian data centres are linked by a fibre based WAN, which is supplied and maintained by a local Telco, and data is replicated between the data centres daily. The two data centres each run x86 based servers attached to a HPE 3PAR SAN with 1PB of storage. They also have a series of RHEL 6 servers (Red Hat Enterprise Linux v6.0) that are used to host Web pages and various Web services. The RHEL 6 servers are located only in the Sydney data centre. MetaSoft is considering initially moving its Web infrastructure to a public Cloud, but they are unsure of whether they should migrate to an IaaS or PaaS solution. You are to write a report for the MetaSoft board that:

1. Describes the difference between infrastructure provided using an IaaS provider and a platform provided by a PaaS provider in a public Cloud. You will need to discuss the critical differences, issues and factors, other than cost, that MetaSoft will have to consider in choosing to migrate their Web infrastructure to either an IaaS or a PaaS service provider.

3. MetaSoft is also considering whether to use PaaS or SaaS to provide services to its employees. MetaSoft has deployed Microsoft SharePoint 2013 from its data centre as a collaboration and document management tool for its 100 employees. The SharePoint 2013 instance has been extensively customised to suit MetaSoft’s needs and also runs Project Central, their Project Management tool as a separate application from within SharePoint. All employees have the Microsoft Office 2013 suite of office automation products installed on their respective desktops or laptops. MetaSoft would like to move its SharePoint 2013 instance to the cloud to make it more accessible, particularly to its users in remote or overseas locations. MetaSoft want you to report on:

1. What are the major differences between the models IaaS, PaaS and SaaS?

2. Recommend the model that you consider most appropriate for this service and discuss why this model is the most appropriate for the SharePoint service.

3. What are the most likely problems that MetaSoft will encounter with the model that you recommend? How would you advise MetaSoft to deal with these issues?

Cloud-Based Office Automation

Office automation has increasingly become the topic of most articles in the recent years. The pieces seem to concur with one concept that putting office automation system into practice will lead to productivity and provide some indirect benefits like increased profit and improved customer service to organizations. As such, the MetaSoft Ltd needs to adopt office automation for the richness and wellbeing of the organization. However, implementing office automation system may seem simple, the purchase and installation of some sophisticated software and hardware may not be as easy as it may give impression; it requires well-conceived strategies techniques for success. As a result, this article proposes various approaches to providing office automation to the MetaSoft organization.

There are various approaches for office automation system that would be proposed for the MetaSoft organization. These approaches have made multiple companies successful in starting and developing the automated office system. MetaSoft should, therefore, utilize them in tailoring the office automation system.

The technological approach, i.e. cloud office automation is an integral facet of office automation system approach. Microsoft’s primary business a few years ago was in computer operating system and device office automation software. The organization has also provided many cloud services including web hosting, online emailing among others. Microsoft organization currently offer the capabilities of office automation through cloud computing in an approach known as Software as a Service (SaaS) and Software plus Service to enable synchronous as well as the asynchronous incorporation of online cloud documents with their traditional desktop version (Givehchi, Trsek & Jasperneite, 2013). As such, the technological approach would be the core building block for not only departmental improvement initiative process but also the broader transformation organization-wide. Without the cloud office automation, most of the digital transformation efforts would rest their foundation on sand.

The use of cloud office automation has two main advantages. The first advantage is that cloud-based office automation can be secure. Secondly, the cloud enables connection between different departments and people via emails and access documents quickly as shown in figure 1. However, the limiting factor in cloud-based office automation is that there is limited control since it is entirely owned and managed by the service provider.

Figure 1: Office automation platform

The choice of system configuration and selection of a system function is another approach for office automation. The system configuration refers to the actual location pattern of components of the system including hardware. The appropriate paring of office functions and computer functions are made then various software, and other equipment are installed so that computers are used in the desired way. The office functions and computers functions are paired concerning the following five main areas: information management of the business, word processing, and telecommunication, business modelling and forecasting and lastly business communication. The selection of the functions mentioned above and the choice of the capabilities of the software and hardware are the primary task in designing the office automation system.

In summary, among the mentioned approaches, cloud office automation is the most suitable approach for the MetaSoft. This is because MetaSoft is a software company and the method is used for software management, therefore, qualifies to be the route of execution in setting up an office automation system. I recommend that the MetaSoft organization seek another approach as much as the cloud office automation approach would seem the best since there is no standard methodology for office automation being that each organization is unique in the way it carries out its business.

2. A report on the difference between infrastructures provided using an IaaS provider and a platform provided by a PaaS provider in a public Cloud.

System Configuration and Function Selection

For the MetaSoft organization to form an effective strategy for adopting cloud computing, the organization must take a step for it to understand how it fits within the business landscape and familiarize with the IaaS and the PaaS. MetaSoft is required to conduct research and be knowledgeable as far as cloud technology, its significant and limitations as well as how the organization can leverage this technology is concerned (Givehchi, Trsek & Jasperneite, 2013). MetaSoft must fully understand what cloud technology can provide to increase its productivity and what the technology cannot provide. As a result, this paper presents a report on the difference between the infrastructures provided using IaaS and PaaS solutions.

The infrastructure as a service IaaS model is one of the services offered by cloud technology. It involves a cloud service where the third party service providers host operating systems, hardware equipment and other various information technology components for clients in a delivery model which is highly automated. In IaaS, the service providers also handle tasks like data backup, system maintenance as well as business opportunity. The IaaS, at its easiest, will offer the equipment and services including the general virtualized operating system to its clients. The web facilitating organizations can be easily viewed as the suppliers of the IaaS. The main difference between the network promoting supplier and the IaaS supplier is how they charge for their administrations. The web facilitating organization will cost according to the framework by the month while the IaaS charges are made just for register control that is used. According to the definition of the IaaS, some of its notable suppliers include: Google compute engine, Amazon EC2, Rackspace and many others.

The IaaS model offer both single tenant and multi-tenant resources hosted at the service provider. Single tenant means clients who do not need to be combined with others. By contrast, the multi-tenants means multiple clients share the services although their system is placed separately. The single-tenant service is quite cheaper than the multi-tenant service, and it is the most common way of delivering the IaaS services since it is highly efficient and scalable.

The platform as a service PaaS, on the other hand, offers a complete application development package for its users. It provides both tooling and support as well as the development platform which is preconfigured. The main difference between the IaaS and PaaS is that the latter is bolstered for the challenging environment. Composing applications under this environment offers an opportunity for exploiting the dynamic adaptability mechanized database reinforcements as well as other directions without coding for the use.  

Some of the PaaS options include Heroku, OpenShift platform, Google App Engine and Microsoft Azure among others. The PaaS clients work with the services as well as the platform created and managed by the PaaS providers. It is likened to a situation where someone get a car and drives since all the pieces have been assembled already.

Following the infrastructures put into place by the MetaSoft organization for moving its web infrastructures to the cloud system. The IaaS suggestively suites the organization’s plan, it can be referred to “as build-it-yourself” methodology. Through the IaaS offerings provided by the service provider such as Google Compute Engine or Amazon Web services, the MetaSoft’s application management personnel or application developers will access the integrated set of tools and resources that help in software development and management, therefore prioritizing the IaaS would yield a great benefit to MetaSoft organization.

Advantages and Issues of Cloud-Based Automation

3.

1. As have been mentioned in the previous sections of the article, the three first cloud computing models, Software as a service SaaS, Infrastructure as a service IaaS, and Platform as a Service PaaS provide their users with access to varying degree of computing services. The facilities are hosted in large data centers that are strategically placed around the world.

The difference between the IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS models can be easily identified by differentiating the cloud service models by their respective amount of computing resources they offer as well as the relative ease of managing them. On the one hand with the SaaS, clients outsource almost all the services from the cloud providers, this makes setting up and management very simple (Kavis, 2014). The IaaS, on the other, offers almost full control over the server instances, thus enabling an environment which is highly customizable but relatively complicated. The PaaS, however, falls somewhere between SaaS and IaaS, see figure 2.

Figure 2: cloud computing services diagram

 The SaaS model allows its users to develop and manage applications. However, the users have no control over the infrastructures that the SaaS applications run on. However, the most significant advantage of SaaS is that it does not require any upfront in its servers or software licensing. It also provides one application for the application developers to maintain for multiple customers.

The PaaS service model offers a predefined software environment that software developers and IT personnel use to develop and run applications. Unlike SaaS, PaaS gives its users control over the applications installed on their platforms, but the users have no control over the underlying system OS. The main advantage of the PaaS, however, is that its users are only concerned about the running operating system or updates and upgrades in hardware. The PaaS providers regularly patch the update platform features, the operating system in a bid to satisfy its users’ demand.

The IaaS, on the other hand, provide information technology professionals and application developers with control over the low-level computing resources including memory, central processing units CPUs and unlike SaaS and PaaS, the IaaS service models let its users choose and control the operating system that runs on cloud servers (Kavis, 2014). Though the control comes at a higher cost, its users can patch the operating system every time there is an update. The IaaS cloud model behaves like computers since they can get boot and shut down whenever needed. The significant advantage of the IaaS is that the service providers offer granular control over the service model where users can choose the main components of their infrastructures. Pooling the computing and storage resources enable scaling efficiently to meet the needs of the infrastructure in the individual department or the entire organization locally or globally.

2. Before considering any cloud service, an organization should put into consideration the trade-off between an effort to manage it as well as the level of control over the service model. SaaS would be the best option for small startup organizations and for short term that needs collaboration. The PaaS, however, would be useful in organizations where multiple developers are working on the same project. It offers excellent speed as well as flexibility to the full process (Kavis, 2014). This service also can reduce cost by a considerable percentage and simplify specific challenges that may arise for rapid application developers. The infrastructure as a service IaaS model on the other hand has certain situations when it would be the best for MetaSoft just like other aforementioned services. It would be the most preferred option for the small or startup organizations. For small companies, less money and time will be spent on creating hardware and software as well as full control of the system, see figure 3. It can also be used by big companies who need complete control over their infrastructures and applications.

Figure 3: A graph showing the effort to manage vs level of control for cloud service.

The MetaSoft organization is a rapidly growing company which works for clients across Australia and New Zealand. As such MetaSoft needs full control over its applications and structures for the productivity of its business; the organization also have a small number of employees thus choosing the Infrastructure as a service would not be costly for MetaSoft.

3. As much as the IaaS model would be good for MetaSoft, it is associated with specific limiting factors. The first problem that would be related to the model is its high cost, this problem will be solved by the number of the employees in the organization in that MetaSoft has few employees, and therefore, the implementation cost would not be so high as compared to companies with many employees.

Since MetaSoft will have to lease substantial resources, the cloud service providers will charge for the disk space used. Additionally, with the IaaS, MetaSoft will be responsible for the VM management. However, MetaSoft is an organization serving two countries including Australia and New Zealand, and the IaaS model will also favor its productivity. As such, purchasing the disk space for the organization’s business would not be a big issue. The organization will also take the responsibility of managing, maintenance and the upgrades of tools and database system. Given that the staff and employees of the organization are not significant, there will be fewer responsibilities for the organization.

References

Givehchi, O., Trsek, H., & Jasperneite, J. (2013, September). Cloud computing for industrial automation systems—A comprehensive overview. In Emerging Technologies & Factory Automation (ETFA), 2013 IEEE 18th Conference on (pp. 1-4). IEEE. Retrieved from: https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/abstract/document/6648080/ [Accessed 14th August 2018]

Kavis, M. J. (2014). Architecting the cloud: design decisions for cloud computing service models (SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS). John Wiley & Sons. Retrieved from: https://www.wiley.com/en-us/Architecting+the+Cloud%3A+Design+Decisions+for+Cloud+Computing+Service+Models+%28SaaS%2C+PaaS%2C+and+IaaS%29-p-9781118617618 [Accessed 14th August 2018]

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