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Cloud Compute, Network Services, UCaaS
This article was originally published by ATI partner Comcast on Comcast Business Community. 

The rate at which technology is evolving is increasing almost exponentially. In the business sector, hardware has given way to software-defined everything, while many on-premises technologies are now offered as a service. Much of the advances in technology over the last few years have been the direct result of the growing ubiquity of the cloud and faster connectivity speeds, both of which have enabled companies to adopt digital transformation technologies to help them work smarter and more efficiently.

In 2019, these forces will continue to impact enterprises across industries, as more organizations make the cloud and web-based applications an important part of their technology toolkits. Digital transformation efforts many companies began over the last few years will be the base for a new wave of solutions and services designed to grow their businesses even further and faster to outpace increasing competition.

As such, speed and intelligence will be the hallmarks of technologies demonstrating the highest value in 2019. From SD-WAN to edge computing and high-speed broadband to intelligent apps, technologies that enable networks to work at optimal levels will be in high demand, as companies strive to stay ahead of competition. In addition, technologies that promote collaboration across locations, such as unified communication services, will remain important to organizations of all sizes, regardless of industry sector.

SD-WAN: Finding Its Place as an Enabler

Software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) is experiencing a popularity surge, as a growing number of networking vendors look to add SD-WAN technologies to their lineups. IDC predicts the SD-WAN market globally will reach $4.5 billion by 2022, an impressive 40.4 percent compound annual growth rate from 2017.1

The benefits of SD-WAN are many, including cost savings, performance and availability enhancements and simplified administration and management. SD-WAN enables a level of agility traditional WANs are not capable of, and can manage the high volume data used by video and other types of multimedia—which is becoming more important in many companies’ marketing and social strategies—as well as other transactional data used by enterprise organizations.

Although SD-WAN has been around for a few years, its importance in digital transformation efforts haven’t been fully recognized until more recently. As more companies adopt cloud-based technologies and understand the importance of the network in advancing their business, SD-WAN is increasingly being hailed as an enabling technology.

That said, its original intent—as a replacement to costly MPLS connections—has since morphed into SD-WAN as a complementary technology: A number of organizations are using SD-WAN in addition to their MPLS networks, choosing to run their high-performance, mission-critical operations over MPLS and using SD-WAN for lower priority, internet-based traffic, such as their cloud-based as-a-service offerings—Office 365 or Adobe Cloud.2

Edge Computing: Democratizing Compute from the Data Center

SD-WAN is also enabling the concept of edge computing, which distributes computation away from the data center to devices at the edge of a network known as smart devices or edge devices. This distributed computing environment enables companies to analyze data in near real-time, better positioning them to make better decisions faster. Industries that depend on data to help decision-making, such as finance and health care, are adopting edge computing as a way to increase the accuracy of decisions and/or stay ahead of competition.

The growing use of Internet of Things (IoT) devices is one of the many factors spurring greater interest in edge computing. Research firm Stratistics MRC expects the global edge computing market will reach $20.5 billion by 2026, from $8 billion 2017.3 Other technologies including intelligent applications and intelligent wearable devices also are promoting edge computing as a must-have technology as companies extend their digital transformation strategies.

By taking some of the data processing away from the data center, edge computing offers the benefit of reduced latency, as data doesn’t have to traverse the network to be processed. That means not only faster insights, but also less data moving across the network at any given time.

Broadband Networks: Table Stakes in the Connectivity Game

The proliferation of broadband networks is rising, as companies recognize the benefits of high-speed connectivity as a catalyst for digital transformation. Gig-speeds in particular are alluring, offering the ability for super-fast uploads and downloads for streaming videos and other bandwidth-intensive applications, collaboration among employees in different locations and a more secure network through static IP addresses.

According to industry association USTelecom, Internet Protocol (IP) traffic in the United States is estimated at 48,272 petabytes per month in 2018 and is expected to rise to 79,640 petabytes by 2021.4 Traditional data pipes aren’t robust enough to handle such high traffic loads; for companies that rely on data to make intelligent, informed business decisions, broadband is becoming a must in ensuring data flows quickly, without lag or degradation.

Intelligent Apps: Making Real-Time Decision-Making Truly Real-Time

The need for data to be able to respond to market conditions in real time—whether it’s reacting to stock market activity by financial services organizations or switching to different machines on the production floor in anticipation of unplanned downtime in manufacturing—is driving a new breed of “intelligent apps” that utilize cloud computing and machine learning to respond and react accordingly.

The use of intelligent applications is still nascent, although the technology has the potential to be useful in a number of industries. In financial services, beyond reacting to stock market activity, intelligent apps could be used to predict or detect fraud. In a healthcare setting, providers could use intelligent apps to detect and track possible outbreaks of illness or disease—and get ahead of an outbreak before it becomes a full-blown epidemic. In retail, intelligent apps could be used to better predict inventory based on real-time shopping trends and external factors such as weather forecasts or logistics issues such as driver strikes, for example.

Unified Communications: Keeping Productivity High Through Collaboration

Unified communications, like SD-WAN, are not new technologies. But advances in networking, cloud and UC solutions themselves are renewing enthusiasm among organizations looking to ensure employees can communicate and collaborate effectively anytime and from anywhere. Mobile collaboration apps, for example, are bringing streamlined access to users, providing connectivity no matter what device they’re using—desktop, smartphone or tablet—and offering many of the same services across all platforms, such as videoconferencing, document sharing, chat and email, to name a few.

In addition, the cloud has had a major impact on unified communications, separating UC from proprietary PBX systems to make it easier for employees to utilize the benefits of unified communications without being tethered to their desks. And the high-speeds of broadband networks ensure communication is seamless without dropped calls or call degradation that can negatively impact the user experience.

Companies continue to see the value of unified communications as a driver for productivity: According to research firm Gartner, the unified communications-as-a-service market in North America in 2017 totaled almost $1.5 billion and is expected to reach about $2.8 billion by 2021.5

Taking Advantage of Tech Trends in 2019

The technology landscape in 2019 is rife with solutions designed to help organizations work faster and smarter than ever before. However, new-generation technologies can’t be sustained on legacy networks and IT architecture. To reap the benefits of these technologies, companies need sufficient bandwidth as well as smart, software-defined architecture to enable more capacity, flexibility and control of business applications running across an enterprise—from headquarters to the edges at the branch level—to enable better operations, improved and new customer and employee experiences.

As organizations strive to become ever more digitally focused, they need an environment that supports digital transformation from every point on the network. Hybrid cloud and network environments, SD-WAN and high-speed broadband are just some of the technologies that can enable companies to better manage their business applications across all locations, while networking components such as WiFi and unified communications ensure employees can work anytime, anywhere, with no impact on productivity.

What’s more, managed services can help organizations as they adopt new technologies without overly stressing their current network and to help streamline processes for IT managers, by tying disparate systems together and “filling in the gaps” as companies update current infrastructure and after networks have been upgraded.

Working with a network service provider can help IT leaders in their quest to adopt digital transformation technologies and embrace new services. By working with a network services provider, organizations can leverage virtual and physical private Ethernet connectivity to assure there are no issues regarding network performance and availability for critical applications at all company locations. They also can receive all or some of their most critical connectivity functions as a managed service, including managed connectivity, WiFi, security, voice and business continuity, among others.

Conclusion

Many of the forces that spurred the first wave of digital transformation are still very much in play in 2019; as such, speed and intelligence will be the hallmarks of technologies demonstrating the highest value in the next year. The digital transformation efforts many companies began over the last few years will be the base for a new wave of solutions and services designed to grow their businesses even further and faster to outpace their increasingly agile competitors.
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Cloud Compute
Article by ATI partner US Signal 

There’s plenty of information out there about the benefits of cloud-based disaster recovery (DR) and backup. You’ve also likely read a lot about how to overcome the challenges associated with cloud-based DR and backup. There are even numerous checklists for finding a cloud-based DR or backup provider. But what you really want to know is: how do I get started?

As is the case with a lot of questions regarding cloud services, the answer is: it depends. All companies are different. The nature of their businesses vary. Their operations are unique, and their business requirements and needs are usually specific based on their industry, market sector, stakeholders and other variables.

Cliché as it sounds, there really is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to cloud-based DR and backup. However, there are some basic guidelines to help you move your organization to a cloud-based DR and/or backup model. Among them:

  1. Inventory your data and applications. What do you have? Where is it? Who needs it and how often? (You can’t do Step #3 without this information.)  
  2. Identify your mission-critical infrastructure. There is always mission-critical equipment required to keep core business operations up and running.
  3. Determine the effects on your organization if you couldn’t access the various types of data and applications you have, as well as your IT infrastructure. This will help you determine if some are more important than others.
  4. Develop recovery point objectives (RPOs)and recovery time objectives (RTOs). Check to see if there are any regulatory requirements, government mandates or industry standards you must comply with in terms of your RPOs and RTOs.
  5. Create a recovery event task list. What do you need first, second and so on, and who’s responsible for getting these tasks done?
  6. Document how you currently handle DR and backup. Are you employing industry best practices? Are you accounting for all your data, applications and IT infrastructure? Are these tactics meeting your RPO and RTO requirements? Have you tested these tactics to make sure they work the way you think they should work? Are you confident that if a manmade or natural disaster struck, your company could continue doing business or at least mitigate issues enough so you could be back online quickly without disrupting your business operations?
  7. If there are deficiencies in what you’re currently doing, or you don’t have any kind of DR or backup plan in place, determine if you have the in-house expertise and available resources to get a cloud-based solution in place. If you do, get on it. If not, seek out a service provider that can help.
  8. Whether you’re going the “do-it-yourself” route or working with a service provider, first determine what you need in a cloud-based DR and backup solution. List out your “must-have’s” and “nice-to-have’s.” Some of the things to consider when creating your list:
    • Do you have both mission-critical and critical data and applications that might require different levels of protection and backup such that you’d benefit from a ‘tiered approach’?
    • How will your data be securely transferred and stored in the cloud?
    • Will data be encrypted in transit and at rest, and who will hold the data encryption keys?
    • How will users be authenticated? Is multi-factor authentication included?
    • Will the solution meet compliance mandates?
    • How much bandwidth, compute and storage will be needed?
    • How quickly will data need to be transferred to the cloud?
    • Will the service be managed by a provider?
    • Look back at #4. What are your compliance, RTO and RPO requirements?
    • Will you need help with data migration and/or solution testing?
  9. Carefully assess the advantages and disadvantages of the various cloud-based DR and backup options under consideration. Do any of them fully meet your needs and requirements? Can they be customized for a better “fit”? Are there any tradeoffs that may overshadow the benefits?
  10. If you’re going with a service provider, will that company back its DR and backup solutions with a service level agreement? Does it have around-the-clock tech support available if you need it?  Does its solution protect you against ransomware and other security threats as well as ensure your data can be successfully backed up and recovered? 

The Case for Managed DR and Backup

One of the easiest ways to move DR and backup to the cloud is to work with a trusted service provider. Working with the right service provider can:

  • Free up your internal resources
  • Reduce capital expenses
  • Help you meet many of your compliance requirements (provided the provider offers a compliant DR and backup solution)
  • Let you take advantage of leading-edge data protection and best practices (because service providers have to invest in the best to keep their customers happy)
  • And more!

Article by ATI partner US Signal 



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Cloud Compute

Article by ATI Partner Josh Williams, VP of Solution Engineering – INAP 

 

Yankees or Red Sox, Linux or Windows, Star Wars or Star Trek: There’s no shortage of choices life asks us to make. When it comes to cloud versus colocation, it may be tempting to see it as just another either-or decision. But the question you should be asking isn’t “colo or cloud”—it’s “what’s the right mix for my applications?”

 

Colo is sometimes forgotten because of its more popular, younger and shinier cousin the cloud, but there are use cases for both, and your particular mix will depend on your applications. For example, a financial services company that wants to leverage cloud to gain cost efficiency might use a public cloud for its end-of-day or end-of-month batch processing, while also using colocation or hosted private cloud for its mission-critical databases and supporting applications. This configuration would provide the cost efficiency of public cloud for short-term workloads while also utilizing a dedicated, secure platform optimized for applications that are always on.

 

Regardless of your situation, developing a comprehensive cloud strategy will help you avoid lock-in, providing flexibility, adaptability and room to grow as your needs evolve. And that multi-cloud strategy just might include some smart usage of colocation if, for example, you have a need for specific hardware or want a network presence in certain locations. Here’s a primer for understanding the big pieces of cloud, colo and anything in between.

 

The Hidden Cost of On-Premise Solutions

 

For any organization facing the decision to “build” or “buy” their infrastructure, “buying”—whether bringing your hardware and renting space in a colocation facility or shifting entirely to the cloud—is a simple step that is guaranteed to level up your IT. Yet the conversation about colo and cloud is usually focused on dollars spent and saved. This is understandable, especially since on-premise data centers are often expensive to secure and maintain, and going off-premise can have a clear impact on cost savings. But what could the conversation be if CAPEX or OPEX weren’t the primary drivers of your IT infrastructure decisions?

 

Now don’t get me wrong—I know keeping costs reasonable is important—but I also think it might be helpful to think about your choice in terms of a different resource: time. The math is simple: If you can offload certain tasks to a service provider, that’s time you get back. Every minute not spent handling maintenance and administration is a minute you now have free to focus on your actual applications. With that being said, here are the ways colo and cloud can make your life better.

 

Security and Compliance

 

With a colo or cloud service provider, all the work of physical data center security and maintenance is no longer part of your to-do list—and a lot of compliance too, depending on your provider. With a managed service provider, they can take care of your routine data security and compliance tasks or even help you architect your infrastructure to fit the specific compliance needs of your applications.

 

Connectivity

 

A big part of the decision to move off-premise may be a simple need for connectivity. Your on-premise solution might lack certain connectivity altogether or you may have trouble with reliability or latency. Colocation can solve these issues, whether you need to connect to certain geographies, carriers or third-party clouds like AWS or Azure. Managed services from your provider can give you an edge here too, ensuring dependable connectivity and minimizing latency even in spread-out networks.

 

Backup and Disaster Recovery

 

A huge upside to partnering with a comprehensive service provider is that regardless of your infrastructure solution, backup and DR services can be easily implemented. Whether using a colocation facility or a hosted private cloud, both are effective, efficient ways to build redundancy into your systems—without having to build and operate your own second site.

 

The Biggest Difference-Maker: A Trusted Service Provider

 

When choosing the right mix, it’s a good idea to start by asking a few questions:

 

  • Where do you see your IT infrastructure and operations strategy in three to five years?
  • What do you predict your service needs will be then?
  • And most importantly: Are you working with a provider that gives you the capability to do the things you need to do today and won’t hinder you from doing what you need to do in the future?

Choosing the right provider can determine whether you have the flexibility and freedom to meet your future needs. They can be an invaluable partner in helping you to rightsize for today without limiting your options for the future. So pick one with a wide range of infrastructure solutions and managed services and one that is skilled, knowledgeable and experienced in multiple competencies, whether colo or cloud. At INAP, my team of solutions engineers help customers navigate the process, identify hard-to-spot downsides and share knowledge based on our experience assisting other customers.

 

Applications that are not a good fit for a legacy infrastructure model can be easily migrated with the help of a service provider like INAP, while maintaining a single partner that knows you and your business. The right solution will depend on your applications, and that will inevitably evolve over time. Rather than pitting colo against cloud, start from what your applications require, then find the right mix that makes sense for you.


Article by ATI Partner Josh Williams, VP of Solution Engineering – INAP



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Cloud Compute

Whats your disaster recovery or data backup plan? ATI can help determine:

 

  • Necessary RTO and RPO times
  • Zerto? Veeam? Nimble? Double-Take?
  • Co-Loc or georedundant data centers?
  • Best practices for data backup
Schedule a DRaaS Analysis today.

draas_anaylsis

ATI works closely with the leader in cloud solutions, to provide a cost effective, dependable set of products to protect the modern business. Our cloud-based Disaster Recovery services provides customers with data loss prevention and various business continuity options leveraging the best-of-breed IT infrastructure as a service (IaaS).



Contact us today to learn more, or click here to learn more about Disaster Recovery as a Service.
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Cloud Compute
AWS vs. Azure: Is There a Difference?

Article by ATI partner Danielle Hagel, Senior Manager of CoreSite’s Customer Engagement Program

Are there differences in cloud services, or is IaaS evolving into a commoditized technology? If you are considering making changes to your cloud strategy or initiating a private, public or hybrid cloud deployment, that’s an important question.

 

Naturally, you will look to the leading providers for an answer. For the past six years, Gartner has placed two companies in the “leaders” box of their Magic Quadrant for Cloud Infrastructure as a Service, Worldwide: Amazon Web Services and Microsoft1. Let’s put the scale of these two companies in perspective. In 2015, Gartner reported that AWS customers deployed 10X more infrastructure than the combined adoption of the next 14 providers2. Today, although Microsoft lags behind Amazon in overall use, “Azure adoption has increased significantly from 26 percent to 43 percent, reducing the AWS lead among enterprises,” according to RightScale’s 2017 State of the Cloud Report3. Looking ahead, you can expect both companies to make sharing workloads between on-premises and off-premises clouds more attractive.

 

AWS Services, Azure and Enterprise

 

If you look back only a few years, you will find that “bring IT to the forefront of the enterprise” was a common rallying cry. Now, IT is not only at the forefront, every significant decision for the enterprise includes the CTO’s input.

 

AWS and Azure understand this shift, and consequently the array of services they sell satisfy the business needs of their customers. A detailed comparison of AWS and Azure would reveal some differences in each provider’s service offerings. Some are subtle, such as SLA uptime guarantees or published certifications. The salient point is that the services offered address core enterprise requirements; they are business-driven, and will continue to change according to what enterprises need, not according to the cool new things that can be done with more computing power and faster networks.

 

Keep in mind that other players could offer services that suit your company or industry. Google Cloud Platform and SoftLayer are two examples and each differentiates themselves with niche IaaS services: Google’s services include machine learning and natural language APIs; SoftLayer offers a 100% SLA.

 

Again, we are not recommending either of these companies, but are illustrating the fact that the cloud is a dynamic technology with many possibilities. Come to think of it, that doesn’t sound like commoditization at all.

 

Article by Danielle Hagel, Senior Manager of CoreSite’s Customer Engagement Program

  1. aws.amazon.com/resources/gartner-2016-mq-learn-more
    2. www.gartner.com/doc/reprints?id=1-2G2O5FC&ct=150519&st=sb
    3. www.rightscale.com/lp/state-of-the-cloud
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Cloud Compute, From ATI
Considering the cloud? We are your …As A Service technology experts. Schedule a Cloud Consultation today.



There are hundreds of cloud solutions… So how do you choose the right one? We’ve met, vetted, toured data centers & learned the strengths & weaknesses of all the major providers… So, you don’t have to. Cloud Migration? Public or Private? Security & Compliance? Schedule a Cloud Consultation w ATI and we’ll walk you through each.
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Cloud Compute

2018 Gartner IaaS Report

Notable Takeaways

1) Amazon AWS stays on top for another year, well ahead of the pack in the Leaders quadrant
2) Microsoft Azure stays strong at #2 in the Leaders quadrant
3) Google cloud on the rise and makes first appearance the Leaders Magic Quadrant
4) Alibaba Cloud is now a global player for those looking for something similar to AWS but perhaps at a lower price point
5) 8 vendors most notably Rackspace, dropped out for their inability to support large scale workloads
6) The marketplace seems to have almost completed their consolidation in the IaaS space

Learn more about IaaS here, and don’t hesitate to contact ATI to learn more.
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Cloud Compute

Are You Getting the Most from the Cloud?

March 24, 2016 – Forrester indicates that spending on cloud computing is expected to top $160 billion around the globe by 2020 – a growth rate of 22% per year – it’s no secret that cloud technology is becoming an essential part of modern business. But along with the implementation of new cloud computing services comes the challenges that come with adopting any new technology- inefficiency. Inefficiency can mean your employees aren’t working at full capacity or equipment, software, and features you have invested in are sitting unused. If you want to make your cloud computing services, such as cloud VoIP, CRM, and other options, work for you instead of against you, keep reading for five ways to maximize your efficiency with the cloud.
  1. Put Cloud Computing Policies in Place

While security is certainly an issues of top concern when it comes to cloud computing, that’s not the only policy that your company should have in place to protect efficiency. It is important to ensure that you have protocols for managing your cloud resources – from personnel to procedural. This way those critical elements like security and support do not fall into a dreaded zone where everyone believes they are someone else’s responsibility. The sooner your company can get this type of policy in place, the better.
  1. Ensure Your Cloud Apps Communicate

Some estimates suggest that by 2018, business will have up to 27 services in the cloud that were previously in house. However, it is not enough to simply move these services to a cloud system. For maximum efficiency, these services need to actually be able to communicate with one another. For instance, a cloud VoIP can offer advantages in phone communications, but when the system is also integrated with a cloud CRM, productivity can skyrocket.
  1. Take Advantage of Reliability

One of the key ways in which cloud computing services can improve efficiency is by allowing systems to stay up. When software lives off site, it can stay up and functioning – and be accessed remotely – even in the event of downtime in the office, including outages, natural disasters, and other unforeseen circumstances. Make sure that employees know how to use cell phones and home offices to access your cloud systems so that you can take advantage of this standard of reliability.
  1. Use Cloud for Frequent Updates

Some software and systems are updated a lot more frequently than others. Looking to the cloud for these particular services is a great option because those updates will happen automatically and generally at no cost to you. This means you will always be working with the latest version and the best possible tools, ensuring efficiency well beyond standard on-premise solutions.
  1. Utilize Your IT Department

One of the biggest advantages of systems like cloud VoIP is that your IT department does not have to spend their precious hours supporting your phone system or whatever service you decide to take to the cloud. You can use this opportunity to leverage your IT department for bigger business goals – whatever that means for your company. Cloud computing is here to stay. But as you continue to invest in it, be sure that you are using it to its full capacity and taking advantage of the efficiencies it has to offer. Learn more about a cloud phone system that will help you accomplish all of the above 5 tasks.
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Cloud Compute

Cloud Data Solutions That Can Scale as Your Business Grows

February 25, 2016 – Some small businesses may be content reaching a limited size. But many more see growth as a top priority. If you want your business to grow, you have to have the right infrastructure in place, which includes the right data solutions for storing and accessing your business’ data. The right solution will be easy to use and understand, secure, and able to grow with you.

Cloud Data Storage

Turning to the cloud as a data solution can be intimidating for small business owners, but more and more it is becoming the only feasible option, especially for businesses that want to grow and need a solution that scales. On-premises data storage might feel more secure, but once you start adding employees, applications, and clients, you will keep needing to add more servers and possibly upgrade software to make sure you have enough room. The other option is cloud storage. That means you purchase space on an off-site server to store your important data – from documents like contracts and business plans to cloud-based applications that are used across the company. Cloud storage makes accessing your data easier, even as your company grows.

Cloud Data Solutions & Security

Security can be one of the biggest concerns you have as a small business owner who is considering a cloud-based data solution. You can hardly turn around today without seeing another news story about a major hack or data breach. And if huge companies like Target and Sony are susceptible, how does a small business like yours stand a chance? The good news is that there are security options that are available and attainable, even for small businesses. While nothing is completely foolproof, data solutions like Soonr handle security especially well. Because these cloud storage options integrate office applications with mobile devices, they eliminate the need for third-party mobile apps that can lead to data loss or hacks. This is especially useful for those businesses that rely on a mobile workforce with remote employees or just workers who are always on the go. Good cloud data storage options also have the benefit of segmented access so that you can set up who gets to see what. Internal employees are treated to different access than clients or partners, which keeps things even more secure. That means you can safely store contracts and other sensitive data in the cloud without worrying about who will have access.

How Cloud Storage Scales

When your business grows, your cloud storage grows with you. There is no need to purchase new servers or hire more IT support. Depending on the data solutions you choose, you might have to upgrade your storage subscription over time, but it’s extremely easy to do. That makes keeping your data in the cloud the best possible choice for businesses that are growing fast. Choosing the right cloud data solution for your growing business can be a challenge, but once you know how it works it’s easy to see how it can scale quickly and easily to meet your needs without compromising security. Learn more about how ATI can backup your data here. Host your infrastructure in the Cloud with ATI here.
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