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620 posts

Ultimate Geek


#138576 9-Jan-2014 13:56
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I've been running a custom unified communications setup for the past few months and had a lot of interest from people wanting to replicate it. So was wondering if it would be worth putting it together as a simple commercial package?

My solution uses Google Apps as the central component (Gmail, Google Calendar, Drive etc);

 

  • I'm running a cloud-hosted Windows 2012 workstation which I RDP into.
  • My mobile SIM card is hosted so I send / receive all my txt via Gmail and calls are diverted to my VOIP line.
  • My postal mail is received by a virtual office provider who notifies my via email of new mail and scan, forwards, or destroys it at my request.
The result of this setup is that:

     

  1. I keep one number and address wherever I go which I can access from anywhere in the world.
  2. I can pickup virtually any device and access my desktop, post and phone (doesn't matter if I lose my phone, SIM card or laptop overseas).
  3. My desktop state is persistent across all devices (I can go from developing on my 4-screen desktop to my laptop and back without having to re-open any windows or apps).
  4. My virtual office is highly secure and resilient.
If you don't travel a lot, work exclusively online and have a requirement for desktop apps (excluding games or graphics intensive apps) then you probably won't see the value of this kind of setup but for me it works very well.

Who else you have a use for this kind of setup?
How much would it be worth to you as a managed package?
What other features would you want?

(This is just the tip of the iceberg as to what can done with a unified communications / virtual office package. I also run virtual phones, addresses, VPNs and banking in the US and UK so I can basically act as a virtual resident in those counties too whenever I need to - these could also be offered as addons).

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  #963903 9-Jan-2014 14:43
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Small & micro business I feel could go Bananas for something like this. Especially the micro businesses that have home offices and work offices. A lot of these already pay for email, and IT support so if you could absorb this into a service and include their phones they would love it.

I think you could very well with a product service like this.



620 posts

Ultimate Geek


  #963913 9-Jan-2014 15:01
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Yea a lot could be added on to help these small/micro business;

 

  • Remote workstations made easy - Provision a remote desktop, VOIP line, mailbox etc to a local or remote worker with the click of a button
  • Simple mobile device management, security and backups
Also assistance providing international data SIMs for business travel.

 
 
 
 


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  #964021 9-Jan-2014 18:02
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I would be thinking about what your moat is that makes it hard for someone else with more scale to come in and undercut you as part of your business plan if you go ahead with this

you can imagine a Telco or various other cloud providers getting into a business like this

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Uber Geek


  #964043 9-Jan-2014 18:46
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How does it differ from Office 365+Exchange and Skype/Lync Skydrive?

I have access to this on my iPhone/ipad/laptop/desktop and I can also use the MS RDP client (on each of these devices) to get back to my desktop.

I get all of the latest s/w + some level of support (I would assume with office 365).

Just looking at it from a competitive point of view.




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620 posts

Ultimate Geek


  #964051 9-Jan-2014 19:11
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TwoSeven: How does it differ from Office 365+Exchange and Skype/Lync Skydrive?

I have access to this on my iPhone/ipad/laptop/desktop and I can also use the MS RDP client (on each of these devices) to get back to my desktop.

I get all of the latest s/w + some level of support (I would assume with office 365).

Just looking at it from a competitive point of view.


There's nothing to stop you rolling your own solution if you have the know how, just as I've done.

There are a number of advantages to hosting your desktop in the cloud rather than from your home/office (speed, security, backups/snapshots, portability, high availability etc). Mine is currently run out of Sydney so I get good latency (good enough to stream Youtube through RDP) back to NZ as well as to the rest of the world.

It wouldn't replace Office 365 or Google Apps but rather provide addons to those services to make it feasible to operate a complete portable virtual office. 

As far as I know those services you mentioned don't support SMS and snail mail.



620 posts

Ultimate Geek


  #964052 9-Jan-2014 19:15
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nathan: I would be thinking about what your moat is that makes it hard for someone else with more scale to come in and undercut you as part of your business plan if you go ahead with this

you can imagine a Telco or various other cloud providers getting into a business like this


The scale is already there in using existing service providers, this service would just be providing the glue to tie these services together to make it simple for SMEs / individuals.

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Uber Geek


  #964307 10-Jan-2014 09:37
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I'm not really sure I understand the benefits of putting ones desktop in the cloud when it is just a matter of leaving ones home PC switched on and using an RDP client (or browser based RDP, mobile app).

All it needs is for someone to write a good how-to guide.






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620 posts

Ultimate Geek


  #964341 10-Jan-2014 10:13
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TwoSeven: I'm not really sure I understand the benefits of putting ones desktop in the cloud when it is just a matter of leaving ones home PC switched on and using an RDP client (or browser based RDP, mobile app).

All it needs is for someone to write a good how-to guide.




You could say the same thing about hosting your own Web server or mail server etc. The argument between self hosted and cloud hosted is the same and all the obvious benefits apply (I stated off self hosting).

Portability - Unless you're hosting on UFB your RDP connection will be sub-optimal from around NZ and almost unusable for everyday work from overseas.

International connectivity - My Sydney hosted cloud desktop has better connectivity back to NZ-based services (DL/UL/ping) than most ADSL connections I've seen and probably some UFB. It also has excellent international connectivity so moving large files around the internet is a breeze (I'm talking +200Mbps DL / +300Mbps UL and single digit pings).

High availability / security / etc - Obviously a data center is going to provide better redundancy and physical security than you can achieve in your home/office.

Scalability / backups - Taking snapshots, provisioning more vms etc is the click of a button.

Obviously many more benefits to cloud hosting vs self hosting but still doesn't mean a hosted remote desktop is for you if you don't need these features or expect to be able to use our for gaming.

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Geek


  #964347 10-Jan-2014 10:23
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Interesting. Can you please explain what you mean by "My mobile SIM card is hosted". 



620 posts

Ultimate Geek


  #964355 10-Jan-2014 10:40
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rm79: Interesting. Can you please explain what you mean by "My mobile SIM card is hosted". 


My physical sim card is hosted by a NZ-based provider.

They currently only provide the sms-to-email and email-to-sms routing, incoming calls are simply diverted at the telco level to my VOIP line and outgoing calls from my VOIP line can present this number as CID.

The end result is wherever I have email I have my sms and calls can be routed to/from any phone line or device so have no worries not having my phone on me or losing my sim overseas etc.

With my setup I can access my complete virtual office from any Internet cafe around the world, (secured by 2FA of course).

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  #964426 10-Jan-2014 12:13
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TwoSeven: I'm not really sure I understand the benefits of putting ones desktop in the cloud when it is just a matter of leaving ones home PC switched on and using an RDP client (or browser based RDP, mobile app).

All it needs is for someone to write a good how-to guide.




my house burns down
there's an earthquake
my Internet is down etc



620 posts

Ultimate Geek


  #964431 10-Jan-2014 12:20
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nathan: 
my house burns down
there's an earthquake
my Internet is down etc


I'm sorry to hear that all that (especially the internet being down), I'll be sure to give you a good deal when it's all up and running to get you back on track. 

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  #965042 11-Jan-2014 10:46
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I'm surprised by many of the responses here. it is a good idea when offered as a "no technical know how required" service. There are many people who run small businesses that want the end product, but don't know how/want to learn from a guide how to setup all of the features..

I still think it is a solid idea!



620 posts

Ultimate Geek


  #965044 11-Jan-2014 10:57
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itxtme: I'm surprised by many of the responses here. it is a good idea when offered as a "no technical know how required" service. There are many people who run small businesses that want the end product, but don't know how/want to learn from a guide how to setup all of the features..

I still think it is a solid idea!


Yea I mean like you say Geekzoner's probably wouldn't be the target market if they're capable of rolling their own solution.

I am however interested in how many users business requirements / lifestyles would benefit from a service like this (whether offered as a service or self-managed) or are currently running a similar setup?

Human
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  #982329 8-Feb-2014 16:42
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Sounds like a great idea. I have someone who frequently breaks/replaces their laptop.

One question I do have is how would migrations be handled? i.e. Windows 7 to 8. Is there a migration path at all, or do I have to start fresh for that kind of move? 





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