Monday, 27 June 2011

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Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Reducing the risks of Cloud computing

A special article provided by Advanced 365 on the risks of Cloud Computing and carried by That's Technology as a service to our readers.

Advanced 365 highlights key issues for businesses looking to minimise the risk of moving to a cloud computing model

Cloud computing is accelerating into mainstream business life. According to a recent report released by market research firm Forrester Research, the global cloud computing market is expected to grow from $40.7 billion to $240 billion by 2020.

Despite this anticipated surge in interest many organisations remain cautious about moving their IT services to the Cloud. Recent high profile server problems that led to partial server downtime of Amazon’s Elastic Cloud Compute (EC2) service have once again raised the topic of cloud computing security.

A survey conducted by network services provider Colt has revealed a surprising distrust of the Cloud. 45 per cent of the 500 senior IT executives surveyed stated that they saw security concerns as the biggest risk associated with moving to Cloud computing, while 42 per cent said they were concerned about damaging the reputation of their brands as a result of performance or security-related issues.

Neil Cross, managing director of leading managed services and cloud computing provider, Advanced 365, highlights five key points for consideration by organisations moving to Cloud computing.

Choose a reputable provider

Cloud computing is not necessarily a bigger risk than in-house IT, just a different risk. Previously, the responsibility of maintaining a secure and smooth running in-house IT infrastructure sat exclusively within your organisation. By moving into the Cloud you are now sharing this burden of control with another provider and whilst the safety of your data is of paramount importance to you, it is also vital to your Cloud provider’s business reputation too. Choosing a reputable Cloud provider who is willing to provide you with details of its uptime and performance records to alleviate any fears you have concerning their reliability is critical to the success of the project.

The devil is in the detail

Before you commence any IT outsourcing project it is vital that you agree tight service level agreements (SLAs) with your service provider in writing. Agreeing strict contractual terms will rubberstamp expectations around availability, downtime and maintenance as well as the penalties that would apply if these levels are not met.

It’s important to remember that SLAs do not have to be ‘one-size-fits-all’ agreements. Complex organisations typically have multiple SLAs to cover separate parts of the business at various times throughout the day. Ensure that your SLAs are tailored to your organisation’s needs so that your key systems are always available during business hours.

You can never plan too much

Just because the Cloud is quick and easy to deploy doesn’t mean you should make a hurried decision which could severely impact the day-to-day running of your business. Like any other major IT project, it is essential that you plan thoroughly before moving to the Cloud.

In particular, you should think carefully about who is going to manage the project, consider the potential risks of migration, how to maintain business continuity and ensure that testing is scheduled outside of business hours to minimise any disruption resulting from downtime. It’s also essential for you to make sure that you can quickly switch back to your previous systems if things aren’t working. A measured approach to the Cloud in the short-term will reap long-term dividends.

Talk to a services partner to determine which option is right for you

From public to private and from applications to infrastructure, there are a bewildering number of Cloud computing options. Take the time to fully understand the differences between the offerings of the major providers such as Amazon, Google or Microsoft or talk to a trusted services partner who clearly understands the Cloud and has relationships with all major IT Cloud suppliers. Your partner should be able to clearly demonstrate the costs of entering and withdrawing from the Cloud and advise which on-demand applications are best suited to your business.

Know where your data is going to be stored

Variation in data protection regulations mean that different territories have different data protection regimes so make sure you know where your data is going to be physically stored. During the initial negotiations with your cloud provider it’s essential to clarify if there is a regulatory requirement for your data to be held within a certain area, for example Europe, and if so make this a term of the contract. Leading Cloud providers will have a strong grasp on which information must be held in particular localities so double check that your provider understands the data demands of your sector.

By enabling rapid access to leading technology on-demand, Cloud computing is a cost effective and flexible alternative to inefficient, in-house IT systems. Cloud computing is the future; however the fear of potential security breaches is understandably making organisations question whether moving to the Cloud is worth the risk. By working with a specialist partner, organisations can minimise these risks and benefit from all that Cloud computing has to offer.

Advanced 365 designs, deploys, operates and improves IT services from the desktop to the data centre, helping customers to align their IT to their core business requirements. Advanced 365 aims to help IT departments free themselves from day to day operational activity to allow them to deliver strategic value back to their business by creating an agile and scalable infrastructure that is closely aligned to their core business operations.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

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Eurocom wins Malling Health account

Eurocom Healthcare Communications has recently been appointed to develop a new strategic marketing communications programme for Malling Health.

With the aim to provide ‘healthy solutions for a healthy nation’, Malling Health is an innovative company providing a range of NHS Primary Care Services in over 20 locations throughout the UK. The group seeks to preserve as much of traditional Primary Care as possible whilst embracing new ideas.

With the face of NHS General Practice and, more generally, Primary Care changing rapidly, new contract models have been introduced to allow 'other' parties to enter the arena and provide GP services. It is this development that prompted the seven founding partners – six NHS GPs and their then Practice Manager, to form Malling Health to utilise their expertise and work together to compete for contracts.

Commenting on this latest business win for Eurocom Healthcare Communications Tony Chant, Managing Director said “We all know that the provision of healthcare services is going through radical change at the moment and Eurocom has its finger on the pulse of this changing environment. We are delighted to be appointed by Malling Health who are at the forefront of NHS provision of quality care and services for patients.”

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Leaseplan extends relationshi

LeasePlan UK has extended its vehicle servicing, maintenance and repair relationship with Niche Fleet Support for a further two years, with a further option beyond that. Through its managed independent repairer network, Niche has been working with LeasePlan since the beginning of 2010. Following a tender process Niche has been awarded a further contract until the end of 2012 to provide SMR services to LeasePlan’s maintained contract fleet throughout the UK.

Neil Dixon MCIPS, Head of Procurement & Supplier Management at LeasePlan UK commented: “We have now enjoyed a growing business relationship with Niche since the beginning of 2010 during which time Niche has expanded its core network, and delivered on our key service objectives. During the next two years we expect further developments to be rolled out as we drive for even greater service performance and driver satisfaction.”

Joe Bhamra, MIMI, Operations Director of Prestige Motor Care Ltd, said: “During 2010 we have seen a significant rise in business levels across all our channels to market. In particular, the Niche Fleet Support business, which offers lessors a set of key management, information and performance benefits, has been growing rapidly as we roll out our network relationships into a truly national offering. We are pleased to acknowledge the support we have been given by LeasePlan throughout this period, and delighted to have been awarded this contract extension.”

PMCL Chairman Bill Daulby FIMI paid tribute to the quality of the Prestige Motor Care team. “Since the acquisition of Prestige Car Servicing and Prestige Fleet Servicing in March 2010, we have been delighted at the rate of personal development of many of the excellent people already in the businesses. This has enabled us to accelerate the development of our “real-time” Unity operating platform, roll out a series of performance management measurements and develop new business opportunities much more quickly than we had anticipated. We expect 2011 to be a year of expansion and innovation across all our channels to market, including Niche Fleet Support, Niche Grey Fleet Care and our widening employee and affinity programmes.”

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Cloud-based development

Cloud-Based Business Intelligence Dashboards Synthesise Data into Easy-to-Use Visualisations for Informed Decision Making

Actuate Corporation, the people behind BIRT® and the leading open source Business Intelligence (BI) vendor, today announced that AMT - The Association For Manufacturing Technology (AMT) has launched MTInsight, a state-of-the-art business intelligence platform for its membership that runs on BIRT onDemand. BIRT onDemand is Actuate’s BIRT-based Software as a Service (SaaS) offering for BI and information delivery that MTInsight uses to harness over 200GB of data in the cloud, that is growing every day so that it can be analysed and displayed on a wide variety of devices including smart phones and tablets.

AMT selected BIRT onDemand because it provides a robust Platform as a Service (PaaS) offering for BI. Based on ActuateOne and using the power of Actuate BIRT’s flexibility and extensibility within a cloud infrastructure, BIRT onDemand provides AMT with a unique, plug-and-play platform for BI applications. Using BIRT onDemand, AMT can add new BI capabilities quickly and transparently to meet end user demand.

“The June 1st launch of MTInsight powered by BIRT onDemand to AMT members is a momentous step forward for the manufacturing technology industry,” says Douglas K. Woods, AMT President. “Throughout AMT’s history we have been providing our members with critical market information from world class data sources that has enabled them to make their businesses more successful.

“By teaming up with Actuate, we are able to incorporate the entire body of knowledge into one business intelligence application that allows users to interact with the data in an easy to use and understandable visual format. MTInsight is truly a game-changer.”

End user reaction to MTInsight powered by BIRT onDemand has been swift and positive. “MTInsight is my single source for key market intelligence. I can access this information 24/7 and be certain I’m referencing the latest information. So, no matter where in the world the job takes me, I have instant and easy access to current market data,” said Ernest Long, Senior Manager, Inside Sales at Okuma America Corporation.

“The Map U.S. Markets app lets me quickly identify regions and customers with similar applications. We can use the data to tailor local events and demonstrations to the specific needs of those customers.”

BIRT onDemand accounts come pre-configured with data storage from Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS), and include secure data transfer tools plus secure data connectivity to industry standard data bases, including increasingly popular cloud data sources.

“We are excited to help AMT leverage the cloud-ready capabilities of BIRT onDemand,” said Pete Cittadini, president and CEO, Actuate. “With BIRT onDemand, AMT can instantly deliver personalised BIRT content to mobile users and desktop users alike with one click, significantly increasing productivity for IT departments, developers and users within manufacturing organisations.”

For more information, visit the company's web site at or visit the BIRT community at

Monday, 13 June 2011

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Sunday, 12 June 2011

Marketecture App Showcases In-House Capabilities

Manchester-based B2B agency Marketecture has developed its own in-house app to showcase its digital capabilities to potential clients.

The iOS based app, which is available to download from iTunes, features a scrolling portfolio; quick links to the Marketecture blog, latest agency news, and social media channels. It also acts as a contact gateway for mobile users.

Created by the Marketecture Development team, the agency is thought to be the first North West B2B outfit to invest in-house resource to developing an agency credentials web application.

"The key was having the end-user in mind at all times, making it easy for people to access content, like our blog, even when they are on the move," said Michael Clark, Marketecture Managing Director.

"With the ongoing shift to a 'mobile' business world, how we contextualise content across different platforms is going to become a key issue in B2B and developing tools, such as the new Marketecture app, allows information to be available in the most user friendly way."

The app was borne out of the agency's own 'Anatomy Class', a self-development initiative for employees. Team members are given the job of choosing their own learning and development 'projects', then work with company management to outline project objectives and desired outcomes in-line with business needs and personal career progression.

Not only do they get the kudos of becoming an 'agency expert' in a topic relevant to their role, staff take-on the challenge at least once a year and can opt for a new assignment every quarter. There are also finical incentives, too.

"The Anatomy class has worked very well for us in terms of employee engagement and developing the skills we need in-house to progress as a business," added Clark. "The team's done us proud with the commitment they've shown to learn on the job to develop a new and valuable skillset."

The B2B agency has seen significant growth since 2008; going from 12 to 21 permanent staff. Last year's run of creative and digital appointments formed distinct online and offline creative divisions, as well as a dedicated digital department.

For further information visit them at

Maggie Philbin Announces Winners In The Impact Awards

Broadcaster Maggie Philbin, who provides comment on technology for the BBC, revealed the winners at an award ceremony in Glasgow which recognises the impact of intellectual assets from research.

The first commercial inspection of pipeline using an Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV), producers of a novel cement which absorbs more CO2 than it emits during production and an innovative procedure which improves patient quality of life by successfully repairing anterior cruciate ligament injuries first time, are amongst the winners of the PraxisUnico Impact Awards. Plus, there was also an individual award for those who are involved in translating the outputs of UK research into the new innovations of tomorrow.

Professor David Lane, Founder of SeeByte, winner of the Business Impact Achieved award and leading academic at Heriot-Watt University, said of this success, "I am delighted that the SeeByte team's achievements have been recognised through this award. Since launching the company in 2001, we have seen our vision of becoming a global leader in the provision of smart solutions for unmanned systems become a reality.

“This award demonstrates the opportunities available for young entrepreneurs to launch their ideas into viable businesses, and to the support which is available from organisations such as Heriot-Watt University, which fully backs the ambitions of tomorrow's business leaders."

Dr Joanne Thomas, Senior Technology Manager, TrusTECH (winners of the Collaborative Impact award) said: "The development of GraftBolt® is an excellent example of how a clinician, academics, a company and an NHS Innovation Hub can work together to develop a new product. The success was due to: good team communication; a robust patent; and a highly motivated commercial partner with excellent market knowledge."

Dr Phil Clare, PraxisUnico Chairman rounded off the evening by saying, "I'd like to thank all the entrants to this year's awards and congratulate those shortlisted and winners for bringing such deserved attention to these new innovations. These awards reveal the diversity of projects that knowledge transfer and technology transfer professionals contribute."

The winners
Business Impact - Achieved award:
Heriot Watt University and SeeByte Ltd for Autonomous Inspection
of Subsea Cables And Pipelines

Business Impact - Aspiring award
Imperial Innovations/Imperial College London/Novacem for Novacem
Collaborative Impact award, sponsored by MRCT is:
TrusTECH (North West NHS Innovation Hub) for GraftBolt®: From Sketch To Product

Career Track - KT Achiever of the Year
Dr John Pearson, University of Birmingham
Winners of The Impact Awards were announced at the PraxisUnico Conference Gala Dinner, the Old Fruitmarket, Glasgow on Thursday evening, 9 June 2011.

North West It Firm Celebrates 20 Years Trading

IT services provider, Flexsys, is celebrating 20 years trading in the North West.

The owner-managed business, headed by entrepreneur Adrian Smith, was established in 1991 - the same year as the world wide web went 'live'. Starting out as a team of six programmers with a single client, the company has evolved into a five site international operation, turning over £19m.

"Twenty years is a lifetime in technology terms," says Flexsys Managing Director, Adrian Smith. "Obviously there have been so many changes in that time, not least the evolution of IT into a business critical service."

As the IT sector focus shifted from programming and bespoke software development in the late 90s, through to 'office in a box' solutions and managed services into the new millennium, so too did the Flexsys offering.

"We saw our biggest growth spurt in the late 90s when the hype surrounding the millennium bug went into overdrive," recalls Smith. "The company scaled up to 40 programmers practically overnight in order to cope with the sheer volume of work. I think the team attacked something like five million lines of code to try and crack the Y2K data storage situation, which - put simply - came about from information being filed using the abbreviated two digit date format. The problem was also compounded by the Euro being introduced around the same time, so there were issues with customer systems not being compatible with the new currency.

"Then, post the year 2000, companies suddenly woke up to the fact that any development work had been on hold for at least two years and there was a growing need for long overdue updates. At that time, there was lessening demand for our 'bread and butter' mainframe programming applications for large organisations with bulk data processing requirements and a move towards off-the-shelf software packages for businesses of all sizes, in varying sectors. We made a strategic decision to harness our internal IT engineering expertise and reposition our service offering to regional SMEs seeking IT support.

"The current focus is very much on helping our customers harness cloud technologies. SMEs are actually in a strong position to lead the way in this arena because of their inherent agility. As well as upfront savings on physical hardware and deployment costs there are less obvious benefits of becoming early adopters of this model. For example, there are massive advantages from a business continuity perspective.

"While there is a common misconception that data hosted off-site is more vulnerable to loss and corruption, in fact the opposite is true. In reality, companies on a cloud network can set-up again almost immediately in the event of an incident. If you're reliant on data held on-site, however, what would happen if your facilities were affected by flood or fire? Imagine going back to square one after building your business up from scratch - because that's effectively what you'd need to do without any data records."

As champions of the cloud, Flexsys sets itself apart from other IT providers by taking a focused and straight-forward stance, which applies across its service offering. The company covers four core areas, namely: managed IT support, hosted desktop services, cloud wireless networks, and legacy application support. Its premise is providing enterprise level IT infrastructure and services to small to medium sized corporations.

"Many SMEs resolve themselves to the fact that being at the receiving end of IT issues is par for the course, but this needn't be the case," says Adrian. "It stands to reason that a one-man-band IT operation will not deliver the same support levels as a more established set-up.

"At the other end of the spectrum, however, the solutions/partner/consultancy approach taken by many of the bigger IT providers is beginning to wear thin. These buzz terms are pretty meaningless to most owner-managers - SMEs simply seek a supplier who can make their system work and make it work well."

The company's transparent 'price per user', fixed monthly fee approach differentiates its offer from similar providers by essentially productising IT services. All Flexsys customers can rely on unlimited support for a set cost that covers strategic input as well as ongoing maintenance requirements.

For further information visit

That's Technology goes mobile friendly

With the assistance of the designers and engineers at, That's Technology will, from now on, be available in a special version designed for users of mobile devices.

A spokesman for the publisher of That's Technology said: "The system is in beta mode at the moment, so it is still being tested. Anyone with comments on how it looks on That's Technology, please leave a comment at this posting."

It is understood that if the system works well that the other sister blogs to That's Technology will also receive a mobile makeover.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

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Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Power your smartphone on the move!

Can't bear to be parted from your Smartphone, PC or even the National Grid? Here's how to keep all your gadgets juiced up at festivals or on holiday over the summer.

The One For All car charger (£16.99) turns your car cigarette lighter into a charging station and comes with seven tips for your mobile phone, MP3 player, PDA, digital camera or game player.

The One For All in-car power socket (£29.99) converts the cigarette lighter into a 220V mains power point. Useful for hair dryers and hair straighteners as well as laptops.

The TomTom high-speed multi-charger (£19.99) has a 1.2 amp USB charging port for mobile phones or MP3 players, plus a 2.1 amp port to speed-charge high power USB devices such as an iPad or iPhone. This charges up without impacting the other port's charging capability. Plus there's a third port for powering 12V in-car devices like DVD players.

And the One For All Universal Travel Power Pack (£29.99) keeps your devices charged when you don't have access to a power source at all. It has a 1050 mAh battery which, once pre-charged, gives up to 100 hours of extra power (standby time) when the device's own battery has run down.

For more info or to find out how to order visit

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Thousands of HTC phone user details exposed online?

This is the extraordinary claim made by mobile phone comparison site which says that the phone records of HTC customers were exposed online.

A spokesman for the comparison site said: “The personal details found included the names and addresses of the HTC customers in question together with the serial number and IMEI number of the mobile phone they own.  If these details fell into the wrong hands then customers could become the victims of fraud such as phishing scams.

“The vulnerable web address were numbered sequentially and if each contained consumer information then over 25 million records could have been exposed. When we tested a sample of around 50 web addresses all contained data and around 30% contained personal details of individual customers.

“These details were available by typing a simple website address into any browser on any computer. The website address in question does not belong to HTC but to a third party contractor who carries out certain customer services on behalf of HTC.”

A member of staff at added: "A malicious person with limited technical knowledge could have written a simple program in 30-60 minutes to harvest these records. Then they could do what they like with them." informed HTC of the problem and they claim HTC got their contractor to secure the website concerned.

HTC have not issued a statement regarding this allegation.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Trustmarque help the police

Trustmarque Solutions has announced that its Commercial Benchmarking service has saved Durham Constabulary police force a very useful £190,000 per annum on licensing costs, plus also ensuring it was eligible for future support and benefits from Microsoft.

Durham Constabulary needed to review its licensing agreements as it had cut the number of computers it used.

During the review period they realised they should move its licence renewal forward in order to ensure it could support its desktop operating system for the next six years and to enable a programmeof work to match its ICT Strategy.

Durham police also had a good deal of future development work planned because it was moving towards a SharePoint strategy, plus a new Microsoft Office environment with Office 2010, and exploring the deployment of Microsoft Lync.

As it was working to tight deadlines, it realised it needed outside, specialist assistance, so brought Trustmarque Solutions in to help it to find cost-effective solutions.

Steve Wright, Head of ICT Service Operations and Support for Durham Constabulary, explains: “Our key aim was getting value for money on procurement. We were using a Microsoft Select agreement, where you basically buy from the catalogue, the most expensive way of licensing.

“We talked to Trustmarque about their benchmarking service and it sounded ideal. We had worked with Trustmarque before and had a good relationship with them, and trusted them to point us in the right direction.”

Trustmarque worked with Durham Constabulary to identify a 'strategy roadmap' for the next six years, around various products it was looking to invest in, providing information on all the products that would be available to it under various Microsoft agreements, what the benefits would be and how this fitted in with their future vision.

The process was completed within five months, and in February 2011 Durham Constabulary signed a new agreement which should help it make savings of £190,000 over the course of the next three years.

But there are other benefits, too. Steve Wright adds: “The Trustmarque Commercial Benchmarking team was great. They spoke to us about what we were planning to do with the organisation, helped us to do an inventory of what licences we had and which could be redeployed within the organisation.

“Trustmarque outputs helped us to outline the life time of the products and how these fit in with our future strategy. Trustmarque came back with pricing for the various different licensing models available from Microsoft, and provided guidance on what would suit our needs best.

“Working with Trustmarque has given us a much richer understanding of Microsoft licensing. Using the Commercial Benchmarking service helped us to decide our procurement route, and saved us a lot of money.”

“The work conducted at Durham Constabulary shows how Trustmarque’s services are continuing to drive down the cost of IT in the public sector,” Simon Rutt, services and solutions director comments.

“Through this service alone we have seen organisations save, on average, 36 percent on a new or renewed Microsoft Enterprise Agreement. This is a fantastic achievement and the benefits of the cost savings can be realised immediately, and aside from this many of our customers come away with a more comprehensive view of their ICT estate, enabling them to ensure compliance and plan ahead.”

For more information about Trustmarque visit, call them on 0845 2101 500 or email

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Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Certainly not 'head in the clouds' as hosting and cloud company iomart Group plc profits rise 618%!

iomart Group plc, the managed hosting and cloud computing services company, has just announced a very healthy 618% rise in profit before tax to the London Stock Exchange.

The company’s financial results year ending 31 March 2011 showed profit before tax rose to £2.8m (2010:£0.4m, before gain reduction in deferred consideration of £09m). iomart Group’s revenue also showed a big increase, up 38% to £25.3m from £18.3m in the previous financial year.

The majority of growth announced by the Glasgow-head-quartered company came from its hosting ( operations which generated revenue of £17.7m, a rise of 61% from £11.0m in 2010. This figure includes revenues from the acquisition in November 2010 of Titan Internet for £4.2m, however even taking into account this purchase, hosting revenue still jumped by 47% with many customers looking specifically for cloud-based and enterprise hosting solutions.

Angus MacSween, CEO of iomart Group plc, said: “Cloud computing is something of a buzz word with many companies who add the ‘cloud’ tag to everything they do, yet don't back it up with reliable delivery mechanisms.

“At iomart we have built our technologies from the ground up specifically to be delivered via cloud. As a result we are becoming recognised as an authority on the provision of cloud-hosting solutions and are well positioned to take advantage as the market evolves and people look for reliable vendors.”

iomart Hosting won 400 new orders over the course of the year, many of which were additional orders from existing customers. Increasingly these orders include some aspect of cloud or virtual computing in the overall solution package.

Angus MacSween added: “With more businesses looking to the cloud for their data solutions we believe we have positioned ourselves well to take advantage of this market moving forward. We are in a market that is growing and that is here to stay and we fully expect to participate strongly in that growth.”