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July 22nd, 2010

Implementing a client-server network and maintaining it with Managed Services can help small to medium-sized businesses prevent data loss events, which lead 43 percent of such businesses to close within two years.

According to DriveSavers data recovery service, 43 percent of companies that lose data in a disaster never reopen, and 90 percent are out of business within two years. How can you prevent data loss—without the hassle and expense of staying on top of the latest technology and continually monitoring backups? Consider a client-server network combined with Managed Services.

With client-server networks, computers and other devices called clients are connected to a centralized computer called a server. The server stores information in a central location, and shares it with the clients on the network.

Why is this a better setup for data loss prevention than the traditional peer-to-peer network, in which computers are connected directly to other computers?

First, because peer-to-peer networks have no centralized security safeguards, anyone connected to the network can gain access to all of the devices on the network, making it easy to lose data through malicious acts by hackers and viruses.

Second, because peer-to-peer networks don’t share information in a centralized loca­tion, if one device on the network fails, all the data stored on that device is lost. This makes it easy to lose data through hardware and software failures.

With a client-server network, you address both of these potential problems. Security software can be installed centrally, ensuring that everyone on the network has the most up-to-date protection. At the same time, access to data that might be lost through malicious acts can be controlled, with different access levels given to different users. It’s also easy to back up (and retrieve, if necessary) data because it’s stored in a centralized location.

The only remaining problem is that maintaining a client-server network requires you to stay on top of the latest technology, monitor backups, and troubleshoot problems—and that can take the resources of a dedicated IT staff.

If you don’t have such an IT staff, or if you’d prefer your IT staff to work on revenue-producing projects, you may want to consider Managed Services. With Managed Services, an IT company monitors your network to ensure security is high and data is backed up regularly. If a problem occurs, it’s addressed quickly, with data retored almost before you know it’s missing.

The best news: Your support costs should be approximately the same as if you were paying to address problems as they arise—but your network’s safety will be significantly higher.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
Topic Articles
June 23rd, 2010

Of course we’ve all heard of the saying “If it ain’t broke, why fix it?” And really, to some degree, that saying holds true.

When it comes to technology, though, reality favors the opposite. You might have hardware right now that’s a bit old by industry standards but is still working, so there seems to be no need to upgrade or replace it. Sooner or later though, it’s going to cause you a lot more trouble than it’s worth.

For instance, what if you are in a middle of a major project your hardware breaks down? Hardware manufacturers constantly upgrade their technology, leaving past models behind. This means that the older your hardware is, the harder it will be for you to find support or spare parts when things go wrong. Unless you have a backup plan, this scenario can turn into a big nightmare. And IF (that’s a big “if”) you can find the replacement parts you need, you’ll probably wait for weeks for them to arrive and for the repairs to get done, making you lose precious time and profit.

The advantage of upgrading your equipment is that the more advanced it is, the higher the quality of your output. Your workflow can be made much easier and more efficient with better performing hardware specs and added features that come in newer models. And with the right support from manufacturers, any glitch or problem can be fixed within a reasonable period of time since parts and other replacement components are in stock and readily available.

Of course, you don’t need to upgrade each time a new model is released. The key is to know when give your hardware a boost. If your upgrades are properly planned, you can change systems and replace equipment without compromising your productivity or output.

So if you want to assess your current hardware, we’d be happy to sit down with you to create a roadmap for your future upgrades.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
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May 21st, 2010

disasterAs networks and devices become increasingly complex, more and more things can go wrong. As a result, disaster recovery plans have also become more complex.

Is yours good enough?

According to Jon William Toigo, the author of Disaster Recovery Planning, 15 or 20 years ago a disaster recovery plan might consist of powering down a mainframe and other computers, disassembling components, and drying circuit boards in the parking lot with a hair dryer. That’s because a disaster, in those days, was usually a fire that set off a company’s sprinklers.

Today, there are many more threats, including sabotage. Moreover, most companies’ IT systems are too large to be recovered using such a simple hands-on approach. Even if you could recover from a disaster in the manner Toigo recalls, you probably wouldn’t want to due to the downtime it would require—downtime that could have a significant financial impact.

Consider the case of Hurricane Katrina. When it slammed the U.S. Gulf Coast in 2005, it wiped out the communications infrastructure of a whole region, uprooting 1,000 wireless towers and knocking down 11,000 utility poles. Many businesses were forced to shut down entirely—even critical ones, including 25 hospitals and 100 broadcast stations. But clients of such company did stay in business—by relocating to off-site facilities equipped with the computing power and backed-up data to keep systems and services online. Some even utilized 18-wheelers with servers and other office equipment inside.

Disaster recovery in the modern age is a detailed, step-by-step course of action for quickly getting back on your feet after a natural or manmade disaster. The details may vary depending on your business needs, and can be developed in-house or purchased as a service.

How prepared are you for disaster? Call us today for a review of your plan.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
Topic Articles
April 23rd, 2010

BCPIt’s simple: Businesses that suffer data losses usually fail as a result.

That’s according to a study by the Department for Trade and Industry, which found that 70 percent of small businesses suffering a major data loss are out of business within 18 months.

What this means is most small businesses have failed to protect themselves from a plethora of problems. According to Ontrack, data loss is the result of human error 44% of the time, hardware or system malfunction 32% of the time, software malfunction 14% of the time, computer virus 7% of the time, and site disaster 3% of the time.

And data loss is bad, because your data is your business. To illustrate, consider the impact if you lost access to your IT systems, including:

  • Customer databases
  • Supplier details
  • Financial documents, from invoices to tax records
  • Product catalogues
  • Marketing materials
  • Letters and emails
  • Document templates
  • Staff records

You already have insurance to protect your business assets, and the same principle applies to your data. Regardless of where your data is, it needs to be protected—and protected continuously—from every possible threat.

The good news: a solid disaster recovery plan, including a good backup solution, will allow you to get back to business within minutes or hours in most cases.

So protect your data, and secure your business. Ask us how.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
Topic Articles
March 22nd, 2010

bcpBusinesses are constantly changing. Is your disaster recovery plan changing, too? It should be.

Every company can experience a business-altering event at any time:  floods, explosions, accidents, computer malfunctions—the list is endless.

If you have a disaster recovery plan, you’re prepared to prevent such events from disrupting your normal operations—or at least you were at the time you created the plan. But how long ago was that?

As your business has grown, it’s likely that your products and services, or at least the way you deliver them, has changed as well. For example, the increase in technology-based processes over the past few years has likely increased your reliance on the availability of systems and information for your business to function effectively.

These changes might necessitate a change in your disaster recovery plan. As a result, we recommend a regular review of your plan. If you make changes, these change should be tested and new processes documented so all employees can be trained accordingly.

Finally, keep in mind that reviewing your disaster recovery plan isn’t a one-time event. Because changes to your products and services, or the way you deliver them, are likely to continue, reviewing your disaster recovery plan should be a regular process.

If you’d like a professional review of your disaster recovery plan (or if you don’t have one in place at all), contact us today. We can help save your systems and data from the unthinkable.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
Topic Articles
February 22nd, 2010

managed serviceMost small and medium businesses can’t afford the luxury of a qualified IT administrator, let alone an entire IT department. If you’re in this position, how do you maintain the information technology infrastructure that’s critical to your organization?

One option is Managed Services, in which you outsource this role to an IT expert called a “managed services provider,” which will typically offer on-site or remote network and security monitoring, data backup and technical support.

Because the Managed Services model allow a business to focus on its core competencies, it is increasing in popularity—but sometimes it’s hard to separate the real benefit from the hype.

What’s the value to you?

  • Peace of mind. Your managed services provider will monitor your IT infrastructure and prevent or resolve any problems—a sharp diversion from the traditional “fix it when it breaks” model of IT management.

  • Simplicity. Your managed services provider will provide many of its services remotely, via the Internet, instead of through on-site visits. This reduces time and cost.

  • Constant support. You don’t have to worry about support; your  managed services provider will offer the assistance you need, when you need it.

  • Affordability. Managed services providers typically offer several price structures, including a per-month fee—which is much lower than the cost of building an in-house IT support department.

  • Accountability. Have you ever tried to resolve an IT problem only to find that one vendor blames it on another who blames it on another? With managed services, you don’t have to go to multiple vendors to figure out why your network is down or you’ve experienced a security breach. You’ll have one point of contact: your managed services provider.

Want to learn more about how Managed Services can give you dependable IT with predictable costs? Give us a call.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
Topic Articles
January 20th, 2010

five_reasonManaged IT services are the technology solution of choice for large businesses, but many small and medium businesses remain resistant to considering this approach. Below are five reasons you may want to change your mind.

Reason #1:  You need to control costs. In today’s economic environment, IT budgets have been slashed—but a cut in IT spending doesn’t come with a cut in demand for IT services. As a result, you have to do the same amount of work with fewer resources. Although managed services might cost more in the short-term, they cost far less in the long term once you account for the domino effect of lost productivity and customer dissatisfaction.

Reason #2:  IT complexity is increasing. The breadth of information technology a company requires places small- to mid-sized businesses at a distinct disadvantage. Equipment is constantly upgraded in the market, and new IT-related specialties are emerging in a variety of areas, from telephony to networking. It’s difficult for small businesses to maintain the expertise necessary to properly manage these new technologies.

Reason #3:  You’re more dependent than ever on IT. At the same time, companies have become dramatically more dependent on IT in the past few years—and increased use of IT leads to increased outages and greater loss of productivity.

Reason #4:  Your existing solutions are inefficient. In today’s world, a one- or-two person in-house IT department or consultancy simply cannot handle the occasional IT breakdowns that are bound to occur. In many cases, employees have to wait in line to receive help. As a result, not only are your employees less productive, their morale is also decreased—and unhappy employees are less productive employees.

Reason #5:  You need to maintain compliance. More and more companies are finding themselves subject to regulatory compliance, from Sarbanes-Oxley to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)—and most small businesses don’t have the resources to fully understand the requirements of these regulations, let alone comply with them.

Of course, the best reason to consider managed IT services may be that IT isn’t your specialty. If managing IT infrastructure has absolutely nothing to do with your core competency, why wouldn’t you outsource it to an expert? By implementing managed services, you can utilize your internal IT resources for other purposes, such as supporting your strategic business objectives.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
Topic Articles
January 2nd, 2010

phishingTrusteer, a security solutions vendor, recently released the results of their study which shows how successful phishing attacks are, how many users respond to phishing attacks, and how many users submit their login information to criminal websites. The results are alarming. Among them:

  • Each phishing attack involves a very small percentage of customers (0.000564%), but due to the large number of phishing attacks, the aggregated number is significant
  • 45% of bank customers redirected to a phishing site divulge their personal credentials
  • 0.47% of bank customers fall victim to phishing attacks each year, translating to $2.4M-$9.4M in annual fraud losses per one million clients
  • Each financial institution was targeted, on average, by 16 phishing websites per week, translating to 832 phishing attacks per year per bank brand

Despite efforts by browser developers and security vendors to protect users from phishing attacks, a small number apparently are still able to bypass anti-spam/phishing protection – and when they do, the results can be damaging.

Let us help you protect yourself from phishing attacks. To find out more contact us today.

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Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
Topic Articles
November 1st, 2009

win7Highly respected technology writer Walt Mossberg from the Wall Street Journal calls Windows 7, “A Windows to Help You Forget” – and with good cause.

We all remember Vista and the horror it continues to be for users. Expected to be a welcome upgrade from Windows XP, Vista was instead, from the very beginning, plagued with problems and all sorts of bugs, and was only slightly made more palatable when the Service Pack 1 was released. Many opted to stick with the more ancient yet much more reliable Windows XP and wait for better things to come.

And come it did. With Windows 7, Microsoft has produced the operating system that many thought Vista would be, leaving the predecessor a memory most would rather not revisit. Faster, lighter, simpler, and easier to use, reviewers have compared this recent instalment of Microsoft’s flagship operating system to a more efficient and generally accepted-to-be-better OS: Mac OS X. While Microsoft does have a stake in Apple, it doesn’t erase the fact that the two have for years been – and continue to be – the most bitter of rivals. With the release of Windows 7, the competition has become very stiff indeed.

Mossberg writes, “In recent years, I, like many other reviewers, have argued that Apple’s Mac OS X operating system is much better than Windows. That’s no longer true. Now, however, it’s much more of a toss-up between the two rivals. Windows 7 beats the Mac OS in some areas, such as better previews and navigation right from the taskbar, easier organization of open windows on the desktop and touch-screen capabilities. So Apple will have to scramble now that the gift of a flawed Vista has been replaced with a reliable, elegant version of Windows.”

Key features of Windows 7 include UI and visual improvements to the taskbar, desktop, file, and networking systems. The overall speed of the OS has also been improved over Vista, which required a lot of hardware to run properly. Now, Windows 7 users are treated to much lighter spec requirements to make the OS run smoothly. Compatibility, especially with third party programs, has also been enhanced, with some touch screen features available for compatible hardware.

In a nutshell, Windows 7 is what Windows Vista was supposed to be in the first place. And because there’s no sense in crying over spilled milk, Microsoft has whipped up quite the replacement mix this time around. And we mean that in a good way.

To read Walt Mossberg’s full review, go to: http://ptech.allthingsd.com/20091007/a-windows-to-help-you-forget/.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
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