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Sometimes it is easy being green.

Today is St. Patrick’s Day. Everybody is Irish for 24 hours and the color green is top of mind. Green Computing or sustainable computing is a way to use your IT Assets such as computers, printers, monitors, servers, routers and storage devices efficiently, effectively and with minimal impact on the environment. Here are a few ideas to keep to practice green and sustainable computing: Turn them off when you don’t use them. For desktops and laptops consider turning them off when you are done for the day. Leaving them on at night can increase power consumption. Besides, your PC could use a reboot now and then anyway. However, be sure you speak with your backup and network administrator about IT policies for systems maintenance. Your systems may have a daily backup scheduled after hours. In addition, software and operating system updates may occur after hours as well. Some “managed” desktops, laptops and servers are smart enough to power up for routine systems maintenance. Check your IT policies first to make sure it is OK to turn them off at night. Buy Energy Star computer equipment. Energy Start is a low carbon IT campaign to help reduce energy consumed by computer equipment. When you buy new computers make sure they are Energy Star Compliant. If you have older equipment you may factor in power savings as part of your return on investment (ROI) for your new systems. Consider this, an Energy Star computer can save up to $50 annual in power. Not only to you save some “green” by buying Energy Star Computers, but, by minimizing your carbon footprint you...

Moving your IT to the Cloud? Here are some things to consider.

Moving your IT to the Cloud? It seems like everyone is doing it. According to a 2011 survey by IPED at least 50% of small businesses will adopt cloud computing within their business by the end of 2012. With all of the hype about cloud computing, here are some things to consider before you make the move. Let’s start off with what is Cloud Computing? The easiest way to explain the “Cloud” is think of it as using computer assets (software, servers, etc.) that are located somewhere off-site from your company’s location. Cloud computing is typically purchased on a subscription basis (i.e. a monthly service fee) avoiding some of the up front costs. Also, the Cloud may be a shared resource (i.e. Public Cloud) or dedicated resource (i.e. Private Cloud). The first thing your need to decide is: what do you want to gain by moving to the Cloud? Are you trying to avoiding making capital expenditures? Do you want to pay-as-you go for your IT infrastructure as an operating expense instead of a capital expense? Are you concerned about being able to recover from a backup in the event a disaster, such as, a fire, earthquake or hurricane that could destroys all your computers and data on site? If any of this appeals to you, then Cloud Computing might either augment or replace critical IT assets within your company today. However, these benefits do not come without risk. If you decide to replace your line of business application (e.g. Accounting Software) with a Cloud alternative commonly known as Software as a Service (SaaS) you won’t have to pay...

Happy Leap Day!

Every four years we all get something we all need in our busy lives, more time.  How we use that extra day may determine whether we become more productive or efficient.  Maybe that gift of an extra day will make us more relaxed.  This year February 29th falls on a workday, so here are a few ideas to consider. Decide to upgrade your network.  PCs, servers routers and other IT assets typically have a useful life of three to five years.  As technology advances at a rapid pace, your hardware and software assets become obsolete.  Your systems may become slow, sluggish and unreliable.  Obsolete hardware and software can contribute to loss of employee productivity or worse.  You may be a victim of malicious software attacks or malware because your old network is out of O/S patch compliance.  Like changing the battery in your smoke detector, consider upgrading that network at least every four years. Evaluate your line of business applications.  Has your business grown or changed? Does that accounting system continue to meet your needs?  Many businesses will outgrow their line of business applications within 5 years.  Use Leap Day to consider if your account software meets your current set of business rules.  If your policies and procedures have changed since the time you first implemented your account software, perhaps the system is holding you back.  Now is a good time to make sure your technology is in line with your business strategy. Update your technology roadmap. Now that you have an extra 24 hours, consider your future business and growth strategies.  Think through how those strategies may need...

Adopting an Integrated IT Strategy

Are you thrilled with your IT infrastructure? Chances are you do not want to think about it at all. In fact, the less you worry about your IT Infrastructure and assets the better – right? Small and medium businesses (SMBs) rely on hardware, software, email and data to run daily operations. The slightest hiccup can turn into a huge distraction resulting in loss of productivity for your employees and company. What can you do to take the worry out of your IT? One solution is to adopt an integrated IT strategy. Instead of managing a variety of tools for data protection, remote backup, anti-virus and anti-malware yourself, have your IT Service Provider manage your infrastructure for you. Do you really have time to ensure all your systems are up to date with operating systems (O/S) patches to protect you from the latest security threats? Remember, your network is only as secure as your most vulnerable device. If you miss a patch on one device, your entire network may be out of compliance and compromised. There are plenty of benefits from adopting an integrated approach to managing your IT assets. For starters, having a single source IT Service Provider means you have one organization to call when you have a problem. If you have service level agreement (SLA) in place, you will get a rapid resolution when you run into problems. What’s more, by using the latest remote monitoring and management technologies, your IT Service Provider will identify and resolve problems before you even realize you have them. By proactively managing and monitoring your IT Systems, you will run into...

Proactive IT for Small and Medium Businesses

Let’s face it, most businesses rely on their IT Systems to run their daily operations. Whether it is email, eCommerce, accounting or other “line of business” applications, SMBs need the same up time and availability as a large business. Most of the time everything hums right along. When PC’s crash or the network crawls, business can come to a grinding halt. Being proactive with your IT Services can make all the difference in the world in getting up and running again. Here are some tips to ensure you get back up and running quickly: Start off by having all your ducks in a row. When things go wrong, make sure you know who to call. Don’t wait until things are broken to find an IT Service Provider or Computer Repair Company. Establish a Service Level Agreement (SLA) with a reputable IT Service Provider in advance. By having an agreed upon response time and rate schedule, you can ensure a rapid response to your problem that works by your schedule. In many cases you can pay by the hour or by the ticket. You may even be able to include unforeseen computer repairs as part of a fixed fee IT Managed Service Agreement. By having a service level agreement in place, you will save time and money when things go wrong. Also consider having both local and off-site backups of your data. When we thing about backup we typically think about a disaster, theft or other systems failure. Any way you look at it, backup is all about recovery. A local backup can help you find lost files or recover...

5 Tips for Protecting your Data

It seems not a week goes by when you hear about some company getting hacked. Not only is this embarrassing, but also it can be costly if you compromise customer’s data. According to PCICompliance.org banks may pass along fines ranging from $5,000 to $100,000 for each infraction. So what can you do to protect yourself and reduce your risks? Here are 5 quick tips for you to consider: 1. Windows O/S Patch – Everyday there are new patches, updates, and hotfixes available from Microsoft for your computers. Many of these patches are created to close security holes for your PC. If your PC is at risk your network is at risk. This means your data is at risk too. By making sure ALL your systems are up to date on a DAILY basis, you will help protect your data, and your systems will run better too. 2. Antivirus – Keeping your Antivirus definitions up to date is another way to protect yourself from data loss. These Antivirus updates are designed to avoid dangerous attacks and to prevent malicious programs from destroying your data. Verify your Antivirus definitions are always up to date. 3. Malware – Malware is short for malicious software. These programs not only slow your computer and disrupt your work, but they can also gather information from your machine resulting in a breach of privacy. Many malware programs are designed specifically for capturing credit card information. There are many new programs designed to detect and destroy malware. Make sure you are ahead of these types of attacks. 4. Network Scan and Audit – You can identify security...

Top Small Business IT Trends in 2012

It is that time of year (again) when everyone puts together that list of stuff that is going to happen next year. Small businesses are the backbone of the US economy. According the the US Department of Commerce small businesses employ over half the workforce. Inc. Magazine says small businesses will spend over $268 billion on information technology and communications in 2012. Here is why: It is no surprise small businesses rely on information technology as much as larger businesses do today. Most have a website, some sort of PC based accounting system, email for communications, Internet access, firewall and WIFI access within their business. It is not uncommon to have more than one device per employee (eg. PC or Mac, Windows servers plus a mobile phone). By nature, small businesses have less working capital that big businesses. As a result, they are more dependent on current cashflows to make ends meet than their larger counter parts. Business interruption from systems downtime resulting from systems failure, natural disaster, loss of power, theft and security breach can have a bigger impact on a small business than a medium to larger company because small companies may be less resilient. With the absence of a crystal ball, it should be no surprise that the following Small Business IT Trends will become increasingly important in 2012. Business Continuity. Business Continuity is the planning and related process a business goes through to make sure operations continue in the event of a disaster. For example; taking orders, paying suppliers and employees, keeping the factory or store open. Business Continuity includes the ability to rapidly backup...
The Cloud is Too Big to Fail? Guess Again

The Cloud is Too Big to Fail? Guess Again

We live in a wonderful time. A new invention is changing the way we perceive the world. The grass is greener. The sky is bluer. Birdsong sounds sweeter. Trumpets are hailing a new carefree era with butler robots catering to our every need.This new technology is going to revolutionize our lives in ways that we can’t conceive of yet. I’m talking about, of course, The Cloud. Hyperbole aside, doesn’t it sometimes feel like we’re being sold a bag of beans? The experts would have us believe that the cloud is the Be All, End All of IT architectures. It promises to deliver ubiquitous access to business tools and information with an economy of scale that will revolutionize the IT industry. According to Gartner’s 2011 CIO Survey, cloud computing services are the top priority for IT organizations this year. Gartner goes on to predict that while today only three percent of CIOs have the majority of their IT environments running in the cloud or on SaaS technologies, that number is expected to jump to 43 percent over the next four years. But what really is the cloud? Should we trust our data to vendors who promise to secure our mission-critical information? What exactly is in the fine print in those SLAs we sign? Will the expanse of the Internet ensure that the cloud will never fail? Is our data truly safe? The fact is that we’re all are facing a radical consumerization of IT. Users are increasingly accessing business data, applications and email on mobile devices–often their personalhardware–making it hard to track and manage business data. With cloud applications managing...
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