Small Biz Tech Myth: Mobility gives my employees an excuse to slack off.

October 22nd, 2010

no myth
Location is becoming irrelevant for many businesses.
With a notebook and a strong Internet connection, people now work on airplanes,
at cafes and even at their desks! While managers once feared the freedom
that mobility offered their employees, they are now embracing it, knowing that
it can extend productivity well beyond the 9-5 workday.
Businesses can reap the benefits of employees’ access to mobile email and
virtual storage for improved collaboration and communication.
Cloud computing and notebook computers with embedded broadband should be
central to your company’s mobile strategy.
A solid mobile strategy can really contribute to your company’s competitive edge.
Let’s say you’re a real estate agent. This means that most of the time your work
is conducted in your car. Accessing email, a database or the Internet, wherever
you are, could be a huge advantage while you’re closing a deal or hosting an open house.
There are other benefits. While mobility lends your business a more competitive edge,
your employees are probably also happier. Mobile employees tend to appreciate their
ability to work remotely and establish a more ideal work environment for themselves,
while contributing to the overall productivity of your business.
A new Brigham Young University study shows that working from home even one day per week results in more productivity and lower burnout rates.

Do your employees work remotely? If so, what is their feedback on this policy? If not, what’s holding you back?

Back Up your PC Lately?

October 18th, 2010

… Yeah, I’ll get to that tomorrow.
… It takes too long.
… I’m really busy today.
… My computer is new
What excuse do you use to NOT backup your computer? Now, Iomega has a new SSD Hard Drive that will make backups quick, easy, and efficient. Weighing less than a quarter of a pound, this is the device that should eliminate all of the excuses you use.
Iomega SSD Drive
Iomega has a line of pocket-sized external flash storage devices using a USB 3.0 interconnect.
The External SSD Flash Drive has a 1.8-inch form factor and comes in 64, 128 and 256GB capacities,
all with built-in 256-bit encryption. We don’t know if it is single- or mult-level cell flash
inside but assume its multi-level and probably 2-bit.
Also included is bundled-in backup (Roxio Retrospect) and anti-virus software plus a three-year warranty.
There is also v.Clone software, which captures a complete virtual image of your PC,
including the operating system, applications, settings, and all files, and writes it to the
flash drive. You can access the cloned copy and use it seamlessly on another computer, as
if you are working from your own PC. When you reconnect, it will automatically sync your
data to the primary PC, meaning files are always up to date.
The MozyHome cloud backup service is also included.

Here is a list of features:

  • Preformatted and hot plug-and-play
  • No AC adapter needed
  • Compatible with PC and Mac
  • NAND Flash Type: MLC
  • Max Read: up to 265MB/s
  • Max Write: up to 215MB/s
  • Data Transfer Rates: USB 3.0 up to 5 Gbits/s
  • MTBF: 1.2 Million Hours
  • Hardware Encryption: 256-Bit AES Encrypted Storage Controller
  • Three year limited warranty
  • Dimensions: 4.35″ x 2.72″ x .37″ (L x W x H)
  • Weight:.24 lbs

If you keep valuable data, pictures, etc. on your computer, you may want to consider one today.

Why you need E-mail Archiving

October 14th, 2010

Do you have an E-mail Archiving policy in effect?
Can you retrieve an email from 2008? How about 2005?
Something important was just e-mailed to your customer.
Did they save it? Is it backed up?
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP) revised in 2006 require all businesses large or small
to save business documents for anywhere from three to seven years depending on the type of business.
The need to easily search stored business documents is also critical.
Electronic discovery of relevant e-mails can make or break a lawsuit.
Litigation and compliance are valid reasons to store all e-mails, yet many SMBs do the opposite:
In the interest of conserving storage of rapidly growing messaging stores, they require users to delete e-mails
when their in-boxes grow above a certain size, possibly losing business-critical content and putting the firm at risk.
Even companies that have a policy of saving all e-mails can get into trouble.
Large volumes of e-mails stored on production servers can hurt messaging performance and slow the backup process.

Solution Overview
There are two main approaches to e-mail archiving:

  • On-premise software and appliances
  • Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) with offsite storage.

Customer size, sophistication of the IT environment, sensitivity of the archived data, and the budget all impact which solution to choose.

Is your Identity safe?

October 13th, 2010

Are you using the web safely?
How do you guard your identity when using the internet?
Here’s a few surprising statistics from the Symantec website.

  • Cybercrime has surpassed illegal drug trafficking as a criminal moneymaker
  • Every 3 seconds, an identity is stolen online
  • Average cost to repair identity theft: $1,865
  • A victim of identity theft can spend an average of 165 hours recovering losses

If you would like more information on how to keep your identity secure, call Greyhound today.

A Fond Farewell to Windows XP

October 7th, 2010

It’s time to bid adieu to Windows XP.
As of 10.22.2010, Windows XP downgrade rights will no longer be available.
XP Logo
In 2001, Microsoft released Windows XP. The merging of the Windows NT/2000 and Windows 95/98/Me lines was finally achieved with Windows XP. Windows XP uses the Windows NT 5.1 kernel, marking the entrance of the Windows NT core to the consumer market, to replace the aging 16/32-bit branch.
So, Are you ready to give up on XP? It’s been a rather stable operating system, undergoing 3 Service Packs.
After using XP for 9 years, it may be hard to kick the habit.
Are you ready to move up to Windows 7? Windows 7 has been out long enough to be “road tested.”
Greyhound is actively deploying the 64-bit version of Windows 7 Professional, and so far, customer response has been positive.
There’s much to like about Windows 7, and with Windows XP support ending soon, it may be the right time to move up to Windows 7.
Call Alan at 586.469.4429 to see how migrating to Windows 7 can increase productivity in your workspace.

What’s my data really worth?

September 23rd, 2010

Do I really need Online Backups?

Backup of vital company information is critical to a company’s survival, no matter what size the company. Recent studies show that 93% of businesses that lose data due to a disaster go out of business within two years.

  • 6% of all PCs will suffer an episode of data loss in any given year. (The Cost Of Lost Data, David M. Smith)
  • 30% of all businesses that have a major fire go out of business within a year. 70% fail within five years. (Home Office Computing Magazine)
  • 31% of PC users have lost all of their files due to events beyond their control.
  • 34% of companies fail to test their tape backups, and of those that do, 77% have found tape back-up failures.
  • 60% of companies that lose their data will shut down within 6 months of the disaster.
  • 93% of companies that lost their data center for 10 days or more due to a disaster filed for bankruptcy within one year of the disaster. 50% of businesses that found themselves without data management for this same time period filed for bankruptcy immediately. (National Archives & Records Administration in Washington)
  • Companies that aren’t able to resume operations within ten days (of a disaster hit) are not likely to survive. (Strategic Research Institute)

So, all you need to determine, is, what is your tolerance for data loss?  If you need either a Data Recovery Plan or a Business Continuity Plan implemented to not become a statistic listed above, call Greyhound today and we can deliver a plan specific to keeping your business alive and well under any circumstance.

Call 586.469.4429 and speak with Alan.

Got Bytes? How about a Zettabyte?

September 22nd, 2010

Remember when you could fit 1.44MB on a floppy?
How about a 345MB hard Drive?
Well, we are way past bits, bytes, even gigabytes, soon terabytes will be small.
So what’s next?
How about a zettabyte. A What?
A zettabyte is only 1 billion terabytes, which is the equivalent to a stack of DVDs that can extend from the earth to the moon and back.

Extend the life of your IT Assets

April 16th, 2010

The economy has hit the IT departments of most companies, and budgets are under scrutiny. For organizations looking to save money, delaying the procurement of new assets can be a logical step. But it can be a tricky balance to squeeze as much life as possible out of existing assets without hazarding downtime. Here are some tips for boosting life expectancy without putting the enterprise at risk.
Focus On Power & Cooling
There’s always plenty of discussion about power and cooling issues in the IT industry, and for good reason.
Tweaking these areas can bring enormous boosts in energy efficiency and also prolong the life of IT assets.
Concentrating on power and cooling especially as high-density equipment is integrated into a center more often can keep IT assets not only rolling longer, but also working harder. One aspect of power and cooling that’s often overlooked is integrated coordination among seemingly minor data center items such as coordinate lighting, fire suppression, equipment placement, cable pathways, and air distribution, and that can create a bad design scenario. Focusing on how cooling and airflow affect the entire center can cause less strain on specific IT assets and prolong the life of that equipment as a result.
Take Advantage Of Virtualization
One approach to extending IT asset life expectancy will be virtualization. Along with that strategy, IT managers will have to focus on larger efficiencies, as well, such as implementing a more efficient storage strategy. High-density racks are here to stay and will become more of an issue for data center planners and operators over the next few years. While it will be important to remain effective at removing the associated heat, it’s also incumbent upon us as IT professionals to ensure that we are squeezing every bit of computing power and storage capability out of every watt. He adds that this means virtualizing workloads and weeding out the unnecessary over-storage of redundant information.
Put In The Extra Effort
One sacrifice that has to be made when extending IT asset life is the time it takes to do more planning,
monitor systems, talk with consultants and vendors, and ensure that assets are being maximized without risk. Time spent in monitoring is valuable, especially with sensor placement. Sensors can pick up changes in cooling, for example. What we see often is overcooling, in which managers are so concerned about overheating that they go to the extreme with cooling. That can be tough on the equipment, as well, just as much as overheating. In addition to monitoring, IT needs to put in the time to focus on lifecycle management, including the creation of end-of-life tracking for every asset. Although proper cooling, virtualization, and monitoring can extend an asset’s life, there does come a time when keeping an asset running past its expected end date can put a data center at risk. Setting an expiration date for each piece of equipment can be helpful for regular decommissioning rounds, which might include refurbishment and recycling, as well. Dedicating one staff member’s time to the effort can be useful, because that person can create a holistic view of asset management lifecycles and understand the complexities involved in monitoring and refurbishment. That person can also evaluate asset management software, which can pull together a complete view of assets, provide license tracking and compliance, and control IT budgets.
Establish Usage Measurements
Efficiently operating IT assets will last longer. In order to understand whether equipment is functioning
as efficiently as possible, it’s necessary to create a baseline, so that spikes in temperature or power
can be noticed sooner rather than later. Toward that end, establish a strategy that includes PUE (power usage effectiveness), a metric used to determine energy efficiency. It works by dividing the amount of power entering a data center by the power used to run the equipment inside the space. In other words, total facility power—which includes UPSes, battery backups, switch-gears, chillers, and CRACs (computer room air conditioners)—is examined in comparison to IT equipment power, covering servers, storage, and telco equipment. Sacco notes that in a properly designed space that’s running efficiently, the PUE should change very little from season to season, no matter how dramatic the temperature changes might be outside. An IT manager should also fold in measurement of individual pieces of equipment, such as servers.
Getting to this granular level can reduce consumption levels by examining compute cycles and optimizing
them where possible. Fewer compute cycles means that the server can operate for longer.
Extending asset life can be a complex endeavor, but if strong focus is put on strategies like
monitoring and virtualization, and awareness is created around efficiency and cooling, assets
can stay robust for longer life cycles.
Lock It Down
Working so diligently to extend the usability of an IT asset won’t do much good if that asset goes missing.
Consider the utilization of storage closets. Put in a couple different types of closets, especially ones that can be secured. You want to be able to store expensive things like laptops without worry, and you can also put extra servers in there, so you know they’ll be there if any problems come up and you have to swap them out.
Key Points

  • Focus on power and cooling efforts, because improper cooling can decrease the life of IT assets.
  • Look at SLAs to determine whether they’re meeting the needs of the data center.
  • Build in extra time for monitoring and planning to make lifecycle management a greater part of data center operations.