Category Archives: Support

When Is It Time to Hire an IT Services Company?

by Jack Gesualdi, June 23rd, 2014 in Support

Maintaining an IT department can cost a lot of money. From the software and computer equipment to the personnel that are hired, there’s no way around the fact that good help costs money. That said, there are ways to keep costs manageable, and outsourcing to an IT services company is one of them.

The decision to outsource or to keep in-house IT staff will be reliant on a couple of factors, and a company’s preferences, needs, and costs of operation will all play a role in determining the route chosen: if outsourcing is significantly cheaper (which it often is), it might make sense to outsource; if a company prefers to have support on-site, keeping an in-house staff may be the best decision. Many smart companies use a combination of the two resources to great effect.

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For startup companies or those who are considering a change to their IT department, the question is “what are the advantages of outsourcing?”

An IT services company can provide robust IT management and support, often for less than it would cost to build that same support in-house. But how can that be? Most people think of external contractors as ideal primarily for short-term projects or temporary positions, whereas a company’s IT needs are long-term and only likely to scale up. So how can paying an IT services company possibly cost less than simply investing in your own IT Department?

There are several reasons. For starters, the cost of in-house IT resources can be high. Not only are you looking at hiring professionals whose skills are in high demand and then paying them benefits, you’re also eyeing servers, network equipment, and security measures that can get expensive to purchase and maintain in-house.

But that’s not all. IT needs aren’t static and, in fact, the IT landscape—including both the equipment and the knowledge that a given business needs—is among the most rapidly changing of any industry. That doesn’t just mean that the equipment you buy today may be obsolete in 18 months; it means that in 18 months you may have completely different needs in terms of employee skillsets, as well.

IT services companies take a lot of this off your plate. When you contract with these companies, they take on the responsibility of keeping their equipment current and their staff training up-to-date. What you get is a functioning IT department with the latest technology, plus more options for technological growth and versatility at your fingertips – and at a lower cost.

When setting up your new department, you could opt to have one of these companies handle every aspect of your IT. Alternatively, by keeping a limited IT staff and then using outsourced services, you could achieve the best of both worlds – having the normal, everyday troubleshooting and routine maintenance handled by the outsourced experts with the best technology on the market at their fingertips, while those on-hand can focus on strategic business priorities. Both of these are reliable and viable options, so asses your needs and see which would work best for your company.

The Biggest Benefits of Outsourced IT Support

by Jack Gesualdi, June 16th, 2014 in Support

Are you considering outsourced IT support for your business? Many companies have been opting for outsourced support recently, but is it the right option for you? It might be the smartest choice you ever make, but if you are still on the fence, here are some of the key benefits of outsourcing your IT:

  • Better technology – Businesses with outsourced IT support often have better, more recent technology than those who invested in all their own in-house equipment. That’s because IT equipment and practices are in continuous flux and constantly evolving. No matter how great the network infrastructure you bought in 2009, by today, you’ll be hearing groans from tech staff and finding yourself vulnerable to new security threats. With outsourced IT support, you can have equipment supplied by a firm whose job is to be on the cutting edge—and that means you stay current.
  • The best tech experts – Even for talented technical experts, it’s not easy to get a job at a dedicated IT firm. The bar is higher and the firm’s leadership knows the tech just as well as their staff do, which means there’s a greater level of accountability. And IT service firms make it a point to keep their staff trained and informed on the newest technologies and the latest developments in security and best practices. That means you have a higher level of skilled professionals at your disposal.
  • More options for growth – One of the biggest problems with investing in in-house IT support is that you commit yourself to a single track for many years to come. There are sunk costs involved and it’s hard to change tracks or priorities. That doesn’t fit well with the world of rapidly changing technology, or with potential changes in your own business. With outsourced IT support, as your business changes in size, the aim or scope of your technology can change too. You can add networks or pare down your tech without painful wasted investments. It allows for much greater flexibility.
  • Robust security – With the cyber era comes cyber threats. It can be difficult for a non-tech firm to keep current on the latest security practices or for a business leader to even know which threats are credible and which aren’t. Outsourced IT support includes tremendous information security support, and that can be priceless.
  • Peace of mind – Your company has its own industry to worry about. Information Technology is, in many ways, the engine room of a contemporary business and a CEO shouldn’t have to worry about what’s going on in the engine room. With outsourced IT support, they don’t have to.

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What makes you want to make the switch?

Hints and Tips for Making Your Small Business Grow

by Jack Gesualdi, May 5th, 2014 in Human Factors, Support

You’ve finally gotten your small business up and running. While you’re trying to take care of your customers, there are a million other things also vying for your attention. Don’t get caught up in trying to micromanage aspects of the daily grind that will distract you from your goal of making your bottom line—keep your eye on the prize and let others do the busy work for you. Here are some tips for making your small business into a thriving, competitive company:

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Hire that first employee

While you may think you can’t afford to hire help right now, your business could really benefit from an extra hand on board. More than likely, you’re dedicating several hours per week of overtime and really draining your energy. If it’s just you (or even you and a business partner), you’re probably trying to manage the front of the house and the books all at the same time; you’ll wind up making mistakes simply due to fatigue and forgetfulness. Having an employee on hand to take care of the front of the house while you spend some time managing the books will not only help with organization, but will also give you a chance to start planning ahead for the future.

Research Your Online Reputation

Now that you’ve hired that first employee, you can spend some time building up your reputation. People are never at a loss for words when it comes to their most beloved (or most despised) business experiences. It is very important that you know what people are saying; for each star on Yelp, your revenue could increase by a significant percentage. If what people are saying about your business isn’t stellar, come up with a plan to address the future experiences of customers. You could also sponsor a local event, such as a fair, festival, or charity function as a way to get your name out in a positive light.

Use technology to your advantage

There’s no denying we are in the age of technology, and if you are trying to ignore or avoid dealing with this, you could be losing a lot of precious capital. Products such as QuickBooks exist to keep your finances straight so that tax time is a breeze. If you’re still keeping track of what’s coming in and going out on paper, you’re in the minority and wasting valuable time. Most companies have their own website and e-mail setup, and it’s important to invest in trustworthy small business IT support to make sure you don’t miss a beat. Lastly, make sure your utility providers (phone, Internet, electric) are reliable. Having any of these go out can cause major losses in profitability. Check with other small businesses around you and see what seems to be the best system for your specific area.

The Benefits of IT Outsourcing for Small Businesses

by Jack Gesualdi, April 29th, 2014 in Support

When you’re running a small business, every decision has tradeoffs and the costs and benefits of every investment need to be scrutinized. One wise decision for a small business owner may be IT outsourcing. It is difficult for many small business owners to even consider letting important business functions be handled outside of their control. But there are many benefits to IT outsourcing; read on and see if the advantages outweigh the disadvantages for your business.

IT outsourcing will reduce your costs

Starting a small business is a huge investment, and most businesses don’t have unlimited budgets in their first few years. As the owner, you probably wear many hats and take on many different tasks, from sales to management to emptying the wastebaskets! Every dollar counts when your capital is limited in the early days of your business. Can you really afford to have a full-time IT person in house? Can you absorb the cost of setting up a reliable IT infrastructure? IT outsourcing can be a cost-efficient approach that can actually save your business money—leaving you with more to invest in other areas.

Outsourcing puts many of the brightest minds in IT at your disposal

As a small business owner, you need to consider your business’ limitations. You can probably only afford to hire one or (at most) two full-time members of your IT team. Now imagine  your entire data system goes down, or there is a need for a major overhaul or upgrade. Can your one or two team members handle that in a timely and efficient manner? Unless you hire the Superman of IT, probably not. By outsourcing your IT, you are giving yourself access to all the resources you need: hundreds, if not thousands, of IT experts will be on hand to solve your problems, and outages or upgrades can be handled by an appropriate number of people.

Can these two guys really handle everything?

Can these two guys really handle everything?

IT outsourcing gives you access to cutting-edge hardware

If you are purchasing hardware on your own, you may be limited in terms of what you have access to and what you can afford. Don’t shortchange your team when it comes to computers! Consider this – IT outsourcing companies usually have close relationships with many of the world’s biggest tech companies. These relationships can benefit you and give your employees access to fast, secure, up-to-date technology.

Are you a small business owner? Have you discovered other benefits of IT outsourcing?

Hog Wild

by Scott Kantner, April 30th, 2009 in Data Center, Disaster Recovery, Hosting, Support, Systems Management

Try as you might, your IT department won’t be allowed to ignore the current drama surrounding the swine flu outbreak south of the border. While the number of confirmed swine flu deaths is one (yes one) as of this writing, the 7/24 news cycle is in full Doom’s Day mode. Your customers may soon be asking what your plans are because they are just in the process of making their own plans. Unlike “normal” data center disasters like fire or flood, a pandemic scenario is just not on most people’s planning radar.

So what are we in IT do? Chances are you’ve already taken care of it. If you have remote access technology in place for your employees, and you’ve already planned for a building disaster, you’ve probably done as much as you can do unless you can find staff who are impervious to the flu.

Commander Data

The rest is really a matter of business continuity, not disaster recovery.

A relevant article appeared on processor.com a few years ago that stated as much:

A major part of an IT admin’s job during a pandemic will involve remote IT administration. Unlike disaster planning for acts of God, such as floods, fire, or earthquakes, staffers during a pandemic will not immediately seek to relocate.

“One interesting difference between [a pandemic] and another disaster is how everybody cannot just go and work at a different data center. You don’t want to take everybody and put them all in one place,” notes James Governor, an analyst for Redmonk, an analyst firm built on open source. “You do need a distributed and potentially home-working strategy because this is not the same as your [average disaster].”

Enabling staffers to access and perform networking tasks remotely is crucial in the event of a pandemic. “Any establishment worth its salt has good access tools to use the network from wherever they are on the planet. That is just good practice in any case,” Governor says. “And certainly, it is good practice if one is concerned about any potential issues where you might not be able to access the network in a way that you normally would.”

And as Bob DeCoufle pointed out on Tuesday, there is only a remote possibility of needing to invoke your disaster plan, assuming you had a recovery facility “outside of the epidemic region.” How one would anticipate where that would be is another matter, but in any case, few of us have the resources to relocate around a pandemic.

Unless we’re hosting hospital applications or other life support systems, asking our employees to do more than work remotely is probably unrealistic. In a genuine crisis, they will likely be home with their families, and Uncle Sam will probably be calling the shots regardless of our plans.

If by chance you are also required to cover the continuity aspect of your company, Forrester Research offers the following planning tips for a pandemic:

Preparing for a pandemic involves collaboration between all the departments in an enterprise, Forrester Research says. If an outbreak of a contagious virus or disease keeps more than half of all employees from showing up for work, some of the things an organization must do include:

Maintaining inventory and supplier relationships

Providing systematic communications about the outbreak for employees

Making vaccines and medical support for employees available (if possible)

Offering means of transportation to and from work in case public transit systems fail

Providing tools and resources to enable employees to work from home

The phrase “this too shall pass” brings me peace of mind. The swine flu will pass. In the meantime here at DSS, we’ll be making sure our remote access systems are up to snuff and reviewing our staffing plans for the data center. An emergency IT staffing plan should reflect the kind of business you’re in. If your IT systems support the lives of others, you obviously have a greater ethical responsibility than those who are running online shopping sites. For the crisis du jour, you will want to have an appropriate plan for on-site data center support.

And if you put your gear in a facility like this, you’ll have even less to worry about the next time the flu bug oinks in our direction.

That's all Folks!