August 2013 – Free Cloud

If your bottom line could use a boost, one of the best things you could do is have us evaluate your telecom expenses. We work with companies every day to evaluate their current bills for voice and data services (phone lines, Internet connectivity, branch office connections), evaluate their current needs, and align them with the best solutions. We’ve helped several companies reduce their telecom expenses by over $50,000 per year! However, we can help even if your telecom expenses are just a few thousand dollars per year. Give me a call – your bottom line will thank you.

I do have one more thought to add to our cloud discussion.  I need to point out that in all cases I was referring to paid cloud services.  Free cloud services are pretty much never appropriate for business use, and Google gave us a reminder of that this month.  In a legal brief filed by Google on July 13th, they cited a statement recently made by the Supreme Court “Indeed, a person has no legitimate expectation of privacy in information he voluntarily turns over to third parties”.   Even with paid cloud services, privacy and security remain the most significant concerns, and it is imperative that you understand and trust the service provider’s privacy and security policies.  However, certainly as these developments indicate, any data you entrust with a free cloud provider should be considered fair game.  The service provider is free to use and expose that data in any manner they choose.   Keep in mind, if you send email to a gmail user, (or other free cloud service), you are also surrendering your expectation of privacy.

July 2013 – Hybrid Cloud

Introducing Chris Turner!   Chris is our new Marketing and Service Coordinator.  I’m sure you will be hearing from her soon, but feel free to give her a call at the office or send her an email at chris@netinn.com to say hello.

Chris is a highly experienced professional with a background in employee development, corporate communications, client experience, event planning and project management.  She spent the last 16 years in the banking arena working with everything from sales and marketing to vendor management, risk management and client communications and strategies.  Chris has experience with branch design, process redesign and quality control.  She has several years of training and development experience and enjoys developing relationships with clients.  When she is outside the office, Chris is very active in the Blue Valley School District and is also a volunteer for Girls on The Run Kansas City.  Chris enjoys spending time with her husband and three kids as well as spending time with family and friends.  In her spare time Chris enjoys running and is training for the Kansas City Half Marathon.

To wrap up our cloud discussion, let’s talk about Hybrid Cloud.  This is of course the “best of all worlds” scenario of integrating local systems, private cloud and public cloud solutions as appropriate for each application.  You’ve probably been using Hybrid cloud for years and didn’t even know it.  Is your website hosted by an outside provider?  And possibly your email?  That’s hybrid cloud, and you were doing it before it was cool.

Hybrid cloud is what we should be talking about.  Very few business models fit into just one cloud philosophy.  We need to look at all of the applications and functions crucial to your business, and find the right solution for each.  If a public cloud solution can meet one of your needs (like email) for less money, that’s the way to go.  If a private cloud solution gives better access to product literature for your field reps, let’s do it.  If your Line-of-business (LOB) application is more secure on local servers, keep them.  And let’s back it all up to private cloud storage!

The technology cloud is vast and ever changing, just like its namesake.  Equal parts bleeding edge technology and established, proven technology.  Don’t be afraid, let us help you use the cloud to achieve the end result we are all looking for:  efficient, productive tools that you can leverage as a competitive advantage in your business.

June 2013 – Private Cloud

I don’t know why, but vacation season surprises me every year.   I’m busy working along, trying to get through the to-do list, and all of a sudden no one is around to work with.  I never mind though when it is my turn (which is coming up after the 4th)!

We get kudos all the time, but there is one fresh in my mind this week.  We had a client unexpectedly evacuated from their building, and it looks like this might last awhile.  With their AltiGen system, we instantly routed the calls from that office to another location – literally as they were walking out of the building – with basically no downtime.  We had them up and running the next morning with employees working both from home and an alternate office.  At the end of the day, the client remarked “Wow, this new phone system has certainly paid for itself today!”.  If your phone system isn’t that flexible, let me show you what we can do!

Continuing our cloud discussion, this month we will discuss Private Cloud.  This is currently a very popular option to consider.  With Private Cloud, you are moving your application or data offsite to a data center.  This gains you the cloud benefits of lower up front capital costs, and easier “anywhere, any device” type access.  However, with Private Cloud, the servers remain under your control.  This negates the CONS of loss of control and security concerns.  You and your IT company do remain responsible for maintaining and supporting the infrastructure.  However, since it is not shared, you maintain the current level of flexibility and privacy.  For many firms subject to regulation such as financial institutions and healthcare organizations, this may allow them to explore cloud solutions while remaining compliant.  If you have questions about the cloud, give me a call and I’m happy to help.   Next month we will continue the discussion with Hybrid Cloud solutions.

May 2013 – Interns, Facebook, Cloud

Help Wanted – Network Innovations is looking for a responsible, mature high school or college student to help at our office over the summer.  An applicant should be pretty computer savvy and have access to a car – interested candidates can email me at brian@netinn.com for more information.

Have you considered hiring someone like this in your business?  For one thing, employing a teenager and providing job experience is great for the community as a whole, but selfishly I’ve found it’s great for our company too.  Our employees really enjoy the chance to mentor a young person, and that change of mindset can be a great catalyst for growth.  Also, some of these kids are just phenomenal!  It’s also a great way to get some of those things done that just never seem to make it to the top of the to-do list. I highly recommend you give it a try – if you have any questions about how we do it, give me a call!

This month I’ll continue my “cloud” discussion.  Probably the biggest issue we have to address is what does cloud computing really mean?  What people generally mean when they use this term is using data or an application from shared servers outside your control versus local servers that you own.

Facebook is a great example of cloud computing – you access the application across the Internet, you have no ownership or control over the servers, you aren’t responsible for outages and you didn’t have to purchase the equipment.  Applications like Facebook, however, have spread the misconception that cloud computing is free or less expensive than local servers.  In fact, for business use, cloud computing is typically more expensive than local servers if you look at the cost over 2+ years.   PROs for cloud computing include low to no responsibility for supporting and maintaining the system, easier remote or “anywhere, any device” access, and lower capital expenses.  CONs  include no control of and in many cases no visibility into the infrastructure used, dependence on reliable Internet connections, and less flexibility due to utilizing a platform shared by many users.  In most cases today, it’s not feasible to pursue a 100% cloud strategy, however you may have many applications or services where the PROs outweigh the CONS.

It’s important to be very thorough in evaluating the benefits, risks and costs of transitioning an application to cloud computing, so you understand how it will impact your business over the next 2-5 years.  Then, it’s even more important to evaluate the potential cloud partners to ensure you are choosing a stable, redundant, financially viable partner to entrust with your data.  Give us a call and we can help with this!

Now that you have a baseline understanding of cloud computing, next month I’ll try to confuse things by discussing Private Cloud and Hybrid Cloud!  Never fear, we are here to help with  your specific environment anytime!

April 2013 – Will winter end?

Wow, April is the most interesting winter we’ve had in awhile LOL.  Tomorrow is May 1 and as I sit here with a sunburn from the weekend,  snow is again in the forecast for Kansas City.  I can’t wait to turn the page on the cold weather and get the garden planted!

Probably the most common questions I get today are about the “cloud”.  I’ll cover the cloud in detail over the next few newsletters and in our upcoming summer lunch & learn.  The most important thing to know is that we understand the cloud, and we can help you figure out what parts of the cloud make sense for your business.  It’s not a one size fits all solution!  Check out this recent article from Forbes Magazine.

How are you backing up?  You’ve probably heard about our server based Business Continuity Backups, or BDRs (Backup & Disaster Recovery).   We’ve got a new model out that should put the final nail in the coffin for other methods.  If you are using tape, USB Hard Drives or some faceless website to backup, you have too much risk.  Give me a call and I’ll talk to you about the options for fully managed backups that we believe in.

March 2013 –

Thanks to all that came out for our Seminar at Bass Pro a couple of weeks ago! We had over 40 attendees and a great discussion!

Lots of talk about tablets, cell phones, and “BYOD” or “Bring Your Own Device”, the practice of allowing employees and/or clients to use their personal devices on your network. There are LOTS of advantages to BYOD, in particular convenience and cost savings, but MANY pitfalls as well – all dealing with security. If this is a challenge you are facing, let us help! There ARE answers out there!

One item we discussed where the interest surprised me was Xerox solid ink printers. These are phenomenal devices but I was blown away by the response. All Xerox solid ink printers are fast and print phenomenal documents. One big advantage is that the consumable is literally just a block of wax – a big crayon. There are no big toner cartridges to throw away (or save in a big stockpile) and no messy toner to spill and get all over your hands. They are super efficient with a low cost per page – but in particular, the 8870 model prints COLOR for the price of Black & White! That’s about 3 cents per page. I use one in my office and we love it. We don’t print a ton of color, but with this printer we don’t care if it’s color or black and white. Most color printers cost more like 20 cents per page and some are over 50 cents per page – those costs are eating at your bottom line. Even with our small print volume, this printer was worth the investment and will pay for itself quickly in consumable savings! Let me know if you would like to learn more.

February 2013 – Lunch & Learn

Please join us on March 13th for our Lunch’n’Learn!  We will have the latest info on wireless networking, network security, and the latest updates from Network Innovations!  We are way overdue and haven’t done one in quite some time.  This should be a unique experience at Bass Pro Shops in Olathe!  I’ll spend part of the session showing you all of our free tools you have at your disposal that you might not know about.  See below for more info and I hope to see you there!

There is a lot of information in this month’s newsletter about BYOD and mobility.  Do you have employees that want to attach iPads and cell phones to the company network?  Are you wondering if these tools might make some employees more productive?  Are you reeling from the effects of 4 snow days in the past two weeks – with a huge backlog of work?  Remember, this is what we do – let us help!  Contact me and I’ll be happy to meet with you to discuss.  We’ll be touching on some of these topics at our lunch’n’learn as well.

NEW AltiGen Feature:  Sometimes it’s the little things.  AltiGen just added in a new feature I’ve been wanting for quite some time!  If your phone is ringing, you can hit the release button and the call will go to voicemail and your phone will stop ringing!  This is similar to hitting decline on your cell phone.  If you are on AltiGen’s software assurance, you can have this feature now!  Send me an email, you may already have the update and if not we can schedule it asap.