As Benjamin Franklin once said “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Research has found that a proactive IT support service, compared to a reactive service, has far more benefits. The benefits of proactive IT include, reduced costs and an increase in business productivity, and are a result because it is easier and more affordable to maintain a healthy network than to fix issues as they arise.
More predictable IT investment
By spending money to help prevent issues you will have a much more accurate idea of your IT spend, rather than the expensive and unpredictable cost of fixing issues as they occur.
Faster performance and minimal downtime
Regular network maintenance will increase your network speed and minimize the chance of a crash. Through regular maintenance and a proactive remote monitoring solution you will be able to detect issues early and prevent them from escalating to expensive downtime and a slow network.
Sleep easier knowing your system is safe
Rather than worrying about if your system will crash at night and how you will fix it, a 24/7 remote monitoring solution can send you alerts at any hour of the day if something unique is going on with your network, so you will not be left in the dark.
Less to worry about
As an IT manager or business owner you already have a lot on your plate. With a proactive approach to your IT, you will not have to worry about hours of downtime and chasing fires because you will have a plan in place to prevent this worry.
By planning for your IT and taking a proactive approach, you will not have to waste as much time chasing fires all day, because a healthy network has less problems. It takes less time to keep your network stable consistently then to run around fixing unfamiliar issues.
A proactive approach to your IT will greatly benefit your company, and specifically the person at your company in charge of IT. There will be less to worry about, more predictable spending, less expensive downtime, and an overall time savings. Setting up a proactive approach to your IT system can be done by running regular maintenance and security checks on the network and 24/7 monitoring and alerting.
At time goes by and your company continues to grow, your server will start to show signs that it is coming to an end. It is very important to take these signs seriously, and act, rather not do anything until they cause you expensive downtime. If your system is experiencing any of the following 7 signs it is time to consider updating.
It is slow- When your server starts to crawl, it is time for an upgrade. When you are at 80% CPU usage or greater, then you need to start considering an upgrade. As your server slows down, that means less productive employees, how much productivity can you afford to lose?
It is making noise- As a server gets older, a very obvious sign that an upgrade is needed is the amount of noise it is making. Your fan drive and hard drive will become noisier as they age, this indicates that your server is getting closer to failure. Computers are like cars, they only have so much mileage before they start to fall apart.
It is no longer under warranty- Software and hardware support normally stops after three years, and when the manufactures stop supporting, it probably means it is time for an upgrade. If something goes wrong from that point on, the cost of repairs for hardware and software will start coming out of your pocket.
There is no more room- If your software requirements start to exceed the specifications for the server, you should consider an upgrade sooner rather than later. Do not think of your space and memory needs in the short term, but plan for the long term, and how much your business may grow in the coming years. Planning if very critical, you need to know if you will be adding more staff, or upgrading software in the future, if your server is struggling to handle the load now, will it be able to in the future?
It seizes up- If your server freezes up on a regular basis that is another sign that your server is reaching its limits. You will want to upgrade your server before it is too late, for many timing this is difficult. Having monitoring tools in place that report on the health of the network, will allow you to catch this sign earlier and proactively handle the situation.
You are wasting too much time- If you are spending too much time fixing server issues, it is time for an upgrade. Your server should run smoothly, and you should not have to spend time throughout your busy day dealing with issues constantly. Think of how you could better spend that time during the day improving other areas.
IT CRASHES- We hope it does not take to this point to upgrade your server because the downtime will be very expensive. To avoid this expense you can implement a backup solution that gets you up and running quickly, have remote monitoring in place for more accurate warnings, as well as pay attention to the warnings above and upgrade
These are just some of the signs that it is time for a server upgrade, although they may not always be obvious. If you think it is time to upgrade a server, or you would like to have a professional take a look please contact River Run Computers and we will be able to help.
Your employees are an important component of your organization and keeping these talented individuals is critical. There are many reasons why an employee may become frustrated, and one of those reasons may be because of lack of up-to-date technology which is restricting them from performing to the highest level. Losing an employee for this reason is unacceptable especially when you consider the high cost of turnover.
Employees need technology for a number of reasons, one being communication. Technology can speed up the communication process, and open up employee’s time so that they can attend to other tasks and not be held up. If an employee starts to be slowed down by the effects of outdated technology, it will start to become very frustrating for them and their experience at your company will be affected negatively. For some employees being given old computer equipment will be taken as a lack of respect for the individual. Imagine being given a 10 year old computer, on your first day at a new company, would you really feel like this company is invested in you and is giving you the tools to excel? You probably would not. Overloading your employee’s workloads is another negative effect of not keeping up with technology. Today most people do not have to gather their own data and processes are automated. However, if technology is not up to date they will spend time gathering data and doing other tasks that could be done automatically with different programs and solutions. As a result your employee’s stress level will raise and will have a lot more on their plate as they have to take on this work as well as all the other tasks they are responsible for. Convenience and flexibility are a huge factor in keeping employees happy, and being up to date with your technology will really help with that. For instance, if it is a Saturday morning and your employee needs to work to get a project done by Monday morning, would they prefer to have to drive all the way to the office, or prefer to be able to sit in the convenience of their home and complete their work? Having the correct software can allow employees to work from home and avoid driving to the office when it is unnecessary. Giving employees the flexibility to work at home is important to their work-life relationship, and will make working much more enjoyable.
Keeping your talented employees is key to continue to run your business smoothly, and keeping them around is much easier when you keep them up to date with the tools they need to perform their job effectively.
The short answer is, yes. This may seem contradictory to some so let’s take a look at different ways that you can save money by spending money. Here are 5 different ways that managed services can you’re your company money:
1) Increase Efficiency- Hiring experts to oversee the IT aspect will allow more time for everyone else to focus on their own jobs. Small businesses generally have one employee who is tasked with handling the IT needs of the office. Generally that employee is unfamiliar with IT but knows IT better than everyone else in the office. Instead of wasting time TRYING to solve complex IT issues, this person should be focusing their efforts on their job and what they are experts at.
2) Cutting Overhead Costs- By outsourcing your IT, you can reduce the overhead costs that come with hiring a new employee such as benefits, space, equipment, and other expenses. Rather than adding additional staff to the current roster, it may make sense to outsource your IT department.
3) Increased Knowledge- Most managed services firms have numerous engineers on staff; some even have more than 25 engineers on staff. This means you have access to not just the knowledge of one or two engineers, but access to all of the engineers on staff at your managed services provider. To invest in that knowledge separately would be cost-prohibitive however with a managed IT firm it is just part of the package!
4) Customized Plans- Many companies do not need a second or third IT employee, however some of the time the work becomes too much for one employee to handle. When situations like that arise, a managed services firm is a perfect fit. The managed services firm can come in once a week, once a month, or whatever makes sense for your company, and take work off of the plate of your current IT employee so that he can tend to other pressing issues.
5) Reduce Downtime- Your managed services provider can provide necessary network maintenance to assist in avoiding downtime, as well as many have tools in place to catch potential failures before they happen. DOWNTIME IS EXPENSIVE! By hiring a managed services company you will reduce your risk of downtime.
There are many benefits that come with hiring a managed services provider. If you would like to learn about additional benefits, or would like to learn more about some of these managed services in the Milwaukee area please click the link below.
Remote monitoring is a very valuable and cost effective solution for many companies today, but why? What is it companies find so much value in with remote monitoring? Well, there are a lot of reasons remote monitoring can be valuable to a company, specifically remote monitoring can prevent downtime, enable you to respond to issues immediately, you can be alerted of issues at any time of the day, and lastly you can generate valuable reports to save yourself time.
The first reason is huge for small to medium sized businesses and that is, remote monitoring can help to prevent downtime. The average cost of downtime for small to medium sized businesses is $12,500 per day, and 54% of customers switch vendors due to unreliable computers systems! Remote monitoring can help catch problems before it leads to downtime, thus saving a lot of MONEY and angry customers! A second reason for the importance of remote monitoring, can be found by looking at the ability to respond to issues immediately. Without remote monitoring, it can take days or even weeks to notice there is a small issue with your network, however if you have a good remote monitoring service in place it can alert you immediately and let you know that something needs to be addressed. This is so important, because if you are unable to address something immediately and let it linger for days or weeks, it has a very good chance of growing into a much bigger and worse issue. Along the same lines of being alerted to issues immediately, is that most remote monitoring can be done 24/7. That is very important because even in the very unlikely chance that you do have people involved with your network during nearly every minutes of the work day, you more than likely don’t constantly have people watching your network at 2:00 AM. 24/7 remote monitoring can send alerts at any minute of the day, and if a major issue does arise you will be aware of it immediately. The last very important feature is that most remote monitoring services generate reports quarterly, and some of the better services even monthly. This is very critical to look at to check your network health as well as to be able to diagnose where problems originated. By reviewing these detailed reports you will be able to strategically focus on areas of your network that may need improvement, and have an overview of your network and everything on it as well. These reports will also save your network administrator the time of gathering this critical information on their own, and assist them in diagnosing network issues in a much more reasonable amount of time.
Remote monitoring is a solution that many companies are starting to pick up because they realize the great value behind it, if you have not taken a look into it for your company I would recommend doing do to save your company time, money and frustration.
Do you really know when you need to upgrade your computers and network hardware, or change your software? Do you have a plan whether, or when should you virtualize your servers, or what to move to the cloud? How are you going to integrate tablets and smartphones and make sure your data is secure? Do you have a disaster recovery plan?
In large companies these questions are being answered by the corporate Chief Information Officer, or CIO who develops, directs, and integrates IT plans, staff, assets and processes, to help achieve their organization’s goals. But today, even those that can’t afford a full-time CIO, and they are expensive, may still need to answer these types of questions and gain an executive level perspective, cogent advice, and expert guidance.
Why not hire a consulting CIO as you might a lawyer or CPA…when you need them?
Most executives of small and medium-sized businesses are not experts on computer network technology; they are experts on their business. Likewise, most IT department heads and technicians understand technology issues, but aren’t experts on strategic analysis, financial goals, communications, or managing people. They may have a vested interest in building their department and importance. Besides, your company is growing and your needs are becoming far more complicated than any single IT staff member can handle alone. It can help to have another opinion, or informed C-level thinking to walk you through the questions that ought to be addressed before plans are formed and technology purchased.
A CIO is a technology expert, an arbitrator, a translator, a visionary, as well as a pragmatist. It is someone who gets to know a lot about every aspect of a business, and combines that with their knowledge of the changing world of IT in order to help you align business goals with your IT investment.
Instead of turning to vendors or colleagues, or your technical manager who doesn’t seem to be speaking your language, a consulting CIO can help you develop strategies and plans to ensure a reasonable ROI for your technology.
The following article was written by Jonathan P. a Systems Specialist at River Run.
Over the past few years, there has been a great push in the enterprise space towards virtualization. As companies begin to think about upgrading their IT infrastructure, what reasons do they have to believe that virtualization will benefit them?
The most compelling reason is, of course, cost. In most places, a separate server is run for each business critical application that is needed. One for email, another for the accounting department, another to manage customer information, etc. That means three separate servers to maintain, three sets of disaster recoveries to plan for, three separate support contracts to maintain, etc. Even worse, the vast majority of the time, these servers are likely operating at only a fraction of their capacity. To say that virtualization simplifies all this would be an understatement. Instead of spreading your time and resources among many different servers, you can put your effort into making one physical machine as failproof as possible. For example, instead of putting one hot spare hard drive in each of those three servers, you can put two hot spares into the virtual machine host, allowing two hard drives to be lost while still operating at full capacity, as well as providing a cost saving of 33%.
Of course, since no machine is failproof, it’s worth noting that virtual machines’ other strong advantage is ease in backup and disaster recovery. Imagine having a near-realtime backup of all your servers that can be up and running within minutes of a server failing. That, in a nutshell, is what virtual machines offer. There are many different ways to implement backups, but the vast majority of them offer you an image that can be run and operated in place of the failed server. The best part is that it’s completely hardware agnostic. In a pinch, you could even have that failed server up and running, once again in minutes, on pretty much any laptop or workstation with completely standard hardware. Not that we would ever suggest doing this, but it does show the agility of a virtualized solution.
As a managed IT service provider, virtualization is our preferred solution due to how quickly it allows us to respond to any issues or concerns that a client may have. Whether it be a machine that didn’t come back up after a reboot, or reallocating RAM or disk space from one machine to another, we are often able to address our clients’ needs before a tech would have even been able to drive out to their site. As the push continues more and more companies begin to reap the benefits in cost, disaster recovery, and overall time respodning to issues by switching to virtualization.
Network security is critical for all businesses. Businesses are constantly facing threats to their network from viruses, worms, and other scams. Having a secure business will not only allow employees to work efficiently but it will also reduce the risk of data loses and security breaches. Having a secure network can also increase productivity and flexibility by allowing employees to work remotely.
The benefits of having a secure network are obvious, but now the question becomes how to get there. Before we look at how to protect your network, you need to look at why a hacker is breaking in, and how they might break in. First, think about what a hacker would want on your network. Is it company information, client information, other stored data, or are they just looking to destroy data because they find it fun. The answer to that is important because it will determine what area you need to put a lot of focus in protecting. Next, start to think about the different ways that a hacker may break in. Will they break in because it is easy? Picking a predictable password or having business equipment connected to an unsecured wireless network makes it much simpler for an intruder to gain access. Lost or stolen equipment that has not been properly secured also provides an easy path in for someone who wishes to steal or damage your data. There are much more obvious ways intruders can gain access to your network such as through spam, downloads, and popups. Determining your company’s vulnerabilities will be critical in focusing on which areas to protect.
After taking the time to think how and why a hacker may break in to your network it is time to start planning how to keep your network secure. Think about setting up your network security in the same way you would look at protecting your house. Is simply locking your door enough to keep you protected, or would a security system or a guard dog be a better fit? There is no one-size fits all answer. For most companies it makes sense to look at all of the following when setting up their network security plan.
- Physical Security- Locks on doors/Keypads
- Strong Passwords – Change regularly and never send through email
- Encryption- For Data and Email
- Anti-Virus/Spam Software
- Access Control Lists
- Real-Time Monitoring
- Firewall w/ Intrusion Detection
- Educate End Users
- AUDIT & TEST REGULARLY
The final step is CRITICAL! No matter how you decide it is best for your company to protect your network, you need to ensure that it functioning properly. As data becomes more critical, network security is a must. As you think about your network security be mindful about how important it really is.
Time flies when you’re having fun! Speaking of FUN, over the course of 20 years, including long before we officially added Fun (along with Integrity, Passion, Precision, Excellence, Responsibility and Directness in our communications) in FIPPERD, we were still having it. This month RRC celebrates the official passing of 20 years of helping manage the IT infrastructure for you, our valued clients! Where were you in 1993, what were you doing, what was on your desk? Many of our employees would include the word “school” somewhere in the answer to that question, which is also pretty fun! We were in the same building back then, though it looked an awful lot different then with a whole lot more brown – both carpet and paneling – as well as more walls and ceiling tiles throughout. Back then we were in the business of building PC’s in the back room – buying the parts and putting them together – and it’s been a long time since we’ve put one together. The more things change the more they stay the same in two critically important ways: first off, our team members make it all happen, we’ve been incredibly blessed over the years to have a magnificent staff, some of them have been here for more of the 20 years than others, but they all work hard every day to provide exceptional service. Secondly, our clients aka the reason we exist and have lasted all these years, again we’ve been extraordinarily fortunate to have a magnificent list of wonderful clients that make it all worthwhile every day. Thanks to all of you for all you’ve done, and here’s to another 20 years.
Joe Skotarzak President, River Run Computers
No, at River Run Computers RSVP does not stand for the French phrase "répondez, s'il vous plaît," meaning please reply. What it does stand for is the Regularly Scheduled Visit Program. As technology evolves and companies IT infrastructure becomes more complex, network maintenance becomes far more important. The RSVP takes the stress out of your day to day IT work, and lets River Run take care of your IT needs. The RSVP is completely customizable and can be configured for your specific IT need and goals. Whether you are looking for someone to take control of your network completely, or just looking for someone to assist you in keeping your network running efficiently the RSVP will benefit your organization. Proactive maintenance is the main tenet of the RSVP program, and our overall goal is to ensure that our client’s networks are running efficiently and effectively.
Before the regularly scheduled visits start, River Run Computers will take the time to learn your current network configuration and produce our findings as well as our recommendations. This process includes one of the assigned River Run engineers gathering information on the client’s network. Next, a River Run account executive and the engineer will present the findings as well as recommendations of future plans based off of industry best practices. After the meeting with the client for the finding and recommendations, the regular visits will start. During every step the engineer will go through a specific process. The first step of this process is to meet with the client to verify they are happy with how everything is running on their network. The next step is data collection; the engineer will collect data from the network to use in the evaluation of how the network is currently running. This leads to the actual inspection of the network; the engineer will go through a preset checklist of maintenance tasks, which ensures certain critical pieces of the network, are being checked on a regular basis. The fourth step during the regularly scheduled visit is time set aside for extra activities. For instance, if someone is having issues printing to a particular printer, the engineer will use time available at the end to work on these issues, or other work station related issues. Each visit ends with the engineer providing the client with a report of everything that was completed during the visit, this information is intended to provide our clients with updates on the progress of their network.
The Regularly Scheduled Visit Program provides our clients with consistent and proactive maintenance to their network to avoid potential issues. If you are interested in learning more about the River Run RSVP, please follow the link below.