Why Locality Matters for Managed IT Services

Many companies rely on managed IT services to help them keep their computers secure and in peak performing conditions. It isn’t too difficult to find a provider that can keep your software up to date, make sure the latest security patches are implemented, or execute regular data backups.

The decision to “farm out” the upkeep of a company’s digital infrastructure is a smart one for many businesses. After all,

if technical/computer know-how has nothing to do with your industry, it doesn’t always make sense to devote an entire department to a skill set you know little about operationally.

That said, your organizational digital infrastructure is an important part of running your business. You want to make sure that the vendor you choose to hire has both, sound technical capabilities and trustworthiness.  Undoubtedly, these are very important decision points.

However, one thing that some decision-makers may overlook is the location of your IT support providers. In fact, in today’s ultra-connected and shrinking world, it may seem old-fashioned, maybe even uncool, to base a  vendor selection criteria around the concept of locality.

With the ever-expanding cloud economy, you may assume that IT is the last industry where physical location matters. After all, a tech can fix a problem on your work computer in seconds via remote access from anywhere in the world.

This is, of course, true. So, why does locality matter?

Face-to-Face Interactions Are Still Important

Knowing your clients is another old-fashioned business value.

Most businesses that rely on vendors for IT security and support believe that the less they hear from the vendor the better. No news is good news. Much like your favorite football team’s offensive line, if you’re talking about it, it’s probably because there’s a problem.

At BITS, we take a different view. Our aim is to develop and maintain close working relationships with all of our clients through regular conversations. We know that an offensive line can only protect your quarterback if it knows the game plan. Moreover, if the defense calls a blitz and you need to change the play at the line of scrimmage, the new play will only work if your linemen know the audible calls.

Football analogies aside, communication is still an important aspect of managing your vendors. And, as old-fashioned as face-to-face meetings and onsite visits may seem, they still offer the best methods of ensuring that the team you hire to protect you has the necessary information and understanding to do the job properly.

We believe you should treat your IT vendor as a full member of your team, and include them in pertinent business discussions. We want to be in the huddle with you.

Project Planning

Close integration with your IT vendor fosters operational familiarity and increases efficiency. But, it can also help your provider anticipate your needs and help you with project planning.

If you’re expanding or moving offices, for example, it makes sense to involve your IT services team in the planning stages. Such a project is a logistical monster. Your vendor can provide valuable advice by recommending the best types of equipment, an efficient computer network setup, and a new emergency response plan.

No matter what kind of project you’re undertaking, the more your managed IT services vendor knows about your operational cycles, technology use patterns and future goals, the more they can do to move your projects forward quickly and efficiently.

Beacon Knows IT

If you want a closer, more responsive relationship with the team responsible for your IT operations and security, give us a call at 336.546.6660. See what you’ve been missing.

By | 2018-08-28T11:27:41+00:00 August 16th, 2018|BITS Team, IT Services|

Managed IT Services

Disaster Response Time

If you’ve ever been in the unfavorable position of seeing your business IT infrastructure compromised, you understand the necessity of an expedient response from your IT vendor. If you haven’t, thank goodness. Unfortunately, the rise in the number of successful web-based attacks increases the odds of you facing this situation sometime in the future.

Successful businesses protect themselves against known risks. So, how do you best prepare for the eventuality of your company network being attacked? Another way to ask this questions is: What are the elements of a good disaster preparedness plan that ensure the fastest response time?

At Beacon, we hang our hat on two essential elements when working with clients to secure their IT infrastructure: experienced live technicians, and a properly-configured remote tool kit.

Live Technicians Make All the Difference

It’s natural and easy to become reliant on technology. Humans have done this at every stage of our evolution. An appropriate present day example is the societal discussion taking place around automation. It’s true – robots and artificial intelligence may very well be the components that someday revolutionize the workplace.

But, even the smartest tech leaders of the most forward-looking companies are re-learning the value of human capital. As Elon Musk, the CEO of the upstart carmaker Tesla, recently acknowledged, there is such a thing as over-automation. It turns out that the key to ramping up the production of Tesla’s highly-anticipated Model 3 is not more robots, but more people.

We’ve always placed a high value on highly personal customer service. In fact, the calling card of Beacon’s IT services is the ability of clients to receive live assistance immediately.

If you’re faced with a cyber attack that took down your network, you don’t want to be reduced to leaving voice mails to your IT vendor. Or worse, relying on a corrupted or compromised network to figure out what’s what. You want to be speaking with a real expert right away, not three hours from now. It is this step that’s going to be the difference between restoring your network in minutes, rather than days.

Remote Tools Help Your Network Recover Quickly

Hopefully, your firewall solution is good enough to keep out any unsavory characters. But, if we’ve learned anything about IT security in the last few years, it’s that breaches can – and do – happen despite the most robust security setups.

If your defenses have been penetrated, what helps you get your systems back online the fastest is a responsive data backup system (that you had the foresight to install prior to the attack). There are two setups that yield the best results: local virtualization and cloud backup. Both can get you back online within hours, if not minutes.

Local virtualization relies upon an on-site device that’s connected to your network. In case of a breach, the device is automatically quarantined. It is then used to restore access to your data by transferring the data to a “clean” server, or by acting as a server itself.

The second method is similar to the first. The difference is in the way the backed up data is stored and accessed. In local virtualization, the backup data can be accessed locally, on the backup device.

With the cloud backup, your data is sent to the cloud at selected time intervals – could be as often as once an hour. The task can be scheduled for non-business hours or overnight, so it does not interrupt normal business operations. If the need arises, you can access the saved data from a cloud portal – a secure, dedicated web page. In this manner, you’re able to restore individual files; or, in a disaster recovery scenario, activate servers in the cloud to replicate the compromised servers on site. In some scenarios, cloud servers can even be set up to mimic the function of your on-site servers, allowing authorized users to access the data the way they normally would.

Is Your Network Protected From Today Exploits? 

If you’re not sure, give BITS a call at 336.546.6660. We’ll be happy to talk to you about your IT security concerns. Our team is experienced in crafting customized solutions for the most stringent requirements.

By | 2018-05-15T11:49:08+00:00 May 15th, 2018|BITS Team, IT Services|

Why Must I Remove the Data After Retiring a PC?

You’ve upgraded the computers in the office. Everyone is enjoying the high speed, bells and whistles that come along with the latest technology. In addition, you’ve decided to do the socially responsible thing and donate the old computers to charity. You’re feeling pretty good about yourself. Then it hits you….

The old, retired PCs may contain sensitive data.

HIPAA requirements, identify theft, you name it. There are a million reasons why your old, retired PCs need to be wiped and old data removed before they leave your hands. While it takes a little bit of time and know-how, the removal of data is an absolute necessity before giving those old computers away to a nearby school, church or what-have-you.

Finding the Old Data on a Retired PC

You deleted everything on the desktop. Additionally, you found the “My Documents” folder and trashed all the files contained within it. You checked the “Favorites” folder. You’re all set, right? Sorry, but it isn’t quite that simple. Your information can be harvested from sources such as computer registries, hidden folders and your browser history just to name a few.

Private data can be hidden in so many places that there are only a couple of ways to make sure you’ve removed any proprietary information. You can either:

  • Wipe the internal hard drive clean
  • Detonate it

Unless you want to deal with the possibility of collateral damage or the office sprinkler system, I strongly suggest the first of these two alternatives.

Removing Data after Retiring Your PC

Assuming you’re like me and you prefer to stay dry, you’ll want to wipe the internal hard drive clean of any previously held data. There are a few ways you can go about this task. Your alternatives include:

  1. Reformat the drive (Format C from a Windows Setup Disc or systems repair disc).
  2. Purchase a software tool that will wipe the drive clean.
  3. Get your IT person to do it.

I love YouTube as I can find video “how to” instructions regarding almost anything including the procedures for reformatting a hard drive. However, even with video instructions, the procedure isn’t fool proof.

Unless you’ve done this kind of thing before or know your way around a PC better than most, you may wish to give this to your IT guy to handle. Take it from a fool who knows.

Your IT person can take care of this kind of thing with ease and you can rest assured that sensitive information will not fall into the wrong hands because you didn’t take the proper precautions. Also, your IT guy can reload the operating software on your retired PCs so that whomever you donate the old equipment to won’t have any undue stress trying to set them up for use.

Call the IT Guys at Beacon

At Beacon, our IT people specialize in working with small and medium size businesses and addressing their computer and IT needs. If your business does not yet have the designated IT resources to deal with these kinds of issues, call the experts at Beacon IT Services (BITS) at 336.447.3473.

By | 2017-07-12T07:48:54+00:00 June 29th, 2017|BITS Team|

NCTA 21 Awards

Last night a group of us from Beacon attended the 2010 NCTA 21 Awards event in Raleigh, North Carolina.

 

The North Carolina Technology Association (NCTA) did a fantastic job organizing and planning this event.  They had a record turnout of over 800 attendees!   As a proud sponsor and partner of NCTA, Beacon presented the Life Sciences Company Award, which was one the 21 awards presented last night.   Since my partner was “unfortunately” in Vegas attending Pubcon, I had the “opportunity” to present this award in front of a huge audience.

As you can imagine, it was a little nerve racking – especially because I was not sure of the correct pronunciation of the winning company (TransEnterix – my apologies if I messed it up).  This was a great honor for me as well as for Beacon.  This provided us with another opportunity to get some great visibility in front of the best technology companies in the state.

NCTA is a great organization whose primary mission is Making North Carolina Number One in Technology and Technology Number One in North Carolina.  I highly recommend joining this organization and this link will provide you detailed information about the benefits of joining.   Click here for more information.

By | 2017-03-21T13:50:33+00:00 November 11th, 2010|BITS Team|