Month: June 2016

29 Jun 2016

4 Lessons Learned From The Cloud

cloud computing image

Cloud computing has really taken off in the last few years and is now being used as a buzz word for a lot of different things in essence cloud computing  can be defined as an activity which uses servers hosted on the internet for computing purposes (store, manage and process data) you can own your own cloud or you can pay to use someone else’s.

Cloud computing has been around for a long time, think Hotmail your emails are stored on Microsoft’s servers you simply log in and view, send/receive them, it’s the same with Facebook the images are uploaded to Facebook’s servers an can be viewed from anywhere. Cloud computing has been around for a long time and has been used widely in day to day life but only recently has it taken off in a major way for businesses. This could be attributed to the fact that internet speeds has increased which allows for more things to be done over the internet and the number of devices connected to the internet has also grown a lot of recent years.

There are lessons learned from cloud computing and benefits that it brings to businesses whether they use a hosted backup system for their data, have applications they use in the cloud or use any type of cloud service for that matter. This post aims to explore the beneficial lessons which can be learned from the cloud, there are many but to keep size down we will be going over four.

Let’s start with point number 1: It does lower costs but not in a major way, it takes time to realise the benefits. Move things to the cloud won’t bring your costs down to zero, the data that you back up in the cloud for example still needs to hosted somewhere on physical equipment which needs power and ongoing maintenance, there will still be an IT support team who monitor the data being backed up. The equipment is just not on your site and it is not owned by you unless it is a private cloud that you own yourself but for this post we will discuss shared clouds. Your business does save on hardware costs, human resources and electricity as these are all included in your monthly fee. You only pay for the things that you use and do not have any hardware which is not being used. By hosting non business critical IT functions to the cloud you will lower your costs on a monthly basis and as time goes by your savings will too.

Number 2 – It gives you access to more IT systems for your money. As most cloud services are shared services the costs is split across the different organisations which use the service, this lowers the cost for everyone as it isn’t just you shelling out for the equipment and managing it. You can use services for example which will let you back your data up to multiple data centers and keep it encrypted or use analytic tools to review your customers buying behavior. These things are expensive and would normally be out of reach for a lot of small businesses but cloud computing makes them all readily available for a lower cost.

Number 3 – it improves security: how many times have you heard someone say I’ve lost my laptop? Your main concern when hearing this is what about our data. Data is very valuable. With a remote locking and wiping tool which is a feature of our antivirus solutions the lost laptop can be locked and whipped remotely and the data that was on it can be reloaded from backups onto a new laptop. This process can take less than an hour sometimes and everything is kept secure, your data is whipped from the laptop and your backups are secure. Through cloud computing you can have your data hosted inside an encrypted environment, the software’s, hardware’s and people skills used to do this would be very costly to do to high levels, but in a shared economy it works out very cost effective for the buyers.

Number 4 – it makes your business more agile: this is often a point which is left out in many discussions but it is something that is very true and is worth looking at. Through cloud computing you lower your physical hardware purchases, these hardware purchases tie you in for a certain amount of time as your business has to get usage from the equipment before you can get rid of it or to use something else. If you purchased an email server for example it wouldn’t be a simple lets change it job as you have already invested in it. Whereas in cloud services you can upgrade and change things a lot easier, in most cases the supplier will guarantee that their products are always kept up to date. It becomes a lot easier to makes changes and to scale up or down. This is feature in both our hosted emails and hosted backups if you grow by 5 members of staff one month and then shrink by 10 we can easily readjust the services that you are using so you do not overpay for anything or have unused licenses this is the same with the amount of data being backed up, all of this is managed by our IT support teams.

Overall through effective use of the cloud your business can have access to a wider range of technologies and can change them as your business goes through various stages. This makes it easier for you to use IT as a business enabler and helps compete in the market place as high level technology is no longer only reserved for large companies.

If you would like to learn more about the cloud services that we offer feel free to email us or click here to visit our homepage were all of our services are listed.

27 Jun 2016

Different levels of IT support

first, second and third line support

IT Support is the term given to any activity which gives assistance to users of technology products, this a wide area but for businesses IT support can be broken down into three categories: first line support, second line support and third line support. This tiered structure enables the service provider to better serve its clients through taking a structured approach, different technical staff can be allocated to providing different levels of support, it gives a clear escalation and problem resolution process which both the users and the service providers benefit from. In the coming paragraphs we will discuss the different tier roles in a little bit more detail, if you want to read a more general overview of IT support business functions we discussed this in The benefits of outsourcing IT support and in Do small businesses need IT support.

First line support is the support level which is responsible for basic customer issues. The role of the engineer would be to provide assistance for basic problems, gather information, create problem descriptions , get screen shots, analyse the problem(s), do some basic trouble shooting and install devices such as desktops, laptops and printers. This is the first level of support and normally acts as the first line of contact for the users and will provide technical support for simple and common problems. These people normally here questions like I’m not receiving my emails, I can’t remember my password, how can I change my password ,I’ve lost some of my files and my PC has become unresponsive, how can I set my emails to out of office and so on and so forth.

first line support

Once the underlying problem has been identified the specialist can begin going through some resolution solutions. If they cannot solve the problem the support request will be escalated to second line support.

Second line support is a more in depth technical support level. Technicians in this area of support are responsible for assisting first line support staff and investigating escalated issues as well as monitoring the customers IT systems to insure that everything is working at an optimal rate. If the personnel in this group are unable to resolve the issues the support request is then raised up another level to third line support.

second line support

Third line support is the highest level of support in the three tiered support model. This department of the IT support team are responsible for solving the most complex IT issues and are in control of the strategic direction of the IT department and will research and develop new solutions to issues and providing support to first and second line engineers. These are the big guns in the IT support world and are there to guide the support team and to provide answers to the most difficult problems providing highly technical assistance.

third line support

All three of the different departments all have important but different roles to fulfil on a day to day basis, it is when they come together that a solid IT support team is formed which can quickly and efficiently resolve customer issues whilst causing minimum disruption their business. This is where both sides benefit as the IT support teams have the correct structure and tools in place to provide a great service and clients in turn are able to receive a service which is based around their needs and has the necessary personnel and procedures in place to manager their IT systems efficiently.

Having access to a support team as described above gives you a quicker and more efficient support as there is structure to it and different members of staff have clearly defined roles which they are specialists in and there is a clear support procedure in place. When this is coupled with a solid helpdesk software time is managed well and information is shared between the relevant members of staff so if one person cannot solve a problem it is easy to pass it on to someone higher up the chain who can pick up where the previous person left off.

Through our continuous staff and service development our IT support services gives you a tired IT support department which you can use as much as required and all of this is at one predictable costs. Your business can enjoy the benefits mentioned above removing the IT challenges your business faces freeing up your business to perform at a higher level with fast, expert technical support which can be delivered remotely and on site. Our services are tailored to businesses with up to 75 members of staff.

If you would like to learn more about our IT support services click here or send us an email all support packages starting in June and July will receive a 10% on the first 4 months of service.

24 Jun 2016

Can IT support make your company more client centric?

                                   IT adoption

If we go back as little as 16 years to the beginning of the 21st century we can see how widespread the adoption of IT (information technology) has been. Today IT is universally regarded as an essential tool in enhancing the competitiveness of a business. Think about it would your business be able to compete in today’s market if you had the same pc’s, laptops, servers and data that you had in 2000 right now?

IT lets you keep better contact with your staff, suppliers and customers and is the key engine for most businesses. Through effective use of IT your business can become more client centric, you have more ways to stay in contact with them and can provide a more efficient service.

Through having a client centric approach businesses are able to create a unique selling point which isn’t easily replicated, low prices and physical equipment can be copied but having a client centric business is harder to adopt and maintain over time as it is an ongoing commitment. This is important as advances in technology and communication has given rise to a more empowered consumer and in a lot of instances they expect immediate response and service. Think of it like this, you now have many ways which you can communicate with your customers for example: social media, service reviews and emails some of these are direct whilst others are indirect but it goes to show how much more empowered today’s customers are. Everything matters, a bad review online can loose you potential sales the same way that a good review or Tweet can bring you some new sales, this has all come about from the wide scale use of technology.

The adoption of IT will make your company more client centric by default if it is properly maintained and serviced, this is where the importance of proper IT support comes in. If you are business with up to 50 members of staff and do not have your own internal IT support staff then employing a company which specializes in these services is the most suitable option. Imagine it like this, your staff are linked to a support desk which they have unlimited use of, any issue they have they simply send an email, this request is then processed and assigned a target time for it to be responded to and to be resolved, this issue is then resolved, through automated monitoring and alerting tools we can spot problems at its earliest stage and insure that downtime is kept at the minimum acceptable level throughout the year. This will give your business a IT system which is running at an optimal rate and staff can focus on their work, thus allowing you to provide a better service to your customers which in turns makes your business more client centric. There really is no point in purchasing the IT equipment for your company if you do not have a proper plan to support your staff in using the equipment and making the most out of it.

You have to remember that IT is a business enabler; through effective use of IT you can sell more and do more business both with new clients and with existing ones. There is on going work which needs to be done to keep your systems up and running which is what IT support does and this is how IT support can make your company more client centric by providing your business with the platform to be more client centric from. 

If you would like to learn more about the business benefits that our IT support packages gives click here or email us

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22 Jun 2016

The Benefits Of Outsourcing IT Support

IT outsourcing

IT brings your staff together as a team and enables them to work efficiently without boundaries, it connects you to your suppliers and to your customers and is the main engine in your business. You are the driver and you are in control but you must admit that IT has become the engine that almost all businesses are now running on.

IT systems the same as any other type of engine need support and maintenance, the type of support and response times depends on your business and the outcomes that you want to facilitate. Depending on your requirements and budget you could hire your own internal IT staff, do it yourself or outsource the IT support work to a IT support company.

If you have the requirements and the budget then hiring internal staff would be a good option, however do your requirements justify this? If you answered no then this post is for you. Often times the IT issues are palmed off onto one of the members of staff who has some IT knowledge, the problem with this is that that person has a day job too and sorting out other issues takes them away this. This person normally here’s questions like, my PC is slow, I can’t connect to the internet, my emails aren’t working and so on this person is often contacted to sort the problem. If this sounds like what you are doing at the moment would you send that member of your staff off to different IT courses to learn new skills and to get certified, would you supply the required tools for them to provide a high level of support to your staff? If you answered yes then well done, if you answered know then you see where this is going. It forces people to become specialists in too many areas and in the end something has got to give. Googling your problems doesn’t work either……..

Outsourcing is not only budget friendly it also gives you access to a bigger pool of resources, one that can support your business in it’s day to day activities.  Through automated tools and IT support desks your business can enjoy a full support system at a fraction of the cost of hiring internal staff and purchasing the tools to create a full IT support desk. By having this your IT systems can be managed proactively instead of in a break fix way that causes headaches and down time. Overall it’s your choice and your business but constant firefighting, or sorting problems only when they are stopping people from working (and even then only getting rid of it on the surface and not addressing the root cause) are problems that hold your business back and cost more money than the amount that it saves. The benefits can be felt across all industries whether your business is architecture or blogging, IT will often be the backbone of the business and a lot of its core operations will be computerized

In a lot of cases fear of losing control is often the case for not outsourcing, if you find a service provider who can work in partnership with and can facilitate the outcomes that you with your business it becomes clear that this worry had been misplaced. We outsource all the time in our day to day lives: eating in restaurants, haircuts, coffee shops these all bring some benefits (at least it is better and easier than doing these things yourself). Outsourcing IT support can bring new business benefits as mentioned in this post that you would not of realised had you of been doing it yourself. Below are the benefits of outsoutcing IT Support listed as bullet points in no particular order:

  • Access to larger knowledge base
  • Access to better IT resources
  • Quicker problem resolution
  • Lower staffing costs
  • Low administration costs

If you are interested in learning more about the IT support services that we offer then feel free to get in contact with us by clicking here, and if you liked this post then make sure you share it and get in the comment box below.

16 Jun 2016

Data Is The New Oil

                                          oildrilling

IT continues to play a vital role in businesses today and it has become the backbone of businesses in the UK, and if IT is the backbone of businesses then data is the oil that they run on, thus making data the most important asset to businesses and making data the new oil as it is the fuel that businesses today are running on. Data also flows and grows and should be treated as something that does. Think of emails, you receive and send your inbox and sent box continue to grow (these are the oil reserves) the emails you send to people both inside and outside of your business are the streams of data (oil) flowing. This is the same for everything else that produces data were it all aggregates is the reserves and were it flows in and out are the streams which lead it to different places.

To avoid spoilage, leaks and theft this data must be kept secure, similar to oil large reserves of data are valuable and other people may attempt to steal it, it can leak and it can decay. All of these are issues which businesses should address. Think of it this way, if your business lost half of its customer purchase history data and was unable to receive it what impact would this have? Data is great, it is the most important asset a business has and it has allowed many organisations to do great things, but all of these great stories ignore data’s negative side and the real problems it has caused for businesses across the world. The victim of identity theft is just as trapped and unable to fly as the bird caught in the oil slick and for businesses data security issues can have a greenhouse effect i.e. hot glare comes in from public scrutiny, bad press etc. very easily but does not go away as easily and as quickly as it came in.

As the data sets get bigger so too do the threats the data becomes similar to an oil tanker navigating through cyber criminals and human error.

How to proceed? Keep your data protected whilst it is onsite and have a secure backup solution in place, we talked about cloud backups and it benefits in a previous post (for more information on that click here). Data can be recovered, if you have taken regular backups this can be done with minimum disruption to the business, how long it takes depends on the quality of the backups, the size of the backups and your internet speed (internet speed is normally the main determining factor). This is fine but we see it all too often that many businesses do not backup their data (some estimates put this number at nearly 36%), or it is backed up in such a way that restoring lost data in a time friendly manner is near impossible.

Our hosted backup solution enables you to back up your data securely to an external site where it is replicated to a secondary site to eliminate the single point of failure, the data is kept encrypted the entire time and after the full initial backup of your system is taken only the changes will be backed up, this keeps both backup sizes and restoration times to a minimum.