Tag: IT Support

04 Jul 2016

IT as a Services

IT as a service

The widespread adoption and rising internet speeds has allowed for a new way to purchase to go into widespread use, this is as a service, often abbreviated to aaS when the type of service which is being purchased has its initial put before it. There is an endless list of goods which can be purchased as a service for example: backup as a service (baas), software as a service (saas), platform as a service (paas), infrastructure as a service (iaas), disaster recovery as a service (drass), hardware as a service (has) and so on. The service provider hosts the equipment, software or whatever is being used themselves and lets their clients use it. In most cases services which are used are delivered over the internet. Even mobile phone contracts are a type of as a service, you pay a monthly bill which gives you x amount of minutes, texts and data for you to use however you want. The price you pay also includes technical support and a service guarantee which the service provided would have stated in their terms and conditions. All of the other as a service models in information technology work in much the same way as this.

There are some distinct advantages to using the as a service IT model which has led to it becoming so successful. The main one is that you do not have to spend a large sum of money to get the capabilities that you need, let us take infrastructure as a service for example, you may need to a few servers to put some applications on for a few months and then after that reduce the load on them which would reduce your need for the amount of processing power, RAM, storage space etc. if you were to physically purchase this equipment it would be expensive to begin with, you would need space to house it and you would be left with unused hardware and software at the end of it as your requirement goes away, with the as a service model you do not have this problem as the service provider owns it. Your business just pays to use it and you pay for the amount you require, as the need decreases or increases you can purchase a lower usage amount.

Ease of use is another major benefit as the service is provided by the service provider you often require less technical knowledge by using the as a service model as opposed to doing it in house. For example if a client is using our backup as a service package our management portal will alert us of the amount of data being backed up, if new storage space is needed it is automatically provisioned, you do not need to do anything as it is all managed by us and you have the tools to log into the management portal and see exactly how much data has been backed up, data growth etc.

Having access to more powerful computing systems is another big benefit which the as a service model lets you enjoy as it is a shared service your using  (the service provider owns the equipment and provides it as a services to other businesses), these services all have an on demand nature, you can use it when you need it and purchase an amount in line with your needs (it is based on usage). It is an inexpensive way to use high end technology. For example our Hosted Email package gives you a Microsoft Exchange mailbox which is always kept up to date, the mailbox is kept in a ISO certified UK based data center on high end email servers, they are then replicated to a secondary site for added resiliency and you also have a 125GB mailbox with antivirus and spam features. This service starts from just £5 per month and it is managed by us. These services can all be trailed for free.

Having access to a big knowledge base on tap is another key driver here, services such as technical support as a service lets your business have its own IT support department at a fraction of the cost of having internal IT support staff as it is a pay per user model. We spoke about the different aspects of technical support in a previous post. These services give flexibility which is at the core of all of services that we offer, it is completely based around your businesses requirements and lets you use IT as a business enabler.

Overall the as a service is growing day by day and has a lot of buzz around it as technology capabilities continue to increase. This gives small businesses access to higher level technologies which in turn increases their innovation and competitive levels enabling them to do more in a shorter amount of time for a lower overall cost. These services are designed to be easy to use with no technical knowledge required and will let you use technology in a more meaningful way in your business.

If you would like to receive more information about our as a service IT packages then feel free to email us or click here. Likewise if you enjoyed this post then make sure you comment down below and share it!

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.

08 Jun 2016

Is your business mobile ready?

Everybody has mobile devices (some people even have more than one) and we use them during our everyday lives for both work and pleasure. Smartphones in particular have become incredibly popular since their invention some years back. Sources say that currently around 33.4% of all global website traffic was generated from mobile phones alone in 2015

 

mobile usage graph

This coupled with the continues growth of smartphone adoption and that tablet sales have already surpassed desktop and laptop sales shows that mobile internet traffic will continue to grow in the coming years until the market matures. This is great for users, you can surf the internet and work, take selfies, go on YouTube etc. at any time from almost any location and with good internet speed. But this does however create one problem for IT and this is security. Most threats (viruses, hacks, malware etc.) come from the internet and this is where most infections happen thus making security an issue, especially if you use your mobile devices for both business and pleasure and as the number of devices multiplies like rabbits so do the number of threats.

In an ideal world we would have separate devices for business and non-business use, but that normally isn’t feasible so the next best thing to do is to keep everything secure. IT support staff often have to work hard not to lose control. As members of staff bring their own devices to work on a daily basis and expect the same level of access as with corporate-owned devices.

The best way to cope with this whilst keeping everything running smoothly is to find a solution which can manage all devices and be easy to manage. Through our own testing we’ve found that Sophos Mobile Control is an easy to use product that lets you manage all of your staffs mobile devices (IOS, Android and Windows Phone devices). By having this you can have a uniform company and security policy in place that protects you against mobile threats both for company and privately owned devices. Users can easily be

Keeping data safe is also an issue which is addressed in Sophos Mobile Control 6.1, through it’s features you can configure powerful encrypted containers for documents, emails, calendars across different devices running different operating system. If a device goes missing it can easily be locked and wiped within a few clicks. Data can then be reinstalled onto a device if you have backups in place. Even if an employee leaves a company they can simply be removed from the containers so no need to wipe their entire device.

The management of mobile devices can be done by us as we offer this service to our customers or your own IT support staff can do it if you have the internal resources.

Overall mobile device usage has grown exponentially over recent years and will continue to do so into the future and they are used in almost every business across the country and their sales continue to go upwards year after year, in order to keep data and IT systems safe it would be wise to have a security policy in place to manage the users. By having this you can protect yourself against risks related to mobile devices and you can increase the productivity of your staff.

 

Want to see for yourself? Click here

 

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07 Jun 2016

Do small businesses need IT support?

keep-calm-and-call-it-support-7

Keeping everything in house can have a negative effect as it forces your staff to become specialists in too many areas, thus diverting them from their core roles, by effectively outsourcing you can have access to the skills and resources your business requires without having to employ more staff thus keeping costs at a manageable level.

If you don’t have any dedicated in house IT staff and you have no support agreement in place with an IT company it is likely that one of your current staff who has some knowledge of IT helps out when something goes wrong, the issue that this puts out is that firstly it takes the person away from their normal day to day work which still needs to be done. Secondly the person may not have the necessary skills to solve the IT issues (nor may they have the available tools) this leads to problems not being properly solved and more being swept under the carpet only to come back out again later on down the line. These type of situations occur all too often and I see it in many different site visits, as the person(s) assigned with maintaining the IT system doesn’t have tools, skills and time problems don’t get properly sorted which lead to things running slowly, crashes, data loss etc. all of which can easily be avoided.

By having proper support in place your system can run at optimal speed with less downtime, data is more secure and staff can work better thus improving productivity. This is something that is easily attainable for all companies regardless of size, if you can hire your own internal IT staff then great, if not due to money restrictions or the size of the company not justifying it then the best option for you is to outsource your IT support. By doing this you will have access to a bigger knowledge base and better support tools which your company and its staff will have access to.

Imagine it this way you want one of your staff to have access to another member of staffs mailbox and you set it up, the calendars do not sync correctly and the intended viewer does not have current knowledge of events and meetings in the occurring future due to configuration errors. It’s a seemingly small issue but it can cause problems especially if important information is missed. Things like this can be easily avoided if there is an adequate IT support system in place who is undertaking tasks like this every day. Most of a business’s communication today takes place on emails and should be looked after as such.

The above is just an example of a problem that we come across often when taking on new clients, it is just one issue which can be completely avoided and the best part of it is, is that the cost you pay to have access to IT support staff will provided a higher return on invest through having more up time and providing your workforce with a better environment to work in. You will have access to a bigger skill set, support tools and knowledge base which you staff can use on different devices and in different locations. If you are a business with no internal IT staff and no on going support with a IT support company ask yourself the question that if your IT system was to go down or if you were to face some kind of problems which you can’t fix yourself what effect would it have on your business?