Monthly Archives: May 2018

Working WITH Your Managed Service Provider (MSP)

On site support with a managed service provider. Two business people and a laptop

Are you ready to make a change?

As a business owner or manager, you know how darn right frustrating it can be to get sidetracked with IT support issues, while trying to grow your business and keep employees happy. All too often, upper level professionals are asked to shoulder the responsibility of troubleshooting and solving network related computer issues, as well as problems that surface at the user/individual workstation level. You never want to walk away from the chance to improve your working environment or help out a peer, but the reality is: IT support should not be your job.

Breaking Free

There is no shame in knowing when enough is enough. All too often, the scenario is as follows: Your company’s internal IT policies are virtually non-existent, there is no clear understanding of who is accessing what applications and data from which device, and everyone is bogging you down with requests and cries for help.

Don’t get mad, get organized.

A good managed services provider will work with you to understand where and why problems exist within your organization. Once you can see the lay of the land and understand your technology infrastructure, you’ll begin to move forward in your mind with developing a strategy for freeing up your time, while adding additional technology resources to your toolbox, so that you are better enabled for success.

Change does not happen overnight, and you’ll need a trusted partner to guide you through the steps necessary for transforming your technology issues into opportunities for improvement. What do we mean?

Managed IT Support

Support is so much more than responding to issues. Being proactive and understanding what you need to accomplish with your tech as an organization, is a key step in moving forward with developing a good course of action. You need to understand where problems have existed in the past, and you need to know how you are going to prevent them from occurring in the future.

Opening up clear lines of communication with a managed IT support professional will help both the service provider and organization to benefit from the relationship. You must have a workflow in place that directs users to contact support when an issue comes up, so that it is documented and handled appropriately.

Your IT support staff should handle ALL issues related to the troubleshooting, maintenance, and IMPROVEMENT of your tech resources. Again, this means that management must work with the managed services provider to establish the proper procedures for resolving internal computer related issues and requests.

As a business owner or manager, you should find solace in knowing that your tech support can be seen as a trusted resource, specifically when you need advice and recommendations for streamlining technology, and meeting the needs of your users.

Where To Begin

Documenting what your network looks like, and how it used, is a key step in powering forward with a comprehensive plan for success. Your internal staff should know why they are accessing applications and data the way that they do, and you should act ONLY as a liaison between them and your tech team when making big changes or improvements to your infrastructure.

Managed IT support offers you more value than 24×7 monitoring of your network and tech assets. A good service provider listens to the feedback of all users within an organization, and makes the proper recommendations, while helping to establish a good strategy for growth.

Anyone using technology assets within an organization will be open to experiencing certain moments of hardship or confusion, and you should feel confident in your tech team’s ability to handle issues appropriately whenever they occur. The true value with any managed IT support team is knowing that as issues are resolved and documented, you are effectively building a plan for growth within your overall strategy.

Begin by listing all of the knowledge you have regarding internal IT support issues, so that it can be presented to, and reviewed with, your new managed services provider. Your support staff will have a better chance at efficiently resolving user related issues if they know where you are, and where you plan to go.

Moving Forward

Of course, preventing issues from occurring is top priority within the scope of IT support’s job responsibilities. The data collected from users and network monitoring tools must be consistently evaluated and considered. Your tech team needs to communicate potential problems with you, as well as help you to understand where your environment and users are within the ultimate goals of your technology plan.

Communication is VERY important when working with any vendor. Just as your IT support should be able to work with third-parties to troubleshoot and resolve application and hardware issues within your infrastructure, you too should be able to communicate easily with your support staff. This means that you should expect a careful ear when contacting IT support, as well as clear responses.

Once you have established solid procedures within your organization that enable IT related issues to be resolved in the proper manner, you’ll want to consider moving forward with improvements. Your support staff will have a good understanding of your wants and needs, and can make the proper recommendations.

Establishing a level of trust within all levels of the organization is a key factor in determining the success of your IT staff.

Speaking Of Wants And Needs

It is not selfish or irresponsible to think that your business can benefit from Managed IT Support. Your company’s most valuable assets are its employees, and freeing them from the matrix of confusion and complexity when resolving computer issues, will better enable everyone to work at the peak of their performance. Contact Us to take the next step.

5 Reasons Your Company Can Benefit from Managed IT and Network Monitoring Services (Part 2)

Managed IT and Network Monitoring Services Help Desk Woman with Headset

Managed IT and Network Monitoring Services

Welcome back to the second half of our two-part article on what managed IT services can do for your company from the top of your software stack to the bottom of your hardware infrastructure. Rather than relying on break-fix solutions and intermittent infrastructure maintenance, managed services can catch problems before they occur and make sure you’re always up to date on updates. Last time we talked about ensuring your online services are reliable for your customers and dynamically managing your server load during high traffic times. Let’s pick up where we left off at optimization!

3 Optimizing Your Data Structure

You don’t just need network monitoring in times of crisis, it is a 24/7 job of keeping your website and business network healthy and online. One of the best uses of server and network monitoring services is to identify the most and least efficient processes in your company network. With detailed monitoring and metrics analysis, you can discover things like which programs installed on company computers are slowing down the network and which company data procedures are creating unnecessary calls for redundant data. With these small but influential pieces of information, your managed IT team can begin to optimize your software suite and business procedures for the smoothest possible company network.

4 Identifying IT Issues Early

Computers work in predictable ways, iterating the tasks they have been assigned endlessly and without fail, that is until something goes wrong. A network monitoring team can help you keep an eye out for issues that haven’t caused problems yet but will in the future. Often, a computer system will fail in a way that can be caught days, sometimes even months, ahead of time and cut off at the pass. Detailed monitoring will reveal dangerous sequences in which a program has begun using a massive amount of bandwidth or is using up company storage space on an endless log file that will eventually top-out a server’s storage capacity.

Monitoring is a good way to watch the horizon of your data infrastructure. While some issues will be caused too quickly to predict, most computer problems will ramp up for at least several minutes and often much longer before coming to a head and creating a critical error. Dust in computers can slowly increase heat to crashing levels, redundant processes can eat up processing power, and resource expensive processes can lock up an entire server if they get too bloated. All of these issues can be spotted early and resolved before they interrupt business procedures or client services as long as a dedicated IT team is on the ball.

5 Repairs Immediately When You Need Them

Of course, the aspect of managed IT services that most businesses understand best is having a technician ready to step in the moment an unavoidable or truly unforeseen problem occurs. If one of your servers dies without warning or a software update fails and corrupts an entire database, having monitored services means there’s an expert already paying attention and likely aware of the problem the moment it occurs. The troubleshooting and recovery process begins immediately with a dedicated team of technicians so that your IT infrastructure can be fixed, restored, or properly updated and the interruptions to your business kept at an absolute minimum.

Server and network monitoring are an important window into the technical health of your company. Data flows between company computers, servers, network hubs, out to clients, and back again into CRMs. Servers hold that data, processing and storing it as instructed. Your business runs on its tech infrastructure and managed IT and network monitoring service can help you keep that infrastructure optimized, problem-free, and quickly repaired. For more information on finding the right managed IT plan for your business, contact us today!

5 Reasons Your Company Can Benefit from Managed IT and Network Monitoring Services (Part 1)

Saas company business man with a laptop. Managed IT and network monitoring services concept

Managed IT and Network Monitoring Services

In the business world, everything runs on the network. Information of every stripe is constantly being processed and transmitted through multiple company machines, over cloud hosting, and stored in proprietary servers either locally or again on the cloud. Business software suites rule the day, often adding more network calls as they self-maintain and contact central data stores to keep all employees on track and supplied with the information they need to function and this is all without considering if a company is also providing online services to their customer we as well. With this overwhelming use of networking between company computers, clients, and the cloud, it’s no wonder more and more businesses are turning to outsourced help to manage their IT infrastructure and monitor their network activity. If you haven’t hired a crack team of IT experts to keep a watchful eye on your business network, here are five great reasons to consider doing so.

1 Ensuring Steady Service to Your Customers

Monitoring services are there to tell you when things are about to go sideways with enough of a head-start to prevent the oncoming disaster. You may be one of the thousands of companies that provide online services to customers that should not be interrupted under any circumstances. Many Saas companies provide real-time data, dashboards, and support that must be available when customers need them and some companies even serve medical providers and patients as part of an active health plan. If a server dies or a network connection goes down at the wrong moment, customers will not only be unhappy, they could be terribly disadvantaged and even lose money from their own businesses or the ability to interact with vital services as a result of the interruption.

Making sure the vital connection between your company and clients stays online is one of the things that a managed IT and monitoring as a service can provide for. If something is about to go wrong, your outsourced technicians can send you a timely message and help to redistribute resources to keep your services available without having to stack additional tasks onto your in-house techs if you have any.

2 Preventing Overload During High Traffic Hours

Most websites and services see cyclical visitation from their customers as log-in patterns match the requirements and opportunities of daily life. Companies with incredibly popular websites have to be aware of this ebb and flow pattern in order to prepare for their most high-traffic weekly hours. When many people all log into your website at once, this can create an overwhelming flood of activity on your network and has been known to overpower the available bandwidth and server resources.

While the extra business is good, young companies who experience a sudden increase in popularity have faced complete website failure when traffic exceeded their network capabilities. Managed IT and network monitoring services can help you both prepare your network for dangerously high traffic and offload resources at exactly the right time during these rush periods to keep your website up, running smoothly, and providing sales to your eager customers.

Managed IT services offers you a stability, constant maintenance, and optimization that break-fix IT simply can’t compare to. Of course, this is only the first half of our two-part article on the benefits of working with a managed service provide. Instead of just waiting for your computer system to eventually fail and then calling an expert, with managed IT your servers and infrastructure will be actively maintained, updated, curated, and load-balanced at all times Join us next time for the second half of this article where we’ll talk about optimization, detecting errors before they happen, and repairing any unavoidable or externally caused errors immediately. For more information about managed IT services, contact us today!

VoIP Telephony and Why You Should Consider Using It

Dialing telephone keypad. VoIP telephony and the benefits

Ready for the flexibility of VoIP?

The telecommunications age began in the 1830’s with the first telegraph equipment. It’s contemporary developments in Germany, Great Britain, and the United States, changed the world forever.

The first attempts at communicating “long distance” using electricity covered less than a mile. They were, however, responsible for the development of binary code, electrical rotary switching technology and many other techniques and technologies that form the basis of today’s communication revolution. From these beginnings through to the invention of the telephone and human-operated dialing and switching systems we have evolved to digitalized communication techniques and protocols for connecting to virtually anyone, any place, at any time. One of the technologies spawned from the simple wires and taps connection more than 150 years ago is VoIP telephony.

VoIP stands for Voice over Internet Protocol. It represents a technology with global reach. VoIP works by digitizing sound. Ordinary POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service, no kidding, that’s what it is called) was invented in the mid-1800’s, with the first patent issued in 1876. POTS used analog interfaces to push or vibrate sound along a copper wire from one destination to another. VoIP expands this capability by encoding the values of the vibrations into binary code, dividing the message into small packets and reassembling them at the receiver’s end of the conversation.

While POTS has served us well for more than 100 years, VoIP is an improvement in many ways:

• The clarity of the digital signal is vastly superior to the analog version.

• The digitized signals can be transmitted cheaper and quicker than the analog signals.

• The digital signals can be moved out of the phone realm and into emails automatically creating a Unified Communication Platform.

• VoIP signals can transmit video and audio connections on a greater variety of devices. This means that you can have virtual machines known as “softphones” accessible from any computer, smartphone, or tablet.

• VoIP systems reduce the need for duplicate wiring that analog phones require by using your existing internet connectivity and cabling.

• VoIP phone systems make internal calling free even between geographically distinct sites by using SIP technology.

VoIP systems are available both as an on premise or as a hosted solution. In an on premise installation, you will need to set up a VoIP PBX, VoIP router and voicemail server. With a hosted solution you will still need a router to translate the VoIP traffic so that it goes to the right party with the proper quality of service assured.

While we’ve talked about some of the technical advantages and features of a VoIP system, let’s look at some of the benefits to the user community. VoIP systems being computer-based provide a much more comprehensive array of user experiences than a POTS PBX system can. With VoIP systems, you can set up users and features using a graphical user interface that allows drag and drop movement of phones and features. Your phone system can be accessed remotely and changes made from outside your office at full internet speeds rather than at the dial-up modem speeds of a POTS system.

VoIP systems allow, as mentioned before, Softphones. Softphones will enable a user to answer their desk phone from anywhere in the world provided they can connect to your installation through the internet. This function allows your team to work remotely at another internal office, at a different desk in the same room, from their home office, or from a customer site. When they are fully mobile, they can answer their desk phone on their cell phone as well. In some configurations, you can even use them for hot swapped offices by providing users a login code that will assign a specific desk phone to them for a given period or until they log out of the system.

The majority of VoIP systems create a receptionist console that can monitor all other lines to see if they are in use, manage out of office messages, allow hunt groups and a myriad of other features. All while reducing the total cost of ownership, improving call quality, providing video conferencing in certain circumstances and eliminating the expense of the site to site calls.

If you are interested in learning more about VoIP telephony and the benefits and applications for your business, please contact Systems Net today for an educational consultation or feel free to browse our website. As a premiere provider of VoIP and other IT services, we look forward to working to exceed your expectations.