Envision IT - Louisville Computer Support

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// business technology
APR
26
2015
Business IT Support & Services

How to Ensure a Successful Office Move

When a company decides to relocate their office space, it is an exciting time for their employees. Changing a work environment can have benefits for any organization. It is a time for the implementation of new processes and can be a morale and productivity booster. But, moving an office can become a huge undertaking for the employee who is put in charge of managing the monumental task. Communication, prioritization, and planning can cause undue stress for anyone regardless of their experience or skill level. Whether you are moving a corporate headquarters or a small office, the following are pieces of advice on how you can ensure a successful office move.

Selecting your new space and creating a floorplan

You may be starting with a blank space or you could be moving into an office space that was previously configured for another organization, either way, you are probably going to need to reconfigure your new space to best meet the needs of your company. You must first consider if this reconfiguration is going to be cosmetic or if a general contractor will need to be involved. If the space requires building individual offices, break rooms, or other space such as conference areas, starting with a general contractor with a good reputation should be your first step. Asking for references from other companies can ensure you hire a reliable general contractor. If no renovations are needed, you should begin with a floor plan which provides a sketch of each employee’s work space and miscellaneous spaces (kitchen, bathrooms, server/IT rooms, etc.). This can be done by the project administrator themselves or by hiring a professional space planner. This is a great time to see if your existing furniture will fit, if you will have to purchase additional items or if you need to purchase all new furniture. It is also important to take into consideration any growth your organization may have during this planning stage. Making sure the space is properly configured for your company’s needs can ultimately save money by eliminating future changes to the space.

Hiring professional installers, office movers, and working with other vendors

Moving your ISP and phone services – This part of the project usually requires the most notice to your providers (at least 30 day but 60 days to be safe as the waiting list to have it installed could be quite long). You should contact your current ISP and phone provider as soon as you know your office will be relocating. You should ensure that they provide service at your new location, verify the length of your contract, and contact new providers if your current providers do not provide service in your new area. This is a great time to discuss contracts and pricing as well as considering increasing your bandwidth. With new technologies such as cloud computing, mobile BYOD (bring your own device), and a growing mobile workforce, this is a great time to plan for the future of your business.

Hiring a cabling provider – If you have any existing IT provider they may provide this service or can help you to find a vendor in your area. Most new offices will need new cabling, new drops, jacks, face plates, and patch cables. A simple walkthrough with your cabling provider can help them determine if you need Cat 5e or Cat 6 cabling and whether conduit or other infrastructure needs to be installed. This is also dependent on your floor plan. As you can see, doing things in a particular order is important. The cabling and ISP/phone installation needs to be in place and tested before moving any network/IT infrastructure. This is a great time to consider moving phone service to new platforms such as Skype for Business and/or integrate video conferencing and instant message services to improve internal and external communications.

Moving your network/IT hardware – Informing your current IT provider or contacting a provider in your area should be next on your list. Hardware such as servers, firewalls, switches, racks, and other expensive and fragile equipment can be damaged by office movers and is rarely insured. This is a wonderful time to look at upgrading antiquated equipment, ensuring that all equipment is under an active warranty, and decommissioning any equipment that is no longer in use. It is also important to make sure all of your necessary data is backed up prior to the move as well. Also, consider the need for an electrician at this time as large network equipment such as UPS battery backup systems may need special outlets installed if they are not available in the new space. Next, consider any HVAC and ventilation needs in your server room/closet (servers cannot withstand excessive heat and this equipment also puts off a lot of heat as well). Consider using an audio/visual consultant to move any large televisions, audio equipment, Smart Board technology, or other equipment not supported by your IT provider.

Moving security systems – Most likely you will need to involve whomever installed this equipment originally to move the hardware. It is also a great time to make sure your equipment is under warranty, is up to date, and does not need to be replaced. You will also need to consider adding or removing cameras and other security hardware depending on if you are moving to a larger or smaller space. And, at the risk of sounding repetitious, this is also a good time to review your contract.

Moving your desktops, laptops and printers – Most office movers can move this type of equipment, but, if you have a service contract with a printing company they can also move your printing/copying equipment as well. Most likely, your IT provider will need to be involved in this portion of the move as well to re-establish connectivity of all devices once they arrive at the new location. Your IT provider can also usually provide this service as well.

Moving office furniture and/or company signage – Hiring professional office movers is always the best option. These companies tend to be bonded and insured along with having many years of experience. Your location Better Business Bureau or fellow business owners can be the best source to find a qualified office moving company. Make a list of all of the items that need to be moved (including your exterior or interior signage) and provide this list to the moving company to ensure the most accurate quote possible.

Miscellaneous vendors – Although often overlooked, you may need to consider notifying or changing vendors such as janitorial services or vending machine providers. Once again review your current contracts and contact them to see if they provide service in your new location. You will also need to make sure couriers such as UPS, FedEx and the USPS know when to stop picking up or delivering to your old location and begin at the new location. Lastly, make sure your website, flyers, stationary, business cards and other branded items get updated with your company’s new address and phone/fax numbers.

**All vendors should provide a project plan, statement of work or other form of documentation telling you exactly what you are paying for and any down payments that are required.

Organization, Archiving, and Destruction of Antiquated Paperwork or Hardware

Moving provides the perfect time to get organized. Consider archiving old data from your server, hiring a shredding company to shred outdated documents, decommissioning old hardware and donating unused office furniture and supplies to a local charity. This will help to ensure that your new office space is clutter-free and productive from the very beginning.

The Big Grand Finale: Moving Day

Finally, after months of planning, moving day has arrived. This is normally the most chaotic day your company will experience. But, with proper communication to staff members and a company organization plan, this too can be a stress-free day. Start by creating a well thought out announcement to help employees pack and label their items and distribute a timeline for the week prior to the move. Provide boxes and other storage to your staff members to pack their personal and work items. Create a number or color-coded system to ensure the boxes get placed into the corrected rooms/areas by the movers (make sure the movers have a copy of this as well). Lastly, try to schedule your key providers (IT, printing, other contractors as needed) to be on-site the day of the move to help resolve last minute issues. In closing, remember that an office move is exciting for your employees, celebrate the day and your company’s achievements, and enjoy your new, up-to-date, organized office space with increased sales and company profit!

AUG
08
2013
Envision IT - Louisville IT Support

What Does IT Support Offer Your Business?

Every business at some time or another will need IT support. When times are busy the last thing that staff members need is to stop what they are doing to deal with IT problems. These are best left to professionals, and IT support is available in various formats. Businesses can choose to hire a full-time IT professional, or outsource to another company to cover any issues that may arise.

What does IT support involve?

The chosen IT professionals will examine the existing network within the business to ensure that it meets specified requirements, is running efficiently, and has proper security in place to protect business and client data.

IT support can also extend to the company’s telecommunications. This could mean dealing with the installation of phone lines, the set up of smartphones per company policies, or installing an entire VoIP phone systems. More and more companies are relying on mobile devices in the field for their communications, and having a professional on hand to provide security advice is sensible. What happens when one of those devices turns up missing? How much company and client data could someone access? As more employees bring their own devices (BYOD), there’s more need for companies to make sure their data is protected from wherever it can be accessed.

Getting the right IT support

As there are plenty of options for IT support it can be hard to know where to start. Getting a good deal from an external organization is important, but given that services on offer can be very similar then prices will often be very similar too.

A business may need a specialized service such as data protection, HIPAA compliance, POS, etc. So with this in mind, a specialist professional should be sought. It is important to know that the appointed IT professional is local but will also be available to help in the event that the business decides to move or expand. Off-site monitoring is a bonus but it is worth noting that physical visits will be needed from time to time.

A large firm will offer a wide range of IT services while a smaller one-man band may be a little limited in how much help they can provide. A bigger firm can be an advantage for a company that has multiple sites but it may lack the personal touch that many people expect these days. Most companies will expect to have a long-term relationship with their IT professionals, so it is important to know that a good relationship can be built with them.

A dedicated account manager is often a bonus as it gives the company a single point of contact in the event of a problem. The account manager should be able to fully explain all details of the service agreement and both parties’ obligations at the start of the contract.

Look for a firm that can guarantee their response times. It is important to know that the business will not be left waiting for days on end for the IT firm to get around to fixing a problem. The Service Level Agreement should include a clear statement on how long the maximum waiting time is for a visit. The technicians may not be able to fix the problem immediately, but they should at least be out fairly quickly to inspect it and make an assessment.

If you think you might be in need of local, Louisville IT support, we’d like to talk to you.

JUL
31
2013
Louisville Firewall Support & Network Security

Why Your Business Needs A Firewall

What is a Firewall?

Firewalls provide protection against outside attackers by guarding your network from malicious or unnecessary Internet traffic. Firewalls can be configured to block data from certain locations while allowing the relevant and necessary data through. They are especially important for users who rely on continually accessible connections.

Firewalls, whether hardware of software (or a combination of the two), provide a security boost to any environment. For businesses, firewalls are such an important part of having a reliable computing environment and dramatically reduce threats that can lead to costly data loss, breaches, and down time.

Small to Medium Size Business and the Standard Router

Larger companies understand the risks of their large computing environment and with that understanding often employ multiple business-grade firewalls. However, for the small to medium size business, often run from a home office or other unconventional space, the threats are equally hazardous and require more than the basic ISP-provided router (intended for household use only).

These routers are the address of your connection to the internet. An ISP router is the go-between from your business to the internet and only directs the traffic flow. These routers just do not address the vulnerabilities of a business’s information transactions.

These ISP routers do not filter or inspect the traffic, nor do they detect intrusions. Basically, this leaves your business open to web risks at large, which is only multiplied when you are transferring any sensitive data in order to conduct work. The risk is not just the compromise of this data, which means losing clients in the event of a breach, but also opens you up to some hefty fines from any number of compliance commissions.

Firewalls Put You in Control of Your Network

A firewall allows you to control the gateway (your front door) of information and gain awareness to security problems that may be attempting to enter. There are a number of different kinds of attacks that are caught via this gateway, the top three are:

  • Network packet sniffers – a hacker intercepts unprotected network information packets and steals the data
  • IP spoofing – an outsider tricks your computers into recognizing them as a trusted source, by posing as a familiar IP address
  • Password attacks – hackers guess or crack passwords used by employees, allowing them to access the computer and entire network to steal further data

A business-grade firewall allows you to filter the incoming and outgoing traffic for suspicious activity, putting you in control and minimizing your risk of attacks.

What Does a Good Firewall Do for Your Business?

In a nutshell, it protects you from costly threats. With the correct settings and subscription renewals, it offers the following functions:

  • Block incoming traffic based on rules – ex. keep employees off of Social Networking sites
  • Block websites – ex. eliminate adult website access, which reduces the associated virus risks
  • Dedicate internet network resources – ex. prevent a group of workers from accessing the web for any reason
  • Firewalls also create logs of users and instances so you can track the events of a particular time period. This kind of log is critical to pin-pointing a breach to contain or fix problems.

Asses Your Security

At the end of the day, your business data needs more than just a router from your ISP. Ask your IT advisor to do a security assessment of your network and find out where your vulnerabilities are so you don’t have to learn the hard way…

JUL
18
2013
Envision IT - Louisville Data Backup And Disaster Recovery

Data loss often leads to data failure.

Take a moment to imagine what would happen if all your business data were gone tomorrow. Does the thought make you queasy? If that’s not enough to make you sick, according to DTI/PricewaterhouseCoopers, seven out of 10 small firms that experience a major data loss go out of business within a year. Even if your data is recoverable, it can take days to deal with a major server outage when old backup technologies are used.

Many business owners don’t realize they are at risk. Many think they are protected, only to find out the hard way that they were far more exposed than they thought. Even more think, “well gosh, that will never happen to me.”

Little did they know.

Here are some of their REAL LIFE stories.

– A cell phone dealer with a retail storefront went out of business after a drunk driver smashed into the store, causing a fire that burned down the entire building.

– A company in a high-rise office building had excellent backups onsite, but only took data offsite every couple of weeks. A pipe in the sprinkler system froze, flooding their office with more than 17,000 gallons of water when it thawed. They were lucky — the water didn’t touch the server.

– An out-of-control truck ran off the road and into a building, destroying a company’s entire server room. This company was well prepared: offsite backups and a standby server got them up and running almost immediately.

– A business consulting practice had their UPS catch fire. It melted their server and backup system and also damaged several other companies in the building. They nearly went out of business.

– After investing in new systems, a doctor went back to an older medical records system she preferred that was running on an aging server. She didn’t have the software to reinstall it when the server finally crashed, so she lost access to her patients’ records for weeks.

– A financial services company failed to change passwords after an employee left on bad terms. Shortly thereafter, their server was hacked with a virus bomb that wiped out most of their data. Eventually the backup was restored, but they were hit with regulatory penalties and had to provide identity theft protection to all their customers because of the data breach.

– Thieves used a plasma cutter to break into a company through the warehouse loading door. Despite the loud alarms, they were able to cut all the wires connecting the computers and servers, yank them out and make off with them before the police arrived. They lost everything.

– An attorney’s office diligently swapped their tapes every night. Turns out, the tapes were never formatted, so they were blank. In over a year’s time, no one ever caught the backup failure (in the logs, in bright red print).

– Consultants came in to perform an Exchange e-mail migration. Due to an error on their part, much of the data was lost. When they tried to restore from the backup (set up by internal IT staff), it didn’t work either. After plenty of finger-pointing, they got to work and were able to recover most of their e-mail.

– An audio/visual company with terabytes of video was flooded during heavy spring rains. When they went to restore from backup, it didn’t work, so they sent their hard drives to a data recovery specialist. After $20,000 in data recovery bills, they discovered their network support company didn’t set it up properly. The backup had never run, not even once, so they lost years of customer video. This company is now a fraction of its former size.

– Another company had a beautifully organized tape backup, with everything labeled and neatly stored in the basement, behind the elevator. When they finally needed to recover data files, they found that the magnetic field from the elevator had erased all the tapes.

– One company thought they’d accounted for every possible scenario, until a van hit a nearby power pole. The resulting power surge was akin to a direct lightning strike and shorted out every electronic device in the entire building, even the coffee maker! Fortunately, a new server, an image-based backup and offsite data storage saved the day. They were back in action within a few days.

Don’t be a victim!

To make sure you don’t become the next story, here’s what you need to put in place:

  • New, image-based backup technology, that backs up the entire server instead of just the data files. This will allow for speedy recovery in case of problems. You can restore to a new machine without any trouble, often within a matter of minutes.
  • Onsite backup to a hard-drive-based device, such as a NAS (network attached storage device) or a standby server. Tape backups are slow and too unreliable.
  • Keep a standby server or make sure you have a way to obtain a new server in less than 24 hours (depending on your tolerance for downtime). If you ever need to recover from a serious hardware failure, you’ll need something you can use to restore your systems.
  • Offsite backup, ideally an Internet-based solution that doesn’t rely on someone in your office remembering to take something with them each day. Make sure there’s a way to have the data shipped to you in an emergency, as large data stores can take days to download.
  • Regular verification of your backup process. It is not safe to assume your backup is working. Test it regularly to be sure. That means testing data recovery, not just checking to see that the backup job is still running.


If you address all these points, you will be as disaster-proof as possible, able to recover from nearly anything life throws at you. If you ignore even one of these points, you are still at risk and will have to rely on hope as your data recovery strategy. The unlucky businesses mentioned in this story are proof that hope isn’t always enough.

If you’re concerned about your business’s backup, don’t wait until it’s too late. Contact us now!

JUL
14
2013
Louisville Small Business Network Support

Why a small business can benefit from an IT consultant

This post by guest blogger Erica Bell was originally published on Tech Republic.

TakeawayBecause the first year of a new business tends to be the “make it or break it” moment, small businesses can benefit from hiring an IT consulting firm for a number of reasons.

Running a small business often means time and budget are tight. You probably don’t want to spend hours filtering through online resources to find the best methods or solutions. Because the first year of a new business tends to be the “make it or break it” moment, sitting down with someone who understands IT can help you avoid startup pitfalls and technical glitches that can hinder your company’s growth. Small businesses can benefit from hiring an IT consulting firm for a number of reasons.

Buying help

When you hire an IT consultant, you can gain insight into which servers, programs and other hardware can meet your needs and your budget according to your business plans. Without spending time on IT purchasing decisions, you’ll be able to focus more on the core of your work.

  • IT consultants with experience know the best methods that will help you meet your goals.
  • IT consultants can advise you on purchasing decisions so you don’t overspend or get a product that won’t accomplish what you had in mind.
  • Better, faster and cheaper solutions with proven success will save you time and money.
  • IT service providers stay up to date on the latest in tech and understand which products are not worth the cost.

 

Access to a team

Hiring a single IT employee may seem to be the best idea, but hiring a consulting firm provides more support and information than one individual can. You also won’t have to worry about benefits, salary or training that come from the employment of an in-house IT specialist.

  • You’ll have access to a team of specialists that can provide support on the latest and greatest in IT without additional training on your end.
  • When hiring an IT consulting firm, you get a flexibility that doesn’t come with an individual. On-demand support is a bonus when unplanned events occur.
  • Through a partnership with a well-established IT consultant, businesses can have the benefits of priority (and sometimes discounted) access to various technology vendors.

 

Increased productivity

If you hire an IT consultant, you and your employees can spend less time worrying about the office network and more time getting the job done.

  • Effectively planned and executed technology can ensure your company faces less downtime and fewer glitches.
  • Gain peace of mind knowing that whatever problems you face, you have an IT support system that can provide insight and solutions.
  • Because you won’t be the one focused on making sure everything tech at your business is running smoothly, even if a hiccup does occur, you can continue focusing on what’s most valuable: growing your business.

As a company expands, bringing in an IT team may be the best route. Or, you may want to stick with the methods you’ve been using. Small businesses can benefit from hiring an IT consultant, but it’s truly up to you to determine if this is the route you want to take.

Erica Bell is a small business writer who focuses on topics such as technology and social media trends. She is a web content writer for Business.com.