5 Signs Your MSP Sucks

Not all managed services providers are created equally. While a lot of them are doing high quality, groundbreaking work in an effort to guarantee the care and commitment you need at all times, others are definitely leaving a lot to be desired. There are five core signs in particular that you need to be aware of that all say one thing: It’s time for a change in MSP.

Your MSP Sucks If You Get The Dreaded “We’ll Call You Back”

If you’ve ever experienced a problem with your environment and put in a call to your MSP for help, only to be told that you’re going to get a “call back” at a later time, guess what – your MSP sucks. You should have been handed over to someone who can help you in real-time, not “in one to three days”.

You’re Calling Your MSP Too Often

Another clear sign that your managed services provider sucks is that you’re calling your MSP at all. For the most part, your MSP should be calling YOU to proactively solve small issues before they become much bigger problems. If you’re calling your MSP on a regular basis to take care of little things that should be taken care of without having to ask, there is a problem.

You’re Calling Your Vendors

Your MSP should be the one calling all of your vendors on your behalf, managing any and all relationships on the technical side of the scale. Managed services providers are a one-stop shop in this way. Or at least, they should be.

You’re Updating Your Own Software

One of the key reasons that you’re paying your MSP in the first place is to make sure that you automatically have all updates and you don’t have to worry about an update disrupting your workday. Let’s get one thing clear: updates to properly managed services will be done by your MSP, no exceptions. If you do find yourself consistently updating your own software and having to stop your work, then guess what: your MSP sucks.

You Keep Having the Same Problems

Finally, perhaps the most obvious sign that your MSP sucks is if the same problem is occurring in the same environment on a regular basis. What this means is that your MSP isn’t solving the root of the problem, they’re just putting forward temporary solutions. Some MSP’s solve symptoms, and not the actual problem. This isn’t a way to do business in the modern era where technology is becoming more and more critical on a daily basis. A quality managed services provider will find the root of the fault and fix it, making sure it doesn’t have a chance to rear its ugly head again down the road.

Key Takeaways:

  • If you’re having a problem with your environment and your MSP tells you that they’re going to “call you back,” you’re looking at a clear sign that your MSP sucks.
  • A good MSP will never make you call them about an issue – they’ll be the ones calling you.
  • Quality MSPs will also manage the technical relationship between you and your vendors, so that you don’t have to.

IT Consulting

3 Tips to Be Proactive with Your Organization’s Technology

For decades, you were probably like just about every other business on the planet in terms of IT and your organization’s technology: reactive. You would invest heavily in a particular set of hardware or software, use it until it wasn’t quite getting you the results you needed and then repeat the process all over again. Times have changed and technology advances far too quickly to stay stuck in this old school mentality any longer.

Being reactive in terms of technology doesn’t just put you at a competitive disadvantage – it could also be making your entire organization vulnerable in more ways than one. If you really want to be proactive with your organization’s technology, you’ll want to keep a few key things in mind.

Proactive Means Protection of Your Organization’s Technology

By far, the number one way to remain proactive about your organization’s technology involves doing what you can to protect it from digital threats. Conduct regular scans of your network and infrastructure, not only looking for opportunities for improvement, but also in terms of identifying small problems before they have a chance to become much larger (and more expensive) ones down the road.

Implement two factor authentication (2FA) as a way to ward off the latest digital threats like phishing attempts. Remember that hackers and other people who want to do you harm think fast – so you need to think faster.

Plan for the Future

If being proactive in general means always keeping one eye fixed towards the future, it stands to reason that another great way to be proactive about your organization’s technology involves planning for what tomorrow is going to look like. Use workspaces to unlock productivity and collaborative benefits that have only recently become available. Plan your budget accordingly, taking great care to make sure that your IT is always aligned with your long-term business objectives.

If you find this too hard to do on your own, don’t be afraid to find a partner like a managed services provider who will take over much of the burden on your behalf.

Move to the Cloud

Finally, one of the best ways to become more proactive about your organization’s technology involves moving anything and everything that you can over to the cloud. Not only will it make protection and planning for the future easier, but it’ll also make your life better. Your employees will become more efficient and have a uniform experience, wherever they are. The quality of the work that they’re able to do will increase as well.

You’ll get benefits that extend far, far deeper than the ones listed here – but none of it will be possible if you get stuck in the same reactionary approach that has been true to IT investments for years.

Key Takeaways:

  • Being proactive about your organization’s technology puts you in a better position to protect it. This can include doing regular scans, implementing two factor authentication and more.
  • Being proactive puts you in a better position to plan for the future through the use of workspaces, budgeting and more.
  • Moving everything into the cloud is a big first step towards becoming and staying proactive moving forward.

Cloud Backup

The Most Important IT Budgeting Tip for 2017 and Beyond

As we enter into a new year, many organizations are trying to spend their IT budgets for 2017 in the smartest way possible. While doing your research and taking a proactive approach to the proceedings is always important, the fact of the matter is that the single most important IT budgeting tip for 2017 is also an incredibly simple one.

Making the shift to workspaces within your organization brings with it a host of unique advantages that will serve you well not only in 2017, but in 2018, 2019 and beyond.

IT Budgeting: Breaking Free From the Traditional Model

Think about it this way: desktop computers typically cost a fixed amount of money in the traditional pricing model, but what you don’t realize is that this cost is constantly going up. Desktops naturally lose their ability to function well over time, often because they need to be updated so frequently. As operating system updates are released, your older hardware is taxed harder and harder.

It creates something of a perfect storm of unfortunate circumstances: you need the latest software to thrive, but that software itself cannot excel on the older hardware you’re working with. With a workspace, you don’t have to fix this problem by getting new computers or any new hardware at all – you just have one monthly fee and nothing to worry about.

The OEM License Benefit

Under the traditional OEM model of licensing, you need to buy licenses for each computer you plan on using. Those licenses can’t be used anywhere else and also die on the computer they’re being used on. Did you just upgrade your desktop in your office? Congratulations – you now have to buy a slew of new licenses to go with it.

With a workspace, everything you need is included and is priced based on the numbers that use it. The cost is an all-in-one situation, as opposed to being spread out in an escalating manner over time.

The Joy of Consumption

Finally, perhaps the most important reason why workspaces are your most important IT budgeting tip for 2017 is because everything is consumption-based. You no longer have to worry about making decisions today that may prove to be inadequate tomorrow – also forcing you to spend more tomorrow as a result. You don’t have to worry about having too much or too little – you’re only paying for what you use and not a penny more. As those needs change, your pricing plan can change, too. It really is that simple.

In the end, one of the keys to making sure that you’re spending your IT budget wisely is to make decisions that allow you to work smarter, not harder. With many different costs advantages and a consumption-based pricing model, it’s clear that making the jump to workspaces within your business is one of the single most efficient ways to accomplish exactly that.

Key Takeaways:

  • Make no mistake: if your organization isn’t already heavily invested in workspaces, 2017 is the perfect time to start.
  • Workspaces allow your business to break free of the financial shackles of the traditional hardware model.
  • Everything is consumption-based, meaning that you’re only paying for what you use and not one cent more.

Desktop as a Service

How to Judge the Health of Your IT

In today’s world, most businesses rely on IT to some degree. The more efficient and effective your business’s IT infrastructure is, the better your business will perform. However, evaluating the performance of your IT can be difficult, especially if you aren’t handling your IT in house. Below is some information to help you judge the health of your IT effectively.

Evaluating IT without Analytics

Evaluating the health of your IT on a regular basis is an essential task. If you determine that things are running smoothly, you can continue to operate without another thought. However, if you determine that your infrastructure is lacking, changes need to be made.

Whether you are managing your own IT or relying on a third party provider, you can try to use analytics to determine how well your IT is performing. However, this can be complicated, especially if you don’t have an in-house IT staff. Perhaps an easier way to determine the health of your IT is to pay attention to how often you need to call for help because of IT problems.

Are you calling your provider on a regular basis? Do your in-house IT employees spend hours trying to fix problems? If so, your infrastructure could use some improvement. However, if you find that you rarely need to call for help and you aren’t experiencing any noticeable problems, your IT operations are probably on the right track.

Benefits of MSPs

Even if you are doing okay on your own, hiring a managed service provider offers many benefits when it comes to the health of your IT infrastructure. A reputable provider has sophisticated tools that can be used to see the health of your infrastructure at every level so that they can identify and resolve even the smallest problems before they begin affecting your operations.

In most cases, these tools are not available to an end user. MSPs also have insight into the environment that allows them to create and manage the perfect infrastructure for your company.

Trusting Your Provider

With the right MSP, you won’t spend much time thinking about the health of your IT infrastructure. You won’t need to call your provider often because you will rarely experience a problem. In fact, you may even find that your operations are so seamless that you never contact your provider at all. In such cases, you will speak with your provider only when they call you to check in.

Unfortunately, not all businesses have a provider that meets the description above. If you aren’t satisfied with your current services, consider looking for another provider that offers higher quality services.

Key Takeaways

  • The healthier your IT infrastructure is, the better your business will operate.
  • You can judge the health of your IT by paying attention to how often you experience problems and/or need to call for help.
  • The right managed service provider can also help monitor the health of your IT, catching problems while they are still small.

it-consulting-botb

The Most Surprising Byproduct of Cloud-Basing Your IT Infrastructure

There’s been so much written about the benefits of a cloud-based IT infrastructure in recent years that it can be difficult to keep up. Everyone knows about the productivity-related benefits that the cloud brings with it, along with the fact that both communication and collaboration are now easier than ever before.

However, speaking as a company that has recently redone our entire infrastructure from the ground up, cloud-basing everything and setting up access to anyone, anywhere, at any time, we’re in a position to tell you that there’s a truly surprising byproduct of this decision that almost nobody is talking about.

It’s lighting-fast Internet.

A Cloud-Based IT Infrastructure in the Internet Age

After cloud-basing our entire IT infrastructure, our Internet isn’t just fast – it’s uncannily fast. Indeed, one of the major limiting factors of our operation used to be our Internet connection. We were at the will of the standard speed offered by our provider, which essentially meant that we rarely had the speed necessary to execute certain functions as quickly as we needed.

We didn’t make the decision to remove all of our hardware and cloud-base our entire IT infrastructure for fast Internet. Quite the opposite, in fact – we were trying to unlock all of those productivity, efficiency and collaborative benefits that people spend so much time discussing. However, as a result of this decision, we’re now the proud owners of a enormously fast Internet connection – it’s like replacing your old water gun with a bazooka in more ways than one.

Giving New Meaning to the Word “Instant”

These days, our Internet browsing is essentially instant. “Waiting” for a page to load or for a file to download just isn’t something we have to do anymore.

Along the same lines, programs that would formerly slow to a crawl during peak hours are now much faster. Though it’s true that this will still vary depending on service loads (as certain programs use the Internet to complete functions in different ways from others), by and large we’re seeing an unprecedented increase across the board.

We knew it would be fast – but not this fast. Not by a long shot.

There are a lot of companies out there that are using programs that are notoriously slow. Their systems have a lot going on and this loss of speed has typically been seen as an unfortunate “cost of doing business” in the modern digital age.

Preparing for the Future of Business Today

Cloud-basing your IT infrastructure, on the other hand, is different. This changes the game, for all time and for the better. Since we’ve successfully got our system where we want it, everyone has access to the incredible speed they need to do the most important jobs they need to do at all times, no exceptions.

Whether people need to access the Internet to share files with one another, to load websites or to access apps they use frequently to do their jobs, it doesn’t matter. The speed is there and now, thanks to a cloud-based IT infrastructure, it always will be.

If you would have told us that this would be a byproduct of moving into the cloud, we would have done it a long time ago based on this benefit alone, to say nothing of all the other incredible positives that we were able to unlock at the exact same time.

Key Takeaways:

  • After making the decision to move our entire infrastructure into the cloud, the most surprising positive byproduct was by far fast Internet.
  • Everything – from the files we share to the programs we use – are now faster as a result.

Cloud-Basing Your IT Infrastructure | Infrastructure as a Service

Lessons Learned From the Move to an All Cloud-Based Environment

At ITG, we recently made the decision to embrace a pretty significant shift in the way we did business. In an effort to always improve the level of services that we’re able to offer clients, we decided to move into an all cloud-based environment. We’re happy to say that our project is now complete and that we’ve learned some pretty important lessons along the way that are more than worth sharing.

How We Moved to a Cloud-Based Environment

As with most businesses of our type, ITG formerly had an incredible amount of hardware to deal with on a daily basis. There were literally rooms filled with just about every piece of equipment you can imagine, from multiple VMware hosts to virtualized hosts to backup devices, redundant switches and more. We had too much hardware and technology, but it was all in the name of the most important thing of all: providing services to our customers that they knew they could depend on.

All of our hardware had to be redundant and resilient at the same time. IT needed to be up 24 hours a day, seven days a week, without fail. However, we still knew that we could never be 100% resilient specifically because of all of our hardware. What if we got hit with a natural disaster like a flood or hurricane? What if we had a physical breach like a robbery or arson? The answer in all of those situations is the same:

ITG would have been in serious trouble.

What We Learned From the Cloud-Based Environment

By taking all of that hardware out of the equation entirely and hosting our applications in the cloud, we gained a number of valuable results almost immediately. We were able to provide equal access to everything via redundant Internet connections, offering true resiliency to our clients for the first time.

We were able to empower people to work from anywhere provided that an Internet connection was present. Because we weren’t constantly in a race to replace, maintain and reconfigure hardware on a continuing basis, we were able to offer not just better performance – we could offer fewer headaches at the same time.

Looking to the Future

Perhaps the number one lesson we learned by moving to an all cloud-based environment isn’t just the fact that this is the way of the future. Instead, we learned why it’s the way of the future. Moving to a cloud-based environment represents a pretty significant disruption when compared to the way things used to be done, but it’s the best type of disruption of all – one that makes our lives better. Easier. Faster. More efficient.

At ITG, we see ourselves as preparing for the future by embracing the cloud-based environment with open arms. This is us “drinking the Kool-Aid,” so to speak. Now, we’re going to put our money where our mouth is and offer it to clients everywhere so that they can enjoy these benefits, too.

Key Takeaways:

  • Making the decision to move to an all cloud-based environment brought with it benefits that went far beyond what we were expecting
  • Not only were we able to streamline our existing operations, but we were also able to provide a much more valuable and efficient service to clients – everyone wins

Cloud-Based Environment | Desktop as a Service

Why Your Internet Connection Will Be Your Biggest Problem in Five Years

In today’s world, the internet is an essential part of everyday life, both at home and in the workplace. The internet has come a long way and providers are now able to deliver impressive speeds to every customer. Unfortunately, hardware continues to slow things down, so faster speeds are not always necessary. In fact, few customers are able to use everything the provider has to offer. As hardware technology continues to evolve and improve, the speed and quality of your internet connection will become increasingly more important.

Barriers to Maximum Internet Connection Speeds

Nothing limits productivity in the workplace more than connections. We rely on connections to the internet, as well as connections between various electronic devices, in order to accomplish the majority of our tasks. This phenomenon is collectively referred to as the “internet of things,” and it is expected to grow in the future. However, equipment designed for connection to the “internet of things” has not yet caught up to the maximum speeds internet providers are able to offer. Furthermore, some manufacturers are still hesitating to enter the “internet of things” marketplace because of lingering uncertainties. Thus, speed and internet connection quality are not yet an issue.

Looking Forward

Although the internet of things is still in its early stages, its full implementation is inevitable. When this phenomenon takes over, every business will be forced to join the movement in order to remain competitive. At this point, your internet connection will suddenly become your biggest concern. The amount of bandwidth it will take to operate all of your equipment effectively will increase exponentially, and having a fast, high-quality connection will become a priority.

Preparing for the Future

Today, the cost of your internet connection is probably negligible when compared to your other expenses, but that is likely to change in the next five years. In order to prepare for this evolution in the business world:

  • Be proactive. – Start analyzing your connection, infrastructure and hardware today. Stay ahead of the game by investing in the latest technologies and bringing the “internet of things” to your office.
  • Stay up-to-date. – Watch the news for important new developments and advancements so that you can prepare accordingly.
  • Make room in the budget. – Innovation is expensive, and you need to be prepared for the expense that will come with increased connectivity. Start making more room in your budget for new, updated technologies.
  • Beef up security. – As the popularity and necessity of the “internet of things” continues to grow, you will be forced to take on more bandwidth. Unfortunately, with more bandwidth also comes more risk. Invest in high quality security measures and consult professionals in order to ensure that your sensitive data is always protected. When the amount of bandwidth you use changes, reevaluate your security and modify it if necessary.

Key Takeaways:

  • Your internet connection and speed is probably not a limiter today, but it will become very important in the future.
  • As the “internet of things” becomes more popular, business owners will scramble for bandwidth.
  • The time to prepare for this revolution is now.

Desktop as a Service

How to Stay Compliant with HIPAA Regulations Using Technology

HIPAA, also commonly known as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, was designed in part to help protect the safety, security and confidentiality of healthcare information at all costs. Thanks to the significant technological transformation that the industry itself has been going through over the last decade, HIPAA regulations are only getting more strict (and the penalties more severe) as time goes on. If you want to stay compliant with HIPAA regulations using technology, there are a few key things to keep in mind.

Technology and HIPAA Regulations: What You Need to Know

Back in the “old days” of pen and paper, medical health records were in far fewer places than they are today. A patient’s records were typically in a single place – usually locked away in a filing cabinet – until they were needed. As a result, the only real concern professionals had was a physical breach. They would do everything in their power to help make sure someone couldn’t just steal a patient’s records and beyond that, there wasn’t much that needed to be done.

Times have changed. Electronic health records accessed via systems connected to the Internet can be potentially accessed by anyone, from anywhere. This is great if a doctor needs to be able to check in on a patient remotely, but it can be not so great if a hacker gains entry to your file server and suddenly has access to all of the confidential information contained inside.

What Compliance Means in a Digital Age

Many people think that the only concern they need to have regarding medical health records and HIPAA regulations are the records themselves. This is absolutely not the case – all technology that touches electronic health records has to be HIPAA compliant, no exceptions. This is not limited to just end user items – this means your entire infrastructure must be compliant as well.

Are you using a mobile device to access electronic health records on the go? That device has to be HIPAA compliant. Are you using a file sharing service to transmit patient records from one medical professional to another? That file sharing service has to be HIPAA compliant.

As a result, choosing solutions providers that offer services built with HIPAA compliance in mind is more important now than ever before. Your solutions provider must empower you with the technical safeguards necessary to control access to computer systems via things like security protocols and unique user IDs and passwords for each user. They must also provide you with the physical safeguards necessary to protect against data theft, meaning that their own data centers must include HIPAA compliant security provisions to avoid a breach that could wind up costing your organization dearly.

The Changing Technological Landscape

Most cloud-based technologies provide all of the security you need to remain HIPAA compliant. However, the benefits don’t stop there – they also offer a number of other tremendous benefits as well. Maintaining a HIPAA compliant infrastructure allows your organization to embrace a BYOD (bring your own device) deployment, meaning that employees can use their own mobile devices that they’re already comfortable with to work faster, smarter and harder all day long.

Communication and collaboration become easier than ever when everyone has access to all of the same important patient data at all times, which in turn improves the quality of care that you’re able to offer to patients and creates a much stronger, more efficient healthcare organization as a result.

Key Takeaways:

  • Many people don’t realize that HIPAA regulations are incredibly strict concerning where, when and how medical health records can be stored in a digital environment.
  • Technology can help your organization not only maintain compliance with all HIPAA regulations, but can usher in a number of other tremendous benefits as well.

Security Services

Picking the Right Cloud Provider

Most business owners have heard of the cloud, and many have already invested in cloud services. These services offer a variety of benefits, from superior scalability to reduced overhead expenses. However, not every cloud provider is the same. Choosing the right cloud provider ensures that the services you receive are both reliable and effective.

Why Do You Need the Cloud?

The cloud represents the future of business. It allows you to store more data, collaborate with people in remote locations, improve your efficiency and much more. In addition, cloud computing has already grown in popularity among businesses. As the adoption of this solution continues to spread, businesses that haven’t yet made the switch will be under even more pressure to take action.

What to Look for in a Cloud Provider

If you are planning to bring cloud computing to your company, the first step involves choosing a good cloud provider. As you compare different options, remember to look for:

  • A provider with a solid history. – The move to the cloud is happening fast, and tons of providers are jumping into the marketplace in hopes of making some money. Unfortunately, some of these providers fail early on, leaving their clients with nothing but problems. Make sure that the provider you choose is well established, successful and stable.
  • Scalability. – The best cloud providers will offer services that can grow with your business. Make sure that your provider offers scalable, flexible services.
  • Affordability. – Although cost is not the most important consideration, every company must consider its budget. Choose a provider that offers high quality services for a price that doesn’t exceed your business’s budget.
  • A good reputation. – You can learn a lot about cloud providers by reading reviews from past customers. Avoid cloud providers who have a reputation for bad customer service or poor quality products and services.
  • Experience. – Experienced companies know how to provide customized solutions that work for different types of clients. Make sure that your provider has enough experience to deliver the services you need.

Making the Right Choice

Choosing the right cloud solutions for your company can be challenging. ITG is a Managed Services Provider that can help you choose the services that will provide the most value to your company. Our ultimate goal is to provide each client with a comprehensive workspace that requires no internal hardware. All we need in order to provide this workspace is an endpoint, such as a smartphone or laptop. Our services are scalable and secure, allowing you to focus the maximum amount of resources on improving productivity and building your business. If you are interested in learning more about the services we provide, please contact us today.

Key Takeaways:

  • Cloud computing is the future. More businesses move to the cloud every day, and there is no shortage of cloud computing service providers.
  • Not all cloud computing providers are the same. Businesses need to look for stable, experienced providers with solid reputations.
  • ITG offers comprehensive cloud services customized for each individual client.

Cloud Provider | Infrastructure as a Service

Cloud Computing for Service-Based Businesses

If you’re like most, chances are when you think of cloud computing, you envision a fluffy amorphous heaven full of pixels and numbers. But that’s …not quite right. Rather, the cloud simply means a network of servers dedicated to specific roles, including running applications or providing business services that are not at your location.

The confusion surrounding this simple concept, unfortunately, has had the effect of making small business owners mistrust the whole idea. The result is that many businesses rely on in-house services that are more cumbersome, less efficient and less environmentally friendly, all while limiting mobility and customer service.

Bottom line: No matter who you are or what type of business you run, it’s time to move to the cloud.

Put Your Services in the Cloud

If you’re smart, your goal should be to one day host the entirety of your business’s functions in the cloud. That means that all you need on site is the hardware that actually connects to the cloud infrastructure and runs your various software applications, making you completely mobile, able to access your core business functions and services – in other words, your entire business – from anywhere with an internet connection and a device.

With the cloud, you can run ecommerce software, accounting software, enterprise resource management (ERP) software, accounts payable, marketing and advertising, and more.

Consider customer relationship management (CRM) systems, for instance. Many companies use this type of software to track relationships with customers throughout the customer lifecycle, analyze their interactions with the company and its products, improve relations, encourage customer retention and develop strategies to encourage overall profitability. Imagine being able to access such resources from anywhere in the field, and how much more efficient and lucrative that could make your work in the long run (and the short).

Benefits of Cloud Computing

The benefits of cloud computing are nearly endless:

  • Reliable Updates: The user never owns the software, but rather uses software hosted on a server somewhere. This means more frequent updates, making software more reliable and better able to serve customers. It means the flexibility to work from anywhere and update on the fly. It means low maintenance software updates occurring far away and in the background.
  • Collaboration: Moreover, cloud computing fosters collaboration, enabling people from widely dispersed areas to log into and use the same software at the same time rather than having to travel. Real-time data access and shared storage further improve teamwork.
  • Excellent Security: Protection is another benefit of cloud computing. The heavy security cloud computing service providers use gets passed onto customers, and is higher than would be for a small or medium-sized business. While instinctively you might think that having your software and proprietary information hosted elsewhere would be more dangerous, it actually means you’ll get better security than you otherwise would.
  • More Time and Attention for Clients: The resources you save not having to constantly update software, travel for meetings and be physically present at the office can go directly to attracting and servicing clients.

If you’re ready to make the jump to cloud computing, feel free to get in touch. We are a leading provider of technology solutions offering a huge range of services, and would love to help you next.

Key Cloud Computing Takeaways

  • Cloud computing is flexible, secure and efficient
  • It enables you to access your entire business from anywhere with an internet connection and a device
  • The time and resources saved can go directly to helping clients, improving overall profitability

Cloud Computing | Infrastructure as a Service