Tag Archives: Technology

5 Smart Tips To Know Before Moving Your Data To A Cloud-Based Application

5 Smart Tips To Know Before Moving Your Data To A Cloud-Based Application

Cloud computing is all the rage these days, and while some companies are moving their whole IT infrastructure to the cloud, many others are choosing to streamline their businesses by moving individual business applications.

If you are considering moving any of your company’s software applications “to the cloud,” make sure to consider these 5 tips BEFORE pulling the trigger:

1. Back It Up!
Migrating data to any new location is a mess, and anything can (and usually does) go wrong. Therefore, make sure you have good, recent backup copies of everything before you make the move.

2. Maintain An On-site Copy
At first, moving to the cloud can be a bit scary. What can help mitigate the risk (and the fear) is keeping a local, on-site copy of your data and network image on an NAS (network-attached storage) device. That way you have a local on-site copy in addition to the working cloud copy.

3. Have A “Plan B” To Access The Internet
One of the biggest questions about moving IT to the cloud is “What if the Internet goes down?” To mitigate that fail point, have a business-class Internet connection as your initial and main way to connect, and then also have a second Internet connection service as a backup. If Charter/Cox is your main connection, you might consider keeping a Verizon wireless account as a backup.

4. Use It As An Opportunity To Do Some Housekeeping
You could just copy and paste your files from your local machines into the cloud, but why not take this as an opportunity to reevaluate the structure and organization of that data? Here are some ideas:
• Reevaluate and/or update your file-naming conventions and file organization. A good file-naming policy will make it much easier to find files and information. Also, consider reorganizing all the folders into smarter, more efficient categories.
• Consider who will be using what and what levels of permissions are required to access files. Revisiting your permission levels will help keep sensitive data from falling into the wrong hands.
• Look at old files and consider deleting them or archiving them so they aren’t cluttering up your server and costing you money for storing and backing them up.

5. Phase The Move
Don’t try to migrate everything all at once. Create a transition plan and implement it. Make sure you move your files in bite-size pieces so the changes are easy to digest for your clients, employees, partners and everyone else involved. This also gives you the opportunity to test the water before taking the plunge, and it allows you to put out one fire at a time instead of having all systems down or broken.

I hope you will find this post informative and useful. I am looking forward to hearing your comments. That’s all I have for today, until next time make it a great day!
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5 Easy Things You Should Do To Protect Your Business Now

5 Easy Things You Should Do To Protect Your Business Now

Let’s face it: no one likes to think about bad things happening to them, much less plan for them. But since September is National Disaster Preparedness Month, we want to give you a quick “brush-up” on some simple things you can (and should!) be doing to protect your business.

1. Review Your Business Insurance Carefully. Most businesses carry some type of general liability insurance that would pay them if their building and the things in it were damaged. However, many businesses do not have enough coverage to replace all the computer equipment and devices, desks, art, supplies and other things they’ve accumulated over the years that are housed in their office. Make sure you review your policy every year and keep in mind new additions and assets you’ve accumulated during that year.


2.
Consider Cloud Computing. One of the biggest advantages of cloud computing is that your data and assets are stored off-site in a highly secure, high-availability data center, with failover and redundancy built in. That means that if your building were destroyed and you had to evacuate, or if your server melted down due to an unexpected hardware failure, everything you’ve worked so hard to create over the years is safe and not a sitting duck in your unsecured closet or server room.

3. Secure Your Data. Making sure that your data is protected from theft is a never-ending battle you don’t want to lose. Companies that get hacked and expose sensitive client and employee data can face severe penalties, lawsuits and massive loss of credibility in the marketplace. Make sure you never have to send an e-mail to your customers explaining the bad news that a hacker accessed their info through you. Further, if you keep any sensitive information (even passwords to portals containing sensitive information) on portable laptops, phones and other devices, make sure you have a way of controlling and safeguarding that information.

4. Write A Simple Disaster Recovery Plan. The key word here is “simple.” If your plan gets too complicated or difficult, you won’t do it. But at a minimum, think of the disaster that is most likely to happen and that would have a severe and negative impact on your company’s survival.

5. Review Your Employee Internet Policy. With so many people “addicted” to Facebook and Twitter, it’s important that your employees know where the line is in what they can and can’t post online. We also recommend content-filtering software to block content and web sites you don’t want employees visiting during work hours.

I hope you will find this post informative and useful. I am looking forward to hearing your comments. That’s all I have for today, until next time make it a great day!
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Tips For Handling, Storing, and Disposing Of Confidential Documents

Tips For Handling, Storing, and Disposing Of Confidential Documents

In the past 10 years, over 10,000 new regulations have been placed on the books by local, state and federal agencies pertaining to the handling, storage, and disposal of confidential client, patient, and employee documents.
A few examples are:

• SEC Rule 17a-4 Electronic Storage of Broker Dealer Records Graham-Leach-Bliley Act
• Financial Services Modernization Act
• Sarbanes-Oxley Act
• DOD 5015.2 Department of Defense
• Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)
• Fair Labor Standards Act
• Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Act
• Payment Card Industry Data Security (PCI DSS)

No matter how small your business is, you are surely going to be affected by one or more of these new government regulations. Naturally some industries are more regulated, such as financial or medical, but all companies that hold information such as employee social security numbers, credit cards, financial statements (credit applications, bank statements, order forms) fall under these new regulations.
While we cannot cover every single aspect of protecting your company, here are a few tips that will go a long way in making sure you don’t end up fined, sued, or with a bad reputation for not securing your clients information:

• Seek professional help. If you think you are holding confidential information that should be secured, ask a qualified attorney who specializes in data confidentiality in your industry about what you must do to meet new government regulations.
• Shred all documents that contain confidential information. A good shredder should do a cross cut or diamond cut versus a simple strip shredder to make it more difficult for someone to piece together a shredded document.
• If you have to keep a copy of contracts or other documents that contain confidential information, contact a high-security document storage facility and they will store your documents in a high-security location.
• Keep a fire-proof safe with a lock and key for employee documents you need to keep onsite.
• Make sure your offsite backups have 32-bit encryption (ask your provider). Also make sure the facility where the information is stored is under lock and key with security camera and access-controlled security.

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Why Your Laptop Needs An “Instant Kill” Switch

Why Your Laptop Needs An “Instant Kill” Switch

It’s lunch time and you stop by your favorite café to check e-mail and grab a bite to eat. You settle in at a table when your pickup number is called. Returning to your table, you find your laptop and appetite—has disappeared!
Okay, maybe you’re not foolish enough to leave your laptop unattended in a public place, but one of your employees might think it’s okay to leave a laptop or PDA in their car, a hotel room, or in their gym bag and end up exposing your company’s data and network to thieves.
If it hasn’t happened to you or someone you know, according to the FBI, it will. Maybe you have a backup of the data, but now detailed information about you, your family, your business and your clients is in the hands of a criminal intent on stealing your money, identity or worse. There is a lot of software and hardware that protects your data from being stolen by online criminals, but how do you protect your data when someone steals your physical laptop or PDA?
Until now, your only recourse was to change the passwords to your network, financial websites, etc., watch your credit report and cross your fingers hoping for the best. But thanks to new security software, you can instantly erase all of the data on your laptop or PDA preventing thieves from accessing the data.
Here’s how it works: Special security software is installed on your laptop that checks for your “kill” command whenever it connects to the Internet. This happens even before Windows prompts for the user name and password. If it receives the “kill” message, the data on your computer is instantly destroyed. You may not get your laptop back, but you’ll prevent the thief from stealing the information it contains.
If you’re a business, check out Absolute Software’s Computrace and Novell’s ZENworks. Both should be installed and configured by your system administrator or a computer consultant. If you want to protect your home computer or personal laptop, use zTrace’s zControl. Although designed for the general public, it can be confusing to install and configure so seek the help of a professional.
In the PDA world, there’s remoteProtect from sCPsOFT for Windows CE, Windows Mobile and Pocket PC devices or Bluefish’s Central for the Palm Treo. If your PDA is stolen, you simply text a message to it that includes your password and the PDA is reset it to its blank factory default condition. What could be easier?
As with all theft and hacker deterrents, thieves can circumvent this software by downloading your data before connecting the device to the Internet. Surprisingly, the typical thief isn’t smart enough to know this. So, for absolute security, data encryption remains the most reliable form of protection. Encrypted data is unreadable to thieves unless they have your encryption key. There are pros and cons to both approaches, but it’s important for you to have SOME protection. For help in determining the best solution for you, give us a call: 985-871-0333.
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“Great by Choice”

Great by Choice

I would like to recommend “Great by Choice” by Jim Collins. This book and all of the books Jim Collins has written are invaluable to building a Great company. Mr. Collins has many insights and observations that can help take your business from being a “Good” company to a “Great” company. This year we sent all of our clients “Great by Choice” on audio CD as a Christmas gift. Now everyone is talking about 20-Mile Marches, oxygen canisters and triangles and how they will help make their businesses more successful. I hope you decide to take your business and life from Good to Great. Mr. Collins can help you with the first step if you choose to read his book.

I hope you will find this post informative and useful. I am looking forward to hearing your comments. That’s all I have for today, until next time make it a great day!
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How To Avoid The Top 5 Budget Busting, Stress-Inducing Mistakes When Moving Your Office

How To Avoid The Top 5 Budget Busting, Stress-Inducing Mistakes When Moving Your Office

Moving is always a pain, but it doesn’t have to be a horrific, expensive experience. The number one lament from someone who’s experienced a “bad” move is, “I didn’t know I needed to…” followed closely by “I completely forgot that…” In other words, it’s what you don’t do that makes the move a disaster.

To make your move easy and effortless, here are the 5 most common mistakes you want to avoid:

Mistake #1 — Not Using A Checklist

This may seem like a no-brainer to those who manage projects, but project management may not be a forte of someone placed in charge of your move (like an office admin). Even those who use a list typically fail to make the list detailed enough.

Mistake #2 — Trying To Save Money By Using Your Employees To Move Your Computer Network

Don’t ask your staff to disconnect, move and reconnect computers, phones and other devices just to save a few bucks. You’ll frustrate them and end up with phones ringing at the wrong extension, lost cables, and workstations that get dropped rendering them useless. You don’t want to let the movers do this job either; they may be great at moving furniture, but a network is a lot more sophisticated and sensitive. Be smart and hire an IT pro to pack and move your network. Doing so will help you avoid communication blackouts and extended downtime.

Mistake #3 — Not Hiring The RIGHT IT Firm To Move Your Network

While we’re on the topic, make sure you know what to look for when outsourcing the move. A few things to look for would include references from other clients, proof of insurance (get them to fax you a copy), and a professional, organized approach to quoting the move. A real pro will insist on visiting your current location as well as your new location to conduct a detailed site survey. NEVER hire anyone who wants to quote moving your network over the phone. Additionally, look for an IT company that will apply the charges for conducting your site survey against the total cost of the move if you choose them.

Mistake #4 — Not Giving Your Phone, Internet And Cable Vendors Enough Advance Warning

Eighty percent (80%) of unexpected communications blackouts and cost overruns on network moves are caused by failure to properly plan voice, data and electrical installation in advance. Just because the prior tenant had computers and telephones is no guarantee that the cabling is suitable for your phones and your computer network. Advance planning will help you avoid emergency rush fees or band aid fixes to make things work.
Internet and telephone connections require as much as six weeks advance notice to be installed, tested and ready the day you move in.
And if you are building a new office, don’t leave it up to the builder to decide how many power outlets, network and phone connections you will need. Remember, changes and additions after the walls are up are at your expense. With printers, scanners, faxes, and other technologies connecting directly to the network these days, the rule of thumb of one electrical outlet, one phone and one network connection per employee is woefully outdated. Consult your IT provider in the early planning stages to ensure you have what you need before the drywall goes up.

Mistake #5 — Poor Communication With Vendors And Employees Prior To, And During The Move.

Failure to communicate changes before and during the move results in confusion, downtime and increased expense. Remember, your computers and phones will be unavailable for a period of time before, during and immediately after the move. A little planning can minimize the impact on your business.
• Give your employees, customers, and vendors the anticipated downtime schedule.
• Make a cell phone list of important phone numbers (like tech support contacts, the phone company, cable company, etc.) and give it to your employees. You may also want to provide vendors and customers with a list of employee cell phone numbers to use during the communication blackout that will take place during the move.
• Confirm, confirm, confirm! Call your vendors several times to make sure they have the move on their schedule and planned; don’t assume anything!
• Ask your IT provider to temporarily reroute important e-mail and phones to another location during the move, or set up a web portal to enable you to access e-mail from a laptop or home computer so you’re not completely disconnected.

I hope you will find this post informative and useful. I am looking forward to hearing your comments. That’s all I have for today, until next time make it a great day!

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“3 Lessons From Hurricane Isaac”

“3 Lessons From Hurricane Isaac”

As we are just getting over the aftermath of Hurricane Isaac, I wanted to share 3 of the lessons that we confirmed as we helped our clients get back up and running. Hurricane Isaac confirmed 3 of Ener Systems’ best practices.

1. Having a backup internet connection does make a difference. Having both Charter and AT&T internet connections, kept us from being totally out of commission during Isaac’s aftermath. Our clients with redundant internet connections had the same experience.

2. Having a generator even if you plan to evacuate can help your business get back up and running sooner. Some of our clients evacuated, to come back and find their offices were still without power. Generators help them continue to run their business and help their clients sooner.

3. Having RADAR kept our clients receiving email, even when their email servers were offline due to a power or internet outage. As long as they had an internet connection where they were staying, they were able to send and receive all of their emails. They were never without email communication. This helped with client communication as well as employee communications.

We recommend that all clients have a redundant internet connection, if business continuity is important to their business. Ener Systems has a portable generator that is available to our EnerCare Total Control clients. RADAR is part of our best practices and offered to all clients as an email archive and business continuity solution.

I hope you will find this post informative and useful. I am looking forward to hearing your comments. That’s all I have for today, until next time make it a great day!

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“5 Smart Tips to Know before Moving Your Data to a Cloud-Based Application”

5 Smart Tips to Know before Moving
Your Data to a Cloud-Based Application

1. Back It Up!
Migrating data to any new location is a mess and anything can (and usually does) go wrong. Therefore, make sure you have good, recent backup copies of everything before you make the move.

2. Maintain an On-site Copy
At first, moving to the cloud can be a bit scary. What can help mitigate the risk (and the fear) is keeping a local, on-site copy of your data and network image on an NAS (network-attached storage) device so that you have a local on-site copy in addition to the working cloud copy.

3. Have a “Plan B” to Access the Internet
One of the biggest questions about moving IT to the cloud is, “What if the Internet goes down?” To mitigate that fail point, have a business-class Internet connection as your initial and main way to connect and then also have a second Internet connection service as a backup. If Windstream is your main connection, you might consider getting a second internet connection from Cox/Charter or a Verizon air card. Additionally you should have a firewall that supports multiple internet connections; so that when the primary connection fails you will still be connected to the internet.

4. Use It as an Opportunity to Do Some Housekeeping
You could just copy and paste your files from your local machines into the cloud, but why not take this as an opportunity to re-evaluate the structure and organization of that data? Here are some ideas:
•Re-evaluate and/or update your file-naming conventions and file organization. A good file-naming policy will make it much easier to find files and information. Also, consider reorganizing all the folders into smarter, more efficient categories.
•Consider who will be using what and what levels of permissions are required to access files. Revisiting your permission levels will help keep sensitive data from falling into the wrong hands.
•Look at old files and consider deleting them or archiving them so they aren’t cluttering up your server and costing you money for storing and backing them up.

5. Phase the Move
Don’t try to migrate everything all at once. Create a transition plan and implement it. Make sure you move your files in bite-size pieces so that the changes are easy to digest for your clients, employees, partners and everyone else involved. This also gives you the opportunity to test the water before taking the plunge, and it allows you to put out one fire at a time instead of having all systems down or broken.

I hope you will find this post informative and useful. I am looking forward to hearing your comments. That’s all I have for today, until next time make it a great day!
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“Learning from your peers is better than learning from your own mistakes”

Learning from your peers is better than learning from your own mistakes.

I am a firm believer in peer groups. I always suggest that business owners look for peer groups in their industries. These groups can be invaluable. They can push you to get the impossible done. Your peers can also help you when you need it, because they have been there too.

Peer groups can allow you and your business to build a nationwide network.

I have found that is it much cheaper and easier to learn from your peers than to learn from your own mistakes.

For me and my business, peer groups have been invaluable.

So get out there and start looking for a group in your industry. You will be surprised at what you will find.

I hope you will find this post informative and useful. I am looking forward to hearing your comments. That’s all I have for today, until next time make it a great day!
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“Making Progress, Getting More Done And Staying Consistent”

Making Progress, Getting More Done And Staying Consistent

What are your daily habits?
•  Do you start each day knowing exactly what you need to accomplish and do you start working on “A-­‐1” the minute you hit your desk?
•  Do you time block (schedule) your day? How about you’re week?
•  Can you stay focused on a particular project or activity for 90 minutes without interruption and without a break? 60 minutes? 30? 20? 10?
•  When you’re sitting with a group of people, where is your cell phone? Do you constantly check e-­‐mail throughout the day?

Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

Some key points I want to make:
•  If you’re not successful in a certain area, ask yourself
a) How committed are you to changing it? and
b) Have you REALLY put a focused effort to it long enough?
•  You don’t manage time. You can only manage what you choose to focus on and what to do.
•  To change anything, focus on your HABITS.

My Top 3 Productivity Tips:
1. Know what you are supposed to be doing and move QUICKLY between tasks
2. Have a STOP doing list
3. Work on “Focus” as a skill

I hope you will find this post informative and useful. I am looking forward to hearing your comments. That’s all I have for today, until next time make it a great day!
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