COMPUTER SERVICES UNGEEKED

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1 COMPUTER SERVICES UNGEEKED The ultimate small-business owner s guide for finding a professional, competent, honest, and dependable computer services provider. By Bob Breitman and Drew Sanford Read this book and you ll discover: The five types of technical support available, and the pros and cons of each. Why a combination of traditional computer services, private cloud and public cloud offerings may be the best solution for your company. How to avoid getting ripped off, disappointed and/or paying for substandard work. The 12 warning signs that you hired the wrong computer services provider. Viruses, worms, spyware and hackers: what you need to know to protect your company from invasion. Everything you need to know about contracts, payment schedules and rate negotiations. The 23 revealing questions you should ask any computer services provider before giving them access to your company s network. Why you need to avoid cheap or bargain computer repair shops. How to turn technology into a competitive advantage instead of a drain on your time, money and resources. Why your business needs managed services. Why cloud computing might be the right solution for your company

2 Computer Services Ungeeked Copyright 2012 IT that Works and Technology Marketing Toolkit, Inc. Second Edition printed November 2012 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photography, recording or information retrieval system, without written permission from the authors. LIMIT OF LIABILITY/DISCLAIMER OF WARRANTY The publisher and the authors make no representations of warranties with respect to the accuracy or completeness of the contents of this work and specifically disclaim all warranties, including without limitation warranties of fitness for a specific purpose. No warranty may be created or extended by sales or promotional materials. The advice and strategies contained herein may not be suitable for every situation. This work is sold with the understanding that the publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting, or other professional services. If professional assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. Neither the publisher nor the authors shall be liable for damages arising herefrom. The fact that an organization or Web site is referred to in this work as a citation and/or potential source of further information does not mean that the authors or the publisher endorse the information the organization or Web site may provide or recommendations it may make. Further, readers should be aware that Internet Web sites listed in this work may have changed or disappeared between when this work was written and when it is read. ISBN: Printed in the United States of America

3 The team at IT that Works are pros when it comes to business technology. Bob and Drew have distilled that deep body of knowledge into a book that s easy to read and gets straight to the point. The list of 23 questions to ask of a computer consultant before you hire them alone is worth the price of admission here not to mention the 12 warning signs that you ve hired the wrong consultant. Matt Roush Editor, The Great Lakes IT Report An e-publication of WWJ Newsradio 950

4 Computer Services Ungeeked Co-Authors Bob Breitman is the President/CEO of IT that Works (Midwest). Mr. Breitman spent 19 years with GM, EDS and AT Kearney. In 1999 he became CIO of a $3.5 billion group of 12 automotive and industrial Tier-1 and aftermarket suppliers where he significantly reduced operating expenses while increasing uptime and customer satisfaction. He assembled an information services management team that was responsible for developing and deploying a strategic IS plan that enabled the company s business and marketing plans. Mr. Breitman has undergraduate and graduate degrees in Operations Research from Cornell University. Drew Sanford is the CTO of IT that Works (Midwest). Mr. Sanford has spent the last 20 years helping companies utilize technology to give them sustainable competitive advantage in the marketplace. He has served as interim CIO for numerous organizations, focusing on establishing a strategic vision for Information Technology and implementing it. Mr. Sanford believes that Information Technology with the correct vision can be a strategic enabler to any organization and not a necessary evil. Mr. Sanford has an undergraduate degree in Business Administration from Belmont University.

5 IT that Works is a Managed Services Provider that specializes in Hosted Exchange and SharePoint solutions, Hosted Desktops and Applications, and Managed Backup and Data Recovery. IT that Works is a member of the Microsoft Partner Network with 6 Silver competencies, an ExtendAsp Partner, a Citrix Service Provider, McAfee F3 SP Reseller, and an efolder Partner. Toll Free: Fax: Midwest Regional Office Telegraph Road Suite 120 Bingham Farms, MI South Regional Office 750 Old Hickory Boulevard 2 Brentwood Commons Suite 150 Brentwood, TN 37027

6 CONTENTS Chapter SEVEN... 7 Moving To The Cloud 7 5 Critical Facts You Must Know Before Moving To The Cloud 8 What Is Cloud Computing? 8 What About Office 365 And Google Apps? 11 Pros And Cons Of Moving To The Cloud 12 Different Types Of Cloud Solutions Explained: 16 Cloud Service Models 17 FAQs About Security; Where You Data Is Held And Internet Connectivity 18 What To Look For When Hiring A Cloud Integrator 19 Critical Questions To Ask Your IT Company Or Computer Consultant BEFORE Letting Them Move Your Network To The Cloud 20 Conclusion: Walk Before You Run 22

7 Chapter SEVEN Moving To The Cloud Undoubtedly you ve heard all the commotion around cloud computing and how it s the next big thing. Yet, despite all the hype, no one really seems to understand what cloud computing is or how it can help your business. That s why we wanted to set the record straight and explain what cloud computing is, how it can (possibly) help your business and if so, what you need to know to make good decisions about choosing a vendor. Why possibly? Because cloud computing is NOT a good fit for every company; and if you don t get all the facts and fully understand the pros and cons, you can make some VERY poor and expensive decisions that you ll deeply regret later. That said, for some companies, cloud computing can actually lower IT costs by 30% to 40%; greatly improve the ability for remote workers to connect and work; simplify the entire IT infrastructure; and genuinely solve a number of technology problems that they ve been trying to work around for years. But for companies that have not been spending money to keep their IT infrastructure up to current standards, the cost of moving to the cloud may be a shock. It will, however, generally be cheaper in the long run than doing it internally.

8 Also note that Microsoft recently (Fall 2012) announced the end-of-life for Small Business Server (SBS) the mainstay solution for many small businesses. This has made the future for these businesses cloudy. So can the cloud help YOU? By the end of this chapter you ll know, or at least you ll have a much better understanding of the benefits and risks of the cloud. 5 Critical Facts You Must Know Before Moving To The Cloud In this chapter we re going to talk about five very important facts you need to know before you consider cloud computing for your company. They include: 1. What is cloud computing? 2. The pros AND cons of this new technology. 3. The various types of cloud computing options available (there is more than just one). 4. Answers to important, frequently asked questions. 5. What questions to ask your IT pro before letting them sell you on moving all or part of your network and applications to the cloud. What Is Cloud Computing? Wikipedia defines cloud computing as, Cloud computing is the use of computing resources (hardware and software) that are delivered as a service over a network (typically the Internet).

9 But what the heck does that mean? The easiest way to understand what cloud computing is and to gain insight into why it s growing in popularity, is to compare it to the evolution of public utilities. Let s look at the evolution of electricity, for example. Back in the industrial age, factories had to generate their own power in order to run the machines that produced the hard goods they manufactured. Whether textiles or railroad spikes, machines gave these companies enormous competitive advantages by producing more goods with fewer workers and in less time. For many years, the generation of power was every bit as important to their company s success as the skill of their workers and quality of their products. Unfortunately, this put factories into TWO businesses: the business of producing their goods and the business of generating power. Then the concept of delivering power (electricity) as a utility was introduced by Thomas Edison when he developed a commercial-grade replacement for gas lighting and heating using centrally generated and distributed electricity. From there, as they say, the rest is history. The concept of generating electric current in central power plants for delivery to factories as a utility caught on fast. This meant that manufacturers no long had to be in the business of generating their own power. In fact, it quickly became a competitive necessity for factories to take advantage of the lower costs offered by public utilities. Almost overnight, thousands of steam engines and electric

10 generators were rendered obsolete and left to rust next to the factories they used to power. A series of inventions and scientific breakthroughs made public utilities possible, but what drove demand was pure economics. Utility companies leveraged economies of scale that single manufacturing plants simply couldn t match in performance or in price. In fact, the price of power dropped so significantly, that it quickly became affordable for factories and every household in the country. Today, we are in a similar transformation following a similar course. The only difference is that instead of cheap and plentiful electricity, advancements in technology and Internet connectivity are driving down the costs of computing. With cloud computing, businesses can pay for computing power like a utility without having the costs of installing, hosting and supporting it. Our simple definition of cloud computing is: It uses the Internet as a method of access. You don't own it, rather you rent it or lease it because it is offered as a SERVICE. You don't have to do anything to scale up except to pay for what you are using. In fact, you are probably already experiencing the benefits of cloud computing in some way without realizing it. There are a number of cloud computing applications, also called SaaS or Software as a Service that you might already be using: Hosted Exchange, Office 365, or Google Apps

11 NetSuite, Salesforce Constant Contact, icontact, Exact Target, or other broadcasting services Zoomerang, SurveyMonkey and other survey tools LinkedIn Facebook Twitter All things Google (search, AdWords, maps, etc.) Almost every single application you use today can be (or already is) being delivered in the cloud where you can access it and pay for it via your browser for a monthly fee. You don t purchase and install any software, but instead access it via an Internet browser. What About Office 365 And Google Apps? Microsoft s Office 365 and Google Apps are examples of cloud computing; for a small monthly fee, you can get full use of Microsoft Office applications that used to cost hundreds of dollars to purchase. And, since these apps are being powered by the cloud provider, you don t need an expensive desktop with lots of power to use them just a simple Internet connection on any device as the application and the processing power exist in the cloud. Google Apps doesn t (currently) integrate with many business applications which could prevent use of this service. For example, if you use Microsoft s Excel or Word to make reports or create documents from your business

12 application, you might not be able to do that with Google Apps. Microsoft s Office 365 has a number of limitations that would make it a poor choice for a business, including that there is no help desk support. If something goes wrong, there isn t a customer service help desk you can call for help. Pros And Cons Of Moving To The Cloud As you read this section, keep in mind there is no perfect solution. All options be it in-house, on-premise or a cloud solution, both have strengths and weaknesses. Each option must be evaluated before reaching a conclusion on which option will work for you. (Warning: Do not let a cloud expert tell you there is only one way of doing something.) Most companies use a hybrid solution where some of their applications are in the cloud, while some are still hosted and maintained from an in-house server. here are the general pros and cons of cloud computing: Pros of Cloud Computing: Lowered IT costs. This is probably the single most compelling reason why companies choose to move their network (all or in part) to the cloud. Not only are there savings on software licenses, but also on hardware (servers and workstations) as well as on IT support. This ONLY applies to companies that are actually keeping their IT infrastructure up to date or are looking at bringing an aging infrastructure up to current standards. If you are not spending money on IT and don t plan to, the cloud will NOT save you money.

13 In fact, we save our clients an average of 30% to 40% when we move some or part of their network functionality to the cloud. So if you hate constantly writing big checks for IT upgrades, you ll really want to look into cloud computing. Included in this report are examples of how we ve done this for other clients and their savings. Ability to access your desktop and/or applications from anywhere and from any device. If you travel, have remote workers who prefer to use an ipad (or other mobile device) while traveling and a laptop at your house, cloud computing enables work using any of these devices while having access to a consistent desktop for all of your applications and data Disaster recovery and backup are automated. Your office server is vulnerable to many threats including viruses, human error, hardware failure, software corruption and physical damage caused by a fire, flood, or other natural disaster. If your server were in the cloud and your office was reduced to rubble, you could easily purchase a new laptop and be running within the same day. This would NOT be the case if you had a traditional network and were using tape drives, CDs, USB drives or other physical storage devices to back up your system. Note that the building of a colleague of ours in Joplin, Missouri was completely wiped out by a tornado as were the offices of many of his clients. He had deployed a backup solution using a hybrid of on-premise and cloud backups. He and his clients experienced no data loss and were up and running in days. Like a public utility, cloud platforms are more robust and secure than an average business

14 network because they utilize economies of scale to invest heavily in security, redundancy, and failover systems, making them far less likely to fail. It s faster, cheaper, and easier to use by new employees. If you have a seasonal workforce or a lot of turnover, cloud computing will not only lower your costs of setting up new accounts, but it will make it much faster. Using self-provisioning control panels, you can create new environments and establish new users in minutes - not hours or days. And you do not need to know the technology as most of the technical stuff is automated. For example, to add a new Microsoft Exchange user with a Blackberry account, you do not need to know Exchange, Active Directory, Postini (for anti-virus and SPAM), or Blackberry Enterprise server you simply select the features and everything is done for you. You use it without having to own it. More importantly, you don t own the responsibility of having to install, update, and maintain the infrastructure. This is particularly attractive for companies who are new or expanding but don t want the large outlay of cash to purchase and support an expensive computer network. Not owning it also shifts risk to the cloud provider to maintain current technology and to ensure that more resource is available to you as needed. It s a greener technology that will save on power and reduce your electric bill. For smaller companies, the power savings will be too small to measure. However, for larger companies with multiple servers who keep their servers running 24/7/365, the savings can be considerable.

15 Cons of Cloud Computing: Failure of the Internet connection. The question is, What happens when the Internet fails in your current environment? Most Internet connections offer 99.9% availability (about 525 minutes of downtime a year). By adding a second circuit from a different type of provider (e.g., Cable and a T1) you could reduce this to less than one minute a year due to Internet failure versus power or firewall failure. Data security. Many people are uncomfortable having their data in some offsite location. This is a valid concern and before you select a cloud provider, you need to know where they store your data, how (and if) it s encrypted, who has access, and how you can get it back. For more information see What To Look For When Hiring a Cloud Integrator later in this document. Your data is probably more secure in the cloud than it is in your office. Think about who has access to your data and the physical infrastructure in the office. How often are passwords changed and how secure are they? Compliance Issues. There are a number of laws and regulations such as Gramm-Leach-Bliley, Sarbanes-Oxley and HIPAA that require companies to control and protect their data and to certify that they have knowledge and control over who can access the data, who sees it, and how and where it is stored. In a public cloud environment, this can be problematic. Many cloud providers (e.g., Google and Microsoft) won t tell you specifically where your data is stored it may even be outside the US.

16 While most cloud providers have well-defined practices to ensure the safety of your data, as the business owner, it s YOUR responsibility if the data is compromised, so it s important that you ask for some type of validation that they are in compliance with regulations. Different Types Of Cloud Solutions Explained: When experts talk about the cloud, there are three common deployment models Private, Public, and Hybrid clouds. Simply Private Clouds are focused on the needs of a single organization. Private clouds may be on-premise or hosted. Public Clouds leverage a common infrastructure across multiple organizations. This is commonly referred to as a multi-tenant environment. Public Clouds are typically offered as a utility, where you pay for what you use. Hybrid Clouds leverage aspects of both Private and Public Clouds. These are most common when there are applications that have a requirement to be specific to a company. Those applications are provided through a Private Cloud architecture while other applications are provided through a Public Cloud architecture. The Hybrid cloud requires integration of the Private and Public components.

17 Cloud Service Models There are several cloud service models that apply to the small businesses. These include: Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) The complete hosted infrastructure, provided as a service, typically from a data center. Clients pay as the infrastructure is used. One of the major players in this space is Rackspace. In this environment you get the hardware, but you still have to deploy the software and integration portions of the architecture. Software as a Service (SaaS) Cloud-based use of software by an end-user. Typically one specific application. Two common examples would be SalesForce (a Customer Relationship Management Solution) and Netsuite (an Enterprise Resource Planning solution). Desktop as a Service (DaaS) This is a more recent entry in the marketplace. In this environment your desktop and data can be in the cloud with the typical desktop applications like office and individual applications. Your desktop and data will be available anytime, anywhere, on any device. Business Computing as a Service (BCaaS) The complete business environment integrating desktops, applications, servers, , collaboration, communication, and security as an integrated service.

18 FAQs About Security; Where You Data Is Held And Internet Connectivity Question: What if my Internet connection goes down for an extended period of time? Our Answer: Our clients install a high-availability environment with a minimum of two different connections to the Internet. They often also install two firewalls in a high-availability failover configuration. This generally results in less than one minute of Internet accessibility downtime per year. Question: What about security? Isn t there a big risk of someone accessing my data if it s in the cloud? Our Answer: In many cases, cloud computing is a MORE secure way of accessing and storing data. Just because your server is onsite doesn t make it more secure; in fact, most small to medium businesses can t justify the cost of securing their network the way a cloud provider can. And most security breaches occur due to human error; one of your employees downloads a file that contains a virus, they don t use secure passwords, or they simply confidential information to people who shouldn t see it. Other security breaches occur in on-site networks because of improperly maintained in-house networks (no security updates, software patches, or up-to-date anti-virus software). That s a FAR more common way networks get compromised. Most cloud solutions require frequently changed, complex passwords, and have security practices that far exceed what typical small and medium-sized companies deploy internally.

19 Question: Do I have to purchase new hardware (servers, workstations) to move to the cloud? Our Answer: No! That s one of the selling points of cloud computing. It allows you to use older workstations, laptops and servers because the computing power is in the cloud. Not only does that allow you to keep and use hardware longer, but it allows you to buy less costly workstations and laptops because you don t need the computing power required in the past. Because your applications and data are in the cloud, you are no longer dependent upon a specific piece of hardware. Many of our clients use thin-clients in the office because they are inexpensive and use less power. They often keep a spare access device (thin-client or PC) in a closet. If a workstation fails, they can replace it with the spare thin-client and be up and running in minutes. What To Look For When Hiring A Cloud Integrator A cloud integrator is a fancy name for an IT consultant who helps you set up and integrate the various software and solutions into a cloud service specific for your business. Unfortunately, as we ve mentioned before, the computer repair and consulting industry (along with many others) has its share of incompetent or unethical people who will try to take advantage of trusting business owners who do not know what they are doing. Automotive repair shops, electricians, plumbers, lawyers, realtors, dentists, doctors, accountants, etc. are highly regulated to protect the

20 consumer from receiving substandard work or getting ripped off. However, the computer industry is still largely unregulated and there are few laws in existence to protect the consumer which is why it s so important for you to really research the company or person you are considering to ensure that they have the experience to set up, migrate, and support your network in the cloud. Anyone can promote themselves as a cloud expert. Even if they are honestly trying to do a good job for you, their inexperience can impact network speed and performance or in lost or corrupt data files. Here are seven questions to ask your IT person before moving your network to the cloud: Critical Questions To Ask Your IT Company Or Computer Consultant BEFORE Letting Them Move Your Network To The Cloud Q1: How many cloud services clients do you have and can you provide references? Answer: You don t want someone practicing on your network or on your dollar. Ensure that they have real experience and understand the needs of your business. Q2: How quickly do they guarantee to have a technician working on an outage or other problem? Answer: Anyone paid to support your network should give you a written SLA (Service Level Agreement) that outlines exactly how IT issues get resolved and in what time frame. We also request that they reveal their average resolution time with current clients during the last 3-6 months. They should also answer their phones from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and provide an emergency after-hours (including weekends) number to call if a problem arises.

21 If you cannot access your network because the Internet is down or due to some other problem, you wait hours for a callback OR (more importantly) for someone to start working on resolving the issue. Make sure you get this in writing; often cheaper or less experienced consultants won t have this resource or will try and convince you it s not important. Don t buy that excuse! They are in the business of providing IT support and should have some guarantees or standards Q3: What s your plan for transitioning our network to the cloud to minimize problems and downtime? Answer: Make sure that they run a simultaneous cloud environment during the transition and don t turn off the old network until everyone is 100% confident that everything has been transitioned and is working properly. You don t want someone to switch overnight without testing the environment first. Q4: Where will your data be stored? Answer: You should receive full documentation about where your data is, how it s being secured and backed up and how you access to it if necessary WITHOUT going through your provider., you don t want your cloud provider to be able to hold your data (and your company) hostage. The agreement with your provider should explicitly state that you own your data. Q5: How will your data be secured and backed up? Answer: If they tell you that your data will be stored in the back of their office, what happens if THEY get destroyed by a fire, flood or other disaster? What are they doing to secure the office and access? Are they backing it up somewhere else? Make sure they are SAS 70 Type II certified and have a failover plan in place to ensure continuous service in the event that their location goes down. If they are building on another platform, you still want to find out where your data is and how it s being backed up.

22 Q6: Do they have adequate errors and omissions insurance as well as workers compensation insurance to protect YOU? Answer: If THEY cause a problem with your network that causes you to be down for hours or days or to lose data, who s responsible? If one of their technicians gets hurt at your office, who s paying? In our litigious society, it s important to ensure that your provider and their employees are adequately insured with both errors and omissions insurance AND workers compensation and don t be shy about asking to see their latest insurance policies! True Story: A few years ago, Best Buy s Geek Squad was slapped with multi-million dollar lawsuits from customers for the bad behavior of their technicians. In some cases, their techs were accessing, copying and distributing personal information from customers PCs and laptops brought in for repairs. In other cases, they lost clients laptops (and subsequently all the data on them) and tried to cover it up. Bottom line: make sure the company you are hiring has proper insurance to protect YOU. Q7: When something goes wrong with your Internet service, phone systems, printers or other IT services, who owns the problem? My Answer: If they ve moved you to the cloud, they should own the problem for their clients so you don t have to try and resolve any of these issues on your own that s just plain old good service and something many computer guys won t do. Conclusion: Walk Before You Run The number of small and medium size businesses that have successfully migrated from on-premise to cloud applications is growing rapidly. Indeed, many startups never even consider on-premise software, but jump straight to the cloud because of the financial and logistical advantages. If you re an existing company, you probably have a substantial investment in traditional software, and your business

23 probably operates quite well with it. Yet sooner or later the time will come perhaps when your current software requires a major and expensive upgrade when the benefits of the cloud become so compelling that it s time to begin, or at least consider, the transition. When that moment arrives, take careful steps. Weigh all the pros and cons issues raised in this chapter, and ask both yourself and your prospective cloud vendors all the recommended questions. You ll greatly increase the odds that your migration will be a successful one.

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