Selecting an IT technology firm to assist your organization with projects or ongoing support is a huge decision. In an ideal world, your IT solutions partner is an extension of your company and a vital asset that is strategically aligned with your business’ processes and growth plans. When done poorly, it can have a disastrous impact on your entire organization’s morale and even its financial health. Here are 15 tips that will assist you with a smooth and successful transition to a Managed Services Provider (MSP):
1. The three rules of real estate are… location, location, location. However, does that rule apply when choosing your IT partner? Just because there is an IT firm that is one mile from your office, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they’ll react to your needs more promptly. A solid IT services firm can remedy most situations remotely and, even further, will be able to identify issues before they are a crisis. As far as location goes, decide on an acceptable service location (60 mile radius is usually the norm) that is acceptable to you and choose a vendor within those parameters.
2. The selection committee is usually not comprised of technical experts. That’s why you’re reviewing options to contract with an IT services firm in the first place! In conversation, ask your potential IT services partner about their last few engagements… size, industry and type of work performed. First of all, can they provide this information? More importantly, can they relay this information in a manner that is concise and that’s not too technical? Does the sales person use continuous industry jargon and acronyms? You can safely assume that the IT company’s support personnel will be extremely technical if the sales person presents in that manner as well.
3. Ask for references and feel free to qualify them very specifically. “I want a reference from a law firm with over 5 partners, specializes in immigration law and is located in Philadelphia”. They may not have an exact match but you can gauge their reaction and see how close they come to providing this.
4. Bigger isn’t always better. It’s great to leverage the economies of scale that you can get from a larger IT support organization. However, the larger the organization, the further removed from the strategic minds in the company, and closer to the resources of a commoditized Call Center. Also, large companies have more overhead… managers, non-billable support staff, investors, compliance concerns and real estate to name a few. You can expect to pay more if you contract with a large firm in most cases.
5. Don’t choose an IT support vendor that is too small either. You’re obviously going to get the personal touch that you’re looking for but you’re locked into their specific skill set and your business will eventually outgrow their availability. The “what if he gets hit by a bus” analogy is the most overused in business but it definitely applies here. It’s a risky move to put your business in the hands of a very small firm for potential cost savings. On this note…
6. Always ask your prospective Managed Service Provider for a Certificate of Insurance and take note of the coverage limits that are selected. Smaller operations will not have one at all, which should automatically preclude them from any further consideration.
7. It’s important to know what your contracted service will include. It’s equally as important to know what your monthly service does not include! Most service expectations and billing arguments can be remedied with a very straight forward conversation on day one. “If I get a new computer, is setting it up included in the monthly service?” This will ensure that there are no surprises when you get your first invoice.
8. Ask to schedule a site visit to the IT provider’s local office. First of all, if they refuse, something is amiss. This is a great opportunity to meet some of the people that you may work with and get a sense of company culture. It’s also important to see if they practice what they preach… Is the server room neat? Are there VOIP phones on the desk? Do they take pride in their achievements by hanging their certifications and plaques from their charitable causes in the office? Is the call center orderly and organized? Are the phones ringing off the hook chaotically?
9. Does your potential MSP sell hardware and software? If so, this is not necessarily a bad thing as many of them do. However, you should be careful of the “margin shell game” where they may decrease hardware costs in order to increase their recurring monthly services costs, or vice versa. Also, some providers will push the solution or product that yields the highest margin as opposed to choosing a “best of breed” solution that meets your business requirements.
10. Is there a delivery process? How do they typically engage with a new client? These are common questions and there should be a well-developed answer to this question.
11. Are the MSP’s owners or C-level personnel engaged in the sales process? This may not be possibly for all organizations. However, if the ownership or upper management doesn’t engage in this process, will you be able to reach them if you need to escalate an issue or provide feedback?
12. Is your IT vendor strategic? Do they bundle in quarterly visits to review your account, reports and work orders? An effective MSP should align with your business, not try to fit you into their business model. This is the business equivalent of jamming a square peg into a round hole and is indicative that this may be a one-way relationship as opposed to a true partnership.
13. Are you being presented with a multi-year contract? When this happens, you have to wonder why. It’s understandable when a telecom provider mandates a multi-year contract as they have to make commitments to their ISP and other carriers on the back end. In reality, what does the MSP have to commit to? There isn’t much merit in locking in long term contracts besides the lure of a small discount. Most reputable IT Solutions providers will ask for shorter term commitments and seek a renewal by consistently meeting or exceeding their service obligations.
14. During the sales process, are there any scare tactics employed? It is well known that fear can be a motivating factor in sales. However, this approach is an attempt to prey on an emotional reaction rather than a logical one. An IT consulting firm that is truly interested in partnering with your organization will look to educate and inform, rather than scare.
15. Do you trust the person / company that you’re interviewing to provide you with IT services? All relationships are based on this simple premise. In some cases, if there is an immediate need, this trust has to be established quickly and then built upon over time. The Managed Services Provider that you choose will have access to all of your data, your financials, passwords and, in essence, your reputation. Risks can be mitigated by thoroughly researching your vendor and ensuring that contractual terms protect both parties. However, at the core, the success of this relationship will simply be based on trust.
- by Andrew, "Don't Call Me Verbose", Levin
In retrospect, it is truly amazing how fast we have evolved technologically. The 20th century was littered with technological breakthroughs, achievements and advancements, which catapulted us into an entirely new socioeconomic realm. The Internet, being one of our greatest feats, can undoubtedly assume both roles of being a major catalyst for our socioeconomic shift, as well as a major facilitator. Therefore, I found it necessary to mention a few (I stress the word few), of the major milestones, contributors and innovations which shaped the Internet as we know it today. Below is a brief outline of these items, which it not meant to be comprehensively didactic, but rather meant to spark an interest for further exploration of the Internet’s grand evolution.
Milestone #1: Automated Computation
* Charles Babbage / The Babbage Engine (1840s)
- Inventor of the first mechanical computer.
- Difference Engine: Essentially the first application of how machines could be used to process mathematical calculations. It was basic in concept but extremely complex in design.
- Analytical Engine: A step up from just being a calculator, Baggage conceived the first programmable computing engine.
- Babbage was never able to build a complete model of either engine because of lack of funding. However, in recent years, both models have been built, and proven Babbage’s concepts and designs.
* George Boole / Boolean Logic (1850s)
- Boole developed a complete algebraic system for logical operations, which is known as Boolean Logic.
- Boolean Logic is basis for all digital computation.
* Alan Turing / The Turing Machine (1937)
- Turing has been dubbed the “Father of modern computer science.”
- Credited for the creation of computer science and programming
- TIME magazine states: “The fact remains that everyone who taps at a keyboard, opens a spreadsheet or word-processing program, is working on an incarnation of a Turing machine.”
- The Turing Machine visually represented how the logic computer programs and CPU operations would function. This laid the foundation for future development.
- It is a primitive example but anything a modern computer can compute, a Turing machine can compute.
* UPenn / The ENIAC (1946)
- First practical large scale computer ever invented.
- Funded by the Army during WWII.
- Used as a device for calculating artillery firing tables as well as for the development of the hydrogen bomb.
Milestone #2: The Beginning Stages of Networking
* Leonard Kleinrock / Packet Switching (1962)
- Kleinrock was the lead developer of packet switching networks.
- He received the 2007 Nation Medal of Technology and Innovation.
- Packet switching breaks data into individual blocks, then sends them across the network independently, where they are reassembled into the correct order at the destination.
- Packet switching utilizes bandwidth much more efficiently than its predecessor, circuit switching, which requires a constant, dedicated connection for data transmission.
- Packet switched networks can simultaneously carry multiple communications across the same link.
* ARPANET / The First Computer Network (1969)
- Advanced Research Projects Agency – developed top secret systems and weapons during the cold war.
- First computer network was established between UCLA, SRI, UC Santa Barbara and the University of Utah.
- By 1972 there were only 15 nodes (computers) on the ARPANET.
- Later into the 1970s other small networks at Universities began appearing.
- The idea to link them together was proposed and the term “internetting” was coined.
* The Military / Distributed Networking (1980s)
- The military had the largest influence because they had the biggest need for a large scale communication network.
- Distributed networking was born out of the need to secure lines of communication in case of attack, as a nuclear attack was a genuine threat during the Cold War.
- If one area was hit, distributed networking allowed for alternate communication channels.
- This is how the modern day internet is constructed.
Milestone #3: The Development of the World Wide Web
* Tim Berners-Lee / HTML (1989)
- Credited for inventing the World Wide Web.
- Developed a network-based implementation of hypertext – Late 80s / Early 90s.
- Hypertext is a way to dynamically and interactively link documents together.
- Listed as one of the top 100 greatest living geniuses by The Telegraph, a newspaper in the UK.
- Director of W3C which oversees the development of the web.
* Mark Andreessen / Mosiac (1993)
- Before Mosaic, people used only text-based web browsers, which were not very user friendly.
- Graphical browsers made it a much more enjoyable experience and allowed non-technical people to easily use and understand the World Wide Web.
- Graphical web browsers acted as the medium which transformed the delivery of content to end users.
* Al Gore / The Gore Bill (1991)
- High Performance Computing and Communication Act of 1991.
- Gore promoted ideas of high speed telecommunications as far back as the 70s.
- Provided the leadership and initiative necessary to facilitate the web’s development.
- Funding for Mosiac came from the Gore Bill.
- National Research and Education Network and the “Information Superhighway.”
- Leonard Kleinrock gives credit to Gore for his work.
* Google / Search Engine Indexing (1998)
- Google’s mission: “To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”
- They weren’t the first search engine but they changed how they operated.
- Google’s method analyzes the relationships between sites as opposed to ranking results according to the number of time the search term appeared on a page, which was more effective in determining the relevance.
- They are pioneers and innovators in so many other areas including e-mail, applications, social networking, advertising and many more.
Obviously, this is not an exhaustive list, as attempting to mention every key contributor would be a hard lesson in futility. I view this bastardized timeline from an evolution perspective because it shows how humans first derived, then began applying the concepts of automated computing. We subsequently developed computer networks which laid the foundation for our underlying infrastructure, then created the World Wide Web as a content medium for the general public. The exponential technological growth we are all currently experiencing marks a tremendous leap for human achievement. There is no telling how much more we will evolve as the Internet and computers become more and more embedded into our everyday lives. Rest assured, Trigon will be on the cutting edge as usual, ready to serve our clients.
In today's world, computers are a major factor in the way we do business. That being said, working with an IT Support
company that can help you optimize your technology for your business is a great way to get your business on the right track.
Access to an IT help desk is a great, cost-effective way to take advantage of the knowledge of an IT support company that you're working with. With proactive monitoring and the ability to work out issues remotely over the phone, you are able to take advantage of a cost-effective approach to IT services.
With an IT support company that proactively monitors your IT, you will be able to increase productivity amongst staff by having virtually no downtime. When your network goes down, so does your profit. What you need is the reliability of a network that will be up at all times.
Trigon Technology, a Philadelphia IT Company can help your business stay on course. Our IT solutions will help you get a grasp of your IT setup, and help you optimize it so your network never goes down. To learn more about Trigon's IT services, and how they can help you, contact us at solutions@TrigonIT.com or call us at 1-888-494-TRIGON.
In today’s world, IT support is an essential building block for every business. Lacking properly functioning computers and networks that a company can rely on can hinder a company’s efficiency and ability to do business. Having top-of-the-line IT support providers will ensure that your business is receiving the proper IT care and attention, and can steer you to success.
Trigon’s IT experts can assist your business in getting your PC’s and network up to speed, and we’ll help optimize your systems for your business. Also, with today’s security threats, small and midsized businesses will need to take stronger, more secure measures in order to keep their systems safe. Our experienced engineers will make sure that you’re completely protected and secure.
Trigon, a Philadelphia IT support company established in 2003, is a leader in the IT solutions field. Trigon’s unique approach to IT allows us to become a true partner with your business, and will help your business succeed in your line of business.
For more information on IT support for Philadelphia and for a free IT consultation, visit TrigonIT.com. If you would like to speak to someone directly, feel free to contact us at 1-888-494-TRIGON or by email at solutions@TrigonIT.com
There is truly a lot that goes into PC and Server deployments. However, there is no need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to such a task. Is your IT Department spending more time on creating processes than implementing them? There are standard procedures that every organization should follow in the management of their IT Deployments.
When it comes to PC & Server deployments, understanding the importance of scalability is key. You may think you are prepared for scalability. However, the likelihood is that your systems are overflowing with hidden trouble areas that may haunt you as your organization grows. A system is only as robust as its least reliable component, which means you may have a huge headache in the future.
Trigon Technology, a Philadelphia IT Support Company, can help your organization with IT Deployments. Trigon's Engineers and IT Experts can make sure that your Deployment goes smoothly, efficiently, and error free. Trigon can help save valuable time, and can take all of the frustration out of roll-outs.
Trigon Technology's IT Services can help Philadelphia area organizations with all PC & Server needs. Trigon's IT experts will allow you to ensure that everything goes exactly as planned. This way, there will be no room for error, and you know will know what to expect when it comes to your IT systems.
For more information on Trigon's IT Solutions or Managed Services, feel free to email us at solutions@TrigonIT.com.
Ever wonder if there was a way to update an OEM XP install CD to include the most recent updates? Want to minimize the time it takes to complete an installation of a workstation? Do you wish it was possible to have all the most recent updates and service packs already installed after a fresh install from the CD of Windows XP? Ever need updated drivers included with an installation CD? Well, other than taking advantage the IT Solutions
offered by Trigon Technology, a Philadelphia IT Support Company
may just be the program for you.
As a follow-up to my previous blog about BartPE, this blog is about nLite - another "must-have" for the Engineer's toolkit. If you have any level of Service Pack of any type of Windows XP installation (OEM, retail, volume license), you can use the nLite application to update it to the latest Service Pack (Service Pack 3), as well as including additional updates that have come out since. nLite gives you the ability to slipstream Service Pack 3 and put in new updates, such as Internet Explorer 7 and other XP "Critical" updates, into the installation CD. You also can update drivers for new hardware that is included on the newest workstations, like SATA and NIC drivers.
In order complete the updates to the CD, all you need to do is copy the files from the CD you need to update to the hard drive of a machine with nLite installed. From there, download the necessary update files (do an install on a new machine, see what update files are needed, and download from the Windows Catalog the KB articles listed), make a few selections in nLite, and there you go! An updated XP installation CD that has the most recent files installed!
One other nice thing about nLite is the ability to even create a new ISO image from the updated installation. This makes it easy to burn to multiple discs, in case you have a number of machines to install quickly. It takes a little while to download all the necessary files needed from the Windows Catalog, but think of it this way - it takes about 4 hours to download and update an installation CD one time but it takes an additional 30 minutes PER MACHINE if you don't. After only 8 installations, you have "broken even" with time. Further updates only take an hour or less but installations will only take longer the more updates there are.
So you see, it is well worth the time and effort to download, install, and get comfortable with the nLite application if you install Windows XP on machines with any sort of regularity. I know I have gotten to know it very well and shared my experiences with my fellow Trigon employees.
PC & Server IT Solutions
should be deployed to keep your organization up to date with the latest and greatest technologies. With the right PC & Server Solutions as a foundation, you can keep your computer systems up and running smoothly.
The process of deploying PCs can be broken down into easily managed, interchangeable time units. If your organization does not have a standard "image" of necessary technologies to deploy, you are most likely wasting valuable time.
Trigon Technology, a Philadelphia IT Solutions Company, is experienced in helping Philadelphia area organizations manage PC deployments, and can help prevent IT from becoming a money pit at your organization. Check out our PC & Server Solutions for more information on how Trigon can help.
In today's world, over 95% of business records are now created and stored electronically. This makes the analysis of electronic data ever more important, as most organizations will be faced with some sort of electronic data theft. Forensic security can be an exhaustive effort for businesses if not done correctly. Our company, Trigon Technology, an IT Support Company in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
, offers Forensic IT Security Solutions
to organizations in the Philadelphia area. However, over the next couple weeks we'd like to share, with everyone, certain "things to think about" regarding Forensic Security.
When looking for a Forensic IT Solution, there are many things that should be taken into account. If you're organization is looking for a solution, make sure you find out whether or not the team that you are considering hiring can guarantee that the seizure and capture of digital data will be performed in a forensically sound manner. Also, make sure their processes are specialized for this purpose, comply with best practices, and are accepted within the court systems.
With Office 2007, Microsoft introduced the Ribbon, a user interface built into the Office Suite that logically groups task-related commands allowing users to be more efficient. Supposedly Microsoft interviewed Office users from several different industries to develop this interface, which replaced our beloved, customizable toolbar. No, the ribbon is not customizable but there is a way to place your favorite commands on a customizable Quick Access Toolbar. You will find the Quick Access Toolbar in the upper left hand corner of an Office 2007 document. Select the arrow to the right of the toolbar to open the menu. You can select or deselect any items on the displayed list or click More Commands... to add additional items. Any item located in any of the ribbon's tabs can be placed in the Quick Access Toolbar. For example, I prefer to have the Print menu instead of the Quick Print command so I removed the Quick Print button and added the Print button. Now that you have a fully customizable toolbar, go forth and add your favorite commands! That being said, the Ribbon is a great interface once you start using it. The locations of commands are very logical and will make you more efficient. So don't let change slow you down.
For more IT tips and tricks and Philadelphia IT Solutions, be sure to check out the rest of the Trigon website.
Over the past several years now I have been testing AVG's free version of their anti-virus software on several different PC's and so far it has done very well. Now, you get what you paid for; and free is free... So you don't get all of the features that are available in the pay version, but for free Anti-Virus software it offers decent protection. It updates daily and stays current with all the newest viral threats.
Besides, the more dangerous and pervasive malware/spywares' that are going around now aren't going to be caught by most Anti-Virus software because of the nature of the type of an infection. Typically, it is an exploit on an out of date Java or Flash player plug-in or by bad internet browsing and clicking... I have said it already in several blogs, but the best defense is keeping your PC up to date and not clicking through on links or websites that you are sure of and especially not clinking on any pop-ups that say you have a virus or infection if it's not from your already installed Anti-Virus. With that said one of the cool features that you get with the free AVG 9.0 is LinkScanner which scans websites when performing searches and will let you know if it is safe to click or not. So, if you are in need of Anti-Virus and can't afford it right now check out AVG. Google Search: "AVG Free Download"
For more information on how Trigon keeps Philadelphia's organization's computers and networks secure and virus-free, check out the IT Security section of our website.