Today, eDiscovery plays a much more important part in civil litigation than ever before. Email, Word and Excel documents, digital images, and even mobile phones are all examples of electronic data now being required as part of the discovery process. It is for these reasons that businesses need to have a sense of eDiscovery readiness and accept accountability for discovery obligations. Failing to produce this type of data in a timely manner puts businesses in a position where they are subject to monetary penalties as well as a loss in reputation. To assist in this process, vendors are developing platforms that can manage the entire lifecycle of the eDiscovery process. A combination of policies, procedures, and technology to manage corporate data creates a solid foundation for eDiscovery readiness. But what is a Small Business to do? The following are 5 things Small Businesses can do to make sure they are prepared for eDiscovery:
- First, understand what the rules are. The Federal Rules for Civil Procedure (FRCP) contains the requirements businesses must follow for the discovery process. At a minimum, knowing how email is being stored and whether it is stored in a compliant manner should be known.
- Create a compliance policy. Document what data needs to be retained to comply with regulatory and eDiscovery requirements and make sure employees are aware of these requirements.
- Backup solutions are no longer good enough. Backups create a point in time recovery point in the event of a hardware failure; it is not an archiving mechanism. Third party solutions as well as native solutions built into Microsoft Exchange provide mechanisms for archiving email and can save exorbitant amounts of time when searching for specific search terms.
- Understand how social media is being used for your business and how your employees are using social media. The bottom line is that courts are requiring companies to provide social media content. At a minimum, a social media policy should be distributed providing guidance on acceptable use. Examples of what could happen if the guidelines are not followed should be explained.
- Consider "The Cloud". Cloud based solutions such as hosted email or CRM can provide the means for archival and retention so that you are ready for eDiscovery when its requested. But be wary. You still need to have a plan. Moving data to the cloud usually means that data is likely to be located both locally and hosted, expanding the scope of discovery and ultimately making discovery costs go up.
One of the hardest things to troubleshoot in the realm of networking is wireless connectivity. There are a number of things that you can do in order to resolve wireless issues quickly and with little technology expertise.
First of all, if you are unable to establish a wireless connection, there are a few basic troubleshooting steps you can take. The easiest task to complete is to simply reboot your device (laptop, smart phone, iPad, etc.). Sometimes, that will resolve the issue and you can get connected. The second thing to try is to reboot the nearest wireless access point (WAP). If you reboot that device, many times you can then connect as expected. After rebooting your device and the nearest access point and the issues isn’t resolved, the next step would be to remove the wireless connection from your device and try to connect again. This is true even if you were previously connected but just cannot access the network now.
To recap, the troubleshooting steps are as follows:
- Restart the wireless access point
- Reboot your device
- Remove the wireless network settings from your device
- Disable your wireless card
- Re-enable my wireless card
- Re-connect to the network
Granted, that is a lot of steps but it will usually resolve your issue.
Another thing that may be necessary is physically relocating the wireless access point so that you are in closer proximity to where you intend to use your device. In a business environment, this may not always be the easiest task to complete, as there typically is a dedicated Power over Ethernet (PoE) network connection to where the access point is plugged into the network.
In a business environment, more work goes into completing a wireless site survey. Specialized tools and utilities are necessary in order to optimally locate WAPs for coverage. If you do not have wireless access and are looking to implement it, completing a site surveys will save you time and frustration down the road. One item that is reviewed during such a survey is the makeup of the actual building itself. If there is a lot of “brick and mortar”, you will need to have more access points installed than one that is made up predominantly of drywall and drop ceilings. Wireless signals are able to easily penetrate this type of material but the thicker the material, the more difficult the signal has of making it through.
Another item reviewed during a wireless site survey is the type of coverage you are looking for. If you want to have “access everywhere”, you probably will need additional access points. Whereas, if you only need access in “most” locations, you can typically use a few less devices. For the access in the most often used locations, a centrally located WAP can typically be sufficient but, as you move further away from the access points, you will not have connection at all or will have limited connection speed. For instance, if you have a 300 foot hallway and you only need access in the majority of areas on either side of the hallway, you can probably install two or three at specific intervals. If you require access in the very corners of the far ends of the hallway, you may need to put in additional devices, which will increase the range.
Now comes the fun part – are you going to be moving down the hallway and need constant communication or are you able to drop your connection for a second or two? For those that need a constant session from one end of the hall to another, you will need a more advanced wireless network that will be centrally managed. A controller will allow the access points to “talk” to each other as you go from one device to the next. If you don’t have a network that has the access points talking to each other and they are all simply connected to the network to provide wireless service, you will lose connection from one access point as you leave the range of that WAP and will then pick up another access point as you move into its available range. During this change of access points, you will temporarily drop your network connectivity. When having a wireless site survey completed, this scenario will be reviewed and steps will be taken to ensure that you will never be too far away from any access point and you won’t lose connection.
If you are interested in discussing the pros and cons of a wireless site survey, please contact Trigon at firstname.lastname@example.org or (484) 323-5000.
- by Jon, "GingerBread", Pentecost
In my first blog about virtualizing your small business, I talked about consolidating your physical hardware from a larger number of servers to only a few servers, reducing energy costs to run the smaller number of servers, and easily adding storage space. In this blog about virtualizing your small business, I am going to review some of the other benefits.
The ability to move a virtual server to another host with minimal down-time is another great reason to virtualize. Let’s say you had the scenario of two host servers that both have Hyper-V installed on them and one of the host servers had a VM on it, but that host server needed to have repairs or maintenance completed on it. You can simply shut down the VM, export the configuration of the VM, move the exported configuration file and .vhd files to the other host, import the configuration file with the .vhd files in the correct location, and then startup the VM while the other host server is offline for repairs or maintenance.
Better yet, why not have a failover cluster of the host servers with shared storage? Then you would be able to live migrate the server without even needing to shut down the VM and have any downtime. You can then complete the repairs or maintenance on the one host with no interruption at all of any network services.
You can also setup virtual workstations for applications that always need to be running on a workstation that is logged in as a particular user. Certain applications always need to be run with the workstation logged in, so rather than dedicating a workstation just for that purpose, you can setup a virtual workstation and deploy the physical workstations to actual users. This would reduce the number of physical workstations you need to have running (again, think of the energy costs you can save by less machines running) and would still have the ability to connect to the workstation in the same way you would a workstation in the server room that is only connected to power and a network cord.
Contact us to talk about our Philadelphia Area Information Technology Solutions or our Virtualization Solutions for your small and medium size businesses.
- by Dan "I make 'A Christmas Carol' References Look Easy", Rodden
What is my biggest pet peeve in Information Technology? Hardware dependence. Hardware dependence is an extremely intrusive variable that is really so integral to systems that it makes it difficult to work around it when planning or fixing a network. Hardware dependence is the reason that you still have a Windows NT 4.0 workstation operating the plotter. Hardware dependence is the reason your old fax server hasn’t been decommissioned or the reason why you are still using server that requires a physical piece of equipment be installed to operate your Line of Business application. These restrictions weigh us down like the chains of Jacob Marley, forcing compromises in new business developments and abandonments of updates that will improve efficiency and reduce work.
Well, the future is now, and it is time to bask in the glory of the physically-independent virtual world. With products like Microsoft Hyper-V, not only can you maximize your hardware investments, but you can rest easy knowing that if something happens to that hardware it is easily replaced with completely different hardware and your virtual infrastructure won’t know the difference once it is booted again. This makes the potential for disaster recovery very real, because being that the systems are already virtualized, they are very easily transferrable to a remote location, and the time spent making them bootable in the new environment is severely minimized if not eliminated.
In addition to the disaster recovery potential, virtualizing your infrastructure also affords the benefit of maximizing your resource utilization. When you virtualize your servers, you can get the most out of your hardware by utilizing the necessary hardware resources with technology like dynamic disks and dynamic memory, which provide the virtual machines with more hard drive space, more RAM as needed. This allows you to operate your infrastructure at both the minimum and the recommended requirements, because your servers will be dynamically adjusting their resources as needed, allowing the virtual servers to “trade” resource allocation when demand between them fluctuates.
What are you waiting for? Make everyone’s life easier and get the most out of your investments – start virtualizing.
- by Jon, "Gingerbread", Pentecost
In the past, each server would be on its own box because hardware was cheap and there weren’t too many technologies around that would efficiently run multiple servers on a single system. You were able to have three or four servers, each doing a separate job (one for Active Directory, DNS, DHCP, another for E-mail, and a third for doing utility/maintenance or specialized task like database).
In today’s environment, you could have only two servers that run three virtual systems each that are replicating, as well as a fourth server that you can use for testing up-and-coming technologies without the need of purchasing additional hardware. Let’s explore just one example of how things used to be and how things are today.
Let’s say that you have your typical three servers. There is a problem and the motherboard on your main AD DS server gets fried. Depending on your configuration, there may be minimal issues with users logging in if one of your other servers also has AD running but all of their files are stored on the drives in the main server – big problem. You have to wait until you can get a replacement motherboard and install it as soon as it arrives – a day and a half minimum of downtime.
Now use the same scenario, except that you have two Hyper-V servers and all three of your servers are virtualized, properly replicating between Hyper-V hosts prior to the motherboard failure. Only a few system changes to point to alternate locations (at most, as in a complete replication scenario using DFS and Exchange DAG, there is complete fail-over capabilities) and users are back up in minutes. You can now casually order and install the motherboard in the failed server, as there is little downtime for your users.
Now let’s go over a couple environmental issues (especially with “Going Green” being a big push now). How much power are all three or four of those servers using to be on, let alone the battery backup units to power them and the air conditioning to keep them cool? Using only two servers, not as much power is used to have them running, not as much heat is generated, therefore less air conditioning is needed. Most likely, the servers are older too and are not running as efficiently as a new server would be. Need I go on?
One other great benefit of virtualizing your environment is that if you need to add storage space, it is much easier expanding the size of a .vhd, as opposed to expanding out a RAID configuration. Just add another drive or two to the host and then add that space to the .vhd of the server that is running out.
There are many more benefits that we don’t have time to go into, but if you are thinking of replacing at least one of your servers, maybe now is the time to start thinking of going virtual? Contact us to review our Small Business Solutions for Philadelphia or talk with us about our Philadelphia Area Managed IT Services Programs.