Posts tagged "managed services"

Think IT Town Hall Helps Locals with Tech Advice

March 17th, 2017 Posted by Best Practices, Community, Data, Desktop, Devices, Hosted Services, Internet, Microsoft, Networks, Newsletters, Operating System, Security, Services 1 thought on “Think IT Town Hall Helps Locals with Tech Advice”

Matt Glick and Prudencio Dimas from Think have over three decades of experience in the IT world working side by side with organizations, both large and small, to understand and resolve ongoing IT challenges.  Their understanding of network infrastructure, design and implementation was offered to participants of the TechKnowledge 2017 Conference in a Town Hall forum.  Topics such as servers, backups, disaster recovery, cloud storage, Office 365, virus protection, malware, ransomware, and security best practices were all discussed.  Matt and Prudencio fielded a range of questions but it was obvious what was the most concerning topic among the group.

Ransomware and backups.

The duo talked about best practices when it comes to backups and ransomware for almost an hour with the group. It was a very productive session and their favorite question came from Diana Murray, Manager for ASAP Accounting & Payroll, Inc.  Ms. Murray asked “What are the three most important elements of IT when talking about small business?”  We thought we would summarize their answers below.

1. A layered approach to security:

Matt brought up an older Blog post Think published entitled “Is Your Security Layered Like Your Bean Dip?”  It says you should layer your security like a seven-layer bean dip.  Just one layer at the bottom, and it just not as enticing.  But when you get all those layers, working together, it’s an explosion of excellence!  And even more important, the layered security approach tells us the more hoops a hacker has to jump through, the less likely they are to be successful.

2. Backups are key:

Matt posed a few questions business owners should consider when it comes to their backups.  What kind of backup you have is just as important as what is being backed up.  Is it file level backup?  Do you have a full image?  And, what is your expectation of downtime in the event that you do deal with a server crash?  And, he reminded everyone there to be realists.  Emergencies happen.  So, anticipate that they will happen and be prepared.  Practice.  Exercise your backup recovery process; test and retest it, so you have time to work out the kinks.

3. Standardization:

Prudencio explained IT standardization is a strategy for minimizing IT costs within an organization by keeping hardware and software as consistent as possible and reducing the number of tools you have that address the same basic need. It may take the form of ensuring that every computer has the same operating system, or of purchasing hardware in bulk so that every PC in your office is the same make and model. By streamlining your IT infrastructure, you can simplify decision­ making and minimize purchasing and maintenance costs.

Thank you to the Chamber of Commerce for organizing this event for our community and for asking Think to be involved.

Tech Knowledge Conference 2017

February 22nd, 2017 Posted by Best Practices, Community, Data, Desktop, Devices, Hosted Services, Internet, Microsoft, Networks, Newsletters, Operating System, Security, Services 0 thoughts on “Tech Knowledge Conference 2017”

The Durango Chamber of Commerce will host its 3rd Annual Tech Conference on Wednesday, March 15th at the DoubleTree Hotel featuring keynote speaker Jeff Walker.

There will be a variety of breakout sessions throughout the day which include topics about cyber security, email marketing, makerspace, web policies, digital marketing, facebook marketing, hackathon, and much more. Think Network Technologies is a sponsor for the Tech Conference, but they will also be a presenter for one of the breakout sessions.

Matt Glick(CTO) and Prudencio Dimas(Solutions Architect) will be holding an “IT Town Hall” on March 15th from 2:30 – 3:20p in the Silverton/Purgatory room at the DoubleTree Hotel. You’ll be able to ask Think’s senior engineers all your business tech questions about servers, backups, disaster recovery, cloud storage, Office 365, virus protection, malware, ransomware, security best practices, and IT policies.

As CTO of Think Network Technologies, Matt manages network operations, business development and provides guidance to the technical team.  He brings more than 18 years of experience delivering technology solutions to regional private and public sector accounts. Matt has a Bachelor’s of Science in Sociology and Environmental Science from Fort Lewis College.  He started his career in Seattle, where he worked for a corporate consulting company and got his start in systems administration.  He pursued further education at Colorado Mountain College for Microsoft Server OS, Directory Services and Architecture; completing MCSE, MCSA and MCP certifications.  He also completed the Cisco CCNA, CCDA and CCNP certification coursework while being employed as a network administrator for a school district in Roaring Fork Valley, CO.  In 2002, Matt returned to Durango to start his own venture, thus the inception of Think Network Technologies.  His understanding of network infrastructure, design and implementation has benefited Think’s customers in finding solutions to fit the business requirements in both smaller and larger environments.

As a Solutions Architect at Think, Prudencio plays a role in nearly all phases of the IT service delivery life cycle, from the initial consultation and needs assessment, to implementation and ongoing solution support. Prudencio got his start as an intern while earning an Associate’s Degree in Information Technology. Prudencio is well rounded with experience ranging from small computer repair shops to networks of five thousand plus endpoints.  His primary focus is on windows systems administration and he carries certifications in Microsoft and Cisco technologies. In 2012, Prudencio left the IT world behind for 6 months of world travel. When he returned, an opportunity with Think brought him to Durango where he works side by side with businesses large and small to understand and resolve ongoing IT challenges.

Please contact Think’s IT specialists at sales@thinknettech.com if you have any questions or concerns.

Technology Disposition

January 17th, 2017 Posted by Best Practices, Community, Data, Desktop, Devices, E-Waste, Newsletters, Operating System, Security, Services 0 thoughts on “Technology Disposition”

Donate or Recycle Your Electronics, But Don’t Throw it Away!

Donating and recycling your electronics is the best way to help the environment by conserving resources and natural materials. It is critical to make sure you are donating and/or recycling electronics safely and correctly.

Computers, printers and other electronics contain a variety of unsafe and toxic substances, that when discarded improperly can pose risks to our health and the environment. These products are also made from valuable resources and materials, including metals, plastics, and glass, all of which require energy to mine and manufacture. Donating or recycling consumer electronics conserves our natural resources and avoids air and water pollution, as well as greenhouse gas emissions.

Contribute your old computers and phones to groups that will fix and clean them and put them back into circulation. Even the oldest computer—something you consider the most obsolete of digital dinosaurs—can probably be used by someone.

 

While it’s great to recycle parts, your old and unwanted gadgets can be incredibly useful to someone else. These non-profits and programs work to refurbish and deliver cellphones and other electronics to those in need.

Call2Recycle: Call2Recycle program is a free and easy way for earth-conscious folks like yourself to get rid of your old batteries and cellphones.

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence: You can donate your unwanted cellphones to the NCADV, which partners with Cellular Recycler for the collection of used electronics and uses proceeds from refurbished gadgets to help stop domestic violence.

Many local non-profits would be happy to take your old computers, devices, printers and other electronics. The La Plata County Humane Society Thrift Store is one of those non-profits that would gladly take your electronics off your hands.

Another concern is the destruction of all data on any hardware you are disposing. Obviously you do not want any of your data or your customer’s data getting in the wrong hands. Think can wipe sensitive data from your hardware before you choose to donate or recycle it.

Where to Recycle Your Old Electronics?

Can you bring your electronics to any recycling facility? Before you do, you should check to see if your recycling facility has a E-Steward Certified as well as IS14001 Certified because that means they comply with e-waste recycling standards as well as being environmentally responsible. The Durango Recycling Center holds both of those certificates and that’s where Think Network Technologies recycles all of their computers, monitors, devices and other electronics. They only accept e-waste on Saturdays or if you’re a business you have to call to schedule a drop-off.

If you are a client of Think and located within city limits we will pick up your recyclables. We’ll make all the arrangements for you. Please call us at (970)247-1885 if you would like to hear our prices.

Here are some more articles and websites about recycling e-waste.

EPA (Environmental Protection Agency)

Mashable – 4 Ways to Recycle Your Old Gadgets

PC Mag – How to Recycle Your Technology

E-Stewards for Recyclers

Durango Recycling Center

Let the Think specialists help you and your company! Please contact our sales team at sales@thinknettech.com if you would like our recommendations or a quote.

10 trends to watch for in 2017

10 trends to watch for in 2017

January 5th, 2017 Posted by Best Practices, Data, Desktop, Devices, Newsletters, Operating System, Security, Services 0 thoughts on “10 trends to watch for in 2017”

Smart machines are getting smarter, and a new IT reality has dawned.

The machines are rising. Artificial intelligence (AI) has proven it’ll be no fun at a party, having taken down the world’s best player at the difficult strategy game Go. If that makes you anxious, good news: virtual reality (VR) is being used by doctors to help patients with anxiety. We live in interesting times, so what’s going to be especially interesting to watch this year?

so what’s going to be especially interesting to watch this year

So what’s going to be especially interesting to watch this year

 

1. Security concerns increase

The only novelty in this prediction is where the danger is coming from: increased reliance on IoT means more breaches of security and privacy.

2. AI and consumer experience

Even big players are only scratching the surface when it comes to using machine-learning to improve customer service. Look for:

  • Much more personalized customer interaction
  • More social presence
  • Immediate answers to consumer queries

3. Better cross-browser compatibility

Less sexy than AI but fundamental, W3C (world wide web consortium) specification, and (maybe) better JavaScript libraries could see cross-browser compatibility issues become a thing of the past. Good news if your business does business online.

4. Increased VR activity

Who doesn’t want to be in VR when it’s new and shiny and has applications as far-ranging as therapy and gaming? Microsoft, Facebook, and Google have put a waterfall of money into VR, but it’s the startups you want to watch. Will VR be the cornerstone of the next Microsoft or Apple?

5. Mobile grows

By 2020, 70% of the world’s population will have a smartphone. If you’re still asking mobile browsers to pinch and squeeze, it’s time to act.

By 2020, 70% of the world’s population will have a smartphone

By 2020, 70% of the world’s population will have a smartphone

6. No more money for IT

You can watch the rise of AI and VR, but this might not be the year you get to invest in them. Spiceworks, a network of IT professionals, -has surveyed the IT world and confirmed that IT budgets will be flat (or down) in 2017, and they’re not expecting to take on new employees, either.

7. Laptops eating desktops’ narrow lead

Consumers have long bought more laptops than desktops. Now, companies are budgeting more for laptops, bringing the budgets for both to par according to Spiceworks’ network data and surveys.

8. Windows 10 business adoption to exceed 70%

Over 10 weeks in 2015, 11% of organizations said yes to Microsoft’s offer of a free Windows 10 upgrade. By halfway through last year, 40% were onboard. The trend line suggests 73% of organizations will be using Windows 10 by July.

9. “Cloud first” strategies will drive adoption of Windows Server 2016

Windows Server 2016 offers improved virtualization features, better security, more advanced software-defined storage functionality, and better integration with popular cloud services. That will drive adoption, although it won’t be until Windows Server 2008 reaches end-of-life in 2020 that its successor will dominate.

10. Don’t hold your breath for OS upgrades

Flat budgets will mean delays in upgrading operating systems. More than half of businesses are running at least one copy of Windows XP somewhere, despite it reaching end-of-life in 2014.

Let the Think specialists help you and your company! Please contact our sales team at sales@thinknettech.com if you would like our recommendations or a quote.

Start the year on a secure note

Start the Year on a Secure Note

January 5th, 2017 Posted by Best Practices, Data, Desktop, Devices, Newsletters, Operating System, Security, Services 0 thoughts on “Start the Year on a Secure Note”

9 hardware and software vulnerabilities you should address now.

Research from Spiceworks, a network of IT professionals, highlighted more than 70% of respondents rated security as their top concern for 2017. Here are nine things that should be keeping you up at night…

70% of respondents rated security as their top concern

70% of respondents rated security as their top concern

 

Aging hardware

Sure, software is the greater risk, but many hardware vulnerabilities are software-based. Older equipment is often without built-in security features like:

  • Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) with Secure Boot
  • Self-healing basic input/output system (BIOS)
  • Pre-boot authentication (PBA)
  • Self-encrypting drives

That’s why you should be auditing and planning to remove:

  • Computers with conventional BIOS, because they can’t run Secure Boot, which helps to prevent malware loading during the boot process.
  • Computers without pre-boot authentication or a trusted platform module (TPM), which stop the operating system from loading until the user enters authentication information, such as a password.
  • Old routers, which can have serious vulnerabilities.
  • Drives that don’t self-encrypt. Self-encrypting drives (SEDs) need a password (in addition to the OS login password), and the technology automatically encrypts and decrypts data on the drive.

On a side note, old drives leave you vulnerable in another way: you could lose data when they fail, which they will.

you could lose data when they fail, which they will

You could lose data when they fail, which they will

Tired software

Getting your hardware straight will almost always involve spending money, but fixing up software could be as simple as running those free updates you never got around to. Here’s what to look at:

  • Unpatched or out-of-date operating systems: Windows XP has been beyond its support period for nearly three years but is still running all over the world despite there being no updates, no technical assistance, and limited efficacy with anti-virus. And old operating systems always have fewer security features than new ones.
  • Unpatched or out-of-date productivity software: It’s highly risky to run unpatched versions of Microsoft Office, especially older versions like Office 2002, Office 2003, and Office 2007. They can give a hacker access to the rest of a system, with particularly catastrophic consequences if the user has administrative privileges.
  • Legacy custom applications: If running an old version of Office is a risk, imagine the danger of running legacy custom software, particularly if you’re no longer doing business with the vendor (or the vendor is no longer in business). When your legacy software was being coded, the vendor probably wasn’t thinking of the sort of security attacks that are common today.
  • Unpatched web browsers: No browser is entirely free of security vulnerabilities. Common vulnerabilities include URL spoofing, cross-site scripting, injection attacks, exploitable viruses, buffer overflow, ActiveX exploits, and many more. Always, always run the most recent version.
  • Out-of-date plug-ins: Everybody loves a plug-in, but they have a high potential for disaster, especially if you’re not running the latest versions.

Let the Think specialists help you and your company! Please contact our sales team at sales@thinknettech.com if you would like our recommendations or a quote.

Specialists vs Generalists

December 16th, 2016 Posted by Best Practices, Data, Hosted Services, Internet, Networks, Newsletters, Operating System, Security, Services 0 thoughts on “Specialists vs Generalists”
The best IT services providers are specialists, not generalists.   Whether their specialty is an industry or a type of service, specialization gives them the knowledge to serve as experts in the field.  Their expertise gives credibility and confidence to the customer, immediately.  Specialists, are experienced, usually identify the issues faster and anticipate problems better, and bring a wealth of knowledge they’ve gleaned from similar clients. (Swift, 2016)

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Do New WiFi Standards Mean New Servers?

October 4th, 2016 Posted by Best Practices, Devices, Hosted Services, Internet, Services 0 thoughts on “Do New WiFi Standards Mean New Servers?”

WiFi is changing: 802.11ac brings speeds that range from a bit over 433 megabits per second to 3.47 gigabits per second. In 802.11ac Wave 2, the maximum speed jumps to 6.93 gigabits per second. But 802.11ac Wave 3 is coming. It will take that high speed and provide it to multiple users simultaneously. The bandwidth requirements on the total infrastructure are going up dramatically.

Is your infrastructure ready?

A great deal of attention has been paid to the network infrastructure required to fully support 802.11ac Wave 1 and Wave 2. Many organizations that committed to the new wireless standard have begun upgrading their cabled network infrastructure to 10-gigabit Ethernet in order to properly support the access points. Along with the boost in network speed, they’re updating their PoE (Power over Ethernet) components to provide the higher voltage required by the newer, more powerful access points.

Why you should look at every application like a video-streaming app

Video streaming is both the most difficult application for many servers and a common application in the modern enterprise. The vast majority of the Internet’s traffic is video, and organizations, no matter how disciplined, are also very video-centric in their network traffic.

Successfully serving video streams means:

  • A high-bandwidth network channel (think 10-gigabit Ethernet through at least one port)
  • A CPU and GPU that can handle both video rendering and network management
  • Storage that can quickly move data off storage devices and get it moving toward the network

newsletter-2

Where to start

The place to start with network infrastructure is the server since that’s where you can most easily upgrade performance. Next comes the storage interface. This is where data either transfer on and off the disk drives in time to make it to the customer without pauses or delay.

Finally, it’s worth paying significant attention to the CPU itself, with special attention to the number of cores in the CPUs. Moving data in and out of the system can place huge burdens on the CPU. Having a separate CPU core (or two) to devote to data transfer can make the entire application infrastructure display perform in ways that keep your user community happy because of the performance they can expect.

WiFi has become expected — and good performance is something that employees take for granted. If you pay attention to the configuration of your servers, the servers won’t be the bottleneck when you decide to move to 802.11ac Wave 2 or beyond. And having employees talk about the great WiFi at your facilities is much better than listening to them talk about how much better it could be. No joke.

Please contact our sales team at sales@thinknettech.com if you would like our recommendations or a quote.

Entry-level Workstation is the Way to Go

August 24th, 2016 Posted by Best Practices, Devices, Staff 0 thoughts on “Entry-level Workstation is the Way to Go”

There’s something about that label. An “Entry level” workstation is seen as insufficiently powerful, marginally useful, and substandard when placed on a professional’s office desktop.

This characterization might have been accurate years ago. But today, even entry-level workstations can be capable, powerful computing devices that, under the right circumstances, can be “cool” for users to work with.

Moving entry-level systems from stigma-inducing to cool requires properly making a handful of critical decisions. Get them right, and your organization could save significant money, while boosting user satisfaction with new systems.

What is an entry level workstation?

It usually starts with a modestly powered CPU (often one generation behind the current market leader) and continues to have the following:

  • Minimal RAM (generally 4 GB at this point)
  • Basic graphics capabilities (sometimes, those on the motherboard; other times, those available from an inexpensive graphics board)
  • Gigabit Ethernet

Wrap it all in a basic box with a standard keyboard, mouse, and video monitor, and you have your entry system.

apple-692186_640It might be the perfect system

As companies race to embrace cloud services, it can be argued that the entry workstation is the perfect system for most employees to use.

It might be that what you need is an internal marketing campaign, not a larger budget for desktop workstations. It all depends on the job you’re asking systems to do and the way you present the systems doing the job.

Chromebooks are the very definition of minimalistic workstations. The barest entry-level workstation will be more powerful than the most powerful Chromebook, so the comparison should be frequently made when talking with employees.

Spend where it will be noticed

Spend a few dollars on the components that have the biggest impact on user satisfaction.

1. Keyboard

There is now a dizzying array of keyboards available for purchase. Most of the keyboards that make the “enterprise class” grade are within a few dollars of one another, so employees can be allowed to “customize” their system with little difference in purchase price and no difference in support costs.

2. Mouse

Management could offer employees their choice from a selection of mice or other pointing devices to be used at the desktop.  For minimal difference in price, the employee has a maximum feeling of personalization.

3. Monitor size

The enterprise standard has been twenty-one-inch or twenty-four-inch monitors for nearly a decade. But today, it’s possible to purchase twenty-seven-inch monitors for little to no more money.

The entry-level system doesn’t need to be a symbol of shame, for it can gain access to cloud-based services and information as equally well as much more expensive systems. And if Management will allow for some choice in monitors and accessories, the users will come away feeling more digitally empowered than ever before.

Please contact our sales team at sales@thinknettech.com if you would like our recommendations or a quote.

10 essential steps to protect your data

April 26th, 2016 Posted by Best Practices, Hosted Services, Security, Services 0 thoughts on “10 essential steps to protect your data”

Nobody likes feeling panicked about a lost phone, broken computer, or system failure. Unfortunately, these things happen every day, so we need to be prepared. What would you do if your business computers were damaged or destroyed? Do you have a backup plan?

There are various ways to calculate the cost of losing work stored on computers. Perhaps the easiest way to get a gut feel for the cost is to think for a moment about how long it would take to replace lost work. How many people would have to spend how many days to create everything from scratch?

Here is a simple 10-step plan for making sure they do not have to.

1. Have a strategy

You will not know what approach is right for you until you have answered these questions:

  • How long can you go without the lost data?
  • Will you be making full backups or incremental or differential backups?
  • How quickly will you need data restored?
  • What devices will you use?
  • How secure do your backups need to be?
  • How long do you need to keep the data for?

2. Prepare for the worst

If the building burns down, your onsite backups might go the same way as your primary systems. You should think about offsite or cloud backups as part of your plan.

3. Get help

You might not have all the answers or even all the questions. Speak to the backup providers you are looking at. Talk to the other companies that work on your IT infrastructure.

4. How much can you afford to lose?

Catalogue which data would have the biggest impact if you were to lose it. Break data into categories and work out how old you are happy with the backups being in each category.

5. How long can you go before your data is restored?

The answer to this question will be different for each of the categories of data you identified. And it will inform your decision about what backup systems you need.

6. Consider your applications

Not only does your solution need to fit your business needs, but it also needs to suit the applications you run.

7. Choose your device

What will you backup onto? This is an area where it is worth taking advice.

8. Set up your file backups

If you are working with someone, you should be able to borrow their expertise to make sure you set up correctly. If not, look for vendor tutorials that walk you through the process.

9. Take a picture

Do not just set up to backup data. Image backups capture your whole system so that you can restore everything. That includes your operating system, applications, settings, bookmarks, and file states right before disaster struck.

10. Check and double check

Your system is no good to you if it is not working. Check and check again that you are capturing usable backups in the format you are expecting.

Need advice on securing your data assets? Get the peace of mind that comes with a good backup plan. Call Think at 970-247-1885 to get started today.

Think receives award from ColoradoBiz Magazine!

December 9th, 2015 Posted by Awards, Staff 0 thoughts on “Think receives award from ColoradoBiz Magazine!”
2015 Award

2015 Award

Think Network Technologies has been named one of the Top 250 Private Companies in Colorado, by ColoradoBiz Magazine. We are proud to represent Durango and the IT sector, and are grateful to our customers and employees for making our success possible! Looking forward to another exciting year in 2016. Onward and upward!

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