The advantages of working with IT pros

Some seemingly good ideas come with wildly inconvenient side effects. Like the time a corned beef sandwich almost ruined a NASA mission.

In the 1960’s, NASA was in an all-out race to put a man on the moon. The Gemini 3 mission was a significant step forward. It was the very first two-manned mission to achieve orbit. Astronaut John Young was one of those two men.

Not one to pay too much attention to pesky rules, Young smuggled a corned beef sandwich onto the spacecraft by hiding it in his suit. But when crew-mate Gus Grissom took a bite, crumbles scattered throughout the cabin.

Because of the lack of gravity, crumbles could easily get into the circuitry, potentially leading to disaster. As it turns out, NASA had good reasons for regulating the food available to astronauts during missions.

The lesson? Some projects legitimately warrant expert input.

Paving the Way for Growth

IT spending is an undeniable part of the cost of doing business. Not only that, but IT spending is on the rise. 42% of small businesses expect to increase their IT related expenses this year.

But while additional IT spending should result in improved efficiency and reduced costs, that’s not always the case. To illustrate the point, consider this alarming statistic: 55% of small business owners suspect their current technology solutions are actually holding them back.

Business owners clearly see the value of investing in IT solutions for everything from customer acquisition and retention to process automation. There’s obvious benefit to harnessing the power of available technology – if you choose the right solutions.

Choose the wrong solutions, and the technology might only get in your way.

Choosing Wisely

Making strong IT decisions for your organization is easier said than done. A quick Google search will reveal literally dozens of options, even for basic IT solutions like cloud-based storage.

When it comes time to tackle an in-house IT project, how can you be sure the solution you pick is the one that will work best for your company? After all, you don’t want your business to be yet another organization whose growth is limited by the very tools that should make you more efficient.

Thankfully, there’s a way to tap into expert knowledge without becoming an expert, yourself.

“Professional services” is the industry term that describes outsourced IT project management. Companies of all sizes routinely rely on professional services when analyzing and upgrading their technologies. Even organizations with robust internal IT departments find value in utilizing professional services firms.

The Case for Expertise

There are three compelling reasons to consider working with a professional services provider.

First, expert input helps businesses identify the best solution for their needs. Sure, you might be able to limp along with a solution that mostly works. But why put yourself through that? Why not instead find the solution that perfectly matches the demands of your specific business?

Second, working with experienced professionals expedites the upgrade process. IT changes are rarely fun. There’s an inevitable adjustment period, even if the change is small. The sooner you can push through the growing pains and reap the benefits, the better.

Finally, a professional services provider can help lower costs in the short and long terms. When it comes to project management, few phrases sound as pleasant as “under budget.” Short term savings come in the form of finding the most cost effective solution possible.

Long term savings come in less tangible forms, but the impact on ROI is just as real. Improved efficiency, employee satisfaction and customer experience each profoundly affect your bottom line.

Your Professional Services Provider

The professional services team at CCS Technology is serious about making your next IT project a raving success. Each team member has a minimum of five years of experience. Our clients always work with someone who knows the industry.

We’re certified in the most high-demand areas of specialization, like Acumatica, Microsoft, Cisco, Amazon, VMware, and EMC. We also pride ourselves on maintaining a student mentality. We’re always learning and growing in our expertise.

What’s more, we have a proven track record for IT implementation. We’ve even taken on existing projects that were behind schedule and over budget, bringing them to successful completion.

If you have IT projects on the horizon, we have the professional services know-how to help. Contact us today to find out how we can guide you through the process, saving you both time and money.

Aerosmith and the art of rockin’ IT solutions

Tell me how it is that you can sleep in the night, without thinking you lost everything that was good in your life to the toss of the dice?” – Aerosmith, “What it Takes”, (Pump, 1989)

Steven Tyler totally has the right idea on the song “What it Takes”. You never want to roll the dice when it comes to IT solutions. Inspired by some of Aerosmith’s greatest tracks, here’s a setlist of rockin’ IT solutions for your office.

Dream On

Ever catch yourself daydreaming, head in the clouds? In your business, that’s not a bad idea. Introducing a cloud-based solution to your business will help you streamline your workplace systems, improve your operation and reduce overhead costs.

Right Scale reports that “Companies now run 79 percent of workloads in cloud, with 41 percent of workloads in public cloud and 38 percent in private cloud.”

Cloud solutions allow for ease of installation, lower payroll hours, and scalability for growing businesses. Those are pretty impressive stats, right? If you know anyone in business who thinks they can move forward without incorporating cloud solutions, you can probably tell them to “dream on.”

Just Push Play

Often, apps exist that are perfect for your business. When they aren’t, you need the capability to develop your own apps that are customized to fit your specific business needs.

App creation is also super beneficial when accounting for the increase in employees who need to be able to work from mobile devices. The proliferation of mobile apps in business actually casts a shadow on those not yet in the app game. Adobe reports that “61% of organizations believe that if a company hasn’t deployed any enterprise mobile apps yet they’re at a competitive disadvantage”.

Whether you’re building internal apps for specialized workflow or customer-facing applications to better engage clients, the goal is to create something that fits your business so well that all you have to do is “just push play” and you are ready to get to work.

Back in the Saddle

Picture this: It’s a sold-out stadium show for Aerosmith. Steven Tyler saunters out and takes center stage, his ego boosted by the adoring applause of tens of thousands of fans. Joe Perry follows suit, retrieving his beautiful Les Paul Gibson guitar from its stand. And it’s totally busted. For some reason, the roadie forgot to string the guitar. It’s sitting there with one D string, the other five tucked away somewhere backstage or on the tour bus. What’s a rock star to do?

This is a situation that happens often with technology, particularly if you have been handling your own system backup and software maintenance.

What would Joe Perry do? He’d do the same thing any IT team would suggest. He’d reach for his backup. If you’re Joe Perry, that means you reach for one of the other 600 guitars in your collection. If you’re a business owner, you need your own redundancies in place to keep the business going if your systems are interrupted for technical or human reasons, which can vary from the mundane to the criminal.

In fact, you may even want to work with your IT team to add a foolproof disaster recovery plan for any situation to the list of your IT solutions and you’ll be “back in the saddle” in no time.

We would be happy to jam with you about more ways to incorporate rockin’ IT solutions into your business. Feel free to give us a call or shoot us an email.

Justice is servered: The ultimate professional services superhero team

As managed service providers (MSPs) develop more expertise to fit the specific needs of their clients, it’s often beneficial to offer advanced professional services to growing businesses. You can compare this to superheroes teaming up in the Justice League to save the world and take on nefarious criminals. Sure, Batman might be able to fight off a dozen assailants, but it’s a big bonus when Superman is there to round them up and fly them off to jail at the speed of sound.

Ideally, when choosing your managed service provider, you want to make sure they have experts on their team who can fill the following roles:

1. The Heart, Wonder Woman

One of the primary professional services you’ll encounter is physical installation. For this, you’ll want to look for an MSP with the physical resources and knowledge to properly set up your office network and system to fit the needs of your team and your customers.

Think of Wonder Woman. She’s a fierce warrior and easily capable of the physical work, but one of her greatest strengths is her compassion. She longs to understand and honor the human element. This is a quality that is super important when setting up a physical network. An MSP needs to know how the network will be used and how to apply the infrastructure to your specific business and organizational needs.

2. The Fortifier, Batman, Cyborg

Remember that time you snuck into the Batcave? Probably not. That’s because Bruce Wayne has built a veritable fortress with the best cybersecurity and physical security in the world to guard his secret identity and to protect his Bat-family.

Many MSPs will do the exact same for your business, by installing physical security components to work in collaboration with your cybersecurity solutions. Physical security options can include cameras, electronic access, and more – all designed to eliminate external and internal threats. Sometimes, this even requires educating employees and adjusting current behaviors. Especially when 55 percent of organizations have had a security incident or data breach due to a malicious or negligent employee. Even Robin needs a lesson or two about how not to blow things up in the armory.

3. The Mindreader, Martian Manhunter

The Martian Manhunter is the Justice League’s resident telepath. He knows the best path for people’s lives, because he excels at reading their hopes, dreams, and goals.

The best MSPs know what you need for your business, because they put in the time and effort to get to know your business and its operations. From a professional services standpoint, this means they are often able to create custom IT solutions for your business.

One of the hottest professional services right now is app development. Any leading MSP should be able to create a custom app for your business that will help streamline your particular workflow. In fact, app development is practically becoming mandatory for businesses who want to win customer loyalty. OuterBox reports that 40% of users will go to the competitor after a bad mobile experience.

4. The Speedster, Flash, Superman

When Lois Lane gets a craving for authentic Thai cuisine, Superman is off like a rocket to Bangkok. When some poor gal falls from a 45-story building, the Flash runs up the facade and catches her, depositing her safely on the rooftop garden.

Many MSPs provide the same level of on-call service. Make sure to always check your MSP’s hours of operation, service response standards and after-hours options. Some MSPs even offer a Batcave-like Network Operating Center (NOC), where your network can be monitored 24/7/365. This is the best way to make sure your network issues are solved in a flash.

5. The Backup, Green Arrow

In the world of IT solutions, it’s important to create redundancies. If the measures you have in place to keep your network running end up taking a beating, then you better make sure you have a backup plan.

In the Justice League, that means Batman might have to call in his pal Green Arrow, who happens to have a knack for hitting the bullseye when things go awry. In IT, that means that your MSP can help you target areas of data that need to be backed up more frequently, and create a disaster plan.

Please give us a call or send us an email when you are ready to chat about these super Professional Services and more.

What is hybrid cloud storage?

Cloud-based storage is hardly a new technology. It’s been a common IT solution for a number of years. For the most part, cloud storage is seen as a practical, convenient, flexible solution. However, despite its advantages, not everyone is convinced.

That’s because some still have concerns about the speed of access to data hosted in the cloud, possible latency, and security and compliance challenges. To address these fears, a new solution is now available – hybrid cloud storage.

How does hybrid cloud storage work?

Hybrid cloud storage is essentially a mix of off-site (cloud) and on-site storage. You keep some data in one place and some data in the other. This blended approach makes sense for several reasons.

Flexible Options

With hybrid cloud storage, you have multiple options for data storage. Your information can reside in an on-premise server, in a public cloud server, or in a private cloud server.

On-site storage works well for quick access. Public cloud servers are convenient, as all the maintenance is taken care of on your behalf. Private cloud servers require more effort on your part but come with a higher level of control and security.

The good news is that hybrid cloud solutions give you the ability to choose the blend that’s right for your company.

Strategic Storage

How do you know what data should go where? That’s a matter of your overall IT strategy.

For example, a financial firm might decide to store critical data (such as customers’ financial details) on its own local servers, while less sensitive data might be stored in a public cloud server. Alternately, a company might use both the private and public cloud, leaning on the latter for data archiving, backup, disaster recovery, workflow sharing and distribution and the former for high-security data.

You don’t have to go all-in on a single type of storage. Rather, you can mix and match according to your needs and requirements.

Scalable Growth

Many companies use hybrid cloud storage to supplement internal storage. This makes sense, particularly as a part of your growth strategy. If your business is expanding, it can be difficult to keep up with storage needs. However, cloud servers give you an easy way to add storage space quickly.

Use your local storage for the data you access more frequently and relegate data archives to the cloud. In that way, hybrid cloud storage can really take the bite out of some normal growing pains.

Cost-effective

There’s one final benefit. For a lot of organizations, there are some real cost savings to a hybrid cloud approach.

No, that’s not a guarantee that your company will save money. However, the cost of purchasing and maintaining all your own server space can be prohibitive for small businesses. A hybrid storage strategy allows for options to lower those expenses, limiting the amount of onsite storage you need while still meeting your company’s storage needs.

The challenge of hybrid storage.

The main challenge for companies interested in a hybrid storage solution is knowing which options to choose. You can’t capitalize on the advantages of the hybrid cloud if you don’t deploy your infrastructure the right way. Luckily, CCS Technology can help.

CSS Technology has years of experience setting up hybrid cloud storage solutions. We’re here to make sure you enjoy all the benefits of the hybrid cloud without any headaches. If you’d like to learn more about how a hybrid cloud approach might work for your business, give us a call. We’ll be happy to put our expertise to work for you.

Managed services make a real difference

File this under “not a chance.”

A dentistry student in Denmark was having a slow day at the office. He was there. All the dental equipment was there. But patients were not there.

So he thought to himself, “You know, I really ought to take care of that wisdom tooth. I know it needs to come out. Oh, hey. Look. I have everything right here, and pulling it myself sounds like fun. Let’s do this!”

And do it he did. He pulled his own wisdom tooth using a mirror, and he even filmed the whole thing. Remarkably, he’s on record having said he did it “for fun.”

That’s one dentist whose idea of “fun” is very different from ours.

A bad time to outsource.

There are a lot of reasons why the average (sane) person wouldn’t follow the Denmark dentist’s lead. After all, dentists go to school for years to learn how to perform extractions.

In fact, that’s not the only thing you outsource in your personal life. You probably don’t do your own dry cleaning. Or grow all of your own food. Or fly the plane yourself when you go on vacation.

In each case, you turn to a professional to handle the highly technical stuff you don’t know how to do. Really, that’s what managed services are in the IT world. “Outsourcing” may not sound appealing, but relying on an expert for something that requires special skill just makes sense. Especially in business.

If you don’t, things can get messy, the process can be painful, and the outcome may not be what you want it to be. That’s true whether we’re talking about pulling teeth or managed services.

Messy.

Technology is anything but simple. Dealing with your smartphone or your home computer is one thing. Setting up and maintaining your business network is something else.

Managed services providers have years of experience helping clients find the right hardware, software and cloud solutions. They have the insight to know the best questions to ask to make sure your needs are fully covered.

While you clearly know how to run your business (that’s how you got where you are), knowing which blend of IT solutions will work best for your staff is a more nuanced thing. A professional opinion can save you quite a few technical messes. (Because who has time to clean up messes?)

Painful.

We’ve seen it plenty of times. When small business leaders tackle IT solutions on their own, sometimes the results aren’t just messy. They’re painful.

Trying to work with IT solutions that don’t really fit is crippling. It slows you down, interferes with customer services, inhibits productivity for your entire staff, and ultimately eats into your bottom line.

THAT’S painful. Managed services can help you avoid that.

Disappointing.

When things don’t work as smoothly as they could, there’s an undeniable effect on employee satisfaction. (And on YOUR satisfaction.)

According to Fast Company, happy employees are typically 12% more productive than their less satisfied peers. That’s a wide enough margin to give you a significant edge over the competition.

And, of course, happy employees tend to have better interactions with customers, too. In that sense, managed services have a trickle-down effect. Even your customers will benefit.

CCS Technology knows managed services.

Is it possible to handle all of your own IT support? Sure. Just like it’s possible to pull your own tooth. But is it ideal? Hardly.

Working with a managed services provider like CCS Technology can make a powerful difference in your productivity, profitability and overall satisfaction. It’s an investment, but one that most certainly pays off in the long run.

If you’d like to learn more about our managed services solutions, we invite you to get in touch with us. We’ll be happy to go into greater detail with you, and we’ll put together a plan that’s custom-tailored just for you.

Give us a call today.

Lock onto your targets with the right IT support

It sounds like science fiction, but it’s not. Rather, it’s one of the latest developments in modern weaponry. It could have dramatic effect on how we use guns.

It’s called the AimLock Stabilized Weapon Platform, and the US military is currently testing it. The new technology marries a traditional rifle with some impressive, real-time computing power. The shooter aims, but the gun’s casing assists by compensating for movement and wobble. This should make it far easier for soldiers to hit the intended target, even from a moving vehicle.

The system is still in early development, but tests are promising. Eventually, a shooter will be able to “lock onto” a target by aiming near it. The advantage for the battlefield would be considerable.

Talk about a game-changer.

How’s your IT support aim?

IT support has more in common with aimlock than you might think. Hang with us. The similarities are compelling.

1. IT support helps you establish targets.

What does IT support have to do with your business goals? A lot.

It’s tempting to think of IT support as nothing but, well, support. It’s right there in the name. And it’s true – good IT support does play a support role. But it has the potential to play a significant strategic role, too.

When your IT support is top-tier, you’ll have some useful data at your fingertips. You’ll know what processes currently work and where your bottlenecks are. You can use that information to plot a course for growth, working to eliminate hiccups. The more efficient you are, the lower your costs and the higher your customer satisfaction.

Solid IT support can be a tool for streamlining your organization.

2. If IT support isn’t lined up, it’s really hard to hit your targets.

Of course, efficiency isn’t your primary target. Profitability is. And sub par IT support makes that more difficult than it should be.

Ineffective IT support is like the end-all-be-all of shooter wobble. It’s like trying to sharpshoot from the bed of a pickup truck that’s doing 65 on a street full of speedbumps. Could you still hit your target? Sure, but it’s not likely.

Practically every area of your company relies on technology. It’s woven into everything from your phone system to your calendar. It’s easy to forget how prominent it is . . . until you don’t have it.

Effective IT support minimizes those painful moments. Proactive maintenance keeps you running at full capacity as much as possible, and responsive helpdesk support gets you back online when there’s a misfire.

3. The right kind of IT support can help you lock onto your targets.

When your technology works the way it’s supposed to, you can focus on what really matters to you. You have the freedom to engage with your staff, drive organizational growth, tackle aggressive projects, and ensure work/life balance. Those are the things that improve ROI and quality of life.

That’s so much better than spending hours trying to figure out why the printer isn’t working.

Your IT support partner.

IT support is only as good as the provider. With the right IT support partner, your aim gets considerably sharper. That’s how you connect with bullseyes.

Here at CCS Technology, we have a passion for providing that kind of IT support. We don’t see ourselves as a vendor, but as an extension of our client’s organization. We take sincere pride in delivering the best IT support around. And we have the expertise to make that claim stick.

If you’re looking for an IT support partner, we invite you to give us a call. Let’s recalibrate your sights. With the right IT support, you can hit the targets that matter most.

 

Three reasons you should be using cloud services

You’ve probably heard about the businesses using cloud services. A lot of organizations are headed in that direction. But why? What are cloud services? And how can they provide you with a business advantage?

Most folks are already using cloud services, even if they don’t realize it. For example, email services like Gmail are all based in the cloud. If you’ve ever taken a video call on Skype, that too is a cloud service. And if you share business files with services like Dropbox, again, you’re in the cloud, baby.

But cloud services go way beyond these basic offerings. In fact, these days it’s possible to replace your entire IT infrastructure with cloud solutions. What follows are a few compelling reasons to consider jumping on the bandwagon.

Let’s talk about the power of the cloud.

Cost Savings

One of the main reasons many companies opt for cloud solutions is potential savings.

Cloud services eliminate the need for big investments in storage and server hardware, as well as potentially lower software costs. With the cloud, applications are offered on a subscription or pay-as-you-use basis. You only pay for what you actually use without the costs of creating and maintaining an infrastructure on top. Most providers allow companies to scale usage to fit their needs, so they can adjust for peaks and troughs in demand.

Greater Flexibility & Scalability

Cloud services provide more flexibility and agility than traditional computing methods. With the cloud, your employees are no longer tied to their desks. They can access their files wherever they are, 24 hours a day, from just about any device. They can also work collaboratively with the rest of the staff, even if one of them is on the other side of the world.

Another major benefit is the flexibility to scale services according to your needs. You can toggle your level of service based on current need, adding to or scaling down on the fly. With traditional in-house tech, these kinds of changes are rarely quick. But with the cloud, it’s possible to do so in seconds.

This means that’s possible to achieve a degree of flexibility that was previously unheard of, enabling you to respond rapidly to your customers’ needs or changes in your business.

Better Performance, More Features

The major cloud service providers all have thousands of customers, which means their data centers are equipped with hundreds of cutting-edge, high-performance systems to handle those workloads. All of that raw computing power translates to a major advantage for you. Your cloud provider can offer a level of performance that’s orders of magnitudes higher than you’re likely to have in-house on your own.

Cloud providers also use the most up to date versions of software, which means you’ll be able to access all of the latest features. In addition, their administrators are able to optimize hardware and software for performance. Talk about bang for your buck.

If your company isn’t already invested in cloud services, isn’t it about time you asked yourself why? Contact us today to find out how cloud solutions can take your business to the next level.