May 24th, 2013
Posted By T.J. Bloom, COO of MDL Technology
Last week, we blogged about the importance of having a data disaster recovery plan for your business. Unfortunately a few days later, Moore, Okla., suffered from a deadly EF5 tornado that wiped out homes, schools and businesses across a 17-mile span.
We realize that backing-up data won’t save all of your belongings but having a backup of your personal and work data can prevent future hassles when trying to recover from a disaster. That is why it is a good idea to start thinking about your data backup plan now.
While our blog covered some of the steps you should use to prepare for a data recovery challenge, we felt like it would be a good idea to go more in-depth on cloud computing and back-up.
There are multitudes of cloud solutions out there and many are free or low-cost. Services such as Dropbox, Google Drive, Apple iCloud, Box and more are great.
Symform.com, a cloud computing solution, listed some of the best reasons to use the cloud for data backup:
- Improved data protection: Cloud backup assures that your data is recoverable and protected. With industry-leading encryption and security practices, cloud-based data is highly secure. Don’t buy into the hype about the cloud being less secure. It’s just not true.
- Low Total Cost of Ownership (TCO): Zero capital expense and predictable subscription pricing keep total cost of ownership low.
- Ease of use: Cloud BDR solutions tend to have easy-to-use web-based management and user interfaces. At most, cloud solutions require a lightweight agent on devices used for data sync to the cloud, so you have minimal maintenance.
- Fast implementation: Rapid deployment in a matter of minutes with setup and configuration wizards.
- Leverage existing IT: Most cloud solutions inter-operate with existing storage devices, applications and operating systems.
- Lower energy consumption: No need for larger server rooms, saving power consumption and energy bills. If you have a Green IT initiative, this is a great way to lower your carbon footprint and energy consumption by leveraging a proven cloud vendor.
- Agility and scalability: Because it’s cloud-based, increasing or decreasing your storage capacity should be painless. Try to avoid any tiered pricing as you increase data volumes.
ComputerWeekly.com talks about cloud backup solutions and the differences between using a hybrid or pure cloud backup solution.
Remember, you should always consider the pros and cons of each backup solution. Having a cloud-based data recovery plan can help you get up and running quicker than many other solutions.
Do you need help recovering from a data disaster or are you considering backing up your data on the cloud? Give MDL Technology a call today at 816-781-3006 to discuss how we can help!
May 17th, 2013
Posted By T.J. Bloom, COO of MDL Technology
Tornado season is here and if you are a business owner or IT professional without a disaster recovery plan, your company runs the risk of losing its data, thousands of dollars in irrecoverable revenue or even going out of business. Here are some quick tips from Business2Community.com about disaster recovery planning:
By Matthew Ramsey
The survival of your enterprise depends heavily on an IT disaster recovery plan. Companies weather all sorts of difficulties, from a slow economy to staffing troubles to market fluctuations. A disaster is one thing that can put the breaks on hard; potentially no part of your organization will survive without a plan. While a comprehensive initiative set up beforehand can be effective, the days and months following an event can be a time of reflection and forward looking.
A hard look at your best practices involves several steps. Depending on how the plan worked, you might find your IT teams, management, and executives starting from scratch. Supposing you need to completely revamp the enterprise’s disaster recovery plan. It could be as tough as the initial migration to the cloud. There are a few best practices to follow to get the ball rolling before the next challenge emerges:
- Start reviewing every detail of the previous disaster recovery plan. The basics can easily be arranged into a checklist. Get all stakeholders in your IT department to discuss elements such as data backups, server locations, telephone systems, and other network infrastructure. Address how prepared these systems are whether they are at the main facility or located off-site. Extended periods of no power are possible with any disaster, so it’s important to fill loopholes making your business vulnerable.
- After a disaster, you should thoroughly document what occurred as a result, but also before and during the event. An outline of backups performance and the quality of system reboots will help your teams conduct a full assessment. Ongoing health checks provide details on performance issues. Also, any documentation on these aspects should include the structure of communications with stakeholders, vendors, carriers, and customers.
- If your organization is like many, consolidation may have come into the picture recently. Redundancy, however, can save your business from failure, especially when a virtualized network allows employees, managers, and valuable IT staff to work from home or in another location. A multi-vendor approach to cloud, voice, and data infrastructure also helps to protect your business. If you haven’t implemented these, starting from scratch will likely make you reconsider.
- Incorporate all departments into the planning process. Sure, IT needs to be in there, plus management and accounting. Often left out is the human resources department. Revamping your plan to be most efficient may require a look at how employees will be fed, be transported to the office, or how they will access the network.
- Testing is what makes disaster recovery plans most effective. If you are indeed starting from scratch, do not leave anything out. Servers, power supplies, generators, and communication systems should be subject to test runs sooner than later. Any operational issues can be isolated and corrected with enough time to spare before the next storm or other disaster hits.
Depending on the type of disaster, the effects may be different. These consequences should be incorporated into a disaster recovery plan assessment as well. Hurricanes are much different from fires, for example. Regardless, do not become complacent at any stage because the very survival of your enterprise is at stake without a rebooted IT disaster recovery plan.
Do you need help recovering from a data disaster? Give MDL Technology a call today at 816-781-3006.
May 10th, 2013
Posted By T.J. Bloom COO of MDL Technology
On Tuesday night, some of the best startups in Kansas City met at Boulevard Brewing Company for the Tech Cocktail KC Mixer and Startup Showcase. During the mixer, SquareOffs was dubbed the Hottest Showcasing Startup in Kansas City!
SquareOffs is a socially-focused, online polling startup that uses Facebook and Twitter authentication to shift conversations to social networks. Their mission is to increase engagement and readership by taking voting, commenting and sharing to a new level.
SquareOffs co-founder and CEO, Jeff Rohr, discussed his experiences with his startup with Tech Cocktail following the win. He talks about how he uses burritos to motivate his team, why you should use his products and what cocktail his startup represents.
by Zack Davis
Tech Cocktail: What’s the hardest lesson you’ve had to learn so far?
Jeff Rohr: That this journey is 5-10 times harder than I ever thought it would be. I don’t quit though. You have to wear so many hats and balance the talents on your team. I think it helps to be versatile as a founder. If you’re not, quickly ask for help in areas where you struggle. Time is your most valuable asset.
Tech Cocktail: How do you keep your team motivated?
Rohr: My non-stop drive to do something big, burrito lunches, candy, and a kegerator.
May 1st, 2013
MDL Technology loves networking, technology and having a good time and is very much looking forward to the Tech Cocktail Mixer and Startup Showcase sponsored by Treeswing. Kansas City’s hottest startups, tech professionals, job seekers, investors and entrepreneurs will gather at Boulevard Brewing Company on May 7, 2013 from 5:30 – 8:30 pm to network, create relationships and have a good time.
The Tech Cocktail Mixer is a one-of-a kind experience that had earned a national reputation of a must-attend event. The $10 early bird tickets are available through April 30, $15 standard tickets through May 3 and last minute tickets are $20.
When: Tuesday, May 7th, 2013 – 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. CST
Where: Boulevard Brewing Company – 2501 Southwest Blvd., Kansas City, MO
What: A cocktail of tech enthusiasts
Price: $10 (Early Bird) / $15 (Standard) / $20 (Last Minute) / $30 (At the Door) – (Must be 21+)
April 26th, 2013
As companies become more tech-savvy, it still appears that the failure rate of CRM remains high. According to an article by Inside CRM, it was found that nearly 50-70 percent of CRM projects fail. While part of the high percentage of failures is due to unrealistic expectations, the rest of it is due to not delivering the estimated increases to the bottom line, customer satisfaction and other endpoint metrics.
Here are three of the biggest factors to avoid with CRM:
1. Concentrating on the technology at the expense of the people: CRM is not technology. Instead, it uses technology to support sales and marketing’s efforts to get closer to your customers.
Implementing CRM starts well before you purchase the system or even decide which software to use. It begins with a clear definition of CRM goals, project requirements and success factors. In other words, what are you trying to do, what will you need to do it and how will you know when you’ve succeeded? This also has to include a careful analysis of your sales process, its strengths and weaknesses and where you need to improve.
This definition phase is doubly important because not all CRM packages are created equal. Like companies, they have different strengths and weaknesses and you need to choose one which matches your needs. All of them have the same general functionality but they vary in how well and how completely they do different jobs.
Similarly, you have to consider the nature of your business when choosing a CRM solution. If your business involves long sales cycles of high-value equipment with multiple decision makers, you want to emphasize different things in your sales strategy than if you’re selling lower-cost goods on a fast sales cycle with many repeat customers.
Because CRM makes heavy use of computers, it’s easy to confuse it with technology. In fact, the history of CRM implementation is rife with projects which were a technical success — delivered on time and within budget — but which were practical failures because the project didn’t deliver the bottom-line benefits.
If you equate technology with CRM, you’ll probably end up confusing your employees and annoying your customers.
2. Not having everyone aboard: According to Gartner Group, most CRM failures are the result of user errors rather than technological ones.
The most common of these failures, experts agree, is not having everyone on the same page. A successful CRM effort has support from all staff and widespread agreement on the goals and methods of the CRM project. That includes the sales staff, whom will use the CRM tools, and top management, whom must provide the drive and oversight for the project.
A full CRM implementation requires wide-ranging changes throughout your sales and marketing organization. If the people who have to execute your new CRM strategy don’t understand and agree with what you’re doing, you’ll most likely have a failure.
Likewise, a CRM project needs realistic, enthusiastic support from management at all levels, including a manager or managers who will champion the project and help to keep it on track. This kind of broad-based support is critical and it usually doesn’t happen automatically. It has to be built. To repeat an often-stressed theme, CRM requires selling inside your company.
Stress the benefits that CRM will bring to your staff. The fact that a CRM system will give you greater control over your sales process isn’t nearly as important to your sales reps as the potential to increase sales, and hence profits. On the other hand, it’s likely to be much more important to the managers above you. When you talk about CRM’s benefits, stress the ones that the people you are talking to are likely to be most interested in.
It’s also important to realize that the job of getting and keeping everyone aboard doesn’t end when the CRM project goes live. The sales staff has to be constantly encouraged, reminded and sometimes pushed to use CRM tools. Managers have to be shown through clear metrics how the CRM effort is paying off.
In making CRM work, both in implementation and in ongoing use, feedback is critical. You’re almost certainly going to have to adjust the project as you go along, and to get it right you’re going to have to rely on feedback from all levels. More than most project implementations, CRM is a matter of constantly adjusting to get things “right” under continuously changing conditions.
3. Not putting the customer first: By its nature, CRM is customer-centric. The CRM model tries to increase sales by focusing on and building better relations with the customer.
A successful CRM implementation improves the customer experience. One that fails makes the customer less willing to deal with you. This is an important metric, even if it isn’t always as easy to see.
One place where success with the customers shows up is in the bottom line. An effective CRM implementation makes it easier and more pleasant for customers to buy from you. This shows up not just in increased sales, but in increased sales per customer, increased cross-selling and up-selling and other measures of sales activity. However, this is only a surrogate. You need to listen carefully to your customers to find out what they like and don’t like.
None of these causes for failure is rocket science — or even high school chemistry. They can be easily avoided, as many companies do each year. While that requires some knowledge of the warning signs, mostly it is a matter of attention to detail and understanding where CRM fits into your sales and marketing organization.
April 17th, 2013
Your computer or laptop carries a heavy burden, from emails to work documents, each day is very stressful for the system to operate quickly and run well. If you’re a business owner, CIO, CTO or IT professional, you probably run the risk of making significant investments in your IT infrastructure such as buying new computers year-over-year. Well, the good news is that you can take some steps to de-stress your computers at work by following some of these easy, low-maintenance steps provided by Gear Burn.
So let your computer relax in honor of National Stress Awareness Month. Don’t forget to call MDL Technology 816-781-3006, if you need extra help de-stressing any of your computers or even your IT department.
By Angela Freeman
The death of your PC or laptop may be closer than you think, especially if you’re guilty of not taking proper care of your precious portal to the internet. Computers need loving care and bad user habits are the top reason they go to tech heaven. Are you guilty of these nine bad habits?
1. ALWAYS USING SLEEP MODE
Many PCs and laptops have a sleep mode where after a set time limit, the screen goes dark and your machine seems peaceful and relaxed. Unfortunately, sleep mode still uses electricity so your computer isn’t really “off.” Rather follow the steps to turn off your machine and then perform a cold boot when it’s time for use again. Furthermore, if you always rely on the sleep mode, your computer never gains the chance to reboot (a necessary option for updates).
2. SKIPPING THE UPDATES
Speaking of updates, you need to allow your operating system to reboot and update. It’s true that you can change the options for automatic reboots for updates or choose to ignore them altogether. But doing so can cause conflicts with websites, email and web pages you often visit. It may also make it difficult to download images or documents. Update when urged to do so and avoid unforeseen problems. Some software updates like those from Adobe and Flash are necessary to ensure viewing of certain sites or documents.
3. YOU BELIEVE EVERY EMAIL IS SAFE
We’re “blessed” with an internet full of hackers and spammers. Check out your inbox’s spam folder and you’ll get the idea. It’s just too easy to get a million dollars from Nigeria. Or, worse, you open an official-looking email from a website you trust and use, complete the instructions and find you’ve been hacked. Avoid this by never opening emails or email attachments from senders you don’t recognize. Read commonly used website policies on how they contact you. If you have been hacked, use your anti-virus or security software to help you find, quarantine and delete any malware.
4. YOU ONLY USE ONE BACKUP OPTION
Whether you use a DVD, external hard drive or thumb drive, you shouldn’t rely on just one backup option. All of these backup devices may get damaged. Remember to keep your backup solutions in a safe place and pay attention to manufacturer storage directions including recommended storage temperatures. Do use these (or a combination of them) but also look into cloud backup services from Google or affordable cloud storage offerings from places like Carbonite.
5. NEVER MAINTAINING YOUR COMPUTER
If you’re a laptop user who consistently leaves your computer on a dusty floor, allowing it to mix with hair and dust, never checking the fan or ignoring overheating or weird sounds, you’re probably not performing computer maintenance. Every PC or laptop manual (online, CD, DVD or booklet) has manufacturer maintenance suggestions. Find them and follow them. If you’ve lost your manual, you can find it online via your laptop manufacturer. These manuals will also tell you how to check your fan for blockage and how to clean your laptop or PC screen safely. Failing that, for every problem you’ve ever had on a computer, there’s a forum thread about it. Go into the forums and see what the community has to say about your computer’s issue.
6. YOU’RE SKIPPING THE ANTIVIRUS SOFTWARE
Just because you have a secure internet connection doesn’t mean that your PC or laptop is safe from malware, virus, worms and spyware. Most PCs and laptops come with preloaded security (anti-virus) software but many of these are in the form of a trial period which means you need to renew these or find a different solution. If you can’t afford the anti-virus software renewal, CNET offers free and safe anti-virus download for both Windows and Mac operating systems. Also, it’s never recommended to turn off your firewall for any reason.
7. DON’T MAKE OFFICE PCS AND LAPTOPS YOUR PROBLEM
Most of us utilise a PC or laptop at work and our employers pay well for IT and network support. If you find an issue with your work computer and ignore it, that doesn’t mean it will go away. Report any issues (online or offline) you experience with work computers to your IT personnel or manager as soon as they appear. Treat your office computers as you would a home PC or laptop because you do need to rely on these machines each and every day.
8. YOUR PASSWORDS ARE POORLY SELECTED
There are a few common passwords people use all the time. What are they? Believe it or not, the most over-used are “password,” “qwerty” and “123456.” These are well-known by hackers, so choose passwords wisely with a mix of upper and lowercase, characters and numbers. It’s also not a good idea to use the same password for everything. Choose different passwords for online banking, social media and email, for example. Here’s the full list of the most common passwords used today.
9. YOU KEEP RARELY USED SOFTWARE
As we ride the information superhighway, we see all sorts of offers for cool software for just about everything. “Make templates and newsletters or create a legal document in three easy steps.” Or, a software package you purchased isn’t what you expected it to be, so you never use it. Uninstall old or barely used programs on a consistent basis and remove those that say “rarely used.” This will free up space on your laptop or PC. Never delete a program that may be required to operate your computer. If you don’t know what a program does, Google is your friend.
Being guilty of one of these nine bad habits that may be killing your computer are easily changed by setting up a computer management plan. Following these steps and obtaining the advice of IT professionals will save you time and keep your laptop or PC safe.
April 12th, 2013
Posted by T. J. Bloom, COO of MDL Technology, LLC
Google Fiber is Heading to Austin
MDL Technology, LLC, a Kansas City technology and managed service company, is excited to share Google Fiber’s latest news about Austin. According to a brief post on the Google Fiber website, the next stop is Austin, Texas.
Time Business & Money reports, Google is bringing Google Fiber, the superfast, 1-gigabit Internet-and-TV service network, to Austin.
America’s weirdest city is about to get wired.
Google Fiber is heading to Austin, according to multiple reports. If true, Austin, home of the South by Southwest festival, will become the largest city to receive Google’s superfast, 1-gigabit Internet-and-TV service after Google Fiber’s initial launch in Kansas City, Mo., last year. In a tantalizing clue, Google Fiber’s news website briefly flashed a message over the weekend reading: “Google Fiber’s Next Stop: Austin, Texas.” Google may have inadvertently managed to scoop its own announcement, because the message was quickly removed.
“It’s no longer a question,” Austin-based blogger Stacey Higginbotham, a senior writer for GigaOm, wrote on Saturday. “Google is bringing its Google Fiber network to Austin. I’ve confirmed it with sources, and the brief publication of a post in the middle of the night by Google should assume anyone else’s doubts.”
Google Fiber’s arrival in Austin would be the clearest signal yet that the tech giant is serious about becoming an Internet-service provider — and isn’t merely out to shame existing broadband giants with its lightning-fast service. In Austin, Google Fiber would compete with the nation’s second largest cable company, Time Warner Cable, which dominates the Austin market. (TIME parent Time Warner spun off the cable giant in 2009.) Last month, Google announced that it is expanding the service to the Kansas City suburb of Olathe.
April 5th, 2013
Posted By Mark Dryer, President of MDL Technology, LLC
MDL Technology, LLC, a Kansas City technology and managed service company, is excited to share KCnext’s announcement regarding the Spring IT networking event Thursday, May 16, 2013 from 5:30 – 8 p.m. at Twenty Eight Event Space (1300 West 28th Street, KCMO).
See you there!
March 28th, 2013
By: T.J. Bloom, COO of MDL Technology
IT disasters, like mismanaging the data centers and losing control over critical IT assets, can be avoided with proper planning. Many tech professionals also forget there is a human element to IT problems.
Neil McAllister, writer for CIO, covers one particular problem: Mismanaging the Data Centers. “Careless provisioning can easily lead an admin to re-configure the wrong server or reformat the wrong volume,” writes McAllister. “So keep things tidy (and always double-check your log-ins).”
“InfoWorld — Back in 2004, InfoWorld’s then-CTO Chad Dickerson polled the best and brightest to reveal 20 IT mistakes that were surefire recipes for cost overruns, missed deadlines, and in some cases, lost jobs.
A lot has changed in the past four years, but one thing hasn’t: IT’s capacity to fall prey to misguided practices, given the complexity of the responsibilities involved. So in the spirit of “forewarned is forearmed,” we bring you 20 brand-new mistakes that today’s IT managers would do well to avoid. As before, the names have been changed to protect the guilty, but the lessons learned are plain to see.”
March 21st, 2013
By: T.J. Bloom, COO of MDL Technology
A CEO has many other issues on his or her mind, like leading a successful organization, that rank higher on the priority list than IT security. It’s easy to push security to the backburner, but ignoring it completely can create damage and end up costing more in the long run.
In the eBook What Every CEO Should Know about IT Security, Pat Clawson, CEO of Lumension, goes into detail of the risks involved in ignoring security and the steps a CEO should take to insure security.
“You are vulnerable to attack because everyone is vulnerable to attack,” writes Clawson. “What I offer you now is a CEO-to-CEO explanation about why you need to care about IT security and how to use your leadership role to build a culture of security within your organization.”
“What could be more important to any business than data? Whether it’s customer information or stores of intellectual property, it’s the lifeblood of any organization. Unfortunately though, most CEOs aren’t aware they need to make it a priority.
In fact, according to our 2011 State of the Endpoint Survey conducted by the Ponemon Institute, nearly half of responding technology decision-makers said they couldn’t solve their security problems because it just didn’t interest their CEO enough.”
Read the ebook here.