Posts Tagged ‘entrepreneur magazine’
10 Cool Things Virtualization Lets You Do
Tuesday, March 1st, 2011
Posted By: Mark Dryer, president of MDL Technology, LLC
A recent article from CIO magazine, written by Keir Thomas, discusses the benefits of virtualization for businesses and individuals. According to the article virtualization refers to running two or more operating systems one one physical PC. Either the multiple operating systems run side-by-side, with a separate piece of software called a hypervisor used to manage them, or one operating system runs the other operating systems within program windows. The former is usually limited to servers, with the latter finding common use on desktop computers.
Here are 10 things you can do with virtualization that might convince you that it’s worth giving it a try, if you haven’t already-
1. Run Old Apps
Got an application that won’t play nice in Windows 7 or Vista, but works fine in XP or an even earlier version of Windows, like Me? Just grab an old Windows CD and install it within a virtual machine (VM). Then install your app.
VMware Player features Unity mode, which allows applications running in the virtual machine to appear as if they’re running natively on the host computer. They have their own taskbar buttons and their own program windows, making for a seamless experience. For this to work, however, you’ll need to install the VMware Tools program on the virtualized operating system. You’re usually prompted to do this after installation of the OS has finished.
2. Access Virus-Infected Data
Ever been sent a file that your antivirus program has flagged, but which contains important data you just have to view? Most virtualization software includes snapshot functionality, which means you can create a “saved state” of the virtual OS and its entire hard disk. It’s a little like travelling back in time.
You could create a snapshot in the virtual machine, open the infected file within the VM to access the data and, if the virus causes chaos, simply click to restore the VM snapshot. Hey presto–a clean virtualized computer.
3. Browse in Complete Safely
Why not install Windows on VMware Player, then install Firefox, and run it in Unity mode so it appears to run natively on the host computer?
Essentially Firefox will be running in what’s known as a sandbox, meaning that should it (or one of its plugins) get hacked while you’re online, there’ll be no absolutely no risk to your actual operating system. You could create a snapshot once everything’s been configured in the virtual machine in order to get things back up and running quickly, should anything go wrong.
4. Test Software, Upgrades, or New Configurations
The virus testing technique above isn’t limited to malware. You could use your virtual computer to test new software, updates, or even new configurations of software before you roll them out for real on your main OS.
Some server administrators use virtualization to create a copy of an existing installation of an operating system, plus its data, which they then run virtualized and play with to see if configuration changes or updates will cause any harm. If you manage workstation computers and want to be sure a Windows update is OK before rolling it out, you could do the same thing–just test it in a virtualized machine first.
5. Run Linux on Top of Windows (or vice-versa)
Want to give Linux a try but can’t face repartitioning your computer’s hard disk? Provided that it would ordinarily install on your computer, you can run just about any operating system inside a virtual machine, including most Linux distros.
Linux and Mac users have been using virtualization for years to run Windows on top of their chosen OS in this way.
If you run a Linux machine for mail or Web services, as examples, having a desktop version of Linux for occasional use will also make it easier to communicate with the server. There’s no need to install PuTTY on Windowsto communicate via secure shell (SSH), for example, because Linux has that kind of thing built-in.
Put Cloud CRM to Work
Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011
Posted By: Mark Dryer, president of MDL Technology, LLC
In every industry customer relationships are extremely important. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software makes it easy for business owners to stay in touch with clients. A recent article from www.pcworld.com, written by James A. Martin, explains that the most compelling CRM products live in the cloud. The article states how to select the right online CRM tools for a business, and how to put them to work.
Here are some of the tips-
Salesforce.com has become the recognized leader among cloud CRM systems.By now, most Web-savvy small-business owners have at least heard of Salesforce.com. Founded in 1999, the company was a pioneer in offering a CRM system in the cloud for small and midsize businesses; and today it is the recognized leader among cloud CRM systems. Because plenty of third-party cloud services integrate with Salesforce.com, users have access to more options and features. And Salesforce.com offers tools for businesses of all sizes. For example, the Salesforce Contact Manager service costs just $5 per month per user.
But Salesforce.com is by no means the only cloud CRM tool for small businesses. In fact, the market is bursting with interesting choices. Some are free or extremely inexpensive. Others, so-called ‘social CRM’ tools, add social media components, making it easier to follow your customers’ activities, interests and needs online. And a few CRM systems now offer mobile versions, so you can access customer data on the go.
(For more about the pros and cons of cloud computing in general, read “Should You Move Your Small Business to the Cloud?”)
Free and Inexpensive Cloud CRM Systems
If you’ve never tried a CRM system before, your best bet is begin by experimenting with a free or low-cost cloud tool, says James E. Gaskin, a small-business technology consultant. “Play around with them for a while to find out what you like and don’t like. Then, when you’re ready, you can start adding more users and data to the system or switch to another one, if the free tool doesn’t meet your needs.”
Among the free or low-cost cloud CRM services available are these:
• Zoho CRM offers many CRM features, and it integrates with the Zoho suite of cloud applications, including e-mail and Web conferencing apps. Like most Zoho apps, Zoho CRM is free–albeit in a limited version, and for no more than three users. After that, the service costs a minimum of $12 per user per month.
• Free CRM is, no surprise, a free cloud CRM tool that supports up to five users and up to 10MB of storage (which isn’t a huge amount). Named one of PCWorld’s 15 best free services for businesses a few years back, Free CRM takes some time to set up and learn, but it offers straightforward tracking of prospects, sales forecasting, and other features. The Professional Editions ($15 per user per month and up) provide live support, unlimited data storage, and other features.
• SugarCRM and vTiger CRM are free, open-source CRM applications that include some cloud components. Both have active development communities, meaning that third parties can add functionality and flexibility to the tools. SugarCRM is available in Professional ($360) and Enterprise ($600) editions with enhanced feature sets.
Nine Social CRM Tips for 2011
Tuesday, February 15th, 2011
Posted By: Mark Dryer, president of MDL Technology, LLC
The start of 2011 is the perfect time to review how your company can put into effect a social CRM strategy. A social CRM strategy can allow a company to monitor their brand and have an active voice in online conversations regarding a certain industry. I would like to share an article from http://www.tmcnet.com, written by Rich Tehrani, that further explains how to implement or improve a social CRM strategy.
To improve your social CRM strategy for 2011 consider focusing on/doing the following:
Meet: Have regular social networking meetings to keep your marketing, product management, branding and executive teams to keep them on the same page.
Monitor: Be sure you are on top of relevant keywords via hashtags and keyword search on social networking sites as well as search engine alerts. Don’t forget to focus on your competitors’ keywords as well to see what the world is saying and if you can potentially leverage these comments as a competitive differentiator. Go to hashtag.org to learn more.
Measure: Is your social networking strategy working? Are you being mentioned more or less as time goes on and is the chatter positive or negative? Where is it trending? Why?
React: What is being said about your company and what are you saying in return? Was a customer unhappy with an experience in your retail store? If so, what are you doing about it? Did you send the angry customer a gift certificate and apologize? Furthermore, did you address what actions you have taken as a result? For example, did you change your return policy? Did you decide to keep the store open longer during the holidays, etc?
Participate: Be proactive. Share tips, coupons, news and information which could be of interest to your community.
Network: You will find there are people who love you and those who hate you online. Encourage those who love you with direct messages and engage with those who hate you. It is far more difficult to trash a company online if you receive regular and personalized communications from the entity you love to flame.
Integrate: Get social networking into the arteries of the organization. Determine transparency guidelines and be sure everyone knows how to engage with existing and potential customers.
Dialogue: Encourage reaction. Try polls and asking questions to get your community to engage with you and your brand.
Don’t Over Promote: Find a balance between objectively educating and engaging with your market without being a 24×7 salesperson. This is a crucial point.
CRM Tips: Delete the Delete Privilege
Monday, February 7th, 2011
Posted by: Mark Dryer, president of MDL Technology, LLC
In a recent article from CIO Magazine, written by David Taber, he reviews Customer Relationship Management (CRM) features and benefits. Taber gives the reader tips about CRM software and how to create and delete leads, accounts and opportunities.
CRM systems are designed to be user friendly, not imposing undue security in the interest of usability and fast adoption. CRM users are business people who aren’t likely to put up with sound arguments about the need for data hygiene. After a few months of disappearing data and incomplete reports, they’re more likely to listen…but not at the beginning.
So for most CRM vendors, the default settings for access control, feature availability, and field-level C/R/U/D privileges are “wide open.” It doesn’t take the Sales and Marketing types too long to figure out why they need to limit visibility of the opportunity pipeline or the lead queues, and they’ll soon be asking to tighten up that level of data visibility. But they typically want far more privileges than is really good for system health.
As I wrote previously, a classic symptom of this is an excessive number of people with System Administrator privileges. Just say no. Instead, use delegated administration, field sharing controls, sales teams, or other advanced CRM features to give power users the access they need.
In this article, I’m going to dig into some more subtle access control issues, particularly around creating and deleting records.
Creating and Deleting Opportunities
The opportunity pipeline is almost the exclusive domain of the sales organization. So it stands to reason that they should be able to create opportunities at will. (Although, I’ll argue that in a complex sales organization, the individual rep shouldn’t be doing even that — see chapter 9 of my book for more on this).
Once an opportunity has been created, though, it really should never be deleted. The rep will want to, for emotional reasons. But that’s the wrong thing to do: whether the opportunity is dead, has gone into no-action purgatory, or was completely unqualified (read: make-believe) in the first place, you’ll never be able to improve your sales process if you delete these opportunities. Deleting opportunities not only masks the truth, it makes it un-knowable.
Tips to Enhance IT Revenue
Tuesday, February 1st, 2011
By: T.J. Bloom, COO of MDL Technology, LLC
IT serves the function of providing support to a company by making it more efficient.
Focusing on things like customer relations, productive employees, faster decisions and automating some business processes can make a big difference in revenue growth in any company.
For example, how much does losing a single customer cost your company? Implementing a CRM system can lower the risk of a customer following through the cracks. Automated notifications, tracking of customer issues or complaints and reporting of strong and weak relationships can help generate a company more revenue.
More productive employees might mean taking some of the monotonous tasks off an employee’s plate and finding a solution that fits the need for developing a solution that does.
Utilizing the tools you have to their fullest potential is one of the most overlooked and least expensive solution to a lot of businesses. Companies can find a lot of value in software packages that they already own by just taking a closer look or the time to fully understand them. Software companies pack so many things into one product that it is easy to focus only on your immediate need from that product.
MDL Technology, LLC Featured On Enterprisefeatures.com by Paul Rudo
Friday, January 28th, 2011
Thank you to Paul Rudo for publishing the interview with MDL Technology, LLC regarding 7 tips to build your server room with future growth in mind.
7 Tips To Build Your Server Room With Future Growth In Mind
Mark Dryer has been the founding president of MDL Technology since 2003. Dryer has been an IT professional for 13 years and has a number of certifications including a Bachelor of Science in Accounting, MCSE, CNE, CNA, MCP, MCDBA, MS Dynamics Installation Specialist, VSP, VTSP and is currently working toward his VCP.
MDL Technology, LLC is a Kansas City IT company that specializes in worry-free computer support by providing solutions for around-the-clock network monitoring, hosting, data recovery, off site backup security and much more. MDL Technology, LLC is dedicated to helping businesses place time back on their side with quick and easy IT solutions.
Recently, I had a chance to interview Mark about his thoughts on planning a server room. Here’s what he had to say:
What are some of the most important things that a company should think about when designing and building a new server room?
One important factor to evaluate when designing and building a server room is the location.
If possible, build the datacenter in a location that is on two different power grids. This way, if one power grid goes out, the datacenter is not completely in jeopardy. This is a simple idea that can save a datacenter from many potential setbacks.
What should a company take into account when planning for future growth?
Some of the most important areas to consider when planning for future growth are space, power, cooling and bandwidth requirements.
How will they benefit from space, cooling, power and bandwidth requirements planning?
- Space – Plan for a space that can be easily secured and monitored. Make sure that the space will allow for future growth as a company. This should include room for cable management ladders, equipment and future rack space. Many people buy or build a new building, and the last thing on their mind is where the IT guys will put their equipment. Planning out space in a datacenter environment will save time and money in the long run. It will prevent a company from remodeling the space later and other departments from losing space out of the offices to the datacenter.
- Power – Make sure that the datacenter has enough power to double or triple over the next few years. When building a data center try to have more outlets in the server. Take into consideration the capacity of the service to the building, backup generators and Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPS’s).
- Cooling – Plan for the future with a scalable cooling system. A cooling system should be easily accessed in order to add more capacity and redundancy if required. Plan for ways to make the cooling more efficient, this will save money.
- Bandwidth – Bandwidth can be expensive and a point of failure for a datacenter. Make sure that there are multiple Internet service provider (ISP) options available. Usually, the more providers available, the less the service will cost. A company can provide redundancy if there are multiple providers at a datacenter location.
Web Host Industry Review Announces Wikileaks Impact on Web Hosting
Tuesday, January 18th, 2011
Posted By: Mark Dryer, president of MDL Technology, LLC
Here is an article from the Web Host Industry Review, written by Liam Eagle, about the impact WikiLeaks has on Web hosting.
(WEB HOST INDUSTRY REVIEW) — One of the interesting sort of incidental outcomes of the intense scrutiny around WikiLeaks,since the site released the package of secret US diplomatic communications known as cables last Sunday, has been the fact that web hosting, along with a list of other Internet services that includes DNS and online payment processing, has made its way squarely into the public eye more so than with any other big story in recent memory.
Certainly, there are instances where a Rackspace outage becomes a popular topic on Twitter, or the shut-down of a controversial website makes the local news. And Go Daddy’s Super Bowl ads tend to shine the spotlight on web hosting, albeit briefly. But WikiLeaks, and its relationships with its Internet service providers has been big, big international news for almost two weeks.
Last week, it was major news that Amazon had removed the site from its cloud computing service. In the time since, the DNS provider EveryDNS, PayPal, Mastercard and Visa have all cut off their services to the site.
In each case, the company cited a violation of its acceptable use policy or terms of service as the reason for cutting off the site. But each case also carried at least the suggestion of a political decision – either outright opposition to WikiLeaks itself or bending to the pressure of the US government. The Amazon move, in particular, had political overtones, making news mostly due to an announcement issued by US senator Joe Lieberman, chair of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.
With any hosting dispute that is (rightly or wrongly) deemed an issue of free speech, the opposition, at least online, will be loud, vocal and vehement. But the opposition in this case has gone a step beyond that. The 4Chan-based user base, collectively known as “Anonymous” seems to be at the helm of “Operation: Payback,” a project that seems intended to shut down sites it claims “bowed to government pressure,” through denial-of-service attacks and other assorted acts of hacking. The name is reportedly the same used in attacks on the RIAA and MPAA, in response to their anti-piracy efforts.
Hosting providers are in a difficult spot. On the one hand, a service provider doesn’t want to go to bat for a site that is blatantly flaunting the law. On the other, many service providers don’t want to be (or be seen as) an instrument for agencies and organizations that want to cut off the operations of websites they consider threatening or objectionable, without due process.
The difficult part is that while there are black-and-white examples of good (a dissident blog communicating from Iran during last year’s contested election, maybe) and bad (a site selling counterfeit designer purses, for instance), there is a much larger grey area, occupied by sites like The Pirate Bay, and even WikiLeaks.
Compounding the problem is what seems to be a general lack of clarity about how, exactly, the material released by WikiLeaks is illegal or, as has also been suggested, treasonous.
This is precisely why hosts have to have carefully worded policies around the types of content they are willing to host, and around the process they take in responding to complaints about content on their networks, whether from the RIAA, the FBI or Joe Lieberman.
New York Times reveals the Top 10 Ways to Get the Most Out of your Technology
Tuesday, January 4th, 2011
Posted By: Mark Dryer, president of MDL Technology, LLC
A recent New York Times article, written by Sam Grobart, provides the top 10 ways to get the most out of your technology.
10 Ways to Get the Most Out of your Technology
Your gadgets and computers, your software and sites — they are not working as well as they should. You need to make some tweaks.
But the tech industry has given you the impression that making adjustments is difficult and time-consuming. It is not.
And so below are 10 things to do to improve your technological life. They are easy and (mostly) free. Altogether, they should take about two hours; one involves calling your cable or phone company, so that figure is elastic. If you do them, those two hours will pay off handsomely in both increased free time and diminished anxiety and frustration. You can do it.
GET A SMARTPHONE Why: Because having immediate access to your e-mail, photos, calendars and address books, not to mention vast swaths of the Internet, makes life a little easier.
How: This does not have to be complicated. Upgrade your phone with your existing carrier; later, when you are an advanced beginner, you can start weighing the pluses and minuses of your carrier versus another. Using AT&T? Get a refurbished iPhone 3GS for $29. Verizon? Depending on what’s announced next week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, get its version of the iPhone, or a refurbished Droid Incredible for $100. Sprint? Either the LG Optimus S or the Samsung Transform are decent Android phones that cost $50. T-Mobile users can get the free LG Optimus T.
STOP USING INTERNET EXPLORER Why: Because, while the latest version has some real improvements, Internet Explorer is large, bloated with features and an example of old-style Microsoft excess.
How: Switch to either Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome. Both are first-rate, speedy browsers, and both are free. It remains a tight race between the two, but Chrome has had the lead lately in features and performance. Both browsers include useful things like bookmark syncing. That means that your bookmarks folder will be the same on every computer using Chrome or Firefox, and will update if you change anything.
UPLOAD YOUR PHOTOS TO THE CLOUD Why: Because you’ll be really sorry if an errant cup of coffee makes its way onto your PC, wiping away years of photographic memories. Creating copies of your digital photos on an online service is a painless way to ensure they’ll be around no matter what happens to your PC. It is also an easy way to share the photos with friends and family.
How: There are many good, free choices. To keep things simple, use Picasa, Google’s service. After your initial upload — which may take a while, so set it up before you go to sleep — you will have a full backup of your photo library. And by inviting people to view it, privately, with passwords, you will not have to e-mail photos anymore. Anytime you have new pictures, upload them to Picasa, send a message to your subscribers, and they can view your gallery at their leisure.
GET MUSIC OFF YOUR COMPUTER Why: Because music bought digitally wants to be freed, not imprisoned in your portable player or laptop. It wants to be sent around the home, filling rooms like good old-fashioned hi-fi.
How: Using iTunes for your digital music? Buy Apple’s Airport Express for $99 and connect it to your stereo. When you play music on your computer, you can stream it to the Express and, therefore, your stereo’s speakers. Have an iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad? Download Apple’s free Remote app and you will be able to control your music from anywhere in the house.
BACK UP YOUR DATA Why: Because photos are not the only important things on your computer. With online backup services, you do not have to buy any equipment; you just install software, which sits on secure servers and runs in the background, regularly updating a mirror image of all your files while you spend time on more important things, like confirming that Ben Gazzara really was the bad guy in “Road House” (he was).
How: Go to sosonlinebackup.com. Pay $80 a year. Install the software. Sleep easy.
SET UP A FREE FILE-SHARING SERVICE Why: Because while e-mailing yourself files is a perfectly decent workaround, there are easier, more elegant ways to move files around — and they do not cost anything, either.
How: Go to dropbox.com and set up a free account. You will then get an icon that sits on your desktop. Drag and drop files onto that icon, and they are immediately copied to the cloud. The free account gives you up to two gigabytes of disk space; 50- and 100-gigabyte are also available, but they cost $10 or $20 a month.
Set up your account on all your other computers, and they all have the access to the same files. You can set up shared, private and public folders, and apps for iPhone, iPad, BlackBerry and Android mean you can gain access to shared files from anywhere.
GET FREE ANTIVIRUS SOFTWARE Why: Because attacks on unwitting users are more widespread and tactics are growing more advanced.
How: Windows users should download Avast Free Antivirus. Mac users can downloadiAntiVirus Free Edition. Both applications will provide a basic level of security against a variety of so-called malware. And they cost zero.
GET A BETTER DEAL FROM YOUR CABLE, PHONE AND INTERNET PROVIDER Why: Because it does not take much to get them to give you free (or cheaper) services. These companies are generally indifferent to customer needs, but they are quick to cough up discounts — if you ask.
How: Just call and ask — they will probably give you something. Other tactics: Measure your Internet speed, using dslreports.com/speedtest; if it is less than what you are paying for, ask for a free upgrade. Or ask to speak to the cancellation department. That usually scares them.
BUY A LOT OF CHARGING CABLES Why: Because you should never have a gadget’s battery die on you, and they are cheap. Smartphone user? Have a charging cable at the office, one in the car, and a couple at home. Laptops? Have enough chargers in the house, so you are not tethered to the den when the power runs low.
How: eBay. Search for what you need with terms like “original” or “oem” (original equipment manufacturer). You will often see accessories for as little as one-tenth their normal retail price. Buy them by the gross.
CALIBRATE YOUR HDTV Why: Because that awesome 1080p plasma or LCD TV you bought has factory settings for color, brightness, contrast and so forth that are likely to be out of whack. They need to be adjusted.
How: Order Spears and Munsil High Definition Benchmark: Blu-ray Edition, a DVD, for $25. Its regimen of tests and patterns will help you adjust your TV’s settings to more natural levels. After you use it, you may want to fine-tune the TV some more, but you can do so knowing you are getting the most out of your display.
Business owners choose online or local data backups: Cloud Questions
Wednesday, December 29th, 2010
Posted By: T.J. Bloom, MDL Technology, LLC
In a new article by Entrepreneur.com regarding data backup storage, two entrepreneurs review data backup security. One business owner prefers cloud computing, while the other feels good about backing up to a local hard drive. Who is right? That is what most business owners want to know. This is all about comfort, reliability and new technology.
A Question of Cloud Security
Whether to take data storage online or stay local depends on your risk tolerance. How two entrepreneurs decided.
Can’t Live With It
Eric Barton, owner, FastEasySuccess marketing, an Internet marketing business, Milwaukee
Eric Barton is often one of the first to know about his clients’ hottest business plans, marketing secrets and product launches. And he wants to keep it that way.
That’s why the specialist in online marketing strategies decided to keep data backup on the premises of his company, FastEasySuccess Marketing.
Can’t Live Without It
Shareef Defrawi, owner, Zizinya Web Solutions, a website and search engine optimization firm, Houston
Shareef Defrawi is understandably cautious about protecting his company’s work, because 99 percent of it is computer-based.
“We’ve got everything from entire websites and historical marketing data to more sensitive information like client log-ins and credit card information stored on our PCs,” he says.
In 2009, Defrawi thought that his business had plenty of backup protection to keep the files he needed ready to restore in case of a hard-drive meltdown. For years before that, he’d made sure that the company backed up locally to external hard drives every day. But when a computer virus hit his business, it not only knocked out his computers’ data, it also struck those external drives.
Read More: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/217771