Staying Modern with Technology

Standard

13248-a-young-businessman-holding-a-cell-phone-pv

Technology is everywhere today: in your car, pocket, on your wrist, running your business, etc.  It is always advancing to become faster, more efficient, and cheaper.  Inevitability, these things  become obsolete and raises the question of  when or if you should upgrade.  When it comes to IT infrastructure for your business, Everon recommends a 3-5 year life-cycle.  This is especially important for the core components that drive your business such as servers, network equipment (like firewalls), and workstations.

From time to time, we run across a business that is using a 5-10 year old servers, workstations, or network equipment.  The mentality of, “if it’s not broke, why fix it?” sometimes comes into play.  When equipment that is 5+ years old does break, it is out of support/warranty meaning that you will be shelling out more money then you normally would for an emergency solution while losing money paying idle employees or affecting services that customers pay you for.  It’s a huge gamble that shouldn’t be taken lightly, which is why proactive budgeting and replacement should be done.  While most people don’t replace equipment at the 3 year mark, it’s a good trigger to plan ahead for action in year 4 or 5 which is why I like the 3-5 year lifecycle rule of thumb.

If you’re a small business owner or decision maker for one,  do you have any IT infrastructure older than 5 years?  If you don’t have a replacement plan in place, why not?  Now with that, think about how often you replace your cell phone?  Most people seem to do this every 2-3 years at most.  It’s rare you see a flip phone nowadays so why would you want the technology that is critical to your business take the back seat?

Everon recommends periodic reviews on your equipment to ensure a warranty is in place or to catch any aging equipment that slipped through.  If you need any assistance, Everon can help put together a technology assessment to see where you infrastructure stands and where it should be going.  Give us a call today!  888-244-1748 www.everonit.com

New online diagram service lets you easily create and share diagrams and charts

Standard

One of the best business tools around is the simple diagram or chart – nothing makes it easier to communicate a new process, structure or idea than a simple picture.

But creating those diagrams or charts isn’t so easy.  I’ve always found the complexity and cost of Microsoft Visio overwhelming.  I know that Visio has a lot of fans – those people that live and breathe it all day long because their job is to create one diagram after another – but for those of us that only need to create a diagram every once in a while, Visio is a little much.

A new online service called Gliffy makes creating and sharing diagrams easy.

Gliffy is 100% online, so it’s easy for anyone to access the service to create, share, and collaborate on diagrams – no matter what operating system they are working from. My first thought when finding the service was that it surely must be difficult to create all of the details of a good diagram using a web browser, but Gliffy makes the process simple and intuitive for even a total rookie – something I feel Visio has never accomplished.

This quick video shows you just how easy it is to create a new diagram:

The best way to see the power of Gliffy is to jump in and give it a try yourself. Gliffy is free to use for up to 5 diagrams, and inexpensive to purchase access to after that – give it a shot here.

New service lets you share mockup edits of your website

Standard
Bolt_screenshot

 

Have you ever thought “that website would be better if it had this or that…”?

 

Maybe you’d like to try some rearranging or a new design on a web page, but perhaps you don’t know HTML or don’t have admin access to your website?  Small businesses are often without full-time web design help, after all.

 

A cool new service called BO.LT lets you make changes to (“remix”)  a copy of a site and share your changes with friends and colleagues, even if you don’t know HTML or don’t have access to the website you’d like to change.

 

BO.LT calls itself a “Page Sharing Service”.  Founded and run by Jamie and Matthew Roche, the company is in very early stages but seems to be generating some quick buzz.  Jamie and Matthew have a very successful track record in technology businesses, and hope to have another hit with Bolt.

 

Perhaps the best way to understand the concept is to watch a video of someone making changes to a page in real time:

 

 

I can see a lot of fun uses for BO.LT – it will be interesting to see how it turns into a real business as well.

 

Mike

My technology-related predictions for 2009

Standard

New President, crazy economy…there are a lot of changes in store for small businesses in 2009. Well, there are a lot of changes coming on the technology front as well, and they will have a big impact on small businesses in every industry.

Not all of the changes are earth-shattering of course, but some of them actually are. So without further ado, here are my big technology-related predictions that will impact your business in 2009:

1. Small businesses will no longer buy technology, or pay for technology support!

That may seem to be a surprising prediction coming from the CEO of an IT management and support company, but I believe it’s true and it’s the best thing that can happen to your business and mine.

You see, I’m a big believer that nobody really wants to buy technology, and they absolutely don’t want to buy technology support. What they do want to buy are the benefits that technology can provide. Everon has always been focused on helping small businesses realize those benefits through better technology management and support.

But in the future, I don’t think that buying the technology or support will be the way technology is consumed. Instead, I believe that businesses will purchase what we call “technology as a service” – a suite of hardware, software, and services that is all bundled together to deliver a sought after benefit.

The model I’m referring to is very much like that of Salesforce.com. With Salesforce, you aren’t buying software, hardware, or support – you are buying the ability to more effectively manage your sales process through the use of web-based tools and processes. It’s simple, straight forward, and has a nice ROI, which is why Salesforce has grown so quickly.

In the coming months, Everon will offer a similar value proposition to our clients, delivering the benefits of technology without the ownership and support hassles associated with traditional hardware and software purchases. Stay tuned!

2. Apple and Google will make serious inroads into the small business office.

In the last six months, I’ve met more business people that own an Apple computer than I’ve met in the previous ten years. And I’m not talking about designers, artists, architects, or professors – I’m talking about business people with boring, normal jobs like finance, accounting, law, etc.! This is a major shift we’re talking about here – Apple has just become too cool for us working stiffs to ignore!

At the same time, Google has penetrated just about every area of my work life. It’s truly amazing – I work in some sort of Google tool – Google Docs, Google Apps, Google Sites, Google Search, Google AdWords – pretty much all day long. I imagine a lot of you reading this do as well. If you don’t, you soon will.

3. We will all start doing pretty much everything from “The Cloud”.

“The Cloud” means different things to different people, but what I’m suggesting here is that almost everything you use in terms of applications, technology, services, etc. are going to be delivered over the internet. This is a natural extension of Prediction #1 and the Google portion of Prediction #2.

If you look at my computer at any random time during the workweek at this point, you will find that I have Outlook open and 10-15 internet browser windows. Everything I do is over the web. This will become more true by leaps and bounds in the next year.

Will I be right?

We’ll check in this time in 2009 and see how I did.

Either way, I wish all of you the best of luck in 2009! The economy is tough, and there is a lot of change happening, but I’m a firm believer that times like this provide great opportunity if we just keep a sharp look out for it!

Mike Cooch
CEO
Everon Technology Services

Lower Your Company’s Chances of Instant Messenger Security Breaches

Standard

Today, many companies value instant messenger as a useful business tool; it is a great means for quick response communication, both internally and externally. Instant messenger’s high availability – stretching from desktops to cell phones – allows people to stay in touch from just about anywhere. Like all forms of internet communication, instant messaging has its risks. Instant messenger programs have a tendency to be unsecured and unmonitored, potentially leaving your messages unknowingly accessible to the wrong people.

Meet the common instant messenger security threats: Worms, Spim, and Trojan horses

Worms – IM can spread worms just as email can. Worms quickly infiltrate you network and begin sending copies of it to other networks. They are tricky; worms can do all of this without any user intervention. Worms consume bandwidth and corrupt files – two of the many reasons to never accept instant messages from people you do not know.

Spim – Spim is to IM as Spam is to email. Spimmers disguise themselves are regular IM users and make it their business to breach the security of IM tools. Beware, spimmers can be more of a nuisance to you, as they often open channels to various types of security breaches.

Trojan Horses – Trojan Horses allow an outsider to have full file access to a computer. Many hackers use classic “Backdoor Trojans” to access computer information (IP addresses, open ports, etc.) Don’t click on hyperlinks unless you are certain about where they are going to take you – seemingly harmless links such as “click here and take my survey” often end up taking a hacker right into your network!

What is a conscious small business to do?

Create clear corporate policies for your employees

Your workers can’t chat safely if they don’t really know how to, so make sure this is not the case. Set ground rules in place to minimize the chances of issues surfacing, such as: never store IM passwords on computer, don’t accept IMs from unknown sources, and always being cautious when transferring files, for example.

Secure Instant Message Logs

Most IM programs these days automatically store IM conversations. Of course, it is safest to not store them to begin with, but storing them may be unavoidable for many companies due to business reasons. If this is the case, make sure you are protecting your logs from hackers as best as possible. Always store them behind a company firewall.

Store messages in code

If you must store messages, encrypting them is a must. If by some chance a hacker does get in, at least you have made their getting their hands on what they hope to find much more difficult. You will create a time consuming, and hopefully impossible feat for the criminal.

Consider having a private Instant Messaging server

While following the rest of this advice may keep your data and conversations safe, you may want to consider encrypting messages and using your own IM server for heightened security.

No one wants their private corporate information, plans, or even everyday conversation to be shared with outsiders. Make sure your company is taking the proper measures to best assure this does not happen. For more information on this subject, please contact the folks at Everon Technology Services, LLC.