Archive for the ‘Technology Trends’ Category

Seminary Sees Improvement to Network Issues after Upgrade

Posted on: July 5th, 2017 by Jessica Diehl No Comments

“We partnered with The Network Team to overhaul our network infrastructure at our main campus. It was a decision we have not once regretted,” said Cliff Singletary, IT Manager of Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary after The Network Team helped fix network issues.

The Problem

Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary is a four-campus seminary with just over 2000 students.  The professors at the seminary were the driving force for a recent network infrastructure upgrade. They wanted to modernize how they taught class, including having other students call in, or having classes across multiple campuses.

When The Network Team initially approached Singletary, he mentioned wireless network issues as a possible pain point and potential for upgrade. However, when TNT engineers looked deeper, they discovered that it was the wired network that was the culprit to blame for the pain the users at Gordon-Conwell were experiencing. Additionally, even if Gordon-Conwell’s wireless network was upgraded, the outdated wired network would not be able to suitably support it.

“We wanted our network to be something we did not think about, opening opportunities that were not available beforehand,” said Singletary.

The Solution

Gordon Conwell does not have a large IT staff, and therefore needed a system that does not require a lot of management and administration.  The Network Team recommended a Cisco network with 6800 Instant Access infrastructure.  With the 6800 Instant Access infrastructure, the primary configuration takes place at the core of the network, meaning administrators don’t have to touch all the individual access switches when configuring or updating.

Singletary notes that once the new network infrastructure upgrade was implemented, network speed and access increased, and the IT department has been able to support new initiatives.  “Since implementing the Cisco solution for our entire network, we are no longer concerned with our infrastructure holding us back. We are not limited in the possibilities we can pursue.”

TNT is now working with Gordon Conwell on moving entire systems to the cloud.  According to Singletary, it’s a necessity.

“In today’s rapidly changing technology landscape, the ability to be agile and quickly adapt is essential to not only excelling, but in surviving.  This type of agility presupposes a rock-solid infrastructure, and Cisco has been the cornerstone of that solution for us.”

 

Managed IT Services Relieve Frustrations at Monroe, NC Non-Profit

Posted on: April 6th, 2017 by Jessica Diehl No Comments

“The best way to explain TNT and their work is that they exceed expectations…in ability, intelligence, dedication, customer care, responsiveness, etc.” Ashely Lantz, Turning Point Executive Director of TNT's managed IT services

Turning Point is a non-profit based in Monroe, NC that aims to end domestic and sexual assault.  Executive director Ashley Lantz approached The Network Team after receiving less than ideal experience with the current IT provider.  This included frequent disruptions in service that adversely affected the ability of employees to do their jobs effectively. The current managed IT services provider was not meeting expectations with regards to responsiveness and on-site support.

The Network Team performed a migration project that enabled Turning Point’s technology environment to be better equipped in serving its business needs. This included moving Turning Point’s server from their old MSP’s cloud to on-premises, ensuring better up-time availability and simplifying the setup, as well as migrating Turning Point’s e-mail services to the Microsoft Office 365 cloud. TNT also installed Cisco Meraki access points, switching, and a firewall for better WiFi coverage, faster connection speeds, and more reliable security. Referencing the project, Lantz noted that

“TNT has provided the BEST customer service and dedication to our needs that I have ever had. They have consistently exceeded my expectations in response time and grit to get the transition completed successfully. Any issues that have occurred have been corrected. The engineers worked through the night to have us ready to work the next day.”

TNT will continue to proactively manage the IT environment of Turning Point, providing help desk support via e-mail, phone, ticketing system, chat and on-site support.  TNT will also proactively monitor the server, switches, firewall and wireless access points, and maintain continuous IT security.

“I have nothing but great things to say about our transition from our old IT provider to The Network Team (TNT). They worked diligently to make sure that everything was taken care of. We met from the start to decide what was needed and they worked with ourold provider to make sure that everything was moved over correctly. IT transitions are always scary, but TNT made sure to answer all of our questions and worked around the clock to make sure that we weren’t down during this time,” said Lantz.

Wondering if Managed IT Services can help your business?  Learn more by downloading our free E-Book, "Should Your Company Outsource IT?"

Managed IT Services

Could a Whistle Disable Your Cell Phone?

Posted on: March 29th, 2017 by Jessica Diehl No Comments

“Let’s hack and disable your cell phone.  Start whistling in three, two, one, GO!”

Researchers at the University of Michigan and University of South Carolina claim to have discovered that music could be used to disable or, to a certain extent, even control some IoT devices.  The researchers say they were able, through sound waves, to add steps to a Fitbit tracker and interfere with a cell phone app’s ability to control and access Internet of Things devices.

What does this mean?  As IP enabled devices become more and more common, we are culturally on a course that the most likely device that we will use to control and interface with them is our cell phones.  These IoT devices use chip based devices that are built upon the architecture of micromechanical systems (MEMs).  Since these devices lack standards or shared design criteria, there is no governing body to say, “this is good or this is bad,” when a new product comes out.

Common examples where exploits are known and published include the interfaces between fitbits, drones and toy cars with your cell phone.

There are IoT devices in your workplace, today, whether you approved them or not.  For example, I am wearing a Garmin watch that supports Bluetooth and wireless, and it is connect to our office public Wi-Fi.  Since I know the logon information for the corporate Wi-Fi, I COULD put my watch on the private network, and, more likely than not, no one would know that it was a watch.  After all, it has logged on with a valid username and password, and it is logging on from a known location-the office.  What if my watch got hacked and became a proxy for, say, a server that was sending out inappropriate content?

Who is at fault?  The network admin for not having enough security?  Me, for not notifying the network admin that I have an IP enabled watch?  Garmin, for making a watch that is hackable?

The IoT world is changing who we use technology.  The lack of standards or the inability to track device proliferation shall make the news with ever growing frequency.

It is best to respond to this threat before it is a problem.  Mobile Device Management can help.  Learn more about TNT's Mobile Device options here. 

5 Things to Consider Before Moving Servers to the Cloud

Posted on: March 16th, 2017 by Jessica Diehl No Comments

There are several things to consider before moving your servers to the cloud.  Without question, you have used servers in the cloud.  Remember online banking that you started using a decade ago?  Those were servers, made available to you “in the cloud.”  Sure, those who made that service available to you had no idea how prolific that technology would become.

Now, you have some server(s) that you think might be best managed and maintained by having them be cloud based. Here are a list of 5 things that you need to take into consideration before you pull the trigger.

Considerations when Moving Servers to the Cloud

  1. There are one-time setup fees and monthly recurring charges for moving servers to the cloud. Get a handle on the difference.  Some companies charge no fee to migrate, but they get that money back on hidden/back end fees based on your usage.  Some charge a setup fee, but they give you very predictable recurring fees that you can count as accurate. Keep in mind that you are buying this service from a business that makes money. One way or another, they will get back their costs from you.  Otherwise, they will go out of business, and so will access to your server.
  2. Take a tour! If you can’t go to the facility, get them to give you a test account, so you can see what the experience is like.  Not all servers or services are created equal.
  3. Ask about backup. Nearly every vendor out there gives you a monologue about their uptime.  They spout off facts and figures that sound like this…. "Our servers are up 99.999% of the time, or your money back.”  That said, events happen, and your servers’ data gets corrupted/deleted/hacked, etc.  What does your vendor do if you discover that everything got hacked on Friday night and you didn’t find out until Monday morning?  You need to know what they are going to do for you to get you access to the server that was running on Friday at lunch, before it went down.  FYI-most providers don’t include backup until you get to a premium level service
  4. Ask what support looks like. Having a phone number and an email address is better than having only an email address.  Ask where support is!  Many folks struggle to be understood when support is on the other side of the world with a non-English native speaker.  The importance of communication only increases as the urgency increases.
  5. If you are seeking assistance in the move (which you should do, since your experience is limited, at best), ask for a plan. Find out which servers and services were selected to be moved first, and learn why they were picked.

Moving to the cloud shall happen, whether it be on your watch or your successor's.  Be a part of the change, but be smart about it.

If you are interested in learning more about moving servers to the cloud, especially the point about backup,



 

 

The Network Team