Tag Archives: Dallas

HDcloud: Cloud Data Center Driving Businesses Forward

It is no longer even a debate whether the Information Technology assets of a business are important.

We know they are important because from the time you wake up in the morning until the time you go to bed your business in some capacity is running.

Websites, email, social media, accounting software, marketing automation and many more programs run 24/7/365 whether you are at the office or on vacation.

This shifting landscape from hours of operations to around the clock business has only increased a businesses dependency on technology and has raised the bar for making sure that your IT Systems are running smooth (Link to help desk)

Raising an important question for business owners and IT Managers.  Where are your most important information technology assets right now?

If your answer is in an IT closet somewhere in your office then perhaps it is time we have a conversation.

For many years, a business could run with some intermittent technology issues.  Server goes down, no problem! We are running applications locally so we can just back them up later.

Today, the server is where the applications live and employees are more distributed than ever before meaning that when the server goes down, so does your business.

Depending on what applications you are running local, an outage can bring down everything from your accounting package to your website and many productivity tools in between.  This type of outage would be devastating if it was to last more than a couple of hours.  Knowing this, what is your plan?

Moving Assets To The Cloud For Improved Reliability

If there are a couple of things we have learned after nearly a decade serving businesses IT, it is that there is no such thing as fool proof; computers, servers, phones, and printers all fail at some point so we take it upon ourselves to help our customers to reduce failures as much as possible.

This is the precise reason we believe strongly in businesses utilizing cloud to host their servers and run their applications.

By moving your important IT assets to the cloud you are placing your equipment into an environment that is optimized for keeping technology in working order.  Specifically, these environments are built to a standard to support required temperature and cleanliness.

Another tremendous benefit to moving your technology assets to the cloud is the technical support that comes along with it.  When updates need to be made or when something does go wrong, there are “hands” within immediate reach of your equipment, which allows the healing process to start sooner.

We understand that many of our customers aren’t technology experts, but they are highly dependent upon technology to run their businesses.   It is with this in mind that we so strongly advise our customers to consider the cloud as a way to remove the distraction of keeping their technology up and running.

The way we see it, your business runs around the clock and by embracing what the cloud can do for healthier more dependable technology deployments, you will be able to see it too!

Has your business considered what cloud can do to make your technology more dependable? 

7 Ways Cloud VoIP Will Drive Business Productivity

When you lead a small business, you try to make financial decisions as carefully as possible. The intention is to spend wisely on the investments you make into your business; aspiring to see each one pay off in the journey toward meeting your business objectives.

Does this sound like you?

One area where small business spending is well justified is technology. There is a direct connection between enhancing your company’s technology and increasing business productivity. As we all know, the more productive we are, the more revenue and profit our businesses can create. And of all the technologies that can help create such productivity, perhaps none are more directly capable than your phone system.

However, just a “Phone System” isn’t going to cut it anymore. Technology has changed too much and having phones that ring are no longer the means to a more productive business. With the emergence of new communication technology through Cloud Based VoIP Systems, your business can see immediate increased collaboration, worker satisfaction and productivity.

Here are 7 Ways that Cloud Based VoIP can help your business accomplish more:

 

  1. More Connected: A cloud based VoIP system allows employees and customers to stay better connected. With options for unlimited phone numbers, simple auto-attendants and a plethora of voicemail features (even voice to email), businesses, their employees and customers can be better connected than with traditional phone systems.
  2. More Collaborative: Beyond just being connected, what about getting more done? With easy to execute multi-way bridges, teams can get together and get work done without requiring special dial-in bridges and expensive collaboration services.
  3. Professional Appearance: In today’s online world, small can appear big very easily thanks to responsive web design and social media. However, it doesn’t matter how great your website looks if a customer calls you and it sounds like they have reached a basement operation. With Cloud VoIP you can have a professional sounding auto-attendant and a plethora of other options that allow your business to appear big, no matter how small.
  4. Scalable: Perhaps your business is only a few people today. But what about tomorrow when you double, triple or quadruple your employee size? Can your analog phone system easily keep up? Usually the answer would be no. However, with a Cloud Based VoIP system, you can grow as large as you want to, have as many locations as needed, and your phone system will always grow right along side you.
  5. Mobile Options: We are more tethered to our mobile devices than ever before. Some small businesses even exclusively use mobile devices. But the best of both worlds is a professional phone system that can move calls to your mobile device. With a cloud based VoIP solution you can forward your desk phone calls right to your mobile so you never miss anything that hits your office or your cell.
  6. Reduced Management Costs: Do you have a premise based phone solution? Who on your team manages the system and troubleshoots the issues? Chances are your small business doesn’t want to have a person on staff to do so, and if you outsource this kind of support it can be very expensive when you need it. A Cloud solution can eliminate this type of support all together and allow you to get back to focusing on your business rather than fixing your technology.
  7. Affordable: Does it sound expensive to have a professional, scalable and state of the art phone system? It doesn’t have to be. In fact in many cases it is less than a traditional old-school phone system. For a low-monthly expense, you can have the technology and capabilities your business needs to be more productive.

Businesses that are more connected are going to deliver better customer experiences. And when your customers are happy, you are on the way to achieving more of your business goals.

With an affordable cloud based VoIP solution your business will be more productive than ever before.

To learn more about VoIP and other productivity enhancing solutions from The Help Desk, Check out our solutions here

Life Is Better Without Spam

 

Can A Day Pass Without A Pile of Useless Spam?

 
If you are at all like us, some days we can hardly stand getting the mail.  With such a massive shift toward electronic content, everything from important business communications to customer payments come in electronically.

Our physical mailbox has seemingly become a holding ground for direct marketers to bombard us with coupons for discounted donuts and cheap chimney sweeps.

However, since every once in a while something shows up in our mailbox that matters, we have to go out and get the mail every day just to make sure today isn’t that day.

Over the past few years a similar nuisance has come about in our email boxes.  Considering the sacred relationships most of us have with our inboxes, we are looking at them far more often than we are our physical mailboxes.  The bad news here is that the junk and spam have infiltrated our email boxes now too.

It is as if we cannot get away from Spam.

Heck, now even our Facebook pages are littered with promotions and sponsored content that we don’t want to see. Much of it disguised as content that may be important to us.

Bottom line is marketers are getting more sophisticated and it is making it really hard for us to tell when we are getting items we want and when we are getting things we don’t want.

Either way, life would be better if at the very least our work inbox can be spam-free.

Moving Spam Management to the Cloud?

Did you know that in the time it took you to read this sentence that 20 million emails were sent? http://mashable.com/2012/11/27/email-stats-infographic/ (Link to)

Yep, this is true. Some 144 billion emails are sent out every day and a whopping 87% of them are spam.

If you are in the business of getting things done and not sorting through your spam then maybe what you need is a secret weapon?

While there are definitely expensive hardware based filters for managing spam, they are generally technical in nature and require a certain amount of expertise to run.

A really sound option for many businesses today is moving their Spam Management to the Cloud.

With a simple to use subscription model, your business can detect more than 97% of all spam, quarantine it and give individual users the ability to manage their spam folder.

It even includes a perimeter spam to make sure the most obvious forms of spam never get to your mail server let alone your inbox.

Compatible with email boxes of all types (Imap, Pop3, SMTP), a cloud based solution can deliver spam squashing results to just about any mail server.

So why deal with spam? Beyond the wasted time trying to sift through what is important vs. what isn’t, why not just eliminate it all together with an affordable, flexible cloud based spam solution?

To learn more about HD Spam stop by our site or give one of our team members a call.  We’d love to help end your spam problems once and for all.

Does A Managed Firewall Make Sense For Your Business?

Information Technology at the Center of Any Business!

Question…exactly how much money does managing your IT make for you each year?

Answer: How much revenue did your business do last year?

Let us try to explain the question another way. When your corporate IT is down, how drastically does it impact your business?

Whether it halts your ability to send and receive email, invoice or pay bills via your cloud based accounting package or shuts off your VoIP system, chances are when IT isn’t running your business isn’t either.

So while sometimes, IT is sort of taken for granted and costs may even be seen as a necessary evil; we ask businesses to try and imagine their lives without it.

Having said that, we also love to ask the question. What keeps you up at night about your IT? Beyond whether it is running or not, what are the topics and technologies that scare you just a little bit (or a lot)?

The answer we most often hear… Security.

The Role of IT Security in Business

With so many important assets now “Out There” as they are all connected to the network, businesses are afraid of people gaining access to their data.

To stop this from happening, businesses invest in security. The most common appliance that businesses use to stop intrusion is their firewalls. Another less well-known secret about Network Security is that it is complicated. It takes a certain amount of expertise to properly configure and make sure that a firewall is properly set up and optimized to stop those that you don’t want from gaining access all while giving means of access to those who need it.

Leading to our next question. Who is the expert on your staff to handle this?

For many small and medium businesses, this person doesn’t exist or if they do, they are extremely busy with day-to-day IT which leaves little time to worry about network assets and security.

This is a perfect opportunity to leverage a Managed Firewall Solution.

A Few Great Advantages Businesses Gain From a Managed Firewall

With a managed firewall you have access to great features like web filters, virus protection and spam blocking. All while making sure you are granting secure access to trusted users. Plus there are many other great features (link) like policy manager and WAN failover to keep you running and safe as long as the Internet is up.

Additionally a managed firewall provides you with the ability to reduce wasted time by employees perusing Facebook and Instagram. You can make this even more valuable through bandwidth management tools that prevent network-hogging videos from YouTube and Yahoo from being watched during work.

So for businesses that want reliable and secure IT but lack the time to manage and deploy it safely and reliably, think about the value of a Managed Firewall. It may be the perfect solution for your business; providing piece of mind and up to date best practices for a secure and healthy network.

How An IT Services Partner Can Enable Remote Work

We live in an age where people aspire to be connected all of the time. Some of this connectivity is for personal purposes, however a lot of our desire to be “Wired In” is to stay on top of our work.

It all started with the smart device that allowed us to receive our emails no matter where we were which gave us the precious flexibility to respond around the clock. From there we continued to become more and more connected with smaller more powerful laptops, netbooks for surfing and now the iPad and tablet devices that can basically act as your office on the go.
 

Office on the Go?

 
Nowadays, businesses want their employees to have complete flexibility. Meaning they want for them to be able to have access to 100% of their files, applications and data from anywhere so they can work from not only the office, but from their home, their car (in park of course) and while at their children’s soccer games.

The problem is providing this type of continuity requires more than just a killer device. It requires integration between the company’s various business applications in a way that is easy to use but also secure. Begging the question, what does it take to make remote work, work?
 

Working Remote: Securing Local and Cloud Applications

 
One of the biggest challenges of setting up remote work is making sure it is done securely (we will talk more about this soon!). The reason this is such a big challenge is even with the proper tools for securely accessing remote files or application in place, many times the user makes it far too easy for someone to gain access to their secure environment.

Usually this happens because password restrictions aren’t set up tightly enough so people use generic passwords like “Password” or “1234” etc…

When setting up secure access for employees so they can work from anywhere, it should be done using SSL based VPN with password restrictions. The VPN will create a secure tunnel between the public internet and the local servers that are being accessed while the password restrictions can be used to force the employees to change their passwords regularly and setup passwords that are strong enough not to provide an outsider with easy access.

Of course now we must also consider cloud applications.

Many companies are moving some of their productivity or business systems to the cloud. Often creating a hybrid environment where some tools require VPN but many others do not.

Cloud is great for flexible remote access from anywhere you have internet access, however this also can greatly limit IT’s visibility into securing data.

While you cannot control the security of the cloud vendor, we recommend due diligence as to the providers security practices and setting up a very strict password policy for cloud applications so employees make it difficult for outsiders to gain access.
 

Making Remote Work Easy

 
Perhaps the most important thing when it comes to remote work is making it easy for the employee to embrace. Whether they are telecommuters who work from home every day or an onsite employee looking to use flex time, remote work is a powerful way to work more effectively and efficiently from anywhere you may be.

This means setting up simple steps for the employee to follow in order to gain access to their required tools, files and data and of course having a team to support remote workers when things just don’t work the way they should (Trust us when we say this happens).

As an IT Service Provider, we have found that deploying remote workforces is something that can be done but takes a lot of consideration. In many cases we work closely with clients to help them deploy a secure and easy to use remote work solution so they can know that their data is safe and that the support will be there when they need it.

Going remote, if you haven’t already is great for allowing your business to be more productive. If you are ready to learn more about making remote work, work then we’d love to hear from you.

What Does I.T. Really Cost Small Business?

Understanding Your I.T. Costs

 
If you are in business, then you have an IT budget. No matter how big or small it may be, without IT you aren’t in business.

Basic services like your email, calendar, accounting system and maybe even your phone system are all tied to IT. So essentially, if your IT goes down, your business goes with it and therefore having your technology safe and secure isn’t a nice to have, but an organizational necessity.

A lot of business leaders and executives question their IT expenses and constantly seek to find ways to reduce the costs. However, a better question may be…

Is I.T. a cost or a profit generator for a business. And in just about any business, I would weigh it to be more the latter than the former. Of course this depends on making the right investments and having it run by the right people.

But before we make any final decisions on whether I.T. makes us money, saves us money, does both or just costs us money, let’s look at where the IT budget goes.
 

Considering All of your I.T. Expenses

 
As an exercise, take a minute and write down how much you invest annually on each of these items. To make this most effective I would right down dollars allocated and then take a few minutes for time allocated. A lot of business owners don’t attribute any cost to things that they personally do for the business, but this means they aren’t valuing their time and in Small Business, time is money.

So here you go with the list.

IT Staff and Support $__________
Domain Hosting $__________
Exchange $__________
Security $__________
Backup and Disaster Recovery $__________
Hardware $__________
Software $___________
Cloud Software, Hosting and Applications $__________
Other $___________
 
Now take a minute and tally this up and there you have the real “Investment” in I.T. But ask yourself this question, without all of these IT capabilities, how would my business run? Takes it back to the beginning of this post doesn’t it? Since we have probably determined at this point the business wouldn’t run too well at all.

So now that we feel safe in saying that the I.T. is a necessity and that it really is a profit generator. How is it that you plan to make sure that the I.T. is running like a well oiled machine?

With so much riding on your systems, the smartest thing that we can do is make sure that your entire I.T. operation is managed and supported to be as available as your business needs to be.
 

How Would your Business Run if your I.T. Systems Went Down?

 
If you have any doubt about just how important your I.T. is to your business, then take a moment and try to run your business without it.

But for those that already know that their operation, clients and growth are depending on their systems running like a well oiled machine, the only question should be, is my technology in good hands? And while as a business owner you may think that your hands are the right hands, I’d be willing to be that there are far better ways to spend your time rather than resetting email passwords and removing viruses?

The bottom line is, well, the bottom line and unless your business is built to manage and run networks, then the best use of your time is focused on doing what your business does best and invest in I.T. resources that allow you to sleep peacefully at night knowing your systems will be there when you need them.

Small Business I.T. is More Than Just Help Desk

Thanks to the new connected world, our businesses run 24x7x365.  And while staff may not be on duty, or the doors may not technically be open, so long as your website is operational and your email box is configured, your customers, employees and just about anyone else on the planet can reach you.

This is a good thing for so many reasons.  Being able to be found by potential clients around the clock from anywhere in the world opens up a endless opportunities for businesses of any size to expand into that which dreams are made of.

Having said that, there is probably one person in the company that doesn’t love the new connected world.  Their name…” IT Guy (or gal)”

While a 24x7x365 business is good for sales, marketing and customer service, the IT person is responsible for keeping the company’s technology up and running, not to mention dealing with all of the “Computer Support” problems that stem from typical use and abuse (cookies, malware, adware etc), and on top of that they get to hold the hand of the company’s non-technical users who can’t figure out how to check their email.

And while that may not seem like a lot, when you add up just the technical support requirements of most small businesses, that alone takes a full time person to manage.  The crazy thing is that is just the beginning of what the dedicated, or shall I say delegated IT person is responsible for.   The list is much longer though…

Have you considered everything else that IT has to manage for your small business?  To name a few…

  • Telecommunication Services:  Most phone systems are now on the network, and even for small businesses that don’t have VoIP systems, they still depend on IT to setup, configures moves adds and changes, and support the phone system (including dealing with the providers).
  • Backup and Disaster Recovery:  What would you do if you lost your data?  If just one time you hear the screeching of your dying hard drive that isn’t backed up, it is enough to change your life (and behavior) forever.  IT is managing this, because your data is everything these days, and most people won’t do this on their own.
  • Network Security:  Do you worry about hackers or internal employees gaining access to data and information that they shouldn’t?  The IT department owns this problem, and has to make sure that access to programs and files is available to those who need it, but not to those who don’t or shouldn’t.
  • Cloud Everything:  IT knows that there is an application in the cloud that can “Do That,” whatever “That” is.  That doesn’t mean it is simple to integrate, secure and support.  However, the IT Person is on it.
  • Domain Management:  Making sure that your website is always up and running and that other sites, landing pages and marketing efforts are pointing back to where you want is also an IT issue.  This includes dealing with hosting providers and their intermittent issues.   The good news is that this is usually seamless to you, but it takes both time and know-how to manage this.
  • Software License Management:  Between Office, your CRM package and your business line application, the software requires patches, updates and license renewals.  This has to be tracked and managed and is hard to get done when Jim in accounting needs a system restore done because he deleted his user drive.
  • BYOD:  Hear about bring your own device (BYOD)? Pretty cool that you can use any device with all the company applications.  For IT, that is a big undertaking as every device is unique and requires testing and configuration.  While the users don’t see this happening, it is keeping IT Managers everywhere very busy.
Remember, these things are in addition to support, meaning that if you are a small business with only a small IT department, there is a lot to be done to keep your company running and secure.
So while your business may be connected around the clock in the high-tech world we live in; behind it sits a very busy IT department.  Begging the question…