How to Choose a Managed Service Provider

How to Choose a Managed Service Provider

When choosing a Managed Service Provider (MSP) you are going to incur an operating expense there is no sugar coating that.  But the benefits of having an MSP will be worth the expense.  The benefits, increased efficiency, better operations, improved production, improved services and reduced costly risks which lead to an overall increase of Return on Investment (ROI).  Just what should one look for when choosing an MSP?  Its not an easy decision to turn your IT over to a provider.  The MSP should meet criteria that your company requires and the MSP should be able to deliver on most if not all the requirements.  Here are somethings to look for when choosing a Managed Service Provider:

Longevity: You want an MSP that has been around for a while and can provide references from its clients.

Good references: Get references from clients of the MSP.  This way you will have a better idea of just what the MSP company can handle in terms of IT capability. You will get a sense of how satisfied a client of the MSP company is.  From the reference you will find out how reputable the MSP is that you might use for IT services.

Industrial Experience: Does the MSP have industrial specific knowledge.  If the business you are in is a Medical practice does the MSP know the compliance that is required and do they know how to deal with trouble shooting issues that arise from software that is used.  If you run a restaurant you may want an MSP that has experience dealing with restaurants. Making sure that the company deals with clientele that is similar to your business.

Designing an IT system: Does the MSP design an IT system that Supports the company’s growth, there are many service providers out there that are more interested in their bottom line as opposed to creating a symbiotic relationship.  The IT system that is designed should consider where the company the MSP is providing services to today, where it will be tomorrow and beyond.

Remote Management and Monitoring (RMM) and Onsite Support: One of the must haves in choosing an MSP company is do they have 24 hours 7 days a week and 365 days a year Remote Management and Monitoring (RMM).  The MSP should be able to manage and monitor your entire IT infrastructure remotely.  The MSP also should provide onsite support as well. When it is time to switch out parts or to handle onsite issues that can’t be done remotely. A good MSP doesn’t leave your side when you need them the most; they should make the necessary house calls to make sure everything is running smoothly.

Consultation Service:  The MSP company should offer consultation service to its clients making suggestions as well listen to suggestions that will improve efficiency for the company as well as for the MSP.  Making IT purchase can be costly a good MSP should be able to guide you on the proper route and help to minimize unnecessary expenses and provide customized solutions to meet your needs. 

Service Contract: Does the MSP list all the services that they will provide on the contract and details of contract work as well as noncontract terms.  The last thing a company wants is to be stuck in a contract with an MSP that cannot meet the needs of their client. Make sure that the terms are agreeable and there is flexibility which will allow you to add or remove services.

Response Time:  Having an MSP that has a good response time is important for both parties. An MSP should be able to provide a time frame of when they will be able to address any issues that may arise.

Are They insured:  It is important to verify if the MSP is insured and has a current policy in place to protect your company from any mistakes on the MSP’s part.

These are just some of the items to look for when choosing a Managed Service Provider.  Hiring an MSP for your IT can be a difficult task. Choosing an MSP that is right can help a business become efficient and profitable, by allowing the company to concentrate on the things that matters the most growing the business.

Customized Computer Services Inc., (CCSI) has been serving the DFW area for 29 years.  Our staff has over 20+ years of experience.  We provide services to all facets of industries from Architecture firms, Aviation, Government facilities, Medical practices, Manufacturing industries and Restaurants.  Contact us to set up an initial consultation and find out what CCSI can do for your company’s IT.

Server Hosting at our Colocation

Server Hosting at our Colocation

When a company’s business critical information gets larger, the questions that arises is how to manage the vastly growing amounts of data, for many, colocation has emerged as a possible solution. Colocation is no longer just available to large businesses it is available to medium and small businesses as well. What are the benefits of outsourcing your data to a colocation?

Affordability: Colocation can save your company money, they help in reducing capital investment costs, as the company data base grows the colocation has enough space to accommodate the growth.  Outsourced colocation makes financial sense in almost all cases.

24/7/365 Monitoring and Support: Having a skilled technician watching over your Data 24/7/365 lets you sleep well at night knowing everything is running smoothly.

Security & Compliance:  With cyber threats becoming a major player in today’s world it is imperative that secure access and 24/7/365 monitoring are in place.  Colocations must meet the standards imposed for security as well as be compliant with standards imposed by HIPPA, PCI and SSAE standards.

Expertise:  Data center operators provide limited services, which allows them to hone their skill sets to what matters the most making sure your data is accessible at all time, the colo is cooled properly, the data is protected. 

Disaster Recovery Preparedness:  Having your data at a colocation gives the business peace of mind, knowing that their data will be available to them and should there be a natural calamity, the colocations will provide redundancy in recovering data. Making Data Recovery one of the primary reason to consider a colocation.

Room for growth: Colocation allows you to expand your infrastructure to fit the needs of your company’s growth without having to take on capital expenditures. If you’re company grows, your IT infrastructure can expand to support it quickly and with less investment.

Better connectivity:  Colocation data centers have fully redundant network connections ensuring that customers’ business critical applications always run uninterrupted.

Colocation provider for management of critical information and assets, allow businesses to have complete control of their hardware and software, but it will be housed in a facility that will optimize its performance through careful monitoring, risk mitigation, heightened security, and stability.  More and more companies from large scale to small scale are turning to colocation, small business enjoy the feature of a large IT department without the capital investment.  Medium to large business have the ability to expand their infrastructure without costly expenses such as construction or facility leasing.

Customized Computer Service Inc (CCSI) we have been serving the Dallas- Fort Worth area for over 28 years. Contact us and ask us about our colocation services.

How A Computer Network Can Bring Teamwork To Your Business

How A Computer Network Can Bring Teamwork To Your Business

As business grows it is vital for data to be readily available to the employees and saved in a central location. Having a computer network helps information travel through a centralized location to those who have access to the data where ever they maybe. A computer network that is well set up is akin to a business running like a well-oiled machine. There are many benefits of having a computer network all which help a business to be more efficient. 

What are the benefits of having a computer network? 

Communication and collaboration: It’s very difficult for people to work together if no one shares what anyone else is doing.  A computer network helps create a team environment which help to get everyone on the same page. A network allows employees to share files, view other people’s work, and exchange ideas more efficiently. In any office you can use e-mail and instant messaging tools to communicate quickly and to store messages for future reference.
Data protection and Management: A network makes it easier to back up all of your company’s data on an offsite server, a set of tapes, CDs, or other backup systems. Having a central point of data backup allows data to be readily available in case of a disaster. Making disaster recovery easier, than having individuals backing up their data where it can be lost, misplaced or stolen.
File sharing: A network makes it very easy for everyone to access the same file and prevents people from accidentally creating different versions of the files.
Organization: Having a centralized scheduling system allows for businesses to prepare and employees to stay aware of assignments. From scheduling assignments to scheduling availability a centralized IT Network is an invaluable tool in today’s business world. A variety of scheduling software is available that makes it possible to arrange meetings without constantly checking everyone’s schedules.  
Hardware sharing: With a network, several computers can share the same printer. Although you might need a more expensive printer to handle the added workload, it’s still cheaper to use a network printer than to connect a separate printer to every computer in your office.
Remote access: Having your own network allows greater mobility while maintaining the same level of productivity. With remote access in place, users are able to access the same files, data, and messages even when they’re not in the office. This access can even be given to mobile handheld devices. Increased security by using VPNs ensuring that your data is safe and accessible only to those given credentials to.

Network switch and ethernet cables, Data Center Concept.

There are many more reasons to have a Computer Network for your business. Once you have a computer network you will find more uses for it and wonder why you didn’t implement one sooner. Customized Computer Services Inc. (CCSI) has been serving the Dallas-Fort Worth area for over 28 years. We have provided our expertise to businesses small and large implement new networks or expanding on their existing network. Whether you are implementing a new computer network or expanding an existing network Customized Computer Services Inc (CCSI) can help.  Contact us at (817) 459-4000.

Power-over-Ethernet for Connecting to The Internet of Things

Power-over-Ethernet for Connecting to The Internet of Things

The Internet of Things (IoT) continues to bring people, processes, data and things together in a variety of environments. From enterprise spaces to entertainment venues, the IoT is expanding to include a host of intelligent devices such as LED lighting, security cameras, and WiFi access points.
As more of our devices are become intelligent devices, Contractors and IT professionals are turning over to Power over Ethernet cabling (PoE). As means of powering and also controlling the multitude of intelligent devices connected to their network.

What is Power-over-Ethernet?
Power-over-Ethernet is a means of carrying power and data to a device using copper communications cabling. The main advantage of Power over Ethernet (PoE) is delivery of data AND power over one Cat5e/Cat6 Ethernet cable. PoE ends the need for AC/DC power supplies and outlets. A remote installation costs less than fiber as no electrician is required. Ethernet cable costs less and is often already installed in buildings. A 2013 study conducted by the IEEE found that Power-over-Ethernet was twice as efficient at distributing power as traditional electrical cabling, reducing the power lost in the channel by at least half.1

When should PoE be used?
Power-over-Ethernet is used to power and control many types of intelligent devices including LED lighting, HVAC and climate control systems, IP security cameras and access controls, IP televisions and displays, and WiFi access points. PoE allows you to add a device in awkward or remote locations. PoE is not recommended for sending network data over long distances, or for extreme temperatures unless industrial designation is present.
For building managers, IT professionals and contractors tasked with installing and managing possibly hundreds of intelligent devices, PoE offers a simple solution. Not only does it provide more efficient power and data throughput to the device compared to traditional cable setups, and a potential for cost savings as a result, but it also allows for a variety of digital devices placed throughout an environment to be powered and controlled utilizing a single communications network.

The increase popularity of PoE
With the continuous development and growth of the Internet of Things and the increase in interconnected, data driven devices within an enterprise, PoE cabling has become very popular. In 2014 alone, PoE saw an uptake of 80% in VoIP applications. In the same year, a reported 30% of CCTVs, 20% of access controls and Wi-Fi access points, and 10% of lighting were powered by PoE.2

Types of Speed Offered by PoE
PoE costs less than fiber and is delivering higher and higher data speeds.
Thanks to widespread adoption of IEEE 802.3bz technology, manufacturers are spending more on product development. Data delivery rates are now at 1 Gbps (10/100/1000 Mbps) over Cat5e and Cat6. The new IEEE 802.3bz standard has the capacity to deliver speeds of 2.5 to 5 Gbps over 100m with an immediate view toward 10 Gbps.
High-definition streaming only requires 400 Mbps. A network could easily stream a training video while others work and check email.
PoE has more than enough data speed to support devices in a small LAN.

Power over Ethernet power delivery
New IEE 802.3 versions for PoE have been published over time address market demands for higher power levels to be delivered to powered devices. The following shows the power delivered to the powered device (PD) for each revision:
• IEEE 802.3af–2003 up to 12.95 W
• IEEE 802.3at–2009 up to 25.5 W (2–pairs, medium power) – a.k.a. Poe+
• IEEE 802.3at–2009 up to 51 W (4–pairs, high power) – a.k.a. Poe+
• IEEE 802.3bt–draft 2.0 up to 71 W (a.k.a PoE++, 4PPoE)

With the growth of Internet of Things (IoT) and the continued development of interconnected, data driven devices the implementation of PoE cabling seem endless. Contact Customized Computer Services, Inc. to find out we can help your company improve its efficiency by using Power-over-Ethernet cabling to connect to the Internet-of-Things.

1. BSRIA (2015). Convergence and Big Data: The Impact on Structured Cabling
2. BSRIA (2015). Convergence and Big Data: The Impact on Structured Cabling

 

Increase Cyber Security with Two Factor Authentication

Increase Cyber Security with Two Factor Authentication

What is Two Factor Authentication?
Having a password for access into your account or system is the first step into protecting yourself from a hacker attack, but hackers have become very good at getting into systems that use just username and password for access. Usernames and passwords can be easily cracked, captured, and leaked. Today more and more businesses are investing in two factor authentication (2FA). Just what is two factor authentication? Two factor Authentication makes entering into the system more personal. A password is personal but two factor authentication relies on other factors such as:
Something you know: your username and password combination or a pin.
Something you have: a bank card, mobile device, smart watch or another device that you have deemed safe.
Something you are: using biometrics such as facial recognition, fingerprints, retinal scans and voice recognition.
By requiring a user to verify their identity with two or more of these unique ways this allows the system to extend security beyond using just a password to access the system. 2FA manages to make this more difficult by adding a second layer of defense. While passwords alone grant access by asking for “something you know,” 2FA requires both this and “something you have” in order to grant access. This means that even if someone has acquired your password, unless they’re you and have your phone or other trusted device in their hand, it will be much more difficult for them to gain access to your accounts.
How does the second factor work?
After you enter your password — the first authentication factor — the second factor usually arrives by SMS. That is, you’ll get a text with a numerical code that you’ll then need to enter to log into your account. Unlike a PIN code for a debit card, a 2FA code is used only one time; each time you log into that account, you’ll be sent a new code.
You can use an authentication app that receives codes instead of having them texted to you for added security. Receiving codes by SMS is less secure than using an authentication app. A hacker can intercept a text message or convincing your cell phone carrier to transfer it to another device. Or if you sync text messages to your computer a hacker can gain access.
Benefits of Two Factor Authentication
Improved Security: Since passwords can be forgotten or lost most people remember them by writing them down somewhere and it can easily fall into the wrong hands. Passwords can be captured by hackers if the PC has been compromised. With 2FA the second line of defense comes into play even if the first factor has failed your data is safe as the hacker won’t have the One Time Password (OTP) necessary to log in.
Reduced Data Theft: Identity theft has become a serious issue in last few years. Through ID theft, a thief can use your name to break into your accounts and can make huge purchases, thereafter leaving a ton of debt for you to pay. 2FA is a very effective way to reduce cyber crimes like identity theft, hacking and phishing.
Increased productivity: With 2FA, more and more companies are allowing their employees to work remotely. Since employees are able to access systems and critical work on the go, the productivity levels increase significantly. 2FA with SSL VPN is one of the most popular security solutions present today.
Reducing operational costs: 2FA also helps companies cut down their operational costs. With this reliable information security solution, the employees can access databases, servers and web portals securely from their devices. All they need to do is to install One Time Password generation software into their phones. This software generates the OTP and is in time sync with the server.
Customized Computer Services Inc., (CCSI) has been recognized as a leader in implementation of cyber security. We have implemented 2FA for many of our clients to protect their business and their clients from cyber threats. Contact us to help protect your business and clients from cyber threats. (more…)

The Benefits of Migrating to Hosted Email with Exchange Online

The Benefits of Migrating to Hosted Email with Exchange Online

Microsoft’s Exchange Online gives you the power of a hosted enterprise email server as opposed to the traditional, on-site email server which requires capital expenditure and associated maintenance costs. The entire Exchange Online infrastructure runs on Microsoft’s Office 365 Cloud Service, it doesn’t matter whether it’s one mailbox or 10,000 mailboxes. From a cost perspective to a functional perspective migrating to or implementing Exchange Online for businesses makes sense. Some example of how Exchange Online can benefit businesses:

A Professional Image

If you are looking to make an impression on potential clients and customers, a domain based email can give just that a trusted image of a company that is established. Having a company name to the email helps clients to remember and in case contact information is lost it allows them to recall the company name making it easier to get in touch with you.

Business Continuity

Exchange Online uses Microsoft’s global server infrastructure which provides full redundancy, disaster recovery and a continuous uptime guarantee. Exchange online also comes with data loss prevention (DLP) capabilities which prevents users from sending sensitive information to unauthorized people. Exchange offers continuous access to data and offers protection from unauthorized viewing of information. Exchange online is accessible anytime and anywhere you are not restricted by location which allows for business continuity.

Cyber Security and Spam Free

With Cyber Security threats on the rise Exchange Online comes with measures that prevent hackers from getting access and control of your account. They also come with filters that prevent Spam and prevent spam from reaching your clients mail boxes.

Hybrid Flexibility

One of Exchange Online primary selling points for mid-size and enterprise organizations is its hybrid flexibility. Deploying email in a hybrid configuration an organization can keep some user mailboxes on their on-premise Exchange server while moving others to Exchange Online. Exchange Online allows for a seamless staged migration from an on premise sever to the cloud.

Large Mailbox Capacity and Emails

Exchange Online has 50 GB mailboxes; 150 GB archive mailboxes; 150 MB email sizes. Employees will never have to worry about managing their mailbox growth again. Keep everything! Send anything! Every couple of years Microsoft increases the limits. Shared mailboxes and resource mailboxes have a 50 GB limit too, and the best part? Shared mailboxes and resource mailboxes are completely free. Every team can have a shared mailbox (marketing, sales, help desk), and every conference room can be automatically managed through Exchange Online, for free!

Compliance

Exchange Online meets many compliance and regulations certifications. Microsoft uses third-party auditors to certify they meet the compliance and regulatory goals. Not only does Exchange Online meet large regulations such as ISO 27001, European Union (EU) Model Clauses, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act Business Associate Agreement (HIPAA BAA), and the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) but Office 365 is also designed to meet local requirements for data management.

The Benefits of implementing or migrating to Microsoft Exchange Online is long and it simply brings more to the table than the traditional on-site email servers. Contact us at Customized Computer Services, Inc. (CCSI) to give your business the power of a hosted enterprise email server.