Thursday, September 29, 2011

Reliable Tape Backup Software Put an End to Data Loss

How Backing Up Allowed this Company to Move Forward

Backing up data is pretty much a business no-brainer—regardless of industry, scale or type, no organization wants the major headache of data loss. But what if the systems in place to prevent such data loss fail?

Unfortunately, that’s exactly what happened to one of my clients, a large corporation with nationwide reach. The client experienced a major data loss when its tape backup software failed and it was determined that routine system testing and regular back ups had not taken place. It is a nightmare scenario for any business, which was clear from the panicked call I received. But that’s what I’m here for—to help provide solutions that can best meet client needs.

It struck me that for this particular client, I had to think creatively to find the best solution. I’m glad I did because that’s how I came across a new tape backup supplier, BakBone, which provides data protection with backup and recovery, real time data protection, and disk-based protection/de-duplication.

Having no prior history with BakBone, I requested it provide a month-long demo in which the client could fully test the software. That they did; and using the trial time to fully explore all aspects of the software, the client was greatly impressed and reassured by the software’s reliability. Immediately following the trial period, the client ordered installation. For users to get the most value from any tape backup software, proper operating knowledge is essential to avoid the type of catastrophic failure already incurred. I requested that BakBone conduct on-site client training sessions to familiarize the client with technology and ensure security was maximized. BakBone agreed and sent a representative to the main office to demonstrate software installation and routine back up strategies. The visit helped ensure that client staff properly learned how to utilize the software’s capabilities.

From start to finish, this engagement was about a month long, but I’m confident of a longer term relationship with this client, a fact that is continually brought home to me as I continue to receive positive feedback from client branches all over the country. By thinking out of the box, we were able to get this client’s data securely contained!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Power Failure Solved by UPS Rental

What happens when the data center for a health care provider with offices in more than a dozen states loses power? It’s one of those recurring nightmares many IT managers have and they usually end with the dreamer waking to the sound of his own screams.
This was the case when I received a call bright and early one morning. The manager was frantic—they had just lost 70 percent of the power for their data center, thanks to their severely overloaded uninterruptible power supply. It died an untimely death, but really, is there ever a good time for a UPS to die? They were scrambling. No one could access email or records, which obviously creates a dire situation in health care settings. Without the patients’ records how can you safely provide care? He needed a replacement and he needed it yesterday.

He naturally first turned to his usual IT provider. No help there. He called another company that sold technology. Ditto. In fact he called everyone he could think of and got the same answer: no one could get anything to him faster than the next day, and it would dearly cost them for the rush delivery. Then he made one more call—to MicroAge this time—and I answered.

Gathering all the information I needed, I told him I’d get on it immediately and call him back with a solution. I quickly sent out an APB to my fellow MicroAge account executives: Who can help me pull a rabbit out of a hat for this IT manager? Barrett Lamothe—an eight-year MicroAge veteran—was one of the first to answer the call. He knew of a local source that rents UPS units. Wasting no time, we contacted the company.

Within an hour of taking his call I called the IT manager back and told him that a 6,000 kVA UPS was on its way. We had taken care of all the arrangements to rent the unit for them on a month-to-month basis. The organization was completely back up and accessing all records and email within five hours. They ended up keeping the unit for several months until the time was right for them to permanently replace it, at which time I was happy to help them with that, too!

This is just another example of how MicroAge allows and encourages their account executives to be creative when looking for client solutions. We don’t just read a screen that says “available in 24 hours with rush charges” and leave it at that. We have the latitude to make things happen.
Give me the chance to make something happen for you. Call or email me anytime.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

IT Procurement Management Eliminates Loss Due to Theft and Vandalism

One of the most vulnerable times for a company to suffer loss to theft or vandalism is during the construction of a new facility. Our soon-to-be client, the IT manager for a large, multi-state entertainment organization, knew that all too well, as I found out when I happened to place one of my routine calls to her a few years ago.

I say “soon-to-be client” because she had not yet given MicroAge a shot at earning her trust. She was using another source for her IT needs, but I would call her regularly to see if there was anything I could help her with. When I called on this particular day she had just learned that $50,000 worth of servers had disappeared from a location they were building. To say she was upset was an understatement! The theft was going to push back their planned opening date by an entire week while they got the equipment replaced.

I learned that the other IT source would simply ship the equipment directly to the location it was to be installed, even if it was a construction site. They did not offer any type of materials management or security. And we’re talking technology and equipment from hundreds of manufacturers—simply dropped off like the daily newspaper.

Quickly offering my assistance, I told her that at MicroAge we think outside the box and come up with creative ways to help our clients. And in this case I knew immediately what we could do to make sure this never happened again. The solution was to have all IT equipment shipped to the MicroAge logistics center for staging until the moment it was ready to be installed.

The IT manager was intrigued. Could we really do that? She has a very limited IT staff and the idea of removing the worry about getting the right equipment in the right place at the right time, eliminating the chance of another $50,000 loss was a winner for her.

So we gave it a try. She provided me a laundry list of every piece of hardware needed to bring up a new location. And as I mentioned, this entails hundreds of items, including point of sale (POS) terminals, servers, five racks, switches, miles of cabling along with multiple printers, monitors and security cameras, from many different manufacturers including NCR, Cisco and American Dynamics. We sourced it all, had it all shipped directly to MicroAge, where we inventoried and cataloged every item, imaged it, asset tagged it, and then palletized and shrink-wrapped it. We held the palleted equipment until the time it was ready to be installed at the new location.

To further reduce chances of loss, we arranged for a private trailer to transport the pallets directly to the new location site. No stops. No other freight on board.

The procurement and delivery went like clockwork. The equipment arrived in its entirety at exactly the time my client requested just in time for the installation crew to get to work.

The IT manager now knows she can count on MicroAge every time she has a new location to bring online. She sends me the list with the planned install date and I do the rest. If construction is delayed, no problem, we just hold the pallets until the time is right. This process has made the IT manager’s life easier: we have reduced their IT deployment time by a solid week and not a single piece of hardware has been lost.

I approached this client’s need the same way I do for all of my clients: I put myself in their shoes and think about what I would want from an IT solutions provider. I can do that for you, too. Just give me, Barrett Lamothe,  a call.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Arizona Technology Summit 2011

Software License Consolidation and Management for BSA Compliance

Managing software licenses and staying in compliance with the “software police” can be a challenge for IT managers and network administrators everywhere. The tracking of users to licenses can quickly get out of hand and pull the responsible party into a virtual vortex of logins, passwords, licenses, headcounts and the numerous spreadsheets to try and manage it all.

When I got the call from a client in the industry he was in the middle of just such a dizzying situation. He is the IT manager for a large organization that had just grown exponentially as a result of several independent companies merging into one. He was trying to get a handle on the aftermath of combining all of the disparate companies’ IT systems. And sorting out the company’s hundreds of VMware licenses was proving to be a nightmare.

He needed help. He knew that if they were audited by the Business Software Alliance and found to be out of compliance they could be hit with stiff fines. The BSA is the organization for the commercial software industry, whose charter it is to protect software companies against copyright infringement and piracy. Run afoul of the BSA and you could be fined as much as $100,000. That’ll get one’s attention.

We discussed his needs and I contacted VMware. I worked diligently, shuttling between our client and VMware to clarify the contracts they now possessed. We made our way through all of the different companies’ licenses with the login and password each one possessed. It was an enormous undertaking, but the hard work paid off. After a few months we had the tangle of licenses and access codes consolidated down to just one VMware contract with one login and one password.

As a result of the contract consolidation this IT manager now has peace of mind. He knows he has nothing to worry about should the BSA want to conduct an audit of his software licensing. And if that weren’t satisfaction enough, he has been able to reduce the 300 or so servers he inherited with the merger down to just 16, but that’s another story.

This is definitely an example of when sometimes less is more. Please contact me to see how I can simplify your software licensing.