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Managed IT Services

Nonprofits: Operate Lean with Managed Services

By | Managed IT Services

 

lean nonprofit managed servicesEvery organization is faced with the challenge of doing more with less, as well as the challenge of working with a tighter budget and more competition. But those challenges are exacerbated when an organization is a nonprofit charged with making every dollar count. No leader knows more than a nonprofit leader about how to do more with less. To operate as leanly as possible, nonprofits often adopt the mindset that they must do without the latest technology and just make do with what they have, but having worked with many Ohio nonprofits, thinkCSC has a different perspective – one that ensures your nonprofit stays around to achieve your mission.

Managed IT services, cloud-based technology and operations, and upgraded infrastructure will help your nonprofit operate leaner than ever. It may seem counterintuitive, but the small up-front investment you make in upgraded infrastructure, and the time you invest to assess your data and security needs, to shift to cloud-based operations, can save you thousands of dollars or more in lost time, energy, and revenue. And shifting to a more predictable cost model, by making IT an operating expense rather than a capital expense, will free up some time for your organization and allow you to focus on making a difference for Ohio.

Lean Nonprofit Management

When operating on a tight budget, having an IT department is a luxury that many nonprofits cannot afford. Yet because nonprofits are often legally obligated to maintain stringent regulatory standards in order to accept donations, having the right security in place is essential. Unfortunately, nonprofits are also often the target of phishing and malware scams, making tight security more important than ever before. To protect your constituents, your donors, and your integrity, it can be far less costly to work with a managed services provider that can:

  • Manage and monitor your network and servers
  • Proactively manage your IT security so that it is always up to date
  • Ensure you have the best possible uptime through proactive infrastructure management
  • Install, manage, and update enterprise-level threat detection and security systems
  • Provide securely hosted email and data storage that provides you with peace of mind when it comes time for compliance audits

Make a Difference without Worry

As cyber security remains a top concern for business leaders in every industry, taking the necessary steps to protect your nonprofit becomes a high priority. Nonprofits can benefit from working with managed IT service providers who partner with your organization, understand your needs, and provide customized solutions to ensure that you have the protection you need. thinkCSC is committed to helping our nonprofit clients find the most economical solutions to meet their needs. For more information, contact us today.

How’s your IT Health?

By | Managed IT Services, Uncategorized

it-health-tn

We’re almost half-way through 2015 already, and as quickly as time is going, it’s important that businesses take the pulse of their IT health. We’re here to help, but in some cases, you’ll need to act soon.

Windows Server 2003 Support Ends July 14, 2015

Windows Server 2003 has moved to the top of the endangered species list. Better performance and security is within her grasp. The application-moving process required to upgrade your server from to Windows Server 2012 is a time-consuming and delicate process requiring careful planning. Read more.

Take Control of the Human Element

There are many risks you can control when it comes to protecting your data and your business, but the biggest risk is one that can be very difficult to control: people. Phishing scams, in particular, play on the fears and insecurities of your staff, making them inadvertently reveal information that puts your whole organization at risk. We can help you reduce the chances it will happen in your office. Read more.

School’s Out for Summer: Time to Take the Pulse on Your EdTech

thinkCSC partners with K-16 schools to assist in developing cost-effective EdTech strategies. From helping schools purchase hardware and software at discounted rates to providing better-than-OEM warranties that ease the pain of managing tech in schools, thinkCSC is a proud partner in education, helping you embrace EdTech safely and cost-effectively. Read more.

It’s Not Too Late to Save Your Business Money and Make Costs More Predictable

Managed IT services, while not a new trend, will take center stage for even more companies because the need to maintain state-of-the-art equipment and have access to offline backup and disaster recovery will be too great to ignore and too costly for every non-IT business to do well. Shifting from a capital expenditure model for IT to an OPEX model will also be a priority for businesses striving to remain globally competitive. Managed IT services accomplishes that. Read more.

 

IT Trends – 2015 Edition

By | Data Security, Managed IT Services | No Comments

Crystal BallLast year we predicted several IT trends that are, for the most part today, standard operating procedures for most businesses. From VoIP to secure collaboration using Enterprise File Synchronization and Sharing, the big focus last year was the shift away from legacy processes and applications, with the gradual adoption of access-anywhere, work-anywhere work tools that didn’t compromise security.

This year we predict nearly every operational focus trending in IT will have something to do with security. IT security is the trend of 2015.

In fact, the biggest trend of 2015 will be the acknowledgement that no business is secure. No business – from the one-man work-at-home freelancer to the largest international corporation – is immune from incident. If you use technology and access the internet, whether from a smartphone or through applications on a bank of servers, you are a potential target for malware, cyber-attacks, viruses, natural disasters, and other business-disrupting issues.

Managed IT

Managed IT services, while not a new trend, will take center stage for even more companies because the need to maintain state-of-the-art equipment and have access to offline backup and disaster recovery will be too great to ignore and too costly for every non-IT business to do well. Shifting from a capital expenditure model for IT to an OPEX model will also be a priority for businesses striving to remain globally competitive. Managed IT services accomplishes that.

BDR Goes Mainstream

When disaster strikes, business leaders recognize the need for remaining operational. Backup and disaster recovery services provide a cost-effective business continuity solution that reduces downtime and allows you to keep serving customers from anywhere.

Enterprise Threat Detection

Rather than waiting for hackers and malware to highlight security gaps, then developing security patches in response to protect businesses, you can make your approach to security more aggressive. Enterprise threat detection offers proactive security that uses predictive analytics to stay ahead of the next attack. This will become a necessity for businesses of all size.

The most competitive businesses are the ones preparing for possibilities and designing their infrastructure in such a way that they can remain flexible, proactive, and competitive. Managed IT and BDR are not new concepts, but they are trending in 2015 as adoption becomes ubiquitous.

Discover how thinkCSC can help your business. Learn more.

Windows Server 2003 Nears End of Life

By | Managed IT Services | No Comments

windows server 2003If you thought it was tough to adapt to the extinction of Windows XP, you’ll find yourself mired in a tar pit if you don’t soon take action to upgrade your Windows Server 2003 operating system. If your business is utilizing Windows Server 2003, begin your countdown now: Support for Windows Server 2003 will end July 2015, and businesses that hope to escape issues associated with bottlenecks, security, and third-party applications need to upgrade now.

Don’t Let Your Business Be Affected

Even though Windows Server 2003 has a short amount of life left in it, the third-party applications you use are going to create issues sooner than later – and may already be affecting your processing speed and uptime. Newer applications use larger amounts of paged-pool and non-paged-pool memory, something Windows Server 2003 simply wasn’t built to handle. This will cause your server to slow or stop running, requiring a reboot. Slowed and down systems are costly – and in the long run are more costly than upgrading to the recommended Windows Server 2012.

Don’t Let Windows Server 2003 End of Life Herald Your Doomsday

July 14, 2015 may seem far enough away to keep you from sensing any imminent doom, but the application-moving process required to upgrade your server from Windows Server 2003 to Windows Server 2012 is a time-consuming and delicate process requiring:

  • Application inventory
  • Analysis of which applications are using which servers
  • Careful planning of server migration and application updates

With proper planning, your migration from Windows Server 2003 to Windows Server 2012 can be a relatively painless process. The thinkCSC team is here to handle all of the heavy lifting for you. Failure to migrate in a timely manner will result in security issues, reduced functionality, issues with applications on which your teams rely, and increased downtime.

Take Action Now

Windows Server 2003 has moved to the top of the endangered species list. Better performance and security is within your grasp. We recommend upgrading to Windows Server 2012 as soon as possible to ensure ongoing security and stability. If you’re not sure where to start, thinkCSC can facilitate the migration of your Windows Server 2003. Contact us today for more information.

 

We Help Our Clients Keep Their Promises to Their Customers

By | Managed IT Services | No Comments

Businessman Hand Working With New Modern Computer And Business SWe often talk about our services in terms of what we deliver to our clients:

  • Predictable costs
  • Uptime
  • Enhanced security
  • Collaboration tools
  • Secure remote work options

But what do these benefits really mean to our clients?

Government agencies must meet legislative requirements and serve a body of constituents. School district must not only comply with mandates but also meet parent and student expectations. Private business must remain profitable in a highly-competitive global environment while satisfying both customers and business leaders. thinkCSC services are designed not just to deliver on our promises but to make sure you can keep your promises to your customers.

Predictable IT Costs

Predictable IT costs are good for business because it makes budgeting easier when converting capital expenditures into operating expenses. But it’s not just about managing the budget; it’s also about your ability to offer competitive pricing to customers or meet mandates within the constraints of your budget that truly make predictable IT costs something worth pursuing.

Uptime

Uptime is a common goal for managed service providers. It’s the way that we measure, in part, our ability to deliver on our promises. Uptime also means that you have the ability to meet the needs of your customers when they expect you to.

Enhanced Security

Security is the foundation of the integrity of any business. And while enhanced security is something we offer our clients, our enhanced security really means that our clients have the ability to meet both mandated as well as guaranteed protection of customer data. Whether you operate a business that processes financial transactions or a medical office required to maintain HIPAA standards, enhanced security is as much a necessity of doing business as it is a benefit.

Collaboration Tools

The collaboration tools we offer allow you to securely and efficiently work with team members around the world. And the reason this becomes important is because it allows you to be flexible and responsive, offering your customers the best innovations at the most competitive prices possible.

Secure Remote Work Options

By offering you secure, remote work options, we provide you with freedom. Whether it’s the freedom to attract talent from other locations around the globe or the freedom to work from home yourself, it’s a powerful offering. But what it really means to your customers is that you can be available to meet their needs from wherever you are – or reach the members of your team who can.

Predictable costs, uptime, security, collaboration, and remote workforce tools: Those are the benefits we offer our clients. What we are really delivering, however, is the ability for you to keep their promises to their customers.

thinkCSC Managed Services: Making IT Expense Predictable

By | Managed IT Services | No Comments

1388361357w8dh9Unpredictable IT costs are both frustrating and difficult to manage. Your organization feels the economic impact of both employee downtime and out-of-budget IT spend. thinkCSC’s Managed Services offering minimizes the economic impact to your IT budget by guaranteeing a predictable monthly cost and uptime for your IT environment. A managed service provider (MSP) converts your organization’s IT spend from a capital expenditure to a predictable and manageable monthly operating expense, much like a utility.

Benefits of thinkCSC Managed Services

Not only do thinkCSC’s Managed Services make your monthly IT costs predictable, but it also transforms your IT support needs from reactive to proactive. Because MSP services are a predictable monthly cost, your IT provider does not get paid when your organization has IT issues (downtime).  With an MSP, your IT provider has “skin in the game” and benefits economically when your organization’s IT is running smoothly.

MSP shifts the focus, for your IT partner, to preventive efforts. Curbing issues before they happen, minimizing and preventing downtime and ensuring that your infrastructure is operating at peak efficiency helps to guarantee maximum profitability for both your organization and your MSP partner.

Organizations who have managed IT services:

  • Have a managed service program that is a true partnership where the desired outcome is “uptime,” which benefits both your organization and your IT provider.
  • Convert IT costs from an unpredictable and variable capital expenditure (CapEx), which depreciates over time, to a predictable and fixed monthly operating expense (OpEx), which will free up cash for those investments that drive revenue and growth.
  • Have a team of accessible IT professionals whose primary focus is preventative services to avoid downtime and expensive, reactive repairs
  • Have a streamlined ability to shift to cost-effective cloud-based services without risk
  • Have reduced risk through continual monitoring of your infrastructure, up-to-date patch management, ongoing support for required software upgrades
  • Have better regulatory compliance through state-of-the-art security, IT best practices and software license control
  • Have 24/7 access to support

If your organization is seeking a way to make IT costs more predictable while alleviating the strain on your internal IT resources, consider the benefits thinkCSC’s MSP offering. Contact thinkCSC for more information.

Establishing Managed IT Services

By | Managed IT Services | No Comments

Columbus Managed ITBefore entering into a managed services agreement, your service provider should take the time to get to know your business. They should assess your equipment and software applications, becoming acquainted with what you have in terms of IT and how you are using your IT to deliver services to your customers. They should also determine what condition your servers and desktops are in, consider the apps you are using, and get a feel for what services you use the most. They should discuss with you what you like the least and the most about your current IT infrastructure.

We’ve been talking about how a managed services plan can help a company operate on a more predictable budget. A remediation project may be necessary prior to entering into such a managed service agreement. Some infrastructures are healthier than others, and if you are using an old server or hardware and software that are no longer under warranty, those pieces may need to be brought up to speed. A managed service plan is not a magic wand that will solve your IT problems without some preliminary efforts, and your service provider should be able to help you develop a plan to bring your infrastructure up to speed.

Better Cost Control through Managed IT

As business owners, you have to deal with a variety of fixed costs that are associated with doing business, including payroll processing costs, building costs, utilities and taxes. And while those costs may fluctuate, they are largely predictable. Your IT costs, on the other hand, are often variable. You cannot predict when a server is going to fail or when software will stop being supported, and you cannot always predict when your network is going to go down. Subsequently, budgeting IT costs can be difficult. Managed services can solve this dilemma.

A managed service plan makes IT support a monthly predictable cost. For the typical small or medium business, managed services turns IT into a utility making the cost as invisible as possible. Since the support costs are fixed, your managed service team will do everything in their power to keep your IT up and running – and you won’t resist the effort over worry about an hourly, unpredictable cost. With agents installed on client computers and robust disaster recovery systems in place, the managed service plan becomes a win-win situation. You want your IT to be up, and your managed service provider wants your IT to be up; otherwise, managing IT can become costly for both parties.

thinkCSC offers a variety of Managed IT plans to suit businesses of any size. Contact us for more information about how we can help you better manage your IT costs and pay for uptime instead of downtime.

Manage IT Costs More Effectively

By | Managed IT Services | No Comments

mechanicDo you worry that when you take your car to the mechanic, more things will be wrong with the car after they see it than before? Do you stress over every hour your car is in the shop, knowing that it is racking up an ever-larger bill with each passing minute? If you could, would you pay a flat rate every month trusting that no matter what went wrong with your car, the mechanic would take care of it? And if you had an agreement like that, don’t you think that the mechanic would be certain to change the oil, rotate the tires and do all the other necessary preventative maintenance that would ensure the car remained finely tuned?

We don’t know of any mechanics who make such an offer, but the concept of a flat-rate service leading to better preventative care is transforming the way IT services are being handled. You can manage IT more efficiently.

Paying for Uptime

With a managed service plan, you and your IT provider work closely to ensure that your IT infrastructure and services are meeting your company’s needs. Because there is no hourly cost involved, it’s less likely that important proactive strategies will be ignored simply because of cost. By employing proactive measures to prevent disasters, a partnership-oriented relationship is created in which you are paying for uptime, not downtime. It turns IT support on its head.

Making IT Costs More Predictable

Consider the extraordinary cost of downtime on your organization. Hardware can fail, a server may crash, or data may become corrupted. These issues can impact your ability to provide service to your customers; in some cases, downtime can send them looking elsewhere. Whatever the issue may be, infrastructure failures can impact your business in unexpected ways. You may spend weeks rebuilding systems, reconnecting computers and restoring data. This becomes an enormous, unpredictable cost.

In our next blog, we will discuss how you can make your IT costs more predictable.

thinkCSC offers a variety of Managed IT plans to suit businesses of any size. Contact us for more information about how we can help you better manage your IT costs and pay for uptime instead of downtime.

Can You Take Care of Customers if Disaster Strikes?

By | Managed IT Services | No Comments

csc disaster solutionsDowntime can equate to death for business owners whose customers rely on them to be available and accessible. Those same business owners spend a considerable amount of money on hardware to protect their businesses. Redundant backups and server upgrades are designed to offer some protection. But what do you do when the server or system goes down? Backups are not going to keep you running.

thinkCSC recommends that every company develop an emergency preparedness plan. Preparing for disaster means reducing or eliminating downtime to ensure that you are able to provide uninterrupted service to your clients. During a disaster, significant repairing and reconfiguring may be required. That’s going to turn into lost money and lost opportunities, unless you have a hardware-independent restore option.

Most company executives operate under the assumption that their backups will protect them, and they don’t discover the risk until the first time they’ve experienced a significant outage and their customers are left stranded. Because of the time it takes to access and re-install your files on the new or repaired hardware, the only way to ensure continuous service to your customers is by having a hardware-independent restore.

thinkCSC can help you take the hassle out of recovery, so you can get back to doing business.

We offer a suite of tools dedicated to disaster recovery that goes above and beyond simple backups. StorageCraft is a set of technology tools that builds a chain of backups that can be consolidated and replicated to an off-site destination. When disaster strikes, this solution ensures that there is a back-up chain that you can work from virtually while you start repairing the failed equipment, without shutting down the virtual machine that’s operating as your temporary server. The virtual machine can be housed locally or in the cloud. You can continue operating as normal during the repair period; once the problem is fixed, simply shut down your virtual machines, and boot the last incremental back-up chain to the new environment.

The advantages of thinkCSC’s StorageCraft solution include:

  • Drastically reduced downtime
  • Better business availability during emergencies
  • Cost effective and scalable solution
  • Need-based pricing
  • Enterprise class recovery for every business

When you’re not being tied to one piece of hardware or one piece of virtual infrastructure, you can be responsive and flexible during any kind of disaster, meeting the needs of your clients without delay. While your competition is struggling to bring their computers online, thinkCSC can help you develop a plan that ensures a seamless recovery.

IT Forecasting Will Help Keep Your Organization on Budget

By | Managed IT Services | No Comments

columbuscapitolAs a public administrator today, finding cost-effective answers for your agency’s information technology questions can often be your greatest challenge. After all, there is a lot to consider when dealing with IT: staffing, networking hardware and software, building infrastructure, centralized data backup and disaster-recovery planning.

With an increasing number of public employees using their personal laptops, portable devices and other mobile applications to perform at least some of their duties, it makes good fiscal sense for government offices to deploy some form of safe wireless technology for wider use. This goal is not without its obstacles, though. Your agency may not have the necessary back-end hardware to support some of the newer wireless technology, your data may be stored in several locations, or you may be required to have specific hardware controlling numerous access points.

Fortunately, several of the current cloud-based wireless applications address these scenarios. For instance, with just a couple of mouse clicks on the “dashboard” of one of these Web-based management interfaces, you can control all of your access points. Simply enter the appropriate data into your network during the initial setup process, and you are ready to begin. Your agency needs no physical controller, and the system is easy to deploy and change whenever necessary.

If your IT challenges need staffing solutions, outsourcing is a cost-effective way to provide technical support for your employees or to assist in the integration of local or regional IT operations, even on a small scale. Plus, there is another distinct benefit for government agencies when it comes to outsourcing IT support. Your agency becomes privy to a large, collective amount of experience that has dealt with hundreds of different customers. If an IT issue arises in your office and no one single person on your staff can address it, chances are there is someone on your outsourcing team who has knowledge of current technology trends on a much broader scale.

Still, perhaps your most vital responsibility within your own government agency, aside from providing a valuable service to the public, is the protection and security of your information database. The importance cannot be overstated of having a disaster-recovery plan in effect and the necessary hardware in place for a quick IT recovery. As an example, before your software crashes or your physical hardware goes down, you should have a local hardware server that can remotely have your system up and running within 10 or 15 minutes, so no one even knows there has been a failure. Instead of being offline for several days, you have a temporary solution in place while your main hardware is being permanently restored.

Whether your agency is considering outsourcing IT tasks or deploying in-house solutions, the key point to remember is planning ahead. Because you rely on public monies to operate, having funding in place to advance your IT program will be your foremost hurdle, and IT forecasting will help you keep your organization on budget. However, keep in mind that while much attention will be focused on your proposed upfront investment, your bottom line may be more attractive in the long run because of more efficient IT infrastructure — and fewer problems.