May 16, 2013
We are very excited to announce our new street signage!
SEA TO SKY is a professional IT services firm located in Vancouver, providing complete IT sales, service and support.
May 16, 2013
We are very excited to announce our new street signage!
May 15, 2013
Earlier this month we published an article entitled “Be Proactive: A Network Audit is a Great Way to Mitigate Risk”. In the same way that article outlined the importance of having appropriate information before choosing a new IT support provider, this article will focus on how Sea to Sky uses 24/7 monitoring tools to provide ongoing reporting for our Managed Service clients located in British Columbia and around the world.
The reason organizations outsource is to achieve economies of scale with the ultimate goal of 100% uptime. Feeding off of our experience, Sea to Sky invests in industry specific software and hardware solutions designed to maximize efficiency for our clients. We are often asked explain how exactly we do this; therefore, we authored this article clarifying how the 24/7 monitoring service works and why we bundle it into our Managed Service plan.
On a Managed Service Plan, the monitoring tool integrates with our ticketing system. This reporting system allows our technical solutions team to check the status of a client’s network, receive instant alerts for critical issues 24/7, and review a timeline of the events leading up to the resolution. This information is instrumental in maximizing productivity for today and tomorrow because it uses algorithms to detect issues before they cost the client unexpected downtime.
To use an analogy, our monitoring service can be compared to that of a modern vehicle’s maintenance computer. Now-a-days, new vehicles can alert the driver to a pending issue on the inside of the engine using advanced sensors that report to a central computer. Some vehicles will even calculate how the car was driven and adjust maintenance interval alerts based on this data.
A network monitoring system works the same way by identifying how many users are on the system, how much of the resource (usually consisting of a server) they are consuming, and will event alert a Sea to Sky technician of an imminent failure, such as a bad hard drive. This provides our team with enough time to communicate the issue, order a new part, and fix the problem in a timely fashion.
Being able to identify an issue before it takes down the network is critically important in today’s world because organizations rely so heavily on accessing data all the time. In the past, reactive IT support meant that productivity is greatly affected; bringing business to a standstill. That is why Sea to Sky bundles this service into its Managed Service plan. All of the sudden, 24/7 monitoring creates a predictable, reportable and proactive solution for the client when coupled with an appropriate Backup and Disaster Recovery BDR plan.
It is an exciting time in business information technology management. Sea to Sky Network Solutions is happy to share more information about this solution with anyone who is interested in a managed IT solution. Simply contact our client services team at 604.628.6970 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn how!
- Sea to Sky Team
May 3, 2013
We typically receive calls from prospective clients when something bad has occurred. Sometimes the issue is small; a basic hardware failure resulting in downtime. However, in a worst case scenario it could be the result of a more serious security problem whereby a hacker finds a vulnerability; it happens and could lead to a substantial financial loss. If proper security measures are not implemented and maintained, it can leave your data open to the world and susceptible to attack. Sea to Sky understands the importance of a healthy and secure IT infrastructure – including proper cabling, switching, and up to date servers/workstations to mitigate the risk of downtime. After all, an organization’s technology is as strong as its weakest link. Considering this, what steps can one take to mitigate risk?
The first step is to identify the problem(s) by completing a thorough Network Audit, complemented by written documentation outlining the areas of concern. A Network Audit acts as the baseline for where the organization is now and where is should be. At this stage we consider our client’s business requirements and base our information technology recommendations to match their needs.
We investigate items, such as:
- Is there a proper hard-wired network cabling for each user’s computer, phone, printer…?
- Is the firewall setup properly?
- Does the organization’s internet plan appropriately represent the connectivity requirements?
- What password policies are in place?
- Is the server setup on a domain?
- What warranty is available for hardware issues?
- When was the last successful backup completed?
- Has the backup been tested?
- Is there an offsite copy of data in the event of fire, flood or theft?
- Is it up to date on all devices, including the server?
- Is it centrally managed, or are the licenses scattered about?
- How old are the machines?
- Do they have proper software licensing for business?
- When does the warranty expire?
- Is it onsite or hosted and should it be changed?
- Who manages email/spam filtering when a problem occurs?
- How is email data retained during a period of staff turnover?
- Is it running on an Exchange, POP or IMAP protocol?
This is just a sampling of what a Network Audit includes. Our custom report allows any organization get a clear picture of their IT difficulties, and provides recommendations moving forward. This process helps make sure every IT dollar is allocated appropriately; helping to reduce the cost per user and increasing productivity.
A Network Audit is a great way for a business with up to 200 users to get back on track and up to date with their information technology. If your organization is interested in learning more about a Network Audit with Sea to Sky Network Solutions contact a team member by email: email@example.com, or by phone: 604.628.6970.
April 8, 2013
Sea to Sky is currently looking for a network support technician to join our growing team! If you think you have what it takes, and you want to join our fantastic organization, check out the posting below and get in touch!
Resumes can be forwarded to firstname.lastname@example.org as per the requirements below:
Sea to Sky Network Solutions is a dynamic, fast-growing managed services and IT solutions provider in Vancouver BC. We’re currently looking for a talented support technician to join our team.
You will be supporting multiple customers, and be responsible for taking accountability for seeing issues through from beginning to completion. The successful candidate will be providing frontline support for our extensive customer base, and needs to be motivated and able to adapt a variety of client environments and problem scenarios. This position consists of approximately 60% in-office and 40% onsite work, within the Greater Vancouver area.
Some of your responsibilities will include — but are definitely not limited to:
- Responding to support requests submitted via phone, e-mail, or our customer support portal within timelines defined by our SLA.
- Performing trouble ticket ‘triage’ to determine severity of issue and escalating as appropriate.
- Performing routine server and infrastructure maintenance, as defined by our Managed Services contracts.
- Working with our Technical Lead to ensure problems are addressed by the appropriate resource.
- Being accountable for time management, and hitting billable time targets as defined by management.
- Keeping extremely accurate documentation of client environments, problem resolution, and internal systems.
- Keeping Customer Service First — being polite, friendly, and approachable at all times.
- Managing time effectively — often handling dozens of open tickets at various stages of resolution.
- Keeping up with current industry standards and product releases.
- Providing guidance and instruction to end users on new systems, software, etc.
- Providing sales support when dealing with customers who are in a position to require new hardware or software — product guidance and recommendations included.
A valid BC driver’s license is required — as is a car in safe and drivable condition.
Some valuable experience would include:
- 2+ years in the IT consulting industry, or a helpdesk role
- Microsoft certifications (ie. MCSE, MCTS, MCSM etc)
- CompTIA certifications (A+, Network+, etc)
Thorough understanding of, and experience with:
- Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8
- Mac OS X
- Windows Server 2003, 2008, 2012, SBS 2008, SBS 2011
- Exchange 2007, 2010
- SQL 2005, 2008
- Active Directory
- Terminal Services
- Enterprise Antivirus (GFI, Symantec)
- Enterprise Backup (AppAssure, Symantec)
- Firewalls/Routing/Switching/VPN/SSL-VPN (Juniper, SonicWall, Meraki knowledge an asset)
- Hardware Troubleshooting
- MS Office 2007, 2010, 2013
- Virtualization (Xen Server, Hyper V & VMWare)
- EqualLogic an Asset
- Fibre Channel Storage (EMC) an Asset
- Communications Cabling Knowledge an Asset
The successful candidate will be willing to certify for multiple vendors, including Dell, MS, etc.
Excellent communication and interpersonal skills, in English, in both verbal and written forms, are required in order to provide a high level of service to our customers.
You will be working both independently and on a team for different projects — throughout the day you’ll have constant communication with teammates regarding the status of different issues. During team meetings, you’ll be expected to report on the status of your different tasks and projects, and be willing to meet with customers as required to resolve issues.
Please submit a cover letter detailing your work experience, your technical history, why you want this job and your expected compensation. A detailed resumé is also required.
January 28, 2013
There are many great resources out there to help business owners in BC understand the transition of the tax system from HST to PST/GST. One of the most useful websites I have found is: www.pstinbc.com. This site provides an abundance of constantly updated information. While some taxable goods will benefit from a reduction (i.e. restaurant meal purchases) other tax incentives to businesses will be lost. Those losses are the reason for this article and have been explained below.
On April 1, 2013 British Columbia is reverting to the PST/GST tax system; no joke! If your organization is considering new business technology hardware or software you have until March 31st to get your order processed! Make sure to talk to your accountant to verify your organization’s eligibility.
What is happening?
HST provides businesses with an input tax credit; effectively eliminating any tax costs on technology hardware or software purchased by a business for business purposes. With the loss of HST, this input tax credit will be reduced to only cover GST at 5%. This suggests, that all other variables the same, businesses will be required to pay the extra 7% PST on any purchases moving forward.
With this information in mind, think about how much your organization spends on hardware and software in a given lifecycle – this is typically 3 -5 years for the average organization – now add 7% to that cost!
What should I do about it?
If you are close to making an IT upgrade decision, and want to make sure you are making the right decision, give the Sea to Sky team a call; we would be happy to help your organization build a solution that will allow you to maximize your IT dollars; as long as you order before the change to PST.
If you have questions about the change to PST in BC, talk to your accountant, or visit www.pstinbc.com. If you have questions about upgrading or maintaining your IT systems, talk to us; we are happy to help. Inquiries can be made to 604.628.6970 or email email@example.com.
- Sea to Sky Team
Article Disclaimer: as outlined above, Sea to Sky is not an accounting firm, but we do like to stay on top of the latest changes in policy that could adversely affect our clients. If you haven’t already, get the tax conversation going with your accountant, then give our team a call to see how we can help your company become more productive.
January 24, 2013
The Sea to Sky team is on an everlasting mission to provide our clients with the best IT experience possible. For this reason we are excited to announce our partnership with Shaw’s Business Services division. Shaw recently restructured their business offerings to include:
- Business Phone services for small to medium sized businesses
- PRI and SIP Trunk services
- Hosted & Managed PBX
- Cable and Fiber Internet services – Canada’s fastest!
- Data connectivity: Including Layer 2 VPLS, Metro Ethernet, and Private Line
- Business TV and Broadcast Video services
Sea to Sky has worked with almost every communications provider in Vancouver. While each provider has their strengths, we find that the majority of our users benefit most from a Shaw solution. The simple fact is most businesses do not require anything more than a reliable connection and a phone system that has worthwhile features, which are easy to use.
Why a Partner?
Sea to Sky Network Solutions is proud to offer our clients one number to call (604.628.6970) when they have an IT question, concern or request. A big part of our service offering is being the voice for any issues related to a vendor’s product or service. Becoming a Shaw partner allows us to streamline support requests related to these services and reduce resolution times even further. This partnership is going to save time, and time is money.
This announcement is exciting, but we understand each client has unique needs, and a Shaw solution may not be the right fit. That is why we will continue consider all options before making a final recommendation.
If you have questions about our Shaw Business partnership, or would like to learn more about how we can help your business streamline communication services, give us a call at 604.628.6970 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Sea to Sky Team
October 18, 2012
A business owner, corporate controller, or CxO is constantly looking to maximize, and maintain, an optimum level of productivity in their business. The problem is that the equilibrium for results versus cost is a moving target. Bearing this in mind, leaders of modern organizations have embraced new methods of delivering vital services to their staff and clients. IT outsourcing represent a prime example of this and offers most small and medium businesses with the economies of scale they need to meet budgetary requirements without sacrificing service delivery. So how are organizations taking advantage of IT outsourcing and improving the level of service they receive?
A local IT support provider, such as Sea to Sky Network Solutions in Vancouver, British Columbia, allows an organization to shift its staff’s focus back to their actual job; building value for the organization. Outsourcing IT support can drastically reduce turnaround time for problem resolutions and streamline the process of hardware, software and service procurement when compared to having an existing staff member manage it. Outsourced IT providers conduct more business with vendors, such as Dell and Microsoft, and; therefore, have better relationships in place to acquire the right products and services. Additionally, because IT support providers hire dedicated network technicians, clients are instantly introduced to a wealth of new IT knowledge. This knowledge allows the organization to modernize its systems for today’s world, while planning for tomorrow’s technology.
A responsible IT support provider will invest a portion of its resources into research and development. The result of this continual study results in enterprise solutions designed specifically for small to medium organizations, who would otherwise be unable to justify the costs. Examples of these managed service plans include 24/7 monitoring software, enterprise class antivirus software, share storage (including server) solutions, and productivity tools. All of these products and services come with enterprise support and warranty contracts to reduce problem resolution cycles; this suggests that there will be less downtime for the client creating a competitive edge in day to day business transactions.
The term ‘outsourcing’ is commonly associated with sending support services offshore, but this is not the case now-a-days. Outsourced IT providers like Sea to Sky Network Solutions are strategically located in major cities, such as Vancouver to provide timely support to organizations of any size. While most support services can be executed remotely, the localization of IT support allows the firm to provide scheduled onsite maintenance as and where required.
From a financial point of view, the value is in the numbers. Outsourced IT support can provide unlimited desktop support agreements for a scalable fee, commonly based on the number of workstations or the number of users the client employs. This represents an instant benefit when compared to the high fixed costs associated with hiring an in-house IT staff person; think of wages, benefits, sick time, vacation time, training and time limitations. Additionally, as a company grows, a marginal increase in need may require another large investment in the form of a second or third in house IT support person. With outsourced IT support, the cost of an IT deployment for a new staff member can more easily be calculated because the cost is directly tied to that specific user rather than the cost of staffing the other IT employee. This cost increase is a much more marginal amount, helping to keep finances in check.
Sea to Sky Network Solutions provides a complete solution for business leaders who want to find new efficiencies in IT services. Outsourced IT support can be offered in many forms, from a complete solution to a partial support consulting agreement designed to complement an existing in house IT person. Over the past decade, Sea to Sky Network Solutions has found that there is a growing need to help clients reduce IT costs without sacrificing the quality of service required to remain competitive in their industry.
If you are interested in learning more about how these services can help your business, contact a Sea to Sky Network Solutions team member for more information at 604.628.6970 or email us at email@example.com.
- Sea to Sky Team
October 2, 2012
Here is a great Business in Vancouver newspaper article detailing one of our clients. The article talks about how the Vancouver Wine Festival is redistributing revenue to fuel the success of other arts initiatives in Vancouver. Bard on the Beach consists of a series of great Shakespearean plays put on to benefit the citizen of our great city. Don’t forget to visit their websites and attend the events when they occur!
August 30, 2012
The benefits of a Solid State Drive (SSD) can be experience from the moment a user boots their workstation for the first time. The speed enhancement translates into a substantially reduced time to; start up the machine, open programs, and transfer data. However, there is a downside to these storage mediums; data recovery after a drive failure. SSD technology is getting better with every model year, but they still fail. If a SSD fails, recovering data is much harder, if not impossible, when compared to the physical spinning disk found in a traditional hard drive. Choosing to adopt SSD storage devices is a good idea for productivity, so long as the following precautions are taken.
SSDs should be utilized in a network environment where the user’s machine acts as a vessel to a central server, be it cloud based or onsite. When using a SSD in server-based environment, the business can further guarantee that data is properly protected while realizing the benefits of faster computing. Internal policies must be put in place to ensure data is being stored to the server and not on the user’s workstation. Note that a server should not use SSD drives. The important thing to remember is that SSDs should only be used in a network environment where the user’s machine connects to a different storage solution that is properly backed up.
Finally, SSDs should be purchased with the machine to maintain appropriate business warranty standards. Aftermarket SSD’s may prove to be more trouble than they are worth as their warranties are not as responsive or available as a business vendor with Next Business Day onsite support, such as Dell’s ProSupport business warranty service. Consult with one of our Vancouver-based IT support team members for more infomration.
Sea to Sky Network Solutions believes that SSDs have reached a point in their development that permits them to be used in a business IT environment. We fully support the technology, so long as minimum standards are met. My own laptop, a Dell E6220 – a perfect laptop for day to day computing – includes an SSD. I can attest to the benefits it has brought to my work. The biggest improvement I have noticed is a boot time of less than 20 seconds! If you have further questions about SSDs, network file storage or business IT in general, please give Sea to Sky Network Solutions a call; we’re happy to help.
Sea to Sky Network Solutions is a Business IT support provider located in downtown Vancouver. We can be reached by phone at 604.628.6970 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Sea to Sky Team
July 19, 2012
One of the most exciting Microsoft products to be announced this year is Windows Phone 8. This new mobile phone OS is going to take an already great user experience and make it better. From a business point of view it is going to incorporate advanced security features to help keep business data protected, yet readily accessible. The device enables users to access documents from their company cloud and edit them using rich versions of Word and Excel. Microsoft feels that the key to advanced productivity is going to be standardizing the experience from the PC to the phone; making apps and accessing files work seamlessly across platforms and from anywhere on any Windows device.
As an advocate for our clients, Sea to Sky understands that security and business productivity are the most important aspects of a mobile device, but it is also nice to know Windows Phone can support great social and gaming experiences as well. That is why I wanted to outline some of the notable features of the new Windows Phone 8 OS. Please note that the content below is borrowed from an Article written by Joe Belfiore and can be found by clicking this link: (http://windowsteamblog.com/windows_phone/b/windowsphone/archive/2012/06/20/announcing-windows-phone-8.aspx).
If you’re tired of reading, you may wish to view our video interview with Paul Laberge, Technical Evangelist at Microsoft Corporation (@plaberge) here:
List of Technical Features:
- Multi-core processor support: As reviewers have noted, Windows Phone runs buttery smooth on phones with a single processor. But piggybacking on the Windows core provides support for multiple cores—so we’re ready for whatever hardware makers dream up.
- Bigger, sharper screens: Windows Phone 8 supports two new screen resolutions (1280×768 and 1280×720), opening the door to amazing new handsets with high-definition 720p displays.
- More flexible storage: Windows Phone 8 supports removable MicroSD cards, so you can stuff your phone with extra photos, music, and whatever else is important to you, and then easily move it all onto your PC.
- NFC wireless sharing: If you haven’t heard the term “NFC” yet, I’m betting you soon will. This emerging wireless technology lets phones share things over short distances. In Windows Phone 8, it helps make sharing photos, Office docs, and contact info easier—just tap your phone another NFC-equipped device. How cool is that?
- Internet Explorer 10: The next version of Windows Phone comes with the same web browsing engine that’s headed for Window 8 PCs and tablets. IE10 is faster and more secure, with advanced anti-phishing features like SmartScreen Filter to block dangerous websites and malware.
- Wallet: Windows Phone 8’s new digital Wallet feature does two great things. It can keep debit and credit cards, coupons, boarding passes, and other important info right at your fingertips. And when paired with a secure SIM from your carrier, you can also pay for things with a tap of your phone at compatible checkout counters.
- Better maps and directions: Windows Phone 8 builds in Nokia mapping as part of the platform. Our partnership will provide more detailed maps and turn-by-turn directions in many countries, plus the ability to store maps offline on your phone so you can work with maps without a data connection.
- Cooler apps and games: Basing Windows Phone 8 on the Windows core will unleash a new wave of amazing apps and especially games, for reasons I’ll touch on in a moment.
List of Business Features:
- Device encryption: To help keep everything from documents to passwords safe, Windows Phone 8 includes built-in technology to encrypt the entire device, including the operating system and data files.
- Better security: Windows Phone 8 supports the United Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) secure boot protocol and features improved app “sandboxing,” so the phone is better protected from malware with multiple layers of security.
- Remote management: With Windows Phone 8, IT departments can manage apps and phones remotely, with tools similar to ones they now employ for Windows PCs.
- Company Hub and apps: Companies can create their own Windows Phone 8 Hub for custom employee apps and other critical business info.
The Team at Sea to Sky is very excited for the release of Windows Phone 8 because it brings a great business feature set to our clients without sacrificing security. Windows Phone 8 will be easy to adopt because it uses the same Metro UI (with active tiles as seen in our video) that the Windows 8 PC OS will employ. This year is a game changer for Microsoft. The company has tested their software to an unmatched extent to make sure it works extremely well.
As always, consult with a Sea to Sky Network Solutions team member before making any IT decisions for your business. We’re here to help make sure your business or organization operates safe and secure for today and tomorrow.
- Sea to Sky Team