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Business Relocation: Information Technology Considerations

June 25, 2012

It is not uncommon for a business to move every so often to manage growth or negotiate a better lease, but before a decision is made it is important to consult with an experienced IT support company who can help mitigate unexpected sunk capital infrastructure costs. Depending on the size of the business, and the type of work required, these surprise costs can exceed ten-thousand dollars. It is not uncommon for the Sea to Sky team to receive a call from a new client who requires an emergency quote for network cabling or general relocation consulting and liaison support. For that reason, we created this document. Here are some tips to help avoid this situation during your business’s relocation.

Sea to Sky Network Solutions suggests a 2-3 month window to plan an office move. This will afford enough time to methodically review the options available to the business and find a new office space that meets all needs and budget. Each client requires different levels of support; therefore, we will cover the most common consideration, including cabling, internet connectivity, and business continuity.

Note: This list is not exhaustive. A Sea to Sky Network Solutions technical support representative should be consulted before information found in this article is acted upon.

Cabling

It is important to remember that each device in the office is connected via a physical wire. The technology in those wires has changed over the years and, older cabling can affect the performance of the network. If not addressed ahead of time, the computers may be unable to function properly causing days, or possibly weeks, of additional disruption. Furthermore, cabling standards, as they pertain to fire code, are different in each city/municipality. I am specifically referring to the requirement for plenum cable, which consists of a special coating to minimize smoke in the event of a fire. Installing this product comes at an additional cost that some installers may try to avoid. Any responsible company understands that plenum cabling should be installed in every new office space as a safety measure. However, plenum cabling may be optional in your specific area, depending on building code.

Internet Connectivity

The team at Sea to Sky has dealt with almost every internet service provider (ISP) available in Canada. Our recommendation, when choosing an ISP, is based on several factors unique to the client. This is partly due to the fact that not all providers are readily available in every building; therefore, it is important to consult with our team to find out what ISP makes the most sense for the business. If there is a specific reason to go with one provider over the other, the ISP may charge thousands of dollars to install a line in the building. It takes one phone call to verify this information and avoid costly upgrades. Unfortunately this step is often over looked. We have seen quotes from some providers in the range of $5000 to $10000. This is one expense a business manager does not want to discover a week after a lease is singed. Vendor liaison services are a part of the Sea to Sky office move offering.

Business Continuity

Information technology is usually last to leave the old space and first to enter the new office because staff and clients are always connected to a server. Business continuity ties in strongly with cabling and internet connectivity (above) as well as power, furniture, telephones and security. When moving into a new location it is important to have this core infrastructure already in place. After all, it is hard to plug in a server when network cabling is not completed. The objective is to minimize communication disruptions for the end users. To achieve the required continuity, a business should expect to double-up on some services (internet especially) for a month or so to guarantee coverage and a seamless switchover.

An office move is a time sensitive event that can test the resolve of the person in charge. The key to success is to plan the work and then work the plan. Bring in professional consultants to help manage the mission critical components of the business. Consider everything that may be related to technology, all the way down to where the desks are located. An office move is also a good time to future proof the office by installing network cabling, instead of traditional phone lines, to prepare for a new digital phone system. Make sure to call Sea to Sky Network Solutions at least 2-3 months ahead of an office move. We can help guide you through the daunting task of moving your business. Finally, Sea to Sky prefers to work with specific moving companies who specialize in a high level of service and proper handling of mission critical network equipment. Call or email one of our team members for more information.

- Sea to Sky Team

Windows XP Support Ends April 2014; Upgrade Deployment Plans Should Start Now

June 21, 2012

Microsoft has released an official date for the end of Windows XP support, including security patch updates and incident support from Microsoft directly. While most of our clients have since upgraded to Windows 7, there are others who have not for various reasons. The point of this article is to note that this is a good excuse to begin planning a company-wide upgrade now.

Many organizations use Windows XP because they use older software that may not be compatible with newer version of Windows OS. Now that XP support is ending this older software officially becomes obsolete and unsupported. Migrating to a new operating system is not as easy as copy and paste in some cases. That is why your IT consultant, ideally Sea to Sky Network Solutions, should be brought in plan a migration.

Chris Di Lullo of Microsoft | TechNet wrote a great article with more detail as to why the switch is a good idea. Check out his article here:

Tick, Tock…Getting Close to the End of the XP Clock, Chris Di Lullo, Microsoft | TechNet

As always, if you have questions, please feel free to speak with a Sea to Sky team member for information on how you can prepare. April 8, 2014 is upon us sooner than you may think and businesses should being their upgrade plan now.

- Sea to Sky Team

Save Time and Money, Part Two: central management and inventory records

June 14, 2012

Proper IT management policies and strategies help reduce overall costs to a business. These policies can help safe guard intellectual property and provide staff with a system that facilitates their productivity potential. In part one we looked at buying in quantity to help standardize the IT purchasing lifecycle. This time we are going to review best practices for managing and maintaining company assets in the most efficient manner. We will discuss central management and inventory records.

IT ManagementCentral Management

A centrally managed business IT network is paramount to the sustained success of an organization. The person, or company, in charge of this day-to-day management must be trustworthy, readily available, and, ideally, independent of the network’s users. This separation is necessary to avoid any conflicts of interest and safe guard sensitive information. I am not saying that they need to be an emotionless zombie, but they should have the company’s best interests in mind. After all, everyone’s job depends on it. If data is not stored in a secure and redundant environment there is a very high possibility that some, or all, of the organization’s intellectual property could be lost. It is not always the case that the activity is malicious, but when data loss occurs all that really matters is getting the data back as soon as possible. Working with an IT provider who understands best practices, and has experience managing business networks, will drastically increase efficiency and reduce the likelihood of issues down the road. Proactive security and backup policies will help provide this level of security, but it must be implemented before the issue occurs. Central management will also help in the procurement process because users will require approval to connect their device to the business network and access company files.

IT InventoryInventory Records

Keeping an inventory of hardware and software is going to save a lot of confusion down the road. Keeping a current inventory will allow the IT manager to maximize software license utilization, reduce the time it takes to obtain warranty support and manage data security on lost or stolen hardware. The knowledge base should be able to quickly cross-reference all software, hardware, and mobile phones deployed to each user. Additional benefits of inventory records include budgeting for upgrades and reallocating hardware to a new user instead of unnecessarily purchasing surplus hardware.

These two points may seem trivial, but we often find businesses struggling without central management or proper inventory records and controls. The team at Sea to Sky is meticulous in their work, which helps reduce troubleshooting time. At the end of the day we are supporting the client’s hardware; therefore, we feel it is necessary to provide a reasonable level of transparency and communication of what we do. This provides our clients with a level of security they can appreciate and allows they to focus on their own growth.

If you have questions about Sea to Sky Network Solutions, or our service offerings, please contact one of our team members for more details. We look forward to helping your business succeed!

- Sea to Sky Team