Latest blog entries | West Virginia | Netranom https://www.netranom.com/blog Tue, 21 Aug 2018 13:41:54 -0400 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb Monitoring Pros and Cons https://www.netranom.com/blog/monitoring-pros-and-cons https://www.netranom.com/blog/monitoring-pros-and-cons

Dealing with other people, whether in the office or a home environment, can often be troublesome. There is always a case of someone trying to be better than someone else, or trying to take advantage of their naiveté. There are solutions out there that make it easier than ever to help keep your home and business safe. Here are some of the best out there.

Security Monitoring
On the home front, it helps to have a security monitoring system. Think about this as a surveillance camera system that gives you a glimpse of your home, allowing you to know immediately if there is a break-in or other type of intrusion. You can also implement this for an office environment, where it’s arguably just as useful to protect your organization’s physical and digital assets.

Network Monitoring
When an IT technician is monitoring a system, they can see if there is some sort of internal or external factor influencing the network. Network monitoring is mostly used to make sure that your network is actually functioning as it should be. Technicians can use remote monitoring software to check endpoints, networking equipment, and server functionality, while also making sure that they aren’t being subject to threats and other issues. Since businesses depend so heavily on their technology to function, it’s no wonder that they are willing to go all-in on a system like this to guarantee maximum uptime. Furthermore, detecting small problems and addressing them before they become major issues can help you avoid unnecessary costs in the long run.

Some network monitoring software can let technicians get a glimpse of how users are using their devices. This provides you with an at-a-glance assessment of the productivity of your employees, allowing you the opportunity to either improve productivity or reinforce good behaviors for problem employees. This also provides an opportunity for your business to keep employees from visiting dangerous or wasteful websites.

Application Monitoring
Some applications also provide IT administrators with ways to monitor activity logs for how the applications are actually being used. Keeping a watchful eye on how your staff are using these applications is a great way to see whether or not you need to put your foot down on a particularly bothersome issue. You can take a look at how your employees are using solutions like Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) or instant messaging. For example, you can monitor an employee while they are on the phone with a client so you can provide valuable feedback on how to improve.

Ultimately, you’ll get the most out of your cloud applications by knowing how your employees use solutions, and why. This knowledge can be used to develop an understanding of the solutions, as well as showcase how you can more effectively use them. If you have software that’s simply not being used, for example, it can be removed from operations entirely so as not to waste further assets on it.

Mobile Device Monitoring
Mobile devices are useful for keeping your employees connected to important information and data, but it comes at a price. They can potentially be quite distracting, leading to lots of wasted time on your part. Employees might not give full control over their personal mobile devices to the employer, though, creating a sort-of catch-22 regarding mobile devices in the workplace. Unless you plan on issuing every single employee a mobile device for enhanced productivity, you need to have a Bring Your Own Device policy to make sure your employees know what they can and can’t do with their mobile devices regarding company data and assets.

If the employee opts in to your BYOD policy, they will know that their device is being monitored, but they will likely just want to know what you can or can’t access and change. This ultimately means that they will be making a sacrifice to be more productive with their smartphones, prompting at least a little reassurance on your part that they don’t have to worry about your business messing with their personal information or changing important data.

How can your business take advantage of monitoring? To find out, reach out to us at (304) 562-4700.

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aanderson@netranom.com (Aaron Anderson) Security Mon, 20 Aug 2018 08:30:09 -0400
How is Blockchain Going to Work with the GDPR? https://www.netranom.com/blog/how-is-blockchain-going-to-work-with-the-gdpr https://www.netranom.com/blog/how-is-blockchain-going-to-work-with-the-gdpr

The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has gone into effect, and with this new law comes a lot of information your organization needs to consider regarding individual data protection. In particular, the technology of blockchain is difficult to talk about in regard to GDPR, as it’s basically an encrypted and distributed digital ledger. How can blockchain work properly in tandem with the new GDPR regulations?

GDPR itself is a bit tricky to understand. Even though it doesn’t have the PII designation, it’s still the strongest data protection law passed to date. Any organization that does business with businesses within the nations of the European Union needs to comply with the regulations outlined in the GDPR. One of the most notable results that we’re sure you’ve noticed regarding GDPR is that many websites have updated their privacy policy, and they are required by law to tell their viewers about this. This is to protect themselves from the fines associated with non-compliance to GDPR.

The biggest issue concerning blockchain technology is found in the GDPR mandate. According to the new regulations, if a company obtains personal information that doesn’t need it, they must delete it. Blockchain nodes can’t be deleted, so it makes sense that the GDPR would be an issue for companies that use them. It’s a strange coincidence that blockchain and GDPR are both meant to improve user privacy, even though the blockchain technology used to this end isn’t compatible with GDPR regulations.

Even though GDPR was designed to adapt to changes in technological innovations, blockchain is already testing its ability to do so. For example, applications that utilize blockchain technology already pair well with the three major points of GDPR: confidentiality, integrity, and availability. The blockchain uses encryption to remain confidential, but the ledger itself remains transparent.

Let’s think about a potential scenario for a customer named Jim. Jim can use a blockchain-based account to pay for his monthly checkup. This works out for him because most of the EU has universal healthcare as a principal. The details of this payment are hidden, but the record shows the overall price in the form of cryptocurrency. Because this company has collected information--encrypted or not--and it’s not needed, this would be a breach of GDPR policy. Consequently, some EU-based companies have stopped accepting Bitcoin and cryptocurrency as payment, though it’s worth mentioning that GDPR isn’t the exclusive cause of this.

Though the GDPR regulations only cover EU-member countries and organizations that do business with them, there is a considerable chance that these regulations will be amended as time goes on. What will this future look like? Will it be more like GDPR, or will it focus primarily on the blockchain? Let us know in the comments.

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aanderson@netranom.com (Aaron Anderson) Technology Fri, 17 Aug 2018 08:30:24 -0400
Tip of the Week: Lead Your Remote Workers to Success https://www.netranom.com/blog/tip-of-the-week-lead-your-remote-workers-to-success https://www.netranom.com/blog/tip-of-the-week-lead-your-remote-workers-to-success

Organizations that have a workforce outside of their normal office location are presented with a unique challenge. In the case of remote employees, businesses have to figure out how to keep them connected to the workplace, productive with their time, and part of the organization’s culture. This week’s tip is dedicated to helping your organization’s remote workers become more successful--or, specifically, how you can help them be successful.

Accessible Solutions
No office is complete without a comprehensive communications solution, but it’s especially important for your business to have solutions designed to help remote employees stay connected to the workplace. This can include the following:

  • Virtual private networks: Any time you have employees accessing sensitive information from outside your network, you want these communications to be encrypted with a VPN.
  • Voice over Internet Protocol: Access to a phone system can make communication much easier, and the best way to do this is with a software-based VoIP solution that can be used on desktops, mobile devices, and laptops.
  • Remote desktop software: Sometimes you have employees who are only remote half of the time. In this case, you can let them remote into their work desktops to access files located on them.
  • Cloud-based applications: Any applications hosted in the cloud are great for remote workers, as they are frequently (or permanently) out of the office, away from their desktops.

Ensure Proper Documentation
Project management is incredibly important for remote workers, as they are disconnected from the everyday hustle and bustle of the office environment. They aren’t going to be available for “by-the-way” conversations that can lead to major breakthroughs in projects. They aren’t going to be there to hear the collaboration going on. Instead, they need a place where they can see all of the details at a glance. Project management software makes this possible by allowing you to allocate tasks and resources to whoever needs them.

Be Inclusive
The most important part of having remote employees is remembering that they are still a part of the team. It can be easy to forget that they are still hard at work for your organization, so be sure to reach out and check up on them once in a while. Remember, remote employees don’t get the social aspect of the workplace that other employees get, so they might find themselves wishing for some human interaction once in a while. Plus, it helps them feel like they are valued by your business--and when employees feel like they are valued, they work harder and better.

Is your business considering going mobile with remote employees? Be sure to reach out to Netranom beforehand to make sure they have all the tools they need to succeed, including software solutions, mobile devices, and so much more. All you have to do is reach out to us at (304) 562-4700.

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aanderson@netranom.com (Aaron Anderson) Netranom Blog Wed, 15 Aug 2018 08:30:19 -0400
Business Communications Are Changing Rapidly https://www.netranom.com/blog/business-communications-are-changing-rapidly https://www.netranom.com/blog/business-communications-are-changing-rapidly

Communication solutions for business are changing rapidly, and most of the new solutions go a long way toward using existing technologies that allow these organizations to save money and get more for the services they already pay for.

There are five major business communications tools on the market today, they are:

  • Telephone
  • Email
  • Conferencing
  • Instant messaging
  • Team collaboration apps

We’ll take a brief look at each to see how they’ve been innovated (or invented) to help businesses like yours build profitability.

Telephone
The telephone, as with any other transcendent technology, has had business grow up merely because of its presence. Of course, around dinner time, those businesses just happen to be the most annoying businesses in the world, but all-in-all they’ve been around for a long, long time so if the brilliance of the technology has dimmed a bit, it still is admittedly necessary for almost every modern business.

For decades, telephone service was dominated by the telephone company; and, while they still exist, many people now get their phone service through their cable provider. For the modern business who needs telephone service with certain options, and who doesn’t need cable, the cable-provided telephone service can get costly fast.

VoIP, or voice over Internet protocol, is an enterprise telephone service that uses your organization's existing bandwidth to place and accept calls, and comes with a lot of the features any company would need, for a fraction of the price they would have traditionally paid. There are all types of VoIP plans and services out there. If you would like to save money, while getting the reliable telephone services you are used to, the friendly consultants at Netranom can help you find the VoIP plan that fits your organization's needs.

Email
Again, email is a technology that almost everyone will be accustomed to using. For the average office worker or salesperson, their email is a constant source of information. A person’s email address is used by most organizations to set up accounts, correspond, and integrate with line of business applications like customer resource management (CRM) software to push notifications in a central area, so workers don’t miss anything.

Today’s email platform is more intuitive and service-laden than in the past. While email is extraordinarily useful, it can be very time consuming, and is the predominant way many organizations get infiltrated by hackers. As phishing schemes get more sophisticated, more people fall into hackers’ socially-engineered traps.

The integrations are email’s biggest superlative feature. Many pieces of productivity software integrate with many separate types of email. In doing so, a worker’s email can provide them with a lot of the information they receive without having to depend on multiple applications to do so.

Conferencing
With more collaborative work going on, and with more technology available to fuel remote connectivity, having virtual meetings has become an important part of many organizations’ communications strategies. Today there are several strong conferencing options that include the ability to share information via screen swapping, video presentation, or face-to-face communication. New conferencing technology moves your meetings out of the boardroom and into the chatroom.

Many times the conferencing software you need either comes with, or successfully integrates with a VoIP solution. Again, our consultants can assess your needs in order to develop a communications strategy that works for your entire company, remote workers and all.

Instant Messaging
By now, everyone that uses social media knows all about the ease of instant messaging (IM). Instant messaging allows your team to communicate with minimal distraction. Nowadays, most business application have some sort of chat program, whether that be a forum-based interface or a direct one-on-one chat interface.

One problem that businesses have with IM is that they are typically part of another program (e.g. Facebook Messenger) and could present significant distractions for workers. Most of these platforms offer a “for business” product, but finding the ones with the security, reporting, and media-sharing features that is commensurate with your organization's needs could be difficult. The consultants at Netranom can help place you alongside the platform that will work for your organization's needs.

Team Collaboration Apps
In what seems to be the next step for business communications, the team collaboration app has become a major player for project management. The two major titles on the market at present, Slack and Microsoft Teams, provide users with an interface that is much like that of the modern email, with all email’s capabilities, but real-time messaging, and integrations with many third-party applications. Set up like a forum, any person on a team can start conversations with whomever they choose and from there, they can drag and drop information crucial to their shared project’s success.

By creating an interface that takes the best parts of all network collaboration tools, team collaboration app developers have successfully innovated the market for team collaboration and project management. If you are interested in getting to know more about these team collaboration applications, contact us and we’ll tell you what application will be right for you.

Being able to properly innovate to be the best business you can be, can be tough. Call the IT professionals at Netranom today at (304) 562-4700 to start taking your organization’s communications to the next level.

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aanderson@netranom.com (Aaron Anderson) Netranom Blog Mon, 13 Aug 2018 08:30:21 -0400
What Exactly Do We Mean by “Managed” Services? https://www.netranom.com/blog/what-exactly-do-we-mean-by-managed-services https://www.netranom.com/blog/what-exactly-do-we-mean-by-managed-services

Managed services - what are they? The short answer, other people managing the IT systems that you rely on every day to be productive and accomplish your tasks. In essence, they are a freedom from dealing with the troublesome and time-consuming parts of leveraging technology. You may have heard this much about managed services before, but have never been given a deeper understanding of what they entail. That is precisely what we aim to accomplish below.

Giving Managed Services a Better Definition
Managed services can be generally defined as any service that you leverage to the benefit of your organization, that another party monitors and maintains on your behalf. Take email, for example, when utilized by a private user. How many private users can you name who run their own email servers? Not many, which would make just about anyone who uses email on a personal level a subscriber to their email provider’s managed services. Any service that you leverage that you don’t need to maintain for yourself is effectively a managed service.

When the term is applied to your IT, “managed” refers to anything information system that you your company may have in-house including servers, end-points, and peripherals. From cloud-based storage and virtualized applications to hardware and software that is maintained and monitored for issues remotely, managed services can effectively allow you to leverage solutions that you may not have been able to otherwise, without the stresses and hassles that supporting the technology may have brought you.

Where Managed Services Came From
As you might imagine, managed services has its roots in the same place that many other technologies and approaches do: a need for improvement over the status quo. Before managed services, the best option for businesses was an approach that we now refer to as break/fix - a piece of technology would start to experience issues (if not a complete failure) and, in reaction to these issues, the business would call in a computer technician to identify and hopefully solve the problem. Whether the technician came onsite or they brought the technology to them, this approach was effective enough for its time, but also presented a lot of practical issues that managed services have since eliminated.

For example, managed services now are focused on providing a quality, proactive service, seeking to eliminate the source of any downtime before it can manifest. The break-fix approach was entirely reactive, which meant that any downtime incurred by the equipment failure was only exacerbated by the time it would take for the break/fix resource to get to the component, identify the issue, and attempt to resolve it. What made it even worse was that the break/fix industry is supported by a lot of return business - which means that, while they’re happy to come in and fix an IT issue again and again, there’s really no motivation to implement a fix that will last. After all, that would mean that they get that much less business.

As a result, businesses that still subscribe to the “fix it when it breaks” mentality often experience repeating issues with their IT, as the break/fix technician has metaphorically used a bandage when the wound called for stitches. Ultimately, this approach leads to wasted money and wasted time… and since time is money, that just becomes all the worse for a business.

Fortunately, managed services have given businesses a much better option.

The Benefits of IT Management
The key to the efficacy of managed IT lies in its proactive stance, and the freedom it provides the business utilizing it. With a managed service provider (also known as an MSP) in the wings, a business can revolve around the opportunities it has, instead of concerns over whether or not its IT is able to support it. The MSP is able to leverage the extensive knowledge of its team to care for a business’ technology solutions and resources, finding resolutions to problems that will last instead of wasting another business’ time and keeping them from improving their business in other ways. What’s more, this all comes at a predictable monthly rate, so you can prepare a budget with far more confidence than otherwise.

Just think of all you could accomplish if you didn’t feel the need to helicopter manage your business’ IT, improving client and customer relations, and your business’ resources were more effectively utilized. Managed services suddenly seem like the only good option, don’t they?

As a trusted MSP to many, Netranom provides each of our clients with the resources that a large business is able to access, at a price point that a small business can easily handle.

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aanderson@netranom.com (Aaron Anderson) Netranom Blog Fri, 10 Aug 2018 08:30:27 -0400