May 24, 2013
5 virtualization benefits for companies
One of the most integral business tools is the computer, as well as related technology, such as servers. This technology allows employees, managers and owners to do their jobs. The problem is often that the hardware running computers and servers is constantly evolving. Keeping your systems up-to-date is costly and many businesses simply cannot keep up. This is why an idea like virtualization can seem so appealing to so many.
Virtualization is the act of taking an existing system, say a server, and creating a virtual copy of it that is hosted either in a physical unit or somewhere out of the office. Some systems you can virtualize include: Desktops, Operating Systems, servers, hardware and storage. Most small businesses start with storage and server virtualization as this can usually be done with relative ease and at an affordable cost.
Benefits of virtualization
The question many business owners ask when they are looking into virtualization is what benefits it can bring. While the positives are numerous, here are the five most common:
1. Reduced space
Physical hardware can take up a lot of space, and the common trend among many businesses is that the space available per person is shrinking in order to save costs. Take for example your servers. If you virtualize these, you can probably fit all of them onto one or two units. This will reduce the space your hardware takes up, freeing up extra storage capacity or possibly another desk.
2. Reduced overhead
Having hardware and servers in an office can be expensive to maintain. You have to have climate control to start with which means higher electricity bills and higher maintenance costs. Virtualization will often reduce overhead costs and save you money. Beyond that, many solutions offer a pay-per-use pricing model which makes predicting costs easier.
3. Quicker backup and recovery
Many virtualization solution providers also offer backup services that can be automated. This means that your vital data is always backed up and protected. Beyond that, the backups can be stored at a different location, meaning that if there is a disaster, you can recover lost data quickly and easily.
4. Longer hardware replacement cycles
Virtualized solutions and platforms often require lower computing resources because they are hosted on the provider's servers. This means that you won't have to replace existing tech hardware. Beyond that, existing systems can be used for longer which will save you money.
5. Virtualization is scalable
If your company is growing, you will eventually have to add new systems. In an already cramped office this means finding the space for hardware or servers needed to support your growth, not to mention investing in systems that are compatible with existing hardware. Virtualization is highly scalable, and can grow with your company, often without the need for extra services.
In general, virtualization could help your business grow, while IT costs remain stable, or are even decreased. If you would like to learn more about how virtualization of your systems can help your company, contact us today.
May 23, 2013
What is social data? How do I use it?
The Internet is still in its infancy. While it is a deeply ingrained aspect of almost every part of life, it still is a bit like the Wild West, in that it can often be unsafe. One way to make it more secure is by increasing user awareness. That's why on February 5 the Safer Internet Day was held. Google got into the action by releasing some interesting security tips all users should follow.
Here's are five tips Google recommends:
1. Use a good password
Your password serves a dual purpose, it identifies you and also allows access to your information, websites, etc. If you have a weak password, or use the same one across different accounts, you are at a higher risk of being hacked. Google recommends that you use an unique password that's long and contains numbers, symbols and letters.
The main idea here is to use unique passwords. You shouldn't be using the same password for your work computer/accounts for online banking or personal accounts. This advice doesn't just pertain to you, as your company's systems should also have strong, unique passwords. If you don't adopt this advice, the chances of someone being able to hack into different systems once they have one password increases.
2. Practice password common sense
Having a strong password isn't enough, you also need to take steps to protect it. You should never send your password over email or share it with others if it can be helped. If you receive emails from your bank, service companies, friends, etc. asking you for your password, they are likely phishing emails, and should be deleted.
It would also be beneficial to change your passwords on a regular basis. There is no set limit, but once a year at the very least is a good idea. If you have trouble remembering long passwords, Google suggests that, "Writing down your passwords isn’t necessarily a bad idea. But if you do this, don’t leave notes with your passwords in plain sight, on your computer or desk."
3. Monitor security settings
Almost every website that you have an account with, Google included, upgrades their security policies on a regular basis. This means that your security settings could change, or more powerful settings could be introduced without you being notified. Therefore, you should periodically review your security settings to see what, if anything has changed, and to update them if new settings are introduced.
4. Be socially responsible
When it comes to online presence, nothing is more powerful for a company's brand than social media. While a great tool, it's all too easy to post something inflammatory, offensive or inappropriate, which could negatively impact your business. Before you post something on either your business or personal site, be sure to look over it and ensure it isn't embarrassing or harmful to your business reputation.
5. Log off/lock it
It's advisable to either turn your computer off after you're done using it, or at the very least log off. This will prevent unauthorized users from being able to gain access. If you use a mobile phone and are constantly signed in to different services/apps, it's a good idea to set your phone to lock itself after a certain period of time. This can be done by going into the security settings on your phone.
These are just five recommended tips from Google's security experts which are well worth taking note of if you want to ensure you and your company's data is safe. If you would like to learn more about how you can make the Internet safer, please contact us today.
Google Play updated, now even better!
When it comes to the environment, almost every company takes steps to 'do their part' and try to do what they can to conserve, recycle or give back. Any steps taken to help the environment, or reduce a company's environmental impact are seen as good in the eyes of stakeholders. The problem is, it can be hard to figure out how to start, or do more. One solution may be smartphone apps.
Here are four great apps that can help you and your employees make your company a little more green.
GoodGuide is an app that can help you find out more about products. Utilizing a barcode scanner, it can provide you with information like where the product comes from, whether it's safe and if it's green.
With over 170,000 ranked products in the app's database, it's a great way to start learning about sustainable and environmentally friendly products. The only downside of this app is that it currently focuses on the US only, and there is no word as to when, or if, service will expand. You can download it to your Apple and Android device for free.
While we are currently living in a digital age, we still get a lot of paper-based junk mail. This is incredibly wasteful, as most people just throw it away. PaperKarma is an app that aims to reduce or eliminate waste paper.
How it works is you take a picture of unwanted mail, the developers will then contact the distributor and ask that they stop sending mail to you. This app could go a long way in helping reduce the amount of paper your office uses, which will mean lower costs for you and less trees felled. It's really a win-win. You can download it to your iPhone or Android device for free.
An important part of any green initiative is recycling. The problem is, it can be hard to find out what, how and where to recycle. iRecycle is an app that aims to set this straight. It provides information on how to recycle almost everything and the nearest recycle points to you.
The app also provides you with recycling centric updates, news and tips to help encourage you to do more. It's available for Apple (iPhone and iPad) and Android devices for free.
If your company has a fleet of vehicles, you are probably always on the lookout for ways to make them more efficient. Whether it be switching tires used, driving at slower speeds to conserve gas or carpooling, finding a way to cut costs is important. greenMeter is an app that could help. What it does is use your iPhone's accelerometer and manually entered data to assess your vehicle's power and gas usage.
While driving, this app provides real-time feedback on how efficient your driving is and how much gas you are using. This will help you conserve fuel (as you can see when you are burning more than usual) which will reduce operating costs and negative environmental impact. It's available for the iPhone and costs USD$5.99.
These are just four apps that can help your company go green. What other CSR initiatives do you take in your company? Let us know! And if you would like more tips on how technology can help you reduce your environmental impact, let us know, we can help.