News from ITP: October Edition


Hello Inc. 5000!

For the second time, Information Technology Professionals (ITP) has been named to the Inc. 5000 List of America’s Fastest-Growing Companies. ITP ranks #1892 on the list overall. Locally we rank #14 in Wisconsin, and #6 in the Madison Metro area. 

Upcoming ITP Events

Each month we curate the emerging tech news and trends that you need to know. Join us for some fun, networking, and knowledge. Check out our latest event.
After Work Network: Tech-Quila Mixer!
We’re shaking it up! Meet us for happy hour + networking. Join us Thursday, October 20th at the newest Pasqual’s Cantina location on East Washington Avenue in Madison. We’ve got a full spread of Tex-Mex and Margaritas ordered up.
RSVP here >>>

See you at WALA!

Our team is headed to the Wisconsin Association of Legal Administrators’ Annual Conference of Education. This year’s theme is Operation: Elevate your Education! The conference is being held on Wednesday, October 19th in Pewaukee.

We hope to see you at the event! We will be giving away a $100 Amazon Gift Card. Stop by our table at the expo to enter to win!

Look at both sides of the switch.

When we look at network switch specifications, we tend to fixate on the numbers on the front of the box. But there is more to the equation…

On the back of a network switch, a network fabric ties everything together. Pay attention to both the number of ports AND the fabric to get the most from the switches you buy.

See how to get more from your switches >>>

Untangling the True Goals of IT Consulting

In the technology side of SMB world, things have gotten a little sideways. IT consultants seem to have strayed (for understandable reasons, I think), from the goal of serving people. Let me explain…

There is a symbiotic relationship between IT consulting and the SMB community. The SMB community can’t function at the highest level without IT consultants or some level of IT consulting services. This is because in nearly every case, it makes very little sense for SMBs to hire internally for every technical skill set they need. SMBs, like all business, depend greatly on the functionality and accessibility of their IT. Can they share their calendar with co-worker? Can they access a secured document in the cloud? Is the phone system up and available on Friday afternoon?

Likewise, many IT consultants exist entirely because of this need. Yet, the part many IT consultants have started to miss is that the true role of IT is to empower people, rather than the business itself. Because at this level of business operations, the people are the business.

Yet, this misunderstanding, although unfortunate, is also understandable. Here’s why:

Without question, today is the most interesting and exciting time in history to build and maintain the systems upon which business runs. Strangely, it can be almost intoxicating at times because building the systems for a business has become a creative endeavor as much as a technical one. Sharp, talented people can now separate themselves by their knowledge and skill, not only technically, but because of their own personal touch. That means making a measurable difference for a business is now based on skill and imagination. And that makes it a brand new world for many IT people.

Yet, for all the nuances, for all the skill and imagination, the goals of every IT team remain the same:

  1. Create efficiencies
  2. Generate measures of productivity
  3. Create competitive advantage for the business

And no matter what, all IT can do is create the systems and environment for people to make these goals a reality. Although there is no shame in the goal of empowering business, it is ultimately misguided. It is only a laser focus on people by the IT consultant that will create the desired results for the business.

This blog originally appeared on ‘The Business Technology Place‘ – a website and blog run by our very own, Joe Ulm. Joe is a Senior Business Development Manager at Information Technology Professionals. Read this article, and more on his website.

Happy Hour is Calling…

Join Information Technology Professionals next week Thursday for our ‘After Work Network’ event!

ITP Tech-QuilaThe ‘Tech-Quila Mixer’ event is being held October 20th at the newest Pasqual’s Cantina location on East Washington Avenue in Madison. You’ll find us enjoying beer, tequila mixers and margaritas from 5-7PM. We were also promised an unending supply of chips and salsa.

This event is sponsored by Veeam® and ExaGrid. The have paired up to provide spectacular data recovery and back up tools. Are you covered in the chance of an emergency? What’s your disaster recovery plan? You may be less prepared than you think.

Join us to discover:

  • The newest and fastest data recovery options on the market
  • How to quickly identify risks for data loss in your current tech environment
  • New people in your neighborhood! Expand your network in a relaxed, no-pressure atmosphere.
  • Your new favorite tequila or mixed drink. Did we mention the event is totally free?

Event details:

WHEN Thursday, October 20th
5:00 – 7:00 PM
WHERE Pasqual’s Cantina
1344 E Washington Ave
Madison, WI 53703
WHAT Join the IT Pros for networking & happy hour!

Register for this event. We’ll save you a seat and bowl of chips >>>


#$&*!…. IT Is Frustrating.

IT is frustratingWhen was the last time you heard any (or all of) these phrases? Whether you are an IT manager, director, consultant…it’s probably not the first time and it definitely won’t be the last. IT is frustrating. Period.

  • “I’m sorry, but those systems aren’t compatible, you’ll need to upgrade your software, first.”
  • “The problem isn’t something we can help with, only the software vendor/Internet provider/other vendor can help.”
  • “If you move to the cloud you’ll gain economy of scale, you’ll change to an op-ex model, your systems will be infinitely scalable, you’ll have multiple layers of redundancy, and it will all be monitored 24×7.”
  • “If we would have known you were running that application we would have recommended a different upgrade path.”
  • “To be fully compliant you’ll need to deploy an IDS, SSO, encrypt all your data, and establish the following policies…”
  • “Our SLA includes a 99.99% guarantee as long as…”

All these statements:

  1. Provide information that isn’t usable to non-technical people  – or –
  2. Provide information too late to be helpful – or –
  3. Include language that is ambiguous

$%@&#! So yes, of course, these scenarios are incredibly frustrating to everyone involved. Yet it’s common dialog that occurs in the SMB world. The reason this happens is because there is a misplaced focus on technology. Indeed, technology is a fantastic tool for business, but none of it matters without people. If we start there, with people (and not just as “end users”), we’ll find ourselves speaking in ways people understand, actually empowering people to do meaningful things, and delivering much more value than can be measured in a spreadsheet.

We believe technology should be delivered with a human touch. That you should know, trust and be able to count on the people who service your technology. That the discussions surrounding technology decisions should be easy to understand, by everyone involved. We believe that technology is more than just being connected, it’s feeling connected. And the way to accomplish that is to have a personal relationship with your IT provider. Remove the frustration. Remove the jargon. What you’re left with is technology that makes sense, a plan for growth that is strategic and timely, and is delivered by people that you trust.

This blog originally appeared on ‘The Business Technology Place‘ – a website and blog run by our very own, Joe Ulm. Joe is a Senior Business Development Manager at Information Technology Professionals. Read this article, and more on his website.

Webinar On-Demand: Compliance on a Dime

Did you miss our Compliance on a Dime webinar?

This webinar training session is now available anytime in our resource library. Stream this session or share it with a co-worker. Simply complete the form below to access this content on-demand.

Compliance on a Dime WebinaAvoiding the high cost of non-compliance has never been cheaper…

Compliance frameworks rule the way business is done in the financial, healthcare, and legal industries.These requirements also impact the measures that firms take to safeguard the private data of their clients and patients. Enterprise-level organizations have the budgets to ensure compliance and privacy with the correct tools and resources. But at the small firm level, achieving and maintaining compliance is much more difficult. Some take the gamble of not making the investment, at the risk of being audited and fined.

Information Technology Professionals (ITP) has developed a solution specific to device log analysis that makes compliance affordable and achievable for any business size. We combine an open source software that aggregates and centralizes log files, with Microsoft Azure to create a powerful compliance tool. This combination allows even a small business to afford a professional version of log analytics.

Not a small business? Medium- and enterprise-level businesses can scale this solution at a fraction of the cost of other compliance tools. Learn more about how you can leverage this unique combination to achieve compliance in this session.

Get access to this session. Complete this form >>>

5 Technology Decisions to Make Now

technology decisionsOne of the most crippling things a business can do is neglect to make decisions. Often businesses and departments wait too long and their hands are forced to make decision without thoughtful consideration or alignment to a long-term strategy. Strangely, this is what most SMBs choose to do when it comes to their technology decisions. The problem is that this lack of strategic decisions is a costly approach with many consequences.

So here are the absolute minimums. These are the things that every SMB should have made a decision on at this point:

  1. Server Virtualization. The advantages of virtualizing your server environment are clear and significant enough that if your server systems aren’t virtualized, you should have a very specific reason why they are not. Desktop virtualization is a different animal and requires a deeper analysis, but it’s still likely an analysis worth doing.
  2. The Cloud. The cloud isn’t the answer for everyone, but every SMB should have performed a business analysis on using the cloud and should now have a “cloud strategy” (or at least a clear decision on how they want to use – or not use – the cloud).
  3. Fiber Internet. More and more of a business’ technical services (and staff) are located remotely (cloud technologies, remote workers, etc.). Internet is the conduit for all of this which makes quality Internet access a must. Fiber service is available at enough locations now, and costs have dropped far enough, that every SMB who can get it, should evaluate it.
  4. Hosted Phone Service. This is definitely one technology that needs to be fully evaluated before deploying (lots of benefits, but some significant drawbacks, too), but the technology is mature enough that every SMB with an aged or poor-performing phone system should evaluate a hosted option.
  5. Office 365. A really good (though not perfect) product that can make a big difference to many businesses. I’m cheating a bit here as Office 365 is a cloud solution, but it’s prolific enough, and the value proposition is substantial enough, that it should be evaluated regardless whether you have a full-blown cloud strategy or not.

Are any of these technology decisions and strategies ringing a bell? These are some of the highest priority conversations that should be happening at your business organization. Make these critical technology decisions before one is made for you. Can you afford to wait for a system goes down, or a technology to become end-of-life? The answer is most likely no.

Consider a conversation with our strategy-focused IT advisors. We’ll help you devise and implement a sustainable strategy for your technology roadmap. We’ll help you plan for the short and the long term, one that is thoughtful and proactive. Contact our team today to start this conversation.

This blog originally appeared on ‘The Business Technology Place‘ – a website and blog run by our very own, Joe Ulm. Joe is a Senior Business Development Manager at Information Technology Professionals. Read this article, and more on his website.

Flash Array Storage: Affordable and User Friendly

Flash Array Storage - Three Reasons to UseFlash Array Storage for the rest of us.

Flash storage technology has taken the IT world by storm. Why? Differing from the near-outdated method of disk storage, Flash array is the modern, innovative way to store data. So what is flash storage? ‘Flash array is a solid state storage disk system that contains multiple flash memory drives instead of spinning hard disk drives. Flash memory, which has no moving parts, is a type of nonvolatile memory that can be erased and reprogrammed in units of memory called blocks.’

Like many new technologies when they first emerge, Flash was initially costly and complex. Recently, however, Flash has evolved to become both economical and user-friendly. Three reasons why it’s a great idea to use Flash for your business are: 1) it’s easy to use, 2) it has excellent performance, and 3) it’s affordable. Let’s dig in a little deeper.

Why Choose Flash Array?

Ease of Use
First, as aforementioned, Flash is no longer complicated to use like it once was. Simplified and now practical for everyday use, with Flash you can set up your system much faster than with spinning disks. We’re talking minutes, rather than hours. Flash provides fewer storage tiers, making it easier to administer a Flash system, and decreasing the time you’ll need to spend on routine tasks.  Also, with much more IO capacity, Flash requires significantly less time spent making tweaks to hard drives to improve performance.

Second, Flash surpasses the performance of traditional disks. With faster speed across the board, it offers 100 to 1000 times the IO performance than disk storage. Also, compared to disk-based options, Flash is more reliable in preserving your data’s integrity, providing exponentially quicker recovery time from drive failure. Flash recovery can be possible in a few minutes, compared to a day and a half of rebuilding a traditional failed hard drive. Moreover, whereas disks have bandwidth limitations, Flash storage allows for more usable resources and is more equipped to handle the rapid rate at which companies create and acquire data.

Third, contrary to common perceptions, Flash storage is affordable. Its cost has dropped dramatically, even over the course of the past few months. In fact, it actually costs the same or less per gigabyte than disk storage, and it can store more usable data for less cost. Flash requires fewer licenses and thus fewer software licensing fees. By taking up less floor space and less energy, Flash actually decreases your energy bills. Utilizing Flash is an excellent way to save money by being more efficient.

Pure Storage is a Flash Storage leading provider. Gartner has just released the 2016 Magic Quadrant for Solid-State Arrays and Pure Storage has been positioned in the ‘Leaders’ quadrant for the third year in a row. Did you know? ITP is a Pure Storage partner and reseller. Thinking about adding Flash Array to your technical environment this year? We’d be happy to talk through why this is a viable options for your business.

The ‘Three Reason to Use an All Flash Array’ white paper originally appeared on the Pure Storage website. Want to see the whole thing? Download this white paper.

Flash Array definition was pulled from the TechTarget Search Solid State Storage resource, here.

Five Signs Your IT Person (or staff) is Top Notch

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Do you have stellar IT staff and team members? Here’s five signs that you do:

  1. You know what they’re doing. Good IT requires good communication – there’s no way around it. This communication needs to come from the IT. team in a way that is structured and consumable by management. To do this, IT teams often use 3 general types of reports :
    1. Status report: The current status of the company’s technology (upcoming projects, risks, status of the team members, etc.)
    2. Progress report: How that status compares against the technology plan (projects, budget, goals, etc.)
    3. Forecast report: What’s next and why (projects, recommended changes to the plan, long-range ideas and options, etc.) Note each component of this report should include the business value/risks of each.)
  2. They have some business acumen. If your staff includes a CIO, then you can expect significant business acumen. If your company’s IT is one or two internal people, then this degree of business acumen is much harder to find. However, at every level, it’s important that your IT team understands at least some basic business principles. After all, IT at its essence, is just a tool for business.
  3. They’re liked. Your IT team services the needs of the business…which is run by people. If your staff members like your IT people that means they can probably communicate reasonably well, have some social skills, and ideally, they have empathy for the user’s situation. These three “soft skills” can make all the difference in how effective a company’s technology can be.
  4. They’re visible. Today’s IT people deliver services to 3 different groups: management, users, and, for larger IT teams, each other. For two of those groups (management and users), doing their job well requires them to be visible (and accessible).
  5. They’re creative. With all the changes in technology over the past 10 years, every business now has many different options for addressing problems and issues.  This, in turn, has changed the technology discussion from “we need to find the technology that will fix the problem” to “which of these viable solutions will best fix the problem.” With all these options, really good IT people can now separate themselves by the way they think about the problem (and the various, associated solutions).  Their own beliefs, ideas, and preferences necessarily impact the solution. Hence, the ability to think creatively on both the business and technical end of any problem is critical.

Of course, there are many more skills and areas to consider when analyzing how good your IT person or team actually is. However, the list above will give you a rough idea how good your IT person or team is. If you find that your IT team meets three to four of the criteria above, they’re generally above average. If they meet all five, do whatever you can to keep them.

This blog originally appeared on ‘The Business Technology Place‘ – a website and blog run by our very own, Joe Ulm. Joe is a Senior Business Development Manager at Information Technology Professionals. Read this article, and more on his website.