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 Differing from the near-outdated method of disk storage, Flash array is the modern, innovative way to store data.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.

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.

Affordability
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.

ITP Event Announcement: Tech-Quila Mixer!

Just announced! ITP’s latest After Work Network Event, happening in Madison!

Join the ITP ITP Tech-Quilateam at our next event focused on connecting tech-minded individuals in the area! We’ll be hosting a free happy hour and networking event on Thursday, October 20th. RSVP now, this event always fills up quickly. Join us for networking and some knowledge. Stay to have a margarita, tequila-mixer, or beer with our team of engineers! We’ll provide the Tex-Mex spread and a variety of beverages. 

The event is being held at the newest Pasqual’s Cantina on East Washington Avenue in Madison. Parking is easy, there is a large surface lot behind there restaurant. The drinks start pouring at 5PM, with a short presentation on data protection and secure back-up at 6PM. Then kick back and stay to network with others in the area.

Veeam® and ExaGrid will be presenting at the Tech-quila event! Together they provide advanced data protection, and recovery. ExaGrid’s EX Series includes a non-deduplicated landing zone and Veeam’s Accelerated Data Mover, which completes Veeam backups and Instant VM Recovery™ operations up to 3x faster, and maintains backup performance across capacity upgrades.

The result – delivering the fastest full-system restores and tape copies and leading support for Veeam’s Instant VM Restore, SureBackup®, and U-AIR® (Universal Application-Item Recovery). Additionally, ExaGrid is the only appliance that combines compute with capacity, and their unique landing zone permanently shortens backup windows and eliminates expensive forklift upgrades.

Learn more about:

  • High-speed recovery with the ExaGrid-Veeam Accelerated Data Mover
  • Optimizing backup and recovery operations with ExaGrid’s unique landing zone
  • Avoiding data loss with Veeam’s vPower® features at both local and remote ExaGrid sites
  • Increasing retention rates and shortening backup windows with target-side deduplication

The 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!

Ready to register?

Information Technology Professionals Listed on Inc. 5000

ITP Inc 5000Wisconsin tech firm joins the ranks of fastest growing companies

For the second time in three years, Information Technology Professionals (ITP) has been named to the Inc. 5000 List of America’s Fastest-Growing Companies.

Among the 5000 U.S.-based, privately held, for profit, and independent companies, ITP ranks #1892 overall. Locally, ITP is #14 in Wisconsin and #6 in the Madison Metro area.  The Inc. 5000 profile of ITP shows 3-year growth at 197% with revenue in 2015 slated at $4.6 million.  In 2014 ITP was ranked #1866 on the Inc. 5000 list.

The Inc. 5000 list is developed by measuring private companies percentage revenue growth when comparing 2012 to 2015.

“We are proud to be recognized by Inc. and join a list of 5000 growing American companies.  ITP has again been recognized for our great growth and support within the state of Wisconsin. Our teams in Madison, Milwaukee and Appleton are excited to continue serving companies in Wisconsin. Being ranked #14 in our state by Inc. 5000 is very encouraging,” Paul Hager, Information Technology Professionals CEO, said.

ITP is a full-service IT provider offering custom technology solutions to clients in Wisconsin. The company has offices in Madison, Milwaukee and Appleton. ITP was founded in 2003 as a two-man shop, today the company has over 35 employees.

The Inc. 5000 and Beyond

The Inc. 5000 ranking joins our recent recognition at the Microsoft Worldwide Partners Conference (WPC) as a Microsoft 2016 US SMB Champions Club Central Rising Star. The Rising Star award is also decided by overall revenue growth over a certain period. Read more about this recognition here.

ITP also recently joined the Young Entrepreneur’s Council (YEC) – and they included this accolade on their blog. See all of the YEC members who were listed on the Inc 5000 on their recent blog post.

At ITP we use awards and recognitions like these as fuel to keep improving the quality and efficiency of our various services. By providing top-of-the-line, customized solutions and services, we help the businesses in our communities operate at a high level.  Alleviating the burden of IT problems helps local businesses better contribute to our local economy and community.

September Newsletter: Your Fall Tech News

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 some of our upcoming events:
After Work Network: Tech-Quila Mixer! We’re hosting Veeam + Exagrid to share some backup and disaster recovery know-how. The event is Thursday, October 20th at the newest Pasqual’s Cantina location on East Washington Avenue in Madison. Register here >>>
September Webinar: ‘Compliance on a Dime’Avoiding the high costs of non-compliance has never been cheaper. Join us Wednesday September 28th at 1PM for a free webinar session that will cover affordable compliance solutions.
Register here >>>

Thank you for your feedback!

In August we conducted a customer satisfaction survey. Thank you to everyone who participated. Your feedback helps us grow and serve you better. Congratulations to our $100 Amazon Gift Card recipient, Heidi from CORE / EL Centro, a non-profit offering natural healing and wellness services, based in Milwaukee. 
If you missed the survey, click here to share your feedback.

ITP Guide to Successful IT

Technology impacts every part of the organization. Laptops and smartphones make your sales team mobile, while secured and encrypted servers keep trade secrets locked up.

Technology powers your business. Successful and secure technology is everyone’s responsibility.

Get the ITP Guide to Successful IT >>>

Our Team is Growing!

Join our team of dedicated and friendly IT professionals. We are currently seeking:

Click each to learn more about each position!

Compliance Technology Training – Free Webinar

Compliance webinarCompliance frameworks rule the way financial healthcare, and legal firms conduct business.

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.

Every technology device creates logs of its activities.

Devices that create logs include circuits, firewalls, iPhones, and many more. The information collected in these log files includes where that device is going and what it did when it got there. This data is continuously collected and then dumped into a log file for reference. It is archived and available if it needs to be reviewed down the road. In the financial and healthcare industries, it is required that this log information be collected and archived; additional requisites include alerts for suspicious or malicious activity.

However, most small businesses are not currently collecting or monitoring these device logs. Why? Because the tools and expertise required are expensive. This means that these businesses are at risk of being audited and fined, which comes at an even higher price tag. Until now, collecting and monitoring these logs has been expensive and a barrier to doing business.

Meet ITP’s solution to affordable log compliance. 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. We’re hosting a session just for you. Register for this free webinar event, taking place on September 28th at 1PM.

Microsoft Excel 2016: New Features We Love

ExcelMicrosoft Excel saw a slew of updates this year.

If you didn’t already know, Microsoft Excel lets you manipulate, visualize, and share your data. New functions now in Excel 2016 make it simpler and faster to build common calculations, find functions, and chart your data so it can provide useful insights.

This month, Microsoft released a guide of tips, both classic and new, that can help you manage your data better, save time, and present your data more compellingly than ever. And while we thought most of these were awesome and great, some tips and tricks are a little more valuable than others. Here are the updates we think will make your life easier this year….and then a few mulligans that we don’t really see huge value in today. But they might be cooler, and have a larger impact on your Microsoft Excel usage down the road.

Tips & New Features that Topped Our Chart:

#3 Tell Your Data ‘Story’ With 6 New Chart Types: Data is just rows and columns until it gets visualized into charts. Microsoft has now made storytelling of data even easier with six new types of charts. They include: Treemap, Sun Burst, Histogram, Pareto (sorted histogram), Box & Whisker, Waterfall, and Funnel. Each new chart has the same formatting options that you’ve come to love.

#5 Quickly create a forecast visualization with One-Click Forecasting: This is a totally new feature in Office 2016! The new Forecast Sheet button in Excel 2016 lets you use historical time-based data to create a forecast visualization that predicts things like future sales, inventory requirements, or consumer trends.

#15 AutoSum and Quick Sum with the Status Bar: A new button in the Ribbon allows you the quickly get the Sum of a range of cells. The Quick Sum feature – which allows you to select a range of cells and displays the sum in the bottom right Status Bar – has been available since 2003. The the addition of Auto Sum in the Ribbon makes your life just that much easier.

#17 Save time with Flash Fill redundant messages: Gone are the days of splitting first and last name columns manually. When you need to enter a lot of repetitive information in Excel, such as dates, the AutoFill feature can help. But, when you need to quickly split a single column of data into multiple columns, just by typing, Flash Fill can do the work for you. Flash Fill recognizes patterns in your data, and completes the data accordingly.

#20 Combine the contents of multiple cells: This one might blow your mind at it’s simplicity. Combine the text from multiple cells into one cell using the ampersand (&) operator in a formula. So just like we split them in the last tip, combine them using the & sign. Use it in an equation like you’ve always done. ‘=(A1&B1)’

The Mulligans:

So just like there are great new features and functions within Microsoft Excel release, there are a few that have us scratching our heads. I’m sure they will be cool and useful down the road, but right now they seem a little superfluous. Here they are:

#8 Write complex math equations with Ink Equation: Including math equations has gotten much easier. If you have a touch device, you can use your finger or a touch stylus to write math equations by hand, and Excel will convert it to text. (If you don’t have a touch device, you can use a mouse to write, too). Erm. Have you ever tried to draw anything with a mouse? Or even just sign your name with a mouse? Yeah, way easier said than done. This feature might be cooler with larger adoption of touch devices…but right now it seems a little silly.

#6 Discover geospatial patterns with 3D Maps: The popular 3D geospatial visualization tool, previously named Power Map, has been renamed 3D Maps and is now available to all Excel 2016 customers. Again this feature seems really cool, and maybe it’s just the way they are showcasing the feature…but the 3D aspect of it just doesn’t seem super valuable. How can one discern and draw conclusions from this weird looking map. Maybe with a more focused approached, one state or one region, this data view would be more valuable to the user. However, looking at a slew of values from across the entire United States (as showcased in the example) seems silly. I suppose it’s how you use it….maybe it’s not as much of a mulligan as I originally pinned it as.

All of these tips and features were showcased in a Microsoft Resource. Access all 22 of these tips here.

Five Things Great IT Consultants Do

it consultantThink you have a great IT consultant?

Here’s a quick list of the five things that all great IT consultants do and do well. Are you feeling the love from your trusted IT advisor? Are they checking all of these boxes:

  1. Educate: the world of technology changes so quickly that it’s nearly impossible for business leaders to stay abreast of the changes. As such, your I.T. consultant should be educating your business leaders so they can make optimal decisions for the business.
  2. Create: with all the technology options (many of them good options) available to businesses today, there is ample opportunity to customize technology to meet the needs of the business very specifically. Constructing this type of environment takes creativity.
  3. Manage Risk: risk is inherent in technology – it’s just part of what you get when your business runs on technology. Today, with security breaches and the continued complexity of IT, the risks are only growing. As such, intelligent business decisions need to be made regarding these risks. Great IT consultants provide options and information to you about how to best manage your risk.
  4. Maintain: technology still requires good maintenance to run well (and to keep risk to a minimum). Maintenance may not be exciting, but good IT consultants will provide a structured, efficient, and detailed approach to maintaining your technology systems.
  5. Communicate: Communication is a mandatory part of providing really good IT service and good IT consulting simply can’t exist without it. Great IT consultants understand this and employ tools and resources that are easily accessed and understood by business leaders to ensure you know the status of your technology, what’s coming next, and why.

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.