Is Your St. Louis Business Big Enough for Managed IT Services?

You don’t need to be a Fortune 500 business to benefit from managed IT. St. Louis small businesses, especially those that deal with customer data, are prime candidates for managed IT services.

Many small businesses wrongly assume they don’t need managed IT solutions because they are small. That is simply not true! Managed IT support frees your time so you can focus energy on more important tasks, like growing your business. These services also help to protect your business from cybercrime, a real and growing threat for companies of all sizes.

Rather than asking yourself if you can afford managed IT support, consider if you can afford not to have it. Let’s take a closer at managed IT and how St. Louis businesses should determine if they need it.

What Is Managed IT?

With the managed IT model, clients retain ongoing IT support, as opposed to the break-fix model in which you only pay when something breaks. Because of businesses’ growing dependency on technology and data, as well as mounting cybersecurity threats, more businesses across the country are opting for managed IT. St. Louis is no exception. Taking a proactive, collaborative approach to your IT can actually help your business save money in the long run and scale more efficiently. The right managed IT partner will devise a plan for backing up and recovering data, ensure your systems run smoothly to support productivity, and help you take precautions to protect your business from cyberthreats like ransomware.

Consider the questions below to help assess whether managed IT services makes sense for your St. Louis business.

Can you handle IT issues in-house?

Irrefutably, your organization needs someone with IT expertise to keep things running smoothly and safely. If someone on your team has this knowledge, as well as the bandwidth to spend a significant amount of his or her work week acting as the onsite system administrator, you may not need a managed services partner. Conversely, if you lack this type of expertise in-house or would rather not add another job function to an employee’s (or your own) docket, an outsourced managed IT solution could make sense.

Do you have a server?

Servers house data, manage network resources, improve security, facilitate centralized backups, and improve the efficiency of your information sharing. If your business has five employees or more, we strongly suggest you use a server. However, servers require maintenance. If your business has one, you are probably a candidate for managed IT support—especially if you don’t have the skills in-house to maintain it on your own.

Do you store user data?

If you store customer information, such as Social Security numbers or even email addresses and phone numbers, you need a top-notch security approach. It isn’t just your business’s information you’re protecting, it is also your clients’! Unfortunately, the more private data you have, the bigger target you are for scammers. Could your business survive a ransomware attack or the loss of data due to user error, technology issues, or a natural disaster?

Is your industry federally regulated?            

You can think of managed IT in two ways: as a tool for running and growing your business, and as a necessary investment in your company’s security. Businesses that are regulated, such as health care practices and financial companies, need to take security especially seriously. Federal regulation mandates that they adhere to certain cybersecurity best practices. Plus, because they have access to so much valuable customer data, they are prime targets for cybercrime.

Do you accept credit card payments?

If you are accepting credit cards, you must achieve and maintain Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliance, which is designed to help make sure businesses protect customers’ payment card information. PCI compliance validation requirements vary depending on your level, as determined by your credit card company, but at the very least, you need a hardware firewall. Higher levels require additional security measures, such as SSL certifications and network intrusion detection. A managed IT solutions partner can help you navigate these requirements. Visit the PCI Compliance Guide for more information on PCI.

Do you have multiple locations and/or employees working remotely?

Companies with multiple locations must be able to share data and communicate securely. Public Wi-Fi is riddled with security risks and a popular target for fraudsters.  If employees are accessing company assets remotely, e.g., your sales team travels with work laptops and phones, then you need to make sure those laptops are not infected with viruses that could impact your entire network when they return to the office.

Solopreneurs or microbusiness owners may decide they feel comfortable handling IT needs themselves. However, for many small business owners, data and technology are just too important, cybersecurity threats too real and rampant, to risk going it alone.

Not all St. Louis managed IT services are created equal. You need a firm that specializes in working with businesses like yours, and that offers quality, trustworthy services at a reasonable price. Anderson Technologies is a managed IT St. Louis company that specializes in supporting small and mid-sized companies. Reach out today by sending an email to info@andersontech.com or calling 314.394.3001.

Is Your IT Services Company Taking You for a Ride?

Technology can be complicated, which makes assessing your IT services challenging. It can be hard to determine if you are paying too much or investing in unnecessary IT services. St. Louis IT company Anderson Technologies provides tips to ensure your business spends its hard-earned money wisely.

It’s easy to overpay for IT services. St. Louis small businesses don’t always have the technical prowess to confidently assess a proposed IT approach, and understandably so! They are experts in their industry, but that doesn’t mean they are experts in IT. They must trust their partners.

Unfortunately, there are vendors who take advantage of the complexity of IT and hide behind jargon to propose investing in solutions that aren’t necessary.

Small businesses have become increasingly reliant on technology. The right IT approach can help give you a competitive advantage by increasing employee productivity and improving customer experience. Plus, cybercrime against small businesses is on the rise, which makes devising a multi-tiered approach to network security paramount. However, there is a difference between educating businesses about the real and growing threat of cyberattacks and using scare tactics to pressure them into purchasing solutions they don’t really need.

Anderson Technologies provides reliable IT services in St. Louis as well as to clients nationwide. We’ve seen questionable business practices firsthand, and we pride ourselves on our honest and transparent approach to managed IT services. We want our clients to be as informed as we are, which is why we’re committed to education. We have even started offering free cybersecurity training sessions where we teach employees how to stay safe online.

How to Avoid an IT Horror Story

Too often, small businesses learn the importance of due diligence and trusting their judgement the hard way. Recently, we met a business that made a large investment for a server that was more sophisticated than needed per the suggestion of a long-term IT services provider. After the vendor installed it, they informed the small business that their company had been sold to a larger IT firm and would now be charging much higher rates for its services. Needless to say, this did not go over well.

As a provider of IT services in St. Louis, we met another business paying monthly for a second internet connection designed to kick in if the main line encountered a problem. The backup ISP’s connectivity and configuration was never tested. When the business encountered technical problems with its primary service and failed over, the secondary connection didn’t work effectively.

Even reliable IT services companies with good intentions may unwittingly suggest investing in IT solutions that aren’t imperative to your business. To help you assess a proposed IT solution, consider the following best practices:

  • Always ask your vendor, “Do I really need this?” The IT services provider should be able to answer in plain English. Too much tech jargon is a red flag.
  • Ask the vendor if there are any simpler or more cost-effective solutions than the one they have proposed. Be wary of over-engineered approaches in which IT vendors design things that are more complicated than necessary, and thus costlier to administer.
  • Get other opinions. The small business we mentioned that was duped into buying a server it didn’t need shopped around to compare prices. The thing is, it asked other vendors to bid on the same over-complicated solution. Rather than asking vendors how much they would charge you for the same solution, present your tech challenge from scratch and ask how they would solve it.
  • Be wary of scare tactics. Cybercrime is real and protecting against it is a necessary investment, but it shouldn’t be used as a means to sell frivolous services. Also, if your IT services provider is suggesting you have connectivity or server speed problems that you and your staff aren’t seeing firsthand, ask as many questions as you need to feel comfortable.
  • Be sure the IT vendor took the time to understand your business requirements in the first place. Perhaps your company’s IT needs are light—email and some web browsing. You probably don’t need the fastest connection on the market. If they aren’t asking about your minimal business requirements, be skeptical.

IT services are complicated, sure, but they don’t need to be over-complicated. Think of it like your telephone: You don’t need to know the intricacies of how the phone company provides a dial tone when you pick it up, you just care that when you punch in a number, you are connected to the person with whom you want to speak. Your computer network should operate in much the same way.

When you have a reliable IT services partner you can trust, you will be confident you aren’t paying for services you don’t need, or paying too much for the ones you do.

If you think you’re being taken advantage of or would like a second opinion, give Anderson Technologies a call. We are a St. Louis IT services company dedicated to providing honest, simple, and effective IT solutions. Reach out today by sending an email to info@andersontech.com or calling 314.394.3001.

7 Reasons Why Your Business Should Consider Managed IT Services

There are reasons why more and more businesses are opting for managed IT services, as opposed to break-fix—reasons that include proactive management, cost-savings, quality, breadth of service, and peace of mind.

As small business dependence on technology increases, so must the focus on IT-related issues. Most companies cannot function without reliable, secure internet and computer systems. Many are storing increasing volumes of data digitally, which makes IT security even more important for themselves and for the customers they serve.

Managed IT services is commonly likened to automobile maintenance. You take your vehicle to the mechanic routinely in an effort to get ahead of issues that could affect its performance and longevity. Not to mention that failing to do so could cost you a fortune. A growing number of small businesses are approaching IT in a similar way, opting for ongoing, routine maintenance, rather than only calling the experts when something breaks. Let’s compare the break-fix approach with managed IT services and consider how a long-term, strategic approach to IT could benefit your business.

Break-Fix: As the phrase implies, in this reactive approach IT vendors only engage with clients when something is broken and needs attention.

Managed IT Services: With the managed services model, clients pay monthly to retain ongoing, proactive IT support. This typically covers everything needed to make sure business technology runs smoothly.

The benefits of managed IT services include:

  1. Proactive Approach

With the managed services model, your IT partner takes a hands-on approach to preventing technical issues that interrupt productivity and cost your business time and money. Everyone is incentivized to get ahead of problems and to create the most secure and efficient systems possible for your business. Together, you’ll avoid potential IT hiccups, rather than just scrambling to fix them when they occur.

  1. Reliability

The break-fix model locks you into always putting out fires. The atmosphere can be stressful and frantic. There’s no time to discuss long-term goals or ways to help your business run more smoothly. With managed services, the goal is to avoid those fires in the first place. You can trust the outsourced IT services partner is doing everything it can to help your business.

  1. Ongoing Protection Against Cyber Threats

Cybercrime is projected to cost businesses an estimated $2 trillion by 2019. No company can afford to ignore this. Criminals unleash new strains of malware all the time. The number of zero-day threats discovered has been steadily rising, according to research from Symantec. Businesses must monitor and update their layers of protection continually. With managed services, IT specialists do this for you and work to minimize the chances that you will become one of many businesses that lose time, money, and data to cybercriminals.

  1. Aligned Goals

For the most part, when IT firms work on a break-fix model, they are not incentivized to help clients avoid future problems. Of course, a reputable, trustworthy IT partner should still do its best to provide exemplary services, but there is something to be said for the alignment of goals that the managed IT services model creates. Both parties work together to create and maintain the best systems possible—systems that run smoothly and at optimum speed while remaining malware-free.

  1. Breadth of Offering

If you are only calling your outsourced IT services provider when something stops working, you probably aren’t taking time to discuss all of the other ways that it can help your business. Managed IT service providers can do so much more than preventing fires, including handling IT security, backups and disaster recovery, network and computer performance, remote access, the IT needs of new employees, and compliance-related issues.

  1. Cost-Effectiveness

A managed services approach can prove more cost-effective, especially long-term, than break-fix because the client and the outsourced IT services partner work together to stay ahead of what otherwise might develop into more costly problems if left unmanaged. The right outsourced IT services partner can also drive cost-savings by helping you make smart purchasing decisions about things like equipment, software, and storage.

  1. Peace of Mind

With IT, the stakes are high. It is easy for someone who isn’t an expert to make a mistake of consequence. One of the biggest benefits of managed services for busy professionals is peace of mind. They can check “IT” off their to-do list and rest assured their company’s IT needs are being handled professionally.

With the managed IT services model, your business gains a dedicated team that is constantly thinking about your company and its interests. Anderson Technologies, a St. Louis IT consulting company and managed IT services provider, is invested in its clients’ success and takes an active and ongoing approach to ensuring it. To learn more, call 314.394.3001 or email info@andersontech.com today.

An IT Tale of Two Cities: Why a New York Non-Profit Chose a St. Louis IT Consulting Company for Its Outsourced IT Services

For High Ridge House, a provider of Christian Science nursing care based in the Bronx, New York, keeping up with technology changes and evolving health care legislation issues had become challenging to handle on its own. With fewer than 50 employees on staff, it didn’t make sense to hire a full-time information technology (IT) expert, so the non-profit organization decided to outsource its IT needs to Anderson Technologies, a St. Louis IT consulting company. The partnership exemplifies two growing trends: the rise in outsourced IT services for small businesses as opposed to hiring a firm to “put out fires” as needed and the use of remote technology to make long-distance work relationships possible.

Taking an ongoing, active approach to information technology, including IT security, allows small businesses “to get out ahead of issues rather than just react to them when problems occur and to have a plan in place to solve them quickly should they arise,” explained Virginia Hughes, Assistant Administrator at High Ridge House.

For High Ridge House, taking a complete, long-term view of IT allows it to run its business reliably and securely, stay Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) compliant, unlock cost-savings, and improve its guests’ ability to communicate with loved ones.

HighRidgeHouse-ITTaleTwoCities

No Longer “Pennywise, Pound Foolish”

Before choosing a partner, the High Ridge House team met with three qualified outsourced IT services companies, including a local firm. Anderson Technologies made this short list because Hughes previously worked for one of its clients in St. Louis who was pleased with the collaboration.

Hughes admitted they had some initial concerns about a remote relationship, “but because I work from home in Boston half-time, I have already seen the tools that allow people to work remotely, and I have confidence in them,” she said. The High Ridge House team also felt confident in Mark Anderson, principal of Anderson Technologies, who flew to New York to present the firm’s outsourced IT services.

The facility had gone years without upgrading systems, which in hindsight, was “pennywise and pound foolish,” explained Hughes. “Mark was good at weighing our short-term and long-term needs, as well as the economics of the decision. We are non-profit, and we have to be careful about how we spend our money, but technology is also an important part of our ability to do our work. Anderson Technologies has a great sense of how to balance the possibilities with the economics.”

Hughes and her team also valued Mark’s ability to explain complicated IT issues simply. He identified IT security and compliance issues that needed immediate attention and devised a plan for tackling them as cost-effectively as possible.

Not Sleeping in the City that Never Sleeps

Mark and Senior Systems Administrator Luke Bragg spent a week in New York, armed with an impressive to-do list. They installed a new server, new workstations, new Wi-Fi infrastructure, new copies of Microsoft Office, custom third-party applications, anti-malware software, upgraded the firewall’s firmware, and more. They did everything necessary to get the office running smoothly, securely, and in compliance with HIPAA, often working until 2 a.m. to make it happen.

HighRidgeHouse-MarkLukeOnSite

Luke and Mark of Anderson Technologies after each putting in over 70 hours in 4 days

“They were awesome!” Hughes enthused. “They had a plan, but they understood that any time you are working on a project that is this large and complicated, surprises will come up. They always stayed calm, optimistic, and cheerful. It was just a joy to work with them.”

High Ridge House’s guests reaped the benefits straightaway. “Previously, the Wi-Fi signal wasn’t strong in a number of rooms. Sorting that out made an immediate difference to the patients, who could then FaceTime or Skype with family and friends,” said Hughes, adding that it also improved the quality of life for the nursing staff, many of whom have family abroad.

The Long-Term Goals of Outsourced IT Services

With the initial legwork behind them, Mark and his team now support High Ridge House from their office in St. Louis, although they will visit New York for check-ins. High Ridge House’s goal is to stay abreast of relevant technology and HIPAA regulation developments affordably and to plan ahead so it can avoid another massive update. Most importantly, it wants to ensure technology supports its chief mission.

Anderson Technologies is thrilled to help support that plan. “Mark and his team aren’t just passionate about technology, they are into the relationships as well,” said Hughes. “That makes this all more rewarding for us, and for them.”

Anderson Technologies is a St. Louis IT consulting company that partners with local and national clients to improve the efficiency and reliability of IT functions, enhance IT security and compliance, and take a proactive approach to maintenance with a focus on cost-savings. For information about outsourced IT services, including IT security, cloud services, hardware and software acquisition, and more, call Anderson Technologies at 314.394.3001 today.

Outsourced IT Services: Why Your Business Needs Managed IT Services, Not a Break/Fix Approach

An increasing number of small businesses are taking a managed services approach to information technology (IT), forging long-term, strategic partnerships with outsourced IT services providers. The global managed services market is predicted to reach $193 billion by 2019, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12.5 percent, according to CompTIA’s 4th Annual Trends in Managed Services report.

The survey found that the top factors driving this growth for small and mid-sized business owners are improved efficiency and reliability of IT functions, enhanced IT security and compliance, a proactive approach to maintenance, and cost-savings.

When you opt for managed IT services, you don’t have to worry about your business’s ongoing technology needs or the cyber threats it faces daily. You pay a monthly fee to retain a partner who works with you, and for you, to keep your business running smoothly, safely, and in compliance with industry regulations.

This is in stark contrast to the break/fix outsourced IT services model, in which you only pay an IT provider when you need something. With managed IT services, your provider works to identify problems before they happen, and in the end, saves you time and money. Just as regular maintenance checks for your car can help spot and address minor issues before they become big ones, managed services does the same for your IT needs.

How Managed IT Services Work

A managed IT services partner installs a small suite of software that allows it to monitor your devices and infrastructure remotely, no matter where you are located.  (Read why a NY-based business opted to work with a St. Louis IT company.) The software also alerts the service partner to potential issues, such as IT security threats or storage issues. This allows for proactive management. The vendor gets a complete view of your business and maintains the knowledge needed to do what’s best and most cost-effective long-term, as opposed to just plugging holes and putting out fires, which often ends up costing more in the long run.

A managed IT services partner will help assess, improve, and maintain, the following business areas:

  1. IT Security

As much as we’d like IT security to be a turnkey, passive process, it’s not. It requires constant scrutiny, perpetual skepticism, and skilled intervention. Installing anti-malware and anti-virus software isn’t enough. You need to make sure the programs are updated regularly.

Additionally, many take a “set it and forget it” approach to firewalls, but you must review security logs and install firmware patches routinely. Patching also requires great care while failure to do so leaves your business vulnerable.

Managed IT services partners also stay informed and know when patience is needed or when additional configuration make sense. For example, not every Microsoft Windows update should be automatically installed. Someone needs to review it to ensure its applicability for your particular situation. And setting up a secure Wi-Fi network isn’t as simple as installing a box. Many small businesses don’t have the time or the expertise to tackle these ongoing tasks.

  1. Backups and Disaster Recovery

Every business needs a plan for backing up its business-critical data regularly, and for firms in regulated industries, it is especially critical. An outsourced IT services partner will establish back-up procedures and audit them consistently.

  1. Hardware Performance

Are your servers, workstations, printers, and other devices performing optimally? Does your business have time to manage all these elements and to handle the IT administrative components that come with hiring new employees? A managed IT services firm makes sure your team members can work productively from day one.

  1. Remote Access

Do you and your employees need to access work files remotely? Doing so is convenient, but it can open a host of threats to your business. An outsourced IT services partner will make sure you have a plan for remote access and data sharing that is as secure as it is easy to use.

  1. Compliance

A managed IT services company will help you stay on top of industry regulations, such as HIPAA or financial legislation, so you can rest assured you are in compliance.

  1. Ongoing Support

Maybe you’ve accidentally deleted a week’s worth of work or clicked a link you shouldn’t have. Maybe you’re having trouble printing or even lost your connection to the network completely. Every professional has experienced that quintessential moment when you need help now. With managed IT services, you’ll know whom to call and be confident you’ll get the help you need quickly from someone who understands your business.

Your outsourced IT services partner should be able to explain IT issues to non-technical people. It should also have a plan for consistent communication. Anderson Technologies, a St. Louis IT consulting company and managed IT services provider, runs ongoing reports assessing the status of its clients’ infrastructure and devises plans for improvement. Call 314.394.3001 today to learn more.

Top Considerations When Selecting a Cloud Backup Provider

In the past two years, 63 percent of small and medium businesses (SMBs) began using an online or cloud-based backup service.

Clutch, a B2B research firm, recently surveyed 304 SMBs who use cloud-based, online backup solutions to determine how businesses use the technology and what they think about it. Mark Anderson, Principal and IT Strategist for Anderson Technologies, was one of several industry experts to review and provide feedback for Clutch’s publication on the survey’s findings. Specifically, he pointed to three factors that SMBs should consider when selecting a backup solution.

  1. Level of Service Offered

A big name does not automatically equate to big results for your business. SMBs surveyed listed Apple iCloud as the most popular backup solution used at work, followed by Google Drive and Dropbox.

Top 3 Backup Services Used at Work

However, despite these services’ popularity, they do not have full-service offerings. They may not meet a business’s more complex backup and recovery needs.

The prevalence of these three services point to companies focused on performing more file-level backups versus “bare-metal” backups. Companies wouldn’t be able to quickly and efficiently recover an entire server this way, and depending on their tolerance for downtime, they should investigate augmenting these offerings with other, more robust options.

  1. Capability to Perform Dual-Destination Backups

Do you want to store data both on-premise and online? If so, make sure your online backup solution can perform dual-destination backups. This setup provides peace of mind in the case of total data loss.

An overwhelming majority of SMBs — nearly 90 percent — already use both online and onsite backup.

Does your company use both online and on-premise backup?

In the event of a physical disaster, backing up data to the cloud allows SMBs to get back on their feet quickly.

The ability to perform a dual-destination backup gives clients the option of quick on-premise file restores as well as cloud recovery in the case of complete office loss due to fire, flood, or other natural disasters.

Meanwhile, having the option of on-site backup can assuage fears of the cloud’s potential failures since many businesses remain wary of the technology’s ability to keep data secure.

For years, on-premise was the only option available to businesses. This history is ingrained in IT departments the world over, and the fact that you can physically control the process is very compelling. However, it’s important to consider the cloud option in parallel.

  1. Cost Breakdown

Cost is one of the top three challenges SMBs face when deciding to use a cloud-based, online backup solution as well as one of the top fears that can prevent SMBs from adopting cloud services.

The majority of SMBs spend between $250-$5,000 yearly on their online backup. The top percentage (23%) spend $501-$1,000.

Yearly Spending on Online Backup Solutions

There are three primary factors influencing the price tag for online backup providers:

  1. The number of systems that need to be protected
  2. The amount of data being stored indefinitely
  3. Provision of dual-destination backup

However, the cost of using online backups should be contrasted with an SMB’s ability to provide the same level of service in-house. The security and reliability of top-tier cloud vendors’ state-of-the-art data center infrastructure and the systems they put in place will be far more robust and stringent than what a small to medium-sized business can afford.

While online backup solutions’ accessibility, cost efficiency, and security make them a smart choice for small businesses, it is necessary to consider the array of product choices carefully before selecting a service.

If you’d like to look into cloud backup services for your business with one of Anderson Technologies’ specialists, please give us a call at 314.394.3001 or send an email to info@andersontech.com.

Data Backups

Where is My Backup Located?

You may not believe this at first, but geography can be essential to the integrity of computer systems. If your company experiences a local disaster, where you house your backup data becomes imperative. The following computer backup solutions illustrate the three location-specific types, each with pros and cons.

  1. On-Premise

Implementing an on-premise backup is a simple way to establish a local backup data repository. These backups are straightforward to put in place and can be saved to external hard drives, flash drives, tapes, or other electronic media. Computers can be programmed to back up files automatically or manually. We recommend systematizing the process and establishing a backup schedule that meets your company’s data recovery requirements.

  1. Offsite

Some businesses perform an offsite backup daily or weekly to a removable media device and then transport it to a separate location. It is important to store your data in more than one physical location should something happen at the primary office to compromise the integrity of the local backups. While this may seem arduous and time-intensive, offsite backups protect against theft, fire, or other natural disasters that could otherwise compromise your business.

  1. Cloud-Based

Utilizing a reliable internet connection, cloud-based services automatically back up data from your local systems to remote servers over secure, encrypted connections. Depending on the options selected and how they are configured, some cloud-based backup solutions can also be programmed to save a second copy of data to a local data repository. This gives a company the best of both worlds (on-premise and offsite through the cloud) and provides peace of mind that all of your digital data is safe and available in case anything happens to your computers.

Which of These Backup Solutions Is Right for You?

On-PremiseOffsiteCloud-Based
System RequirementsBackup host computer, backup software, external hard drive(s), tapes, or other electronic mediaBackup host computer, backup software, removable mediaSoftware subscription, reliable internet connection
Costs/FeesHigher initial out-of-pocket cost for backup software and backup mediaHigher initial out-of-pocket cost for backup software and removable backup media; Occasional purchases of additional removable media (depending on retention policy)Monthly fee varies based on number of machines to backup and amount of data
Time to ManageAfter initial setup, the system is programmed to back up files automatically but user monitoring is required to audit processManual backups can be performed anytimeAfter initial setup, the system is programmed to back up files automatically; Full monitoring available
Data AccessibilityOn-premise onlyMust be retrieved from offsite locationAvailable via secure credentials anywhere internet connection is available
Data EncryptionLimited by hardware and softwareLimited by hardware and softwareFull data encryption
SynchronizationCan be programmed to execute backups frequently — hourly, daily, weekly, etc.None; Remote media transfers handled manuallyCan be programmed to execute backups frequently —continually (in some cases), hourly, daily, weekly, etc.
Risk/LiabilitySingle location point of failureRemovable media could be lost, stolen, or dropped/corrupted in transitRetrieval of data unavailable during internet outages (unless local copy also configured)

At Anderson Technologies, the backup solution we most frequently recommend is a cloud-based solution that has the ability to perform a “dual-destination” backup. Clients have on-premise recovery options as well as cloud recovery in the case of complete office loss due to fire, flood, or other natural disasters.

If you’d like to consult with one of our specialists about your backup system needs, please call us at 314.394.3001 or send an email to sales@andersontech.com.

St Louis IT Experts Assist Financial Services

St. Louis IT Experts Assist Financial Firm for Over 15 Years

For deep-value investing firm Towle & Co., it pays to have St. Louis IT experts advising them on the computer systems running their business. Towle & Co. has worked with Anderson Technologies for over 15 years, seeking advice whenever technology changes or industry requirements demand it. When you pay for professionals to plan your entire network, you can be confident your systems are properly configured.

Joe Bradley explains, “In IT, you’re totally exposed to whoever comes in, so trust is paramount. Anderson Technologies is a trusted resource — we can trust them completely.”

A few years ago, Anderson Technologies helped Towle & Co. move their file and application servers to an industry-specific cloud-based solution. Regulatory requirements were changing, and cloud-based systems offered improved reliability and redundancy. Towle & Co. wanted to maintain client data security while ensuring regulatory compliance and turned to the St. Louis IT experts at Anderson Technologies to help investigate options that best supported these needs.

After a successful cloud migration, Towle & Co. still had local computing infrastructure to maintain, and Anderson Technologies configured it for maximum long-term performance. While a server typically lasts between three and five years prior to being upgraded, many small businesses look to stretch their investments by extending the service life of their equipment. Anderson Technologies understands this fiscally prudent approach and helps its clients take full advantage of equipment investments while guarding against potential complications that might arise from such a strategy.

Last year, Towle & Co. experienced a hard drive failure on a seven-year-old server. Anderson Technologies had architected the server with a RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Disks) subsystem. As a result, Towle & Co. did not suffer a second of downtime — or lose a single file. The system continued to operate properly until the issue could be permanently addressed.

Towle & Co. chose to invest in Concierge Services for this new installation. Thus, after turning up the replacement server, the St. Louis IT experts at Anderson Technologies reconfigured every workstation so staff wouldn’t experience any difference in their workflows. They preserved all users’ local desktop customization, maintained internet favorites for each browser, and mapped printers correctly. There was no interruption to employee work.

To avoid the potential headaches that come from server failures, the safest and most cost-effective solution is to invest in Managed Tech Services to monitor systems. It’s easy to ignore maintenance issues, but this approach results in more frequent equipment malfunctions. All small businesses should regularly audit current systems to ensure proper security measures are in place, review performance, and establish an appropriate data backup strategy.

If you are currently struggling with a computer challenge, we’d love to help! Please either call us at 314.394.3001 or complete our Contact Us form online.

St. Louis Computer Experts-IT Infrastructure Success

St. Louis Computer Experts Share Their Secrets for IT Infrastructure Success

The start of a new year is full of expectation and a great time to look forward and plan how to best grow and “do things better.” We recently spent time reflecting on some of the IT challenges we’ve seen small to mid-sized businesses experience and how best to avoid them. The question becomes, “What do businesses need to do well in the IT infrastructure space in order to best set themselves up for success?”

Two primary categories must be addressed: internal and external systems and efforts. Throughout the coming year, our St. Louis computer experts will share more detailed information on many of these areas to give you technological peace of mind. For now, let’s take a quick look at infrastructure issues you need to be thinking about.

Internally: Within Your Office

  1. Maintaining a stable computer infrastructure environment
    • How well do your workstations, servers, routers, firewalls, printers, and other hardware operate? Are they secured against external threats? Are they up-to-date or just “limping along?”
  2. Having a reliable wired and wireless network
    • Do clients or employees bring their laptops to meetings in conference rooms? Do you allow open access to your Wi-Fi network, or are those networks password-protected? Do you have both PCs and Macs and, if so, can they talk to each other? Can they both save documents to any shared drives you may have? When you send something to the printer does it actually print, or does it go into a “black hole” of unprinted documents?
  3. Managing robust network security
    • Your networks should be secure and accessible only by those with approved access. Are there any vulnerabilities in your systems that need to be remedied?
  4. Consistently backing up business-critical data
    • Losing a file erases your time, data, and effort. Make sure you have backups that actually work. Have you tested your backup systems recently to see if you can actually retrieve a document from your backup system? Just because it’s sitting somewhere “in the cloud” doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s properly backed up.
  5. Protecting computer infrastructure and business-critical data from malware: viruses, spam, ransomware (cryptolocker)
    • It only takes one corrupted file to wreak havoc with your whole data infrastructure. If you are in a non-critical industry, it might not seem worth the extra effort to properly protect yourself. But if data reliability and systems functionality are important to your business, you’ll want your systems locked down like Fort Knox.
  6. Protecting clients’ private data
    • Whether the law requires you (for firms entrusted with sensitive client information) or whether it’s more of an expectation in your industry, you need to have the proper systems in place to protect customer records and personal data.
  7. Being vigilant against developing cyber threats
    • Cybercrime happens at the speed of data. Hackers know that a brilliant piece of malicious code today will be worth very little six months from now. They won’t wait, neither should you.
  8. Complying with all governmental regulations appropriate for your industry (HIPAA, etc.)
    • For some industries, there are very specific, very strict rules that need to be followed; for others, there are merely “guidelines” that act as the hallmark of a company following “best practices.” Do you know the rules for your industry, and do you have a plan to keep abreast of changing regulations?

Externally: What Do You Need?

  1. Reliable e-mail platform capable of weeding out spam as much as possible
    • Of the hundreds of e-mails you get a day, how many of them could be classified as digital junk mail? Can you access your e-mails from anywhere, and does your e-mail automatically update in a timely manner? While it might seem like a hassle to switch e-mail platform providers, the benefits might be worth it!
  2. A digital presence which accurately communicates your organization’s value to your target audience
    • Websites, social media platforms, SEO efforts, Google AdWord campaigns and a whole host of other digital outlets should put you in the spotlight in the most strategically-grounded way.
  3. Reliable website hosting
    • Not all web hosting is created equal. For a few additional dollars per month, have the confidence your website is automatically backed up,secured from external threats, and kept “up-to-date.”
  4. Reliable telephony infrastructure
    • How many problems do you experience with your VoIP phone system in a day?Lost calls equate to frustrated customers and potentially lost sales. Don’t let an outdated telephone system weaken your growth efforts.
  5. The ability to collaborate effectively with clients, employees, and vendors
    • Let’s face it; we live in a shared, digital world where sending files via FTP and e-mail is considered too slow. People don’t want to wait for files to be delivered via e-mail; they want them immediately! And they want to be able to make changes and share those changes with colleagues or clients right now. Set yourself up with fastest methods of data transfer and enhance your collaboration efforts.

There are a many components to keep track of and successfully put in place in order to fully realize a reliable IT infrastructure. Master them and your business will experience less hassles, less downtime, and less computer angst. Keep a firm grasp on these core concepts and you’ll experience more—more productivity, more confidence, and more success.

And as always, if you have a pressing need we’d be happy to help!

Managed Tech Services and Dog Hair

Managed Tech Services and Dog Hair

Dogs haven’t changed in the last 20 years… But technology has.

Country Acres Pet Resort owner Greg Thompson has a complex business with simple computing needs.

“Our 11,000 square foot resort and grooming facilities are spread out over three buildings with network cables running underground. Our server and computer workstations experience the normal wear and tear of small business life,” he explains. Plus, he says, “There’s lots of hair in this environment!”

The facility provides a loving home-away-from-home for animals every day of the year so Greg relies on Anderson Technologies’ Managed Tech Services (Citadel) to keep his computer infrastructure running smoothly all the time. The network is kept secure by a hardware firewall, all computers patched against outside threats, critical business data backed up, and proprietary kennel software updated regularly to run the resort.

Country Acres’ experienced staff uses their computer systems to help give each pet warm, loving, and expert care on a reliable basis. If a computer was to experience a problem or to go down, it would have a direct impact on the business’ ability to provide needed services on a timely basis. Greg counts on Anderson Technologies to foresee upcoming issues and ensure they are always up and running.

One of Greg’s main concerns is software upgrades. “My needs don’t really change that often, but the tech world does. For example, QuickBooks™ requires that I upgrade every three years. Whenever I get a message to upgrade any of my major software resources, I call Anderson Technologies. They make sure I’m always up to date with server and workstation security patches, operating systems updates, anti-malware/spyware, and the kennel software programs critical to my business. I have trusted Anderson Technologies as my IT professional service provider for over 15 years. They are honest, highly skilled, detail oriented, and they actually care about how your system works. I trust them 100% and working with them gives me ultimate peace of mind for my technology needs.”

Learn more about Anderson Technologies’ Managed Tech Services at https://andersontech.com/services/managed-tech-services and Country Acres Pet Resort at http://countryacresresort.com.