Client Story: What Managed IT Services Means to This St. Louis Dental Office

Nearly every small business can benefit from managed IT services, but for dental offices, IT support is particularly important. Dental practices, like all companies entrusted with private client information, are prime targets for cyber criminals, and no small business can afford a data breach. Discover how managed IT services helps this St. Louis dental office keep running smoothly and securely.

Jo Ann Emery, business manager at Smile Station Dental, a dental office in St. Louis, Missouri, understands that cybercrime is a real and growing threat for small businesses. “We know friends that have been victims of ransomware. They run small dental offices, too. Why would cyber criminals go after them and not us? It is because we are better protected,” she says.

Smile Station Dental’s peace of mind is thanks to a long-term partnership with Anderson Technologies, a managed IT services provider based in St. Louis. The Anderson Technologies team understands dental IT support and the unique needs of this space. Earlier this year, it even provided free cybersecurity training for dentists, in partnership with the Greater St. Louis Dental Society.

Emery is right to recognize the explosion of data breaches. Cyber criminals see the growing adoption of healthcare IT as an opportunity, particularly since healthcare organizations typically spend less of their IT budgets on cybersecurity than other high-risk industries, like finance and the federal government. In the fourth quarter of 2016, there were more than 700,000 hacking attempts per minute against healthcare organizations.

“A security breach has such financial repercussions. Dental firms aren’t just handling financial information—they have healthcare information, too, which means if we are hacked, we could also face HIPAA violations,” explains Emery.

Anderson Technologies makes sure the dental office takes all possible steps to protect itself from ransomware, cybercrime, and other forms of data loss. It also implemented a process for backing up business-critical data, providing the office with a quick and easy way to get up and running again should disaster strike.

Emery appreciates having a managed IT services partner for troubleshooting IT issues. She can call Anderson Technologies with questions or concerns anytime. The team is always responsive. “This is helpful because it means I don’t have to drop what I am doing to try to fix a problem—a problem I probably don’t even understand, because I am not a computer expert,” she says.

Managed IT Services When You Need Them

When Smile Station first became a managed IT services client of Anderson Technologies, it was having trouble with its network speed and internet connectivity. “We were being intermittently dropped by our ISP [Internet Service Provider]. The internet would come back on, but it was happening frequently and just enough to disrupt us,” recalls Emery.

She tried troubleshooting the issue, but the ISP, after conducting numerous line tests, claimed it could detect nothing wrong. “Mark [Anderson] and his team were able to monitor our network and note the exact dates, times, and durations of the outages. They then got on the phone on our behalf and solved the problem.”

“At first it was a round robin with no apparent solution,” explains Anderson. “Smile Station wasn’t getting reliable service, but the ISP couldn’t seem to see the problem. We collected data over a multi-month period and then, armed with that data, worked our way up the chain with the ISP until they finally acknowledged they had an issue and resolved it.”

If you are in the market for managed IT services, Emery suggests asking potential vendors about their approach to service: “Ask them, ‘If I call you with a problem, how long before that problem will be addressed?’” She adds that when it comes to IT issues, problems tend to be urgent and need attention immediately, not in a few days or whenever the managed IT firm can get around to it.

Case in point: On December 30, 2015, Smile Station faced a potential flood. In response, the Anderson Technologies team jumped into action, securing the office quickly and calmly. The office manager even called Anderson “a tech angel.”

From floods to cybercrime to everyday IT issues, the right IT partner can help your dental office handle it all. Anderson Technologies is a managed IT services firm in St. Louis that is committed to providing timely and attentive service to all its clients. For more information about our approach to service, or about dental IT support, email info@andersontech.com or call 314.394.3001 today.

Taking Email to the Cloud: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at an Office 365 Email Migration

This St. Louis business enlisted Anderson Technologies to migrate its email hosting to the cloud and to provide ongoing managed IT services so it could have more peace of mind.

Denise Rathbun, director of operations at Jamplast, first learned of Anderson Technologies when she received an invite to one of its free cybersecurity trainings, which it hosts for local businesses and community members.

Jamplast is a leading distributor of raw plastic materials and biopolymers based in the St. Louis area with a distribution center in Mt. Vernon, Indiana. Last spring, Rathbun began meeting with companies so she could choose a partner to help with an Office 365 email migration and to provide managed IT support. She invited Anderson Technologies to submit a proposal.

In the end, Rathbun chose Anderson Technologies because she was impressed by its people and setup, and she appreciated that it was a family-owned, local St. Louis business. “We were looking for a partner that would be proactive and make suggestions and recommendations before problems arise. Anderson Technologies seemed like a good fit,” she says.

Anderson Technologies kicked off the partnership by conducting a network audit, in which it examined Jamplast’s IT infrastructure and made recommendations for improving security and performance. Jamplast had been having trouble with its email reliability and connectivity, and its team was interested in moving to a cloud-based solution.

“Our email system went down every time we lost power,” explains Rathbun. “This was detrimental to our sales team. It was hard for them to perform their job when they couldn’t send or receive email.”

After assessing Jamplast’s architecture and needs, Mark Anderson, principal of Anderson Technologies, suggested migrating to a Microsoft Exchange Online Plan, which is part of the Office 365 product suite. With Office 365 services, email is hosted in the cloud, rather than on a physical server onsite. This means email services aren’t disrupted if the building loses power or its connection to the internet. It also adds a level of security since emails are backed up in the cloud and makes it easier to access email remotely.

A Fast and Secure Approach to Better Email

Before Anderson Technologies began the Office 365 email migration, it suggested improving Jamplast’s backup processes. “They found the fastest and best option and ensured no data would be lost during the migration,” says Rathbun.

Anderson Technologies had to make sure all users had updated versions of Microsoft Office prior to the Office 365 email migration since some versions are not compatible with Office 365.

Securely migrating all Jamplast’s email, contacts, and miscellaneous data was a massive undertaking. The Anderson Technologies team worked “extremely hard to minimize downtime during the transition,” says Rathbun. “Luke Bragg [senior systems administrator] did a great job of explaining technical issues in a way that made sense to non-technical people.”

Today, the Jamplast team has peace of mind knowing its email is set up, and backed up, properly. Rathbun appreciates the security of having a dependable managed IT services partner, especially since ransomware and other cyber threats are on the rise in St. Louis and beyond. She notes that from time to time, Jamplast employees receive phishing emails, in which cybercriminals try to trick recipients into clicking nefarious links that would infect their computers with viruses.

“It is nice knowing you have an IT partner that has your back, and that if something did happen, they would be able to get you back up and running quickly,” she says. “I can’t imagine life without that or without Anderson Technologies.”

Rathbun adds that she values the level of customer care she receives. “After the Office 365 email migration, Mark Anderson called to get my thoughts and to make sure we were taken care. I don’t think you would get that type of service from a larger company.”

Are you considering an Office 365 email migration? Anderson Technologies is a family-owned  managed IT services company in St. Louis dedicated to providing quality service and exceptional care. Contact us today by emailing info@andersontech.com or calling 314.394.3001.

Client Story: How Managed IT Services Helped This St. Louis Association Improve Business Function

When it comes to business technology needs, what is more critical than email? This regional dental association was having email trouble its IT vendor couldn’t solve, so it turned to Anderson Technologies, a managed IT company with a track record of helping St. Louis small businesses with their technology challenges.

Greater St. Louis Dental Society (GSLDS) is a non-profit professional trade association that provides networking opportunities and professional development to its members, a group of nearly 1,000 dentists in the St. Louis area. GSLDS is a component of the Missouri Dental Association and the American Dental Association.

For GSLDS—and for many small businesses and non-profits—budgetary restraints make taking an ongoing, proactive approach to IT challenging. Recently, GSLDS realized the benefits of doing so firsthand and discovered the risks associated with not prioritizing technology needs.

Meg Shannon, executive director of GSLDS, was introduced to Anderson Technologies by an active member of the association that is also a managed IT services client. This member arranged a free Onsite Cybersecurity Training for new dentists, an educational workshop hosted by Mark Anderson, principal of Anderson Technologies. “She raved about the level and quality of service she had received, and since we had been having technology challenges, I decided to reach out,” explains Shannon.

These technology challenges included a finicky, frustrating email system in which emails mysteriously failed to send and/or be received. Shannon was working with another IT provider at the time, and although it never called itself a managed IT company, it charged a monthly fee in exchange for ongoing support. The company attempted to troubleshoot the issue multiple times but couldn’t solve the problem.

In general, Shannon and the team felt they weren’t getting the time and attention they needed. “We are small, and we have a small budget, but we still need quality customer service and support from our IT vendor. We weren’t getting that, but that has completely changed since we have started working with Anderson Technologies,” she says.

Mark Anderson and his team performed an onsite infrastructure audit to identify areas that needed improvement. He then worked with GSLDS to prioritize issues. Shannon notes that “within half a day of working with us, Luke [Luke Bragg, senior system administrator at Anderson Technologies] was able to figure out the email issue” that had stumped her previous vendor.

Anderson Technologies migrated data from the previous email service provider to Microsoft Office 365, a cloud-based provider, and put an end to the email headaches. This required updating the association’s locally-installed Microsoft software to a newer version. “Mark went above and beyond to find the most cost-effective way to do this,” says Shannon. “Since we are a non-profit, he was able to get us software at a reduced fee, which saved us quite a bit of money.”

Saved by the Backup System

Shannon describes Anderson Technologies as responsive and professional. She appreciates that when they are trying to solve an IT challenge, Anderson provides a few solutions with different price points and walks her through the pros and cons of each option.

In addition to the email migration and software update, Anderson Technologies improved the association’s approach to cybersecurity and disaster recovery by establishing a dual-destination backup system for the server and other key computers.  Now their data is stored in the cloud and on a local hard drive. Soon after this transition, one of GSLDS’s hard drives malfunctioned. “Because we had completed the email migration, all of the user’s emails on the crashed drive were in the cloud safely backed up. This made the failure an inconvenience, not a disaster,” explains Anderson.

“It is never a good time to lose a hard drive, but we were thankful Anderson Technologies was onboard when it happened,” notes Shannon.

What Managed IT Services in St. Louis Should Look Like

Managed IT services is not reserved for big companies. Reliable IT functions are crucial for businesses of all sizes. “You want to come in every day and have your computer turn on and work, whether you are a small company or a Fortune 500,” says Shannon. “If you can’t afford to have IT support in-house, you need to partner with a solid firm that you can rely on.”

Shannon cautions that her business, like many St. Louis businesses, did not put enough onus on IT, and, as a result, Anderson Technologies had its hands full when it came onboard. “This experience opened our eyes even further to the problems that can occur when you don’t make IT a priority,” she stresses.

Fortunately, this story has a happy ending. Greater St. Louis Dental Society’s computers are running faster, and Shannon has peace of mind that her data is being backed up appropriately and that her systems are more secure. Perhaps most importantly, she and her team are getting all their emails.

Anderson Technologies specializes in managed IT services. St. Louis businesses of all sizes should consider the benefits of adopting an ongoing, proactive approach to managing their technology needs. For more information on what a managed IT company can do for you, email info@andersontech.com or call 314.394.3001 today.

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.