Archive for 2020

  • TSP Pyramid goes BIG into IT Staffing

    Posted on: September 8th, 2020 by Adminstrator

    More than just a Name Change

    Pyramid Computer Services – now TSP Pyramid – brings massively expanded IT staffing resources to meet the needs of our customers and companies like yours. IT Staffing issues are legendary and so everpresent that the entire H1-B VISA program exists as an attempt to help solve the problem – with varying degrees of success – for US companies.

    The problem isn’t necessarily a lack of US-based talent or payroll cost, either of which would be relatively easy to fix; the issue stems from a systemic disconnect between the traditional hiring model and the need for massive agility inside the IT department. By the time someone new and qualified is found, assessed, interviewed, hired, trained and set loose – the whole playing field has likely changed.

    A major US banking firm noted in 2019 that only 30% of its IT hires actually went on to perform the work they were originally hired for – and that number doesn’t take into account the hundreds of IT roles that have remained infilled for more than three months – with a few open for more than two years. Their story is not only unsurprising, it’s entirely common.

    With this in mind, Pyramid has sought to massively expand and deepen its IT Staffing service options and has become part of TPS – now TPS Pyramid – in the pursuit of solutions for enterprise-scale customers with large and ongoing staffing gaps.

    These companies and organizations run the gamut from massive public universities to military R&D Firms, government entities and specialized global manufacturers. The one thing they all have in common is an ongoing priority to fill high-skill roles on an unpredictable schedule inside their organizations. An inability to fill these roles means less productivity, less innovation, slower response times for their customers and users, and all told this has a significant suppressive effect on the entire US economy. The stakes are very high.

    IT Staffing Solutions

    TSP Pyramid brings a greatly expanded catalog of staffing services to customers with serious staffing gaps. Not only can these needs be filled more quickly than internal hiring and more effectively and less expensively than mercenary HR Headhunters, but the internal resources that had been dedicated to identifying and hiring these team members can be put back to work on key business outcomes – such as expanded training and benefits – rather than managing turnover and hiring day in and day out.

    TSP Pyramid resources include:

    • Contract Recruiting
    • Residency Hires
    • Managed Services
    • Project Services
    • Contract-To-Hire

    To find out more about specific options offered by TSP as a solution to your ongoing IT hiring gaps, connect with Pyramid on our response form or visit https://www.mytsp.net for more information.

  • Your 2021 Checklist for Hardware Maintenance

    Posted on: September 7th, 2020 by Joel Nimar

    The 2020 Rollercoaster is unlikely to end conveniently on December 31, 2020 – if you didn’t go into the year withy a hardware maintenance checklist, having one for next year will be helpful for right sizing your contracts and maintenance needs.

    Hardware maintenance should be a priority for your IT plans

    Hardware maintenance contracts can be notoriously tricky to stay on top of. Third party contracts may need reviewed and updated often to account for items that the third party can and can’t cover; OEM contracts are often written in a way that makes them purposely obscure. Ideally, you can work with a multidiscipline partner who can go beyond a limited number of brands for hardware support.

    TPS Pyramid is one of the few service providers who can also offer actual hardware – both refurbished as well as brand new – and IT resources to fill gaps in your own staffing much more quickly than internal HR or a headhunting service. That’s great not only for keeping track of maintenance as part of the larger picture, but also brings a quick and simple solution if additional issues arise in the data center that require a more complex response than simply getting system lights back to green.

    "IT stakeholders need to vouch for the importance of hardware maintenance."

    What should you include on your hardware maintenance checklist?

    When reviewing your options for a hardware maintenance partner in the coming year, there are several key features to consider to ensure you receive the right coverage and services at the right price point:

    Single-vendor contracts

    One of the most common obstacles businesses run into with hardware maintenance is managing the various service contracts in effect for all of their data center and IT equipment. The time and labor required to parse through each one and determine precisely what is covered by different original equipment manufacturers is one of the more costly, unseen expenses related to IT operations.

    Cure that headache by working with a hardware maintenance provider that offers single-vendor contracts across a wide range of vendor brands, including IBM, SUN/Oracle, HP and Cisco as well as any specialized brands – across servers, storage, and networking, in other words. The right partner will be able to support both legacy hardware and future equipment purchases down the road; and ideally this vendor can also check the desired boxes when bidding work to minority-owned businesses as many public and large-scale private contracts require. Rest assured, TPS Pyramid offers high-level certified work and is a certified MBE.

    Flexible SLAs

    The term ‘flexible SLA’ is a little contradictory – you want any given SLA to be an immovable criteria, but you need the flexibility to assign different service levels to different priority equipment and systems.

    Hardware maintenance SLAs should spell out specific terms that make sense for your organization And each stakeholder team, taking into account both variations in price point and uptime guarantees. One-size fits all and OEM SLAs like to package in unnecessary features and can ultimately fail to meet your needs – even if the add-one are called ‘free’, they add needless complexity and additional moving parts. If a hardware maintenance vendor is unwilling to budge on the terms of their pre-built SLA, consider going elsewhere for service.

    Responsive Support System

    A common point of frustration for businesses with OEM support contracts is how difficult it can be to initiate a ticket or actual service when (not if, when) a service issue occurs. Sometimes it really is easier to handle minor issues yourself, and that’s a big red flag that a change is needed. Your internal teams need to stay focused on your own business outcomes, and unless you’re in the business of IT hardware maintenance yourself, any time you spend doing the support provider’s job is time you’re stealing from your own business.

    Your provider should be easy to reach, eager to open tickets and diagnose issues, and readily available to lend support. A fast and responsive help desk is the hallmark of a truly dependable hardware maintenance vendor, capable of offering expert advice and assistance at a moment's notice.

    Another aspect to consider is where that help desk team is located. Offshore support staffing has fallen dramatically in popularity because it may not be able to meet the level of responsiveness needed to quickly address problems as they arise, especially if on-site assistance is required. Under these circumstances, a U.S.-based support system is ideal. Unfortunately, some firms that rely on offshore level 1 support work hard to obscure that fact, and others are racing to the bottom one pricing and hoping that low-bidding can make up for a bad service experience/. For low-priority hardware it may be tempting to go cheap, but paying a little for no service is worse than paying no money and assuming all the risk yourself.

    The ideal partner is flexible enough to offer high-quality, native-country support for the bulk of the contract but can downgrade for lower priority or pull-and-replace gear, or upgrade for every-second-counts critical systems.

    Having a comprehensive checklist handy can help your organization ensure it gets everything it needs from a hardware maintenance provider in 2021. For more information on equipment maintenance and what to look for in an ideal maintenance contract, contact TSP Pyramid today!.

  • TSP Pyramid Managed Service Experience

    Posted on: September 1st, 2020 by Adminstrator

    Pyramid IT

    TSP Pyramid Managed Services

    According to wikipedia, “Managed services is the practice of outsourcing on a proactive basis management responsibilities and functions and a strategic method intended to improve operations and cut expenses.” A managed service agreement allows the business to focus on what they do best and outsource the IT responsibilities to a third party. Much the way businesses outsource payroll or HR.

    A consulting firm dedicated to improving the effectiveness of nonprofit foundations was dissatisfied with the resources and level of support provided by a part-time employee who was only available 2 days a week. Moreover, as the firm grew in complexity and size, they needed a provider with a unique approach to serving their changing IT needs.

    The Challenge

    The firm required an IT provider with a proactive approach and a high degree of professionalism. The company has offices located in Boston, San Francisco, and Europe, with its employees needing IT support through heavy travel schedules. They required that the new provider act less like a hired consultant, but rather as an extension of the company’s team—aligning the interests of both parties. With limited financial resources, the firm needed better control of its IT expenses. Enter TSP Pyramid!

    The Solution

    With TSP Pyramid, the firm can budget a predictable amount for IT support, and their employees are free to call whenever technology problems strike. The TSP Pyramid solution also managed the corporate network, resulting in significant cost savings and a higher level of service satisfaction. Using TSP Pyramid’s remote control tools, the geographically disperse offices and the on-the-go traveling employees could easily connect and collaborate.

    TSP Pyramid also implemented internet back-up and network monitoring systems to actively manage all of the company’s IT requirements. In addition, TSP Pyramid cut internal research time by advising on IT purchases, software and licenses. And TSP Pyramid could maintain ideal provisioning of both hardware and staff at the same time, adapting in real time to changing needs centrally and in the field.

    The Benefit

    The firm decides to go wireless in its headquarters. TSP Pyramid evaluates options, provides best selection hardware and installs WI-FI access points so that users can connect to the office network securely. New hires internally are given laptops with the company’s unique on boarding package of apps and antivirus, and TSP Pyramid techs can log in and install updates and any necessary software for the future for a seamless experience for users.

    Contact Pyramid for advice on Microsoft, Redhat, VMSware, Veeam VMS, Stromasys software and support, as well as hardware purchases, and all IT Staffing needs.

  • Do you assume you have good backups?

    Posted on: May 2nd, 2020 by Adminstrator

    I have had 100's of discussions about how customers do backups. History tells us that 6 out of 10 businesses will experience some type of data loss or technology disaster. They are very proud of their strategy and often go into a lot of detail. When I ask how often they do test restores on important files, do they have multiple backup locations and if they backups are encrypted at both ends they often get quiet. Here are some of the most common problems we see and some simple solutions.

    The goal of backing up files is not to do the backup but being able to successfully restore your most important files and applications if a disaster strikes. If you are backing up only your data it will take a long time to build a new server, install the applications and updates and then load the data. You could be down for a week.

    1.Make sure you have a backup of your most recent images. This will include the operating system, applications and data and allow you to restore a recent image if the event of a natural disaster or Ransomware virus. Know your restore point objectives (RPO) and restore time objectives (RTO) under your current plan and check with management to make sure they are acceptable.

    2. Plan for data growth and expansion. There is nothing worse than having to go to management because you haven't planned for the growth and having to reduce the scale or the number of images you are currently backing up. Or worse, you find out in real time that you have run out of room to complete the backup.

    3. Is your company or industry subject to regulation? Obviously that complicates things, but having external guidelines can help cover all the bases and show you where you can exceed your competition.

    Keeping in mind that regulations and legislation aren’t usually written by IT pros, don’t assume that just because you’re meeting the letter of the regulations that you’ll be a happy camper in the case of a major disaster event or breach. The only true proof is in fully running actual test scenarios and proving that you can restore data trivially and from bare metal if needed. Just ensure that the test doesn’t turn into an event unto itself; have backups of backups ready the first time you run a test, and as needed after that.

    4. Are your backups automated and do you have tools to make sure the backups are completed properly and restored easily? All too often we see human error in manual backups. Also critical files are moved, and the backup is not updated. At the same time, even if backups are automated – you need to manually and randomly check for issues that the automation may not catch, like customer-facing SSL errors, bad file types or naming convention errors, or other issues that humans can see but machines have trouble catching.

    5. Do you have a current Disaster Recovery plan that is updated annually – at a minimum? Too often customers have a good backup in place for systems two or three years removed from the present. While threats like servers getting fried in an electrical storm, server room flooding and fire aren’t going away, new hardware systems, altered power lines, cooling, and a host of other changes will affect your existing plans, and everyone’s disaster plan must now include a number of pandemic considerations, ranging from reduced or remote staff up to long-term shutdown and reductions in availability of partners to deliver service.

    6. Has your current backup vendor reviewed your environment recently to learn about your business, critical infrastructure and growth projections? Do they offer expert engineers to help with the data recovery in the event of an accident or catastrophic event? Because no two businesses are the same, it’s critical that your backup service provider can see all your mission critical assets are covered, including archival data and outliers like CRM connections and mods, API connectors between your internal systems like invoicing and contract management – and other key pieces that are sometimes outside of the scope of a regular backup. Those little details can be the difference between a trivial event and a long-term business chokepoint.

     

    TSP Pyramid offers a variety of backup and support services. To get started on a practical backup assessment, call your Pyramid account manager today!

  • Why an OEM maintenance contract isn’t always the best option

    Posted on: April 20th, 2020 by Joel Nimar

    OEM maintenance contracts may lose their initial appeal rather quickly, leaving companies to pick up the tab on expensive hardware repairs.

    Sometimes going straight to the source isn't the best way to address a problem. While you might assume that manufacturers are best equipped to deal with issues with their own equipment, it’s often not the case. When you remember that most of the systems in the data center are connected to and must communicate smoothly with other machines from other brands, the weakness of a single OEM servicing their own systems becomes more clear. if you’ve ever experienced the common support event where the Server brand blames the storage brand and the storage brand blames the network brand, you have firsthand knowledge of the issue – and probably had to waste we time with all three support systems and three different service tickets to boot.

    The shortfall of OEM support is especially true when working with expensive and complex data center hardware. Original equipment manufacturers can make hefty promises regarding hardware upkeep and repair, but if you dig a little deeper into your OEM maintenance contracts, you will likely come across more than a few red flags.

    Maintenance costs add up quickly

    Ongoing maintenance expenses can eat up a big chunk of an organization's IT budget. In fact, ZDNet's analysis of a recent Computer Economics survey revealed that operational budgets have steadily increased while other IT expenditures like hiring new employees have tapered off. Two-thirds of respondents reported that they would be ramping up their operational spending in 2018 to keep pace with their needs. Even with that increase in 2018, more than half of the study's participants went on to say that their current operational budgets remain insufficient to support business demands.

    How much does it cost to just keep the lights on? According to Forrester, as much as three-quarters of a company's IT budget may be devoted to maintaining baseline operational performance. That leaves very little room for more innovative and strategic IT projects. It can be very easy for organizations to become buried in operational expenditures, putting out fires and struggling to keep business going. When urgent issues are outpacing important ones by three to one, its no wonder most IT teams describe themselves as falling further behind compared to where they were a year before.

    "OEMs are notorious for ramping up maintenance costs."

    OEM savings may be misleading

    With so much money tied up in data center hardware, businesses often look to their OEMs to handle maintenance needs and keep their equipment running smoothly. Many are enticed by the seemingly low cost of entry offered by OEMs, with initial manufacturer warranties and competitive pricing. However, it's important to read the fine print in any maintenance contract and fully understand how those costs and service levels may fluctuate down the road.

    OEMs are notorious for ramping up maintenance costs from year to year. As Data Center Journal contributor Kayla Matthews explained, OEMs have a vested interest in rolling out new iterations of their products on a regular basis to address potential security issues and protect their brand's reputation. That sounds perfectly fine on paper, but in action, it means customers are forced to adopt the latest updates and the increased costs that go with them. That early low price point can become a thing of the past very quickly, and you may be forced into additional hardware spend long before achieving the 3 to 5 year ROI of your original projections that led you to buy the hardware and service package initially.

    Those expenses may be even more eye-popping if the upgraded equipment is incompatible with some existing components, requiring further investments in an organization's IT infrastructure.

    Vanishing Act: When OEM support goes up in smoke

    Another issue to be aware of is how OEMs handle end-of-life equipment, especially in terms of support. In most cases, manufacturers are unlikely to continue supporting hardware that has been phased out of production. From a business standpoint, it's completely practical – why spend resources maintaining outdated equipment when your organization is focused on the next generation of hardware?

    Add to that the very real possibility that the OEM itself may cease to exist in its current form. Mergers and acquisitions are common, but the contractual fallout creates headaches and uncertainties. Brands have much more of an interest in growing the acquired user base into new products and new revenue streams than in mining pennies on the dollar from their acquired brand’s old catalog.

    Companies that aren't quite ready to move away from their existing network or data center setup may be caught in a bind, however. They may not have the budget to invest in new equipment, but the alternative is relying on a technological foundation that lacks any kind of safety net. If something breaks down and needs repair, your OEM won't be there to help. Fixing IT equipment on your own will be an expensive proposition, and many organizations simply won't have the budget to cover such unexpected costs. The nightmare scenario, in which a company assumes it has coverage only to find it doesn’t, and now it must go find a provider for a system that’s already down, still happens far too often even in otherwise sophisticated and leading-edge data centers.

    vanishing-act

    OEM support can vanish without warning.

    Third party vendors offer maintenance relief

    Instead of relying solely on an unmanageable stable of different OEMs for single-brand hardware upkeep and repair needs, consider working with a third-party maintenance partner. TPMs are more likely to offer support across brands and across lifecycle stages, allowing companies to continue using their perfectly good legacy hardware until the time is right to make an upgrade. Businesses can see even greater ROIs on equipment over the long term, extending their available IT budget because they're not on the hook for any repairs and they don't need to invest in shiny new equipment because an OEM dropped support for their legacy infrastructure.

    Another key benefit to working with a TPM is you get one point of contact for all of your maintenance needs. Organizations that rely solely on their OEMs for support have to wrestle with different maintenance contracts from various brands and products across a large swath of facilities. Managing all of those contracts can be an immensely time-consuming process. Working with a TPM simplifies contract oversight and makes it far easier to determine coverage and make repairs when necessary.

    At the end of the day, TPMs provide a headache-free way to manage your maintenance contracts and ensure business-critical machinery continues functioning with optimal uptime.