Archive for the ‘Article’ Category

  • 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.

  • 3 Office 365 Updates that Came Out in May 2018

    Posted on: June 6th, 2018 by Adminstrator

    Office 365 Updates that Came Out in May 2018

    It doubled-down on satisfying iPad and iPhone users, updated the platform’s search capabilities, and reaffirmed its commitment to helping administrators reinforce security measures.

    1. Attack Simulator for Office 365 Threat Intelligence is now generally available

    An announcement from Debraj Ghosh, an employee with the Microsoft Tech Community, confirmed the general availability of Attack Simulator for Office 365 Threat Intelligence. Attack Simulator is an interesting (and, in my humble opinion, pretty cool) tool. Those with Office 365 E5 or Office 365 Threat Intelligence can – you guessed it – launch three types of simulated attacks on end users:

    1. Display Name Spear Phishing: Generate phishing emails for specific individuals, a team, or an entire department. Attack Simulator actually has an HTML editor that allows admins to create realistic looking emails.

    2. Brute Force Password Attack: Simulate brute force password or passphrase attacks on all Office 365 users.

    3. Password Spray Attack: Apply a commonly used password in an attempt to log in to multiple accounts in an organization.

    2. Enhanced co-authoring and organization with Apple technologies

    Microsoft endowed iOS users with real-time co-authoring for its Word, Excel, and PowerPoint applications. Whether you’re working on an iPhone or iPad, you can see who else is collaborating with you on a document in real time. It’s not uncommon for organizations to have both OneDrive and SharePoint accounts. Now, you can drag files in between folders in OneDrive, as well as drag files from OneDrive to SharePoint, enabling those with access to the site to view those files immediately.

    3. SharePoint Online and office.com get personalized search

    Google, Bing, and other search engines personalize suggestions based on your previous search history. Now, so do SharePoint and office.com. “Another user will see different results than you, even when you both search for the same words” the Office team announced in May. In addition, your search results will only contain documents you have permission to access. Office 365 is getting better. It’ll be interesting to see how Microsoft builds on these capabilities over the next coming months.

  • IT Hiring and Staffing – What you need to know

    Posted on: February 14th, 2018 by Joel Nimar

    recruiting-imageWe are beginning 2018 and haven’t changed the way we recruit and hire employees. We write a job description, advertise the job. Sift thru a basket of resumes, many not qualified, and then start the interviewing process with mixed results. This is an expensive, time consuming process and usually a distraction from our primary jobs. Many small, medium and large fortune 500 firms have turned to professional staffing agencies to do what is known as Recruitment Process Outsourcing or RPO to handle IT hiring. Whether you are hiring temporary workers to do a rollout of a new technology or bring in a skill set that is not available internally, testing out a new position with a temp to permanent candidate or filling permanent positions. A RPO can be an invaluable asset.

    Expertise

    Professional staffing agencies offer specific industry expertise. They will often have access to more candidates and the recruiters will generally have more specific expertise than a general HR person at a company. They are often aware of great candidates that are not currently looking for a new position. They will help you screen and hire the best candidates and are knowledgeable about employment laws and salaries in the states you are trying to hire.  

    Cost

    As a general rule of thumb is that the cost of recruiting and hiring an employee will run about half the candidates salary. That makes hiring the right person even more critical. When you work with a good RPO they will generally offer a guarantee for a specific time period. If the candidate doesn’t work out the RPO will do the work again generally at no cost. When you consider the cost of advertising, recruiting background and reference checks, working with RPO can save you money and shorten the time needed to hire for that critical position you are filling.

    Flexible Professional Staffing

    RPO provide the flexibility and cost savings of only utilizing professional recruiters when you need them. You may need to hire many employees for a new office or project but won’t require the staffing services after the project is finished. They can also complement existing HR staff. These professionals may also have identified existing candidates based on work done in the past or utilizing proprietary databases not available to the general public.

    Retention

    Employers using RPO for temporary or project work get the opportunity to observer candidates and see how well they interact with existing staff, learn about their expertise and reliability. This gives you the opportunity to hire the best candidates and reduce employee turnover. This is commonly referred to as a temp to permanent hire and reduces the risk of hiring the wrong candidate.

    Why Pyramid?

    Pyramid Technology Services, your trusted hardware provider and service partner has RPO services available to assist you whether you are looking for permanent placement, temp to permanent or help staffing up a project. We can handle 1 full time position or 50 engineers for a long weekend to move a group of data centers. Here are a few reasons to consider us for your next recruitment project:

    1. Multi-Site Project Technicians – L1 up to senior level engineers. We have access to over 15,000 W-2 Technicians in the US and over 12,000 technicians in 196 countries at any given time.
    2. IT Staff Augmentation – Access to a proprietary database of over 550,000 screened, vetted and rated technicians and engineers with a full range of skill sets and certifications for projects, temporary, temp. to perm and permanent positions.
    3. Over 28 years’ of IT experience and access to an in-house project management team of over 60 people.
    4. Lifecycle management with several options for break-Fix, deskside support and other services with tailored SLA’s available for all types of equipment and engagements.
    5. Site surveys including wireless, telecommunications and security.
    6. Bundled solutions available for multi-disciplined projects
       

    Please call us 978-823-0700 or email services@pyramidcomputer.com for a fast turnaround on your next recruitment project

  • PTSInet Multi-Brand Network Support Solution Raises the Bar

    Posted on: July 29th, 2017 by Joel Nimar

    PTSInet, Our hybrid Cisco™ Smartnet™ and Smartnet-compatible Network Support solution is now better than ever. Designed to deliver a multi-brand solution for network hardware and firmware support, TSP Pyramid Technology is pleased to announce PTSInet Plus. With new features and benefits to support our customers and their mission-critical networks from the ground up, PTSInet Plus delivers our US based, Technical Assistance Center (TAC) in addition to our Break/Fix, Advanced Replacement Parts and IOS updates to resolve network hardware problems.

    Below are a few of the expanded offerings included in our PTSInet Plus solution:

    1. Assist with product use, configurations, adding or removing systems to the network and troubleshooting issues between all network devices.
    2. Manage problems according to the Cisco Severity and Escalation Guideline.
    3. Work-around solutions or patches to reported Software problems using reasonable commercial efforts.
    4. Network monitoring for an additional fee. Fault notifications.

    ​Existing PTSInet customers will automatically be provided this enhanced service at no additional charge.

    PTSInet service is also available to include Juniper, Enterasys, Brocade and HP Procurve systems for our customers – not just Cisco, unlike Smartnet.

    Call or email us for details. (978) 823-0700 or sales@pyramidcomputer.com

  • 3 Essential Features of a Legacy System Support Package

    Posted on: May 16th, 2017 by Joel Nimar

    More often than not, you don't have to decommission your legacy systems, but supporting that technology after senior IT personnel leave your organization can be challenging. When do your senior system administrators plan to retire? How much time will it take to train junior sysadmins how to work with your legacy environment?

    Depending on the answers you come up with, it may be more feasible to outsource legacy system support to a third party. Some third parties offer comprehensive legacy system support packages that consist of three services:

    1. Hardware Maintenance

    Ensure the third-party maintenance provider you choose maintains a well-stocked inventory of refurbished legacy system components and servers. If your infrastructure consists of particularly old equipment, such as Sun SPARC servers or HP AlphaServer Systems, the chances you'll experience an equipment issue are significantly greater than if you were running on modern equipment.

     

    Also, ask legacy system support providers how quickly they would be able to replace failed machines. Inquire as to how they diagnose system hardware for impending problems. How often do they run hardware performance tests? After identifying a problem, what sort of corrective actions do they take?

     

    Ensure the provider you select takes a preventative maintenance approach. According to a study from Jones Lang LaSalle, preventative maintenance can produce returns on investment of 545 percent.

    2. System Administration

    Chances are your junior sysadmins are familiar with Windows Server, but only a few may have experience with VMS, SunOS, or some of the older operating systems.

     

    System administration is a 24​/7 job. Your legacy system support package must include continuous monitoring and preventative maintenance services in addition to conventional system management responsibilities. OS update assistance, troubleshooting, patch management and other staples of the practice should be included.

     

    While some may consider disaster recovery and business continuity to be a discipline in and of itself, your legacy system support provider should include DR/BC as a part of its system administration package. The provider must demonstrate expertise in disk-based backup, recovery from multiple restore points, setting up 15-minute data snapshots and employing 256-bit AES encryption.

     

    In addition, seek providers who can deliver support for multiple OSes and applications. This capability demonstrates their ability to solve problems associated with various technologies.

    3. Software Support

    What sort of applications does your legacy system support? Are they custom solutions written in C or C++? What sort of hardware and networking resources do those applications require to perform optimally? Have end-users reported any issues with application performance? If so, could you please describe those issues?

     

    These are the types of questions your legacy system support provider should ask. Assess the provider's ability to:

     

    • Extend the life of legacy production applications.
    • Proactively assess issues to prevent downtime.
    • Stabilize archive systems.
    • Eliminate excessive application resource consumption.

     

    At the end of the day, you want to work with a legacy system support provider that operates like a partner. That entails speaking with your senior leadership on a regular basis to identify how legacy systems enable your business to reach its objectives. Providers that demonstrate this level of commitment can deliver quite a bit of value over the course of your relationship.

  • Why you don’t always have to decommission your legacy systems

    Posted on: April 26th, 2017 by Joel Nimar

    Most tech bloggers would argue that you should have decommissioned your legacy systems yesterday. In some cases, they may be right, but not always. 

    It's rare to hear arguments for maintaining your legacy applications, and when you do, they're typically "debunked" by nothing more than strong convictions – like the belief that migration is worth the cost. 

    Yet, there's a case to be made for the phrase "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." Why should you stick with your legacy systems, at least for the foreseeable future? 

    OEM support isn't everything 

    One of the reasons why you may consider migrating your legacy applications from SUNSPARC-, HP 3000- or Alpha-based environments is that the OEM is ending hardware support. To be fair, that's understandable. The problem is, in situations such as these, you typically have to upgrade your servers, networking and storage assets if you want to stick with the OEM. 

    If you ever find yourself in such a situation, consider working with a third-party maintenance provider specializing in legacy equipment. Some of these organizations can actually save you between 30 and 50 percent in equipment and software maintenance costs, but how?

    Some third-parties not only provide annual maintenance agreements, but also undertake all system administration responsibilities associated with the legacy equipment, such as:

    • Managing environments based on OpenVMS, Solaris, HP UX, and other legacy OSes.
    • Performance tuning.
    • Continuously monitoring system performance and security.
    • Remediating issues remotely or on site.
    • Automating scripts to maintain asset health.
    • Scheduling comprehensive, automated reports of your environment.

    So when you partner with a third-party legacy solutions partner, you receive more than just basic break-fix services and call support: You augment your in-house capabilities.

    Argument to be made for maintaining legacy systems.There's an argument to be made for maintaining legacy systems.

    IT can still innovate over legacy systems 

    According to a survey from Avanade, the typical IT department spends 36 percent of its time managing and monitoring legacy systems. Survey respondents claimed such responsibility was preventing them from focusing on innovation. 

    This is one of the reasons why you should consider outsourcing your legacy system maintenance to a third-party that has the resources and expertise to do so. 

    With this in mind, decommissioning legacy systems isn't necessarily a prerequisite to enabling IT to innovation. For example, if a third-party undertakes all administrative responsibilities associated with your legacy environment, your in-house staff can allocate time to experiment with cloud services such as Amazon Web Services, Azure or Google Cloud Platform.

    Maybe you want to see how an automation technology impacts your IT overhead or test how a cloud-based customer relationship management application impacts the sales team's day-to-day. Your network admins, developers and other staff members probably don't have the time to invest in such activities if they're trying to fix a bug in Solaris or diagnose a hardware problem on an Alpha server. Let someone else handle that.

    Migrating legacy apps isn't a picnic 

    If you're thinking of moving your Solaris-based legacy app to a contemporary environment, prepare for the possibility that the project may go over budget and exceed the established timeline. You'll probably have to rewrite much of the software's code. 

    Unless you're using a hardware virtualization platform or working with a third-party legacy migration specialist, there's a chance the project's costs may set you back down the line. Sure, you may get the application to the new environment, but after the fact, IT may have to table innovative practices for the sake of adhering to next year's budget. 

    In an ideal world, utilizing the latest and greatest technologies doesn't come with any headaches. In practical terms, however, getting to this point isn't easy. If your legacy systems allow you to operate competitively, there's no reason to run away from them. 

    Pyramid Technology Services has 25 years of experience providing cost-effective, innovative solutions for your IT systems, with a special focus on legacy equipment. We provide hardware maintenance, spare parts, and new and refurbished systems for the purpose of extending the life of your technology. You can reach us at sales@pyramidcomputer.com or (978) 823-0700.

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  • How legacy systems can enable IT to focus on innovation

    Posted on: March 1st, 2017 by Joel Nimar

    When regarded as a profit center, IT receives the human capital, time and financial support required to focus on innovation. Supporting legacy servers is necessary for sustaining business operations, but it doesn't allow CTOs to find ways to improve how their companies function.

    How can your IT department institute legacy system management practices that establish itself as a profit center?

    Find a legacy system support partner

    There are organizations specializing in legacy system maintenance, support and repair. These companies maintain inventories of HP Alpha, SUNSPARC, VAX and other legacy equipment, enabling them to provide spare parts and refurbish on-premises equipment as needed.

    When assessing legacy system support partners, ensure they can do more than replace compatible RAM and other components. Look for businesses that not only service on-premises systems but also:

    • Support multi-vendor environments.
    • Configure replacement servers to mirror your original environment's functions.
    • Develop strategies designed to extend the end-of-life of your equipment.

    Ultimately, a strong legacy system support partner replaces service from original equipment manufacturers. That way, you won't be forced into upgrading your hardware every four years or so. Most importantly, such partners free up the time and resources in-house IT needs to innovate and experiment with business-changing applications.

    legacy systems become a cost centerLet your legacy systems become a cost center.

    Legacy systems reinforce the 'cost center' issue

    Despite the fact that IT can enable organizations to develop and launch new services, products and solutions, most executives view such departments as cost centers.

    According to CIO.com's 13th annual "State of the CIO" survey, approximately half of the 722 CIOs and IT leaders who participated in the study said their colleagues regard IT as "cost centers or service providers." There are three ways ways mismanaged legacy systems exacerbate this issue:

    • The business may rely on IT veterans familiar with maintaining applications running on SUNSPARC, HP 3000, HP Alpha or other legacy server environments. With regard to succession planning, the supply of young sysadmins familiar with such systems is limited. Therefore, talent possessing the requisite knowledge may be reaching retirement age, meaning the company will keep churning personnel.
    • Fiscally, maintaining legacy systems can be a burden. The U.S. Government Accountability Office found that federal IT leaders planned on spending 76 percent of their 2015 budgets on upkeeping and running legacy systems. This situation is relatively common in the private sector as well, meaning IT departments lack the financial support to fund innovative efforts.
    • As business needs arise, developers make changes to legacy system codes. Decades-old applications contain thousands of adjustments that were either poorly documented or never recorded at all. In addition, the developers who applied such changes may no longer be with the company.

    Given the persistence of these issues, IT has the incentive to port legacy applications running on anachronistic hardware to modern infrastructures, but such endeavors often run over budget and fail to meet timelines. What's the cost-effective alternative?

    How to cost effectively port legacy systems 

    For the sake of argument, let's assume you're running an application on legacy SUNSPARC servers. The system itself is about 20 years old. Over the years, developers, many of whom have since left your business, implemented changes to the application.

    As spare parts for SPARC hardware become scarce and support for SunOS is difficult to come by, you need to consider porting the application to an environment running on Red Hat Enterprise Linux. To achieve this goal using conventional methods, you would have to hire a team of developers capable of converting the application so it can run on RHEL. Projects such as these are known for exceeding timelines and going over budget.

    The alternative, unconventional option is to use a cross-platform hardware virtualization solution that emulates the SPARC environment. With this approach, an engineer would conduct an assessment of your application's infrastructure dependencies, and configure the platform to mirror the current infrastructure.

    Cross-platform hardware virtualization solutions run on standard 64-bit x86 computer systems while retaining SPARC-based code, from SunOS to the products associated with the operating system. Although the platform engineer, with assistance from your team, will have to make some minor adjustments to the OS, layered products and possibly the application, the changes won't be nearly as large as they would be in a traditional conversion approach.

    How does the emulator run on the x86 architecture? The platform uses a separate RPM installer to run over a standard Linux distro. In this case, the RPM installer would enable the cross-platform hardware virtualization solution to run on RHEL.

    Utilizing system emulators can run as low as $18,999, depending on the composition of your legacy architecture. These costs are minimal compared to application conversion endeavors, which can run into the millions. In addition, its emulators are proven technologies that eliminate much of the risk associated with code upgrades.

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  • On-premises or Cloud: Which is better for your company?

    Posted on: January 24th, 2017 by Joel Nimar

    cloud on Premises

    According to Microsoft, 86% of Small and medium businesses have some applications on a cloud service.  There are, in fact, a lot of good reasons to make the move. There are also cases where on-premises deployment is the best choice. How do you decide?

    Software requirements are a basic consideration. Does the cloud service's software meet your needs? Software as a Service (SaaS) is excellent when the right applications are available, but some businesses need more customization. You can look to the cloud to deploy specialized software, but you need to use Infrastructure as a Service (Iaas) or Platform as a Service (PaaS).  If customization and close control are important, it may make more sense to use your own servers.  Are you subject to government regulations on how you handle your data? Is you are subject to HIPPAA, SEC Rule 17, SOC or other regulations make sure your Cloud service provider is compliant.

     Costs are always a consideration but should not be the only one. With a cloud service, you get a choice of a fixed monthly bill on a dedicated server or you can pay as you go and only get charged for the resources you use. Think of your electric utility. You can use electricity only in the rooms you are in and reduce your cost by turning off other lights. Installing on-permises software will have a higher up-front cost, but you can save money in the long run. If the number of employees using it increases, you may have to upgrade your license or increase server capacity.

    There are three basic cost models:

    • Pay as you go. You pay for the resources you use.
    • The hybrid model. You pay a monthly fee and get a certain amount of resources.
    • The dedicated or private model, where you pay for the exclusive use of a server.

    With the pay-as-you-go model, costs can be less predictable. With a hybrid or private service, you may end up paying for resources you don't use, but you know what you're spending.

    For small and medium businesses, cloud services may give the better economy of scale. Large enterprises can run data centers that match or even exceed a cloud service's efficiency.

    Security  can give the advantage to cloud or to on-premises, depending on the situation. Keeping data on an on-premises server, behind a strong firewall, can provide strong security. On the other hand, cloud providers' reputations depend on providing secure services, and they have become experts at it. Their buildings are physically more secure than the typical small office, they have around-the-clock monitoring, and they keep strong protections against malware and break-ins. Security is difficult, and putting it in the hands of experts has a lot going for it.

    A private cloud service, where you don't share resources with other users, is beneficial. The risks from a shared server are minimal, but a private cloud provides that extra level of security.

    Reliability is a key decision point when evaluating IT solutions. The cost of downtime to an organization goes beyond dollars and cents. It effects all parts of the organization and provides outside customers a negative view of the company when they cannot access there website, email etc. This is an area where cloud services win. They use multiple servers, datacenters and multiple data transmission carriers . The machines are subject to 24-hour monitoring. If anything goes wrong, staff members are there to fix it quickly. Only the largest enterprises can build data centers to match cloud uptime.

    Flexibility also counts in favor of cloud software services. They're accessible through any modern browser and from any location. Employees can work from remote locations and use mobile devices. On-premises software may be restricted to specific hardware or operating systems, and remote access requires coming through a VPN.

    In the end, you aren't evaluating "the cloud" against "on-premises", you're measuring a particular cloud service against the on-premises service that your business can maintain. Anyone can call a remote computing service a cloud service, but you have to look at its reputation, capacity, and level of service. A top-quality cloud service is the right choice for many businesses, but each case comes down to its own particulars. Large businesses or ones with specialized needs may find the on-premises approach works better.

    Partnership is the most important factor of all. Who you partner with and bring in to help make your computing upgrade (premises or cloud) maybe the most important factor of all. You need to choose a partner who takes the time to understand the unique needs of your business and has a breadth or product and services solutions to successfully help you make the transition you are looking to accomplish.


    Written by Joel Nimar of Pyramid Technology Services. A successful IT services and hardare provider for over 25 years. For thoughts, comments or assistance he can be reached at Sales@pyramidcomputer.com

  • Is It Time for a Network Upgrade?

    Posted on: January 21st, 2017 by Joel Nimar

    Network Upgrade

    By the year 2019, Cisco VNI predicts that there will be 11.5 billion devices worldwide. What does this mean? Well, it means:
     

    • We will be utilizing more than triple the bandwidth we had available a few years ago.
    • Statistically, each individual will have at least 1.5 devices in their ownership.

    Given that 2019 is less than two years away, what has your company thought of in regards to its network growth and/or future? Has your company thought of professional aspects such as:

    • Adding applications to its existing network?
    • Moving applications to the cloud?
    • Creating new mobile applications?
    • Utilizing video conferencing?
    • Utilizing cloud-based surveillance?
    • What does the forecast of the "Internet of Things" (IOT) look like at your company?
    • If your company is utilizing the tools listed above, are they putting an additional strain on your possibly slow network?

    If your company is on the receiving end of poor performance, power outages, or network reliability problems, your business is need of a network upgrade.  This can be especially true if your business is operating with older or ineffective technology.

    Experts agree that your business needs to plan a 50% increase (over its current bandwidth needs) to survive in the online market of the future. In addition to this, adding a network upgrade to larger projects (such as adding new mobile applications, moving to a cloud, or adding a VOIP system) is necessary for operation – without performance hiccups. Given that small additions to your company networks (such as wireless switches, edge switches, or core switches) every three years only keep businesses on the top of their game, a small step can put your business years ahead of the competition.

    So if you're looking to improve your worker productivity, work with better security, and offer faster bandwidth for your business/customers, a new network device is the answer. In addition to the previously listed perks, newer units offer better tools that prevent intrusions/hackers and require less hands on attention. The days of avoiding new, specific business applications out of the fear of crashing your network are over with a new network device.

    Thankfully, Pyramid Technology Services is here to refresh your network, review your security/performance, and make the impartial recommendations that your network requires for security, productivity, and speed. Contact us today (978) 823-0700 so you can stay on track in the future.

  • 80% of IT Costs Occur AFTER the Purchase – What Can You Do About It?

    Posted on: September 29th, 2016 by Joel Nimar

    Many businesses are discovering something very powerful – Enter third-party maintenance programs

    According to one recent study, it's estimated that the average business spends as much as 6.4% of its entire annual revenue on IT expenses alone (Hardware & Software, Administration, Operations, End-User and Downtime). This is a large part of the reason why IT maintenance and support is such big business for original equipment manufacturers (OEM’s) – there's a very real market that must be filled, especially as technology becomes a more ingrained part of our lives on a daily basis. Yet OEM support is not without its issues – companies often force premature obsolescence through maintenance prices that increase rapidly, product milestones like End-of-Support or End-of-Software-Updates that come far too soon and more.

     

    Hardware MaintenanceThis often leads to a situation where OEMs come out on top, even at the expense of the customers they're supposed to serve. Cisco Smartnet support and maintenance sales is a roughly $7 BILLION business in North America alone, yet how many business professionals can say that they're truly getting their money's worth out of what their OEMs are actually providing for them?

     

    Enter: third party maintenance programs. In an effort to close gaps in service coverage and simply keep their IT infrastructure up and running as inexpensively as possible, many businesses are actually discovering something much more powerful. Third party maintenance programs often provide complete coverage in an optimized cost model, allowing them to spend less and extend the useful life of their technological assets.

     

    Third Party Maintenance Programs: Saving Businesses Money in IT

     

    According to a study conducted by Gartner, a full 80% of IT costs per asset occur AFTER the initial purchase under a traditional OEM maintenance model, primarily due to the 15% price increase per year in services for the first five years of purchase.

     

    The most important thing to understand about third party maintenance programs is that they're not designed by OEMs to maximize their own bottom lines – they're designed by network and supply chain experts in an effort to maximize the benefits for end users. One of the ways this happens takes the form of a flat pricing structure, giving clients the peace-of-mind that comes with knowing their maintenance costs per asset will rarely increase.

     

    Even going beyond the savings generated by a flat pricing structure, third party maintenance providers can also help reduce IT expenditures in a number of other ways. By providing continued support that goes beyond the periods that an OEM will dictate for EoS or EoL, these programs can help a company maximize the ultimate return on investment of their assets considerably. Third party programs are also inherently flexible, meaning that a company only has to pay for the services they need – though they still have the ability to scale up or scale down as those needs change.

     

    Third party programs also bring with them the benefit of immediate access to specialized support which not only helps preserve the lifespan of an asset for as long as possible, but also goes a long way towards increasing operational efficiencies at the same time.

     

    In essence, third party maintenance programs allow companies to do more with less in terms of their IT infrastructure. They preserve the life of assets for longer than OEMs will allow, increase operational efficiency AND get to enjoy one fixed monthly price at the same time. From every conceivable angle, businesses win via third party maintenance programs.

     

    The Pyramid Approach

     

    At Pyramid Technology Services, Inc. we believe that the benefits of third party maintenance provider don't have to end with simply reducing an organization's IT expenditures. Our unique business philosophy, coupled with the wide range of services we offer, allow us to act as more than just a hardware maintenance provider and instead we can become a complete, turn-key solution for all of your IT needs.

     

    Our concierge service, for example, is a complete, white glove service that is customized from the ground up to meet a customer's individual needs. No two organizations utilize their IT infrastructure in quite the same way, which is why a "one-size-fits-all" approach to hardware maintenance just won't do. We also support both current equipment and legacy systems no longer supported by the manufacturer from over 100 different manufacturers including no less than 10,000 pieces of equipment. You don't have to worry about finding one company that specializes in HP Proliant hardware maintenance and a separate that is adept at Dell server maintenance – we do it all, and so much more, under one contract.

     

    In Conclusion

     

    These are just a few of the many ways that third party maintenance programs are reducing IT expenditures across the board for businesses in a host of different industries. For small and medium businesses in particular, third party hardware maintenance renewal is one of the best ways to cut costs and funnel that money back into a business where it belongs. It lets even smaller organizations leverage the latest that technology has to offer to their advantage, giving themselves the type of competitive edge they need to stand out in a crowded marketplace.

     

    For more information on Pyramid’s third party maintenance programs or to get a quote contact us directly at 978-823-0700 or sales@PyramidComputer.com

     

  • 5 reasons to review your hardware maintenance agreement for the new fiscal year and what questions to ask yourself

    Posted on: December 10th, 2015 by Adminstrator

    It can be easy to stick to the status quo, but as your company evolves and moves into a new fiscal year, it is important to review your current maintenance agreements. This can save you money, both in the long and short term, as it prevents any lapses in coverage that can occur when companies lose track of their different contracts and agreements. By asking yourself these questions, you will help make sure you are covered for the upcoming year.

    1. Does my current contract make the most sense based on my company's individual needs?

    Maintenance agreements can often be overlooked during end of the year assessments. Because technology equipment needs change and progress year in and year out, you may find that your maintenance agreement is no longer fulfilling your company needs. In fact, you may not be getting the best value for your particular service. It is important to reevaluate the urgency of response times on specific equipment and the hours and level of coverage in your agreements, in order to make sure that you are only paying for only the important and useful services. By reviewing your contract on a yearly basis, you can make sure that your company's changing needs are covered.

    2. Does my warranty still cover my assets and end-of-life status?

    It is important to review your manufacturer warranty dates in addition to the end-of-life status to make sure that you are covered in the coming year. If your warranty runs out or your equipment becomes end-of-life, you may be at risk for large repair and replacement fees, which can cause real financial problems for your business.

    3. Would my company benefit from single vendor coverage?

    Managing contracts and warranty expiration dates can be an incredibly time-consuming and frustrating process. In addition to dealing with different brands of equipment and different service levels, companies are often dealing with coverage in several different locations by several different companies. This decentralization can create real logistical and administrative problems for companies, much of which is unnecessary. By switching to single vendor coverage, all of your contracts, warranties, and service levels will be uniform and accessed via a single contact. In addition to saving costs, single vendor service can increase efficiency and quality of service.

    4. Do I have a single account manager responsible for the supervision of my account?

    Does your hardware maintenance provider give you a single point of contact for your account that is responsible for your agreement? Do you have an easy escalation process if an issue cannot be addressed? A single point of contact can manage all of your IT maintenance needs, and can cover all of your equipment so you don’t have to deal with multiple reps.

    5. Could I save 20-60% off my current agreement and have access to a US based call center?

    Manufacturers increase maintenance costs 10-15% annually and discontinue support in order to incentivize customers to buy new systems rather than maintain the existing systems. At Pyramid we help companies in this situation. Our hardware maintenance services offer a single point of contact for all IT maintenance needs on a global basis with a US based call center. We promise consistently reasonable pricing that can save you up to 60% off OEM pricing. Further, Pyramid advises companies on how best reorganize IT infrastructures in order to bring them to maximum efficiency levels. The combination of lower fees and increased effectiveness allows companies that employ third-party hardware maintenance providers to remain competitive in a fast-paced, technological world.

    Contact us today for a free quote. For the month of December we are offering 1 free month of service for a new 12 month contract.

  • PTSICloud: An Appealing Mix of Comprehensive Cloud Technology and Caring Customer Service

    Posted on: July 23rd, 2015 by Joel Nimar

    Cloud computing offers an array of conveniences, although many users seem to be running into continued frustrations with their cloud provider. Many users are experiencing a lack of caring customer service from their cloud provider. A shocking third of respondents in a recent Forrester survey claimed that their providers charged them for every question or incident, no matter how minor. Furthermore, several respondents believed that, due to the small nature of their businesses, their cloud providers didn’t care enough to provide a sufficient level of service.

    Although attentive customer service is clearly lacking among many cloud providers, I am proud to say that we have it in abundant supply at PTSICloud. Our customers choose our cloud solution over others because of three simple factors; Technology, Price and Value – And PTSIcloud delivers on all exceptionally.

    Here’s What Makes PTSIcloud Different from other Cloud Providers

    ptsi cloud comparison

     

    Industry-Leading Technology

    One of the biggest benefits of cloud services is the ability to have outside parties handle logistical concerns. However, if a cloud provider is not equipped with the necessary level of technology, clients may face even greater hassles than they would if they handled such matters on an in-house basis. Our valued clients at PTSICloud enjoy access to highly available reference architecture, which allows for the easy and accurate selection of the best approach to implementation. Our service runs on reliable VMWare; when problems do pop up, they are handled quickly and accurately by PTSICloud’s knowledgeable and prompt operations team. All of our data centers are based in the United States; this enhances tech support and ensures the quick and seamless transfer of data. Despite this local focus on tech support, we also maintain the geographic diversity necessary to ensure that, should security issues take place, there is sufficient distance between the primary and secondary sites.

    Fair & Consistent Pricing

    Clients demand excellent service, but they also prefer to work with providers that offer fair pricing schemes. Our approach to pricing is both fair and consistent – you won’t ever deal with any surprises. Clients working with alternative providers often complain of being charged for everything from API calls to throughput. The result is an unfortunate level of invoicing variation. Our clients, however, can be rest assured, knowing that our flat bill approach will result in predictable pricing.

    Value

    Ultimately, clients desire a combination of reliable service, fair pricing, quality tech support and full transparency. We offer all of the aforementioned qualities, thereby minimizing the potential for operational or financial problems related to cloud maintenance. From minimal outages to personalized and customized solutions, it is easy to see why clients are so enthusiastic about PTSICloud – it’s a cloud solution that provides great value to any organization.

    For more information on PTSIcloud, contact us directly at sales@pyramidcomputer.com or 978-823-0700.

     

  • Pyramid Technology Services Reaffirms the Company’s Commitment to Personalized Service in Order to Satisfy Customer Needs for Innovative Solutions

    Posted on: July 14th, 2015 by Joel Nimar

    From the CEO: Customized Responses Meet Your Specific Needs

    We were gratified to receive so many detailed responses to our recent questionnaire “When running your IT department, what are some of the common problems you face when dealing with: Computer Resellers, IT Service Providers, and IT Staffing”?   I recently addressed some of the concerns expressed by users in university communities. Here are my answers to several other comments we received to this question:

    Chris, from an investment banking company, expressed concern that parts are often not available due to “revision changes or new offering.”

    • “Pyramid is your sourcing expert, with a special focus on legacy equipment. We have global partners that help us source parts worldwide. Our technical group is able to upgrade and downgrade revision levels to match your existing hardware.”

    Joe, with a System Integrator, said; Many resellers have ZERO understanding of the underlying technology that I use to run my business.

    • “It sounds like some of the resellers you’re dealing with don’t take the time to understand your business and its environment. For example, one of the ways we’re able to do this is by providing our sales and engineers access to manufacturer training to get certified in their products. We are vendor agnostic and recommend our customers the best solutions that suit their needs and requirements.”

    Karen, representing a Telecom manufacturer, noted that prompt response time and accurate diagnosis are major concerns.

    • “We pride ourselves on meeting our committed service level agreements and make sure the appropriate technical staff member goes to your site. Too often desktop techs are sent for data center work. This won’t happen when you engage us. Pyramid utilizes a team of central engineering pros with field experience and manufacturer training to help diagnose any issues you may be having. Our accuracy rate for first time fix is over 90%, one of the best in the industry. Many of our engineers are trained on the operating system so they can diagnose both hardware and software issues.”

    IT staffing services are vital concerns for many of our customers, as evidenced by these comments:

    A lack of quality temps in the workforce was deemed a problem by Chris, with an investment banking company.

    • “Pyramid staffing services has access to 2.2 million resumes via a proprietary platform. Even more importantly, we have highly trained and experienced professionals to review your needs and match the appropriate candidates.”

    Chris, from a university in the Mid-Atlantic, said: We have not had problems — due to our contract constraints, we don’t have the options to hire even part-time, temp staffers for project work, which is a problem in itself!

    • “Hiring a contract worker can often make good financial sense. Sometimes projects are short term or a contract worker can have a skill set not currently available on the existing IT team. Contact workers are also good for roll outs and temporary projects. Give us a try; you won’t be disappointed.”

    Dennis, from a private, independent university, said: “I’ve seen when I contract with a staffing firm for a position that I get multiple applicants that don’t make my first round. Isn’t that why you pay staffing firms?

    • “Pyramid uses trained IT professionals, including former CTO’s to review resumes and recommend the appropriate candidates based on your specifications. We are also not paid until the candidate is officially accepted by the client.”

    We would love to hear from more of you! Fill out our quick questionnaire and receive a $10 Amazon gift card.  This questionnaire helps us understand IT industry concerns, where and how we can help, and how to improve our business.

  • University IT Professionals Face Special Challenges

    Posted on: May 19th, 2015 by Joel Nimar

    Problems Within the ‘Ivory Tower’ Are Not Unique

    In an effort to better serve our clients, Pyramid Technology Services recently conducted a survey among industry IT professionals regarding their primary concerns and common problems when dealing with computer resellers, IT service providers, and IT staffing. Today, I’d like to share some of those issues and comments from university IT professionals, but their concerns are not unique.

    Dennis, an admitted “hardware junkie,” wrote: I shop specification — not price, but I’m inundated with resellers wanting to dump underpowered hardware on the university. . . . When I do raise the spec then the price point rises too sharply.”

    • As an independent reseller of new and refurbished servers, storage and networking equipment, Dennis, our approach involves forging relationships with a wide range of manufacturers and distributors, and we do not maintain a large inventory that we have to sell. Our highest allegiance is to you, our customer, and we pride ourselves on our ability to source the right solution at the right price, and to do it quickly to meet your needs.

    Dennis also spoke about his surprise at the “lack of pure project management by service providers.” He noted that he expects “a full time ‘boss’ making sure my project is managed in the field.”

    • We address this concern at the outset, by beginning every project with a detailed discussion, followed by a comprehensive Statement of Work. Pyramid assigns an account manager who monitors the project regularly to make sure we reach client goals.

    Another respondent, Dean, noted: “They (other providers) typically offer basic services that we already handle internally and the SLA is out of our control.”

    • Let’s face it, Dean, you need a vendor who will customize a plan to meet your needs. We at Pyramid do just that, whether your need includes hotline telephone support, onsite engineering, parts logistics or all three. We will customize the hours of our plan, let you mix and match service levels even at the same site with similar systems. Be sure to tell us exactly what your needs are and we’ll go to work to tailor our service accordingly.

    Christopher, also a university user, wrote that prime concerns are “parts reliability, after-sales support (or warranty services), supply chain issues, . . . and pricing, pricing, pricing.” He also expressed his concern about “long term support vs. new sales,” emphasizing that he buys for the “long term,” and does not appreciate any attempt to “flip our investment into the next up sale.”

    • To those concerns, Christopher, let me say that we pride ourselves on our long-term relationships. Because we don’t support a large R&D budget, we keep our costs down so we can pass on the savings to you.  We have no reason to want to lead you to new products on a regular timed schedule. If you are satisfied with your equipment and your service, whether it’s a period of one year or five or more, we will do our best to maintain it even after the manufacturers stated “End of Life” or “End of Service Life.” Pyramid has no reason to want to “push” inventory that won’t meet your specific needs. We do our best to search out exactly the parts you need to meet your specifications at the best possible price. We maintain an open line of communication, and we urge you to communicate fully with our “point person,” not only your expectations for the equipment, but also your pricing requirements.  We also fully test our parts and systems, and provide you with a test report.  Every project has an assigned account manager who monitors progress and regularly assesses goals. It is always a two-way street.

    Christopher also mentioned that he had no problems with IT Staffing firms because his university has a contract constraint which doesn’t give him the option to hire even part time, temp staffer for project work. This has been a problem for his department.

    • Hiring a contract worker can often make good financial sense for any organization. Sometimes projects are short term or a contract worker can have a skill set not currently available on the existing IT team. Contact workers are also good for roll outs and temporary projects.

    If you are dealing any of these issues, and you do not feel that you are not getting the level of support that you need and want from your supplier, then give us a call to address your needs.

    We want to hear from you! Please contribute to our survey question and we will send you a $10 Amazon gift card!

  • What to do When Your Hardware is Declared End-of-Life

    Posted on: May 18th, 2015 by Joel Nimar

    Hardware End of LifeSo you spend lots of money on servers, storage arrays, or networking equipment and it works great for your business, but after 2-3 years, your OEM declares the product end-of-life, no longer offering maintenance, but your equipment still works fine.

    In fact, a recent study by Forrester Research among IT leaders at more than 3,700 companies estimates that an average of 72% of a company’s total IT budget is spent on sustainment while just 28% is applied to new investments.

    Case Example of Our Hardware Maintenance Solutions

    A Pyramid customer was visited by their manufacturer and told a critical server in their daily operations would be discontinued in less than a year. This would cost them $300,000 and 12-18 months to covert the code and move the application to a new server platform. Their IT manager called Pyramid for a consultation. Pyramid was able to offer maintenance on their server for less than 5% of the upgrade costs, guaranteeing it for 5 years. This way, they could plan for the future.

    What Happens When Products are Deemed End of Life?

    Businesses who have end of life equipment can still continue to use their equipment for extended periods of time. Many OEMs still support software maintenance during this time for up to five years, but hardware maintenance and support will not be provided. There are many independent companies that will continue to carry parts and offer different levels of support and technical assistance which could be beneficial to the consumer in order to extend the life of equipment.

    Why are Products Transitioned to End of Life?

    Newer models and advanced technology are two of the top reasons OEMs make the switch. As products become older, the costs associated with manufacturing parts and providing assistance can become costly for the manufacturer, who has found new, innovative ways to streamline products and operations.

    Upgrade When Your Company is Ready – Not When the OEM Tells you to

    As you try to determine whether or not it’s time to upgrade your server equipment it’s essential to remember one thing: Deciding when your servers are obsolete is completely up to you, not the OEM. Relying too heavily on OEM suggestions and what other companies are doing can result in upgrading too soon and leaving return on investment (ROI) on the table or waiting too long and risking your market position.

    What Alternatives Are Available to Businesses to Maintain EOL/EOS?

    An excellent alternative for supporting end of life equipment is using a hardware maintenance provider. Pyramid’s PTSInet is a smart and economical way to provide support for your legacy equipment. With mulitple service level agreements, businesses are able to maintain their equipment at within their comfort level and price point. We service many large OEM products, and offer specific maintenance solutions based on your manufacturer.

    Manufacturers make their money by increasing the cost of maintenance to justify expensive hardware upgrades. With Pyramid, customers receive customized service at lower prices. Another advantage of using this alternative is that customers are assigned one support engineer who will remain with you throughout your service contract, which improves efficiency on both ends.

    Companies who do not have the luxury of purchasing new equipment every time their hardware is declared End of Life can now breathe easier knowing there are viable solutions to assist. For more information on how Pyramid can help you maintain your equipment to extend its life and value, contact us today!

  • Antivirus software knows viruses, but it does not know your business

    Posted on: March 31st, 2015 by Joel Nimar

    AugmentationUnderstanding viruses help protect against them, but real protection requires knowing your environment, your usual behaviors, and your vulnerabilities.

     

    Information security sounds like a technical problem, so it’s tempting to look for a technical solution. The reality, though, is that technical solutions are built to solve specific, known problems. They are constantly chasing after malware to block it when it’s been identified. But this is a reactive approach. You’ll protect your systems far more effectively if you identify risks and apply countermeasures in advance. You can’t rely on software alone to do that; you need human eyes, human awareness, and the human ability to make connections.


    Technical Approaches to Protecting Systems

    Technical solutions to protecting systems include antivirus software, data loss prevention software, firewalls, and intrusion dection systems.

    • Antivirus software works by detecting the signatures of known malware. The problem, of course, is malware becomes known after it’s already harmed someone, hopefully not you. Even known malware can be difficult to detect. Viruses hide through encryption, Xor, or being zipped or packed into other forms.
    • DLP software offers data loss protection by identifying the unexpected movement of data; it can recognize patterns that indicate potentially sensitive data like social security numbers. You can tell these applications what to look for or let them rely on discovery, which can result in false alerts that impact users or miss real issues.
    • Firewalls block access through specified ports, and work best when set up professionally and managed by a skilled IT professional. It’s easy to lose track of which IP addresses should be allowed to connect through different ports and protocols, particularly when servers migrate to new locations.
    • IDS, intrusion detection systems, monitor network traffic or packets on a specific device to identify suspicious behavior. Reacting may happen automatically, which runs the risk of reacting wrongly, or manually, which runs the risk of delaying a response.

    Know Your Business to Protect Your Business

    All the technical solutions mentioned above either need to be explicitly configured to look for specific threats or to identify suspected threats that may or may not be real threats. To configure them effectively, review the reported incidents effectively, and prevent issues in the first place, businesses need to analyze themselves to identify where they are vulnerable.

    It’s amazing how easy it is to lose track of servers and systems. Companies should conduct an inventory to identify physical hardware and the details of their configuration, as well as the OS and patch levels applied. Details of the specific software deployed on each box should also be tracked. For database servers, the details of the data on each device should be identified, including whether it is confidential, proprietary, or contains personally identifiable information. For each server, database, and application, companies should identify what roles and what individuals are authorized for access.

    Once this information is identified, you can start identifying where and how to protect your systems. Analysis of this information—by skilled employees, not an application—can help develop the signatures for IDS, Yara malware detection, and other security systems so monitoring is meaningful, rather than simply generating noise.

    This information can also help a company direct its information security resources most effectively. The inventory should identify which systems are most likely to be targets for hackers, and those should receive particular attention and care. Try stepping back to view your entire company, executives, and employees from the perspective of a hacker to identify where you may be at risk. Using white-hat hackers can help with this through actively probing your system for weakness.

    Companies also need to have a robust incident response plan. No matter how carefully you attempt to protect your information, you can’t completely block the possibility that there will be a successful attack. It’s important to have a strategy for how your company will respond—how it will identify what data was compromised, repair the technical environment, satisfy legal requirements, communicate with affected customers, and handle the public relations impact. People skills, rather than technical skills, may be the most important part of incident management.

    Work With an Expert

    Information security requires more than technology; it requires expert analysis. Pyramid Technology Services has 25 years of experience providing innovative technology solutions for your IT. Our information and cyber security services protect organizations information and assets. We provide solutions to vulnerabilities existing in a system and test how deeply an attacker can penetrate along with the forensic analysis of such activities. In addition to this, we provide solutions to existing security threats as well as corporate training to help organizations prevent their systems against further attacks.

    Our consultants and security professionals are seasoned in law enforcement, hold active security clearances, and are certified in computer forensics, penetration testing, and technologies including Firewalls, Intrusion Detection Systems, virus detection and eradication.

    We are currently offering a 15% discount on a GAP assessment. Contact us today for a security assessment so we can help you identify gaps, probe for weaknesses, and create a strategy that secures your data. Contact us directly at 978-823-0700 or sales@pyramidcomputer.com for more information.