Archive for the ‘Infographic’ Category
Introduced in 1995, Voice over Internet Protocol has become tremendously popular for commercial use over the years. VoIP offers businesses many advantages over standard phone systems, including cost savings, flexibility, app integration, and more. However, proper set-up is the key to long-term reliability and efficiency. If you’re thinking about making the switch to VoIP or want to reconfigure your current set-up for enhanced functioning, here’s what you can do.
1. Get a Stable and High-Quality Internet Connection
An unstable Internet connection is usually the cause of unreliable VoIP. Start by selecting a reputable Internet service provider that services your area. Next, run diagnostic tests to ensure that everything is working correctly. Then, secure the connection with a password, and ensure that your computer security is up. If the connection is still inconsistent, try relocating and resetting the router. If problems persist, you might have defective hardware.
2. Have Two Different Internet Providers
Even with a great Internet connection, you can still lose VoIP service during a critical moment. That’s why it’s a good idea to invest in a back-up Internet service. If you want to prevent your business from experiencing downtime and losing profit, there’s really no better option.
There are two common ways to set this up. Traditionally, a business’ Internet connection is divided between two separate networks, each with its own Internet service provider. The VoIP systems are hooked up to one, and the computers are hooked up to the other. In the case that a connection is lost, VoIP can be switched over to the ISP that the computers are running on. Alternately, both VoIP and computers can be hooked up to two ISPs at once via a router. When one service is lost, the router will automatically switch to the second service.
3. Select a VoIP Provider with Good Technical Support
VoIP will only perform as advertised with installation by a very competent provider. It’s essential that you research providers before settling on one. Always choose a business that is well known for its VoIP services. A great provider will be by your side at every step of the way.
After having your VoIP system properly installed, you may still encounter issues from time to time. Your VoIP provider should be easy to reach and willing to assist with any problems that you might have. In most situations, support personnel should be able to offer sound advice in a timely manner. If technical problems can’t be resolved, you should be offered other solutions. A free reinstall, refund of some or all of the purchase price, or brand new equipment are just a few ways to make things right.
4. Select a Vendor that can Assist You with Hardware Selection and Network Settings
With all of the VoIP phone options on the market, you should never settle for default hardware when options are available. But narrowing them down can be tough, especially if you don’t know what to look for. Pyramid Technology Services has worked with and can offer advice to companies that deal directly with Internet companies as well as provide a network review and upgrade of your current system. We offer a wide selection of brand name phones and can help you pick out a model that you can test to make sure it includes all the convenient features and settings you desire.
Many of our customers receive VoIP services from Cisco and need Cisco phones, licenses, or call manager servers. When Cisco is unable or refuses to provide the needed support, they turn to Pyramid because we offer everything Cisco does and more. We also have many customers moving to Lync and using SNOM and Polycom phones. Some of them have already outsourced VoIP to the cloud and simply need reliable phones and a reliable network.
Speaking of networks, we recommend all our customers to save their settings locally from their routers and switches. More often than not, the Internet provider will only have the original settings saved, not the working settings that have been modified. If the power goes out, and the settings were not saved locally, troubleshooting and making repairs could take significantly longer.
Written by Dave Whipple, Account Manager at Pyramid Technology Services. Dave can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.orgWritten by Dave Whipple, Account Manager at Pyramid Technology Services. Dave can be reached at email@example.comWritten by Dave Whipple, Account Manager at Pyramid Technology Services. Dave can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Pyramid Technology Services to Expand the Reach of Nimble’s Flash-optimized Hybrid Storage Solutions
Maynard, Massachusetts – May 13, 2013 – Pyramid Technology Services (pyramidcomputer.com), a hardware reseller and IT solutions provider celebrating 25 years of business, is excited to announce its partnership with Nimble Storage, a leading provider of flash-optimized hybrid storage solutions. As a partner joining Nimble Storage in Massachusetts, Pyramid Technology Services rounds out its storage solution product set by offering Nimble Storage’s best in class flash storage solutions to its clients.
“Pyramid Technology Services is excited to now offer our customers a hybrid storage architecture that’s engineered to be affordable and deliver better performance and capacity,” says Joel Nimar, President of Pyramid Technology Services. Pairing Nimble’s unique storage solution with our design, integration, installation, and maintenance services – our customers will be rest assured that their backup and storage needs are covered.”
Nimble Storage has developed flash storage solutions engineered to address the industry’s most pressing storage issues: delivering better performance and capacity at a reasonable price; providing integrated protection with rapid back-up and recovery; and, reining in storage complexity. The company’s products are based on its patented Cache Accelerated Sequential Layout (CASL™) hybrid storage architecture that leverages fast read performance of flash and the cost-effective capacity of hard disk drives. Nimble combines this flash-optimized architecture with Nimble InfoSight, a cloud based management service that delivers predictive support and operational simplicity through deep data analytics.
“Nimble Storage channel partners are strategically vetted to ensure that they provide an excellent level of service and support for Nimble Storage solutions,” said Kristin Carnes, director of channel sales at Nimble Storage. “We believes enterprises should not have to compromise on performance, capacity, ease of use, or price. Therefore, we’ve built a partner ecosystem with over 900 partners worldwide, to provide enterprises access to our innovative storage technology from their existing trusted partners.”
About Pyramid Technology Services, Inc. (PTSI):
Pyramid Technology Services has 25 years experience providing new and refurbished servers, storage, and networking equipment along with the services and maintenance programs to keep them up and running. Pyramid Technology Services provides complete multivendor solutions with unbiased hardware and software recommendations to global and government organizations with access to personalized technical and sales support from its Maynard, Massachusetts headquarters. Pyramid sells leading hardware brands such as Cisco, DELL, HP, IBM and Oracle/Sun. More information is available at http://www.pyramidcomputer.com, or by phone at 978-823-0700.
Today, after 12 years of support, the life of Windows XP is coming to an end. Microsoft will cease to support this aging operating system, meaning that current users will be left vulnerable to security breaches, malware and viruses. Security experts are saying that hackers might already know of new ways to break into XP-powered computers but be waiting until after Tuesday to attack because Microsoft will no longer step in to thwart them.
Windows XP still powers 20 to 30 percent of Windows machines around the world. By ending support, Microsoft means that it will no longer be providing technical assistance or releasing security updates for Windows XP. No more security updates means that Microsoft will no longer address security holes in the operating system software, which will open it up to malicious attacks from malware or viruses. Microsoft Security Essentials will also no longer be available for download after April 8th. If you currently have Microsoft Security Essentials, you will receive anti-malware updates for a limited time but this doesn’t ensure that your PC is secure.
Experts are saying that small businesses could be among the most effected by the end of support, because they don’t have the same kinds of firewalls and in-house IT departments that larger companies possess. And if they don’t upgrade and something bad happens, they could face lawsuits from customers, among other dangers.
How to Stay Protected
1) Upgrade Your PCs.
Upgrading your PCs to a newer operating system helps you avoid the cost of purchasing newer devices. The problem with this approach, however, is that many older computers running Windows XP will not be able to run Windows 7 or Windows 8.1. To see if your computers can run Windows 8.1, you can download the Microsoft Upgrade Assistant here.
If you aren’t ready to make the full jump to Windows 8.1, Windows 7 will be supported until 2020. Windows 7 might be a better option if you are more accustomed to the Windows XP format, but upgrading to Windows 8.1 will ensure that you are implementing the most current operating system available – meaning increased support duration and greater software compatibility.
2) Purchase New PCs.
If Microsoft’s Upgrade Assistant (mentioned above) has notified you that your businesses computers are not compatible with Windows 8.1, you will most likely have to purchase new PCs preloaded with Windows 8.1 and then migrate the data from your old PC to the new one.
Contact Pyramid for Support
Pyramid Technology Services is a leading provider of managed IT services for small and medium sized businesses. We can help with your Windows XP operating system upgrades for one or many servers and computers. Pyramid is a certified Microsoft Partner and can make your transition from Windows XP as seamless as possible. Contact us today. 978-823-0700.
You may think that purchasing equipment automatically means you own it, allowing you to repair, update, and resell the hardware by any means you choose. However, many manufacturers don’t always assume that the right to repair lies with the owner.
Ask yourself these questions:
1.) Can you maintain your equipment in any way you choose?
2.) When the lease or usage of your equipment ends, does the hardware retain value?
3.) According to the law, can you sell your used equipment?
4.) Do you really know if you own the computer storage, network devices, or other equipment you employ?
If you didn’t answer a confident “yes” to all of these questions, then you’re not alone: many original equipment manufacturers (OEM) place unfair restraints on their devices to force you to use their services, including repair and reselling. Not only does this monopolize the maintenance organization industry, but it also prevents small businesses from making efficient, economical choices for their enterprise.
For years, Independent Maintenance Organizations (IMOs) and resellers have been fighting to protect the rights of the world’s largest online/remarketers of products. Companies such as eBay, Goodwill, and the American Library Association work to ensure that the owners of goods maintain all decision making responsibilities of the good, including repairs and reselling.
In 2013, the Supreme Court, in a 6-3 decision, re-affirmed that the Copyright Act was not intended to halt the distribution of authentic goods. The decision maintains that consumers have the right to sell, lend, or give away physical goods, regardless of where these goods were made.
What you need to know is that the years of fighting in courts ensures that you have the right to repair and resell your technological equipment in any way you choose. For the technology industry, the Digital Right to Repair Coalition (DRRC) works to protect digital rights of equipment. The Coalition has spearheaded the Owners’ Rights Initiative (ORI) whose motto is “You bought it, you own it, you have a right to resell it.” The ORI serves as a watchdog organization to ensure that small businesses are fairly treated by large technology manufacturers.
The Coalition has power because of businesses like yours that join them: with the support of enterprises across the nation, the DRRC can petition and lobby large OEMs to prevent unfair repair and resell mandates.
Pyramid Technology Services is one of many companies that offers hardware maintenance for IT equipment. Under the protection of the Digital Right to Repair Coalition, Pyramid can be your one-stop-shop for repairing, updating, and reselling the equipment that you, and only you, own.
The benefits of datacenter virtualization are as numerous as they are profound: virtualization reduces costs and hardware, ensures safer back-ups and smoother operations, and increases your green IT profile, to name a few. Listed below are eight compelling reasons to finally make the leap to the productivity and savings of datacenter virtualization. 1. REDUCED COST Perhaps the most compelling reason, data center virtualization greatly reduces your overall costs. Less physical hardware means less money spent – not only on the initial purchase of equipment, but on subsequent maintenance, electricity, system failures and upgrade expenses. Over time, datacenter virtualization offers significant savings, practically paying for itself. 2. VENDOR FLEXIBILITY With virtualization, you’re not tied down to one particular vendor. Due to the abstraction of software and hardware, you can choose whatever programs suit your needs, and the datacenter will take care of the rest. With flexible hardware and software compatibility, you can make the smartest, most economical choice for your enterprise. 3. SIMPLE, QUICK BACKUPS Not only are full backups of your virtual server fast, you can also do backups and snapshots of your virtual machines. You can set up snapshots to be taken constantly, ensuring up-to-date data records without worrying about drastically increasing data storage. Additionally, restarting from a snapshot is faster than booting a typical server, which dramatically cuts downtime. Virtual machines can be moved from one physical server to another very quickly. 4. SPEEDY REDEPLOYMENT When a physical server dies, redeployment depends on a multitude of factors that ultimately prevent you from getting your server back in action as soon as possible. With datacenter virtualization and the efficiency of backups and snapshots, redeployment can occur within minutes. You’re also more prepared for disaster recovery – not only is redeployment faster for all virtual machines, but they can be moved to other servers if disaster strikes the data center itself. This means your disaster recovery plan is as flexible as it is efficient. 5. EFFICIENT HEAT MANAGEMENT Managing the temperature of your datacenter can cost a lot of money. Reducing the heat increases the longevity of your sensitive electronics and reduces data center or server farm costs. Rather than invest money in managing excess heat, consider employing fewer servers through datacenter virtualization to reduce the initial heat output. 6. GREEN IT PROFILE Staying green is as important to your business as it is to your customers. Datacenter virtualization reduces your carbon footprint by using less servers and electricity. You can put your best foot forward by ensuring your employees and customers that you’re doing what it takes to preserve the planet for future generations. 7. SAFE TESTING Testing in real time can be a fatal mistake for your users if things go poorly. With virtualization, you’re able to isolate testing environments from end users while still allowing them to remain online. And if something does go wrong, there’s nothing to worry about: simply redeploy your previous system from a saved snapshot. 8. IT’S HERE TO STAY gives you a choice Virtualization is becoming more and more popular for companies both large and small around the globe. Prepare yourself for a potential migration to a cloud server in the future by employing datacenter virtualization today. Datacenter virtualization is a great way to more efficiently run your company and prevent the massive IT headaches that can occur with traditional server-software builds – it’s also an economical way to keep you on the cutting edge of data center technology. Additional benefits include shorter application roll outs. Once you switch, even if only a small part of your server, you’ll see the benefits instantly. Pyramid Technology Services has helped countless businesses experience the benefits of datacenter virtualization. Contact us today to help you make the right switch! Written by Joel Nimar. Joel can be reached at email@example.com
A common question for IT departments looking to reduce their budget:
Should I buy new, used or refurbished servers?
Consider two men who walk into a car dealership: one is a 50 year old man with a $700 a month expense account, the other a student on a budget. The businessman walks straight to the newest Cadillac – he can afford a little luxury and speed. The student, however, goes to the used car department. He’s looking for basic and safe transportation. He knows the used cars have been properly inspected and cleaned – this car dealership wouldn’t sell an unreliable used vehicle. Both men walk away with good cars, each tailored to their needs.
Servers are no different. New servers work best for those who need and can afford peak performance, while used and refurbished servers work well for those companies who need efficient and affordable solutions.
Price is a consideration when choosing servers: used and refurbished equipment is often between 30-80% less expensive than new equipment. Servers only one or two generations old offer substantial discounts with little sacrifice. Work with your IT department or server experts at your vendor to determine the exact technical specification your company needs for their servers.
Performance is also a consideration: new servers will deliver faster speeds than older ones. However, newer 4core/6core/8core processors are so much faster than older processors, you’ll unlikely notice the difference between servers with only one or two generation between them. Most users should be more concerned with disk input/output, which relates to data delivery speed.
In some circumstances, you may only want to add a similar server to your existing rack instead of buying all new servers, which could mean ordering equipment no longer manufactured. Used or refurbished equipment is your best option. A good vendor will thoroughly test the equipment, update the microcode, and professionally package the server so it’s as good as new.
What exactly is the difference between a used and refurbished, and where do they come from? That can be a difficult question to define – companies often use these words interchangeably. In general, used equipment is lightly cleaned and shipped to the customer. The better suppliers will burn in the equipment overnight and perform custom configurations to meet your requirements. Some vendors and manufacturers will completely refurbish the systems, making sure they meet the original specifications and meet “like new” quality. The outside is repainted and the boards are upgraded to the latest revision. Refurbished equipment includes a suffix –RF in the case of Cisco product and R at the end of an HP part number and include a warranty similar to new equipment. In the reseller community, used and refurbished equipment comes from leasing companies, end user take-outs, and trade-ins. The manufacturers also sell new surplus product through their factory-refurbished programs, as well as demo equipment and customer returns.
In all of these cases, the most important thing is that you are purchasing your equipment from a trusted seller. Check with the seller to guarantee that their equipment is tested, cleaned, and fully functional. Make sure the seller resets the server to the original equipment manufacturer’s (OEM) setting. They should also offer a limited warranty. A seller unwilling to address these guarantees may not be a trusted source.
So which should you choose: new, used, or refurbished equipment?
First, decide if you want to buy new or used equipment. If you choose used, compare options of used or refurbished equipment to determine what best fits your needs. Often the most important decision is choosing a reliable seller to guarantee peak-functioning servers.
Written by Joel Nimar, President of Pyramid Technology Services, he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pyramid Technology is happy to help you decide if high quality new, used, or refurbished server equipment is right for you. Please complete the form below for a free server consultation, and we’ll help you find what’s best for you!
According to a recent article published in the Worcester Business Journal, the Recycling of Electronics is expected to hit an all-time high in 2014. With an exponential growth of new technology, companies are scrambling for efficient and reliable methods of recycling old computers and hardware, or e-waste, as new machines arrive. Pyramid Technology offers safe, secure, and affordable recycling of e-waste.
The electronics recycling industry has grown nearly twenty-fold in the past ten years. A new spike is expected this year due to customers upgrading equipment more often and many companies phasing out Windows XP before Microsoft cuts off all upgrades and security protection for the operating system. According to Federal laws, recycling old electronics such as hard drives or other computer hardware requires careful monitoring: you must ensure that your private data is completely erased and that potentially hazardous materials are disposed of in a responsible and sustainable process.
Pyramid Technology makes recycling e-waste as simple and responsible as possible with our convenient ITAD Services (Information Technology Asset Disposition).
The Federal Trade Commission and Department of Defense, along with many other international bodies, have created guidelines for the deletion of data from e-waste after numerous improper disposal exposures in the mid 2000s. In some states, such as Massachusetts, a business is liable for the private data of its customers, especially in the instance of data disposal.
Pyramid Technology guarantees data deletion in two ways: first, we ensure asset accountability, providing a chain of custody from packing, pick-up, transfer, and disposal of your e-waste. Our secure chain-of-custody framework ensures that you are kept in the loop with a detailed bill of lading and photographed shipments. Each asset is tracked by location through its end disposal. You’ll know when your e-waste is securely disposed when we do.
Second, our data erasure procedures are up-to-date and comply with most international standards, including the National Security Agency and the Department of Defense. We make sure your data is irretrievable through a standard 3-pass U.S. DoD 5220.22 M-compliant overwrite. Should the overwrite indicate even one bad sector, we will physically shred the drive. Our standards mitigate the liabilities companies face with data privacy-legislation such as HIPAA, GLBA, FACTA, and FCRA.
Once the data is securely erased, Pyramid Technology follows the most responsible disposal procedures available to ensure your electronics are safely recycled. We use one of only ten companies in the Northeast with e-Stewards Certification, which strictly requires that any equipment not reused is recycled in the most environmentally responsible manner. We guarantee that no e-waste or focus materials are exported, landfilled, or incinerated. All materials are monitored throughout the recycling process in a smelter or refinery where they are re-processed for future manufacturing. Every one of our disposal services meet or exceed the EPA’s guidelines and are backed by a Certificate of Recycling.
If your IT Department is similar to others throughout the country, recycling computer hardware has become a more frequent occurrence than ever with the influx of new technologies and the retirement of old – and 2014 promises to be an all-time high. Utilize Pyramid Technology’s IT Asset Disposition to ensure safe, easy, and affordable recycling of your e-waste.
Written by: Joel Nimar, President of Pyramid Technology Services, he can be reached at email@example.com
Many small business (less than one hundred employees) may not find using Managed IT Services a top priority: with fewer employees than medium and large businesses, small businesses often elect to spend money on progress rather than prevention.
However, a recent independent study from security vendor GFI Software revealed that small businesses often suffer the most from a lack of Managed IT Services. Without the right support and around-the-clock monitoring, small businesses expose themselves to viruses and malware that can lead to crippling delays and security breaches.
Consider that in order to protect their computers, half of all small business IT administrators report that they:
- spend the equivalent of three weeks or more manually updating antivirus software or removing malware on users’ PCs.
- do not have the capability to see which PCs or servers on their network are about to fail.
The independent study also revealed that those with fewer than 25 employees showed higher percentages of lacking sufficient security and monitoring.
Your small business is not alone – the latest U.S. Census Bureau reports that there are more than 2 million firms with 5 to 99 employees. Luckily, there’s an affordable and effortless solution for you and every other small business: Managed IT Services.
Managed IT Services and Security provides Web-based interfacing that enables 24×7 remote monitoring and management of all your IT assets including systems, software devices, and virtual resources. We’ll also be informed with automated alerting of any event that may affect the normal operation of IT. Resolution services will correct these issues before they become a problem for your company
While the cost of a Managed IT Service may seem steep for smaller businesses, consider the potential price and loss of productivity of correcting a security breach, losing valuable data or rebuilding servers and desktops after a virus attack . Also, imagine what your IT department could do with the additional three weeks or more not spent on manually updating software or removing viruses.
Additionally, delays caused by viruses at the wrong time can be more crippling for smaller enterprises than larger ones. A hiccup in productivity can bring a small business to a standstill, sometimes resulting in a complete collapse.
If you’re feeling that you need Managed IT Services for your small business, you’re not alone: 78% of respondents in GFI Software’s independent study indicated they would be interested in a Web-based service that enables antivirus management protection on company PCs. It’s a no-brainer.
In today’s fast-paced wireless age, every second counts. Review these ten reasons for potential solutions for speeding up a slow network.
1.) A DNS server that is part of the FTP server can drastically slow down your network. If your DNS and FTP hit critical mass simultaneously and share the same server, your network performance falters. By separating the DNS into it’s own server, you allow for one server to control all traffic accessing the Domain Name System.
2.) An incorrectly segmented network that doesn’t use VLAN to segregate voice, video, and other data can incorrectly prioritize wireless traffic. Without the correct VLAN infrastructure, packets might be routed through applications that aren’t as important for the corresponding allocated bandwidth. For example, you might want packets for a voice phone call to be given priority over those of a Facebook message. Troubleshooting your VLAN to identify incorrect segmentation can be more complicated than fixing a physical network: Pyramid offers consultation for restructuring your VLAN to correctly prioritize bandwidth.
3.) Lack of bandwidth can greatly slow down your network. Beyond 100 Mbs connectivity, you begin to outrun available performance of the bus in many PCs and server NICs. Bandwidth issues traditionally occur where a high number of servers or users come together to share connection points, such as social networking sites or a network design with too much distance between the server and user. To increase bandwidth, consider SNMP tools that utilize hardware (such as switches or routers) to count packets for you; using that data, you can identify which points are using the most bandwidth and reallocate as necessary. Pyramid offers SNMP technology to identify bandwidth issues.
4.) Too many unnoticed errors on the network can greatly slow it down. Troubleshooting your network can help detect these errors. A few common error messages and solutions are:
- “A Network Cable is Unplugged” – check all Ethernet ports. Replace Ethernet cable.
- “IP Address Conflict (or Address Already in Use)” – two computers are trying to use the same IP address. Assign a new IP address to one of the computers.
“The Network Path Cannot Be Found” – Update your TCP/IP configuration.
Click here for more information about common errors and how to troubleshoot them. Reducing the number of errors will increase speed.
5.) A high degree of multicast traffic or frequent disruptions of multicast streaming can dramatically slow down your network. The easiest way to control multicasting is to use a Group Management Protocol that runs between the multicast router and the switch. Pyramid can help you find the Group Management Protocol that’s right for your enterprise.
6.) Recently installed technology or applications, such as VoIP,without proper setup can dramatically slow down your network. Check the settings of your computers to make sure all software is properly installed and your hardware meets the software requirements. Sometimes new hardware must be installed to accommodate new applications on an existing network.
7.) An improperly installed Layer 3,which oversees the correct packaging and delivery of your data over a network, can affect the routing of your packets. In the worst cases, poor management from Layer 3 can lead to a complete shutdown of a network. Most often errors come from faulty interface connectivity. If your connectivity appears to be correct, then the error likely lies in the routing. Pyramid can help you identify the source of error, and solution, in your Layer 3.
8.) Cabling not certified for the speed being used. For instance using older cabling rated for 100Base-t and using it for gigabit can prevent your network from achieving optimum speeds. Old cabling has been a major factor of a slow network for many of our customers — many customers install new technology without first upgrading the cables in Layer 1 to accommodate the new speed. With improper cables, packets on phone calls can be dropped or networks run poorly. Make sure your cables meet the needs of your network, and if they don’t, new cables must be installed.
9.) Latency is becoming more common for enterprises as more systems and servers move to the cloud, resulting in end users being further and further away from their data. Increase speeds by minimizing the number of round trips between your system and the cloud. Consider installing a dedicated network connection exclusively for your data and the cloud to increase connectivity. If you use a third-party data center, contact them to ensure you are using the most up-to-date cloud applications that handle latency’s challenges.
10.) Slow wireless access can result from many different issues depending on your unique location. Objects made of metal or unplanned construction can affect your speed. A proper survey of your location will ensure your wireless design is optimized. For instance, in schools, rows of metal lockers, fish tanks, or new constructions can affect a wireless signal. Consult the professionals at Pyramid to ensure your wireless design is optimized for your location.
When your network experiences a slowdown, make sure the problem is constant and not just a result of peaking or other intermittent issues. If the problem is ongoing, check for the basic causes covered in this article to try and detect the problem. Pyramid offers a variety of automated tools, technical personnel, and expert advice to help you meet your network needs. We regularly work with customers to design, troubleshoot, and improve networks to deliver superior performance and solve your most difficult wireless problems. Please contact us today for support! Every second counts!
Written by Dave Whipple, Account Manager at Pyramid Technology Services. Dave can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Encryption can prevent unauthorized individuals from accessing sensitive data, but the authors of CryptoLocker, a relatively new form of ransomware, are using it to prevent users from being able to access their own files. Companies that find they have been infected with this malware are given a notice that they have 96 hours to pay two Bitcoins, currently valued at approximately $300, or the key that decrypts their files will be destroyed. If this happens, the files are essentially lost forever.
There are a variety of reasons that CryptoLocker has been so successful, at least from the point of the individuals running it. CryptoLocker installs itself onto computers when someone opens a file that appears to contain shipping information. Disguised as a PDF, the file is an exe that installs the malware onto computers and begins encrypting files. It first debuted near the end of 2013 when large numbers of people were sending and receiving shipments, bypassing most people’s normal wariness about opening email files.
Along with an incredible infection rate (it is estimated that more than a quarter million PCs have been infected) CryptoLocker takes advantage of Microsoft’s CryptoAPI, so decrypting the files without a key is almost impossible. It is also not likely that the perpetrators are going to be caught any time soon. Since they are demanding payment in the form of Bitcoins, they are effectively anonymous. This is not to say that a way to decrypt files will never be found or that the individuals responsible will never be found, but most experts consider these events unlikely, at least in the near future.
Due to the fact that many in the IT field believe that CryptoLocker will begin showing up in emails that appear to be from major merchandisers such as Amazon, it is important that businesses are proactive about preventing infection. With Pyramid Technology Services, Managed IT, you can secure your company’s files through a two pronged approach: protecting your computers from infection and data backups.
Pyramid Technology Services can provide virus and malware protection by ensuring that your firewalls and security protocols are up-to-date, and if you don’t have them already, we can provide them. Automated and regular scans help to ensure that even if an infected file does slip past active monitoring services, it will be detected by an in-depth scan. We also provide automated operating system updates which patch known holes that hackers exploit.
In the event that your files do become compromised, either due to CryptoLocker or another unexpected event, our regular backups of your files will ensure that you don’t lose any data. A combination of off-site backups and regular testing by Pyramid Technology Services means that your files are safe, irrespective of how the initial data was lost.
Written by: John Cappello, Director of Technical Services, Pyramid Technology Services
In 2013, nearly 58% of workers used their mobile devices to access business networks — half of this access occurred unmonitored and unmanaged. Rather than rely on policies that forbid the use of personal technologies, many companies have embraced Bring Your Own Device, or BYOD. Enterprise BYOD has led to innovative security and management software known as Mobile Device Management (MDM).
It’s no surprise that many employees prefer their own device: personal mobile devices allow for user customization, easy access, and around-the-clock use. IT departments face the new challenge of handling unmonitored exposure of private data to security breaches. Those who don’t tackle BYOD head-on risk having employees “end-gaming” IT policies and using personal devices anyway, accidentally exposing confidential information and IT systems. According to the Ponemon Institute, 6 out of 10 security breaches in 2013 were traced back to mobile devices.
There’s simply no turning back.
Pyramid Technology Services offers the latest, award-winning BYOD solutions for Mobile Device Management and remote monitoring. Our MDM software equips IT departments with the tools to address critical security issues, simplify administration, and improve performance for smartphones, tablets, and off-network Mac OS devices.
With our MDM software, you can easily view a detailed list of BYOD mobile devices in your network through a customizable service center dashboard. You also receive alerts on device availability and security-related issues, such as:
- prolonged device unavailability
- “rooted” Android devices
- new or foreign SIM cards
- unusual data roaming which may result in raised costs
Additionally, our MDM software rapidly protects sensitive personal and corporate information in unforeseen circumstances. For instance, if a device is lost or stolen, you can remotely lock out access, reset a passcode, or wipe a device. Your IT department can customize alerts to your security needs.
It also ensures that all devices comply with current enterprise policies, as well as government regulations, with customizable compliance solutions.
In order for employees to implement successful and secure data sharing, BYOD usage policies must be easy and efficient for both your IT department and users. Pyramid Technology Services BYOD solution allows you to automatically deploy customized security and usage settings for different groupings. When a user enrolls their device with MDM software under a specific grouping, appropriate settings are instantly activated. Your IT department can customize:
- passcode requirements
- network settings for proxy connections
- data limitations for uploading and downloading,
- access to your VPN
Customizations are easily controlled from a user-friendly dashboard that allows for remote monitoring.
Embracing BYOD has never been easier with Pyramid Technology Services Mobile Device Management security solutions. Companies that have incorporated BYOD with the help of MDM software have seen improvements, and not only in securing data: four out of five enterprises with BYOD in place have also experienced cost benefits. Let Pyramid Technology Services help you secure your company while allowing your employees and users the flexibility and access they need for their best productivity. BYOD is the future — let us help you embrace it!
Written by: Joel Nimar, President of Pyramid Technology Services, he can be reached at email@example.com
Password security is more important than ever. Some people don’t place much importance in creating strong, unbreakable passwords. If their bank account gets hacked, they’ll soon realize that the proverbial ounce of prevention is well worth it to safeguard their private information. Here are ten tips for creating robust, unbreakable passwords.
10. Think about it.
Don’t use the first thing that pops into your mind. Try using the first letters from each word in a phrase you won’t forget. For instance, use acronyms like ouamd from “once upon a midnight dreary.” Add a couple numbers, and you’ll have a strong password, such as 1OUa2MD3.
9. Use one strong master password.
An example would be taking your first name and adding special characters between each letter. A password like M!I$K=E9 is secure and easy to remember.
8. Use plenty of special characters.
Special characters make passwords very difficult to decipher. A string of special characters and numbers is extremely effective, like 9!21$3!4$.
7. Be playful.
Substitute numbers for letters. Turn words backwards. Use random capitalization.
6. Complicate things.
Don’t use passwords that are the minimum length. Add a few extra numbers just to make them harder to guess. Don’t use lazy passwords, like password.
5. Don’t use your pet’s name.
In fact, don’t use your spouse’s name, your child’s name or any name that is intimately associated with you.
4. Don’t tell anyone.
Nobody else needs to know your password. Keep your passwords private, even from lovers or close friends.
3. Change your password regularly.
Use a system that you won’t forget. You might change them on the fifteenth of every month or the first day of every other month.
2. Spell out numbers.
If you use a number to complicate your password, try spelling it out. For instance, instead of 9MiKe2, try nineMiKe2.
1. Shun clichés or slang.
Don’t use the latest catch phrase, like HeyYa or WhatsUp. Don’t use the name of your favorite band. Make it hard for hackers to guess your password.
These simple tips will keep your passwords safe from anybody who would want to steal your private data or cause problems for you.
Written by John Cappello, Director or Technical Services at Pyramid Technology Services
Pyramid Technology Services is pleased to announce that for 2014, every month we will be giving away a trendy new item to those subscribed to Pyramid Technology Services newsletter.
January sweepstakes: UP Onyx wristband – The simplest way to understand your day and night.
The UP wristband plugs into your phone via the Simple Sync connector to help you learn how you sleep, move and eat. UP provides unique insights to help you live each day better than the last.
NOTE: If you are already subscribed to Pyramid Technology Services, you’re automatically entered! No need to enter each month.Become a fan and get updates about our monthly giveaways!
NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. The “UP Wristband” Sweepstakes is offered to those subscribed to Pyramid Technology Services email list. Sweepstakes begins January 17, 2014 and ends on February 13, 2014 12PM EST. Sweepstakes sponsored by Pyramid Technology Services, 10 Riverbank Road, Maynard, MA 01754. One grand prize consisting of a UP Onyx wristband valued at $129.00. Prize will be awarded to a randomly chosen entrant using a random generator. Winner will be announced on Pyramid’s Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin accounts. Winner will be notified via email. Void where prohibited.
Managed IT Service Providers (MSPs) are specialists in the practice of taking over the day-to-day responsibilities of managing and monitoring IT infastructure. These providers resolve IT problems, acting as your outsourced personal IT department or supplementing your existing staff
MSPs can save you considerable time and greatly reduce your current IT costs. What’s more, MSPs can deliver real advantages for IT systems of midsized and small business that you can enjoy immediately.
Here are ten reasons you should consider outsourcing your IT systems:
1.) A full IT staff, half the cost
When outsourcing IT services, you get the benefits a large, experienced in-house IT staff (including a system admin and CIO) without paying the associated costs. Many companies cut IT costs by over 60% when they switch to an MSP.
2.) Top quality expertise
Your staff should be able to do their work without having to worry about IT. Experienced IT staff of an MSP can deal with the frustrations, distractions and complexities of technology’s most difficult problems – not your staff.
3.) Up-to-date support
It’s a full time job keeping up with the latest technology. Don’t waste time creating special teams to learn what’s up-to-date — let an MSP implement the latest technologies and support your staff through the learning process.
4.) No need to hire and train IT personnel
Recruiting and training qualified IT employees drains time and money that most small to mid-size businesses can’t afford. Outsource your IT to an MSP to ease the process of getting the most qualified IT personnel instantly.
5.) Only pay for the IT you need
Employing a full-time, in-house IT employee often doesn’t justify the money spent. Tech problems are often unpredictable, occurring after days or weeks of relative calm. With MSP pricing, you only pay for the IT services you actually need and use when you actually need to use them or pay a flat monthly guaranteed fee no matter how much service you need.
6.) Less time wasted, more productivity
Troubleshooting technology can halt business to a standstill. MSPs can troubleshoot broken technology instantly – better yet, they can anticipate problems before they occur, preventing problems that could impede your workflow, allowing your staff to focus on maximizing day-to-day operations. An MSP can provide a variety of services – such as managing security, network monitoring, and anti-spam and virus filtering – that your staff won’t need to worry about.
7.) Savings trickle down to customers
Money spent on research, development, and implementation on in-house IT departments drain resources that ultimately affect your most important asset – the customer. With remote technology services provided by an MSP, you don’t need to waste money that keep prices low for customers.
8.) The very best security
Viruses, spam, and other vulnerabilities can result in a major loss of time, money, and worst of all, customer trust. In fact, many small to mid-sized businesses hire an MSP for its security benefits alone. Every credit card transaction or email can make you or your client vulnerable to credit fraud or a security breach. Effortless protect yourself and your customer’s private information by utilizing an MSP’s around-the-clock network monitoring and virus filtering.
9) Effortlessly follow compliance codes
Staying on top of constantly shifting federal and state regulations is a full-time job – penalties for not following code can be costly. Specialists at an MSP ensure compliance with all regulations set by the Payment Card Industry (PCI), HIPAA, FDA, SAS70 (aicpa), PIPEDA (Canada), and others.
10) Secure, reliable backup service
Small to midsized companies can’t risk operating without a backup service – permanently losing crucial data because of accidental file deletion, hardware failure, or natural disasters (such as water damage from Superstorm Sandy) can cause the total collapse of a company. 85% of business with catastrophic data loss go bankrupt within three years. MSPs offer constant local and cloud storage to backup your files, as well as failover servers that protect your data in every worst-case scenario. Protect yourself so you don’t end up becoming another statistic!
Contact us today for more information on Pyramid Technology Services Managed Services.
Joel Nimar is the President of Pyramid Technology Services, a Managed Services Provider (MSP), providing IT management and consultancy services. Pyramid provides results and savings and takes the IT worries off your shoulder.
Technology Revolution in the Classroom – Pyramid Technology Services and Pond Creek-Hunter Public Schools
In February, 2013, when Pond Creek-Hunter Schools in Pond Creek, Oklahoma, was preparing to upgrade its technology across the district, Pyramid Technology was on site discussing network upgrades, configurations, best providers, pricing options, installation services and support strategies.
From the office to the classroom, Superintendent Joel Quinn wanted to ramp up the schools’ IT capabilities, with special focus on providing students and teachers with cutting edge digital technology and a dynamic on-line learning environment.
Major Shift to Digital Learning in Classroom
The school district was investing in a 1:1 laptop program, a major education/technology initiative where students receive instruction at school and at home through the use of their own laptop computer. Pyramid provided pricing options and support as the 1:1 program started to take shape.
IT Upgrade Critical /Pyramid Develops District Technology Plan
It was clear, however, that technology in the pre-k to high school system was outdated and holding the district back. The schools were still reliant on very old equipment. The network could not handle wireless demands and there were multiple server issues. The Pond Creek-Hunter public schools were in need of a comprehensive, reliable and easy-to-manage IT environment.
“There is major change taking place now in our classrooms, ” says Joel Quinn, “Every high school student now has his/her own Lenovo laptop and is adjusting to a new technology-driven environment at school. Our middle school students are also part of this change. All learning in grades 5-12 is shifting to incorporate computers and technology into the educational process.”
“Textbooks are no longer in the classroom,” adds Quinn. “Our teachers have spent two years working together in Professional Learning Communities with Moodle. This is a free web application and Internet-based source for developing curriculum and producing online courses that are now accessible to Pond Creek-Hunter students through the newly implemented WiFi network.”
Pyramid Partners with Enterasys for Technology Upgrade
In preparation, Pyramid presented the Pond Creek-Hunter Schools with an array of technology solutions for network upgrades, wireless network, servers, backup data recovery (BDR,) and a disaster recovery solution to manage the IT environment.
Pyramid introduced Pond Creek-Hunter to network provider Enterasys Secure Networks. Working together, Pyramid and Enterasys designed and installed a new network and seamless, wireless capability to ensure smooth, uninterrupted Internet access for all students, teachers and staff – a solution that will lead the school district into the future with speed and functionality.
Optimizing the Computer Environment
Pyramid’s technical staff revitalized an existing server, added a new Dell server and, using
Hyper-V, implemented a virtualized server to the computing environment while optimizing the efficiency of the configuration. Pyramid advised Pond Creek-Hunter on best options for backup data recovery. The school system decided to go with a local BDR appliance installed in a different building on the same network that backs up and acts as the server whenever the main server is not functional.
On Time. On Budget. Always Available.
“Pyramid Technology is easy to work with and very flexible,” adds Joel Quinn. “ They provided project specifications and a network infrastructure, including WiFi support to unite our entire campus. They are both the on-the-job technical experts and consultants when needed. Pyramid helped us manage costs and delivered on time and on budget.”
“Pond Creek-Hunter Schools knew what they needed from technology,” says Dave Whipple, “and we have a good working relationship. Joel Quinn and his team had done their research and talked with other schools. As consultants, we made recommendations, provided solutions and connected them to the right technology providers.”
“Pyramid understands the education technology marketplace,” adds Whipple. “We explained to Pond Creek-Hunter why partnering with Enterasys was the right choice. Pyramid Technology Services has the experience and expertise to assist customers in taking the next step forward with IT strategies, installation services, and cloud requirements. We offer choices and suggest the best investment for savings in the long run.”
“Pyramid met our needs and expectations,” says Joel Quinn, “and they are always here when we need them. Last summer, we were up against a tight timeline. Pyramid was on top of every detail as we upgraded and installed the new technology infrastructure throughout the school system. We were operational and ready to greet returning students on August 1, the start of the new school year.”
Founded in 1988, Pyramid Technology Services in Maynard, Massachusetts is a certified woman-owned business that specializes in new and refurbished systems, network devices, and spare parts for new and legacy systems. The company’s broad customer base includes end-users, resellers, Fortune 1000 companies, and government agencies. International sales account for approximately 40% of Pyramid’s revenue.
Joel and Claudia Nimar founded Pyramid as a part-time business in 1988. By 1997, the company had expanded into a full-time operation. During the past 19 years, the Nimars have changed their business focus to match customer needs and industry trends. Company president Joel Nimar explained:
“Ten years ago, we were a Digital VAR and sold 100% Digital equipment. But then Compaq bought Digital and HP bought Compaq. Well, we knew we needed to diversify. Now, Digital products account for about 33% of our business, and we have expanded our product line to include Cisco, Sun Microsystems and Enterasys. That’s been a real challenge for us and our employees because it required different skill sets, technical expertise, and knowledge of more product lines.”
Although Pyramid’s product focus changed, the company’s customer base remained the same. Pyramid modified its product lines as customers migrated to other platforms. Yet many of Pyramid’s customers still depend on legacy systems – especially VAX/Alpha systems – and Pyramid continues to support those older technologies.
One interesting example is the Hubble Telescope project. Pyramid worked with a major defense contractor to supply spare parts for the Hubble Telescope’s data collection systems. This was not a situation where the system owner could just upgrade to the latest technology, Nimar noted: “They spent ten years and a billion dollars writing software. There was no way to throw that out in favor of a new technology.”
Changing technologies have given Pyramid the opportunity to expand its customer base. The Web in particular is “a marvelous source of leads,” said Nimar. “I get leads every day from our Web site.” The company is a Tradeloop Premier member and participates in the End User program as well. Nimar said that Tradeloop “helps drive more traffic to our site and helps us find new customers, particularly internationally.”
Once new customers choose Pyramid as a supplier, they tend to maintain the business relationship for a long time. Nimar attributed those long-term relationships to Pyramid’s focus on customer service and quality:
“A lot of our customers are long-term customers. They appreciate our high quality and our ability to test and integrate equipment. We get a lot of repeat business because we’re quality oriented and take the time to visually inspect and test 95% of the products we sell. We offer a 60 day warranty to resellers and 90 days to end users, and an optional 1-year warranty upgrade.”
Pyramid’s commitment to service extends to the outside community. The Nimars donate a percentage of the company’s profits to various charitable causes, including Open Table, a local organization that feeds 140-180 hungry people each week in Concord and Maynard, MA. Every Christmas, Pyramid sponsors the majority of gifts for the Open Table kids, and the employees enjoy the happy assignment of shopping for the presents.
The company’s flexibility, product knowledge, dedication to quality, and a commitment to both customer and community service have helped Pyramid grow and prosper amid changing technologies and market conditions. The Nimars make this promise to each customer:
“We get the job done right the first time. Pyramid offers quality products at a price that will keep you in business.”
In August, 2012, when Mattapan Community Health Center (MCHC) was preparing to move into a new 50,000-square-foot, $34 million complex, Pyramid Technology Services was working nearly round the clock to help restructure and set up the customer’s new technology environment.
The 40-year-old community health facility, now the largest employer in Mattapan Square and funded in part by a federal grant, has doubled in size and tripled its capacity to serve patients in Mattapan, Hyde Park and surrounding Boston neighborhoods.
Earlier in summer, MCHC selected Pyramid Technology and purchased 120 desktops, monitors, servers and networking gear. At this point, the extensive planning and procedures for upgrading applications and servers along with operating systems evolved. As moving day approached, Pyramid disassembled equipment from the old address, then upgraded and re-installed both old and new technology at the1575 Blue Hill Avenue location — all in a weekend.
All the while, the project scope was expanding to include a new data center for the customer. MCHC talked about its high availability data needs for a very large patient population and the importance of access to Boston Medical Center.
Partnering with network communications provider Windstream, Pyramid co-located both new and old servers and storage on the premises, and implemented an investment in virtualization that leads to improved business and operational agility.
Pyramid configured a state-of-the art 24/7 data center with brand new physical servers and virtualized servers, routers, switches, desktops and other related technology equipment and helped coordinate the networking and communications. The goal is to ensure MCHC stays in continuous communication with Boston Medical Center and its electronic medical records system — a critical factor in serving the expanding patient population.
“Having a cohesive team of health center staff and dedicated service and equipment vendors was key to the success of Mattapan Community Health Center’s move to their new LEED Silver Certified health center facility. Pyramid Technology Services, stood out as a true partner in the process,” says Adrienne Benton,project manager/transition planner, Onyx Spectrum Technology, Inc.. “Pyramid was responsible for providing the equipment, supplies, manpower and subject matter expertise to support the planning, and implementation of a modernized data center, telecommunications and desktop systems.”
“Mattapan Community Health Center is a leader in the community,” says Joel Nimar, President of Pyramid Technology Services, “and we are pleased to have played an integral role in their expansion and the creation of a state-of-the-art data center. They have revolutionized the way they do business while meeting new federal requirements.”
“The data center installation went smoothly and we had the right people on hand,” explains Nimar.”Everything was up and running when they opened for business on Monday. At Pyramid, we work hard asan independent technology provider to bring the technology and people together. The new data strategy and IT assets will help Mattapan Community Health Center benefit from a more seamless communication process.”
“The Pyramid team was always ready to add value wherever they could,” adds Benton, “and was able to bring in extra resources to meet critical deadlines to benefit the client. Most importantly, the Pyramid team was easy to work with.”
Since the move, Pyramid continues to consult in best practices for data backups, redundancy and other critical pain points for businesses like MCHC that require special compliance like HIPAA.
Hardware maintenance is easily one of the most important parts of maintaining the servers and networks that run your business. Keeping that hardware secure and functional is an important job. Unfortunately, it can be quite expensive.
Thankfully there’s a way to cut costs on your hardware maintenance contract without sacrificing the service itself. The key lies in a handful of simple tips that you can put into action to reduce your costs. Follow these five easy tips can cut costs anywhere from 20 to 70 percent, without sacrificing the service you need. In fact, in many cases it can help extend the life of older hardware systems and reduce the need for expensive upgrades.
Tip Number One: Audit Your Hardware
One easy way to cut costs is to do an in-depth audit of your hardware your maintenance service. What you’re looking for specifically is any hardware that you no longer use. Sometimes a piece of discontinued hardware will still be covered in your service contract, even if you no longer use it. Removing these pieces of hardware from your maintenance contract will lower the cost of the contract.
Another important reason to audit your hardware is that you may discover important hardware that isn’t covered, or that has recently run out of warranty. It’s just as important to add these to your contract as it is to remove discontinued equipment. If possible, schedule an audit of your hardware and your maintenance contract annually.
Tip Number Two: What Hardware Needs Maintenance?
Specifically, divide your hardware into two categories: high priority and normal. Any equipment on the high priority list should get the best service coverage possible within your contract. This includes servers that need to be up and running 100 percent of the time. In most cases, it will be a small fraction of your hardware infrastructure that needs to be on the high priority list.
Anything on the normal priority list can have a lower level of service in your maintenance contract. If you can afford a little downtime in relatively unused backup servers, you don’t need to have 24/7 protection on them. Most of the time, the majority of your equipment will fall into this category. Moving items off the high priority list and downgrading their service helps save money.
Tip Number Three: Stock Spares
There are a number of small hardware items that most service contracts cover, but don’t need to. Monitors, disk drives and other small devices are very easily replaceable by nearly anyone on staff. You don’t need an expensive warranty and a service call just to swap a few plugs — as long as you have a spare. Plus, a handful of spares in storage work as adequate backup against the potential failure of dozens of devices, which is a huge expense in a service contract. Plus, if none of the drives fail over the course of a year there is not cost to keeping them for the next replacement need.
Tip Number Four: Watch Older Hardware
As hardware life cycles become shorter and shorter, OEMs tend to discontinu their service — or worse, raise the rates over time until you’re spending far more than you need to. Instead of upgrading this older hardware, which most of the time works just fine, you can look into a hardware service contract from a third party maintenance provider. These providers know how to service your old hardware and keep it living long past the days the OEM would service it. It cuts costs as well.
Tip Number Five: Don’t Wait for Warranties
You don’t need to wait for a warranty to run out before you switch to a hardware maintenance company. You can just as easily switch all of your hardware contracts over now, and potentially find thousands of dollars in savings a year. There are dedicated hardware maintenance companies with both the expertise and the low rates necessary to make them a perfect fit for your business. They can even cover multiple different brands of hardware at once, eliminating the need for multiple service contracts.
Written by Joel Nimar, President of Pyramid Technology Services.
Originally published on blog: Just a Tech Blog