Archive for February, 2018

Things to Look for When Selecting an MSP for Your Data Center Needs

Posted on: February 27th, 2018 by Daniella Lundsberg

In our last blog, we discussed what are the main attractions for organizations to consider outsourcing some or all of their IT to an outside service provider. In this article, we will share our thoughts on things to look at when evaluating your options. Organizations have many choices when it comes to managed service providers. Choosing the right one can mean the difference between having a business partner who adds value to your organization and helps you move your business forward and a provider who is more interested in your money than making your IT systems run smoother.

Here are some things to think about:

High touch/high value: Does the service provider emphasize customer service and personal attention? Do they sit down with you to fully understand your business goals and how you see IT supporting or driving those objectives? Are they both proactive and responsive? It’s important to work with a managed service provider who values working hand in hand with you every step of the way.

Data center focused: Choose a service provider who has demonstrated expertise in the data center as their core business. Sometimes managed service providers have their roots in PCs and help desks, and are trying to expand their services inward. Providers who understand the nuances of designing, deploying, and managing sizable data centers and demonstrable investment in bullet-proof data centers and architectures will give you the highest level of success.

Flexible: Working with a managed service provider that offers a variety of options will be in your best interest. Organizations all have unique requirements. Sometimes all that is required is extra staffing and monitoring of existing on-site equipment, other times a full hosting of infrastructure and applications is required. The ability to mix and match services based on needs can make the experience much easier. Additionally, businesses are dynamic, so as your business changes, your IT needs will too. Look for a provider who can make that transition along with you.

Expertise: If your organization is fairly large and your data center is complex, you should be seeking a managed service provider who has the expertise, not only with enterprise level infrastructure, but has the certifications and credentials to really understand the nuances of how all the pieces work together for optimal performance and availability. Data center management is not only about the operational aspects of all the piece parts, but from a business perspective – knowing how to keep the business applications up and running 24/7.

Committed to Strong Vendor Partnerships:  Whether you own your own infrastructure and have a service provider manage it, or utilize an MSP’s hosted data center, it’s important for the MSP to have deep, strong relationships with their vendors. Data centers consist of a variety of components: compute, storage, networking, and application, and data protection. Understanding how all those components work together to achieve the SLA goals is key to your success. For example, if you are running SAP as your ERP application, on top of Hewlett Packard servers and storage, with Cisco networking infrastructure, you need a service provider who has deep technical relationships with all of these technology providers.

While this is not an exhaustive list, it will give you a head start in selecting a strong managed services provider who can meet your needs and help you grow your business. Next time, we will discuss the value of a solid data protection plan when considering if managed services can help you.

Interested in learning more? Give us a call: 847-637-4300

Data Protection – It May be More Critical Than Operational Support

Posted on: February 19th, 2018 by Daniella Lundsberg

In today’s fast paced economy, organizations find themselves in a bit of a conundrum. As they assess their tolerance for downtime of business-critical application, they often find out that their ability to restore systems to an operative level exceeds their tolerance for downtime. For example, they may find they can only tolerate 2 hours of downtime for an online-ordering system, but they can only restore it within 4 hours. That means 2 hours of lost sales and lost productivity not to mention brand and reputation damage. This can add up quickly. Investing in the infrastructure necessary to meet these shrinking windows can be costly. Using an MSP to manage your backup and recovery processes can often be a lower cost, lower risk solution.

Managed Service Providers who provide data center level infrastructure services understand that business continuity and data protection is probably more important than day to day operations support. A good MSP will sit down with you and understand your business processes and the impact on the bottom line if any of those processes were interrupted. You will jointly draw up a strategy to ensure your business has the continuity it needs to compete effectively.

Data protection plans from an MSP should include SLAs – Service Level Agreements – that communicate the agreed upon metrics around guaranteed uptime, security, power, and redundancy. The SLA’s should spell out procedures for backup and disaster recovery, as well as physical and cybersecurity.

Again, as mentioned in previous blog posts, look for flexibility from your MSP in this area. You may have an existing data center on-site that has accrued complex backup and recovery parameters over the years. You can work with the MSP to handle data protection processes through a solid plan and augmented staffing, along with remote monitoring and proactive recommendations to head off potential issues, such as a fast-growing database that will be soon exceeding the current backup capacity.

Alternatively, you may find your needs are such that you have your entire IT infrastructure hosted within the MSP’s secure data center. It’s important to understand how the MSP protects your data, as well as what security policies are in place to protect access to your sensitive data. Do they truly understand what it takes to support a sizeable corporate data center and protect it? Do they have experience in large business critical applications, such as SAP or Oracle? This knowledge comes in handy as troubleshooting application performance in terms of data availability is a cumbersome task with so many technologies involved: server, storage, network, database, virtual machines, etc. The more an MSP understands the total infrastructure stack the more confident you should feel that your applications will be meeting SLA requirements of users and customers.

Interested in learning more? Give us a call: 847-637-4300

3 Reasons Mobile Navigation Improves the Patient Experience

Posted on: February 9th, 2018 by Daniella Lundsberg

Hospitals can be a stressful place. Being a patient or a visitor can bring out anxious feelings. Add in the fact that hospitals are often crowded and very busy. Larger hospitals can be complex to navigate with different buildings, multiple floors, and color-coded wings. Sometimes departments are spread across multiple locations, making the path to the correct location extra challenging. Visitors and patients can be overwhelmed trying to figure out the fastest route to get to where they need to be.

Hospitals are recognizing that finding ways to improve the patient experience is a worthwhile investment. In attempting to improve the quality of care, hospitals are seeking ways to reduce patient and visitor stress. The interior of the hospital is often maze-like, leading patients and visitors to feel frantic and worried.  Increased patient stress can show up as increased blood pressure, anxiety, etc., which can complicate the actual medical visit.

Improved Use of Hospital Resources

Patients often miss doctor appointments because of difficulties in navigation (known as “wayfinding”). When this happens, physicians get backed up, stress builds on patients, and hospital scheduling gets thrown off. This forces staff to scramble and readjust, and not all patients will get the time they need with their doctors.

In an ideal hospital environment, information desks are always available to help lost and nervous visitors.  Unfortunately, visitors often resort to waving down physicians and nurses, instead.  Having staff devote time to answering wayfinding questions takes them away from their busy jobs of seeing patients. This causes treatment delays and can be costly — as much as $220,000 per year.1

Advantages of Mobile Wayfinding

Problems navigating through large hospitals have always existed and solutions have typically been limited to rearranging signage. With the surge of smartphone usage, hospitals now can implement a wayfinding application. This allows patients and visitors to access hospital maps in the palm of their hands. Not only can these applications pinpoint the visitor’s location inside the hospital, but it can also help direct them step-by-step to their desired destination. Here are three benefits of using mobile wayfinding:

  1. Personalization

Navigating through a large hospital is confusing. There are too many signs and too many possible directions. A mobile wayfinding option can eliminate this confusion by leading patients on a direct path to their destination.

  1. Adaptability

Hospital environments are constantly changing — doctors’ offices move locations, elevators get shut down for repairs, and cafeterias close for remodeling. To reflect these changes on physical signage and maps can take time, money, and effort. Software can be updated at a moment’s notice — much like a hospital website. No longer will hungry visitors find their way to a cafeteria only to see it is closed for remodeling. A wayfinding platform has the ability to reassign a route that avoids the closed cafeteria.

  1. Showcaing ofe Resources

Hospitals strive to help patients as much as possible. One way of doing so is by offering resources such as daycare or counseling. Mobile wayfinding applications can give hospitals the ability to showcase resources that patients may not otherwise be aware of.

Aruba Meridian

Meridian is a mobile-app software platform from Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company, that allows

public-facing enterprise venues, such as hospitals, to create or improve mobile apps that engage visitors on their mobile devices. These venues can leverage Meridian to deliver location relevant information such as mapping, turn-by-turn directions, venue-specific information, and proximity-based notifications to mobile-app users during their visits.

Aruba Location Services

Aruba Location Services powered by Aruba Beacons can be added to provide an additional layer of contextual device

positioning. This real-time data integrates with Meridian powered mobile-apps to give users access to more granular

location-based services and personalized mobile engagement.

To learn more about how American Digital and Aruba wayfinding solutions can help you improve patient experiences in your healthcare facility, contact us.

1 – Georgia Tech School of Architecture, “Finding the Building in Wayfinding,” Zimring, Craig, Sept 1, 1990.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise specializations include Platinum: Converged Infrastructure, Networking, Storage; Gold: Cloud Builder.

The information contained herein is subject to change without notice. The only warranties for Hewlett Packard Enterprise products and services are set forth in the express warranty statements accompanying such products and services. Nothing herein should be construed as constituting an additional warranty. Hewlett Packard Enterprise shall not be liable for technical or editorial errors or omissions contained herein.

Whats Driving Organizations to Turn to Managed Services?

Posted on: February 9th, 2018 by Daniella Lundsberg

The digital economy has businesses and organizations struggling to find ways to become more agile. More often than not, they are spending most of their time and energy maintaining their infrastructure instead of trying to find ways to work with the business to get ahead of the competition and use IT to their advantage. The mantra has been “do more with less” for a long time. This means less staff and less money to invest in new technologies, resulting in a less than optimal IT environment given the pace at which business flows today. The challenges to keep applications available as well as users and customers happy are daunting.

IT can be a complex thing, and it’s not getting any easier. Skill sets required to manage today’s business applications have become very specialized and expensive.  Its no wonder many organizations have sought out alternatives to managing and investing in their own data center. As competition increases and companies are under more pressure to become more agile, IT has become an target for outsourcing, with the goal of increasing corporate efficiency and finding a partner who can help increase revenues from IT investments.

Let’s look at the major reasons organizations are turning to managed service providers to assist them with their IT requirements:

  1. Reducing and controlling operating costs: The demonstrated cost savings of outsourcing are widely accepted as one of the reasons to consider managed services. The reduction of CapEx and OpEx is also key, as outsourcing removes the need to purchase physical hardware as well as the maintenance costs.
  2. Gaining access to world-class capabilities around the clock: Outsourced IT specializes in managing and maintaining your IT needs and can service those needs 24/7 while going beyond what an internal team can do.
  3. Freeing internal resources: Your business probably isn’t IT, so maintenance tasks get in the way of more strategic projects. Managed services can help alleviate this burden and help maximize your IT team’s time.
  4. Latest technology: With all the different technologies like cloud, security, and networking, you have access to the best in the field, along with the latest and greatest technology to give your company the edge it needs to compete in a crowded marketplace.
  5. Streamlining or increasing efficiency: Using an MSP partner to augment your in-house IT staff can be a great way to increase efficiency of your business operations. No matter what arises, an MSP is there to pick up the slack when needed, allowing your business to run smoothly and your employees to focus on core business needs.
  6. Shared risk: MSPs heavily invest in the most resilient systems that handle disruption better than less powerful systems can. Backed by robust SLAs, MSP partners guarantee the safety of your data in ways an on-premises solution cannot.

Managed Services Can Help You Grow

It’s not too far of a reach to assume that most IT organizations are overwhelmed with trying to keep up with new business initiatives while keeping the existing infrastructure and applications up and running. The other dynamic is that as technology has changed – cloud computing, mobility, and big data analytics – just to name a few, there are fewer IT members on staff who are skilled in these areas. It only makes sense to think about outsourcing the management and deployment of these new technologies to achieve faster time to value. Managed services can provide the bridge between existing infrastructure and newer technology that enables organizations to achieve maximum business value and focus on core competencies.

Next time we will look at things to consider when selecting a managed service provider.

Interested in learning more? Give us a call: 847-637-4300

Tips on Building an IT Infrastructure for the Idea Economy

Posted on: February 2nd, 2018 by Daniella Lundsberg

Maybe you’re not familiar with the term ‘idea economy’. It is much more than just a concept or a marketing phrase. It is, today, a way of life. We live in an age where emerging technologies are enabling ideas to be turned into new products, applications, and services. In some cases, entire new industries are being created. It stands to reason that in this idea economy, IT is the business driver for value creation. As such, there has never been a more important time to assess your current infrastructure to determine if it will meet your future needs while still supporting your present business requirements.

In with The Old and in with The New

Traditional IT business applications have their place. They have been designed to support and automate existing business processes such as collaboration, supply chain analytics, and web infrastructure. And, they require ongoing efficiency improvements and optimization. At the same time, there is a new breed of applications and IT services being developed to expedite revenue creation and deliver new digital customer experiences. This evolution requires businesses to rethink their architectural approach to IT. Why? Because today a new IT infrastructure is required—one that is designed to power innovation and value creation for a new breed of applications, while more efficiently managing traditional workloads. This new architectural approach is called composable infrastructure. And, it comes to market in the HPE Synergy portfolio.

HPE Synergy and American Digital

HPE Synergy provides the first platform built for a composable infrastructure to instantly bridge the gap between traditional IT and the IT of the idea economy. Through a single interface, HPE Synergy combines physical and virtual compute, storage, and fabric pools into any configuration for any application. HPE Synergy’s software-defined intelligence enables IT to implement changes to the infrastructure in a keystroke. This increases service availability while reducing operational costs.

American Digital is a Hewlett Packard Platinum Partner with a deep bench of IT expertise. We can show you how Synergy can help you to create and deliver new value instantly and continuously.

Discover how American Digital can help you build IT for the idea economy by calling 847.637.4300.

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