2018 Trends in Data Storage

We live in a data-rich culture. Every piece of connected technology we interact with, rely on, and utilize in our daily lives generates a treasure trove of data. That data must be easily and instantly accessible, and it must be stored, protected, and analyzed in order to be useful.

The data storage trends for the coming year will build upon the successes of the past and look toward the future of data producing, data accessing, and data-reliant technology. Here, we’ll look ahead to the trends in data storage for 2018 and beyond.

Hybrid Cloudtechnology

In just a few short years cloud data storage has grown from a commonly misunderstood way to store and access data to the driving force behind the explosion of mobile computing we see today.

Cloud computing has enabled us to cut the cord and access emails, data files, and the web from virtually anywhere.

However, basic cloud computing lacks the agility and flexibility to meet the needs of modern data deployment requirements. That’s why one of the biggest data storage trends will by the hybrid cloud.

Hybrid cloud computing involves a mix of a private cloud, a public cloud, and on-site servers. By moving workloads between private and public clouds, computing costs can be lowered and computing needs can be met.

The flexibility and scalability of hybrid cloud computing will give smaller companies and enterprises access to cutting-edge data storage, data access, and data processing. What’s more, utilizing a hybrid cloud decentralizes computing—minimizing bottlenecks or data overload. In short, hybrid cloud computing provides better adaptability and greater data deployment options.

Colocation

Colocation is an emerging option for cloud data storage. With colocation, you provide the servers, your colocation host provides the data center including all server management—cooling, security, connectivity, and even scalability.

Colocation allows you to mitigate rising IT management costs by shifting server control to an outside company. It provides flexible, scalable data storage at reduced costs.

Internet of Things

The Internet of Things (IoT) is upon us. Every day, more and more of our tools, objects, and appliances utilize network connections—refrigerators, thermostats, home security systems, and much more. In 2015, there were around 15.4 billion connected devices. That number is expected to grow to 75.4 billion by 2025.

Each and every connected device generates data files. These files need to be processed, analyzed, and stored. Data storage platforms will need to be agile enough to process all this new data.

Edge Computing

telephone-586268Edge computing is one of the biggest data storage trends for 2018. Edge computing optimizes cloud computing processes by performing data processing at the edge of the network that normally takes place at centralized data storage centers, near the source of the data.

Edge computing moves data processing to the edge of the network, near the source of the data. Pushing data processing and storage away from a centralized location to the edge decreases the volume of data traffic and minimizes latency.

This will be especially beneficial for data-rich producing technology like driverless vehicles and the IoT.

Data Storage Trends for 2018

Data storage and processing is the foundation for our mobile world. The data trends for the foreseeable future will create a more flexible, dynamic network that allows for streamlined communication and greater automation.

Managed Services vs. Outsourcing: Dispelling The Myths About Onshoring

Onshoring, nearshoring, and offshoring are forms of outsourcing. Onshoring is the practice of relocating business services to another site within national borders. Nearshoring is when services are relocated to a site outside of national borders but within the region of the outsourcer (e.g., along the border of neighboring countries). Offshoring is also done across national borders, but the service provider is typically far away.

In each case, outsourcing information technology systems and services is typically pursued to save money and/or receive IT capabilities not available in-house. Many companies choose onshoring because they want to support their home economy, and because they feel a homeland IT provider offers better service due to its understanding of native IT culture.

But regardless of why a company favors outsourcing, it’s important to debunk four persistent myths that swirl around onshoring. Once you dispel the myths, you’re positioned to make a highly educated decision about which model of outsourcing — onshoring, nearshoring, or offshoring — is right for your company’s IT needs.

1. Managed Services vs Outsourcing

Comparing managed services vs outsourcing is unnecessary because they’re the same thing, right? Yes and no. The terms are often used interchangeably, but they refer to different models on which outsourcing information technology systems and services occurs.

Outsourcing is receiving services from a third party, without having the service provider manage the services. For example, a company may implement a service cloud on a Software as a Service (SaaS) model but manage the functionality of the cloud in-house. If the company implemented the cloud on a managed service model, the service provider would manage the functionality of the cloud remotely.

Comparing managed services and. outsourcing isn’t a debate about which one is better; some companies need third party IT services managed and some don’t. Rather, considering managed services as opposed to. outsourcing is a discussion that clarifies the terminologies. In onshoring, managed services vs. outsourcing is an important comparison to make, as the concepts refer to different types of third party IT service. The differentiation also applies to nearshoring and offshoring.

It’s fine to use the term “outsourcing” colloquially to refer to IT services received from a third party provider. But when it comes down to signing a service contract, it’s important to observe the technical difference of managed services vs. outsourcing.

2. Onshoring is the Costliest Outsourcing

The currency exchange rate between the U.S. dollar and the currency of a foreign service provider primarily determines the cost effectiveness of nearshoring and offshoring. For example, if you nearshore to Mexico, you’ll save a lot more than if you nearshore to Canada. And if you offshored to Kuwait, you’ll pay far more than if you onshored. As of May 2017, one Kuwaiti dinar is worth U.S. $3.31, making it the most valuable currency in the world.

Moreover, a variety of factors influence the cost of delegating IT services to a third party, particularly: managed services vs. outsourcing, type of services outsourced, fee structure of the service provider, payment options (e.g., pay-as-you-go vs. contractual), and market conditions in the third party IT service industry.

Once you explore all of the cost factors, you may find that onshoring is more cost effective option than nearshoring and offshoring opportunities you’re considering.

3. Only Onshoring Supports Our Economy

While it’s true that giving business to U.S. companies supports national job growth, nearshoring and offshoring can also support our economy in a circuitous way.

As reported in Computerworld, a recent study from McKinsey Global Institute found that for every dollar spent on a business process that is outsourced to India, the U.S. economy gains at least $1.12. The largest chunk — 58 cents — goes back to the original employer.” Furthermore, “U.S. companies perform 30% of Indian offshoring, so money returns home as earnings.”

Similar findings exist between nearshoring and offshoring services from the U.S. to other foreign players in the global economy. The U.S. is a longtime leader in international commerce. When U.S. companies outsource IT services, they often outsource to companies that use American technology to render the services.

As Computerworld points out, “It was U.S. technology — [especially] the boom in telephony and fiber optics — that directly contributed to the viability of offshore IT outsourcing.”

4. Onshoring Offers You More Control

When considering local managed services vs. outsourcing, it’s important to note that a loss of control over service quality is one biggest fears of outsourcing. The trepidation isn’t unfounded, but the risk of nearshoring and offshoring IT services depends primarily on laws governing commerce in the service provider’s country and the terms of the contract you strike with the provider.

There’s also customer service, business ethics, and IT competency to consider. For example, many U.S. companies outsource to India partly because East Indians have good English language skills, are motivated to offer first-rate service. Our great communication skills, ethics, and IT expertise in the U.S. also result in foreign countries outsourcing their information technology systems and services here.

Outsourcing IT systems and services via onshoring may make you feel more in control, but control is ultimately determined by how the service provider conducts business. With that said, considering the U.S. is the acknowledged leader in IT, there’s a good chance you’ll receive the best service at home instead of abroad.

Need to Outsource IT Services?

If so, consider what NIC has to offer before choosing a provider. We serve companies and organizations by facilitating outsourcing information technology systems and services.
Our specialties include managed IT support, cloud services, disaster recovery, and cyber security. To schedule a free consultation, call us today at 1 (877) 721-3330, or use our contact form. We look forward to learning about your plans and seeing how we can help!

Creating a Framework For Virtual Network Services

Computing processes are constantly improving and evolving. These consistent enhancements have naturally shifted the working patterns for many data driven companies. With the migration to virtual computing supporting an agile, intuitive workforce, advanced network services will need to be utilized by companies looking to drive growth and success.

Virtual network services add flexibility and value to your company in many ways. That’s because these services replicate existing equipment (such as hardware platforms, firewalls, switching and routing, etc.) in a software analog.
This frees up resources that would otherwise be allocated on housing and maintaining expensive servers, computers, hard drives, and other hardware. Migrating these services to virtual networks allows you to dedicated those funds towards other valuable business investments.

A single piece of host hardware can be utilized to support multiple virtual devices. This flexibility makes a virtualized network more portable, cost-effective, and scalable than traditional hardware centered networks.

Here, we’ll cover the many benefits and some of the how-to’s of helping a company’s network service “go virtual.” We’ll also cover some of the best practices for creating and utilizing a comprehensive network services framework.

What Are Virtual Network Services

A traditional computer network is made up of multiple computers, hard drives, and dedicated servers that communicate and exchange information using a physical data link. What makes virtual networks different is the lack, or minimization, of physicality. A virtual network replicates hard drives, servers, firewalls, switching, and routing as software. In other words, it creates virtual analogs of physical computers and their actions.

As you can imagine, this virtualization adds incredible agility and flexibility to your company. It allows for greater scalability and better control of costs and results. As cloud computing and virtual network services become more commonplace, they are rapidly replacing costly management of physical networks. However, some misconceptions about virtual networks still exist.

Common Misconceptions About Going Virtual

As with any newer technology, there are many common misconceptions about what virtual network services can do and how effective they are. The most common myth surrounding virtual networks is that the services and technology required to manage and maintain these networks doesn’t yet exist. This is absolutely false.

Too Complex

These services are a natural progression in the development of wide area network (WAN) services and build upon the successes of many of the most common WAN features. While legacy WANs have allowed for the rapid evolution of the internet they are ineffective for cloud computing. Virtualized networks offer the redundancy, performance, control, and security required for cloud operations.

This is clearly the direction that managed services is heading. On-demand, virtual networks can be deployed quickly, reduce oversight and management, and are highly scalable. These services can also be managed from the cloud, offering greater flexibility and control.
Many virtual service providers are already offering these improved options to larger customers. Amazon, Verizon, and other leading technology providers have invested massive amounts of time and resources into providing these services for their customers. These services build upon the success of WAN operations but include better control and management.

This large scale investment in virtual networks by the largest service providers indicates the direction that networking services will grow in the near future. Virtuality offers greater flexibility at lower costs. What’s more is that fast changing markets necessitate that service providers offer state of the art network solutions for their clients. In other words, virtual network services offer the best opportunity to complete tasks quickly, efficiently, and within budget.

Too Cloudy

Another common misconception about virtual networks is the idea that these networks are “out there” in the cloud and are therefore not under the control of the company that utilizes them. This is also untrue.

The virtual network services framework mirrors its physical analog. This places control of data and other tasks in the hands of your company’s IT department. You can still control these actions, but physically interacting with hard drives or servers is no longer necessary. Further, many applications are already hosted in the cloud. This framework demonstrates how successful, and controllable, virtual networks truly are.

Too Costly

One last misconception is cost and complexity. However, the reality is actually the opposite. Virtual networks add greater work capacity at lower costs. Because your IT department doesn’t need to operate and maintain complex and costly servers and hard drives it can reallocate those funds towards other operations.

Creating a Framework for Outsourced Network Management

Many organizations are migrating network service management to virtual network providers. There are many reasons for this shift—financial considerations, a more competitive and affordable services market, enhanced network tools and options, and more demanding business requirements.

Regardless of reason, there are many benefits of shifting toward virtual network services. It reduces the cost of ownership, housing, and maintenance of costly servers and computers, it improves operational performance, and it allows companies to better apportion resources to business development and strategy.

This doesn’t mean that there are no risks associated with outsourcing network responsibilities to a third party. However, there are framework methodologies you can employ to ensure maximized results.

Simplify the Terms of Termination

Establish protections by simplifying the terms of service termination with your network service provider. There are three ways to achieve this goal—your rights for termination, minimal bundling, and a well established termination process.

First, when structuring and negotiating your service contract, ensure you retain broad rights for termination of services. The best way to accomplish this is to negotiate provider performance termination rights. This means that if the provider for your virtual network services can’t or won’t deliver promised performance you have the right to a simple and clean termination of your contract.

Second, use minimal bundling when drawing up your contract. This allows you to terminate specific areas of service without impacting your network framework as a whole. You can negotiate separate data management, router services, and other options so that you can eliminate or remove one with little to no impact on other areas of your contract.

Third, determine a specific termination process during the negotiation of your service contract. This should explicitly designate every feature of the termination process, including but not limited to:

  • Termination charges
  • Transfer of support
  • Provider responsibilities
  • Ownership of assets
  • Control of data

It is in your best interest to negotiate and understand these terms before you sign a contract. This will not only give you better leverage during initial deliberations it will also make termination easier and more cost effective should it be required. Without these safeguards in place, you may find yourself stuck with a poor service provider because terminating operational contracts will be more costly and could also bring about legal difficulties.

Establish Clear SLAs with Credits Contractually Defined

A service level agreement (SLA) is a contract between a service provider and an end user. This agreement defines the level of service anticipated from the provider. It should also specifically define what services the end user will receive.

Your SLA with your virtual network services provider should include financial and non-financial credits that are clearly defined in the contract. This can include financial refund or service reciprocity.

Furthermore, your SLA should include required reviews at specified intervals of time, i.e. quarterly or annually. For severe incidents or issues with service, your service provider should provide root cause analysis. This will identify the cause of any issues as well as lay out solutions that will avoid repetition of any catastrophic events.

Your SLA should also lay out detailed plans for remediation of common issues like interruptions of service, dropped communication, and other minor problems. It should also include plans to improve performance over time.

Establishing clear SLAs with credits explicitly defined will help remediate issues quickly and avoid repeating those issues in the future. The best way to enforce your SLA is to assign a team member to monitor provider performance. You also need to make your service provider is made aware of any issues you have in a timely manner to ensure your SLA is properly enforced.

Don’t Value Price Over Service

During contract negotiation it’s understandable that price and cost are on the forefront of your demands. However, when price drops below standard levels, service and quality also drop. In other words, if a deal seems too good to be true it most likely is.

An ideal network services framework should provide quality services and affordability. Finding the perfect balance for your needs is what your negotiation should center on. While cost doesn’t necessarily indicate performance, if you push too hard on negotiating price you may receive subpar performance.

If cost is your primary driver than you need to allocate more resources toward monitoring your SLAs. Don’t just look for the best deal, instead agree upon terms with the provider that will meet your growing needs at an affordable price point.

Engage Vendor Management Throughout the Process

Vendor management is an important, yet often overlooked aspect of virtual network services. It typically involves contract management, customer/vendor relationship management, support in the development of sourcing and termination strategies, financial management, risk management, and more.

When you fully outsource tasks, you become highly reliant on the quality of service delivered by an outside service provider. That’s why you should include vendor management early in the process and keep it involved from beginning to end.

When vendor management is included from the beginning, you improve your ability to ensure quality service delivery, your ability to avoid service issues, and you improve your allocation of resources.

Outsourcing your network means you place your company’s reputation and performance in the hands of teams outside your direct control. By involving vendor management early, you can improve control and manage the virtual networking process to work for you.

To Bundle or Not to Bundle Transport Services

Bundling transport with other managed services allows you to outsource many time and resource consuming tasks to third parties. But the question remains, should you bundle these services? As mentioned above, there are pros and cons to bundling services.

The pros are obvious; you get to bundle and outsource tasks that eat up precious time and productivity to outside parties. These include orders, disconnects, billing, troubleshooting, and other services.

The cons are a bit more complex. If you bundle these services you may lose the ability to determine what your specific costs are. Cost visibility diminishes when you bundle transport services with other managed services like virtual network services. Furthermore, it moves even more control of your organization to a third party.

As internal knowledge, control, and expertise of transport is exported to external service providers your organization increases its dependence on those providers while decreasing its control over its own services. Finding a balance between control and outsourcing is paramount when deciding if bundling is the right choice for your company.

Make Comprehensive Plans Before Fully Migrating to an Outsourced Environment

As with any business decision, you need to plan extensively before you commit to outsourcing your networking services. There are many internal conversations your organization needs to engage in before you move your networking to a third party. These business discussions should include at minimum:

  • Business requirements
  • Future plans and networking needs
  • Communications structure
  • Data center readiness plans
  • Detailed site migration schedules
  • Financial management processes
  • Asset management
  • Incident and problem remediation

This is simply a partial list of the many activities that require delineation before you agree to a contract with a virtual network services provider. Migrating critical network infrastructure and services is a complex and risky proposition. However, the benefits far outweigh the planning required to ensure the transition is smooth and appropriate.

Cloud Network Considerations

Cloud infrastructures and the virtual network services are intrinsically connected. That’s because cloud computing utilizes the network for on-demand access to computing resources. In this way, the network becomes the conduit for incredible computing potential. The crucial role of the virtual network in cloud computing necessitates that you configure your network to ensure cloud performance, availability, responsiveness, security, and manageability are within the parameters you require to achieve maximum production and reliability.

Application Delivery in the Cloud

The primary focus for cloud, and therefore network, infrastructure is delivery and performance. Application delivery requires a network that makes rapid, logical decisions. This ensures uniform availability, guarded access, and optimized response times.

Because cloud computing varies from traditional data center driven computing it requires a dynamic network designed to handle various challenges. Your network services framework will help you balance IP address management, load balancing, and more within the cloud. This will help you intercept application and data traffic, interpret and manage the context of the data, and instruct the cloud on how to manage traffic while maintaining appropriate availability, security, and performance.

The Dynamic Services Model

As network services progress from physical to virtual infrastructures with fully matured cloud networks, there is one constant variable—traditional data center challenges become amplified. As networks become more complex while control becomes decentralized and data migrates to the virtual network, returns become diminished before on-demand IT becomes realized. In other words, how does a business maximize cost without sacrificing results?

Organizations are searching for ways to leverage the flexibility of virtual network services and cloud infrastructure while minimizing complexity. These organizations love the freedom the cloud provides from the confines of limited and costly data centers. But the same organizations also require exacting control over security, optimization, and management they currently hold over their internal, dedicated servers.

Balance, Control, Freedom

A dynamic services model (DSM) can offer the perfect balance between control and freedom. A DSM creates a holistic environment that creates better value from the whole than from each individual system component. This model can aid in the understanding of context and provide better control of information flow regardless of use. In this way it integrates the entire ecosystem into a logical model.

A dynamic services model creates calculated locations of control between users, applications, and the data and information they retrieve. These internal layers create intelligent comprehension of data context. In a way, it determines who gains access to what from where and why. This context then helps create the most favorable connection between the aforementioned users, applications, and the data and information they retrieve.

These deep connections, context, and comprehension are utilized to inform resource allocations and infrastructure adaptations in real time. This process ensures optimized data access and network distribution.

The dynamic services model represents the pinnacle of virtual network services. It is the combination of data, cloud computing, intelligent resource allocation, and an optimized network services framework.

The Next Step

Computing methodologies are constantly evolving and improving. Transitioning network services to a virtual platform is the natural progression of computing. Mobility, flexibility, and agility are the hallmarks of virtual network services. As you can see there are many benefits in shifting to a virtual network. Creating a framework for outsourced network management will help you successfully migrate your services to an outside, virtual environment.

How Digital Business Models Are Affecting IT – The Case For “On-Shoring”

Changing digital business models in the information age have proven to be revolutionary, and they are transforming the way that companies do business in every industry. The rise of the digital business model is so significant, many are calling the phenomenon of “digital disruption.”

Just as the original concept of disruption specified a process in which innovative and new forms of competitive businesses swept away old, outdated practices, the new digital businesses are quickly gaining ground in the marketplace and tapping new demographics, leaving slower businesses in the dust. This broader trend is leading to a growth in investment in all sorts of information technologies, and savvy businesses are going digital at a rapid pace.

This tremendous growth has been driving serious advances in IT for the last decade. So much so that IT departments are growing beyond their original capacities, and becoming independent firms themselves. The wide adoption of digital business models has greatly increased the demand for IT support services, and now professionals specializing in all types of technologies and software platforms are offering their help on the market.

Businesses looking to upgrade their IT support are now looking towards domestic IT firms for their support services. This is because “on-shoring,” as opposed to offshoring, is rapidly gaining ground as a viable option. Let’s take a look at each of these developments in more detail.

Getting Disrupted

Digital disruption is not just about abstract notions of competitiveness: the businesses that adopt digital models are enjoying real gains, while the businesses that fail to adapt are getting left behind.

One study from the MIT Sloan Management Review found that companies that had 50% or more of their revenues from digital channels enjoyed 32% higher revenue growth and 27% higher profit margins than industry averages.

Higher revenue growth and profit margins translate into increased competitiveness, so the early adopters are literally eating slower business’ lunch.

The Digital Shift

IpadTo really understand the far-reaching effects of digitalization, all you have to do is look at the companies that are going digital. We’re no longer just talking about savvy tech companies from Silicon Valley; it is literally everybody.
Financial institutions are busy developing web-based banking and investment tools. Restaurant businesses are completely digitizing their menus and partnering with tech ventures like Grubhub and Yelp’s Eat24. Food companies are expanding their digital marketing and R&D efforts. Entertainment companies are investing in streaming and other online technologies. Appliance and electronics manufacturers are increasingly turning towards smart devices, expanding the Internet of Things economy, and so on.

Demographic changes play a large part in this trend. Many businesses are increasingly courting Millennial and Generation Z consumers, two huge segments of the population known as “digital natives” unafraid of automation or remote communication. In fact, most consumers under 30 prefer to engage with commercial outlets solely online, and businesses are learning this fast. However, companies have to develop the technical and organizational capacities to make this transition, a role that IT support services are well-positioned to fulfill.

The Role of IT

These developments explain why so many businesses are anxious to adopt digital models, and fast. But there are obstacles. As one survey recently revealed, 78% of the survey respondents viewed digital transformation as critical to their organizations, but 63% said that the pace of changes in technology within their organization is too slow.

So, what’s going on? Many professionals feel that there is a lack of urgency in their organizations, and many CEOs, in particular are less interested in automation and digital solutions. There can be many reasons for this, but one compelling reason, in particular could be that businesses simply lack the resources to make such a transition in the short term.

IT departments are complex entities of their own, and making the digital transition may appear to be intimidating to many business leaders who are focused on day by day competition. Fortunately, there are great IT support services firms popping up all of the market, eager to fill this niche. With modern communication systems, collaborative software, and cloud computing technologies, IT professionals can provide businesses with much-needed technical support and digitization services without businesses having to invest in additional infrastructure and staff.

The Case for On-Shoring

For the last two decades, offshoring was seen as the most economic and viable way to outsource certain business operations. American companies would court various services and suppliers in various regions in Asia, such as China, India, and Taiwan. Mexico was another popular choice for its proximity.

However even this trend is rapidly changing. Wages are going up in the developing world, and businesses now have to contend with various rising costs that may have been hidden, such as dealing with extended supply chains, time delays, and transportation issues. There are other costs to take into account as well, such as natural disasters, security issues, and political instability.

In terms of IT support services and customer service in general, many companies were sourcing their tasks to countries like India in particular, a country which encourages the technology professions. Problems with outsourced tech services include time delays, coordination problems, and lowered quality, among others.

Many businesses are moving away from the offshoring trend, and pursuing what experts are calling “on-shoring.” The economics of hiring U.S. based IT firms makes much more sense today, with lowered domestic wages, improved logistics and shipping systems, and powerful communication and collaboration technologies. With U.S. IT support services, companies are getting the results they want at reasonable rates.

Surviving Digital Disruption

The time is now for businesses of all sizes to adopt a digital business model. Companies must act sooner rather than later, as competitors are moving swiftly to capture the digital market. There is no longer any room for business leaders to wring their hands over costs associated with overhauling in-house IT departments. With accessible and innovative IT support services firms all over the U.S. market, many businesses are now able to adopt more effective digital business models. On-shoring is the future for businesses looking to modernize their organizations and capture a greater share of the market.

No matter how large your company may be, it’s bound to encounter some opportunities for growth when it comes to doing business online. So, if you’d like to learn more about how your business can succeed in the digital space, feel free to contact us today. At NIC, we have the expertise and resources to support your business. From comprehensive cloud hosting and disaster recovery plans to day-to-day IT services, we’re prepared to help your company any way we can.

The Future of IT and Financial Services

As IT and financial technology solutions become more intensive due to pressures introduced by technological and regulatory change, more and more businesses are outsourcing their IT and financial technology work. There are many advantages associated with this approach.

Outsourcing reduces the need for capital expenditure on infrastructure and talent. It also allows you to free up your resources to focus on your own given field, and let professionals who are experienced in the IT and financial technology fields keep you up to date with rapidly changing technologies and requirements.

Let’s take a look at what these changing services look like today, and what they can do for your business.

Innovative IT Services

In the past decade, IT organizations have had to evolve dramatically and quickly to contend with explosive technological development. The business world now works with tablets, smart phones, big data, social media, and cloud computing technologies, which have changed the way computer systems and users interact.

Because of this change, the IT department has had to remain incredibly lean to keep up with everything. Mobile technologies and social media has changed how businesses and customers respond to tech services, and there is a lot of pressure to stay on top of rapidly changing expectations.

These dynamics have contributed to the rise of dedicated IT firms that offer specialized services to businesses. Professional IT firms have the mobility to adapt quickly and stay up to date with the latest IT trends, and businesses can save money on infrastructure and staff by outsourcing their critical IT functions to outside firms. Cloud-based services and dedicated IT teams are the order of the day.

Contemporary Financial Technology Solutions

A very similar dynamic is driving the financial technology field. Rapid changes in information technologies have dramatically changed the way that finance works, and regulatory environments are shifting in order to keep up the best way they can.

Financial services companies need to precisely understand and manage their structured and unstructured assets, as well as their overall portfolios and all of the risks involved. Powerful information technologies can now help analyze asset and portfolio performance, and provide a granular understanding of risk to help financial services businesses navigate a complex and risky financial environment.

Financial companies are outsourcing these complex financial technology solutions to professionals who have the experience necessary to keep up with a rapidly changing world. These services typically involve complex regulatory requirements as well, and many financial technology firms are assisting finance businesses in navigating these ever-changing requirements.

Get Started

There is no reason to be overwhelmed by the changing IT and financial technology landscapes. Yes the technologies and regulatory requirements are changing fast, but there are dedicated IT firms out there that are full of experts ready to tackle these challenges at affordable rates. NIC offers dedicated teams of IT professionals ready to meet your needs, as well as cutting edge cloud-based products and financial technology solutions.

Ready to get started? Call us at 1-877-721-3330 and find out today what we can do for you.

Five Sure-Fire Tips to Ensure a Hassle-Free Relocation of Your IT Infrastructure During an Office Move

Moving your business or setting up a new office can be an extremely stressful endeavor, specially relocating your business’s IT infrastructure, but it need not be.

As an experienced managed service provider, NIC helps businesses successfully set up their IT infrastructure at their new premises.

The information shared in this article is based on our own experiences helping clients setup their new offices, and discusses best practices for IT relocation to ensure a seamless relocation of your IT infrastructure during an office move.

5 Tips to Help you Move your IT Infrastructure to the New Office

Moving your IT infrastructure is not a small feat, if you have no prior experience. Whether or not you decide to hire an experienced managed service provider to help with the IT relocation, there’s one important factor you shouldn’t overlook. Time! Start planning everything well ahead of the moving date.

Here are 5 other important tips to help you relocate your IT infrastructure without any setbacks:

NIC IT infrastructure

Tip 1: Create a New IT Strategy with Top Management’s Input

While there will be a thousand and one things to consider when setting up a new office, make sure you don’t overlook your IT strategy. As a part of the top management, you’re the ones making the important decisions about the future direction of the business. Only you are aware what the scope of technology will be in the future i.e. the extent you’d be automating your business operations. When/if that happens will you consider an IT expansion or do you develop the new IT infrastructure to support that future growth now?

Whatever direction you take, your new IT strategy needs to encompass its scope. Discuss your decisions and business vision with your managed service provider, and create the best IT strategy together.

Tip 2: First Things First: Communication

The first thing to look into when planning to install your new IT infrastructure is the communication, VOIP and internet/broadband alike.

Start asking the important questions.

  • Would traditional phone lines meet your communication needs, or are you going to upgrade to VOIP?
  • Does your business need an upgrade?
  • Would a CAT-6 cable be sufficient for your internet needs, or would fiber optics be a more prudent future-proof investment?
  • Are these cabling options supported by the local internet provider at your new premises?
  • Are there any contractual limitations/implications? Etc.

NIC los angeles managed service provider

Tip 3: What will your Business Need: In-house Servers or Cloud Hosting?

Once the communication layout/plan has been developed, consider your business needs regarding data storage and access.

If hosting a server is more practical, then would you need a separate room for it or are you going to invest in virtualization/virtual servers?

If cloud hosting seems like the right fit for your company, then you need to ensure you have uninterrupted and fast access to the internet. Cloud hosting is not only less expensive than hosting physical servers, but it also lets you bypass the need and cost to license and install different software on the company end-points.

Or you may want to consider a hybrid solution, a combination of virtual servers along with cloud hosting, which in my experience is oftentimes the best strategy.

Many of NIC’s clients are only considering one or the other, but when they come to NIC, we asses not only their current IT service needs but their future IT service needs as well. And if we see that IT is playing an increasingly integral role in their future, we advise them to consider a hybrid solution.

Tip 4: Evaluate the Equipment

Relocation is the perfect time to update or upgrade your equipment. Here are just a few things you can do to evaluate your equipment:

  • Inventory the IT infrastructure equipment in the following three categories: 1) Current to be discarded, 2) Current to be reused and 3) New needed (don’t forget to include the quantity of each equipment present and/or needed!)
  • Get in touch with equipment vendors
  • Return any IT or phone equipment leases not needed anymore

NIC IT infrastructure

Tip 5: Review Office Space

Now, that you have a blueprint of everything you might need for setting up your new IT infrastructure at the new location, you need to review the office space.

Make arrangements for physically setting up the hardware at the new premises. Check to see if the new office will meet your IT equipment’s power requirements. Take note of the ideal locations for power jacks, cabling points, workstations, printers, routers, scanners etc.

Make a detailed equipment floor plan, clearly stating where each piece of equipment needs to be fitted before you start moving the equipment into the new office.

Parting Thoughts

Setting up your complex IT infrastructure anew can be an outright nightmare if you don’t know what you’re doing. This will not only cause unnecessary delays, but it can end up costing you a pretty penny, too.

Take on the help of a managed service provider that has experience helping clients with their office moves.

If you start planning your IT infrastructure well in advance, you can have it set up at the new location before the actual moving date. This way, not only will you have already tested your new network, but your IT operations will see no interruptions during the move.

As a complete managed service provider in Los Angeles, NIC can help you plan and execute your office move efficiently and take care of all your IT needs. If you’re planning an office move, then contact us today to discuss exactly how we can make things easier for you during the most turbulent time of your business.

4 Important Benefits of Outsourcing Your Managed IT Services

If you’re looking into managed IT services, congratulations! It means your business is growing and that you’re trying to be proactive, rather than reactive when it comes to managing your IT services.

Up until now, your one “techy” employee lent you a hand whenever there was an issue with the $700 printer that refused to print or scan anything or, that computer which kept crashing. Then you realized instead of doing her main job, she’d become your go-to IT support.

So, you have to make a decision and hire a dedicated IT support professional or two, to administrate the overwhelming daily need for IT services. You are also faced with even more complex IT problems. How can you protect and safely secure the vast amounts of data being generated by your business? Disaster recovery, data backup, cloud services and efficiency are emerging realities for your company, and you’re just not sure if your current in-house IT staff has the depth of knowledge or the time to implement and maintain these new services.

NIC los angeles managed IT services and outsourcingWhich is Better: Outsourcing or In-house Hires?

You’re at a crossroad. Do you hire additional and more experienced IT staff, or should you outsource? Although the answer depends on the structure of your company and your financial capacity, the overwhelming consensus among IT professionals and business executives is yes — you should outsource.

CompTIA interviewed 224 small and medium sized businesses (SMBs) for their 4th Annual Trend in Managed Services report and inquired the reason why SMBs chose to go the managed IT services route. 56% of those SMBs said they chose a managed IT services firm to “improve the reliability and efficiency of their IT operations.”

This opinion stands true regardless of your company size. If you think about it, this makes sense. Just look at some other aspects of your business that are probably being outsourced. Legal, marketing, and payroll are just some of the functions that a lot of companies today are choosing to off-load. In other words, the parts of their business which side-tracks them from providing core services to their clients.

 

The Limited Benefits of In-house Hires

No doubt the biggest benefit of an in-house IT guy is quick access to him or her, especially if they are part of your onsite staff. Most employers and employees prefer a face-to-face interaction that holds their subordinates and coworkers accountable for their actions. Your in-house IT guy or team will build up specialized knowledge of your company’s particular IT service needs, which will make him or her more efficient at what they do, and create less frustration among other employees. Nevertheless, the list of benefits may just end here.

Benefit One:  The Cost of Outsourcing Managed IT Services Is Ultimately Lower than the Cost of In-house Hires

To establish and train an in-house managed IT services team is not only expensive, it also takes a lot of time.

Costs of In-house IT Hires

Aside from the usual expenses like payroll and benefits, you have to consider that ongoing IT training and regular exams can be costly, sometimes as high as $5K-$10K per employee. The world of technology is constantly changing, and to keep up, your staff has to constantly work on maintaining current and new certifications.

And that’s just the beginning.

Consider that today’s US unemployment level in IT is 2.5-percent, one of the lowest among all industries. This means that qualified IT professionals are hard to come by and can be very expensive.

The average salary of a medium level IT technician is $70K with bonuses ranging in the $2K area, plus health benefits of $11K.

Not to mention, the average nationwide salary of an IT Director in the U.S. today is $150K. This number does not include the average bonus of $15K and an additional $24K in health benefits.

These numbers do not include hidden costs such as overtime, sick days, vacation, and emergencies. Especially overtime, which can become extremely expensive when you have an employee on after-hours pager-duty or working through the night due to an unexpected system shutdown.

NIC los angeles managed service provider

Cost of Outsourcing Managed IT Services

So, how is outsourcing cheaper?

Nowadays, most outsourced managed service providers charge their clients on a per-user per-month basis, with average costs ranging from $75-$150 per user, depending on the time and quality of service purchased. Special projects such as company moves and transitions to the cloud, are extra.

A good managed service provider will allow vertical movement in the pricing and amount of service provided to accommodate their clients’ growth or waning.

As a general rule, such pricing structure is always more cost-effective than in-house employees. And what exactly do you get for this price? Depending on the service plan level you choose, you get a wide assortment of services, including 24-hour remote support, monthly or weekly onsite visits, certified IT technicians and most important, a large bank of expertise.

Benefit Two: The Collective Experience of an Entire Firm is at Your Disposal

In my experience, even the most accomplished and skillful IT engineer will lack experience in some areas. One or two IT employees will never beat the pull of knowledge you will find at an established IT company.

To demonstrate this, our company was recently approached by a prospect (now a client) who was looking to augment their existing IT guy. They felt that as experienced and hard-working as this employee was, he just didn’t have enough time or knowledge to continue to upgrade and maintain their growing IT infrastructure. Their servers were crashing, they were fending off numerous virus outbreaks, and the email upgrade project they thought was a great idea, was now more of a liability than an improvement.

Through a wide pool of experts here at NIC, our team was able to brainstorm and present the client with an innovative and reliable solution to their problem. And, the best part? It only cost the client 75% of what he was paying to his one in-house IT guy.

This company is now a client and continues to increase their level of service due to their growth. We have become their trusted authority on all things technology and our partnership has blossomed.

NIC los angeles IT support and servers

Benefit Three: Instant, Round the Clock IT Support

This brings me to my next point: 24/7 support. This is probably one of the most common reasons why we see our clients switch from in-house to outside IT support.

An established managed service provider has a wide variety of employees, most of them techs, working different shifts and providing numerous levels of expertise to their clients. By nature, IT support is a 24-hour shop that never stops or takes a break.

IT company owners and execs know this fact and accept it as part of their key to success. They design their business models and hire employees based on this fact. This means, that they have created a work schedule where there will always be a tech and a backup available to respond to clients around the clock.

This translates to no downtime for the client. No vacations, sick days, or jury duty to worry about. No last minute family emergencies or resignations that leave the company trapped in their own IT maze.

This can never be true for in-house employees. Life happens, and it happens to your employees.

Common “Life-Happens” Scenarios that can Wreak Havoc on Your IT Operations

Our second largest inflow of clients are those who’ve fallen victim to the uncertainties of life.

Perhaps, you’re faced with one of these situations:

  • Your IT guy is on vacation and the servers have crashed. He gave you an emergency plan, but it’s hard to get a hold of the vendors and you’re not sure you know what they’re talking about.
  • Your three-person IT services team just lost one of the guys, and they can’t keep up with the inflow of support requests. Balls are being dropped left and right and it’s affecting your business.
  • You don’t think your IT director is keeping up with the ever-changing technology and is making bad decisions. His costly investments into the wrong products are yielding little results.

These are just some of the common complaints we hear from prospects looking for more reliable solutions.

IT support los angeles IT professionals

Benefit Four: Proactive and Reliable

IT reliability and proactivity will always be important factors.

Is your IT staff complacent and only reacts when there is a problem? How do you fairly reward or punish your employees when things fall through the cracks and everyone is behind schedule? Are they overwhelmed and understaffed, or are you just not sure about the processes and how to evaluate them?

When you outsource, the answer is NOT YOUR PROBLEM!

It’s much easier to fire your vendors then employees (especially in California) when their performance is not up to par and your vendors know that. Most of your vendors, including IT, will always try hard to deliver above and beyond your expectations to maintain your business. A good managed service provider will always be proactive and efficient, because competition is high. This usually results in a more innovative and cost-effective IT infrastructure for your business.

Parting Thoughts

Although I can go on about this subject, I think my opinion here is clear. It is up to you to decide which direction is right for your company. And it may be that you can afford to build you own knowledgeable team that will work around the clock. And maybe it is what is necessary for your company’s culture. But for the majority of businesses out there, the costs and time invested are just not realistic.

Here is a quick overview of the benefits we’ve discussed for each option:

In House

  1. Quick access to the IT guy
  2. Specialized knowledge about your company and its managed IT services needs
  3. More direct control over your IT team
  4. Employee cost including salary, benefits, training, and etc. is on average three to four times more expensive than an outsourced company
  5. Gap in coverage when an employee is sick, on vacation, or personal leave
  6. Smaller bank of expertise; narrowed specialization
  7. Usually more reactive than proactive

IT support los angeles team

Outsourced

  1. Slower response times
  2. Learning curve about your company and its managed IT services needs
  3. No say in the individual personnel
  4. Significantly lower monthly costs compared to in house
  5. No HR issues
  6. A wide variety of services for one price
  7. Frees up time to concentrate on your core business
  8. A wide pool of knowledge and expertise
  9. 24/7 support: no sick days, vacations, resignations
  10. Accountability and penalties for not completing work on-time
  11. Proactive solutions

If you’re still unsure whether outsourcing your IT operations is the right direction for your company, why not contact us today? We are happy to meet with you and give you our honest, un-biased, recommendation tailored to your specific business structure.