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Archive for the ‘Custom Software’ Category

What is Custom Software Development?

custom software development

Is there anything more exciting than creating something totally new? Diving into the unknown, trusting our instincts and experience, and gambling a bit on an idea. It’s a thrill and it’s one reason we’re in the tech business. We love creating new things!

From service platforms to Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools, custom software development offers techies a chance to flex on all kinds of new IT. And it offers companies software that makes business better, faster, and more secure. But when does custom software make sense to invest in? When out-of-the-box software isn’t cutting it, custom software might be the solution you need. Custom software is a broad term that means if you need a software solution that an off the shelf product can’t solve.

Simply put: custom software is created to meet the unmet need

You have two options for getting custom software.

A. You can have it built by your team. Great if you’re a software company. Not so much if you’re a dentist or healthcare professional.

B. You can hire someone to build it for you. 

Sometimes custom software development projects are large; think Uber’s app for matching drivers with passengers. Sometimes they can be small, such as a CRM platform paired with an inventory system. Regardless of the scope of custom software, it’s a project that shouldn’t be undertaken without a solid plan, a qualified team, and realistic expectations. 

Let’s dive into what each of those should include and some recommendations for how to approach them. Because custom software is something we geeks love and can’t wait to talk about it!

Planning your Custom Software Solution

custom software planning

Source:Pexels

 

How many of us call ourselves good planners? We’re talking more than just a splattering of sticky notes across your monitor. It’s not just planning, but active planning and strategy.

Laying out and thinking about the ‘what’ and ‘why’ are huge parts of your initial project.

The answers to those key questions may not be immediate and they may require numerous internal meetings before taking the project to a developer or firm.

If you’re looking for help, many firms offer to consult and strategize with you ahead of time. Before the rubber meets the road, it’s time to strategize and think about what your first steps should be.

The Value of a Strong Project Manager 

The complexity involved in custom software development demands knowledge and experience. A good dose of talent and passion go a long way, too. You might consider a project manager (PM) the quarterback of the whole project team. They’ll work with everyone, provide structure, direction, and accountability. They need to know where everyone is, where everyone is supposed to be, and why. And they might be the most important person on the field. 

project manager is like a quarterback

Source:Pexels

 

Your PM probably won’t be a developer but they’ll need to be technical enough to have long conversations with them. They’ll also need to talk to the client who may have limited to no technical knowledge so their ideas, needs, and requests will need to be effectively communicated to the development and testing teams (and questions/feedback translated back to the client).

The PM will need to track the progress of the project. A good PM needs to identify when milestones have been reached, missed, and sometimes misunderstood. And they’ll likely be in a few difficult discussions throughout the project. 

What Qualities Should You Look For?

When looking for proper management of a custom software project, you should be dedicated to someone who:

  • Has the knowledge, skills, and time required to understand the needs and intent of the project.
  • Can coordinate and communicate effectively with all team members regardless of role, background, or technical expertise.
  • Can record, measure, and forecast progress.
  • Has the courage (and maturity) to have difficult discussions, including those around accountability and budget.

All these skills can be hard to find. But finding someone who embodies those skills might be the best thing you can do to ensure success in your project. So don’t skimp on finding a good PM. If you don’t have anyone on staff who can do the job, consider contracting a project manager in a staff augmentation role. 

What Goes into a Custom Software Development Project Plan

Let’s break down the project requirements for a custom software development project. 

#1-Define Why You Need Custom Software

If you’re confident that an out-of-the-box solution doesn’t already exist for your needs, this is where you define exactly what everything else on the market lacks. The more detailed about what you need the better. This is a good place to include design schematics, mock-ups, outlines, and any other vision resources you have about what the end product should be like.

The more detail you can provide about what you need the functions and user experience to be, the better.

#2-Define who will use the software

Will your software be used internally or by your customers?

Maybe both.

Regardless, the more information you can provide about the user the better. Consider things like technical skills, other systems/software they already use, and demographics that might be relevant. Your goals should include building a solution that meets the needs of your user while also providing a great experience.

custom software uses

Source: Pexels

Software that isn’t designed with the user in is likely to fall flat or become unused. Unused or underutilized software is a sour investment, in both time and money.

If you feel like you can’t provide a good picture of who will use your software, it might be a good idea to take a step back and do more research to understand your user better. If it’s for customers, consider working with a market research professional to gather insights into your customer’s wants, needs, and abilities. If it’s for internal users, you might already know what your team needs.

But, that shouldn’t stop you from doing research and seeking feedback.

#3-Define how, when, and where they’ll use the software

How, when, and where might feel like they overlap with why you need the software and who will be using it.

But it’s important to consider them individually so that you know you’ve accounted for those elements in the design. These questions are crucial when defining your project requirements.

How

When thinking about how the software will be used, think about the goal of the user. Will it be an app where your customers can access their accounts with you? Will it be a CRM platform where your employees place orders for customers? Are users providing information or retrieving it? The more specific you are about the actions and goals of the users will be in the software, the better.

When

When is very important. During the holidays, retail apps experience significantly higher usage so the software is designed for those huge swings in usage. Uber experiences similar changes in traffic during concerts, sports events, and other large social events.

finding time for your custom software

Source:Pexels

And consider the time of day as well. If you know that you’re building a CRM system for employees who only work 9 AM to 5 PM then you don’t need a system that needs support at midnight. But if you have a healthcare app for patients, you probably want an app that can be accessed and supported 24/7.

This information will also help you identify any post-launch needs like 24/7 support or scaling options.

 

Where

‘Where’ is more of a device question.

Will your user be using a mobile device, a PC, a laptop, a smartwatch, or even a smart fridge? What kind of internet connection will your user have? Will you need the internet at all?

The answers to questions like these can educate your development team on what languages they need to write in and what functionality limitations they may encounter.

Software developed for an iPhone is significantly different than software developed for a grocery store POS.

#4-Define when you need the software

Depending on the scope of your project and the details for why you need it, this can vary significantly. But setting targets can still help teams in understanding what their project responsibilities and obligations are. So try to create realistic timeframes here.

One way to create effective deadlines is by looking for opportunities to align dates with events. Attaching milestone dates, especially launch dates, to significant events can help teams hit targets. Everyone knows when Christmas is and how far away it is on the calendar. Every parent and student knows when spring break happens. Random dates are easy to forget. Events give us reason to remember.

Creating Timelines With Contractors

If you’re working with a contracted partner, there are a few things you should discuss together.

First, what effects the timeline may have on budgets and resources. Does a more aggressive timeline mean you might not have access to their best developers? Do they have enough developers to meet your timeline? And what happens if they miss an agreed-upon target? A qualified and experienced IT team can answer all those questions for you.

Engaging Your PM and Planning Ahead

And we always recommend having a target and a contingent launch date in mind. Delays in software development are not uncommon and planning ahead for delays can make them less detrimental to the project. Make sure your project manager understands your timeline goals and limitations so that they can navigate milestone progress and alert the team when critical delays are on the horizon.

 

#5-Define your Budget

budgeting custom software

Source:Pexels

Let’s talk budgets. Likely you have an idea about how much you want to spend and a much more firm idea about what you can spend. We won’t lie to you, custom software development can be expensive.

Budgeting a custom software project can be difficult because each project is unique. Time, effort, users, and even the number of screens can directly influence the overall price of a project.

But expenses can be planned and should be communicated and recorded during development.

While there’s no formula for custom software development costs, most qualified IT pros can create reliable estimates. So don’t be afraid to ask your internal team or contracted partner for an estimate before jumping into a project.

The more details you provide, the more accurate you can expect the estimate to be. If you don’t see the details of your project driving their estimates, you might get a second or even a third estimate. A good estimate should be built around what you need and when. And a good provider should be able to walk through how elements of the project impact the cost. 

 

Ways to Pay

There are two primary ways to bill a custom software project. Most projects are billed either by the hour or with a set fee ahead of time. Hourly billing gives you a lot of flexibility. But a flat fee gives you some assurance of what your final cost will actually be. There are benefits and downsides to both options. Your choices might also be influenced by who you hire to do the work and how they bill, so take that into consideration.

And if you’re hit with sticker shock Let’s talk about some elements of budgeting and some options for mitigating expenses. 

Ways to lower cost:

There are a few ways you might be able to mitigate or spread out the cost of your custom software.

  1. Licensing 
  2. Build-in stages
  3. Payment plans
  4. Owning source code
Licensing

Depending on what kind of custom software you want to develop, there may be a market bigger than your company. If your idea for software could be sold to other users, you might consider partnering with a design team or investment group to create the software as an investment. However, if you choose to license your idea instead of own it, you may also lose some power in making all design, timeline, and other development decisions since you’ll be partnered instead of contracted with investors.

Obviously, this option won’t work for all projects. But for some, it makes development affordable, and sometimes even profitable. So it’s definitely worth considering.

Build-in Stages

This is a popular option for companies that can break a project into steps. If rolling out functionality over time allows you to work while growing, it might be a way to pay for work overtime. Not all software projects will really allow for this but work with your development team if it’s something you want to consider. If you can be patient it could make paying for a big project a lot easier.

Payment Plans

This is the standard, go to the bank in your good suit. Like many other business investments, software can be, and often is, financed. You may also have the option of creating a payment plan with a development partner. It’s always worth asking if they have in-house or partner relationships to facilitate financing.

Owning Source Code

Depending on your software solution and development partner agreement you may also have the option to let the development group own the source code. That may lower the cost of the project for your team. But make sure you understand all the implications of deciding not to own your software code before signing up for that discount code.

the source code

Source:Pexels

 

Conclusion

We hope this post helped you think through some of the decisions you need to make before embarking on a custom software project. Custom software projects are exciting. They’re challenging. And they can be expensive. But custom software can bring ideas to life and solve huge business problems. And real geeks (like us) love creating IT solutions, especially custom designs.

Hopefully, the five steps above will help you determine what you need. But they don’t tell you how you’ll get your custom software. For that, you have to plan the development team. 

If you have an in-house IT team, you might consider them for the job. But take into consideration if they have the skills or time to complete the job. We’re guessing if you have an on-staff IT team they already have day jobs, otherwise, why would you have them? And IT is a broad field. So someone who can build a network and maintain it might not have the skills or experience to create custom software. 

So you don’t have an in-house IT team available then your other option is to contract people to help you. Here at Atiba, our half geek half human team loves creating custom software solutions for all kinds of business needs. If you’d like to discuss ways we can help create your custom software, reach out to us today for a free quote!

 

AWS vs Oracle Cloud Services: Who Comes Out on Top?

oracle vs aws battle

In the tech world, we often play front row to several battles amongst giants. Some are ongoing and will be fought until the end of time, like Sony’s PlayStation vs. Microsoft’s Xbox. Some have already been decided, like HD-DVD vs. Blu-ray. Others seem to descend into legal battles, like Facebook vs. any country.

When it comes to AWS and Oracle, this is definitely one of those battles that is ongoing. It’s hard to see Amazon going anywhere anytime soon and Oracle is a global power in its own right, having been around for over 40 years.

Both of these companies offer cloud services so when it comes to choosing one for your business, which one should you go with?

We’re going to run through the pros and cons of each service and help you decide which one you should choose.

Amazon Web Services (AWS)

aws logo

Amazon Web Services has been around for almost 15 years now as a subsidiary of the eCommerce giant, Amazon (maybe you’ve heard of them). Thousands of companies around the world use AWS, such as GE, Expedia, Kellogg’s, and even Time Magazine.

AWS prides itself on being secure, compliant, and scalable to fit needs. Although their customers listed above are giant corporations, AWS can scale down to meet the needs of small businesses and even individuals.

It is used across a wide number of sectors such as manufacturing, financial services, fitness, real estate, healthcare, gaming, media, and more. Can you use it for your business? Let’s find out.

AWS Pros

Name Recognition

Just to get the obvious point out of the way, AWS comes with name recognition. There’s a reason that Amazon, as a whole, has become a global trillion-dollar company. With such name recognition, AWS has built up a great deal of trust.

Not only does it come with the Bezos stamp of approval, but AWS has compiled the most compliance certifications for its cloud services. Sure, it’s been able to become a powerhouse because of the name, but its past track record has helped it stay as one of the top cloud services in the business.

Ease of Use

Some cloud services can be a bit tough to understand, especially if you’re not used to working in such a sector or have relative experience. AWS, on the other hand, is oft-raved about because of its simplicity.

The platform itself is clear, organized, and very user-friendly. If you’re diving into AWS for the first time, your learning curve isn’t going to be as steep as you might find with other services. With nearly 15 years of experience and thousands of users around the globe, AWS has had the time to refine and refurbish its offerings for potential new users.

Scalable

One of the best features of AWS is its scalability. We already mentioned how large companies such as GE use AWS, but there are also plenty of options for smaller businesses and individuals. In the past, companies were forced to purchase a set amount of data storage. If you were a smaller company, you might find yourself purchasing more data than you needed and wasting money.

Not anymore.

Now, you can find a scalable data option for your business and purchase the right amount. If your business grows in the future, you can adjust your plan and scale to your changing needs.

Speed

When it comes to speed, you’d be hard-pressed to find another cloud service that moves quicker than AWS. Users often find that they can set up an application in just minutes and then dive into work. This will save you time and money, two of the most precious commodities in this world.

Payment Options

While we’ll dig into price specifics later, one thing that users love about AWS is its pay-as-you-go option. This makes payment simple and goes right in line with their scalable options. When you need more data storage, you can pay for it. If you’re using less, you can reduce your costs.

Flexible payment is something that businesses have come to expect from their services and AWS delivers.

AWS Cons

Bill Shock

We ended with a pro on payment, so we’ll start with a con on payment.

While the pay-as-you-go is a plus for many users, customers have reported bill shock ever since AWS’s inception. Usually, this happens when you are using more data than you realize and before you know it, you have a giant bill at the end of the month.

It’s vital that you enable monitoring for your account so you can set alerts and be aware of how much you’re spending and what type of monthly bill you can expect.

Amazon EC2 Limitations

While Amazon and AWS are global, users across different regions will find they have limitations on their services. Unfortunately, AWS sets default limits on resources which could consist of images, volumes, snapshots, and more.

You can request upgrades, but once again acquiring these upgrades may vary from region to region. It’s best to speak with an AWS representative before being 100% positive you’re going to have a set amount of resources.

Outages

Even the most robust systems in the world will experience occasional downtime or outages. Unfortunately for AWS, they seem to have occurred more frequently than with other cloud services.

In fact, AWS has had some very noteworthy outages over the past decade. One of the biggest was in 2016 when storms in Sydney, Australia knocked AWS data centers offline for 10 hours over a weekend. Many businesses were hurt by the outage, including some huge brands and websites.

They have also had similar outages across the US, including the infamous Friday the 13th outage.

Poor Data Policies

Last on our list is the AWS data policy. While AWS will compensate customers for credits when it comes to service outages, there is no such compensation for data loss.

If your business loses out on valuable data, AWS probably isn’t going to compensate you for the issue.

Oracle

oracle logo

Oracle has been in the business since 1977, starting in what is now Silicon Valley. While they may not have the name recognition that Amazon does, Oracle is one of the largest businesses in the world, and its founder Larry Ellison is one of the richest men in the United States.

Like Amazon, Oracle is a global brand and has centers everywhere from Tokyo to Sao Paulo. They have some big-name clients, such as Bank of America, PNC, and Zoom. Like AWS, they can cater to many different users and sized businesses.

Pros

Customization

One of the top features of Oracle is its simple and smooth customization. Clients can enter Oracle and ensure that it meets their unique requirements. Oracle knows that every client is different and wants to ensure that each interaction is efficient and streamlined.

Scalable Options

Similar to AWS, Oracle has scalable options for all types of businesses and individuals. It can work for places as large and global as Zoom and it can also work for small businesses. Just because it’s a recognizable brand with thousands of clients around the web doesn’t mean you should shy away from it.

You can also use as much or as little data as you want and have costs vary depending on your needs.

Solid Technology Stack

Oracle, in a few words, knows what you need. They deliver apps, middleware, and database as an all-encompassing, well-integrated system. With Oracle, you won’t have to be running around and investigating various third-party services to be integrated and becoming frustrated when integration isn’t successful.

Simple Setup

While AWS may take the crown for overall ease of use, Oracle has regularly drawn praise for its easy setup and network integration, meaning there are fewer hoops to jump through and steps to take to ensure a successful setup.

Customer Support

While it may be minor, Oracle has received rave reviews for its rapid and efficient customer service. It’s always good to know that a large company cares about their customers.

Cons

Pricing Options

Many users have noted that Oracle seems better suited for high-end functionalities and services. While Oracle does offer various cloud service options for clients, many have noted that the less expensive, minimal options are often not enough.

They lack some functionalities and processes that the higher-end options have, forcing you to spend a bit more in order to get the most out of Oracle’s potential.

Poor Internet Can Have Big Effects

Of course, the cloud needs the internet to survive and while Oracle hasn’t as high-profile outages as AWS has, Oracle seems to lose significant usage when faced with poor internet connections. Sometimes, something loading or behaving slower can be more frustrating than something just not working at all.

No Mobile Option

We’re always on our phones for personal or professional use and if a service doesn’t offer a mobile app, then that can be frustrating. Unfortunately, Oracle does not have a mobile option at this time.

Even though you’re used to working on cloud-based platforms from a computer, it’d be nice to at least have the option of being able to use the service from your phone.

AWS vs Oracle Pricing

Doing an exact pricing comparison between AWS and Oracle is challenging because both offer flexible options and pay-as-you-go plans. In fact, both services offer so many various options that it makes it almost impossible to present a side-by-side comparison when it comes to exact pricing.

One of the easiest charts, however, is the price per GB per month.

aws and oracle pricing gb per month

As you can see, Oracle clearly has cheaper options than AWS across all regions listed here.

The easiest thing to do, however, is to use their pricing calculators.

AWS has an estimate calculator that will let you examine all of their services while mixing and matching what you may need. A live estimate will be kept at the bottom so you can keep track of your anticipated costs.

Oracle also offers a cost estimation tool, called the Cloud Cost Estimator, which functions exactly like AWS’s calculator. You’ll be able to browse services, mix and match, and a running tally will be kept at the bottom for you.

Both of these tools are necessary before you go investigating the price. As services can vary greatly and business needs will also be different, it’s vital that you make use of these handy tools in finding the most cost-effective option for your business.

What’s the Verdict?

Now that we’re at the end, is there a clear winner? In the battle of cloud services, which one comes out on top?

We hate to disappoint, but we honestly can’t choose between AWS and Oracle.

At Atiba, we pride ourselves on being product agnostic and we’ve seen both services do wonders for all kinds of different businesses. That’s why we offer both Oracle support and AWS support because we know how valuable they can be to different parties.

If you have an AWS or Oracle project coming up or just want help choosing between these two services, reach out to us today for a free quote. We can’t wait to help and provide support along the way.

 

Nashville Angular Developer Services

developer working on angular

Nashville Angular Developer Services

At a glance, some might confuse Angular with angler, an avid fisherman. While we do love relaxing with a fishing pole on a calm day, we’re going to be talking about something a bit geekier.

We here at Atiba have been working with Angular since its initial release. Today, we’re going to run over what Angular is, why we love it, and what services we can provide with this web application framework.

Who’s ready to cast out and find some answers?

What is Angular?

nashville angular developer

Since we’ve moved past the fishing part, let’s dive into what Angular actually is.

Angular, also known as Angular 2+ or Angular v2 and above, is an open-source web application framework. In the past Angular was known as AngularJS and was actually completely rewritten from the ground-up.

The framework was actually created by several individuals from Google, large corporations, and community members. From the outside, it looks like the GoFundMe of the tech world.

Angular has undergone many updates and versions, currently on the 10th version. All versions of angular are supported for a year and a half which is broken up into six months of active support and then one year of long-term support.

What is Angular Used For?

Angular is used to develop web applications that can be used across multiple platforms including web, mobile devices, and desktops. Angular prides itself on being relatively easy to understand and work with. Developers building with Angular will regularly be using declarative templates, two-way binding, and more.

One of the reasons we love Angular is because of how straightforward it is and how clear it enforces its best practices.

Why We Love Angular

Since we’re Angular veterans, it isn’t too hard for us to pick out a few things that we love about the framework.

Design Architecture

As mentioned above, Angular makes things simple when building web applications. While other large frameworks can overload you with components, Angular makes it a breeze to manage various components. This is especially handy for when a new programmer or developer enters a project. They can quickly be caught up to speed and not waste any time.

Plus, Angular makes it so code can be easily found and developed over the course of the project.

MVC Architecture

Yes, another architecture based pro.

MVC, or model-view-controller, enhances the value of a framework and is also able to set a strong foundation for other prominent features, such as scopes or data binding.

With Angular, you can easily implement MVC architecture, making any work more streamlined and efficient.

TypeScript

To the average person, code can look jumbled and confusing. To developers, it can also look jumbled and confusing. TypeScript is fantastic because it makes code look much, much cleaner than other tools, making it easy to decipher and understand.

TypeScript is a superset of JavaScript and will alert users to any errors or mistakes made during the coding process. While this may not be necessary for small projects, it is incredibly helpful for large projects involving multiple team members over a long period of time.

It’s also highly scalable, meaning it can handle whatever size project you throw its way.

The Community

the angular community

Angular has been such a community-driven project that it’d be impossible to leave this out. There are plenty of groups, instruction manuals, and support for any issue or problem that arises. Our developers have regularly tapped into the community for tips and tricks.

The Cons of Angular

It can’t be all sunshine and rainbows, what are some things we wish we could change?

Not SEO Focused

We know the importance of SEO here at Atiba and while there are plenty of steps one can take to improve their search visibility. Angular, however, doesn’t have the best tools for SEO. That’s why you have to take different steps to ensure your rankings don’t plummet.

Steep Learning Curve

While we have raved about Angular being cleaner and easier to implement additional developers, it does have a steep learning curve. Those familiar with JavaScript may need a bit of extra time to fully grasp Angular and everything it has to offer.

Atiba is Nashville’s Angular Developer

Even though Angular may come with its fair share of cons, that doesn’t make this framework any less valuable when it comes to developing web applications. We have years of experience working with Angular and its predecessor, designing web applications for multiple clients.

We’ve used Angular for small businesses and enterprise-scale applications.

Not only are we experts in building these applications, but you’ll also receive:

  • 24/7 emergency support
  • Regular standup meetings
  • Consultation and strategy sessions
  • Ongoing app support and troubleshooting

As one of the top tech firms around, we are the leaders when it comes to Nashville Angular developers. We’ve got the hands-on experience to get you where you want to go. If you want to see us in action or are just looking for more information, reach out today for a free quote!

 

 

What a Nashville Azure Consultant Can Do For You

nashville azure consultant

Atiba is Nashville’s Leading Azure Consultant

Originally published December 24, 2019. Updated October 21, 2020.

Do you have your head in the clouds lately? For those looking at cloud migration services, you’ve probably had your head stuck in the clouds for more than a few weeks now.

That’s OK, we often have our head stuck in the cloud as well.

One of the hardest steps is determining which cloud service you’re going to choose. The main players in the business are Microsoft Azure, Amazon AWS, and Google Cloud Platform. For businesses, you want to make sure you choose one and stick with it. After all, that’s where all of your business data and information is going to be stored. Plus, you’re going to want the added security now that your employees are working from home in their pajamas.

As die-hard computer nerds, our crew at Atiba likes them all!  All three provide similar services and all three have proven to be reliable and cost-effective.

But, we’ve found a lot of people like to go with Azure. Not just because it has a cool name (OK, maybe that’s part of the reason). Below, we’re going to run over what makes Azure so great and what you need for a Nashville Azure consultant.

Our Favorite Things About Microsoft’s Azure

nashville azue consulting

Azure is Highly Secure

We’d be lying if we said we weren’t looking forward to using that rhyme all day.

In a nutshell, Azure is the most secure cloud platform out there. Microsoft prides itself on having a secure model and uses a Detect, Assess, Diagnose, Stabilize, and Close model. Maybe a bit too long for a catchy title, but the proof is in the pudding with how secure their service is.

Azure takes extra steps into protecting your data from unauthorized access, including Microsoft personnel. In a world where data is a commodity and big tech companies are often under the microscope for what they do with your data, it’s reassuring to know that Microsoft is taking the step to leave your data in your hands.

One feature we really like is the Customer Lockbox. It’s a way for you and your clients to upload and securely download documents. It’s better than sending things over email or meeting in a sketchy alley

Top-Notch Scalability

Those who have been browsing cloud options have no doubt come across this word. What exactly does it mean?

Let’s say that your business is running reports daily and 25 out of the 30 days of the month, these reports are normal and require minimal computing power. However, on those other five days, you notice a huge uptick in reporting which requires an influx of computer power.

Azure really shines here and makes it incredibly simple to scale your computer power depending on your needs. Just how easy do they make it? You only have to click a button. That’s it.

While some of Microsoft’s other tools may not be as flashy or simple to the everyday user, Azure makes it easy for you to scale your power based on your business needs.

Extremely Low Downtime

Think about the last time your internet went out. Even if it was just for five minutes, it was annoying and a pain. We rely so much on technology and we need our devices and items to be working all the time.

Azure goes a step further and offers a service level agreement, or SLA, guaranteeing 99.95% of uptime over the course of the year. For those keeping track at home, that’s about 4.5 hours of downtime for the entire year or only 40 seconds for every day. About the same amount of time that it takes us to daydream about our dream vacation.

That’s because Microsoft has data centers all around the globe, meaning that their services are guaranteed to be up and running whenever you need them.

Cost-Effectiveness

It’s all about the money, right?

We know that IT costs can skyrocket if left unwatched and a bill can come out of nowhere to surprise you (oh yeah, we did sign up for that service).

Another reason Azure has been a favorite with many of our clients is that it offers a pay-as-you-go pricing option. This means that small and medium-sized businesses can finetune their budgets and only use as much of the cloud as they need to.

Plus, costs can be reduced because both customer applications and internal apps can be launched in the cloud. This will save money on IT infrastructure while also lowering any costs of hardware and overall maintenance.

Why Your Business Needs a Nashville Azure Consultant

With all of those benefits, why do you need to hire a Nashville Azure consultant? While we love Azure, it does come with some drawbacks. That’s where we come in. As leading Azure consultants in the Nashville area, we provide a number of different services.

It Requires Expertise

Although Azure does have some easy parts, getting the most out of Azure does require significant platform expertise. In order to make sure that everything is working together efficiently, you do need a consultant to maximize your platform.

One of the most common rookie mistakes we see is administrators over-provisioning their cloud services. This can lead to a huge financial setback for a business, oftentimes in the thousands of dollars range. Since Azure is used by so many small and medium-sized businesses, those extra costs are burdens you don’t want to pay for.

It Requires Consistent Management

Unfortunately, Azure isn’t as plug-and-play as other services out there and requires consistent management, especially when working with a large number of end-users.

Azure, like most other cloud services, requires regular patching and server monitoring. Does this mean that you need someone monitoring it 24/7? No, of course not, but it helps to have someone be managing your cloud on a consistent basis.

Atiba Can Serve as Your Azure Consultant

As you can see, there are lots of reasons why you want to go with Azure. Its scalability, cost-effectiveness, and high levels of security make it one of the best cloud service options for all types of businesses. If you’re looking to get set up with Azure or just want to know more, feel free to reach out to Atiba. We offer the best Azure consulting services in Nashville and have been working with various businesses for nearly thirty years.

Not only are we Azure experts, but we also pride ourselves on same-day response time. We offer 24/7 support and 1-hour response time on critical issues.

Interested in learning more or want to see how we can help? Reach out for a free quote today!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nashville Software Development Company Announces the Hiring of Chief Growth Officer 

jay-kelley

Atiba, a Nashville custom software development, network services, and digital marketing company, is thrilled to announce the recent hiring of Jay Kelley as Chief Growth Officer. 

Atiba has seen tremendous growth over the past yearTechnology is playing an ever-growing part in our lives, especially in regards to remote work, virtual learning, and increased cyber threats. The demand for custom software solutions, robust websites, and secure network solutions is rapidly expanding. With this in mind, Atiba chose to bring in Jay Kelley to oversee the newly created sales and marketing teams. Jay will oversee strategic growth opportunities as Atiba looks to expand into additional markets and channels.  

“Jay continues to impress me with his creativity and diligence. He is a brilliant problem solver and truly cares about putting client needs first. I know he will bring tremendous value to our internal team, as well as our clients.” 

David Callahan
Chief Legal Officer/Chief Strategy Officer 

Jay brings a wealth of knowledge in the technology space. As a self-described “repeat entrepreneur,” Jay has spent his career creating innovative solutions. His unique experiences in a variety of fields allow him to truly understand client needs and serve as a bridge between developer and end-user. 

Prior to joining Atiba, Jay Kelley served as the CEO and a founding member of Peak Money, the first mobile app that combines goal-based savings with mindfulness tools. Peak began operations in January of 2018 and launched in the App Store in the Fall of 2018. 

He is also a Board Director at Spire Labs, a digital innovation company that builds products to support wellbeing. Spire Labs technology includes Spire, an enterprise social wellness platform for employers and health plans, and Rove, which offers simple, automated step tracking and competitions for individuals and organizations. Spire Labs has a small portfolio of other IPs and is a shareholder in Peak Money.  

Previously, Jay was a Founding Executive of The Documentary Channel, a national cable and satellite network that grew to more than 25 million homes before it was acquired by Participant Media in 2012. Jay raised the initial capital for the channel and served in a variety of top executive positions during his nine-year tenure with the company. He oversaw marketing and PR, commercial operations, digital and social platforms, advertising sales, strategic partnerships, and branded entertainment. Jay was instrumental in growing the network from idea to profitability, and in developing multi-platform partnerships with a number of Fortune 500 brands including P&G, ExxonMobil, and Red Bull. 

Before his involvement with The Documentary Channel, Jay worked in advertising and marketing, developing creative and strategy across all media for brands in the wireless, consumer packaged goods, and energy categories. His clients included Cricket Wireless, Litespeed Bicycles, TVA, Brach’s Candy, Krystal Restaurants, Five Star Ranges, and BullFrog, among others. 

Preceding his career in media and entertainment, Jay taught history and creative writing for several years, both at Johns Hopkins University and at international schools in Latin America and the Middle East. Jay has a master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University and a bachelor’s degree from Sewanee. He currently lives in Nashville, Tennessee with his wife and two sons. 

Jay will focus on growing the Nashville software development division, as well as the network services offerings. He will be a great addition to the Atiba team. Welcome, Jay!

 

Nashville Software School

JumpStart into Coding: Nashville Software School

By David Williams, Atiba Software Development Intern

Before I took the Nashville Software School’s JumpStart class, the most coding I had done was on my calculator in 9th grade. The course is a mere three weeks long and totals 33 hours of one’s time. It meets Saturdays from 9:00 am-2:00 pm, Monday and Wednesday’s from 6:00 pm-9:00 pm.

Who takes this class?

My JumpStart class had ten students, one teacher, and four TAs. My classmates ranged from bartenders trying to learn a more stable skill in the time of COVID, to marines returning from duty to me, a former teacher looking to switch career paths.

What does this class teach?

The class provides front end development in the languages of HTML, CSS, and JAVA. I had no idea what that meant either when I started. HTML is the language that tells computers what words are displayed on a website. CSS is the language that tells computers what those words should look like (font, borders, backgrounds, etc.).

And Java is the language that allows people to interact with a website. For example, Java enables people to click on items on your website. By the end of the three weeks, I was able to create my very own website from scratch.

 What is this class like?

The class has no homework, no out-of-class reading, and no grades. You get out of it whatever you put into it. It is structured perfectly for true beginners who just want to dip their toes into coding.

The teacher spends about 15 minutes going over a few commands and explains what the commands do and how to use them. Then the teacher takes about 15-30 minutes coding themselves and plays around with those commands.

For instance, one small section of a class was spent on the CSS commands for creating borders around the text. The teacher showed everyone how to make the border solid or dotted, how to increase its thickness, and how to put a background within that border.

After the demonstration, its time for the students to work. There is a 30 min individual mini-challenge. The challenge walks you through using the commands and makes you think about how you can apply it.

There are always TA’s available to help if you are confused. One mini-challenge for Java had the class create a button that displays text when you click on it. When about 75% of the class finishes the assignment, the teacher goes over the answer.

Other Points

Nashville Software School uses the group messaging app Slack. It provides every member of my group, the teacher and the TA’s included, a platform to chat. Slack was a great way to ask questions when not in class and is an even better way to network when the class is over. NSS is upfront about the importance of networking in finding a job, and Slack allows people to stay in touch without exchanging numbers.

Lastly, I should point out that the course emphasizes how to self-study afterward. NSS provides tools and websites to learn and practice after the three weeks are up. There are thousands of YouTube tutorials online, but part of this JumpStart course is to give you the vocabulary and the agency to watch those videos without feeling overwhelmed. It is well worth the $650 price tag.

 

 

How Microsoft Access Helps Small Businesses Leverage Data

In 2017 The Economist published a report titled, The World’s Most Valuable Resource is no Longer Oil but Data. That’s a pretty punchy title that garnered plenty of attention, and for good reason.

There seems to be no dispute these days that data can make or break a business. While large companies pump huge budgets into their data machines, small businesses have to find affordable and effective ways to leverage the data available to them.

“If you run a business, and you want to do anything with your data, the first thing you need to do is create the infrastructure required to store and query that data. Data does not live in spreadsheets.” –Samuel Flender

Gathering, sorting, and making meaning of all that data can be a huge undertaking.

But it doesn’t have to be.

Tools like Microsoft Access help small businesses do big business tasks by offering custom database solutions.

Despite the dynamic landscape of IT, there are some tools that have stood the test of time, continuing to show value for users. Microsoft Access software is one of those tools that businesses turn to again and again to help make the most of data for understanding cost, opportunity, and clarity.

It might not have a flashy name, but it’s quite the workhorse. Let’s talk about what Microsoft Access software can do for your business.

What is Microsoft Access?

First things first, let’s talk about what Microsoft Access actually is.

We like to describe Microsoft Access as “Excel after 100 Red Bulls.”

All jokes aside, it’s a versatile database development tool that’s available in the Microsoft Office suite. It helps small and medium businesses gather, organize, and utilize multiple sources of data to help run their business.

Over the years it’s gained a reputation for its value. It allows businesses to gather, analyze, and use data in ways that would otherwise require expensive custom databases built from the ground up and maintained by an in-house IT team.

Because Microsoft Access is an “out of the box” solution, design and maintenance are easy to contract out. It can be customized to the needs of the business while operating off a standard design foundation. That means as long as the company you contract has a knowledgeable Microsoft Access development expert, they can build your database or jump in and maintain or modify a design set up by someone else.

For an “out of the box” solution it’s surprisingly powerful and adaptable in the hands of a knowledgeable IT expert. This makes it an affordable, dynamic, reliable database option for the small business.

How Would a Small Business Use It?

Let’s say you’re a small landscaping company, how would you go about using this tool? Microsoft Access can help stream-line tons of office work for you with the right setup. You have a lot of info coming into, and going out of even a small office. Microsoft Access development can help you make and utilize all that data.

microsoft-access-business-data

Even a landscape business has lots of business data

Things like rent, materials, equipment purchases, maintenance, payroll, accounts payable, insurance, taxes, and more all come from various sources. Plus, they all get billed and paid at different times, to different people.

And because your business is impacted by seasonal changes, you also need to plan ahead for things like ordering, staffing, and advertising. It’s a lot of information and it all impacts your profitability and budgets. You can use the various Microsoft Access templates to get the best results for your business.

“Executives often underestimate the financial returns that can be generated by using data to create operational efficiencies” – Barbara H. Wixom & Jeanne W. Ross 

A Microsoft Access database can help you bring all of those costs and expenditures into one place, allowing you to view them in meaningful reports, and share that information with those in the company who need it. It also reduces opportunities for errors from duplication or entry mistakes, ensuring more reliable and useful data.

You can help plan ahead by analyzing data and building reports based on trends from the previous months and years. You can identify where time, money and resources are well used, and when they’re bleeding you dry.

If you set it up on a cloud source, you can even make all that information as mobile as you are.

Why Doesn’t Everyone use Microsoft Access?

With all these benefits, why isn’t every business out there making use of this stellar tool? While Microsoft Access will look and feel like other Microsoft tools, it definitely requires some knowledge and expertise to set up and manage.

Many small business owners find hiring consultants is the fastest way to get the most bang for the buck when using it. A good consultant can help you build the intake, analysis, and reporting tools that make Microsoft Access so valuable.

How Atiba Can Help You With Microsoft Access

Finding a knowledgeable, reliable team to consult and provide Microsoft Access development services may seem hard but that’s where we come in. Atiba has been a Microsoft Partner for over 20 years now and our team of experts knows just about everything there is to know when it comes to Microsoft tools.

Here’s what we provide:

  1. Local Knowledge. Because Microsoft Access’ function is to personalize your business data, it can be really valuable to have a company that can work directly and personally with you to customize the setup and functionality of your data.
  2. Microsoft Experts. While Microsoft Access looks a lot like other Microsoft tools that are very user friendly, it takes knowledge and experience to set up and maintain. Our team is knowledgeable and experienced with the tool.
  3. Continual Support. Even the best setups for Microsoft Access will require support over time. We can partner with you so that you have a great experience on day one and years down the road. A well supported Microsoft Access database can adapt with you as a business grows and changes.

As you can see, Microsoft Access comes with a myriad of options to help your small business grow and leverage data effectively.

Ready to get started?

No matter what problem you’re having, we can fix it. As leading IT experts and consultants, we provide immediate response times and 24/7 support.

Reach out to us today!

 

 

Is Remote-Only the way of the future?

A day in the life of a Nashville computer geek:   Remote-Only

Published April 12, 2020, in The Tennessean – JJ Rosen

It was just a few short weeks ago that a day-in-the-life at work meant shaking hands with people, meeting over coffee, flying places, and grabbing an occasional beer with some co-workers.   Online meetings were not uncommon, but face-to-face was always preferred and often needed to be efficient.

Flash forward to today.

With an ongoing global pandemic, everything about work has changed.  This change from our daily norms has not only been drastic, but it’s also been sudden.  For most of us, the transition to being  100% isolated at home, doing all meetings virtually, and having work and family-life become one and the same has been challenging to say the least.

For me, a creature of habit (for better or worse), I was completely out of whack for the first couple of weeks of this new life.  But as time has gone by, new routines and work habits have formed. Although it’s taken a bit of getting used to, I’ve started to settle in and somehow feel comfortable.  The whole situation is still weird, but I guess I’ve managed to adjust.

But what’s been interesting and unexpected is that some of the friends and co-workers I talk to are not just feeling more comfortable working only at home, but they’re also beginning to feel more productive working only at home.

I don’t think there are any silver linings to a global pandemic that is causing so much suffering.  But in the context of work, the situation we all find ourselves in these past few weeks is presenting some alternative ways of doing business.

Virtual meetings over Zoom, Slack, or Microsoft Teams, have cut down on the amount of time it takes to physically gather.  All of a sudden, it’s become acceptable to video conference with co-workers and clients in faraway places rather than to deal with the time, expense, and hassle of travel.   And even meetings that you would normally have face-to-face in your office have become faster and more efficient when they are moved online.

Commutes have alternated from 30 minutes of driving to 30 seconds of walking from the kitchen to the quietest place in the house to get some work done.   There is now more time in the day to manage as each person sees fit.

Business phone calls have become less formal and less stressful.   Who would have thought I could take care of several business calls while simultaneously walking around my neighborhood getting some exercise?   Where it used to be embarrassing to have your kid crying or a dog barking in the background of the conference call, it’s now no big deal.

Will these new ways of working stick?

No one knows how long we will need to stay home.  But, if working this way makes employees happier, more productive, and more efficient, we may be in for a transformation from the way business has always been done.  At least for some sectors, fancy conference rooms and corner offices may become obsolete in favor of simply working in an old chair at the dining room table.

There are some companies, especially in the tech world, that we’re already seeing the upside of being a completely remote workforce before the pandemic was forced upon us.  Studies of these early-adopters have revealed that ditching the office and making an entire company remote-only does indeed increase employee happiness and productivity.   Which in turn increases retention and profits.

As technology advancements make it simpler and easier to keep us connected no matter where we work, we can expect our new norm to become a permanent change to the way many of us work.

 

While you’re here, be sure to check out our blog on how to stay safe as a remote worker or head to our services page to learn more about what we do.

JJ Rosen is the founder of Atiba, a Nashville IT consulting and custom software development firm.  Visit Atiba.com or AtibaNetworkServices.com for more info.

 

We’re looking for SharePoint Admins and Developers to join our team!

About Atiba – Our Nashville SharePoint Consulting Practice:

Atiba is a custom software development and IT consulting company located in Nashville, TN.  We have been in business since 1992 doing technical project for clients ranging from small startups to large enterprises.

We work in multiple tech platforms both Microsoft and open-source based.    We have a very easy-going culture but at the same time we work hard to be the best techies we can be with a focus on doing great work for our clients.

Many of our employees have been part of Atiba for 10 years or more.

We offer:

  • Flexible hours
  • Self-managed vacation time
  • Peer to peer training and learning
  • Options on what technical platforms to work with
  • Small company, family style culture doing large and impactful work

 

 

About this job:

Job Role:  SharePoint Developer                                 Industry:  Technology Consulting Services

Job Type:  Permanent                                                    Company Type:  Private

Experience Level:  Senior                                           Company Size:  50 to 100 employees

Location: Nashville or remote                                     Culture:  Coder-centric, flexible, supportive

 

Technical Skills Required:

SharePoint, C#, SQL Server, InfoPath, JavaScript, CSS, HTML5, XML, XSLT

 

Bonus Skills:

Project management, .Net coding in general, Experience developing web services

 

If you worked for us, here are some of things you would have done over the past month:

  • Developed a custom web part on SharePoint in C#
  • Implemented SharePoint design template on SharePoint Online
  • Fixed a workflow and form
  • Worked on Jira tasks
  • Participated in daily standups
  • Logged your time
  • Answered emails directly from clients
  • Debugged C# code that runs against SharePoint API
  • Setup QA for SharePoint on premise
  • Fixed migration issues for a SharePoint on premise deployment to SharePoint Online
  • Attended a lunch and learn at our office on automated testing

The type of person we are looking for:

We are a medium sized consulting company doing work for organizations of all sizes all over the world.   We are fun bunch of techies who have been working together for years.  We are looking for fellow techies who:

  • Enjoy flexibility and are self-starters
  • Can manage their own time
  • Love all things tech
  • Have real-work experience developing with SharePoint
  • Want to always be learning new things
  • Support their fellow techies

 

Contact info:

If you are interested in learning more contact us today!

info@atiba.com  or   https://www.atiba.com/employment-application/

 

Thanks!  We look forward to talking to you.

Atiba Kids Series — Learning to Code: Day 1

Our blog series Atiba Kids features tech musings from a few of our team’s kids…  

This post is from Isaac Chomsky.   A brilliant rising high school sophomore on his first day teaching himself how to code.   Enjoy! 

Learning to Code Python:  Day 1 — by Isaac Chomsky

In our modern world, technology has become increasingly useful for everyday practices.

Because of this, it is important that we all learn how to properly utilize technology for these methods. In order to do that, I’ve recently decided to enhance my Python coding capabilities by working on a program that will notify me whenever a homework assignment is almost due.

This program is most likely something that has already been created, but it is still an excellent way of learning how to use Python in conventional ways. First, I had to figure out exactly how this program could work. One idea that I came up with was to create a calendar where the user could input their school assignments into the dates that they are due and, one day before the due date, the program would email the user to remind them of the assignment. This initial idea seemed plausible, so I decided to work on making the idea a reality.

The first step of this idea was learning how to create a program that can send automated messages. Through some short research, I learned how to use SSL, or Secure Sockets Layer, to properly encrypt my messages, making the message harder to be accessed by individuals other than myself and the person receiving the email. I also decided to implement “getpass” into my program, which allows the user to enter their password without it being displayed on the screen. (Basically, “getpass” is whenever you see this for passwords: *******).

This process of implementing both SSL and “getpass” proved to be sort of tricky, as the script of the program had to be exactly right or else nothing would work.

This is typical amongst programs, at least I believe so, but what made the process even more difficult was that when there was an error, the command console I was using for the program would immediately close, which prevented me from seeing any error code that could guide me towards finding the issue. However, through some manual review of my script and some trial and error, I was able to find the problem (finally!) and successfully complete the first step of this project.

Day 1 appears to have been a success!