Nashville IT Services

Archive for the ‘Network Services’ Category

9 Benefits From a Nashville Managed Services Provider

managed services nashville

There is plenty of research and thought that goes into establishing a business relationship. Deals such as these take place in many different areas. They have taken place on the golf course, in a hotel conference room, or even during a casual encounter.

Nowadays, those meetings have extended virtually and handshakes have been replaced by “can you hear me OK?” messages across Zoom and Skype calls. Even though the setting may have changed, establishing long-lasting business relationships takes plenty of effort.

Choosing a managed service provider is no different. A managed service provider is going to be handling all your tech side things so you can continue to focus on your business. You want someone you can trust, responds quickly to any emergencies and has the necessary qualifications.

Nashville is a growing city which means that your business may need to be servicing more clients and growing quickly. To make sure you’re in complete control, it might be time to turn over the tech reins to a Nashville managed services provider.

Besides not having to worry, what are the main benefits?

Reduced Risk

managed services help reduce risk

No matter what kind of business you run, there is sensitive data about you and your customers that needs to be protected. If someone stole or had access to that data, that could set your business back months, or worse.

You need to make sure your security, firewall, and servers are all protected. If you can’t answer “they’re 100% safe”, then it’s time to think about finding a managed services provider.

A top managed services provider is going to make sure your security measures are not only up to date, but also performing their assigned tasks. They’re going to be familiar with the latest security protocol and measures so that your business is protected 24/7.

With a managed services provider in charge, you can minimize your risk and not have to think about data potentially being exposed.

Increased Efficiency

There’s nothing wrong with DIY. Sure, it may take you a bit longer to fix the sink but at least you can say you did it yourself and think about changing your career to a plumber.

That approach works at home, but not so much in the business world. Decreased efficiency in the business world means you’re missing out on opportunities to reach clients, grow your business, or focus on other tasks.

Plus, a lack of efficiency can raise costs, especially if you’re going to have to repeat tasks numerous times.

Instead, hand it over to the experts. A managed services team can quickly implement new technology, forecast issues, and eliminate downtime. This keeps production running smoothly and allows you to focus on what you know best: your business.

Cost Control

Even if you have a full-time IT staff on hand, they may not always have “enough work” to justify their position. With a managed services provider, they serve only on a necessary basis. That means they’ll be there to handle the important tech items related to your business but also there for emergencies.

That way, your business can save money.

As you can see from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, salaries for IT personnel can range from $55,000 all the way to $125,000. If you’re not paying a full-time IT staff, then you can put that money back into different areas of your business.

Experience

In this day and age, the demand for tech-centered jobs is incredibly high, and finding the right talent can be tough. What’s even more difficult is finding the right talent that also has the necessary experience.

A managed services team is going to be full of experience. They’ve worked with numerous clients in numerous businesses and, in a sense, have seen it all. Therefore, they’re going to be more than equipped to handle what your business needs.

Small businesses often struggle more in this department as they are caught in the middle of needing a full-time IT employee but also someone that can grow with their business and the business needs. The IT world is vast and many different areas need to be mastered and you’re setting your hopes a little too high to expect one person to handle them all.

The Jack-of-all-Trades Team

managed services provider

You can’t expect one person to know everything from server migration to email hosting which is why you have a team. A good managed services provider will have experts in different areas.

Let’s say your business has decided to go fully remote but you’re also considering migrating from Microsoft 365 to Google Workspace. You need to set up secure remote connections and consider investing in virtual machines. That’s a tall task for one person. Even if they are able to do everything, the whole process is going to take them a long time.

Plus, they may not get it right the first time.

A managed services team is going to have different experts who take care of each of those processes. This saves you plenty of time and money and you have the comfort of knowing that things have been done right.

Fill in the Gaps

While you may have a roadmap for where you see your business going in the next five or 10 years, no one can accurately predict the future. The IT needs of your business may change drastically and when they do, you need someone to step in and take care of them as fast as they can.

Top managed services providers have scalable plans to grow with you and your needs. You won’t feel shoehorned into one plan with limitations.

You get to determine the level of service that your business needs and not the other way around.

Avoid Downtime

Downtime is one of the scariest things to a business owner (not as scary as a snake infestation, but still scary). Not only is downtime going to frustrate you, your employees, and your clients but it usually comes with serious financial repercussions.

In March of 2019, Facebook lost around $90 million in potential revenue over the course of a 14-hour blackout.

While few businesses are the size of Facebook, projections still look scary. A 2014 study by Gartner says that every minute of downtime can cost a business around $5,600 per minute, and that’s just the average.

Considering that roughly 1/3 of small businesses fail because they run out of cash, many literally can’t afford a minute of downtime.

A managed services team is going to be monitoring your system and provide constant reporting and ensure that your business doesn’t suffer a minute of costly downtime. Your business is protected from potential risk and you don’t have to worry about becoming just another statistic.

Quicker Response Time

We are impatient people, especially in a time where we can get just about anything we want with a click of a button.

A managed services provider is going to be able to provide quick response times and low turnaround. You won’t have to worry about having your messages left on “read” or waiting days to be contacted again.

The best managed services providers offer one-hour response times and 24/7 emergency support so you know you’re taken care of whenever.

Consistent Communication

communication is key

When you have a managed services team in your corner, you can establish regular and consistent communication with them. You won’t be forced to call into customer service or contact other firms for each issue that comes up.

Have a tech emergency pop up? Need help setting up a remote employee? Looking for someone to act as a tech advisor? You can go to the same place for everything. That saves you the headache of searching for additional people to contact and not building a consistent relationship.

Atiba is a Leading Nashville Managed Services Provider

When it comes to the managed services business, we’ve been doing this for quite some time. We have experience working with both large, medium, and small-sized businesses to help them with all of their tech needs.

We are proud to offer the following as part of our managed services package:

  • Same day response
  • 24/7 emergency support
  • Security monitoring
  • Monthly reporting
  • Consulting and strategy
  • Disaster Recovery

Don’t see something on the list? Check out our services page because we can be your one-stop-shop for all things tech-related.

If you have a tech problem and want to solve it or are just looking for more information for a Nashville managed services team, 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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Ultimate IT Security Audit Checklist

it security audit

In life and business, many tasks can be divided up into things you can control and things you can’t control. In the search engine optimization world, you can’t control when Google may release an update and tank your rankings. In sales, you have a level of preparation over your sales pitch. You can’t control what the client will say to you (unless you slide them a couple of front-seat tickets to the upcoming concert).

Your IT security, however, is one area that you need to be in complete control. You don’t want to leave your business’ security up to chance or hope. Attacks can happen at any time and they can be costly. Even if they weren’t costing you six figures (or more), can you afford to spend lots of money on something that shouldn’t have been an issue anyway?

In order to make sure that you are safe from any potential breaches or attacks, you need to be performing regular IT security audits. Today, we’re going to go over what an audit is, how often you need to perform one, and the important items you need to make sure are on your checklist.

What is an IT Security Audit?

security audit reasonsWhen it comes to your business, there are plenty of audits you can (and should) be running. SEO audits, content audits, network audits, and of course, the ever-fun third-party financial audits. All of those are important but perhaps none are more important than your IT security audit, usually performed by a professional security auditor.

Within an IT security audit, there are two primary assessments. The first of which is the review of automated assessments. This involves an examination of system-generated reports, software reports, server changes, and file settings.

The second part, and the more laborious of the two, is a manual assessment of well, just about everything else. That involves physical hardware examination, vulnerability scans, access control review, resource overview, and even interviewing employees.

An IT security audit is a large process and is not something that can be done within a week. For some businesses, it’s a multi-day and even multi-week undertaking.

Why is this Assessment Important?

You can probably guess that one of the most important parts of such an audit is finding security issues and patching them quicker. However, there are also a number of other benefits that come with regularly-performed audits.

#1-It Helps Streamline IT Work

After an audit is complete, the report can tell you which areas need improvement or closer examination. This lets IT personnel make proactive decisions to their network and security instead of always responding to attacks. If everyone has their work set for them ahead of time, maintaining security and dividing up tasks will be more efficient and boost productivity.

#2-It Helps Explain IT Costs

The financial auditors aren’t due here for another month, why are we talking about money?

Hopefully, your company hasn’t experienced a data breach or security issue. If this is the case, there might be others in the company wondering why so much money is being spent on network infrastructure security. We haven’t had an issue in a decade, what’s the point of allocating X amount of dollars to our security? Would that money be better spent in another area?

These audits can show that such expenditures and justified and necessary to safeguard an organization. Plus, they can show the potential of what might happen if such measures were taken away.

#3-It Promotes Teamwork

While your IT staff is in charge of everything from setting up people’s emails to network security, they cannot always be a watchdog ensuring that everyone is adhering to security guidelines. In order for implementation to be successful, everyone needs to buy into the basic ideas of security.

An audit can help show workers in various departments the primary areas of risk and what actions they should be mindful of. While they might be tired of hearing warnings and advice through company emails, an audit will give them something a bit more tangible to see.

How Often Should a Company Do IT Security Audits?time for security audit

Generally speaking, you should be conducting this type of audit at least once a year. Some may prefer to do it more, such as every six months or even once a quarter. If you do decide to do them on a more frequent basis, then you’re going to find possible security holes or other issues quicker.

More often than not, the size of a business is what will determine the frequency of such audits. Large companies with thousands of employees may take weeks while a small company with a handful of employees can be completed in a matter of days.

The IT Security Audit Checklist

Alright, we’ve covered the basics of an IT security audit, let’s move onto the checklist. Dust off your clipboards, notebook paper, and #2 pencils, let’s get started!

Start at the Beginning

Before you jump right into solving security threats, you need to get a bird’s-eye view of the company’s security plan. Read over what the security policies are, how employees are trained on them, and how often they are reminded of such policies. You should review business processes such as disaster recovery plans, restoration paths, and response plans for a cybersecurity attack.

You’ll also want to have a comprehensive list of what software and hardware a company has and who has access to these devices.

Going through the policies and framework first will ensure that security measures are in line with business objectives. The last thing you want to do is go through with an audit only to have it hinder business efficiency. Your objective should be to make things more secure without disrupting everyday activities.

If this is the first time you’ve performed such an audit with this company, you’re going to want to see the last audit and its findings as well as actionable steps the company took.

You can consider this as a “Step Zero”. It’s quite important, however, so you can layout a plan of attack and gauge which areas you will have to focus your efforts on.

Discussion with Management

One might think that a security audit is simply testing systems and interacting with computer software and hardware, but there is a personal element to the whole process. Part of this goes hand-in-hand with Step Zero above, but it’s also necessary to find out the goals.

  • Is there one area of particular concern?
  • What do they expect the audit to find?
  • Have there been any significant issues in the past?
  • Are there any current threats out there?

This way, you uncover many issues before they pop up and surprise you later. You might also find out if there have been recent employees who have left that never had their credentials revoked or a former disgruntled employee who has access to sensitive data (like a certain Bruce Willis film).

Remember, management may not be IT experts and what seems like a harmless issue to them could be such a huge red flag.

security audit threatsFind Potential Threats

There is no shortage of threats, but there are some major ones that you need to keep your eyes out for.

One of the most common threats is malware. This includes your spyware, viruses, worms, and ransomware. One of the biggest recent attacks was WannaCry, ransomware which infected thousands of computers worldwide. The vast majority of computers affected were ones that had not been updated to Microsoft security patches or were end-of-life machines.

You should also be on the lookout for DoS (denial of service) attacks. DDoS attacks (targeted at multiple systems instead of one), are on the rise and some of the larger-scale attacks have brought down the internet across the country.

Other areas of concern include data leaks, social engineering, and account hijacking. These are often the result of negligence or poor decisions by users, showing just how important it is for all members of an organization to be on the same page when it comes to security.

Additionally, you’ll want to perform a physical check as well. Make sure server rooms are locked, rooms are safe from unauthorized users, and items such as shredders and dumpsters are secure to prevent divers.

Security Performance Evaluation

There are a few things you should be checking out when it comes to security performance. The first one is the most basic: password testing. While long, super complicated passwords aren’t a necessity anymore (the guy who invented them even apologized), they do need to be unique.

Make sure users are using long and unique passwords for their log-ins. At the very least, ask them to ensure their personal and work passwords differ.

The second, a security framework review, is used to identify the security measures currently in place. That means first checking out which devices need protection. Typically, that involves checking devices, emails, software, and the network people are working on. If your company is remote, this presents a bigger challenge. Workers may be using their own personal devices and their home internet.

One of the most important parts of the evaluation is what we like to call “rockin’ the boat” (not just because we’re big fans of Stubby Kaye’s rendition of the song in Guys and Dolls).

stubby kaye

“The security specialist said sit down, you should delete that obvious phishing attempt. The security specialist said sit down, you should delete that obvious phishing attempt.”

You need to carry out penetration testing and a security awareness assessment. You should be testing how current employees respond to email scams, carrying out simulated attacks on the system, and testing employee security knowledge. Sometimes, this involves an actual white-hat hacking attempt. Just beware, however, that this could end with serious repercussions.

Plan a Defense Strategy

Now that you have identified threats and performed a successful evaluation of your security, it’s time to set up a defense plan in the audit report.

At the top of your strategy to-do list should be monitoring tools. Set up a monitoring schedule and testing for all aspects of security. Having these in place will make future audits that much easier.

What your defense strategy will look like is going to differ on the threats you’ve found. If DoS attacks are becoming more frequent, then you should look to strengthen your network infrastructure. If devices are being infected with malware, then look at how to upgrade your virus protection.

Lastly, part of your defense strategy should be planning future security audits. Will you be doing them quarterly? Bi-annually? Annually? Whatever your plan is, stick to it and keep detailed records of your findings and changes. Track progress over the year as well to make sure your recommendations are having their desired effect.

What About Special Audits?

Sometimes, even with the most diligent of preparation, a security breach can occur. When that happens, should you perform an audit right away or simply investigate the issue?

It’s highly recommended to perform a full-scale audit as the breach may have uncovered an issue that wasn’t obvious during the first audit. In addition to sporadic or new attacks, you should also make sure and perform an audit if one of the following occurs:

  • System upgrade
  • Sudden business growth (more than 5+ employees or contractors)
  • Loss of multiple employees (especially if those employees had sensitive information)
  • Business acquisition or merging
  • Business re-branding
  • New software implementation

You want to make sure your security is not compromised when there are big changes to your business. Start off with the right foot.

Conclusion

One of the most important things you can do for your business is to perform routine IT security audits. It can be hard to look at our flaws but by being diligent about internal performance, you can catch errors, resolve issues, improve security, and educate employees on the best practices.

A security audit is not one area you want to take lightly. While you should be performing internal audits, the best way to make sure you’re getting the results you need is to hire an expert. Here at Atiba, we have been helping companies with technical and IT audits for years. We have an experienced team ready to help you make your business more secure.

Reach out to us today for a free project quote. We look forward to hearing from you!

Network Services Employee Spotlight

Network Services - Joey Baggott

As part of a new series exploring our “Half-Human” side, we recently (virtually) sat down with Joey Baggott from our Network Services team.

How long have you been with Atiba and what is your role? 

I joined Atiba in March of 2020 as the Business Development Manager, so I’m still fairly new to the Atiba teamI primarily focus on Atiba’s Network Services offering.  My goal is to help businesses develop the most efficient solution to their network environment and architecture. Atiba doesn’t sell “one size fits all” solutions, so I work with our Senior Network Engineers to create custom solutions for every organization. 

What is your favorite part about working at Atiba?  

My favorite thing about working at Atiba is the like-minded people. I’ve always enjoyed video games, comic books, other geeky things, but I’ve never been around others in the workplace who share those interests. At Atiba, I fit in well and I can truly be my nerdy self. I’ve never been able to describe myself well until I got to Atiba and heard the line “Half-geek, Half-human” and I finally understood a little more about my own personality. It’s like I’m in a galaxy far, far away. 

 What motivates you to wake up and go to work? 

My amazing family is my primary motivation. I have three beautiful kids and a gorgeous wife. It’s important to me to show my kids what it looks like to work hard. I also want to be an example to them of what it looks like to truly help people. So many salespeople are just trying to close a deal. Atiba focuses on finding what works for the client, even if that means turning down business. 

 What is something most people don’t know about you? 

When I was in college at the University of Tennessee, I was captain of the UT Paintball Team. We actually won a National Championship in my final year.  

 

 

 

 

 

Hiring the Right IT Services Company for Your Business

it-services-company

As a small business, you are always making difficult decisions about when to do things in-house, and when to outsource certain processes or projects. When it comes to IT work, there is often a steep learning curve. Sure, you can do the work yourself but it may take precious time and resources to train yourself, and even then, it might be done wrong. That’s even before we get into regular maintenance and troubleshooting.

From creating secure and reliable networks to digital marketing plans and collateral, there is so much to consider when building the IT side of even a small business. But investing in proper IT services can have fantastic dividends.

Holding back on properly investing in IT services may lower your productivity, reduce efficiency, and see you fall behind your competitors. Nobody wants to miss out on any of that. So let’s talk about why small businesses hire IT service companies to hire experts.

What are IT Services?

IT Services is a broad term for the contracted development of custom software for business. So just like you might hire a cleaning service to vacuum your office, you might hire an IT Service company to manage the development and management of your services and systems.

What Services are included?

There are many kinds of IT Services and each company is going to have its own unique options. Let’s talk about some of the most common IT Services that small companies contract out:

  1. Website Design and Hosting
  2. Network Services
  3. Custom Program Development
  4. Digital Marketing

popular-it-services

Let’s run through each one and check them out a bit more.

Website Design and Hosting

It seems almost unimaginable that you could have a business without a website these days. You might be surprised to learn that around 40% of businesses these days don’t have a website. If you find yourself in that camp, then it’s time to get on board.

website design

And people’s expectations for how a website should look and function are higher than ever before. But building and hosting websites takes skills and knowledge a small business owner might not have. And even those who do may find their time is better spent running the business than the website.

Building a great website goes hand-in-hand with online marketing and SEO (search engine optimization). You want your website to be mobile responsive, load quickly, and look nice. You can reach your target audience better having solid marketing and SEO tactics.

Your website might be the first interaction a customer has with your business and the value of that first impression is huge. Ensuring that customers see your business in the best possible light is worth investing in experts.

Network Services

Even small companies find they need their various devices to connect and talk to one another. Plus, they need all of their tech protected from intruders. But sometimes setting up reliable, secure networks can be complicated and is often time-consuming.

We’ve all had fights with printers or faulty internet. Who hasn’t ever wanted to toss their laptop right out the window?

network-services

Fighting with tech is exhausting and frustrating. Bad IT setups can leach time and efficiency out of business. You want your tech and devices to be reliable so you can spend more time working and less time troubleshooting.

Businesses who’ve hired high-quality IT services contractors often find the experience worth the investment. Network services often expand from basic services to more comprehensive services like emergency help desk support, data backup, disaster recovery services, and more. Hiring professionals can expedite the process and ensure that it facilitates work instead of making more of it.

And it might keep you from throwing a laptop out a window. 

Custom Program Management

Custom software can create fantastic opportunities for businesses to optimize workflows and services. In her article on Technology Advice, Tamara Scott says, “The software that provides the highest value to companies is often the hardest to implement.” 

We know this to be true from years of experience. When software is built for your business it provides the biggest return on investment. And when there is so much value to be had from custom software, it’s worth hiring a company with knowledgeable and reliable experts to help you along.

Digital Marketing

Marketing has grown into a living part of business. The days of brochures and billboards doing the majority of marketing are long gone. Social networks, blogs, video, email, and many other forms of digital marketing are becoming common, trusted forms of building a customer base and communication channels.

digital-marketing

In his Business.com article, Don’t Go It Alone: The Case for Hiring a Marketing Expert Ryan Ayers says, “Modern marketing is complex and requires a wide variety of skills and breadth of knowledge that can take years to acquire. Your business can’t limp along until you’ve learned everything you need to know about digital marketing.” That’s a powerful endorsement for the value of hiring an experienced digital marketing team.

How to Choose a Great Service Provider

How do you go about choosing the right service provider?

Just because a business is large doesn’t necessitate the need for a large IT services company. The company you hire needs to be able to make you a priority. You’ll be able to identify over-extended and bolstered promises from IT Service companies pretty quickly.

it-services-hire

 

So, what do you look for?

  • Clear and reasonable SLAs (service-level agreement). If the company has experience in solving tech issues, they’ll know how long a service should take and what you can expect to spend. Make sure they can offer service agreements that are created before the work begins.
  • Specific services and areas of expertise. A great IT Services company will have individuals who are experts in specific parts of IT Services. They’ll offer years of experience and knowledge that only a focus can offer.
  • A company that wants to understand what you do so they can provide what you need. Are they asking you a lot of questions about what your needs are, or are they only talking about what they do?
  • Look for references! Who have they worked for and who was happy with the job they did.

Contact Atiba for IT Hosted Services

Atiba has a talented and knowledgeable crew ready to help you get the most out of your IT. Our team of IT professionals over 20 has years of experience in focus areas to ensure that the work you need is done properly, quickly, and meets your needs.

We’ve helped many businesses just like yours grow their IT capabilities to better serve their business (check out our Case Studies).

We’re part human and part geek and we’re excited to help you! Contact us today for a free project quote.

Zoom Etiquette in the New Norm

5 Commandments of Zoom Etiquette

We all know those coworkers, clients, and even family members who struggle to adhere to basic Zoom etiquette.

A couple of weeks ago the homebound cast of Saturday Night Live pulled off a classic skit that made fun of quarantine life via a Zoom video conference call.  There was the “too close to the camera” lady who was 2 inches away from her webcam.  They had the “forgot to mute in the bathroom” character and the Zoom office jokester who did the already old “you only want to see me from the waist up” quip.

 

Zoom Etiquette - Nashville IT

Working remote etiquette…

The funny thing, of course, is that their portrayal of the new norm of video conferencing from our living room couches rings true to life.   For most people, Zoom and similar services are new.  The world has had to adopt a new way of communicating almost overnight.

In normal times, new technologies take a while to catch on.

They usually start with the “early adopters” (aka ‘”gadget geeks”) who, when it comes to tech, want to be first in line.  Often a younger crowd, these are the tech adventurers who bought cell phones when they were the size of bricks and spent big bucks to get the early version of the iPod.

If the early adopters are all-in, next comes what is often termed the “early majority.”  This is where most of us fall—the users who are willing to dip their toe in the water, but only after someone else has jumped in to test the temperature.  They may not have been the first ones to try out Uber or buy a Prius, but they are the ones that will collectively take an innovation from underground to mainstream.

And finally, the “late majority” and the unfortunately named “laggards” get into the mix.  Some are older and others are just set in their ways.  These Luddites are the users who resist until it’s futile, the old schoolers who prefer paper maps to GPS and would rather not have to learn yet one more invention.

This “technology lifecycle” that is well known in the startup and marketing worlds is predictable and repetitive.   New tech products usually take years to become mainstream.

But these are not normal times.

In the midst of a global pandemic, we have had to learn and embrace what is for many a new communication platform almost overnight.   Who would have thought just a few weeks ago a Zoom meeting would become the new default for business communications?

With this rushed mass adoption of video conferencing, as the SNL skit portrayed, social norms, best practices and etiquette are works in progress.  Everyone knows that when the phone rings you answer it by saying “Hello” and that emails should never be typed in ALL CAPS.   And (most) people know that it can be awkward to show up to a meeting at the office in your pajamas.  These unwritten rules are less defined for video conferencing.

Nevertheless, as the weeks of never leaving your house continue, ideas are starting to take hold about which behaviors are deemed acceptable and which are frowned upon.

5 Tips for Proper Zoom Etiquette

        1. Mute yourself when you’re not talking
          Unbeknownst to you, your mic might be picking up your washing machine or a car driving by. Be courteous to the speaker(s) and mute yourself when it’s not your turn.
        2. Pay attention to your background
          Your background can make you look either professional (like a bookshelf or cabinet) or slovenly (like an unmade bed).
        3. Limit distracting noises
          Dogs barking or babies crying in the background are cute and even humanizing, but a pair of teenagers arguing is distracting.
        4. No multitasking
          It’s oh, so tempting, but multitasking during a call is more obvious to viewers than you think. Again, be courteous and give the speaker(s) your undivided attention.
        5. Eat and drink with caution
          Drinking coffee is fine, wolfing down a sandwich is not.

The technology around video conferencing is nothing new.  But the speed at which it’s replaced phone calls and in-person meetings has been head-spinning.  Until our collective understanding of the etiquette of video conferencing takes shape, we all need to be patient with one another (and never do a video call from the bathroom).

 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.

 

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.

 

Atiba is looking for a Nashville Microsoft Azure Architect to join our team.

Nashville-based Microsoft Azure Architect

We’re looking for an Azure Architect to join our team.

 

About this job:

Job Role:  Azure Architect                                            Industry:  Technology Consulting Services

Job Type:  Permanent                                                    Company Type:  Private

Experience Level:  Senior                                           Company Size:  50 to 100 employees

Location: Nashville or remote                                      Culture:  Heavy tech, flexible, supportive

 

Technical Skills Required:

Azure, SQL Server, PowerShell Scripting, DevOps, Containers, Azure AD, API Management, VPN

Bonus Skills:

Table Storage, Linux knowledge

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

  • Migrated on premise SQL Server to Azure SQL
  • Setup SSO between Azure AD and G-Suite
  • Designed an identity management solution for a Fortune 1000 client
  • Completed from scratch the technical architecture for data warehouse
  • DevOps work for a development team
  • Participated in daily standups
  • Logged your time
  • Answered emails directly from clients

 

The type of person we are looking for:

We are a medium sized consulting company doing work for organizations of all types and sizes all over the world.   We are a 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

 

About us:

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

 

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.

What is Technical Debt?

Does technical debt actually exist?

“Rather go to bed without dinner than to rise in debt.” — Benjamin Franklin 

The thought of debt can be a scary one that conjures up images of credit cards, mortgages, car payments, and sleepless nights.  To most of us, it’s simple to define:  an amount of money you owe someone else. 

But, the concept of debt is not always related to dollars and cents.   

This was weighing heavily on my mind last week as I was looking at my end-of-year-calendar. 

In the IT field, the term “technical debt” is often used to describe the habit of taking technical shortcuts that, over time, accumulate and cause more work down the road.  Because it’s hard to quantify and often hidden from management until it’s out of control, the buildup of technical debt on a project is sometimes even more dangerous to a company than money owed on a balance sheet. 

Delaying IT infrastructure upgrades to save money, not testing software thoroughly because of a tight deadline, blowing off doing a disaster recovery plan—these are common examples of shortcuts that build up technical debts that will always come back to bite you if not paid off at some point. 

There are other types of debt as well.    

Some of us (me) eat too much and build up an “exercise debt” that we must pay off at some point if we want to maintain a healthy weight.   Some work too much, building up a “sleep debt.” Others play too much and amass a “work debt.”    

These non-financial “soft” debts are more difficult to measure than what we traditionally think of as debt, but they have real costs nonetheless.  And just like money debt, if you’re not careful, you can spend all your time and resources paying the interest instead of paying down the principal. 

Proactively managing different types of debt is an often overlooked but critical skill that determines the long-term viability of every business.  Soft debts should be tracked and managed in much the same way that financial debts are. 

In tech, we call it a “backlog.”  It’s simply a list of any tech-related shortcuts, band-aids or items we skimp on because of deadline or budget constraints, along with estimates of how much work (debt) it will take us to fix them down the road.  Some technical debts are intentional – a conscious choice to save time or money. Others are accidental, discovered in the form of bugs.   

As the backlog list grows, the key is to treat each item as a debt owed, the same way you would as if you were making payments on a bank loan.   This involves planning your “savings” (in the form of time) so that you can eventually make your “payments” (in the form of future work).    We basically mark off time on our calendars for every project to pay off our backlog debts. 

Earlier this year we began to explore this simple backlog approach to managing other areas of debt in our company.   As expected, just like tech, the constraints of time and budget created a backlog in everything from HR to marketing.  Things like updating our employee handbook and standardizing our email signatures made it to our backlog.  And just like tech debt, we have marked our calendars for our end of year payments to clear out the backlogs. 

Thinking of debt as something that is beyond a purely a financial metric has changed the way we operate.  It’s forced us to justify any shortcuts we take company-wide, because we are now tracking them as real costs rather than forgotten to-do lists that will inevitably come back to haunt us. Sleep well. 

JJ Rosen is the founder of Atiba.  A Nashville IT consulting and custom software development firm.  Visit www.atiba.com or www.atibanetworkservices.com for more info. 

 

 

Atiba Is A Google Fiber Tech Partner

Google Fiber Tech Partner logo

There has been a lot of buzz around Nashville over the last few years about the arrival of Google Fiber. There are T-Shirts, Twitter posts about fiber being installed in neighborhoods, and a general excitement about the potential what this high-speed network option has to offer.

Some small businesses can get overwhelmed at the thought of setting up a new network for the office, especially if they have been using the same provider for years or decades. Questions about data security and cloud computing hang in the air, and many businesses don’t know where to look for help.

That’s where the Google Fiber Tech Partner program comes in. Google has authorized small to medium sized businesses with IT capabilities to officially help businesses to make the most of their new Google Fiber connection. Google Fiber Tech Partners can help with:

  • VoIP
  • Virtualization
  • Email hosting and spam protection
  • Cloud computing
  • Enterprise IT architecture
  • Virtual data centers
  • Disaster recovery
  • Help desk services
  • General hardware consulting

Atiba is a proud Google Fiber Tech Partner. In fact, we were the first company in the greater Nashville area to be named to the program. If you need help or guidance setting up your Google Fiber network, call us at 615.353.1921, drop us a line at info@atiba.com, or fill out the Nashville Google Fiber Partner form online and we’ll let you know how we can help.