Great Place to Work 2017-2018

Great Place to Work Badge 2017-2018Keller Schroeder was recently certified as a great workplace by the independent analysts at Great Place to Work®. Keller Schroeder earned this credential based on extensive ratings provided by its employees in anonymous surveys. A summary of these ratings can be found at http://reviews.greatplacetowork.com/keller-schroeder1.

“We applaud Keller Schroeder for seeking certification and releasing its employees’ feedback,” said Kim Peters, Executive Vice President of Great Place to Work’s Certification Program. “These ratings measure its capacity to earn its own employees’ trust and create a great workplace – critical metrics that anyone considering working for or doing business with Keller Schroeder should take into account as an indicator of high performance.”

“According to our study, 95 percent of Keller Schroeder employees say it is a great workplace,” says Sarah Lewis-Kulin, Vice President of Great Place to Work Certification & List Production.

About Great Place to Work®

Great Place to Work® is the global authority on high-trust, high-performance workplace cultures. Through proprietary assessment tools, advisory services, and certification programs, including Best Workplaces lists and workplace reviews, Great Place to Work® provides the benchmarks, framework, and expertise needed to create, sustain, and recognize outstanding workplace cultures. In the United States, Great Place to Work® produces the annual Fortune “100 Best Companies to Work For®” list and a series of Great Place to Work® Best Workplaces lists including lists for Millennials, Women, Diversity, Small and Medium Companies and over a half dozen different industry lists.


Directions

Keller Schroeder Leadership-Jeff GormanJeff Gorman – [President]

While talking to a frequent road traveler recently, his reference to the difficulty in finding a particular destination on his paper map surprised me.  While I understand having a contingency for the event of a failure of more technical travel aids, it intrigued me that someone who drove for a living still used traditional paper maps as a primary tool.  Tablet with GPS sitting on MapIt brought back clear images in my mind of family vacations from years ago, with maps having highlighted routes and each rest from driving including some time looking at the map to get clarity on the next stage of the trip and to establish some familiarity with options should the main route have any difficulty.  I am confident most drivers have not traveled like that in years; GPS units and GPS-capable phones have allowed us to simply type a destination and follow the turn-by-turn instructions to get to any location without having to do any significant navigational planning.  It is clearly a stellar example of technology simplifying and enhancing a manual process, not to mention eliminating the art of the origami accordion associated with paper maps.

Recalculating GPSUnfortunately, however, such a shortcut to the ‘check the plan as you go’ method does not exist in business.  There simply is no consistently successful way to set a strategic goal and trust that regardless of obstacles or unforeseen events, we will end up at our destination.  There are no ‘recalculating’, ‘make a U-turn as soon as safely possible’ or ‘traffic detected, would you like an alternate route’ announcements allowing us to achieve business objectives automatically.  When establishing a destination or goal for a business, there needs to be a clear purpose and a plan established to navigate toward that goal.  It is imperative that we regularly measure progress against the specific plan in a way that provides clarity for when navigational changes need to occur.  With appropriate measurement points and consistent comparison of current location to desired location, the business can better establish accountability within teams, better share knowledge of potential obstacles, and remain on course with smaller adjustments than would be required if the journey continued unchecked for longer periods of time.  Just as the road traveler GPS would be ineffective if it only checked progress against your destination once a quarter, your business goal progress must be compared to a scorecard on a very consistent basis to be effective.

If you are not tracking your key performance indicators with easy-to-interpret scoreboards on a regular basis, or you are not conducting frequent reviews of your progress on the route to achieve your objective, for all intents, your team is travelling the highway without a map.  Find a ‘rest stop’, get a ‘map’, and start measuring your progress against your plotted course.  You will be better equipped to handle obstacles and you will find the journey far more enjoyable if you work from the position of knowing each leg of the journey is staying on track.


Cisco Meraki : Easy to Deploy Cloud-Based & Infrastructure Solutions

Keller Schroeder IT Engineer Mike SanfordMike Sanford – [Wireless Consultant]

Do you need to be able to bring a remote office up quickly without an on-site visit?  Do you want one place to monitor wired and wireless connectivity?  Are you looking for a cloud-based solution that can provide wireless access points, switches, firewalls as well as video cameras?  If you can answer “Yes” to any of those questions, Cisco Meraki has a solution for you.

MCisco Meraki Logoeraki was founded in 2006, gaining interest as a cloud provider of wireless services.  In 2012, it was purchased by Cisco and has since branched out into the other areas of IT infrastructure mentioned above.  Their focus is providing technology that is easy to deploy and manage.  Keller Schroeder has successfully deployed most of these Meraki hardware solutions, with the exception of the video camera solution which was released in the last quarter of 2016.

Cisco Meraki DashboardWhen connected to an internet ready network, Meraki devices “phone home” and are immediately configurable from the web based Meraki Dashboard.  The Dashboard offers a single pane of glass to configure devices as well as monitor devices for up/down time and keep an eye on end user traffic.  The Dashboard provides the ability to adjust allowed bandwidth utilization and whitelist or blacklist web traffic, giving you the ability to maximize your infrastructure and internet performance.  Traffic for each piece of hardware, network and end user device is tracked and displayed in easy to view, drill-down graphs.  Information such as user, total amount and percentage of usage, applications and sites visited are available.  This information can then be used to quickly throttle bandwidth hogs, or to limit internet access by type of site or by specific site.

Meraki also offers an Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) solution called Systems Manager.  With Systems Manager, applications and network policy can be deployed to mobile and desktop devices.  Once the easy on-boarding process is complete, a device can be monitored for location, security posture and software inventory.  The devices can also be protected by enforcing encryption policies, network access control and there is a remote enterprise wipe feature.

To learn more about our cloud solutions including Meraki, or to ask about how Keller Schroeder can perform a wireless assessment of your environment, give us a call at 812-474-6825 or contact your Keller Schroeder Select Account Manager.


Proactively Analyze Your VMware Environment with Runecast

Keller Schroeder IT Engineer Chris HaynesChris Haynes[Senior Systems Consultant]

Is your VMware environment secure?  Has your environment been configured to best practices?  Are there any known VMware or hardware bugs out right now that may affect the hardware and VMware version you are running on?  Wouldn’t it be nice if you didn’t have to chase all that down manually?  Well now you don’t have to.Runecast Logo

Introducing Runecast software. Runecast is a Linux appliance that runs as a virtual machine that proactively analyzes your VMware environment and compares it to current VMware KBs, configuration best practices, and security hardening guidelines, and provides recommended remediation steps for any variances it finds.

It is easy to install & configure and even more intuitive to use.  You’re up and running and scanning your VMware environment in minutes, and the web interface presents simple dashboards to show your current status that you can drill down into for more details…

Runecast Dashboard

In a nutshell, here’s the services that Runecast provides:

  • Security hardening checks, direct from VMware’s vSphere Security Hardening Guide
  • Industry standard configuration best practice checks/validation
  • Log collection and analysis against known issues in VMware KBs

With Runecast software, you can eliminate the manual work involved to perform security hardening and best practice configuration checks.  You can schedule automated checks, get notifications for non-compliance issues, and filter out compliance checks that don’t apply to your company’s policies.  You can easily generate compliance reports and pass security audits.

You can prevent services outages by discovering potential issues in advance and fixing them proactively. Your VMware configurations and logs are continually being analyzed against all VMware Knowledge Base (KB) articles, which Runecast downloads the latest updates on a regular basis. You will receive alerts for known issues and recommendation on how to fix them or mitigate any risks.

You can purchase a permanent version of the Runecast software to run onsite, or you can pay a one-time assessment fee to perform a month long analyze & fix cycle if preferred.  If you want to know more, check out the 30-day trial at https://www.runecast.biz and/or give your Keller Schroeder Account Executive a call at 812-474-6825 and ask for a demo and pricing details.


If These Devices Could Talk

Keller Schroeder Applications Consultant Eric MaurerEric Maurer – [Applications Consultant]

What if your devices could talk? The Internet of Things (IoT) can start to do this! What is the IoT? Putting it simply, an IoT “thing” is nothing more than a physical device connected to the internet. The device can be your phone, your thermostat, a car, or any number of remote monitoring sensors. Experts estimate that by 2020 there will be about 30 billion IoT devices. There are devices that only 15 years ago did not exist for collecting data, or if they did exist, they were so remote getting to the data was difficult.

Internet of Things CollageRecently Keller Schroeder employee-owners Eric Maurer and Ian Welsh participated in an IoT Hackathon sponsored by AT&T. This hackathon provided opportunity to learn about new devices and software from AT&T in the IoT landscape. Devices, becoming smaller than ever, are now capable of running for weeks using batteries or solar power and can transfer data captured by dozens of different sensors over Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or LTE.

Their team quickly realized the difficult part of developing an IoT solution is no longer centered on hardware and software but comes from using industry knowledge to find the right problems for which IoT is the solution. They decided to use AT&T’s LTE enabled IoT starter kit to collect real-time GPS data from commercial vehicles to collect and process their location and mileage information automatically. Their idea was just one of many great ideas that came out of the hackathon. Some of the other projects were:

  • Using drones to take pictures of tomato fields to determine overall ripeness and calculate the perfect time for harvest with image processing algorithms and machine learning
  • A smart tool locker using Bluetooth and NFC sensors to allow users to check equipment in and out
  • A small device with humidity and PH sensors to monitor soil in home gardens

The latest generation of IoT devices now connect securely to the cloud using Microsoft’s Azure or AT&T’s M2X. These solutions allow you to secure your devices and aggregate data from any number of devices and sensors in one central location. They also provide dashboards, event notifications, alerts, and two-way communication between devices. Sifting through the large amounts of data one can collect can be daunting. Companies are making it easier and easier to collect, process, and make sense of this data using cloud-based software, such as Azure Stream Analytics.

What would you do with IoT data? Have ideas and want to explore them further? Contact your Keller Schroeder Select Account Manager or call us at 812-474-6825 today!


Keller Schroeder’s Boomerang Retirement Program

Staffing Solutions Group DirectorSusie Mattingly – [Business Unit Director, Staffing Solutions]

Boomerang Retirement Group of EmployeesAre you facing the loss of skilled, experienced employees to retirement? The Baby Boomer generation is retiring in record numbers between now and 2030, requiring companies like yours to replace experienced talent and hard-to-find skills. New hires take time to train and acclimate to your company’s culture and procedures.  Keller Schroeder’s Boomerang Retirement Program offers a unique way to fill that gap.  The retiree can return to work for Keller Schroeder as a consultant.  They would be assigned to work at your company, as requested, to train and mentor employees, work on special projects, or for staff augmentation.

Benefits to You as the Employer:

  • The retiree completely separates from your company’s payroll and benefits.
  • Your company maintains unique, hard-to-find skills from talent who knows your culture and procedures.
  • Use as much or as little of the retiree’s services as needed—for months at a time as staff augmentation or sporadically for project work on a part time or full time basis.

Benefits for the Retiree:

  • No corporation to set up to become self-employed and no invoices to send.
  • Receives a pay check as a Keller Schroeder employee for hours worked and receives a W-2 form for tax purposes.
  • Receives challenging work assignments involving projects, handling of pressing problems, or training and mentoring junior employees.
  • Flexible schedules, part time or full time hours and remote work when appropriate.
  • Benefits including health insurance (if not of Medicare age) along with vision and dental insurance—even for those enrolled in Medicare.

Keller Schroeder Boomerang Retirement Program

What is a Boomerang Retiree?
An individual that retires from an organization but is willing to assist the organization for a temporary period of time as a consultant on a contractual basis.

Why was this program created?
This program was designed with the ever-growing population of ‘Baby Boomers’ in mind. Baby Boomers were born from 1946 – 1964 and began to reach full retirement age in 2012.  Recent statistics show 10,000 Baby Boomers are retiring every day and will continue through 2030. Starting in 2016, on average, five Baby Boomers will retire for every one new hire.

Why would a retiree want to go back to work?
Often, leaving a satisfying job cold-turkey for retirement can be an abrupt jolt to employees accustomed to feeling purposeful, earning money, and enjoying relationships with their colleagues. The Boomerang Retirement Program allows them to negotiate a work schedule that affords them the benefits of both continuing to work and retirement simultaneously. For your business, it is extremely beneficial to have experienced hands train junior employees or new hires and pass along institutional wisdom, company processes, and project insights with fewer strings attached.

How does Keller Schroeder’s Boomerang Retirement Program work?
The retiree becomes a Keller Schroeder employee and is assigned to work at the former employer’s company as a consultant full time or part time, as needed, when they are available. Managers simply contact Keller Schroeder and request the services of the former employee. The retiree can also contact Keller Schroeder about employment if they know their former employer will be needing their services or if they desire to provide services for our other clients when an opportunity becomes available.

To learn more about our Boomerang Retirement Program or any of the services our Staffing Solutions Group, send us an email or give Susie Mattingly a call at 812-474-6825.


The Evolving Use Cases for Wireless Networking

Ty Nixon[Network Consultant]

Since its official conception in 1997, the standardized group of technologies commonly known as Wi-Fi have greatly evolved to meet changing business needs and environmental demands.  The use cases for wireless networking have grown exponentially from the basic data services of the late 90’s.  Below is a list of needs that today’s wireless solutions commonly seek to fulfill.


Data Services

Just as with the original 802.11 standard, today’s current amendment of 802.11ac allows for data services.  However, the similarities end there.  Historically, perhaps the most significant hurdle with migrating data services to wireless technologies has been the severe limitations of wireless connectivity speeds, in comparison to speeds of wired devices.  The recent amendment of 802.11ac promises to significantly narrow the gap between the technologies.  The 802.11ac theoretical speeds of over 1Gbps dwarf the speeds of earlier amendments.  The vertical markets now being targeted by wireless technology manufacturers are virtually endless.


VoWIFI

Voice services over Wi-Fi (VoWIFI) have been brought to the forefront of the use cases for wireless over the past decade.  Aided by the adaptation of VOIP technologies, enterprises of all sizes can now offer support for mobile devices within a geographical area using unlicensed radio frequency bands.  IEEE and Wi-Fi Alliance publications have also provisioned means by which to integrate robust wired networking feature sets such as Quality-of-Service (QoS), Network Access Control, multicast routing support, and Power Save with these devices.  These advancements allow a fully-converged and collaborative network to extend beyond the wires.


Location-Based Services

Location-based services such as RFID, GPS, and asset tracking systems have been brought into the spotlight in many vertical markets.  These technologies allow real-time tracking, reporting, and analysis of wireless devices throughout a property or facility.  Manufacturing, distribution, and physical plant management groups now use technologies such as Wi-Fi to aid in obtaining the location of infrastructure and assets.  Many times, data generated from a wireless location service can be fed to other analytical applications, creating a more streamlined and meaningful business process.


Ptp and Backhaul

Though less common than other applications, the practice of leveraging Wi-Fi technologies for use as site-to-site links is a perfect fit for some business needs.  Often, such as when bridging between two physical locations, the cost of extending networks via wireless equipment proves to be far less than the cost of installing buried or aerial cabling.  With the advent of 802.11 amendments such as “n” and “ac”, speeds and resiliency equivalent to wired Ethernet can be achieved.


Overall, wireless technologies have never been more prevalent than they are today.  With recent amendments by the IEEE and the Wi-Fi Alliance, speeds of modern wireless networks often approach or surpass those of wired Ethernet.  Wireless technologies have also gained traction in environments with mobility and location needs.  Additionally, wireless technologies can offer resiliency and redundancy that meets or surpasses the redundancy seen on wired Ethernet networks, often at a fraction of the cost.

Keller Schroeder offers full solutions centered on wireless technologies from multiple manufacturers.  Our company also performs comprehensive pre-installation and post-installation site surveys, using industry-leading tool sets.  To learn more about how Keller Schroeder’s wireless offerings can help meet your business needs, contact your Keller Schroeder Account Manager.


7 Items to Consider for a Dynamic Website

Brett Romershausen – [WordPress Consultant]

Is Your Website Healthy?

Do you typically have an annual physical for your personal health? You should do the same for the health of your website.  While it may not seem critical, your website is often the first impression of your business and you want to be sure your visitors have a good first experience.


User Habits Have Changed

Think about how many people you see on a given day using their phones or tablets to search the web.  Unlike five or ten years ago when everyone would wait to search the information when they got to work or home, most people today will access the information immediately from a restaurant, meeting, game, etc.  The number of people doing mobile searches increases every year.


Note: If your website is more than a few years old, pay close attention to the following sections.


Responsive Design

Think about your website—can you see everything on a mobile device without having to scroll to the right?  “Responsive design” is important today.  There are two simple ways to tell if your website is responsive.  One is to access the site from your smartphone browser.  Another way is to shrink the size of your desktop browser window.  Do your menu options scrunch up into the hamburger menu so the limited screen space is used wisely?  Do the panels and boxes wrap or do you have to scroll over to see content?  Does the text wrap around the images correctly?  Not only does it matter to your visitors, it matters to Google.  The search giant gives preference to sites that have a good mobile experience.


Content Is King….Still

In Bill Gates’ 1996 “Content is King” essay he stated, “Content is where I expect much of the real money will be made on the internet…”  He was talking about both the text on the screen and the software that serves it up.  Another point he made back in 1996, and still true today, is there are “broad opportunities for most companies…” and that “no company is too small to participate.”

More small business have websites, often collaborating with other websites to expand their reach. Think about how a website with Search Engine Optimization (SEO) capabilities can help a business reach thousands more potential customers locally, nationally, and internationally.  Is your website content still relevant?  Is it still correctly stating what your business’ services and capabilities are?  Are the images even from this decade?   Keep in mind, the better the content, the more likely a search engine will pick it up.


How’s Your Google Ranking?

Google Ranking is where you rank when someone is searching for your website with a search engine.  You may be wondering why Google Ranking would be important, but think about how most people look for something.  They go to their favorite search engine and try locating the information based on “keywords”.  If your site is buried at the bottom of page 1, or several pages deep, what are the odds that a potential customer will find your site?

Here are a few of the things that can affect your ranking with the Google’s search engine.

  • Above-The-Fold – When Google looks at your website, they pay close attention to what is above the fold and use that to index your site. This is the area presented on the screen space before scrolling. You need to be sure this area is filled with meaningful content and keywords, and not ads.
  • Popups – While these were popular several years ago, they are no longer in favor. Author Barry Smith confirms, “Google has started to penalize sites with those annoying pop-ups, starting with mobile websites.”
  • Links – Another way to help in your ranking is to link other pages in your own site, as well as other websites. If you go to another site, the key here is to make sure you are linking to sites that are current and frequently update their content as well.
  • Frequency of Updates – It is important to consistently post information to your website. One good way to promote your site is by blogging. Many people use a blog format for their news page, and that works just fine.

Another way to help your ranking is to update your content.  In the article by Cyrus Shepard from MOZ, “changing a single sentence won’t have as big of a freshness impact as a large change to the main body text.”  He also states, “Content that changes more often is scored differently than content that only changes every few years.”  The article also states, “Websites that add new pages at a higher rate may earn a higher freshness score than sites that add content less frequently.” When was the last time your content was refreshed?

  • Keywords – Also important are the “keywords” that are used in the content, images, etc.  Think about how you want to find something in a browser.  What special “keywords” would you use to find something?  Now think about your website– if you don’t have those keywords on your site in content, blogs, and so forth, how can you expect the search engines to find your site?
  • Bounce Rate – Think about how long someone might stay on your website? If your site is cluttered, has a bunch of popups, annoying videos that start automatically, or they don’t see what they want above the fold, then they will probably get frustrated and leave the site.  Believe it or not, this is tracked.  According to an article from Granite5, “A high bounce rate is an obvious sign of an outdated or poorly performing site. Website users usually leave a site hurriedly without visiting other pages simply because they don’t find what they are looking for instantly or do not like the look of it!”
  • Load Rate – The same is true for how fast your site loads. If the site loads slowly or plugins are missing, the user will not feel welcomed or important and leave your site.

As microchips have reduced in size and yet increased in performance, so have the requirements for a website.  While “Content Is King”, it is important to take full advantage of what is available to make the site load quickly and efficiently.   Whether speed is gained by a combination of compressing images, compression or streaming of videos, or coding to match up with the latest techniques, websites should be reviewed on a regular basis.

  • Social Signals – According to an article from Search Engine Journal, “there is an extremely high correlation between social signals and ranking position. Facebook is still the network with the highest weighted social signals.”
  • SSL – Years ago, most websites didn’t use an SSL encryption unless they wanted to verify and protect the information going over the internet. Search engines, like Google, are now adding that into their algorithm for ranking websites.

How SSL Affects Your Ranking With Google

At a conference I attended this past fall, it was stated that Google ranks sites with SSL certificates higher. In a 2016 Google article from the Chrome Security Team, it states two conditions that took effect in January 2017.  If an unsecure site collects either passwords or credit card information, then the sites will warn users that the sites are “not secure”.  (You may have noticed recently the “Secure” / “Not secure” icon in the URL bar.)  Google is taking this even further with their HTTPS Everywhere initiative.

In the future, Google plans to “label all HTTP pages as non-secure, and change the HTTP security indicator to the red triangle that we use for broken HTTPS.”


Font

In an article titled “5 Signs Your Website Needs A Refresh” by Michael Burton, the author points out that “A few years ago it was the norm to have a lot of fancy graphics and imagery on your website, but the web has moved on to more of a flat design which relies more on color than images.”  Besides color, the font on the screens can say a lot about your site.

In a recent article titled “7 Elements of Modern Web Design”, the author states “Online, sans-serif rules readability. In print, we see serif fonts as more readable. If you want to get fancy with your fonts, save it for larger headings. It will still have the same impact without blinding your users.”  He goes on to mention that the font size is important to readability.  “12pt used to be fairly standard, but that is being bumped into the 16pt range more frequently…”  In a recent article titled “17 Tips to Create Content 10x Better Than Your Competitors”, author Ramona Sukhari mentions to make the fonts bigger.  “On average, pages ranking #1 had 15.8pt font.”


While getting users to your website is important, the user experience and valuable content will make them stay, and better yet, keep them coming back.   For assistance in optimizing, reviewing, refreshing, or creating your website, please contact your Keller Schroeder account representative.


Veeam + Azure: Cost Effective & Flexible Cloud Backup

Matt Barton – [Senior Consultant]

Ok… 3 Questions, 30 Seconds, 300 Words…. about your backup solution.  This shouldn’t take long.

 


Question 1 :   Do you have an off-site backup? 

Yes?  Great!

No?  Why Not?  Using Veeam & Azure, quickly and easily create a cloud off-site backup, that is cost efficient & scalable based on your needs. Configure Veeam to backup the most critical data for DR, or provide long-term retention using cost-effective cloud storage. Azure charges are based on actual used capacity.  Unlike other cloud offerings or on-premises equipment, this solution provides a true consumption model, allowing you to shrink or grow the amount of data being backed up to more effectively manage costs.


Question 2 :  Does it meet the 3-2-1 rule?

The “Golden Rule” of backup.  The 3-2-1 rule states having three copies of your data – 2 on different media, and 1 copy offsite. We highly recommend Veeam integrated snapshots on Nimble Storage, copied to a Cisco UCS backup appliance, & then copied off-site to Azure.


Question 3 :  Are you able to backup Office 365 data?

You need to securely backup Office 365 email data back to your environment for a variety of reasons; to follow the 3-2-1 Rule of backup, to facilitate eDiscovery, and to meet internal policies and compliance requirements. The most important reason being the peace-of-mind that comes from knowing you will be able to restore your users’ data when needed!

With Veeam Backup for Microsoft Office 365, you can retrieve Office 365 Exchange Online mailbox items (email, calendar, and contacts) from a cloud-based instance of Office 365 and uniquely back up this mailbox data into the same format that Microsoft Exchange uses natively — an archive database based on Extensible Storage Engine (ESE), also known as the Jet Blue database.


Interested in hearing more or want to schedule a Veeam & Azure Demo?  Reach out to your Keller Schroeder Account Manager today!


2017 NCAA March Madness Kick-Off Event

 Carissa Eatmon – [Marketing & Communications Coordinator]

We began our 2017 event schedule by getting into the NCAA action with a March Madness Kick-Off Event!

The Keller Schroeder team, along with our friends from Cisco and Nimble, met our clients at Bar Louis in Evansville
for a laid back afternoon filled with food, live action game play, friendly rivalries and fun! Thank you to everyone who came to hang out!

Clients who both pre-registered and attended were also entered into our Grand Prize Drawing for a Samsung 55″ 4K Ultra HD TV. Congratulations to our winner, Jana Shelton of Cresline!

We feel honored to have each of you as our client, and we look forward to seeing you again soon at our next event!