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.  Keller Schroeder resells and implements product offerings from multiple manufacturers.  Keller Schroeder 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 what 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 15.8 px 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 clients, and we look forward to seeing you all again soon at our next event!

Stories

Jeff Gorman – [President]

In the past year, I have had the opportunity to visit a variety of businesses and college campuses outside of our region for various reasons.  Each destination stands apart as unique from the others in obvious ways.  Geographies are different.  Employee and student demographics vary.  Values, mission statements, and marketing approaches are each distinct.  These all serve a purpose in helping establish an image with employees or prospects, but amid a myriad of options for organizations providing services, those factors alone tend to get lost in a mountain of data and ambiguity.  What strikes me as creating true clarity and uniqueness of an organization are the stories told by its members and its actions.

While values and mission statements are important and set the clarity waypoint for acceptable behaviors and desired outcomes, in essence defining whom an organization aspires to be, the stories shared with outsiders become the true artifacts that define how an organization actually exists.

I recall, for example, a company I visited shared their company values with the visiting group.  I do not recall any of their unique values other than their concern for the environment.   I remember that value because of their stories around providing stipends for workers that lived within a small distance from their office to allow them to ride their bikes to work, stipends for workers who purchased hybrid vehicles, and the company providing free bike service to employees.  The value of environmental awareness is aspirational and admirable, but the stories of how they are living those values are memorable and differentiators.

Similarly, while on a visit to another organization a topic of discussion was their concentration on measuring output toward specific goals.  Clearly, that is not a unique differentiator; all performance driven organizations work to measure against goals to track success.  This organization, however, worked with employees to determine interactive ways to have ‘scorecards’ accessible and highly visible to all employees, regardless of their access to online resources.  Tubes with colored golf balls became bar graphs for plant-floor employees.  Magnetic name and skillset badges on metal boards were used to track staff availability, display critical needs, and perform resource planning daily.  The organization’s collective collaboration provided the memorable evidence of their non-unique goal.  I am confident if it made a lasting impression on me in a one-day visit, it has made an exponentially greater impact to the organization in terms of employee engagement and clarity of purpose.

If you have not spent time doing so, I encourage you to take time to look at your organization’s values and peel things back a bit to determine what your stories are that support those aspirations.  As all companies work to market their differentiators amid a world of competition, some of your unique differentiators may be readily available in the stories that demonstrate your values.


Keller Schroeder Names New Network Solutions Group Business Unit Director

ca-photo

Corey Ainscough
Network Solutions Group Director

 

Corey Ainscough has officially been promoted to Network Solutions Group Business Unit Director at Keller Schroeder. This announcement ends a year of transition for Corey from Service Delivery Manager into his new role. The NSG Business Unit Director position was previously held by Jeff Gorman, who became Keller Schroeder’s President on 1/1/17.

Corey has nearly 20 years of experience in the Information Technology field. Prior to his role as Service Delivery Manager, he spent 10 years as a Senior Systems Consultant with Keller Schroeder focusing on security architecture and implementation, as well as Microsoft server and messaging technologies. Among his many projects, Corey also served as the virtual CIO for a large financial institution and managed the IT transition during the divestiture of an international electronics and manufacturing corporation.

Of Corey, President Jeff Gorman said “Corey has been a well-respected employee owner at Keller Schroeder for ten years.  He has been actively involved in the operational aspects of the Network Solutions Group for several years and has been an integral part of that team’s growth.  His promotion into the role of Network Solutions Group Business Unit Director is well deserved and keeps that group positioned for continued growth and success.”

Corey lives in Newburgh, IN with his wife of eight years and two sons. In addition to enjoying time with his family, Corey is an avid cyclist and fitness enthusiast.

Please join us in congratulating Corey!


Keller Schroeder Completes Transition of Leadership

jeff-rounded-edges

Jeff Gorman has been appointed President of Keller Schroeder, effective January 1, 2017, replacing Larry May, who will be retiring in February, 2017 after 20 years with the company.  The leadership transition was announced in January, 2016.  Gorman will also be appointed as a Director and Board Chairman.

“Keller Schroeder has experienced significant growth over the past several years, and Jeff has been a key part of our success,” said May, “He is highly respected by our employee-owners and has an outstanding reputation with our clients.”  Gorman joined Keller Schroeder in 2004, and most recently served as Director of the Company’s Network Solutions Group, its largest and fastest-growing business unit.  Prior to Keller Schroeder, Jeff held technical and leadership positions with Ascension Health/CSC, Welborn Clinic, and South Western Communications.  He earned his B.S. in Electrical Engineering and his Masters of Public Service Administration from the University of Evansville.

Please join us in congratulating Jeff!

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Holiday Wishes

holiday-bannerDear Colleagues and Friends,

The holiday season is often a time for reconnecting with those closest to us and reflection on what and who are most important to us.  At Keller Schroeder, that means being thankful for each other (we really do like each other here!) and being thankful for you, our clients.  We enjoy many deep, enduring business relationships, even friendships, with our clients.  For this we are sincerely grateful.

It is our goal to be more than “resources” to you.  Our aim is to make a positive, personal impact every time we connect with our clients – helping you achieve your business objectives, but also leaving you in a better place, personally and professionally.  We appreciate every opportunity to serve you in 2016, and we look forward to new ones in 2017.

For me, this year-end is especially significant as I pass the leadership reins to Jeff Gorman, our new President, on January 1, 2017.  I have been richly blessed by the good friendships and experiences with my co-workers at Keller Schroeder and my client colleagues.  Thank you for the opportunities we’ve had to do some great work together.

Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones in 2016, and best wishes for a prosperous 2017!  Not everyone subscribes to Jesus (the “birthday boy” of the Season) as Lord and Messiah, but all of us would agree He was a world-changer.  He certainly changed mine.

Sincerely,
Larry May
President

Ownership Thinking

how-to-choose-a-careerI was asked recently to speak to a group of college students about lessons learned from my 35 years in the marketplace.  As you can imagine, narrowing 35 years of experience down to a 30-minute talk was fairly challenging, but one of the topics I chose for these students – and a factor that has contributed significantly to our success at Keller Schroeder – is what I refer to as ownership thinking.

Keller Schroeder has been employee-owned for 13 years through an ESOP (Employee Stock Ownership Plan), but ownership thinking has little to do with who actually holds the stock certificates.  There are lots of people who own companies, in full or in part, who do not practice ownership thinking.  And, there are lots of people who have never owned a share of stock in a company who are pros at ownership thinking.

choose-your-pathOwnership thinking is about choosing to believe – and it is a choice – that you have the most to do with your path and your destination – not your circumstances, and not the actions of others.  Psychologists refer to it as a strong “internal locus of control”.  Students who practice ownership thinking will blame themselves, not their teacher, for a poor outcome on an exam.  Leaders who practice ownership thinking will focus on shaping the future and influencing outcomes rather than reporting on the past or justifying underperformance.  Conversely, individuals who tend toward an “external locus of control” are quick to blame others or environmental factors for their misfortunes.

What is your bias?  Do you “own it”, look for solutions, and take action?  And would you agree that those who do so are far more pleasant to live with and work around than those who don’t?  Doesn’t it stand to reason that those who practice ownership thinking perform at a higher level and achieve more than those whose default is to look beyond their sphere of influence to explain most of what happens to them?

You and I as individuals can strengthen our tendency toward ownership thinking by surrounding ourselves with those who have a strong internal locus of control – those who habitually believe and act as though their own actions are more important than the hand they have been dealt.  As leaders, we can build a bias in our organizations toward ownership thinking by rewarding action and initiative over justification and deflection.

There are always environmental factors and circumstantial contributors to what we see and experience in business and in life, but if we choose to own, act and move, rather than blame, dwell and wait, we exponentially increase our chances for success.

Larry May[President]


Enterprise Storage Is Not A Game

Kris Linville – [Senior Systems Consultant]Basic RGB

Winter is coming… have you chosen which house you will ally with?  Challengers will rise and fall but only the one true king will sit upon the throne when the game is won.

Your current storage solution has done an adequate job at fulfilling your needs in the past using the same old traditional methodologies.  Still, you have learned that, all too often, quality of service will vary under the stressful load of a busy day and you realize that a little more struggle will be in order to get what you need when your storage must divide its attention between multiple courtiers.  Maybe you are ready to see how much your highly-virtualized, production server environment can prosper when a worthy solution is allowed to take its place in your data kingdom.

Pass the crown.  It’s time to elect a small but mighty array to rule the bits and bytes in your data center and Keller Schroeder with Nimble Storage can light the way.

nimble-flash-array

In 2015, Sr. Systems Consultant Chris Haynes explained the features of the CS-Series arrays and told you why Nimble Storage is favored by Keller Schroeder as the best next-gen hybrid storage array.  With its groundbreaking simplicity and advanced administrative features, Nimble Storage has been renowned, worldwide, as one of the fastest growing storage vendors in history and has rightfully received numerous industry awards in the process.

Since its first product shipment in 2010, Nimble Storage has attentively listened to its partners and customers to develop innovative solutions that fulfill the ever-growing enterprise data center storage needs.  It is that attention and innovation which has led to the release of the most predictive, most scalable, and most reliable all-flash storage array on the market today.

With the Nimble Storage AF-Series all-flash arrays, you will get all of the NimbleOS feature enhancements at no additional cost, Triple+ Parity RAID to survive 3 simultaneous drive failures, variable block sizes for application performance optimization, predictive analytics monitoring for your storage arrays and virtual machines through the InfoSight portal and VM Vision, and FIPS-certified encryption at rest and on-the-wire when natively replicated… just to highlight a few.

Hold the door!  The illustration below compares the performance and storage capacity based on data center footprint of the Nimble Storage AF-Series with other well-known all-flash offerings.  Obviously, the Nimble Storage AF-Series is no sheep.  This small package has a beast inside and it is not afraid to break through the large shadow cast by other solutions on the market.  How will you choose to arm your data center?

nimble-size-comparison

Other all-flash solutions may offer great performance and latency numbers, but do not scale well as storage demands grow.  Nimble Storage products offer simple and seamless scalability in enterprise storage solutions.  Keller Schroeder has seen, first-hand, the real-world results of the All Flash Array scalability and data reduction technologies that provide over 3x storage savings for highly virtualized environments.  When you need to grow, whether you are looking to scale up, scale deep, or scale out, you can rest easy knowing that performance is decoupled from capacity to allow for scaling only the necessary components.  This uniquely allows for independent and non-disruptive scaling operations that include upgrading storage controllers, adding external storage shelves, and clustering any combination of Adaptive Flash or All Flash arrays in up to four nodes per cluster, to provide guaranteed performance of 1.2 million IOPS at sub-millisecond latency in as much as 8.2PB of storagsmartstacke capacity.

Modern data centers are all about consolidation and integration which makes building specialized infrastructure silos feel like a step in the wrong direction.  There’s no longer a reason to limit your best performance to just a select set of workloads.  Nimble Storage has once again partnered with Cisco and VMware to develop reference architectures; combining Nimble Storage Arrays, Cisco Unified Computing Systems (UCS), and VMware vSphere; known as Cisco Validated Designs (CVD) for all types of production data center workloads.  The SmartStack Integrated Infrastructure increases performance and availability while driving down data center hardware cost and footprint.

Nimble Storage All Flash Array Key Feature Summary:

  • All NimbleOS Software Features Included
  • Consistent Storage Performance
  • Tailored Application Optimization
  • Predictive Analytics with InfoSight and VM Vision
  • Data Reduction with Deduplication and Compression
  • Unified Flash Fabric – any 4 CS-Series or AF-Series arrays
  • Scale-to-fit Architecture
  • Triple+ Parity RAID for Maximum Availability
  • FIPS-certified Encryption at Rest and On-the-wire
  • SmartStack Integrated Infrastructure CVDs

“That’s what I do… I’m fast and I store things.”

                                                                  -Nimble


Winter is coming.  Take up your watch.  Build a true history of great conversation by contacting your Keller Schroeder Account Manager and be the fire that burns against the cold.