K2: Knock ‘Em Out With These Tools

Carrie Rudolph, Systems Consultant


Many organizations have purchased a robust line of business systems for ERP, CRM, or other enterprise needs. Unfortunately, although these provide great benefits, they can also be difficult to customize and integrate with other systems. As a result, many organizations struggle with managing critical business data that is spread across multiple systems.


k2wheelAn organization’s business applications and data are its most valuable tools for decision making and if these are disconnected, the quality of decisions can suffer. When data is presented out of context, it can take on a different meaning, which in turn may mislead decision makers. In addition, the time required for decision makers to access, view and aggregate data to see the full picture can make timely decision making even more difficult to achieve. With the speed of business accelerating, the ability to make quick, accurate decisions is crucial. Without business applications that can pull data from divergent sources and present it in a meaningful, integrated fashion, your full potential is not realized.


Developing these powerful applications can be a complicated and lengthy process with traditional custom application development methods or enterprise application integration packages. However, K2 business applications can bring your data together and bring it to life by empowering decision makers with visibility to the information they need to make timely and informed decisions and increasing your business agility.


The K2 design tools drastically reduce development time with their drop, drag, and configure development methodology. K2 offers a no-code platform for building applications with:

  • Data: K2 supports data integration with many systems including Microsoft SharePoint, SQL Server, Oracle, Active Directory, and more out of the box via K2 SmartObjects.
  • Forms: Data is presented via K2 smartforms, which are reusable web forms for workflows and business applications.
  • Workflow: K2 workflow automates business processes and ensures that the right information gets to the right people in time to help them make great decisions.
  • Reports: K2 provides out of the box reports for workflow data and also integrates easily with third party reporting tools. These reports can be used to analyze process execution and continuous improvement.


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    To learn more about how to create cohesive business processes from your disconnected data and applications using K2 and to access your complimentary download of Digital Business Design Is The New Integration, a Forrester Research, Inc. report, visit http://formsondata.com. The Forrester Report focuses on migrating from traditional integration methods of keeping duplicated data in sync among siloed applications to digital design integration, which focuses on creating agile and sustainable business outcomes unifying across applications.


    Give us a call to learn more about K2 and how their framework can help bring siloed data and/or systems together, with ease and speed, to create business applications that will provide your organization with quick access to valuable information.



  • Spotlight On…

    Employee Owner: Adam Bertram


    Adam BertramAdam has over 14 years of experience in the Information Technology field. After spending five years in full-time break/fix desktop administration for a large university and area small businesses, Adam gained eight years experience designing and managing networking solutions and Microsoft server/desktop environments. This includes Cisco and HP ProCurve switches, Cisco wireless access points, Microsoft Exchange installation and administration, Active Directory administration, upgrades, and migrations and general Windows Server system administration. Recently, he implemented a Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) 2007 infrastructure managing 3,500+ PCs and 500+ servers from the ground up. Adam also has extensive experience with scripting technologies such as VBScript and PowerShell to assist in deploying large groups of software and automating complex tasks.


    Adam’s certifications include: MCP, MCSA, MCSE, A+, Network+, Security+, MCTS:Configuring Exchange 2007, MCTS:Designing Message Solutions with Exchange 2007


    Adam and his wife Miranda have been married 9 years and have a 4-year old daughter Ella. Adam’s free time is occupied with family, selling used books online or any number of technology-related side projects.


    Contact the Keller Schroeder Account Team to learn more about Adam and how you can leverage his experience and skills to benefit your organization.


    FlexPod Your Muscles

    Jeff Gorman, Business Unit Director


    As the requirements for data center infrastructure (network, servers, storage) continue to change rapidly across all industries, many organizations experience a variety of challenges with designing, procuring, and managing their environments. The continuous process of working to ensure compatibility and desired functionality among server platforms, hypervisors, storage hardware, and networking hardware can be a daunting task. Even after successfully navigating the compatibility maze and rolling new systems to production, it can be equally difficult to get a holistic view of support from vendors for any of the hardware. Treating the data center as a collection of individual components rather than a collective system makes scalability difficult and creates operational challenges that are typical of very heterogeneous environments.


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    Cisco and NetApp have partnered in an attempt to develop a much more readily deployable and supportable model for current data centers. Their FlexPod solution provides a pretested, validated architecture that is integrated and delivered through the partnership between NetApp and Cisco. FlexPod is not a product. It is a combination of best-in-class components that have gone through a process to be validated to meet performance, scalability, and interoperability requirements while also providing operational efficiencies. FlexPod validated architectures are available for environments of all sizes. The solutions integrate NetApp storage, Cisco Nexus switches, and Cisco UCS servers. Because the solutions are validated, the concerns regarding ensuring compatibility among server, storage, and networking hardware are eliminated. This validated design approach to data center solutions also allows FlexPod customers to access cooperative support, providing a single source for support for any of the components within the architecture.


    FlexPod solutions are validated across multiple leading hypervisors, including VMware, allowing organizations to leverage the benefits of both server and desktop virtualization to maximize the utilization of the included resources. Each of the FlexPod validated designs provide organizations with a means to scale to keep up with business demands.


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    The FlexPod offerings consist of Cisco’s UCS B-Series server ecosystem, Nexus switches, and NetApp FAS storage. The FlexPod Express offering is geared toward small and medium sized business by integrating Cisco’s C-series rack mount servers with Nexus switches and NetApp storage. Numerous validated designs exist for both offerings, providing best practice guidance for design and implementation of all components when implementing things like server virtualization, desktop virtualization, and even application specific needs like SharePoint, Exchange, and SQL.


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    Keller Schroeder’s technical team carries certifications and experience with the components of the FlexPod offerings. Contact your Keller Schroeder Account Manager to schedule a time to learn more about how the offerings may be of value to your organization as you look to deal with the challenges of handling growth and operational support for your data center infrastructure.



    Meraki (Balboa) II

    Jeff Gorman, Business Unit Director


    The deployment and support of wireless networks continues to grow both in prevalence and in complexity. Whether organizations are seeking to support mobility among traditional laptops, expanding their wireless support to provide connectivity for devices such as tablets and smartphones, or providing guest wireless access to their customers, the requirements continue to drive the installation or modification of wireless infrastructure. As that complexity increases, many organizations are looking for ways to simplify the deployment and management of those networks and the devices which use them.


    Meraki, a recently acquired part of Cisco, provides a complete networking infrastructure solution aimed specifically at solving that complexity issue for both wireless and wired networks. Meraki’s products offer completely cloud managed networking.


    The benefits to the organizations that deploy those solutions include functionality such as:

    • the ability to manage all network devices from a single dashboard
    • the ability to control applications and devices
    • the confidence of a PCI and HIPAA-compliant infrastructure
    • a platform that scales from small sites to the largest of enterprises
    • the removal of a requirement to install or maintain wireless controller hardware and management software


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    Meraki offers products in the wireless, switching, and security spaces, as well as a no-cost mobile device management solution that supports iOS, Android, Windows, and OS X devices on any network. All of the Meraki solutions can be deployed, configured, and maintained from their cloud-based network management platform. This allows for simple centralized administration of network hardware across any number of remote sites, includes easy to configure network visibility and management functionality for alarms and reporting, natively supports role-based administration and auditable change logs, and can provide application and user device visibility across managed devices.


    The control traffic that communicates with the Meraki cloud management software operates in a manner that keeps network management data completely separate from user data. Management data (configuration, monitoring, performance) flows from Meraki devices to the cloud management platform over a secure Internet connection. An organization’s private data does not flow through the cloud; it always flows directly through the company network to its intended destination. This architecture provides considerable scalability by eliminating controller bottlenecks, great reliability through redundancy in the cloud management application and allowing traffic to pass even if management traffic is interrupted, and maintains full compliance with HIPAA and PCI requirements.


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    Meraki has taken a very detailed approach to ensuring the security of their cloud-based offering. They have five geographically diverse tier-1 SAS70 Type II certified data centers that host their environment, and customers’ configuration and usage metrics are replicated across three independent datacenters with real-time data replication. Beyond the physical security of the data, they offer functionality like two-factor authentication, password policies, idle timeouts, role-based administration, configuration change alerting, configuration and login auditing. All of these features are provided as native functionality of their Systems Manager solution that is part of each of their devices.


    If simplified network deployment and network management are valuable to your organization, or if your organization is looking for ways to have a better view and control of the traffic and devices that are using network resources, Meraki’s solutions may be a good fit for your needs. Contact your Keller Schroeder Account Manager to schedule a time to further discuss your organization’s network needs and the Cisco Meraki solution.



    Control Freaks


    controlfreak2We humans tend to be control freaks. Seriously. You may not think you are a control freak, but the more I observe others and the more honest I am in analyzing my own actions, the more I realize just how much time and effort (conscious or subconscious) we all spend trying to ensure that circumstances, people, and our future turn out the way we want them to. Call it what you want, but it’s really a control thing.


    Is it all bad? Of course not. As parents, we invest heavily in shaping and pointing our kids in the right direction. We do it because it’s the right thing to do, but we also do it because we really want to exercise some control over how our kids turn out. We think we know what’s best for them, and we pour ourselves into the task of setting them on a positive course for life while we have the chance to influence them.


    As professionals, we get training and education, and then we pour ourselves into meeting and exceeding expectations in the marketplace. We have an idea of where we would like our career to go, so we “bring it” every day, expecting that our hard work and passion will have a positive impact on our future. This can be a healthy approach for exerting some control over our career path.


    When does this control bias become a bad thing? I believe healthy influence morphs into an unhealthy bent for control when it is (a) predominantly self-centered, or (b) naively utopian. Most of us know of the parent (or maybe we’ve been the parent?) who is excessively focused on a future outcome or an expected behavior of a child primarily because the desired achievement would reflect well on the parent. Many of us have been part of an organization where it is obvious to an entire team that the leader’s inordinate commitment to a goal or deadline is less about what’s good for the organization and more about what’s good for the leader.


    As parents, friends, spouses, or professionals, all too often we believe we have more control than we really do. We can plan, deploy, monitor, adjust, discipline, rally, or incentivize those we wish to influence, but we usually cannot control our way to the exact results we desire. The more we lead, the more keenly aware we become of the truth that leadership requires trust in others, and outcomes depend on the actions of many people over whom we cannot exercise complete control. At some point, greater effort to exert more control results in less, not more, progress toward the outcome we desire.


    Question: So what is a control freak to do? Answer: I’m not sure. Would you let me know when you get that figured out? We are entrusted to lead and influence others, yet we are not given all the puppet strings necessary to make it happen just like we want it to.


    I think maybe a simple change in mindset would be helpful. If I can recognize the limits of what I can control, then perhaps that would lower my blood pressure a bit. If I seek to influence more by example and less by control, perhaps that would make me a more fun person to work or live with. Perhaps the answer to the question is another question: Do those who know me well feel controlled and manipulated by me, or do they feel influenced and unleashed by me?


    Fellow control freaks, as we “bring it” every day, let’s agree complete control is a myth, but there is plenty of room for other-centered leadership which results in less-than-perfect, but positive impact.


    Larry May
    President