Cruise Control

KS Begin I-69As a long-time resident of Evansville, I had heard about the benefits of I-69 so many times, and had awaited its arrival for so long, that I actually became a bit numb to it.  But on a recent drive to Indianapolis, I was reawakened to its benefits.  I packed and dressed as usual for my trip, and then headed east on Lloyd Expressway to connect with I-69 north for the first time since it had been opened all the way to Bloomington.

It wasn’t until about 10 miles north of Evansville that I realized just how easy this 100-mile stretch was going to be.  I could set my cruise control only once, and my Toyota Highlander would need very little attention from me for the next 90 minutes.  All the stories and positive spin about I-69 were only theory to me until I experienced some of its advantages tangibly:

  1. Time savings
  2. Safety – reduced risk of obstacles and unanticipated hazards
  3. Predictability – reduced uncertainty about traffic conditions
  4. Opportunity – to think and plan and invest my attention and thoughts on things other than the challenges of two-lane traffic

KS Cruise ControlAren’t these benefits similar to what you are expecting out of your information technology investments?  As a business leader or IT professional, you are looking for opportunities to save time, reduce risk, and experience stable, predictable outcomes for non-mission-critical investments.  But you are also looking for advantage – leveraging technology to help you build and expand your business, create a greater impact, and make a lasting difference for the stakeholders to whom you are accountable.

The problem for I-69, and the similar challenge for IT solutions, is that the benefits are often difficult to imagine or quantify until you experience them firsthand.  When we can actually see the efficiencies, or feel the effects of streamlined operations, or close on a new opportunity made possible by a strategic investment months or years ago, the critics tend to move on to another topic, and the beneficiaries  wonder why it took us so long to deliver.

Those of us who might be championing a change, an investment, or a challenge to the status quo should expect a gravitational pull back toward what is comfortable and non-disruptive.  Like a rubber band being stretched, there is a constant tension against change and a propensity to snap back into a place that is normal and familiar.

Leaders must do more than dream about opportunity and investment.  We need to actively paint a picture of how things can be better so others can share the vision with us, and then we must bring people together who can execute a strategy to get there.

As for me, I’m thankful for an easier drive to Indianapolis.  The opportunity to set my cruise control today is made possible by those in years past who were willing to envision a better future, sell the benefits, and invest heavily toward the desired outcome.

Larry May [President]


VMware AirWatch – Enterprise Mobility Management

KS Airwatch Logo

Chris Ross  – [Systems Engineer – Network Solutions Group]

Do you have a mobile workforce?  How are you controlling ghost IT and data leakage?  How are you providing corporate resources to help your mobile sales team?  Is that sales team able to leverage up to date data from the internal databases?  If you are struggling to answer any of these questions, AirWatch may be the solution for you.  By utilizing applications such as AirWatch Inbox, AirWatch Browser and AirWatch Container, complete control of data can be obtained while seamlessly providing internal corporate resources to a mobile workforce in a secure and safe manner.

Do you have an intranet website that your sales team is currently having to spend countless minutes laboring through VPN’s and multiple sign-ins just to access?  AirWatch Browser can present that intranet website in a seamless experience as if the user was browsing a normal internet page, no multiple sign-ins, no hassle of a ensuring correct VPN credentials.

Sending the latest monthly sales numbers from a behind the firewall SharePoint site?  AirWatch Container can link to that SharePoint site and give your mobile workforce a secure and controlled method of access.  All the while preventing data leakage on the mobile device by ensuring any controlled information stays inside AirWatch Container.KS Airwatch Container

As a leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant, VMware AirWatch is setting the stage for how Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) should look.  The mobile worker population continues to grow and is forecasted to reach over 1.3 billion in 2016 and with this growth requires new security and management concerns.  VMware AirWatch is positioned to be that solution by leading in both security functionality and features delivered to the mobile worker.  Below you can find a brief summary of the main AirWatch features.

Enterprise Mobility Management Platform

Container
VMware AirWatch Container provides complete separation of corporate and personal data on devices, securing corporate resources and maintaining employee privacy. AirWatch enables organizations to standardize enterprise security and data loss prevention strategies across mobile devices through our flexible approach to containerization.

Devices
VMware AirWatch Mobile Device Management enables you to gain visibility into the devices – including smartphones, tablets and laptops – connecting to your enterprise network, content and resources. Quickly enroll devices in your enterprise environment, update device settings over-the-air, and enforce security policies and compliance across your entire device fleet. Manage any mobile device type, including smartphones, tablets, laptops, desktops, rugged devices, printers and peripherals with support for multiple operating systems including Android, Apple IOS, BlackBerry, Chrome OS, Max OS and Windows across your organization.

Apps
VMware AirWatch Mobile Application Management enables you to manage internal, public and purchased apps across devices enrolled in your organization. Distribute, update, track and recommend apps with VMware AirWatch Catalog. Build custom business apps with the VMware AirWatch Software Development Kit or by following AirWatch-sponsored ACE documentation, or wrap existing internal apps for advanced security with VMware AirWatch App Wrapping.

Content
VMware AirWatch Mobile Content Management secures document distribution and promotes content collaboration anytime, anywhere with VMware AirWatch Content Locker. Access your corporate content in a secure container with advanced data loss prevention policies. Promote collaboration with editing, annotation and commenting capabilities for shared files.

Email
VMware AirWatch Mobile Email Management delivers comprehensive security for your corporate email infrastructure. With AirWatch, you can control which mobile devices access email, prevent data loss, encrypt sensitive data and enforce advanced compliance policies. Containerize email and provide a consistent user experience with VMware AirWatch Inbox, a secure email client.

Browsing
VMware AirWatch Browser is a secure browsing alternative to native browsers and provides organizations with the ability to configure customized settings to meet unique business and end-user needs. Define and enforce secure browsing policies for intranet sites without a device-level VPN. Enable secure browsing with whitelists and blacklists or kiosk mode.

Telecom
VMware AirWatch Telecom Management enables IT to easily monitor data, voice and roaming usage alongside devices from the admin console. With AirWatch, IT has insight into telecom usage to help save time, money and resources. Roaming restrictions, automated compliance enforcement and self-service options for end users simplify telecom management for IT.

These are only a few of the features that AirWatch can offer you.  If you would like to learn or ore to see a demo of AirWatch, please contact your Keller Schroeder Account Manager.

 


“Are You Azure It’s a-Ready?

KS Spaghetti

Rob Wilson[Business Unit Director – Application Solutions]

Hint: You have to say it with an Italian accent, like “That’s one spicy a-meatball!”

In our neck of the woods, folks tend to watch with a curious skepticism as the bleeding-edge early adopters go through the pains of “beta testing” newer technologies. Some call it “reluctant to change” and others call it “conservative”. We level-headed, hard-working mid-westerners simply call it “prudent”. While we have all likely seen an uptick in cloud adoption, many of our clients are still being…prudent…and that’s understandable. Hopefully by now, you know our philosophy that all solutions do not belong in the cloud, and you should choose what is best for your business case. However, some solutions do make the most sense to run in the cloud, and Hybrid Cloud (cloud technologies working in conjunction with on-premises technologies) is what we believe will be the norm.

As a MicrKS Azure Logoosoft Gold Certified Partner, one of our go-to cloud platforms is Microsoft Azure. We have been prudent as well regarding Azure. Even as we adopted Office 365 for Email (Exchange Online) and collaboration (SharePoint Online), we took a more conservative approach with Azure. Our chief concerns were about the stability of the platform and the rapid pace at which the services and administration tools seemed to change. We stayed in close contact with Microsoft and other partners, and the message that seemed to resonate was: “Azure services are mostly being adopted for development and testing environments, but there has not been a significant increase in production adoptions.” Microsoft was working hard to address concerns, and we continued to grow our experience through application development in our lab environments.

Fast forward many months, and now the scale is starting to tip. Microsoft Azure has continued to evolve at a rapid pace, claiming a decent amount of market share and adding to its customer list. We have watched prices drop, services added, and more consistent user experiences. We have used Azure in production environments and it has proven to be a cost-effective, reliable alternative – at least for the use cases where we have employed it. We have used Azure Virtual Machines for several internal and client use cases – including public web sites, web services, extranet applications, and reporting dashboards – and Microsoft has remained true to the up-time promised in their Service Level Agreement. This approach has helped some of our clients avoid incurring the cost of additional hardware and even reduce the project timeline. As one of my clients put it (paraphrased): “I’m in the manufacturing industry, not IT. Put the solution where it is cost-effective, easy to manage, quick to deploy, and reliable. I’ll stick to making what I make.”

Currently, we are working on projects that utilize the SQL Database services and App Services, just two of the many services now offered on Azure. We have clients and partners exploring other services as well. If you are interested in knowing what we have tried and what we have not, please reach out to us and start the conversation. You can “rest Azured” (that was bad) we will be transparent.

 


Systems Team Proactive Performance Management (PPM) Services

Chris Haynes  – [Keller Schroeder Engineer]

        An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. – Benjamin Franklin

Virtualization has become the norm in most data centers, but so is the expectation of zero downtime. Preventative maintenance is the best insurance against downtime and security threats in your storage/virtualization environment.SV PPM Wheel

Preventative maintenance can:

  • Prevent productivity losses due to unscheduled downtime
  • Reduce security risk
  • Increase the quality & reliability of mission-critical IT operations
  • Maximize performance & efficiency
  • Lower overall maintenance costs

Keller Schroeder’s System Team offers a Proactive Performance Management (PPM) service to perform regular preventative maintenance services and provide remedy reporting and resolution for storage/virtualization environments.

So what does our PPM service include?

  • Review system logs, alerts, & diagnose problems
  • Identify capacity & performance issues & inefficiencies
  • Perform minor upgrades & apply patches
  • Analyze/validate system configurations
  • Remediate discovered issues
  • Make recommendations for improvements or industry common practice design changes

So why use Keller Schroeder for these services?

Our Systems Team has a combined years of experience in IT of 130+ years, which is an average of about 22 years per admin. We have deep knowledge & expertise in the storage/virtualization stack, both past and present.  We carry multiple certifications in various technologies, and continuously perform new installs and upgrade existing systems in the field, so we are fresh & familiar with the latest versions, compatibility requirements, and potential pitfalls.

We already perform PPM programs for many of our clients and have developed detailed & proven install, upgrade, & patch procedures, along with health assessments & checklists, and remedy/status reports. We typically provide these PPM services on a quarterly basis, but we can build a customized plan to meet your specific needs.

A key challenge in IT is having to do more with less and dealing with a lack of resources, so let us do what we do best, so you can focus on what you do best for your business.

Please contact your Keller Schroeder Account Manager for more information.


Aperture Provides a Glimpse into the Cloud

Jeff Starling[Senior Networking Consultant]

KS Aperture ImageThe use of SaaS (Software as a Service) applications continue to gain popularity as a cost-effective way to provide office automation and data-sharing in today’s business environment.  SaaS services are often described to fall into 2 categories:

  • Sanctioned (allowed and supported by the company),
  • Unsanctioned (utilized by the end user with no control by the IT department).

Palo Alto Networks firewalls can control the access of most unsanctioned SaaS applications through the use of the built-in App-ID function.  But SaaS applications use infrastructure and networks that are not owned by the company.  So how does a security-conscious IT department protect their sanctioned SaaS applications from malware and data loss?

They use the Aperture service by Palo Alto Networks.

Aperture is a cloud-based security solution from Palo Alto Networks designed to protect SaaS applications.  It provides full reporting of daily activities of users and data, and supports a granular access control mechanism to eliminate data exposure and risks.  This service integrates with Palo Alto Network’s WildFire Threat Intelligence database to block known malware, as well as, to identify and block unknown malware.  This level of protection can be accomplished with no change to the local user.  There is no agent to install, and since it is a cloud-based solution, there is nothing to install on the network.

Aperture currently supports the following SaaS applications:KS Aperture Process

  • Box
  • Office 365-One Drive/SharePoint
  • Sales Force
  • Google Drive
  • Github
  • Dropbox
  • Yammer

Contact your Keller Schroeder Account Manager for more information on Aperture and other Palo Alto Networks products.

 


Cisco Smart Net Total Care

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Carissa Montgomery[Marketing & Communications Coordinator]

As we first informed you in July 2015, Cisco recently migrated all SMARTnet clients to their new Smart Net Total Care (SNTC) service. Cisco SNTC is a software service that uses a collector to gather information on your network, validates it against Cisco’s records, and returns it to administrators with any actionable information. If you are currently a Cisco SMARTnet customer, you already have access to this service and the collection device.

It has been reported that on average, IT teams support at around 1,000 devices. One of the challenges network administrators face is keeping track of these devices – including their associated contracts, renewal dates, end-of-sale, end-of-support, and end-of life details. Most often, this information is placed in a spreadsheet, which may be updated only once or twice a year. The SNTC device mitigates this process by quickly collecting all of this information for you, and reports it back through a simple, user-friendly portal.KS Cisco SNTC

SNTC also provides serial numbers, product numbers, and the IOS versions the devices are on as well as the components plugged into those devices (SFP Cards, etc.) This eliminates the need to log into every device periodically and manually record the information. In addition, SNTC provides security advisories based on the hardware and the IOS version your system has.

Key Benefits

SNTC eliminates many issues with the manual device and renewal processes.

  • Time-consuming logging process
  • Human error
  • Equipment overbooking
  • Multiple iterations of contracts, quotes, and spreadsheets which increase the opportunity for inconsistencies

Quickly and Easily Provides:

  • Cisco device inventory
  • Device contracts
  • Renewal
  • End-of-sale
  • End-of support
  • End-of-life

The good news is that your company already has access to the Cisco Smart Net Total Care device. Keller Schroeder’s team of engineers can assist you with its implementation. We will install the device, verify that all of your devices are properly registering, ensure that you are receiving the notifications that are most critical for your environment, and provide the knowledge you need to effectively manage the SNTC portal.

To learn more about the Cisco SNTC service or to schedule a time for us to assist you with implementation, please contact your Keller Schroeder Account Manager.


Spotlight On…

Employee-Owner: Kevin DykmanKS Kevin Dykman

 

Kevin has over 34 years of experience in the Information Technology field. His extensive experience includes working in the manufacturing and distribution industries, serving in both technical and management roles. Kevin started with Keller Schroeder in 1997, and has since worked for a large variety of clients including textiles, pharmaceutical, automotive, and plastics manufacturing. He specializes in EDI and ERP integration and customization using RPG. Prior to joining Keller Schroeder, Kevin was the IT manager for a pork processing company for 13 years. Before that position, he taught at a business college. Kevin is a Business Unit Director in Keller Schroeder’s Core Services Group.

Kevin is a huge baseball fan, and has been the commissioner of a fantasy baseball league since 1995. He also enjoys spending time with his two pugs – Boogie and Ivy.

Contact your Keller Schroeder Sr. Account Manager to learn more about Kevin and how you can leverage his experience and skills to benefit your organization.