Vision Trumps Strategy

We businesspeople love our strategies.  We conduct strategy meetings and summits, develop strategic plans, and more.  And yet on a recent mission trip to El Salvador I was reminded, perhaps more vividly than ever, that vision trumps strategy.  If you don’t know your destination, a map for getting there is pretty useless.

 Sus-HijosKurt Ackermann is a missionary and founder of Sus Hijos (Spanish for “His Children”), a non-profit organization in El Salvador dedicated to serving orphaned and abandoned children, under-resourced families, and the homeless in this impoverished, crime-laden Central American country. This year was the second time I had served on a team hosted by Kurt and Sus Hijos.

To summarize Kurt’s passion for El Salvador, I would say he wants to help kids and families from “hard places” find their way socially, economically, and spiritually.  It should be no surprise, then, that a Sus Hijos mission team agenda typically includes serving and doing projects in orphanages, prisons, and transition homes for older youth.  Would it surprise you, though, if Sus Hijos opened a United States-themed diner in an upscale business and retail district in the capital city of San Salvador?

States DinerOn a trip with Kurt four years ago, I heard him share his dream of opening the “States Diner” as it is now called, a place where young adults who “age out” of orphanages can find employment, job skills training, and income when they would otherwise have nowhere to go but the streets.  Kurt didn’t come to El Salvador to start a diner.  He was drawn there by a vision to help lift up struggling kids and families in a country where there are very limited government support services.

While enjoying a couple of meals at the diner on my recent trip, I had the benefit of seeing its impact firsthand.  I saw hard-working, hope-filled smiling faces who are learning how to work, improving their English, learning new skills, and planning for their next step up after the Diner.  It was and is a highly-effective strategy for helping kids from “hard places,” and the strategy was born out of a compelling vision, not the other way around.

As business leaders, we can learn from Sus Hijos.  “Start with Why” (as eloquently suggested by Simon Sinek in his book and his popular video at TED.com), building a clear vision of why your organization or team exists.  Then “begin with the end in mind” (per Stephen Covey in his classic, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People).  The strategy for getting there is important and a worthy investment of time and energy, but only after your organization is healthy enough to know why and where you are going.

Planning and strategy have always been in my comfort zone as a businessman, yet the longer I work the less stoked I get about planning and strategy, and the more I find myself asking about the purpose and the destination of those plans and strategies.  The more I focus on the destination, the more I find my colleagues joining me with inspiration and aspiration for excellence.  As Kurt is so effectively demonstrating in El Salvador, a leader with a purpose can make a deep and lasting impact.

Larry May[President]


Data Center Capacity Planning

Chris Haynes[Senior Systems Consultant]

Capacity PlanningIs your data center infrastructure being used the way you intended it to? Are you in control of your organization’s IT data?  If your organization is like most, probably not as well as you would like to.

A good data center capacity planning strategy can help your business become more efficient, dynamic, and competitive, but few organizations dedicate resources to capacity management or give it any importance.  If it does exist, many times it is usually just to satisfy regulations or to check a box on a form.

The tendency of many IT departments is to play it safe by purchasing more server and storage capacity than needed, which means resources are being wasted at a time when IT departments are being asked to do even more with less.  On the flip side of the coin, some IT departments are not able to anticipate the growing IT demands of the business, and react to them in a timely manner, potentially resulting in lost business or costly reactionary purchases.

In order to proactively meet the demands of your organization’s needs, you need to develop data center capacity planning processes and procedures that will track and report on the following metrics:Capacity Planning 2

  • How much is being used?
  • Who is using it?
  • At what rate is it being used?
  • How much is left?
  • When will we run out of it?

Having the answers to these questions at any point in time allows your IT department to be proactive and take steps accordingly to stay ahead of the business’ needs.  Being able to project future needs allows your organization to budget and plan for data center growth and scalability in advance, which is almost always cheaper than unplanned emergency purchases.

Does your organization need help developing a data center capacity management strategy?  Please contact your Keller Schroeder Account Manager to see how we can help.


Evansville’s SQL Server 2016 Discovery Day

Rob Wilson  – [Business Unit Director – Applications Solutions]

PASSRecently, Keller Schroeder hosted the local SQL Server 2016 launch event, coordinated by Ed Rhodes of the local Professional Association for SQL Server (PASS). Ed Rhodes of Walt’s Drive-A-Way leads the local PASS chapter with Pat Minnis of Vectren. The Saturday event consisted of presentations and demos by Ed, followed by video presentations of what is new in SQL Server, and a friendly group competition to “hack” the new SQL Server 2016 features.

Some of the great new features explored at the SQL Server 2016 Discovery Day were:

  • Security updates such as column-level encryption and encryption at rest
  • Data masking
  • Major updates to SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS)
  • Analytics and performance monitoring
  • JSON support

You can learn more about the SQL Server 2016 features here: https://www.microsoft.com/en-ca/server-cloud/products/sql-server/Features.aspx

SQL-Server

 

Without a doubt, this is the most anticipated SQL Server release in recent history. The added features in addition to the performance enhancements make a strong case for organizations to take a look earlier rather than later.

The group competition at the event was won by a team of DBA’s who scripted solutions around the new security enhancements. This team (made up of Terri Smith and Evans Owusu of SpringLeaf, Todd Greenwell and Shawn Repphan of Old National, and Kael Dowdy of Keller Schroeder) won $50 gift cards provided by Microsoft and the national PASS organization. It was a great day of camaraderie and round table discussions. We thank everyone who joined us, and thank Ed for his leadership and coordination of the event.

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For more information on our local technology groups, please visit www.evansvilletech.com. Our user groups are a great local resource for IT professionals to receive free training and collaborate with other professionals over a long lunch break (meal provided). For more information on how Keller Schroeder can assist you with your SQL Server 2016 migration, please contact your account manager.

 


Penetration Tests – Why does your organization need one?

Chris Fortune[Security Consultant]

Penetration TestingPenetration testing helps businesses understand if their investment in security actually affords them the protection they want.  To help in your understanding, let’s start with defining some terms to make sure we are using the same vocabulary.

  • Threat – agent or actor that can cause harm
  • Vulnerability – a flaw someone can exploit to cause harm
  • Risk – Where threat and vulnerability overlap
  • Exploit – code or technique that a threat uses to take advantage of a vulnerability
  • Penetration testing  – involves modeling the techniques used by real-world computer attackers to find vulnerabilities and under controlled circumstances to exploit these flaws in a professional, safe manner according to a carefully designed scope and rules of engagement to determine business risk and potential impact.  All with the goal of helping the organization improve security.
  • Security/Vulnerability assessment – focus is on finding security vulnerabilities, which may or may not be used to get in or steal data.  These assessments are broader, and often include explicit policy and procedure review.

Now that we have a common vocabulary, you might be thinking “How is a penetration test different than a vulnerability assessment?”  The difference is action – the penetration test aims to breach the security of the business, where a vulnerability assessment is simply an evaluation of your organization’s security posture.

A penetration test can help answer the following questions:

  • Can vulnerabilities that are found be exploited to gain access or steal data?
  • Can lower-risk vulnerabilities be exploited in a way together that opens up a higher-risk vulnerability?
  • What does this mean to the business or operations if successful?
  • At what level can your business successfully detect and respond to attacks?

Other reasons a penetration test can provide value to your business:

  • Meeting compliance with regulatory standards
  • Automated network or application vulnerability scanning software can have difficulty detecting some types of vulnerabilities.
  • Provide evidence to support increased investments in security personnel and technology
  • Post security incident- to validate new security controls put in place will stop a similar attack in the future.

Security BreachPenetration tests can be scoped to your business needs from general to narrow.  On the general side of scope is a black box test.  The tester is given little to no information and tries to see if they can get access or business information.  On the narrow side of scope is a white box test.  This could be something like testing a new application with full knowledge of what it should do.  The tester in this case is given valid user accounts with different roles like a regular user and an admin user to test what each can do in the application.

If you would like to discuss penetration testing and the value it can bring to your organization, please contact your Keller Schroeder Account Manager to begin a discussion with our certified penetration testers.


Our TechSpot Learning Series Is Coming to Illinois

TechSpot Learning Events

As we continue growing our geographic service area, Keller Schroeder is excited to take our highly successful series of lunch and learn events on the road. During each TechSpot event, our team and vendor partners work together to shine the spotlight on specific technologies.  The goal is to provide valuable education on ways our current and future clients can improve the performance of their IT environments in a fun and relaxing atmosphere.  Each attendee enjoys a free lunch, receives a free gift for attending, and is registered to win some great prizes.

NEXT EVENT

Basic RGBVeeam Logo

Wednesday, August 31st – 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM
Thelma Keller Convention Center – Effingham, Illinois

REGISTER NOW

 

At our August event, we’re heading to Illinois and taking a closer look at Nimble Storage and Veeam Software. Nimble Storage allows you to experience absolute performance, non-stop availability, and cloud-like agility through predictive analytics embedded in a unified flash fabric. Veeam Software enables the Always-On Enterprise by providing data center availability with high-speed recovery and data loss avoidance at an affordable price.

To register for our Illinois event, or to see our full 2016 Events Calendar, simply visit www.kellerschroeder.com/events.

 


Spotlight On…

Employee-Owner : Chris Haynes 

Chris Haynes - R
Chris has over 24 years of experience in the Information Technology field.  Before becoming a KS consultant, Chris served the roles of UNIX/Linux Administrator & Manager, Storage/Backup Administrator, and VMware Administrator across Healthcare, Finance & Distribution industries.

Since joining Keller Schroeder in 2007, Chris has specialized in storage & virtualization technologies on the Systems Team and is now the team leader.  His expertise is in NetApp and Nimble storage systems, VMware server & desktop virtualization, Cisco UCS rack & blade solutions, and Veeam Backup, Replication & Monitoring.

Chris has designed many storage/virtualization solutions for customers and performed countless installations, upgrades, and migrations.  He has implemented both server and desktop virtualization solutions, along with backup and Disaster Recovery (DR) solutions in small to large environments and continues to support these environments today. Keller Schroeder also often utilizes Chris as featured presenter during our TechSpot series of lunch and learn events.

To learn more about Chris or to leverage his skills towards the improvement of your business, please reach out to your Keller Schroeder Account Manager.