Application Solutions Group Leadership Transition

Keller Schroeder President-Jeff GormanJeff Gorman – [President]

It is my pleasure to announce an upcoming leadership transition at Keller Schroeder.  After thirty extremely successful years as a leader at Keller Schroeder, Dan Ehrhart will retire from his role as the Vice President of our Application Solutions Group, effective at the end of this year.  Dan will remain an owner and a member of our Board of Directors in addition to his plans to invest time with family, friends, the outdoors, and as a community volunteer.

Cathy Graper Incoming Application Solutions Group Vice PresidentCathy Graper will become the Vice President of our Application Solutions Group effective January 1, 2018.  Cathy has been with Keller Schroeder for twenty-two years and is a seasoned Business Unit Director reporting directly to Dan.  She has a deep and diverse background in Information Technology, starting with her B.S. in Computer Science from Indiana State University and progressing through a variety of roles making positive impacts on clients of all sizes in multiple industries.  She has had great success as a developer, analyst and project manager during her tenure with Keller Schroeder and has a deep understanding of our Application group and Keller Schroeder as a whole.   Her ability to create ‘followship’ in a variety of roles speaks to her natural leadership ability, and, most importantly, she has long been exemplary in exhibiting our values of making positive, personal impacts for our employee-owners, our clients, and our community.

Keller Schroeder’s Application Solutions Group is a significant pillar of our diverse organization.  The group has grown and evolved during Dan’s leadership and I am excited about the prospects for that to continue with Cathy’s leadership.   We are being intentional about making this announcement six months in advance of the transition to give Cathy and Dan the opportunity to work closely through the second half of 2017 and beginning of 2018 to ensure a seamless transition.  Those of you who have interacted with members of the Keller Schroeder team know our success has been tethered directly to the outstanding skills and conscientious work ethic of our employee-owners.  I am excited to see the success continue.  As we complete this transition, Cathy is well-positioned to advance our long-standing trend of excellence.

Keller Schroeder is a technology company in the performance improvement business.


Office 2007 Retirement Is Coming!

Systems Engineer Chance WebsterChance Webster – [Systems Engineer]

On October 10, 2017, Microsoft will officially retire all editions of Office 2007.  What does this mean for you?  Microsoft will no longer offer updates or provide free or paid support for the Office 2007 family of products.  If you have not upgraded the Office suite for one or more of your PCs, this would be the perfect time to consider a more recent version of Microsoft Office.

Microsoft Office 2007 LogoOne reason to upgrade is that newer versions of Microsoft platforms such as Exchange and SharePoint will not interact with the Office 2007 platform.  Also, newer versions of Office do not interact properly or at all with older, unsupported platforms.  For example, Outlook 2016 does not work with Exchange 2007 – which is 3 versions lower in the Office family.  Likewise, Outlook 2007 does not connect to either Exchange 2016 or Exchange Online.  Both of these concerns could add more unplanned costs when planning for an on-premises Exchange or SharePoint upgrade project.

Microsoft Word 2007 IconAnother reason to upgrade is based on Microsoft’s policy change concerning Office 365 and Microsoft Office in the future.  The good news is this policy change does not fully take effect until October 13, 2020, so there is time to consider your upgrade options related to your on-premises infrastructure or any cloud initiatives.   For more detail, please see this policy change here: https://blogs.office.com/en-us/2017/04/20/office-365-proplus-updates/.

The following are alternatives to consider:

  1. Do nothing. This option is NOT recommended.  There are several exploitable vulnerabilities that rely on unpatched versions of Microsoft Office products.  Due to no additional patches being developed for Office 2007 after October 2017, continuing use of Office 2007 products would create a security risk for your organization.
  2. Purchase new Office licenses. This can be achieved via direct purchase through many resources, however this option provides only the current version of Office.  The Software Assurance option would need to be purchased via a Volume License agreement to provide you with future versions of Office at no charge.
  3. Purchase an Office 365 subscription. Office 365 suites that include Office licensing provide an array of benefits.  Not only would you get Office licensing for users licensed under a supported suite, you would also be able to take advantage of hosted platforms for Exchange, SharePoint, and Skype for Business.  This can provide a significant cost savings for your organization and reduce the technical burden often added when these technologies are deployed.

For more information about how Keller Schroeder can assist your organization with migrating to Office 365, please contact your Select Account Manager.


Stay Connected With Us!

Social Media DiagramThe team at Keller Schroeder is always searching for new opportunities and avenues to stay connected with our clients, employee-owners, and vendor partners. If you haven’t already, take a quick moment to scroll down and “like” or “follow” us on your favorite social media sites.

We post the most up-to-date content and announcements to these pages including:

  • Weekly Cyber Security Tips
  • Upcoming Seminar and Webinar Information
  • Links to the Latest IT News
  • Community Give Back Highlights
  • Event Photos and Recaps
  • Contesting Opportunities
  • Fun Facts
  • And Much More!

 

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TechSpot Recap: Targeting Security

 Carissa Eatmon – [Marketing & Communications Coordinator]

Our TechSpot learning series continued with a BANG in Evansville on Thursday, June 15th. In partnership with LogRhythm and Cisco, our Sales & Marketing Team hosted another great event with our clients as we focused on “Targeting Security.”

Targeting Security At Uncle Rudy's Gina MinetteThis event took place at Uncle Rudy’s Indoor Firing Range and not only offered our clients the opportunity to hear valuable information, but also the chance to show off their shooting skills. Whether the client was a complete novice or highly experienced, the staff at Uncle Rudy’s catered to each individual. Congratulations to John Atkison from Deaconess Health System and Bob Moss from Big Rivers Electric Corporation for being our top 2 shooters!

In addition to the fun, we were fortunTargeting Security At Uncle Rudy's Kelley Spurrierate to have Cisco & LogRhythm joining us to discuss important security information. LogRhythm reps were on hand to speak about using their solution to reduce the time to detect and respond to threats and LogRhythm’s Network Monitor. Cisco joined us remotely to detail their FirePower security solution and how you can use it to find and track malware. 

We look forward to hosting more of these types of events in the future! To view a full list of upcoming Keller Schroeder events, including seminars and webinars, visit the “Events” section on our home page. You can also reach out to your Account Manager to be added to our communications list.

 


What Is A Digital Workplace?

Applications Consultant Matt MulherinMatt Mulherin – [Applications Consultant]

Today’s personal technology boom provides instant information at out fingertips to assist with every facet of our lives.  If you have a question, you just “google” for the answer.  If you have a problem, there is an app for that.  With this easy and constant access to information in their personal lives, employees are looking for the same experience in their work life. Many employees have a physical workplace where they report to work every day, but now they are also working more and more away from the office, where they would like to find the same easy and constant access to the information and applications necessary to perform their work at any location at any time.

Powell 365 Digital Workplace DashboardAccording to CMS Wire, “The digital workplace is meant to be a virtual equivalent to the physical workplace, which requires strong planning and management due to its fundamental role in people’s productivity, engagement, and working health.”

A successful digital workplace should incorporate several key features:

  • Centralized and accessible information – employees should have information easily accessible in order to make well-informed, timely decisions
  • Easy collaboration with others – employees should be able to collaborate on projects, documents, presentations
  • Accessibility of business applications – the applications employees need and use frequently should be accessible from one centralized location

The digital workplace should be engaging and easy!  Ideally the digital workplace should bring the ease and availability of information to your employees’ work lives in a way similar to consumer-oriented technology.

Deloitte identifies the following advantages of embracing a digital workplace strategy:

  • Talent attraction: 64% of employees would opt for a lower paying job if they could work away from the office.
  • Employee productivity: organizations with strong online social networks are 7% more productive than those without.
  • Employee satisfaction: organizations that installed social media tools internally found a median of 20% increase in employee satisfaction.
  • Employee retention: when employee engagement increases, there is a corresponding increase in employee retention by up to 87%.
  • Communication tools: information workers prefer newer communication tools, particularly instant messaging, over more traditional ones like e-mail or team workspaces.

Powell 365 LogoYour organization’s digital workplace transformation strategy could begin with your intranet.  Intranets have been around for a long time, but with rapid changes in technology, organizations find themselves with outdated platforms and features.  Keller Schroeder recommends Powell 365, a digital workplace that sits on top of SharePoint Online and the Office 365 platform.  Powell 365 allows you to quickly implement an intranet with optimum user experience to develop communication and collaboration between your teams. It provides your employees a single point of access to all of your digital content that is accessible in the office and on your mobile devices.

Keller Schroeder is a partner with Powell 365.  Please contact us if you would like to learn more about digital workplaces or Powell 365.


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!