Month: December 2012

by Carissa Carissa No Comments

1 Potato, 2 Potato, 3 Potato, 4…

Jeff Gorman, Business Unit Director

For most organizations today, Internet connectivity is no longer a luxury or a secondary consideration to operational efficiency. Many businesses’ critical applications and functions require uninterrupted, scalable Internet connectivity. They also have specific performance requirements to allow them to carry out their functions in a manner that facilitates improved business processes. When organizations experience Internet outages, or even Internet performance or reliability issues, this dependency becomes readily apparent. The approach of increasing the amount of bandwidth (capacity) of the current Internet connection does not always mitigate the issue sufficiently. The approach of adding a secondary Internet connection to bring redundancy to the environment tends to either be viewed as excessively expensive, too complex, or lacking with respect to the ability to selectively determine how the multiple links should be used to best serve business needs. Luckily, there are solutions designed specifically to address these concerns.

The Barracuda Link Balancer combines active Internet link health checking and load balancing technology that provides an economical solution for organizations of all sizes to meet high bandwidth requirements while maintaining a high level of Internet reliability. It also provides transparent switching and fail-over across multiple Internet links based on active monitoring of link health, availability of resources, and customer defined policies. Link balancing allows organizations to maintain the highest bandwidth possible while eliminating concerns about link availability, link contention, and over-subscription. The increased reliability allows for a reduction in both IT overhead and productivity losses due to Internet downtime.

In order to provide maximum reliability, the Barracuda Link Balancer uses several techniques to check the health of Internet links. These techniques allow it to detect link issues due to physical failures or configuration errors so traffic can be immediately rerouted to minimize disruption in connectivity. The product also offers real-time monitoring and system alerts over the availability and throughput of each WAN link. Using the simple graphical interface, network administrators can gain insights into their network traffic and budget resources as necessary.

The Barracuda Link Balancer employs a variety of techniques to balance outbound traffic across available links. By analyzing traffic load and throughput, the it prevents congestion or link over-utilization. Moreover, the Barracuda Link Balancer enables organizations that maintain unused backup or passive Internet connections to actively employ their primary and backup Internet connections simultaneously to maximize throughput while intelligently managing resources.

The Barracuda Link Balancer also enables organizations to provide multiple inbound paths to reach their host machines from the Internet. This happens through fail-over and load balancing on inbound traffic. With certain design considerations, inbound traffic to host machines can be balanced across multiple links without the overhead of using specialized routers, Border Gateway Protocol (BGP), or additional ISP support.

Beyond balancing traffic and monitoring the health of Internet links, the Barracuda Link Balancer can regulate bandwidth usage based on application type, client, or link. Moreover, administrators can customize bandwidth policies to ensure that a higher priority is given to mission-critical applications while lower priority is given to other traffic such as Web browsing. The Barracuda Link Balancer includes bandwidth shaping and Quality of Service control to assign specific links and bandwidth priorities to built-in or user defined applications.

As Internet connectivity becomes more critical with the ongoing proliferation of cloud based services and hosted application offerings, solutions like the Barracuda Link Balancer are worthy of consideration. If your organization is considering ways to improve Internet availability or performance and would like more information on the Barracuda Link Balancer, or other alternatives to increase Internet performance, contact your Keller Schroeder Sr. Account Manager and schedule a time to talk through your business needs with our team.

by Carissa Carissa No Comments

Lead Like Jesus

Opinions vary widely about the man we know as Jesus of Nazareth, but regardless of our beliefs about him and what he means to us as individuals, few could dispute that he was a great leader. Born into an earthly family of humble means, during a time in which his people were widely disparaged and disregarded, he poured his life into a ragtag group of 12 mostly uneducated and nonreligious men who became the catalyst of a movement that changed the world. Jesus’ influence transcends religion, sweeping through our historical records as a man whose life and example have radically shaped education, art, science, morality, and society itself. Today, billions attest to his life-changing influence on a personal level. I have often said that the simplest definition of leadership is “follow-ship”. If you agree to this measure, then certainly Jesus would be ranked as a great leader in our world. How did he do it?

Christians say that he is God incarnate, so that would certainly give him an advantage in terms of authority and power. Yet the Jesus of the Bible led in ways that many, including the religious elite of his day, saw as contrary to an all-powerful god. Despite his rise to great fame during his life on earth, Jesus was known for his humility, service, sacrifice, and compassion. This “super leader” Jesus was obviously and sincerely interested in the well-being of others more so than himself. In fact, while people of his day were amazed by his miracles and astounded by his wisdom, I would suggest that possibly the most attractive aspect of Jesus as a leader – to people who knew him as a man 2,000 years ago, and to people who know him today – was and is his unrelenting attribution of value and worth to every individual. While rising to a level of great leadership and influence, the Jesus of scripture seemed always to passionately and personally care for everyone who followed him, and even those who didn’t.

So what might the life of Jesus have to say to leaders in the marketplace today? As we enter the Christmas season celebrating the birth of the one whom Christians deem their leader, perhaps it would be a good time to evaluate our own approach to leadership. To what extent do my actions reflect genuine care and concern for those I lead and influence? Is my bias toward the well-being of others, or toward my own best interests? If we follow the example of Jesus, then maybe we and our fellow “rag taggers” could be better tomorrow, together, than we are today.

On behalf of the employee-owners of Keller Schroeder, we wish you the best of holiday seasons and a wonderful new year!

Larry May

by Carissa Carissa No Comments

Jiffy PopCorn and I Don’t Know

Rob Wilson, Business Unit Director

My wife got one of those newfangled microwaves. It has more buttons than you can shake a stick at. I did not let it change me. When I want to settle down with a bowl of microwave popcorn for the big game, I open up the package, read the instructions and start hitting buttons. “Time Cook. 2-3-0-0. Shoot! Not twenty-three minutes. Clear. Time Cook. Dang it, wrong button. Clear. Clear again, just to be sure. Time Cook. 2-3-0. Start. Finally!” My wife and daughters yell from the other room “Just use the ‘Popcorn’ button. That’s what it’s there for!”

Wouldn’t it be nice if your business had a popcorn button? Maybe it does, but you just don’t use it. Maybe you have that newfangled SharePoint installed, but you are only using it for basic document management and collaboration functions – many companies are. It is good at those things, but it is capable of much more.

Consider the scenario I described above. I turned what my family called a no-brainer into a popcorn making marathon that raised my blood pressure by 10 points. Do you have business processes like that? What are the things that you do on a regular basis that make you think “there has got to be a better way?” And what information do you have to dig for, pulling from multiple sources, to report on your business unit’s health? SharePoint has the features to streamline your business processes and to bring the business data you need to the surface, to quickly to make good decisions. These are not just words. Recent feedback from one local firm said that one such process saved them hundreds of hours on a large engineering project.

No one knows your business better than you. We can partner with you to identify bottlenecks, and help you leverage SharePoint to reduce them. Our veteran SharePoint and .NET experts have the skills needed to integrate with your line of business systems. Keller Schroeder is one of the 77 Global Microsoft partners chosen to participate on a task force known as BCSP (Business Critical SharePoint) Partners. Read more about it at Let us show you how to get the most out of SharePoint and contact your Keller Schroeder Sr. Account Manager for more information.

by Carissa Carissa No Comments

Because Windows 7 8 9

Jeff Gorman, Business Unit Director

There are several significant considerations to determining a lifecycle strategy for desktop operating systems within a corporate environment. Information Technology professionals are tasked with considering:

  • hardware requirements and refresh expense
  • application and vendor support of new software
  • end-user training and functionality requirements
  • emerging technologies and features that facilitate business improvements
  • the lifecycle of manufacturer support for the currently deployed solution

A deficiency or strategic advantage in any of these areas can make a compelling case to justify such a significant change.

Microsoft’s release of Windows 8, as well as the impending end-of-support for Windows XP, has many organizations considering these factors. Most enterprises have spent considerable time recently in either upgrading or in planning a migration away from XP to Windows 7. As recent as August of this year, Windows 7 deployments were finally reported to have exceeded the number of installations of systems. The amount of hours and expense associated with corporate-wide migrations of operating systems, coupled with the fact that many organizations have either just completed that project or are in the process of an ongoing upgrade plan, leads several research groups to report that a strong majority of organizations have no current plans to consider widespread deployment of Windows 8 [PDF] as a desktop operating system for their company. Those that had plans were forecasting into or beyond 2014. Beyond having recently completed the migration to Windows 7, organizations cited the extensive retraining of users due to the completely new interface, the lack of compelling enhancements for enterprise functionality, the lack of native mode support for existing Windows applications, and a growing interest in delivering desktop images via virtual desktop interfaces as primary reasons for the lack of compelling business reasons to migrate.

For select use-cases, organizations may look to new features such as “Windows-to-Go” that allow a desktop environment to be provisioned to a USB drive, enhancements to “Bitlocker” for drive and device encryption, “DirectAccess” for remote device connectivity to the corporate network without the use of VPN client software, or “BranchCache” for performance optimization across Wide Area Networks. In certain environments, and sometimes in conjunction with Microsoft’s latest server operating system, those features may be seen as significant enough to warrant further investigation to solve specific business cases. Each of those features, and several others that are part of the new operating system, could have the potential to either replace a solution, remove additional cost from a third-party solution, or to provide enhanced functionality without additional ongoing expense.

A more common approach being reported is much more closely tied to the types of devices toward which the Windows 8 interface is targeted. Many organizations are evaluating the strengths or benefits of Windows 8 as part of their solution for mobile devices such as phones and tablets. As the proliferation of mobile devices continues its significant growth in both the consumer and commercial space, and given the mobile operating system market is much less mature and entrenched in legacy applications to support when compared to desktops, more frequent changes of operating systems are much more readily entertained for those devices. It is through this portal, alongside the corresponding familiarity consumers will develop from the interface on their personal devices, that Windows 8 will either steadily grow as a desktop operating system of choice or will wither while waiting for the lifecycle of Windows 7 to run its course.

Contact your Keller Schroeder Senior Account Manager today to discuss whether you’re ready for Windows 8 and whether Windows 8 is ready for you.

by Carissa Carissa No Comments

Spotlight On…

Note: An incorrect link was included in the February 2013 Newsletter – to view Monica’s profile, please click here.

Employee Owner: Jeff Starling

Jeff has over 30 years of experience in the Information Technology industry.
His professional experience spans an array of voice and data network environments in the automotive, chemical, education, manufacturing and military sectors and most recently, managing the networks of a global manufacturing company with data centers in the US, Europe and Asia. His roles have included network engineering and support for global wide-area voice and data networks, Cisco firewall and VPN implementations, network analysis, WAN optimization, PBX design and installation, Internet security, application performance enhancement, and network cost-containment strategies. He is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force, serving as Telecommunications Systems Specialist, primarily in Europe and the Middle East. He is a Senior Network Consultant.

Jeff’s certifications include: Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA), Cisco Certified Security Professional (CCSP), Accredited Integration Specialist – HP Procurve Networking, Accredited Systems Engineer – Procurve Campus LANs, Blue Coat Certified Proxy Administrator (BCCPA), Blue Coat Certified Proxy Professional (BCCPP), Blue Coat Certified Security SE.

He and his wife Cindy will be celebrating 25 years of marriage next May. They have 2 daughters, Kristi, a junior at IU and Rachel, a junior at Southridge HS. Fall is his busiest season. If he’s not driving an equipment truck for the Southridge Marching Band, he’s enjoying hunting season trying to do his part to keep venison in the freezer and deer off the highways.

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