Month: March 2017

by Carissa Carissa No Comments

The Evolving Use Cases for Wireless Networking

Ty Nixon[Network Consultant]

Since its official conception in 1997, the standardized group of technologies commonly known as Wi-Fi have greatly evolved to meet changing business needs and environmental demands.  The use cases for wireless networking have grown exponentially from the basic data services of the late 90’s.  Below is a list of needs that today’s wireless solutions commonly seek to fulfill.


Data Services

Just as with the original 802.11 standard, today’s current amendment of 802.11ac allows for data services.  However, the similarities end there.  Historically, perhaps the most significant hurdle with migrating data services to wireless technologies has been the severe limitations of wireless connectivity speeds, in comparison to speeds of wired devices.  The recent amendment of 802.11ac promises to significantly narrow the gap between the technologies.  The 802.11ac theoretical speeds of over 1Gbps dwarf the speeds of earlier amendments.  The vertical markets now being targeted by wireless technology manufacturers are virtually endless.


VoWIFI

Voice services over Wi-Fi (VoWIFI) have been brought to the forefront of the use cases for wireless over the past decade.  Aided by the adaptation of VOIP technologies, enterprises of all sizes can now offer support for mobile devices within a geographical area using unlicensed radio frequency bands.  IEEE and Wi-Fi Alliance publications have also provisioned means by which to integrate robust wired networking feature sets such as Quality-of-Service (QoS), Network Access Control, multicast routing support, and Power Save with these devices.  These advancements allow a fully-converged and collaborative network to extend beyond the wires.


Location-Based Services

Location-based services such as RFID, GPS, and asset tracking systems have been brought into the spotlight in many vertical markets.  These technologies allow real-time tracking, reporting, and analysis of wireless devices throughout a property or facility.  Manufacturing, distribution, and physical plant management groups now use technologies such as Wi-Fi to aid in obtaining the location of infrastructure and assets.  Many times, data generated from a wireless location service can be fed to other analytical applications, creating a more streamlined and meaningful business process.


Ptp and Backhaul

Though less common than other applications, the practice of leveraging Wi-Fi technologies for use as site-to-site links is a perfect fit for some business needs.  Often, such as when bridging between two physical locations, the cost of extending networks via wireless equipment proves to be far less than the cost of installing buried or aerial cabling.  With the advent of 802.11 amendments such as “n” and “ac”, speeds and resiliency equivalent to wired Ethernet can be achieved.


Overall, wireless technologies have never been more prevalent than they are today.  With recent amendments by the IEEE and the Wi-Fi Alliance, speeds of modern wireless networks often approach or surpass those of wired Ethernet.  Wireless technologies have also gained traction in environments with mobility and location needs.  Additionally, wireless technologies can offer resiliency and redundancy that meets or surpasses the redundancy seen on wired Ethernet networks, often at a fraction of the cost.

Keller Schroeder offers full solutions centered on wireless technologies from multiple manufacturers.  Our company also performs comprehensive pre-installation and post-installation site surveys, using industry-leading tool sets.  To learn more about how Keller Schroeder’s wireless offerings can help meet your business needs, contact your Keller Schroeder Account Manager.

by Carissa Carissa No Comments

7 Items to Consider for a Dynamic Website

Brett Romershausen – [WordPress Consultant]

Is Your Website Healthy?

Do you typically have an annual physical for your personal health? You should do the same for the health of your website.  While it may not seem critical, your website is often the first impression of your business and you want to be sure your visitors have a good first experience.


User Habits Have Changed

Think about how many people you see on a given day using their phones or tablets to search the web.  Unlike five or ten years ago when everyone would wait to search the information when they got to work or home, most people today will access the information immediately from a restaurant, meeting, game, etc.  The number of people doing mobile searches increases every year.


Note: If your website is more than a few years old, pay close attention to the following sections.


Responsive Design

Think about your website—can you see everything on a mobile device without having to scroll to the right?  “Responsive design” is important today.  There are two simple ways to tell if your website is responsive.  One is to access the site from your smartphone browser.  Another way is to shrink the size of your desktop browser window.  Do your menu options scrunch up into the hamburger menu so the limited screen space is used wisely?  Do the panels and boxes wrap or do you have to scroll over to see content?  Does the text wrap around the images correctly?  Not only does it matter to your visitors, it matters to Google.  The search giant gives preference to sites that have a good mobile experience.


Content Is King….Still

In Bill Gates’ 1996 “Content is King” essay he stated, “Content is where I expect much of the real money will be made on the internet…”  He was talking about both the text on the screen and the software that serves it up.  Another point he made back in 1996, and still true today, is there are “broad opportunities for most companies…” and that “no company is too small to participate.”

More small business have websites, often collaborating with other websites to expand their reach. Think about how a website with Search Engine Optimization (SEO) capabilities can help a business reach thousands more potential customers locally, nationally, and internationally.  Is your website content still relevant?  Is it still correctly stating what your business’ services and capabilities are?  Are the images even from this decade?   Keep in mind, the better the content, the more likely a search engine will pick it up.


How’s Your Google Ranking?

Google Ranking is where you rank when someone is searching for your website with a search engine.  You may be wondering why Google Ranking would be important, but think about how most people look for something.  They go to their favorite search engine and try locating the information based on “keywords”.  If your site is buried at the bottom of page 1, or several pages deep, what are the odds that a potential customer will find your site?

Here are a few of the things that can affect your ranking with the Google’s search engine.

  • Above-The-Fold – When Google looks at your website, they pay close attention to what is above the fold and use that to index your site. This is the area presented on the screen space before scrolling. You need to be sure this area is filled with meaningful content and keywords, and not ads.
  • Popups – While these were popular several years ago, they are no longer in favor. Author Barry Smith confirms, “Google has started to penalize sites with those annoying pop-ups, starting with mobile websites.”
  • Links – Another way to help in your ranking is to link other pages in your own site, as well as other websites. If you go to another site, the key here is to make sure you are linking to sites that are current and frequently update their content as well.
  • Frequency of Updates – It is important to consistently post information to your website. One good way to promote your site is by blogging. Many people use a blog format for their news page, and that works just fine.

Another way to help your ranking is to update your content.  In the article by Cyrus Shepard from MOZ, “changing a single sentence won’t have as big of a freshness impact as a large change to the main body text.”  He also states, “Content that changes more often is scored differently than content that only changes every few years.”  The article also states, “Websites that add new pages at a higher rate may earn a higher freshness score than sites that add content less frequently.” When was the last time your content was refreshed?

  • Keywords – Also important are the “keywords” that are used in the content, images, etc.  Think about how you want to find something in a browser.  What special “keywords” would you use to find something?  Now think about your website– if you don’t have those keywords on your site in content, blogs, and so forth, how can you expect the search engines to find your site?
  • Bounce Rate – Think about how long someone might stay on your website? If your site is cluttered, has a bunch of popups, annoying videos that start automatically, or they don’t see what they want above the fold, then they will probably get frustrated and leave the site.  Believe it or not, this is tracked.  According to an article from Granite5, “A high bounce rate is an obvious sign of an outdated or poorly performing site. Website users usually leave a site hurriedly without visiting other pages simply because they don’t find what they are looking for instantly or do not like the look of it!”
  • Load Rate – The same is true for how fast your site loads. If the site loads slowly or plugins are missing, the user will not feel welcomed or important and leave your site.

As microchips have reduced in size and yet increased in performance, so have the requirements for a website.  While “Content Is King”, it is important to take full advantage of what is available to make the site load quickly and efficiently.   Whether speed is gained by a combination of compressing images, compression or streaming of videos, or coding to match up with the latest techniques, websites should be reviewed on a regular basis.

  • Social Signals – According to an article from Search Engine Journal, “there is an extremely high correlation between social signals and ranking position. Facebook is still the network with the highest weighted social signals.”
  • SSL – Years ago, most websites didn’t use an SSL encryption unless they wanted to verify and protect the information going over the internet. Search engines, like Google, are now adding that into their algorithm for ranking websites.

How SSL Affects Your Ranking With Google

At a conference I attended this past fall, it was stated that Google ranks sites with SSL certificates higher. In a 2016 Google article from the Chrome Security Team, it states two conditions that took effect in January 2017.  If an unsecure site collects either passwords or credit card information, then the sites will warn users that the sites are “not secure”.  (You may have noticed recently the “Secure” / “Not secure” icon in the URL bar.)  Google is taking this even further with their HTTPS Everywhere initiative.

In the future, Google plans to “label all HTTP pages as non-secure, and change the HTTP security indicator to the red triangle that we use for broken HTTPS.”


Font

In an article titled “5 Signs Your Website Needs A Refresh” by Michael Burton, the author points out that “A few years ago it was the norm to have a lot of fancy graphics and imagery on your website, but the web has moved on to more of a flat design which relies more on color than images.”  Besides color, the font on the screens can say a lot about your site.

In a recent article titled “7 Elements of Modern Web Design”, the author states “Online, sans-serif rules readability. In print, we see serif fonts as more readable. If you want to get fancy with your fonts, save it for larger headings. It will still have the same impact without blinding your users.”  He goes on to mention that the font size is important to readability.  “12pt used to be fairly standard, but that is being bumped into the 16pt range more frequently…”  In a recent article titled “17 Tips to Create Content 10x Better Than Your Competitors”, author Ramona Sukhari mentions to make the fonts bigger.  “On average, pages ranking #1 had 15.8pt font.”


While getting users to your website is important, the user experience and valuable content will make them stay, and better yet, keep them coming back.   For assistance in optimizing, reviewing, refreshing, or creating your website, please contact your Keller Schroeder account representative.

by Carissa Carissa No Comments

Veeam + Azure: Cost Effective & Flexible Cloud Backup

Matt Barton – [Senior Consultant]

Ok… 3 Questions, 30 Seconds, 300 Words…. about your backup solution.  This shouldn’t take long.

 


Question 1 :   Do you have an off-site backup? 

Yes?  Great!

No?  Why Not?  Using Veeam & Azure, quickly and easily create a cloud off-site backup, that is cost efficient & scalable based on your needs. Configure Veeam to backup the most critical data for DR, or provide long-term retention using cost-effective cloud storage. Azure charges are based on actual used capacity.  Unlike other cloud offerings or on-premises equipment, this solution provides a true consumption model, allowing you to shrink or grow the amount of data being backed up to more effectively manage costs.


Question 2 :  Does it meet the 3-2-1 rule?

The “Golden Rule” of backup.  The 3-2-1 rule states having three copies of your data – 2 on different media, and 1 copy offsite. We highly recommend Veeam integrated snapshots on Nimble Storage, copied to a Cisco UCS backup appliance, & then copied off-site to Azure.


Question 3 :  Are you able to backup Office 365 data?

You need to securely backup Office 365 email data back to your environment for a variety of reasons; to follow the 3-2-1 Rule of backup, to facilitate eDiscovery, and to meet internal policies and compliance requirements. The most important reason being the peace-of-mind that comes from knowing you will be able to restore your users’ data when needed!

With Veeam Backup for Microsoft Office 365, you can retrieve Office 365 Exchange Online mailbox items (email, calendar, and contacts) from a cloud-based instance of Office 365 and uniquely back up this mailbox data into the same format that Microsoft Exchange uses natively — an archive database based on Extensible Storage Engine (ESE), also known as the Jet Blue database.


Interested in hearing more or want to schedule a Veeam & Azure Demo?  Reach out to your Keller Schroeder Account Manager today!

by Carissa Carissa No Comments

2017 NCAA March Madness Kick-Off Event

 Carissa Eatmon – [Marketing & Communications Coordinator]

We began our 2017 event schedule by getting into the NCAA action with a March Madness Kick-Off Event!

The Keller Schroeder team, along with our friends from Cisco and Nimble, met our clients at Bar Louis in Evansville
for a laid back afternoon filled with food, live action game play, friendly rivalries and fun! Thank you to everyone who came to hang out!

Clients who both pre-registered and attended were also entered into our Grand Prize Drawing for a Samsung 55″ 4K Ultra HD TV. Congratulations to our winner, Jana Shelton of Cresline!

We feel honored to have each of you as our client, and we look forward to seeing you again soon at our next event!

by Carissa Carissa No Comments

Stories

Jeff Gorman – [President]

In the past year, I have had the opportunity to visit a variety of businesses and college campuses outside of our region for various reasons.  Each destination stands apart as unique from the others in obvious ways.  Geographies are different.  Employee and student demographics vary.  Values, mission statements, and marketing approaches are each distinct.  These all serve a purpose in helping establish an image with employees or prospects, but amid a myriad of options for organizations providing services, those factors alone tend to get lost in a mountain of data and ambiguity.  What strikes me as creating true clarity and uniqueness of an organization are the stories told by its members and its actions.

While values and mission statements are important and set the clarity waypoint for acceptable behaviors and desired outcomes, in essence defining whom an organization aspires to be, the stories shared with outsiders become the true artifacts that define how an organization actually exists.

I recall, for example, a company I visited shared their company values with the visiting group.  I do not recall any of their unique values other than their concern for the environment.   I remember that value because of their stories around providing stipends for workers that lived within a small distance from their office to allow them to ride their bikes to work, stipends for workers who purchased hybrid vehicles, and the company providing free bike service to employees.  The value of environmental awareness is aspirational and admirable, but the stories of how they are living those values are memorable and differentiators.

Similarly, while on a visit to another organization a topic of discussion was their concentration on measuring output toward specific goals.  Clearly, that is not a unique differentiator; all performance driven organizations work to measure against goals to track success.  This organization, however, worked with employees to determine interactive ways to have ‘scorecards’ accessible and highly visible to all employees, regardless of their access to online resources.  Tubes with colored golf balls became bar graphs for plant-floor employees.  Magnetic name and skillset badges on metal boards were used to track staff availability, display critical needs, and perform resource planning daily.  The organization’s collective collaboration provided the memorable evidence of their non-unique goal.  I am confident if it made a lasting impression on me in a one-day visit, it has made an exponentially greater impact to the organization in terms of employee engagement and clarity of purpose.

If you have not spent time doing so, I encourage you to take time to look at your organization’s values and peel things back a bit to determine what your stories are that support those aspirations.  As all companies work to market their differentiators amid a world of competition, some of your unique differentiators may be readily available in the stories that demonstrate your values.

Top