Month: May 2017

by Carissa Carissa No Comments

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.

by Carissa Carissa No Comments

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.

by Carissa Carissa No Comments

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.

by Carissa Carissa No Comments

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!

by Carissa Carissa No Comments

Keller Schroeder’s Boomerang Retirement Program

Staffing Solutions Group DirectorSusie Mattingly – [Business Unit Director, Staffing Solutions]

Boomerang Retirement Group of EmployeesAre you facing the loss of skilled, experienced employees to retirement? The Baby Boomer generation is retiring in record numbers between now and 2030, requiring companies like yours to replace experienced talent and hard-to-find skills. New hires take time to train and acclimate to your company’s culture and procedures.  Keller Schroeder’s Boomerang Retirement Program offers a unique way to fill that gap.  The retiree can return to work for Keller Schroeder as a consultant.  They would be assigned to work at your company, as requested, to train and mentor employees, work on special projects, or for staff augmentation.

Benefits to You as the Employer:

  • The retiree completely separates from your company’s payroll and benefits.
  • Your company maintains unique, hard-to-find skills from talent who knows your culture and procedures.
  • Use as much or as little of the retiree’s services as needed—for months at a time as staff augmentation or sporadically for project work on a part time or full time basis.

Benefits for the Retiree:

  • No corporation to set up to become self-employed and no invoices to send.
  • Receives a pay check as a Keller Schroeder employee for hours worked and receives a W-2 form for tax purposes.
  • Receives challenging work assignments involving projects, handling of pressing problems, or training and mentoring junior employees.
  • Flexible schedules, part time or full time hours and remote work when appropriate.
  • Benefits including health insurance (if not of Medicare age) along with vision and dental insurance—even for those enrolled in Medicare.

Keller Schroeder Boomerang Retirement Program

What is a Boomerang Retiree?
An individual that retires from an organization but is willing to assist the organization for a temporary period of time as a consultant on a contractual basis.

Why was this program created?
This program was designed with the ever-growing population of ‘Baby Boomers’ in mind. Baby Boomers were born from 1946 – 1964 and began to reach full retirement age in 2012.  Recent statistics show 10,000 Baby Boomers are retiring every day and will continue through 2030. Starting in 2016, on average, five Baby Boomers will retire for every one new hire.

Why would a retiree want to go back to work?
Often, leaving a satisfying job cold-turkey for retirement can be an abrupt jolt to employees accustomed to feeling purposeful, earning money, and enjoying relationships with their colleagues. The Boomerang Retirement Program allows them to negotiate a work schedule that affords them the benefits of both continuing to work and retirement simultaneously. For your business, it is extremely beneficial to have experienced hands train junior employees or new hires and pass along institutional wisdom, company processes, and project insights with fewer strings attached.

How does Keller Schroeder’s Boomerang Retirement Program work?
The retiree becomes a Keller Schroeder employee and is assigned to work at the former employer’s company as a consultant full time or part time, as needed, when they are available. Managers simply contact Keller Schroeder and request the services of the former employee. The retiree can also contact Keller Schroeder about employment if they know their former employer will be needing their services or if they desire to provide services for our other clients when an opportunity becomes available.

To learn more about our Boomerang Retirement Program or any of the services our Staffing Solutions Group, send us an email or give Susie Mattingly a call at 812-474-6825.

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