Month: May 2019

by Carissa Carissa No Comments

Technical and Interpersonal Skills are Equally Important

 

Jeff Gorman Keller Schroeder PresidentJeff Gorman  – [President]

As an IT professional, knowing your strengths and learning to recognize how to best interact with others is not viewed as a technical aptitude, but it does allow each of us to perform better in terms of providing desired services to business areas who need technical resources to achieve their goals.

Learning how to communicate effectively among people is equally important with knowing how to make technical systems communicate with each other.  There are plenty of stories from business units about projects failing because IT did not understand requirements.  There are also countless stories from IT about projects failing because the business units do not understand the technical implications behind their requests and actions.

At its most effective level, good Information Technology is about providing service to others to help improve business performance. Efficiently performing Information Technology takes both technical and interpersonal skills in equal parts. Beyond interactions with the rest of the business, even within IT there are frequently opposing objectives, which are not based on technical requirements but are critical to navigate successfully.

For example:

  • Security administrators want to keep systems patched at all times.
  • System administrators want to keep systems up at all times.

In most cases, it’s not possible to achieve both of those divergent objectives.  Common technical architecture principles say you get three choices among “good, fast, and cheap,” which inherently means as IT architects it is imperative you understand how to balance different needs and collaborate with others to determine the best courses of action.

The best administrators have to be effective communicators; listening with empathy, asking questions to seek context, establishing clarity on objectives and intentions, understanding a ‘big-picture’ outside of the tasks or systems they are responsible for to ensure their actions match the true ‘best case’ for the organization.

by Carissa Carissa No Comments

Thanks For Trusting Us Nashville

 

Rob Wilson- Keller Schroeder Leadership Team

Rob Wilson  – [Principal Consultant – Greater Nashville Area]

As we approach the two year anniversary of when we started to emphasize growing our business in the Greater Nashville Area, I wanted to give an update on how things are progressing. Road warriors no more, Lee Barron and I have both moved into the region as of earlier this year. In 2018, we more than doubled the number of clients we serve in Nashville. In the past twelve months, over one-third of our employee-owners have been engaged on projects for our Nashville area clients. There is much to be thankful for, but nothing more than the trust our new and existing clients have given us.

Trust is an interesting thing. We often think of it as something we must earn, when in fact it is something one must choose to give in advance. That’s why we don’t take trust for granted. It is the hardest thing for you to let go of. It is said that people do business with those they know, like, and trust. We can help you know us by making you more aware of who we are and what we do. We can help you like us by being likable. And, of course, we can influence your trust proving ourselves trustworthy. But it isn’t enough just to share how others trusted us and how we delivered for them, or even to tell you of the times we messed up and how we made it right. In fact, our trustworthiness is not something we can prove to you personally at all until first you give us your trust. Once you give it, the onus is on us to prove you right.

We’re very grateful for those who have trusted us, and then gave us the highest of compliments by trusting us again. It’s a big step, putting your personal seal on a relationship recommendation, and we know it. You have business objectives you are trying to achieve, and you need to make sure the right technology partnerships are in place to achieve them. Once you trust us on an endeavor, we share the responsibility of making it a success. We own that responsibility, and we care deeply about your success.

Another interesting thing about trust – it goes both ways. We have expressed our trust in the Nashville community through our investments of many types. Of course, you have delivered on your end. As we continue to strive to make positive, personal impacts on the businesses and communities in the Nashville area, through technology and other meaningful ways, we look forward to continuing to build upon that mutual trust.

In future posts, I’ll share more about the type of work we’re doing here and ways we are getting involved. For now, we just wanted to say thank you again to our clients and partners here for your warm welcome and for proving your trustworthiness to us.

by Carissa Carissa No Comments

Let Your Data Tell Your Story

 

Matt Mulherin - Keller Schroeder Applications ConsultantMatt Mulherin  – [Applications Consultant]

Currently, AI or Artificial Intelligence is quite the buzzword.  AI is defined as intelligence exhibited by machines or software.  AI is growing leaps and bounds in the business world and AI investment increased by 300% in 2017 according to IDC.  Deloitte reports 82% of organizations will be investing in AI by 2020. There are many levels of AI, some more advanced, costly, and complex than others.  Many smaller organizations hesitate, and rightly so, to take the plunge into the newest, costly AI technologies.  How do these organizations get started without having to invest too much time and resources into AI technologies?

Our answer is Microsoft Power BI, an affordable business analytics solution that visualizes data and allows you to share insights across the organization.  It can connect to many data sources and bring data to life with interactive, live dashboards and reports.  Power BI can integrate with Azure Machine Learning Services, which are a subset of AI, to analyze data and make future predictions about the business.  Power BI is available as a SaaS option running in the Azure cloud or as an on-premises option as Power BI Report Server.

Even if you are not quite ready to go big with AI, your business will benefit greatly from Power BI because of its easy-to-use capabilities to create reports and dashboards to gain insight into your data.  Different departments in an organization have different needs for the type of data, reports, and visualizations they use to monitor performance.  For example, Finance might want to see visualizations around revenue, profitability, and expense management, while individuals in Operations have a need to see inventory performance and resource consumption trends.

The great news is that Power BI is affordable.  You can sign up for a free account to give it a test drive or subscribe for $9.99 per month per user.  There is a premium license available for capacity-based pricing.  Compared to other tools it can be much more affordable to get started, providing you more time to get buy-in from the organization before investing too much up-front.

Power BI is a leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Analytics and Business Intelligence Platforms. This is quite an achievement for only being in the market for 4 years, but Power BI is a cloud-based platform built using technologies from Microsoft that have been around for the last 20 years.  It is an industry-leading product and can scale as your data analytics and AI practices grow within your organization.

Power BI Desktop is a free downloadable client desktop tool used to configure, model, and build visualizations and reports in Power BI.  It is designed for a power user, someone with data and technical skills, but not necessarily programming skills. Power BI Desktop uses Excel like expressions called Data Analysis Expressions (DAX) for extending your data model for reporting purposes.  No coding is required.

The process for getting started using Power BI is straightforward.

  1. Connect to your data using over 100+ built-in data source connectors
  2. Easily clean the data using the user interface options and load it into Power BI Desktop
  3. Shape the data to match your analysis and reporting needs using DAX
  4. Create relationships and enrich your data model with new calculated columns and metrics
  5. Create reports with dozens of customizable pre-built visualizations
  6. Publish the reports and datasets to the Power BI service for collaboration and consumption by others in your organization

As a consumer of Power BI, you choose datasets and fields you want in your reports, filter the data, build dashboards, share with others, use natural language to ask questions of the data, and view visualizations anywhere on your mobile device.

In the data culture we are currently living in, gathering data from multiple sources and analyzing it in order to clearly understand what story the data is telling can be a daunting task.  Power BI enables you to easily connect, model, and then explore your data with visual reports so that you can collaborate, publish, and share.

Keller Schroeder can help you purchase, configure, model your data, and build visualizations that will change your data into insights using Microsoft Power BI.  Gaining insights and telling a story with your data can be the first steps to utilizing AI in your business and modernizing your organization’s data strategy.

If you would like to learn more about Power BI, please reach out to our Applications Solutions Group to get started.

by Carissa Carissa No Comments

Keller Schroeder Cloud Readiness Assessment

 

Matt Barton  – [Director, Data Center Services]

Quick quiz: How many of the following Cloud related terms can you define?

IaaS, PaaS, SaaS, DRaaS, BaaS, HPC, AI, BI, Cloud Native, Private, Hybrid, Public, Hyperscale, Serverless, Burstable, Elastic, CDN, EC2, Containers, Objects, Multi-tenancy, Microservices, CSP, SLA, IoT, VPC, AWS, and Azure.

Confused?  You’re not alone.  The cloud market in 2019 is a mash-up of thousands of vendors and tens of thousands of applications.  From Cloud Native, to ‘Cloudwashed’ re-branded on-premises applications, there is no shortage of solutions for any problem facing your business.  Deciding what to migrate, when, and to which cloud provider are all important decisions.  Monthly costs and a predictable budget are not necessarily a sure thing, either.

Thankfully, Keller Schroeder can help!  Using the recently launched Microsoft Azure Migrate product, Keller Schroeder can help simplifying key technical decisions surrounding migrating apps to the cloud:

  • Assess whether your on-premises machines are suitable for running in Azure.
  • Get size recommendations for Azure VMs based on the performance history of on-premises VMs.
  • Get estimated costs for running on-premises machines in Azure.
  • Visualize dependencies of on-premises machines to create groups of machines that you will assess and migrate together.

Azure Migrate, combined with Service Map gather information about all TCP-connected processes on the server where they’re installed and details about the inbound and outbound connections for each process.  This prevents migrating dependent apps on different servers, racking up potential additional bandwidth charges.

In addition, data collected from Azure Migrate can be used to determine if a local SQL server should migrate to an individual SQL VM (costly) or to SQL as a Service (much cheaper).

Azure Migrate automatically suggests VM sizing based on ACTUAL on-prem performance requirements; no need to manually adjust the sizing of those VMs you KNOW are oversized.  Consistent costs and a fixed budget are possible by starting with properly sized Azure resources:

Azure Migrate is quickly & easily deployed into most VMware environments, and support for physical servers is due out soon.  Reach out to your Account Manager for more information!

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