Our Latest News

by Carissa Carissa No Comments

Are You Friendly? (Mobile Websites and Web Applications)

Dan Ehrhart, Vice President of Applications


Psychology Today defines friendliness as, “a down to earth approach that is welcoming and positive.” So, what is mobile-friendliness? For a website, it’s one that is easy to use on a mobile device browser requiring no page resizing or horizontal scrolling.


Why is it important to be mobile-friendly? Well, it’s down-to-earth, welcoming, and increasingly it’s the window through which people first encounter your organization. Many people will not endure an unfriendly site. And 57% of users will not recommend companies with poor mobile sites (Source: Search Engine Journal).


Here are some local examples of website traffic:

  • Nineteen percent of Keller Schroeder’s website visitors come from mobile devices.
  • For a handful of manufacturers, it’s 25%.
  • A sports league exceeded 50% of visits coming from smartphones this year.


Mobile-Friendly-WebsiteDiscouraging a significant and growing percentage of website visitors doesn’t seem wise for any organization. To find mobile visitor info for your website, look at your on-site web analytics tool (e.g., Google Analytics). Also, check the bounce rate, which means the user left your site without going to a second page. If your site is not mobile-friendly, the bounce rate will probably be higher for the mobile category than the one for desktop/laptop.


If your website is ready to be replaced, consider responsive design, which allows for one site that dynamically adapts to devices ranging from smartphones to tablets to PC monitors. If you are happy with your website, consider a separate mobile site. Experienced with both approaches, Keller Schroeder can likely save you some blend of time, money, and grief.


Mobile-friendliness is not only for public websites. What software in use by your organization would be much more effective if accessible on a smartphone or tablet? If you are an application developer or your company develops or uses custom web apps, consider making mobile-friendly your standard approach. It’s a lot more efficient to build in mobile-friendliness from the beginning. We can help you get started, explore evolving an existing application, or develop your next web application. If instead you want a mobile app, we can help you with that as well.


For more information on mobile, visit www.www.kellerschroeder.com/mobile or scan the QR code below.


KS-mobile-QR

by Carissa Carissa No Comments

SharePoint News Update

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

Microsoft has been very busy developing new and exciting features for SharePoint.  Now that SharePoint is online as part of Office 365, it is continually being updated and improved.  Microsoft’s vision for SharePoint going forward encompasses four key areas: share with confidence, transform business processes, inform and engage employees, and harness collective knowledge.


Share with Confidence

Microsoft Teams SharePoint

One of the newest updates is the ability to add a SharePoint page to a Teams channel.  Teams is a social and chat application that encourages quick and immediate collaboration.  For example, if you have a team of employees and you communicate regularly in Microsoft Teams chatting, by sharing files, etc., you then realize that you have a SharePoint page that needs be referenced by the team.  Instead of adding a link to the team chat window for everyone to click, which directs them away from the Team channel, you can simply add the page for reference directly in Microsoft Teams.

SharePoint and OneDrive files on Demand is another new feature that allows you to easily access your personal and professional files from your favorite device.  The files are not downloaded on your device until you choose to work with them.  This new feature is a major development because as a collection of files and folders grows exponentially in our personal and professional lives, we need a better way to manage and keep visible all of this important information.  We also need quick and easy ways to share this information from our devices, which you now can do by dropping the file directly into instant messages on your iOS device, or by simply right clicking directly in Windows Explorer on your desktop.


Transform Business Process

Microsoft Power Apps Sharepoint

You can improve your business processes by using SharePoint hub sites.  Hub sites give structure and topology to your SharePoint sites, allowing users to quickly find and access sites within your organization.  You can create one or many hub sites and organize your sites by associating like sites under the same hub site.

Create custom SharePoint forms and digital experiences with Microsoft PowerApps that surface directly in the context of a list or library.  These new forms provide better context to the user and are much more engaging and interactive.  Any user can transform a team’s organizational processes because PowerApps provides the creation of customized forms without the need to write any code.

Microsoft announced major improvements to lists.  Some of these features are available today and some in late 2018.  Cognitive analysis on list data, column and row formatting, more easily create lists based on excel data and other lists, edit lists more quickly, and real-time list updates (no more refreshing pages) are some of the new list improvements announced.


Inform and Engage Employees

Microsoft Sharepoint Communication SiteCommunication sites are dynamic sites that provide the ability to reach a broad audience within an organization.  Think of a communication site as a way for the organization to share news, inform and engage employees, while fostering open communication.  These sites look great on the web, on a PC or Mac, on mobile browsers and in the SharePoint app.  Publish news content on your communications site and it will automatically surface on the SharePoint home page in Office 365.  Configuring the layout of the communication sites is very user friendly with new multi-column sections and drag-and-drop authoring.

SharePoint provides many new out-of-the-box web parts, but custom web-parts are still possible.  Microsoft has a new SharePoint Development Framework (SPFx) that gives developers a better way to develop web parts and extensions.  SPFX is available today with SharePoint Online and it will be possible to develop SPFx custom code on-premises after the release of Feature Pack 2 this fall.

Microsoft just announced an exciting new feature called SharePoint spaces that is currently in limited preview.  It is an immersive, mixed reality experience for users, which allows visualization and editing of content from any angle on any device.  Microsoft suggests using spaces for recruiting and onboarding, learning, and product development business cases.


Harness Collective Knowledge

Microsoft SharePoint Server 2019For SharePoint On-Premise deployments, Microsoft is committed to on-premises and hybrid customers.  SharePoint Server 2016 has several features that confirm this commitment.  One is the on-premises feature packs that can be installed, which include some of the previously released SharePoint online features.  In addition, Microsoft provides hybrid features that allow organizations to have both an on-premises and online SharePoint environments working together to offer users a single user experience, such as merging search indexes and allowing users to view search results from both on-premises and SharePoint online.  Essentially, users are simply given content based on their search criteria, regardless of where the content is stored.

Microsoft is planning to release to preview SharePoint Server 2019 any day now and to general availability in the second half of 2018.  More hybrid features, Next-Gen Sync Client support, Modern UX throughout, and more Flow/PowerApps integration will be included.  In addition, SharePoint 2010 workflows and InfoPath forms will continue to be supported in SharePoint Server 2019.


SharePoint continues to grow as a popular and widely used enterprise-wide collaboration platform and we do not anticipate the growth will diminish.  According to Microsoft’s Office 365 Roadmap, 62 updates are beginning to roll-out and 190 are currently in development.  We only touched on the surface of all of the new and exciting features coming to SharePoint.  Please contact your Keller Schroeder Account Manager to learn how SharePoint can positively impact the performance, collaboration, and engagement within your organization.

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

Evansville’s SQL Server 2016 Discovery Day

Rob Wilson  – [Business Unit Director – Applications Solutions]

PASSRecently, Keller Schroeder hosted the local SQL Server 2016 launch event, coordinated by Ed Rhodes of the local Professional Association for SQL Server (PASS). Ed Rhodes of Walt’s Drive-A-Way leads the local PASS chapter with Pat Minnis of Vectren. The Saturday event consisted of presentations and demos by Ed, followed by video presentations of what is new in SQL Server, and a friendly group competition to “hack” the new SQL Server 2016 features.

Some of the great new features explored at the SQL Server 2016 Discovery Day were:

  • Security updates such as column-level encryption and encryption at rest
  • Data masking
  • Major updates to SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS)
  • Analytics and performance monitoring
  • JSON support

You can learn more about the SQL Server 2016 features here: https://www.microsoft.com/en-ca/server-cloud/products/sql-server/Features.aspx

SQL-Server

 

Without a doubt, this is the most anticipated SQL Server release in recent history. The added features in addition to the performance enhancements make a strong case for organizations to take a look earlier rather than later.

The group competition at the event was won by a team of DBA’s who scripted solutions around the new security enhancements. This team (made up of Terri Smith and Evans Owusu of SpringLeaf, Todd Greenwell and Shawn Repphan of Old National, and Kael Dowdy of Keller Schroeder) won $50 gift cards provided by Microsoft and the national PASS organization. It was a great day of camaraderie and round table discussions. We thank everyone who joined us, and thank Ed for his leadership and coordination of the event.

IMG_4119

 

For more information on our local technology groups, please visit www.evansvilletech.com. Our user groups are a great local resource for IT professionals to receive free training and collaborate with other professionals over a long lunch break (meal provided). For more information on how Keller Schroeder can assist you with your SQL Server 2016 migration, please contact your account manager.

 

by Carissa Carissa No Comments

Cisco Smart Net Total Care

Channel_Premier_360px_72_RGB

Carissa Montgomery[Marketing & Communications Coordinator]

As we first informed you in July 2015, Cisco recently migrated all SMARTnet clients to their new Smart Net Total Care (SNTC) service. Cisco SNTC is a software service that uses a collector to gather information on your network, validates it against Cisco’s records, and returns it to administrators with any actionable information. If you are currently a Cisco SMARTnet customer, you already have access to this service and the collection device.

It has been reported that on average, IT teams support at around 1,000 devices. One of the challenges network administrators face is keeping track of these devices – including their associated contracts, renewal dates, end-of-sale, end-of-support, and end-of life details. Most often, this information is placed in a spreadsheet, which may be updated only once or twice a year. The SNTC device mitigates this process by quickly collecting all of this information for you, and reports it back through a simple, user-friendly portal.KS Cisco SNTC

SNTC also provides serial numbers, product numbers, and the IOS versions the devices are on as well as the components plugged into those devices (SFP Cards, etc.) This eliminates the need to log into every device periodically and manually record the information. In addition, SNTC provides security advisories based on the hardware and the IOS version your system has.

Key Benefits

SNTC eliminates many issues with the manual device and renewal processes.

  • Time-consuming logging process
  • Human error
  • Equipment overbooking
  • Multiple iterations of contracts, quotes, and spreadsheets which increase the opportunity for inconsistencies

Quickly and Easily Provides:

  • Cisco device inventory
  • Device contracts
  • Renewal
  • End-of-sale
  • End-of support
  • End-of-life

The good news is that your company already has access to the Cisco Smart Net Total Care device. Keller Schroeder’s team of engineers can assist you with its implementation. We will install the device, verify that all of your devices are properly registering, ensure that you are receiving the notifications that are most critical for your environment, and provide the knowledge you need to effectively manage the SNTC portal.

To learn more about the Cisco SNTC service or to schedule a time for us to assist you with implementation, please contact your Keller Schroeder Account Manager.

by Carissa Carissa No Comments

New Year’s Resolutions for Application Owners & Managers

Rob Wilson[Business Unit Director – Application Solutions]

2016 Goals

Just in case you were having a hard time coming up with your goals and objectives for 2016, we wanted to pitch in and help. We asked some of our application developers, architects, and owners to contribute New Year’s resolutions for software application professionals. If you are responsible for owning or supporting an application at your organization, this list is for you.

Check your logs

Make it a goal to monitor your application logs proactively. It could be that errors are occurring behind the scenes that do not surface on the display. Proactively monitoring your application logs may help you identify smaller issues before they become large ones.

Upgrade your solution

Are you at the current release in your packaged software? Do you have a custom written app that was developed for an older version of .NET, Java, or another platform? If so, you may be missing out on some of the latest features or making yourself vulnerable to security risks that have been addressed in future releases. Make it a goal to get your packages and platforms up to date.

Archive and purge old data

If you have data that is old and irrelevant to your existing applications, it may be taking up needed space and causing performance degradation on your servers. Resolve to archive and purge that data in 2016 and maybe you will get a performance boost in your data intensive applications.

Give some needed attention to your mission critical applications

Have you developed mission critical applications in Access, Excel, or another platform that they have outgrown? Bite the bullet in 2016 and rewrite those applications on a more robust, multiuser platform such as .NET, Java, or SharePoint. The advantages will be immediately recognizable.

Make your web site mobile friendly

If you did not get the message in 2015 that Google will not include non-mobile sites in its mobile index, then you need to get motivated right away. Mobile devices are prominent. Google has said that more searches are performed now from mobile devices than from desktops in some regions. If the Google threat alone does not motivate you, focus on the improved user experience you will be providing to your employees, customers, and prospects.

Get a handle on your source code

Is the latest source code for all of your custom applications checked in to a central repository? Is it backed up regularly? If one-off applications do not make it into the repository, or if developers do not check in their latest revisions at the appropriate times, then you may put yourself in a precarious situation if those developers are unavailable or their workstations are compromised. Make 2016 the year you get a handle on the source code situation.

Have a security assessment performed

Do you have sensitive information in a database? Do you integrate with Active Directory or another directory service every place that you should? For every high profile data breach that hit the news in 2015, there were more data breaches that went unreported and possibly undetected.  Learn from the mistakes of others and have a security assessment performed by an experienced, quality partner.

Learn something new

There are plenty of free online resources that you can use to keep your skills relevant and up to date.  Try GitHub (https://github.com/vhf/free-programming-books), YouTube (https://www.youtube.com), or the free Pluralsight (https://www.pluralsight.com) subscription that comes with a MSDN license.  Spend a few hours to make sure your next project takes advantage of the latest software tools and runs as efficiently as possible.

If you need assistance accomplishing any of your Applications New Year’s Resolutions, contact your Keller Schroeder Account Team. We are here to help!

 

by Carissa Carissa No Comments

My Top 5 SharePoint 2016 Features

Matt Mulherin – Applications Consultant

Sharepoint Roll-over

 

SharePoint 2016 is scheduled to be released in the second quarter of 2016 with many new features for both cloud and on-premises (on-prem) deployments.  Of the 26 new SharePoint 2016 features listed on Microsoft’s TechNet site, I will highlight my favorite five.  The big focus with SharePoint 2016 seems to be helping organizations to bridge the gap between their on-prem SharePoint data with their Office 365 data, which Microsoft refers to as Hybrid.  Many organizations still choose to use the on-prem SharePoint product and do not want to fully commit to the cloud (SharePoint Online via Office 365).  Some organizations may choose to invest in some of the Office 365 offerings such as email, Office web applications, and OneDrive.  I understand the hesitation of some organizations to fully commit to the cloud, and based on the SharePoint 2016 features, it appears Microsoft also understands this.

Here are my five favorite features:

  1. New Hybrid in SharePoint 2016
  2. Sharing Improvements
  3. File Size and Name Limits Improved
  4. Mobile Touch Friendly Interface
  5. Protect the Organization’s Sensitive Data

 

New Hybrid Support

Is there confusion around your organization’s strategy regarding where to store documents?  Some organizations have two OneDrive deployments, one on-prem and one in Office 365.  If so, SharePoint 2016 can remedy this by redirecting the on-prem OneDrive to the Office 365 OneDrive.

Does your organization have sites on-prem and in Office 365?  If so, you can help your users by allowing them to “pin” a site, which will add the site to a combined list of sites that can reside on-prem and in Office 365.

Do your users complain they can’t find information because some of it is on-prem and some in the cloud?  One of the most highly anticipated hybrid features allows users to search both on-prem and Office 365 content in one place.

 

Sharing Improvements

Collaboration and the sharing of information between your employees is key to the success of any company.  SharePoint 2016 boasts some new and improved sharing features.  Users will be able to do the following:

  • Create and share folders
  • View sharing hints
  • Quickly see who the folder is shared with currently
  • Share with other members
  • Take advantage of improved invitation email
  • Approve or deny a request for access with one click

 

File Size and Name Limits Improved

SharePoint has historically blocked files larger than 2GB and files with certain characters in the name.  In SharePoint 2016 users can upload files up to 10GB in size and the names of the files can contain special characters like &, ~, {}, leading dots, and the name can be longer than 128 characters.

 

Mobile Touch Friendly Interface

People are increasingly accessing the internet through mobile devices.  With SharePoint 2016, users can utilize their mobile devices to interact with SharePoint using a newly designed touch enabled interface.  Here is a screen shot of what it looks like in the Preview version of SharePoint 2016.

sharepoint-2016-collaboration-experience

 

 

Protect the Organization’s Sensitive Data

Responsible organizations today use a variety of controls and policies to keep their data safe and secure.  Sometimes users will unknowingly upload documents into SharePoint with private information in them (e.g. Social Security Numbers, Credit Card Numbers, etc…).  SharePoint 2016 has a way to help find this sensitive data and assist in the process of removing it.  SharePoint Administrators can run reports that find sensitive data residing in SharePoint and OneDrive documents.  The exportable reports identify offending documents so the document owners can properly protect this sensitive data.

 

More to Come

As we think about the next version of SharePoint, it appears Microsoft is focused on delivering value to customers as part of their on-prem deployments, while at the same time making it easier to take advantage of cloud innovation thru hybrid deployments of SharePoint.  New features are being developed and we know they be will categorized as improved user experiences, cloud-inspired infrastructure, and compliance and reporting.  Keller Schroeder is committed to our clients utilizing SharePoint and we plan to publish more insights about the exciting new features of SharePoint 2016 in the future.  Stay tuned!

 

SharePoint-Server-2016-Update-1

 

Courtesy of the Microsoft SharePoint Team
by Carissa Carissa No Comments

Speaking Their Language


During a recent trip to Rome I found myself sitting in a bank lobby seeking to conduct the most simple of transactions – exchanging some dollars and euros. This was the first time in my life I found myself completely uncomfortable in a bank. Banks in America make it their priority to help you feel comfortable the minute you walk in the door. In that bank lobby in Rome, the employees seemed to be as friendly, competent, productive, and conscientious as the ones I encounter in my home town, but there was one key element missing in this environment which caused me to feel out of place, unsure of what to do, and generally frustrated: no one spoke my language.


I’m about 10% proficient in Spanish, and maybe 80% proficient in English (depending on who you ask), but I only eat Italian; I don’t speak it. I found one person at that bank who spoke enough English to ascertain what I wanted to do, but he and I could not communicate well enough on the exchange rate and their bank policies to give me enough confidence to execute the transaction. I ended up getting that done at the bank down the street with an English-speaking employee who was no more competent than those in the first bank, but who was far more useful to me.


kids-string-cans


If you are an IT person, chances are your customers have at times felt the same way I felt in that bank in Rome. They know you are smart and you want to do the right thing. They know you work hard, but they question why it takes so long for you to accomplish certain things for them. They know they need you, but it is often painful to get what they want from you. The core problem: you are not speaking their language. And if they are your customers, then it is your job to speak their language, not vice versa. Speaking their language is more than simply eliminating acronyms and technical jargon; it also requires an understanding of how your customers see their marketplace.


At Keller Schroeder, we know what business we are in, and it’s not the IT business. We are in the performance improvement business, helping our clients leverage technology tools and services to more successfully achieve their objectives. We work hard on our “language skills”, doing our best to communicate often complex technical solutions in a way that connects well with an audience of varying backgrounds. And yet, we sometimes miss the mark. We fall in the trap of being right, and competent, and conscientious, yet not understanding our audience and communicating with their background and knowledge base in mind. If you experience a language disconnect with us, we hope you’ll call us on it.


What language are you speaking with your customers? That may turn out to be a more important question than how much your solution costs or how well it works. When IT people are doing great things but not communicating effectively, they lose credibility with their customers. Without credibility, there is no buy-in. Without buy-in, business of any significance will not get done. There may be activity, but not value.


To earn confidence and make an impact, it is not enough to deliver solutions on time and within budget. You need to be fluent in the language of the customers you serve.


Larry May
President


by Carissa Carissa No Comments

VDI with VMWare View

Kris Linville, Sr. Systems Consultant


As we join the show, John, our friendly Support Engineer, is about to get a call from an end user, Jane, who’s experiencing an issue. Just for fun, let’s pretend that John & Jane live in a world of physical desktops, which we know can be tricky. Let’s listen in…

John: “Desktop Support. This is John. How can I help you?”
Jane: “Hi John, this is Jane. I think something is wrong with my computer.”
John: “Okay, tell me what’s going on and I’ll try to help.”
Jane: “Well, I was searching for something on the internet and a window popped up that said my computer was infected and I need to run a scan on it. I clicked on the button and then a bunch of pop-up ads started opening. They have filled up my entire screen now and the computer is so slow that I can’t even close them.”
John: “Clicking on that virus scan button installed some malware on your hard drive and we will need to send a technician to your desk to get it cleaned up. I will create a work order for you and someone should be down there in a couple of hours.”

Jane: “A couple of hours!? I have to have this report finalized in less than an hour or it won’t reach the client on time. We could lose a lot of money on this account if the report is late.”

John: “Today, we only have one technician on site. She is working on an urgent issue. Do you have your report saved on the network so that you can work on it from a different machine?”


Jane: “No, I always save my work in the My Documents folder so that I can easily find everything.”
John: “Okay. I’ve created a work order for you. Hopefully the technician will be able to get to you soon and will be able to correct the issue without losing any of your local files.”




Well, that didn’t end on a positive note. I’m sure John would have preferred to resolve Jane’s issue immediately but simply didn’t have the tools at his disposal to do so. We can change that. Workstations are as important to the end users’ abilities to perform their individual jobs as the servers are to departments or the company as a whole.


Virtualization isn’t just for servers. Consider how virtualization of desktops might benefit your organization.

How much does desktop administration cost you?
• Time spent on deploying new desktops
• Time spent installing software on each physical desktop
• Time spent fighting malware infections
• Time spent replacing failed hard drives
• Loss of user data saved on local hard drives
• Time lost by users waiting on desktop maintenance 

Okay. Let’s visit that scene again but this time John & Jane live in the world where Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) has made their environment much more manageable through VMware’s View application…

John: “Desktop Support. This is John. How can I help you?”
Jane: “Hi John, this is Jane. I think something is wrong with my computer.”
John: “Okay, tell me what’s going on and I’ll try to help.”
Jane: “Well, I was searching for something on the internet and a window popped up that said my computer was infected and I need to run a scan on it. I clicked on the button and then a bunch of pop-up ads started opening. They have filled up my entire screen now and the computer is so slow that I can’t even close them.”
John: “Clicking on that virus scan button installed some malware on your hard drive. I can get that taken care of from here; it will just need to be refreshed.”
Jane: “What will a refresh do?”

John: “It will clean off all the changes to your desktop. It will be like that malware never happened.”
Jane: “But I have been working on a report all morning and it’s saved in the My Documents folder.”
John: “No need to worry. We redirect the My Documents folder to network storage so all of your files will still be there.”
Jane: “Ok, how long will the refresh take? I really have to get my report done before… Hey, my screen just flickered and all the pop-ups are gone.”
John: “Your desktop has been refreshed and should be working just fine now.”
Jane: “My report is still here in the My Documents folder from my last save point. Wow, thank you so much!”
John: “You’re welcome, Jane. Have a great afternoon.”




Wow! That worked out better for both of them! By deploying virtualized desktops and making use of VMware View, John’s company was able to provide him the tools to quickly identify and resolve Jane’s problem.


View simplified desktop administration allowing John’s company to now:
• Deploy new desktops in minutes not hours
• Standardize desktops based on a single golden image
• Instantly remediate malware infections and software errors
• Add new software and apply patches once and push them out to all desktops non-disruptively
• Redirect user files to network storage for robust backup and recovery
• Reduce desktop footprints with small form factor zero clients

If you’d like to live in Jane and John’s world, contact your Keller Schroeder Sr. Account Manager for more information or a demonstration of this product and how you, together with Keller Schroeder, can benefit your environment.

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