Author: Carissa

by Carissa Carissa No Comments

Ransomware – Your Business Could Be At Very High Risk

Jeff Gorman Keller Schroeder President

Jeff Gorman
President

Everyone has items in their personal life of great value.  The intrinsic value is not based on what these things could be sold for, the value is because the items are of personal significance and can not be replaced.  The same is true for your business; you have critical data and systems which are vital to the day-to-day operation of the organization, and they have immense value to your ability to stay in business, regardless of whether the data would have value to anyone else.  This is the exact dynamic that is exploited in ransomware attacks.  Cyber-attackers exploit some aspect of your business to gain access, they encrypt your data or systems to make them unusable, and because those systems have great value to you – regardless of whether the data has value to anyone else – they trust you will pay a large ransom to get back your access to keep your business functioning.

RansomwareThe largest waves of cyberattacks now are not targeted at specific companies; they come from widespread attempts to get unprepared organizations to make a fatal flaw in action to a seemingly benign request, they exploit that action, they do things like remove your ability to access data and systems which are valuable to you and your business, and they hold those systems ransom in an attempt to get you to pay to have your access reinstated.  In general, the only market demand needed by the attacker to achieve financial success is to trust that you value your data enough to need to have access to the data for your business to run.  It does not matter the size of revenue your company generates; it does not matter whether you are a global operation or a local business; they are typically not looking to sell what they have illegally accessed.  The simple fact you now need what they have exclusive access to creates exactly the situation they need to create a market where they can profit.

This scenario may seem alarmist, but we continue to see a growing number of local businesses of a variety of sizes dealing with significant impact from ransomware scenarios exactly as described.  Organizations that are not investing in a structured approach to information security practices are at a very high risk of failing to protect what is most valuable to their business.  The investments should come in a framework of layers; there is no single tool or ‘easy’ button to adequately prepare an organization against the multitude of ways attacks can infiltrate a company in today’s hyper-connected world.

Organizations that are not investing in a structured approach to information security practices are at a very high risk of failing to protect what is most valuable to their business.

If you are not investing time and money in the areas of end-user cybersecurity education to better position employees to be able to detect malicious messages, you are doing the equivalent of asking a child unfamiliar with ‘stranger danger’ to keep people from getting into your house to see your valuable items.  If you are not deploying security platforms which actively screen incoming mail messages, links, and attachments to create an entry barrier for malicious messages, and software which detects irregular behavior and malicious files on workstations and servers, you are doing the equivalent of not caring about dangerous visitors to your house and behaviors in your neighborhood which could indicate a risk to your home.  If you are not consistently patching software to ensure identified security bugs are remediated in a timely manner and you are not doing regular vulnerability assessments to understand what potential attackers could exploit in an attempt to get access to your data, you are doing the equivalent of disregarding warnings from law enforcement about knowing your windows are unlocked and knowing thieves have been seen around your house trying to get access to your things of value.

To keep the comparison going, following an Information Security framework and implementing common practices for your organization is like having visible signs outside your house with a security fence, an alarm system, exterior cameras, and a neighborhood watch.  None of those things assure you will not fall victim to losing things of value, but the presence of barriers creates more resistance than a random attacker might find worth his time.  In information security terms, the email campaign the cyber attacker launches to try to get people to click on malicious links is only of value to the attacker if it gets delivered to the user, gets clicked by the user, gets executed on the computer of the user, and is able to spread.  If your security framework breaks that chain of events, you are going in the right direction to protect your data.

Keller Schroeder has years of experience making positive impacts on our clients with respect to all aspects of Information Technology, including Information Security.  If there is any aspect of protecting your environment where you would value some professional input discussing your current posture and common practices from our certified team, please reach out to us.  We would welcome the chance to help you protect what you value most.

by Carissa Carissa No Comments

Conversations and Innovations in Healthcare IT

Rob Wilson Principal Consultant Nashville
Rob Wilson
Principal Consultant, Greater Nashville Area

As I write this, HIMSS (Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, Inc.) just made the difficult decision to cancel its 2020 Global Health Conference & Exhibition in Orlando on short notice based on feedback from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and WHO (World Health Organization) to mitigate risks associated to the spread of Coronavirus. Keller Schroeder has represented at the annual HIMSS Conference in the past, but 2020 would have been my first time to attend personally and I was excited about the opportunity to volunteer at the Interoperability Showcase. As active members in the Indiana, Kentucky, and Tennessee HIMSS chapters, we look forward to the local and regional events planned in 2020, as well as the proposed Virtual HIMSS20 Conference alternative.

Keller Schroeder Healthcare IT In the meantime, we engage regularly in Healthcare IT conversations with the practitioners in our network. I thought it would be helpful to share what is on the minds of those Healthcare IT leaders. I’ll touch on several topics that are important in our region (if not globally) right now. Because many of these topics run deep, I am making this a multi-part series – based on our decades of IT consulting for healthcare providers in Indiana, Illinois, and Kentucky, and on conversations, I have been part of in the Greater Nashville Area over the past three years.

The journey begins at a lunchtime conversation with a senior technical talent acquisition director for Nashville’s largest local employer of healthcare professionals. He worked with dozens of hiring managers at his organization to find the right people for their internal positions. Here is a summary of the priorities mentioned by the hiring managers:

  1. Security (information and physical security from both external and internal exposures)
  2. Enterprise analytics (including descriptive and predictive)
  3. Applications integration (with legacy solutions, devices, and Electronic Health Records systems)
  4. Emerging medical innovations (Artificial Intelligence, remote monitoring, population health)
  5. Affiliations (supporting affiliated medical centers in outlying areas)
  6. Staffing (competing for talent with other companies, even in other industries)
  7. Cost containment (profitability and revenue cycle analysis)
  8. Patient experience (readmission rates, patient satisfaction, higher volumes of encounters, post-discharge experience)

This list is only the beginning. I set out to understand what other challenges healthcare providers are facing both at a macro and micro level, and what we and other providers are doing to address those challenges. What I found was that from inpatient to outpatient providers, pediatric to geriatric, behavioral, urban, and rural, there are many challenges, both universal and unique. I believe Keller Schroeder is in a position to help address many of these challenges because of our healthcare experience, our diverse competencies (software, infrastructure, information security, data strategy, and staffing), and our partnerships. As the series continues, I’ll help define these challenges and how technology is being leveraged to address them.

I’ll start by saying the reason many of these challenges still exist is because they are complicated. Innovation in healthcare is about more than just waiting for technology to catch up. There are privacy and ethical concerns, business ramifications, regulatory compliance issues, training and staffing gaps, patient care implications, etc. With stakeholders spanning patients, caregivers, payers, providers, legislators, suppliers and more, it is encouraging to see the amount of progress that has been made already despite the complexities.

I look forward to sharing more about what is happening and what to expect. Watch for the series on our company blog and social channels. Reach out to your Select Account Manager or me if you would like to learn more about our experience in Healthcare IT.

by Carissa Carissa No Comments

Cisco Intersight: Cloud-Based Management for Unified Computing Systems

Kris Linville - Senior Network Consultant Keller SchroederKris Linville
Senior Network Consultant

Cisco Intersight is a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platform that provides global management of your Cisco Unified Computing Systems (UCS) and Hyperflex infrastructure from a single interface.  The cloud-based intelligence gathers data from Cisco UCS Manager and the Cisco Integrated Management Controller (CIMC) to learn from hundreds of thousands of devices worldwide.  The data is combined with the Cisco knowledgebase to evolve and become smarter.  Tight integration between Intersight, the knowledge base, and TAC enables proactive system support which significantly reduces the time to issue resolution.  The aggregate information is synthesized and delivered in an actionable format through the Cisco Intersight recommendation engine.

Cisco IntersightCisco Intersight supports the OpenAPI specification and fully-functional Python and PowerShell SDKs.  It also offers a user-customizable dashboard to focus on the information, faults, and tasks that are relevant to them.  The user can then leverage the cross-launch virtual KVM and tunneling capabilities for UCS Manager, UCS Director, CIMC, and HyperFlex Connect for easy access to dive deeper into the individual systems.

The Base edition of Intersight is available for free to all Cisco UCS and Cisco HyperFlex customers running the latest versions of system software.  The Essentials edition license unlocks additional features, such as policy-based configuration with service profiles, firmware management, and the option to run as an on-prem virtual appliance to ensure compliance with data locality or security policies.  The Premier edition license includes entitlement for Cisco UCS Director.

For more information about Cisco Intersight, check out the link below and then contact your Keller Schroeder Select Account Manager a call to discuss how to get Intersight working for you.

DOWNLOAD:  Experience the Power of Cloud-Based Management with Cisco Intersight

by Carissa Carissa No Comments

A Practical Approach to Digital Transformation

Rob Wilson Principal Consultant Nashville

Rob Wilson
Principal Consultant, Greater Nashville Area

By now you have heard the term “Digital Transformation” overused, and you may still wonder what it means. While definitions vary wildly, most articles on Digital Transformation agree on two things:

              • Every organization needs one
              • It’s an ambiguous term, meaning different things to different people

As the old adage goes, “If your only tool is a hammer, then every problem looks like a nail.” Some companies think Digital Transformation is all about the digitization of paper forms or preparing for the Internet of Things (IoT). Even in our own organization, there is ambiguity around the term. Our infrastructure group, for example, will define it with an infrastructure bias, while our software group is biased toward a software definition. In the end, we believe it is about hardware and software working together to improve the performance of an organization and prepare it for future disruption.

Digital Transformation

We like to think we have helped our clients undergo their own Digital Transformations for over 40 years, although few of them actually called it that. It usually comes in the form of continuous improvement, integration, or modernization projects, as examples. To that end, many have ignored the hype, knowing the same concept may resurface under another name in the future (as tech buzzwords tend to do).

Despite the fact the term is ambiguous and overused, we have decided to embrace it. Why? First, the term simply isn’t going away. It is still a trending topic in 2020 and shows no signs of fading. Second, if properly defined, it really is a good way to describe the mindset that a company must take to remain relevant and viable in the digital age.

We have taken a long look – present, past, and future – at the solutions we have developed for and with our clients. With these projects in mind, we have drafted a “Digital Transformation Framework” for the purpose of defining what it means, why you need it, how to approach it, and what outcomes to expect. Our roadmap for Digital Transformation is based upon 12 tenets we see as key in a Digital Transformation mindset.

This year, we will share the framework with you in many ways. First, we will make our Digital Transformation Framework available to you via download from our web site, along with worksheets to help you plan your own initiatives. Second, we will present deep dives of the tenets at local and regional events. And, finally, we will share success stories and educational materials on our blog and social channels in the spirit of adding clarity to a complicated topic. While many companies claim to already have a strategy in place and some even purport to have fully implemented it, we contend that a Digital Transformation is a mindset, based on a continuum of initiatives. Watch for opportunities in 2020 to learn more through our social media, attend one of our events, and even to have an assessment done at your organization.

In the meantime, if you would like to talk Digital Transformation and how it applies to your organization, please reach out to our team anytime.

by Carissa Carissa No Comments

Regarding Upcoming Keller Schroeder Events

A Message From Keller Schroeder’s President

Keller Schroeder firmly believes our purpose as an organization is to make positive impacts on our employee-owners, our clients, and in our communities. We strive to have that balance of purpose at the core of the actions we take as an organization. It is from that purpose of striving to make positive impacts that we have reached the decision to cancel upcoming events to ensure we are properly aligning with health official recommendations for protecting the well-being of the local community and slowing the impact of the COVID-19 virus by reducing non-mandatory group interactions.

We are very grateful for partners who help sponsor and support our events, for those who have registered to attend, and to our employee-owners who have invested considerable time in planning and preparing these events. It is unfortunate to have these cancellations, but we feel confident it is the right path in terms of what we view as our responsibility to contribute to making positive impacts within the community. We look forward to the health alerts being resolved and being able to resume our practice of holding excellent events to make positive impacts in the near future.

If you have questions about any specific event, feel free to contact our Evansville office at (812) 474-6825.

Best Regards,

Jeff Gorman
President

Jeff Gorman Keller Schroeder President

by Carissa Carissa No Comments

Keller Schroeder Sponsors Sold-Out Nashville Software Crafters’ Speaker Series

 

Keller Schroeder was honored to sponsor the Nashville Software Crafters’ inaugural event of its speaker series on February 6, 2020. The sold-out event featured world-renowned author and speaker Robert C. Martin (a.k.a. “Uncle Bob”) – one of the founders of “The Agile Manifesto” in 2001, creator of several software principles and patterns, and author of best-selling books such as “Clean Code” and Clean Architecture.”

Uncle Bob spoke of the importance of quality, integrity, candor, and professionalism to more than 200 software professionals in attendance. His 50 years of industry experience, contagious sense of humor, and passion for his craft resonated with everyone in the room. You can learn more about Uncle Bob at https://cleancoders.com/ or purchase his books on Amazon.

Jill Epperson and Cathy Graper joined Connor Bailey and Rob Wilson from our Nashville office to represent our Keller Schroeder’s Application Solutions Group at the event. Thank you to the organizers for putting together a fantastic event, and thanks to all the kind folks who visited with us at our table.

ASG - Nashville Software Crafters_ASG Team    ASG - Nashville Software Crafters_Sponsors    ASG - Nashville Software Crafters_Rob On Stage

by Carissa Carissa No Comments

Keller Schroeder Achieves VMware Master Services Competency in Data Center Virtualization

Vmware Master Services Competency Data Center Virtualization

Keller Schroeder is pleased to announce that we have successfully achieved Data Center Virtualization VMware Master Services Competency. This competency demonstrates that Keller Schroeder is committed to helping organizations accelerate their digital transformations by leveraging their validated services delivery capabilities around advanced VMware technologies.

“VMware is pleased to recognize Keller Schroeder for achieving Data Center Virtualization Master Services Competency. This achievement shows customers that partners like Keller Schroeder are dedicated, invested and have validated expertise in advanced VMware technologies,” said Jenni Flinders, Vice President and Worldwide Channel Chief, VMware. “We value Keller Schroeder as a VMware partner, and appreciate their efforts in achieving this VMware distinction as they work to increase their service delivery capabilities.”

VMware Master Services Competencies are designed to help partners demonstrate customer-centric solutions and technical proficiency, with proven success and expertise in a specialized area of business. These competencies also allow partners to differentiate into five specific solution areas.

VMware partners can achieve VMware Master Services Competencies in:

  • Cloud Management and Automation – Designates expertise in the delivery of VMware Cloud Management and Automation solutions and services with deep understanding and execution of cloud management design principles and methodologies.
  • Data Center Virtualization – Designates expertise in the delivery of VMware vSphere environments and digital infrastructure services with a deep understanding of and execution in Data Center Virtualization design principles and methodologies.
  • Digital Workspace – Designates partner organizational expertise to design, deliver and support the ongoing management of customer apps, data, and virtual desktop solutions whether on-premise or cloud-delivered. Achieving this competency validates partners’ deep understanding and execution on VMware Horizon and VMware Workspace ONE end-user computing solutions.
  • Network Virtualization – Designates expertise in the delivery of VMware NSX environments and services with deployment and optimization of NSX environment capabilities.
  • VMware Cloud on AWS – Designates expertise in the deployment of an integrated cloud solution that delivers an on-demand service enabling customers to run applications across a VMware Cloud Infrastructure environment with access to a broad range of AWS services.

The VMware Partner Network is the framework for collaboration between VMware and its partners, offering a wide range of benefits, training, certifications, and rewards. The VMware Partner Network includes a range of programs to meet the needs of a variety of partner expertise. Read more about VMware Partner Network.

You can download the official press release via this link: Keller Schroeder Achieves VMware Master Services Competency. If you have any questions about this competency, please reach out to our Director of Data Services, Matt Barton at 812-474-6825.

by Carissa Carissa No Comments

Ownership is Special

 

Jeff Gorman Keller Schroeder President

Jeff Gorman  – [President]

People who know me well will be quick to agree I fall victim to being a creature of habit in many ways.  When I find things I enjoy, I tend to stay with those things.  For example, not only do I generally eat at the same small set of restaurants, I tend to order the same food at a restaurant each time I visit.  I appreciate the advice from friends regarding mixing things up for some variety, but I fall victim to the comfort of taking away one more decision to make after a day full of decisions, and I enjoy knowing I will like what I am ordering.  One restaurant I frequently visit, however, brings out a different approach.  They have a couple ‘daily specials’, and they really promote those offerings as something which will bring people in; not things from the menu which are on special, but completely unique offerings which are only available on that day.  They rarely repeat, and they are not even always available after the peak dinner hours because of their popularity.  Come on in we're OwnersSometimes the special items feature ingredients from local suppliers as their unique thread.  Sometimes the special items are themed around the time of year or a different ethnicity than the normal fare of the restaurant.  This ‘one day only’ trait makes the restaurant different for me; I always order from the ‘specials’ menu, and I’ve always enjoyed it.  The restaurant uses the specials menu to be even better at who they are – a locally owned restaurant offering friendly service in a relaxed atmosphere with some unique menu choices that change every day.

Knowing what is unique about your business and finding ways to exhibit the difference are important traits in a digital economy where consumers and employees have more choices than at any other time in history.  At Keller Schroeder, we feel strongly regarding the uniqueness of being an employee-owned business and our culture of ownership.  Our focus on employee-ownership makes us better at our mission of being a technology company in the performance improvement business and aligns perfectly with our purpose of making positive, personal impacts on our employees, our clients, and our communities.  All of our core staff employees are owners in the business, and because of our focus on sharing accountability, knowledge, and growth among those owners, we are different from most businesses.  Every employee has direct benefit from the growth of our company, so we value long-term relationships differently, our employees are empowered differently, and we share knowledge differently.  Application development, infrastructure solutions, staffing solutions, and data strategy are not inherently unique offerings where our clients have no option but to work with us.  The responsibility lies on us to be a business partner our clients choose to work with, where they value our positive impacts more than what other providers can offer.  Our ‘special’ is offering the ability for our clients to engage in those areas with knowledgeable employee-owners who work differently because of their ownership.  If you are a current client, we continue to thank you for your partnership; if you are not a client and you would like to discern if working with an employee-owned company is really a ‘special’ experience, we would love to hear from you to discuss how we might be able to make a positive, personal impact on you and your business.

by Carissa Carissa No Comments

Time to Level Up?

 

Craig Schulte  – [Sr. Application Developer/Architect]

Do you sometimes feel like your web applications are not all they could be?  Do your users grumble about slow page loads?  Are your applications swimming in a sea of JQuery that make them harder to maintain?  If so, it may be time to take your web applications to the next level using a framework like Angular or React!

Angular and React are two competing technologies that receive a lot of attention these days.  So which should your company use when developing a web application?  This article will explain some of the key differences that will help you decide if one of these frameworks should be in your future.


Overview

Angular and React Apps PlatformsLet’s start with a short introduction and description.  Google first created Angular in 2010, followed by Facebook with React in 2013, showing both have the backing of major industry players.  Both are popular web platforms written in JavaScript, which primarily run in your browser.  Much of the code that traditionally ran on a server has migrated to your browser, and Angular and React have helped to push this trend forward.  A common goal shared by both is to decouple an application’s logic from its user interface (UI), and both strongly focus on dynamic page updates (aka AJAX) – meaning your entire browser window does not reload when updates are made, only the content that changes needs to reload. This generally leads to a much nicer experience for the user.

A common sentiment is “Why should I use Angular or React when I already have JQuery?”  Angular and React are fundamentally designed to embrace building modern applications that seamlessly update the UI and gather data via AJAX / Fetch requests.  Of course, this has long been possible, but Angular and React take this concept to the next level, often to such an extent that they are coined “Single Page Applications” – a web application that never reloads the browser window.

When building these types of applications, JQuery may no longer be the best choice.  Using JQuery requires extra code to keep the UI synchronized, a manual task that may grow complex and difficult to manage.  In contrast, both Angular and React help to automate and simplify this chore, resulting in optimum performance.


Size & Scope

React Apps Platform SampleAngular is typically classified as a full framework while React is considered a library.  This means that Angular includes everything plus the kitchen sink, but React only concerns itself with the user interface.  React is more lightweight than Angular, but includes less functionality out of the box.

Which approach is better, the all-encompassing framework or the specialized library?  Well, that depends. Angular already includes all the tools you need within easy reach.  Meanwhile, React may need to be supplemented with additional libraries, but you have the flexibility to choose which ones.


Learning Curve

Angular Platform dashboardSince Angular is a full framework, it naturally has a longer, steeper learning curve.  Angular also requires the use of TypeScript (a statically typed version of JavaScript), which is an additional skill that must be learned.  On the upside, Angular includes a tool for almost every scenario, so there’s usually a standardized, well-defined path forward.

In comparison, React requires less time to achieve a fuller understanding of the platform.  React does not dictate a highly opinionated architecture, allowing for better reuse of previously learned knowledge and skills.  However, due to React’s open-ended approach, there’s probably a greater risk of running astray, and developers must take special care to ensure they are following best practices.


Popularity

According to a variety of sources (such as Stack Overflow, NPM, GitHub, and Google Trends), React has the edge when it comes to growth and popularity.  For example, according to Stack Overflow’s annual developer survey, React usage narrowly surpassed Angular in 2019, “a switch from last year”.  Perhaps more importantly, 75% indicated they would use React again, while only 58% would use Angular again.

Why is popularity an important metric to consider?  Primarily, it can indicate a measure of quality.  Secondly, it may also influence the amount of online resources and availability of job pool candidates.  No matter how you look at it, both Angular and React rank among the most popular web technologies, with only jQuery topping them in usage.


Summary

Both Angular and React provide great platforms to build web applications upon, and there really is no right or wrong answer.  Before making any decisions, do some research. In the end, the right technology is the one that best fits your team and the project at hand.  It could be Angular, React, or something else entirely.

If you would like to learn more about Angular or React, please reach out to our Applications Solutions Group to start a conversation with us.

by Carissa Carissa No Comments

Announcing Keller Schroeder’s NEW Data Strategy Group

 

Since our founding in 1978, Keller Schroeder has continually evolved to meet the technology and business needs of our clients.  In today’s digital economy, we subscribe to the idea that Data Science, Machine Learning, and Artificial Intelligence are skills that are now vital to a company’s future.  To that end, we are excited to announce the addition of our Data Strategy Group.  Keller Schroeder’s Data Strategy Group can help businesses develop the culture, capability, and methods to use advanced analytics for a competitive advantage.

Keller Schroeder's Data Strategy Group
Tom Vargo
will lead the new division as the Director, Data Strategy Group.  Tom has over twenty-five years of experience in the strategic application of technology for business improvement, and has been heavily involved in corporate analytics and enterprise architecture.

Morgan Duckworth joined Keller Schroeder on June 19th as a Senior Data Architect, Data Strategy Group.  Morgan had 17 years of experience as an Applications Developer, Business Analyst, and Senior Data Architect.

Josh Pack joined Keller Schroeder on July 3rd as a Principal Consultant, Data Strategy Group. Prior to joining Keller Schroeder, Josh earned experience as a Senior Data Scientist and as a Manager of a Data Science team.

Bryan Blubaum joined Keller Schroeder on July 29th as an Enterprise Architect, Data Strategy Group. Bryan has experience as a Data Engineer and Work Stream Lead for Data Governance in addition to experience as a Systems Administrator.

If you have any questions regarding Data Strategy or would like to discuss how your company can begin utilizing an organizational data strategy, monetize your data, or fine tune the methods you are currently using, please reach out to us any time for more information.

Top