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Cloud Management, Business Continuity & Other 2013 Accomplishments

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Cloud Management, Business Continuity & Other 2013 Accomplishments

By Matt Mock, IT Director

It was a very busy year at GreenPages for our internal IT department. With 2013 coming to a close, I wanted to highlight some of the major projects we worked on over the course of the year. The four biggest projects we tackled were using a cloud management solution, improving our business continuity plan, moving our datacenter, and creating and implementing a BYOD policy.

Cloud Management as a Service

GreenPages now offers a Cloud Management as a Service (CMaaS) solution to our clients. We implemented the solution internally late last year, but really started utilizing it as a customer would this year by increasing what was being monitored and managed. We decided to put Exchange under the “Fully Managed” package of CMaaS. Exchange requires a lot of attention and effort. Instead of hiring a full time Exchange admin, we were able to offload that piece with CMaaS as our Managed Services team does all the health checks to make sure any new configuration changes are correct. This resulted in considerable cost savings. Having access to the team 24/7 is a colossal luxury. Before using CMaaS, if an issue popped up at 3 in the morning we would find out about it the next morning. This would require us to try and fix the problem during business hours. I don’t think I need to explain to anyone the hassle of trying to fix an issue with frustrated coworkers who are unable to do their jobs. If an issue arises now in the middle of the night, the problem has already been fixed before anyone shows up to start working. The Managed Services team does research and remediates bugs that come up. This happened to us when we ran into some issues with Apple iOS calendaring. The Managed Services team did the research to determine the cause and went in and fixed the problem. If my team tried to do this it would have taken us 2-3 days of wasted time. Instead, we could be focusing on some of our other strategic projects. In fact, we are holding a webinar on December 19th that will cover strategies and benefits to being the ‘first-to-know,’ and we will also provide a demo of the CMaaS Enterprise Command Center. We also went live with fully automated patching, which requires zero intervention from my team. Furthermore, we leveraged CMaaS to allow us to spin up a fully managed Linux environment. It’s safe to say that if we didn’t implement CMaaS we would not have been able to accomplish all of our strategic goals for this year.

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Business Plan

We also determined that we needed to update our disaster recovery plan to a true robust business continuity plan. A main driver of this was because of our more diverse office model. Not only were more people working remotely as our workforce expanded, but we now have office locations up and down the east coast in Kittery, Boston, Attleboro, New York City, Atlanta, and Tampa. We needed to ensure that we could continue to provide top quality service to our customers if an event were to occur. My team took a careful look at our then current infrastructure set up. After examining our policies and plans, we generated new ones around the optimal outcome we wanted and then adjusted the infrastructure to match. A large part of this included changing providers for our data and voice, which included moving our datacenter.

Datacenter Move

In 2013 we wanted to have more robust datacenter facilities. Ultimately, we were able to get into an extremely redundant and secure datacenter at the Markley Group in Boston that provided us with cost savings. Furthermore, Markley is also a large carrier hotel which gives us additional savings on circuit costs. With this move we’re able to further our capabilities of delivering to our customers 24/7. Another benefit our new datacenter offered was excess office space. That way, if there ever was an event at one of our GreenPages locations we could have a place to send people to work. I recently wrote a post which describes the datacenter move in more details.

BYOD Policy

As 2013 ends, we are finishing our first full year with our BYOD policy. We are taking this time to look back and see where there were any issues with the policies or procedures and adjusting for the next year. Our plan is to ensure that year two is even more streamlined. I answered questions in a recent Q & A explaining our BYOD initiative in more detail.

I’m pretty happy looking back at the work we accomplished in 2013. As with any year, there were bumps along the way and things we didn’t get to that we wanted to. All in all though, we accomplished some very strategic projects that have set us up for success in the future. I think that we will start out 2014 with increased employee satisfaction, increased productivity of our IT department, and of course noticeable cost savings. Here’s to a successful 2014!

Is your IT team the first-to-know when an IT outage happens? Or, do you find out about it from your end users? Is your expert IT staff stretched thin doing first-level incident support? Could they be working on strategic IT projects that generate revenue? Register for our upcoming webinar to learn more!

 

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