Monday, December 28

10 Best Year-End Tech Practices for SMBs

by Alex Repola

Earlier this month TechRepublic's Erik Eckel released an article titled, 10 Best Year-End Tech Practices for SMBs. After reading through the best practices, it really helped me to realize how helpful a basic "clean-up" could be and the benefits of giving your IT environment a little TLC. Here are the 10 things to keep in mind as you and your organization bring in the new year.

  1. Restore backups to confirm operation

  2. Review disk image inventory and status

  3. Physically clean servers and PCs

  4. De-fragment hard disks

  5. Audit software licenses and media

  6. Perform network stress tests

  7. Audit user accounts

  8. Confirm equipment inventory

  9. Clean printers

  10. Clean your cube or office


Some of these best practices are very basic maintenance items that are generally performed semi-regularly within your organization. Other items on this list may require you to spend some of your free time on the evenings or weekends performing some of these tasks to be ready for the 2010.
QeH2 builds and strengthens relationships based on how well we help SMBs pinpoint areas within their organization that may need just a little extra attention to lengthen the life of hardware and/or software; maximizing your resources and taking time and money previously spent on maintenance and reallocating those things on moving business forward.

Tuesday, December 22

Reduce Your IT Energy Consumption Today

by Alex Repola

Collectively, US organizations waste $3B every year powering 100M unused PCs. This is because 50 percent of working Americans leave their office PCs on when they leave for the night, creating a massive carbon footprint," a report on LinkedIn reads. Read more...

Just a single PC left on overnight and on weekends wastes organization $70 to $150 equaling 620lbs of CO2 annually.

For an example of a way to conserve energy, the Berkely Green IT Initiative used Auto Shutdown Manager and achieved a reduction of PC energy consumption by 85 percent in just six months. The savings, on average, were $4000 for 100 PCs.

Wednesday, December 16

QeH2 to Begin Recycling their Office Waste Just in Time for the Holidays

by Alex Repola

The U.S Environmental Protection Agency says there are three main ways to produce less waste:

Wednesday, December 9

10 Ways to Increase IT ROI Without Adding Staff

Within IT, there are big-picture considerations that can help guide how companies adjust and manage their IT operations. More and more IT executives have had to re-balance IT initiatives to focus on projects with near-term benefits while keeping momentum on longer-term, strategic projects. Also, aligning IT more closely with business priorities are most likely going to be focused on revenue.

This means increasing ROI without bringing on more cost in the long run help in generating more revenue within the organization instead of having to cut budgets, IT being one of the first departments to take a hit.

1. Go Green

2. Standardize

  • Lower labor cost resulting from fewer configurations to manage

3. Virtualize

  • Lower costs for hardware, space and utilities

4. Track Assets

  • Software - reduce licensing costs for unused licenses
  • Hardware - Find lost assets. Timely patches reduce costly outages

5. Best Practices From Community
  • Lower costs for paid vendor technical support

  • Lower costs for training, especially travel
  • Reduce travel costs, including personnel time

7. Automated Systems Management Tasks
  • Lower personnel costs
  • Better compliance reduces cost of outages
  • Lower personnel costs
  • Lower utility costs

9. Vendor Financing
  • Conserves cash by spreading purchase cost over time

10. Appliances
  • Lower labor costs to maintain
  • Lower utility costs

These best practices give business owners and IT officials different ways to look at increasing returns within IT and revenue increases in other areas that have not yet been explored. Becoming more efficient and utilizing the different tools already ingrained within a companies business processes is something QeH2 has been exploiting within SMBs since the company's conception.

Helping organizations consolidate multi-server environments by virtualizing physical servers is a trend QeH2 has seen grow vastly over the last few years and is a great way to help save money. Tracking assets is another best practice QeH2 prides themselves on doing for their clients. Documenting license keys for each one of your machines is not only necessary to avoid having a single license on multiple machines, which can be a legal issue, but also to keep you from purchasing more licenses when you already have extras laying around.

There are many ways to not only keep costs down but even increase RIO over time within IT. QeH2 is agnostic in their approach to finding solutions that help move your business forward; we have no other motivation than to provide the most intelligent solutions.

Thursday, December 3

QeH2 Interviews Ian Holt, One of the Founding Partners

I first met Ian Holt, partner and one of the H's in QeH2, the day I interviewed for a job to join the sales team here at QeH2; I instantly felt comfortable talking with him and the rest of the sales staff.
Nearly three months later I was able to squeeze in a few minutes to get Ian alone and talk about some of his past experiences and how that has helped him turn many of his ideas into a reality here at QeH2...

Finally, after a long, busy day, I got Ian into my office in between cell phone calls and email replies. Propping his feet up on the desk with a huge smile on his face, Ian and I decided to dig in.

Q: How long have you been with QeH2?
Since the beginning; three years now

Q: You have a background in a lot of different areas within IT, what have you experienced?
I started out in technical support like most IT guys usually do. I spent the last 20 years supporting servers, network design, and the infrastructure side of IT.

Q: What was the transition like for you from the tech support side of thing to infrastructure support and design?
I actually spent three weeks working in a call center dealing with help desk support issues then got a job offer doing on-site tech support and hands-on stuff right after that. I moved from Calgary, Canada to Omaha, Nebraska, I didn’t even know where Omaha was at the time. I was really excited; this was my first real tech job out of college.

Q: Where was an area that you felt you learned the most within your past experiences?
Right after doing tech support for US West, I went in and did internal IT support for a consulting company. That’s where the idea of stabilization was really born and have been using the idea here at QeH2. It was learning how to stabilize and make machines work well.

Q: Obviously as an owner you have a lot of responsibilities here, at this point in time, what are you trying to focus on to move QeH2 forward?
Right now my focus is on District Management (DM), basically managing the different teams of guys. As of now my district is just me and one other guy. The way its split up is based on the customers I am currently working with but it also has to do with customer need and how that relates to each one of the DMs background within IT.

On moving stuff forward I work on a lot of the documentation tasks, which is funny because I didn’t start off being the documentation guy. I’m also working with Lori Eisele to get our internal systems working better. Tapping into the functionalities of the systems we already have.

Q: With some of the things you bring to the table within QeH2 from an experience level and time spent within the industry, how has all of that influenced your vision of this company?
I can’t really say that I came up with the idea of stabilization, it’s been more of a group effort but my concepts of stabilization came from my previous world but that is a big part of what has influenced QeH2. When we first sat down and put the company together, Darrin and Quentin came from the Mountain View Marketing side and Jim and I came from the consulting side and we looked at what was wrong with IT. My pasts experiences have really influenced the infrastructure stabilization side. Once we get somebody stabilized, it doesn’t require a lot of maintenance. Now that things aren't breaking, we can concentrate on moving forward with other things. It’s great for us because we’re not fixing the same problems over and over again. It’s great for the customer because their down time is reduced drastically.

Q: QeH2 is growing, rapidly. It has expanded quite a bit since I came on just a few months ago. What different transformations have you seen take place since starting the company?
When we closed our first customer I was still working my day job and supporting the company part-time. Right before Christmas 2006 I quit my job and started working to build QeH2 as my full-time job. The cool part was that my day job became supporting a customer and within about four months, Jim, Quentin, and I had all quit our day jobs and we had hired our first resource. We went from the planning stage to up and functioning in just a matter of months, then full steam ahead a few months after that. QeH2 was learning how to balance the hard times and planning for the growth that was ahead of us.

Q: What do you like to focus on when meeting with a perspective client for the first time?
I typically focus on their pain. Everyone that wants to talk to us have some sort of issue. Either they are not happy with their current IT guy or they have an issue that hasn’t been resolved, something of that nature. This generally leads me to the pains within their organization

Q: Do you think that helps to set us apart from our competitors, focusing more on the customer’s pain points instead of trying to just sell a product or service?
We don’t really have any true competition. There is nobody out there focusing on the businesses pains and moving their company out of that pain zone and into more productive state, increasing their bottom line. No IT company looks at it that way. We are bridging the gap between the IT side and the business side. Most management problems have an IT solution; it’s a matter of finding out what that issue is or what they are trying to do. We’ve come up with a solution that’s more efficient, faster, and saves them money.

Q: What is that one technology that you personally think all business owners should invest in?
Its all about disaster recovery; if you don’t back it up you’re going to lose it. Everybody has a crash in their future. It’s a matter of preparing for when that happens. Disaster recovery technology is the thing everyone has to have no matter on what system you have. To the guy working on his laptop in the garage to a 50 station, 100 station shop, you’re only as good as your back-up.

Q: Where do you see the company in two years or even five years?
We're planning for some aggressive growth. In the last three years, we’ve artificially slowed our growth several times to make sure we’re taking care of the customer, making sure we’re perfecting our model. We’re set in the next tow years to grow exponentially; I see us five years from now outside of the state with multiple locations.

Q: What do you spend your time doing when you’re not on your computer or meeting with clients?
Honestly, I enjoy spending time with my family (Jason 15, Morgan 13, Daniel 11, Jared 9, and wife Bonita). My kids are all computer guys they love computer games; it’s really funny. We all like to travel. I really immerse with loved ones but there always seems to be a computer side to things. I recreate within technology, it’s something I love. I go home most days thinking, they pay me to do this.

The interview confirmed the fact that Ian loves technology and his passion to want to help business owners with their struggling IT needs is ingrained in everything he does. The success and growth within QeH2 is in large part due to the experiences, knowledge, and focus of partners like Ian Holt.

Wednesday, December 2

Social Networking, Helping Business Owners Everywhere

by Alex Repola

There's no way to hide from it any longer. Online social networking sites have been experiencing rapid growth with every passing month.

"It took Facebook only two and a half months to go from 300 million users to 350 million users..." reported the San Jose Business Journal on commented from Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of FacebookInc., earlier today. Read more...