As we continue on our discussions around BYOD, one topic that comes up time and again is the potential issues around these mixed use devices. The mixing of personal and professional data creates some questions and issues that really do bear some analysis and discussion before making any final decisions regarding BYOD in your business. Last month I mentioned one such issue, access to ex-employees by customers. This is one fairly critical question for anyone in a business where your staff is the key point of contact, and the staff is providing the service the client is paying for. If an employee leaves with their own phone and phone number, and perhaps goes off to a competitor to continue in the same line of work, you may have just enabled a customer to take their business over to the competitor by granting them easy access. Something to consider!

But, there are certainly other considerations, and some of them are far more employee centric. What about personal privacy for the employee? What about data integrity of their data in the case of a remote wipe done upon termination? How will they feel if dozens of important pictures are lost forever? How will you feel about having to do that to maintain security?

There are some legitimate reasons why business devices and personal devices are kept separate. What people do with their own device is their business, but there are HR considerations that could come into play when your favorite employee has a screen saver on their laptop that is wholly inappropriate for work.

And of course, there are viruses… and there are web behaviors that most people deem appropriate for personal equipment that they would not deem appropriate for a work asset. And those riskier behaviors generally lead to more occurrences of viruses and other issues which cost your company time and money.

Again, these are YOUR decisions to make as a business person, and they are business decisions, not technical ones. The key is to have a plan, understand the risks, and put in place steps to remediate those risks.

All business concerns, not technical ones. All things to think about outside of the worries of the IT group.

Happy Computing!

Richard Brunke

BYOD Considerations

BYOD. Bring your own disaster? Bring your own disruption? 

The fact is, when it comes to bring your own device, resistance isfutile, and most of the concerns we hear about can be remediated with a little planning.In reality, BYOD is not a technology challenge so much as it is a businessquestion, and I think that fact is overlooked far too often due to theoverwhelming noise in the space regarding security fears, viruses, CONTROL,etc.  

The purpose of IT teams is to enable your people to be productivewhile protecting the security and data integrity of the business. BYOD is not anew set of rules, just a slight addition of complexity. So, the question I poseis 'what are your business needs and how will BYOD impact them, positively andnegatively?' If we assume technology challenges are, and forever will be areality, then we can move on and simply figure out the impact of people usingtheir own devices. Looking at BYOD from this perspective opens up the chance toreally look at how the use of personal devices will impact your employees andyour customers. 


  1.  Willyour BYOD policy replace equipment broken on the job, and if not, are you limitingthe quality of devices your employees may be able to afford and will thisimpact productivity?
  2.  WillBYOD impact your long term customers ability to connect with your businessshould a key employee leave with their device (and of course their phonenumber)?
  3.  Willyou potentially create negative scenarios by having to impose what may beviewed as draconian requirements on personal devices, leaving employees feelingunhappy?
  4.  Willyou be less likely to uphold basic security protocals because of the potentialnegative impact on an employee's personal data (such as doing a required remotewipe of device)?
  5. Arethere reasons you would NOT want your customers to reach out to ex employeesshould they leave with their phones and phone numbers? 

There are many more examples that may be relevant to yourbusiness, but I think you get the point. Item #2 is a big concern in mybusiness, where consistency of contact information can be the differencebetween a customer getting support in an emergency when they need it versushaving to hunt down new information. That could reduce our ability to keepcustomers productive, therefore BYOD could have a negative impact on customerservice as long held contact phone numbers move outside of the company. Also,in some businesses having customers retain contacts with ex employees couldcreate competitive issues that would otherwise be contained should the contactphone numbers belong to the business, and be consistent. 

All business concerns, not technical ones. All things to thinkabout outside of the worries of the IT group. 

Just a few more points of consideration in your continued journey to experience

Happy Computing

Richard Brunke

There are many conversations regarding the Cloud these days,seemingly endless chatter on why to move to the cloud and why not to.

The first and most important thing to understand when itcomes to cloud computing is that it has not changed the goal of computing, justsome parameters. The goal of all computing is to produce valuable informationand data in as efficient and cost effective a manner as possible.

Cloud computing is the approach du jour to meeting the abovegoal.What makes cloud computing compelling are those specificparameters of operation that are native to its nature. The key characteristicsof a cloud model are:

  • On Demand Self Service
  • Broad Network Access
  • Resource Pooling
  • Rapid Elasticity
  • Measured Service

This month we are keying in on the rapid elasticity, or howit can create rapid and unlimited scale for your business.

In cloud computing, capabilities (think new users, newservers, new applications) can be almost instantly provisioned at any scale. Atthe business consumer level, this is virtually unlimited as you can purchaseany number of additional servers, seats, etc. at any time.

And that rapid elasticity works in both directions,increases or decreases. Think about the power of being able to grow yourbusiness rapidly, add users, spin up new servers, adjust to projects orseasonal variations without having to extensively plan hardware and softwarepurchasing and the labor to roll them out. The vast majority of that complexityand the time associated with it becomes eliminated as services can be spun upin real time using existing shared infrastructure 'out in the cloud'.

This ability to match (and pay for) only what one needs inreal time, is one of the most compelling and easy to understand characteristicsof cloud computing. The fear of adding capital ahead of growth, or the cost ofplanning mistakes (from an IT infrastructure standpoint) are vastly reduced, allowingyou to focus on the realities of growing the business, adjusting labor, ortaking on huge one time projects instead of focusing on the realities of buyingor leasing hardware and rolling it out.

And that certainly is a recipe for Happy Computing!

Richard Brunke

Will The Cloud Save You Money?

Everything in the cloud. Everything marketed as cloud.Everything about cloud.

Can't avoid the ever ubiquitous marketing and real worldcloud references. Cloud computing, however, is still just computing, and at theend of the day, we invest in computing infrastructure as a means to an end -and that end is enhanced productivity and profitability.

Cloud applications are not fundamentally more productivity enhancing,however, they can be more easily used in multiple locations and situations,which may indeed enhance productivity in some cases. Cloud applications are notfundamentally less expensive either. Have you ever heard of any industrycreating ways to make LESS money?

What cloud computing does is enhance access, control andscalability. Cloud computing also enables a reduction of capital outlay in someinstances, and allows alignment of real time costs with specific needs. But,more to the point, cloud computing enables a re-alignment of IT spend away fromsome of the more mundane IT tasks (such as buying, rolling out, managing andmonitoring a server or application) allowing you to focus those dollars on morevalue added IT investments such as really understanding how IT can support thecritical business processes and work flows within your business and integratingthe many complex technologies and solutions that are part of your business.

I don't see the cloud as an answer to a problem, but anapproach to various solutions. It is a tool set that can enable certainintegrations and applications to be used more efficiently.

Think about when you first started using computers at work(well, for those of you who were there then as I was). Adding computers did notreduce labor costs at work, it changed the way we go about work and allowed usto re-align our time towards higher value work efforts, enabling certain menialtasks (such as accounting) to be done much more quickly. That is an apt analogyfor the cloud. Cloud computing is not 'an approach to saving money' but more ofan approach to reducing some maintenance costs to enable productive resourcesto focus on other higher value activities – much like my computer example. Itis a paradigm shift, and although many will try to validate expenditures oncloud computing with strict ROI ratios, the reality is the value is not indollar savings, but in the focus away from low value tasks towards higher valueones.

That is part of what makes this transition so hard – theanswer is not as clear as simple ROI. IT costs are not going down due to cloudcomputing, although maintenance costs may. IT costs will be aligned towardshigher value activities focused on achieving higher productivity and profits.

At least that is how I see it!

Happy Computing!
Richard Brunke

2013 Predictions


As I look into my crystal ball for 2013, there are a few topics I think will be hot around the water cooler and as a business owner, executive, or IT professional, it would be smart to start thinking about and planning for.

  1. We are going to start hearing a lot about the security and data issues that surround cloud computing, especially related to the intermixing of personal and work cloud applications and data.
  2. More generally, we are going to spend a lot of time on the convergence of work and home devices, mobile and desktop devices and all of the cloud components that glue them together.
  3. IT is going to become more complex on the back end, but more productivity enhancing on the front end, surprising many folks that thought cloud computing would make it all easier.
  4. Security will become increasingly expensive, challenging,and important as hackers and viruses become more prevalent, difficult to control, and sophisticated. Anti-virus and firewall software and devices won’t be able to keep up.
  5. IT skills will become vastly more diversified and expensive as teams will struggle to keep up, furthering a trend that has been in place for several years, and looks to continue for the near future.
  6. Business will continue to diversify their technology base integrated more and more solutions and approaches as flexibility and productivity take the driver’s seat, replacing the old school command/control aspects of IT.
  7. Consulting services focused on hardware and software sales will struggle to keep the pace with broader changes driven by cloud and will lose customers to more flexible true service providers with a more holistic and technology agnostic approach.

While there is always the chance that a random element could be introduced, such as a major technology innovation that could render some of these irrelevant, I think the plate is pretty much set for 2013 and these themes will play out in a way that could greatly impact IT departments and business productivity.

It is always better to be ahead of the curve then behind!

As always, it is all about staying happy, productive and supported.

Let’s practice happy computing out there!
Richard Brunke

What Does Excellent Service Mean To Me?

Everybody promises great customer service. Some seem to hit the mark, some don't but the promise is always there, because inherently it is a desirable thing, a thing we clearly want.

What is it though? To me, excellence in service is not a promise, it is a commitment.

What is the difference?

Well, a promise is a binding event, a commitment is a way of doing things, a way of being. No one can promise perfection. We all make mistakes. I work to hire the best in the industry and to enable them to do great things, yet they are humans, and technology does not always behave the way one thinks it should – mistakes get made and/or time frames get missed.

So, is that poor service?

No. No its not. That is an opportunity to show commitment to excellent service!

That commitment to great service requires not only our commitment to ensure we have happy, productive and supported customers, but also requires that those customers are committed to communicating their needs and wants if they are feeling less than fully supported. If we never make a mistake, we can certainly achieve great service. Excellent service, however, is what happens when a less than desirable outcome is turned around into an excellent outcome. How we react to a challenge is how we should be defined as service providers. People make mistakes, and things sometimes don't go perfectly, but in a partnership, we communicate these things, and then fix them.

We uphold our commitment. We make it right.

All we ask our customers to do is recognize just how much we value that opportunity to make them happy. We embrace honest feedback and ask for open communications so that we can truly keep our brand promise of making our customers feel happy, productive and supported.

Anyone can make a promise, but what happens when you break a promise? You just make the next promise.

A commitment involves more. You make them and spend the entirety of the relationship upholding that commitment, enhancing it and showing that you value it. It is the glue that holds our customers to us and us to them. It is about trying to always do it your best, and then following up to ensure you did, and if not, then making that right. Every time. For the entirety of the relationship, for excellence in service inherently requires a two way relationship.

That is what excellent service means to me – and to my team.

The cloud presents many opportunities for business to operate more efficiently and with less capital investment. Clearly, the cloud is here to stay and is part of the current language of business and technology.

That being said, it is CRITICAL to educate yourself to ensure you understand the risks (so you can remediate them) and the legal issues regarding cloud computing so you can ensure that you protect your business, your customers and yourself.

Just to give an example of how case law is just emerging on major cloud issues, until just about a week and a half ago, law agencies could seize most any data in the cloud without a warrant. Many people were unaware of this, because the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) was primarily written in 1986 and technology has vastly outpaced the law which was written during a time things like cloud storage, cloud email and social networks did not exist and were not conceptualized. That left a lot of decisions regarding data in the cloud and how it could be accessed up to interpretation. New laws just passed have increased protections and ensure that a warrant must be first obtained before legal and government agencies examine your data, however, that was just a WEEK AND A HALF AGO! Think about that for a minute… the cloud has been around for a number of years and this huge issue (not the only issue to be sure) was just resolved.

There are still many issues that must be considered. The seizure of servers and massive numbers of hard drives with customer data in the Megaupload case early this year is a great example. These servers were legally seized by the government as part of an action against Megaupload. Even before you get to the questions regarding what access the government will have to the data on these and what actions they could take against data owners (all in a quest to prosecute the original case against Megaupload of course) there is the question of 'what if that was your data'. How do you get it back, what if you used them as your only place to store that data, etc.

Additionally, there are issues like HIPAA which requires data never leaves US soil, that you are accountable that the cloud provider meet the HIPAA physical security standards, questions around how data is erased(deleted or wiped), Patriot Act issues that are in conflict with HIPAA when gag orders are placed by the government and client access rites and abilities.These issues are complex enough with a storage array sitting in a locked room onsite, but infinitely more complex when the data is shared to servers that are often around the world.

What about business continuity issues that could result by cloud vendors shutting down unexpectedly, whether by legal issues, financial issues, or natural disaster? Is your data backed up somewhere other than the single vendor or single location? Do you know?

None of this should indicate that the cloud is unsafe for business.

It should, however, cause you to slow down and really invest in understanding the implications of moving data to the cloud, and ensuring you have all the right solutions and steps in place to take part in the best of the cloud while protecting yourself against the risks. Jumping into the cloud without doing homework is risky, and potentially very costly to your business and possibly even customers. There are financial AND legal implications to consider, so make sure you understand what your choices are, what the risks are and what the proper steps to remediate those risks appropriately may be. The cloud is the next big thing to be sure, but it ADDS complexity in as many or more areas than it reduces complexity, and that too must be considered alongside capital and total expenditure issues.

Keep up the happy computing, on land or in the cloud!

Richard Brunke

Happy Thanksgiving!

As we go into the long holiday weekend, I just wanted to really thank everyone who works with ISOutsource, and everyone who works at ISOutsource. It is my privilege to work with so many great people who put forth their best every day to provide world class support to the hundreds of wonderful companies we provide IT support services for.

Whether we are your sole IT source, a project partner, or a partner for your internal IT department, we are thankful for the opportunity to work with you, support you, and help you grow your business!

Happy Thanksgiving – and Happy Computing (when you get back)!

Richard Brunke

Cloud Simplified

One of the most challenging aspects of the current push towards cloud computing is the confusing marketing aspect of it. The answer to every question is 'cloud' and there is little clarity around what is meant.'Cloud Computing' has become as much a marketing buzzword as it is a technology.

So, let's simplify the cloud a bit and make some sense of it!To start with, there are really 3 layers to the cloud offerings – At the base is infrastructure as a service (IaaS). This is basically getting hardware through the cloud, such as computing power itself,storage and networking components. Companies use this layer to avoid purchasing servers or storage, opting to pay for what they need instead. 

Next is platform as a service (PaaS). This is the platform that enables the development of applications without investing in the actual hardware and software that would otherwise be required, enabling the testing and deployment of software. 

Finally is software as a service (SaaS) which is the most commonly thought of part of the cloud. These are the applications we use,including many common ones such as, twitter, Netflix, hulu,Office 365, Hotmail (now and others.  

Basically, for most of us, the cloud looks just like our internal environment, servers, tools, and applications, right? 

Exactly! Nothing mysterious about it. However, there are 5 characteristics to the cloud that fundamentally differentiate it from on premise computing! Cloud Services are:
1.  On Demand Self Service. A consumer can provision computing capabilities automatically without requiring human interaction with the service vendor. Specific expertise may (often will) be required, but it is done by your IT staff, not the vendors.

2.  Broad Network Access. Capabilities are available over the network and accessed through standard mechanisms such as mobile phones, laptops, computers, or other mobile devices.

3. Resource Pooling. The provider's computing resources are pooled to serve multiple consumers using a multi-tenant model, with different physical and virtual resources dynamically assigned and reassigned according to consumer demand.

4.  Rapid elasticity. Capabilities can be rapidly provisioned, in some cases automatically, to quickly scale out and rapidly released to quickly scale in. To the consumer, the capabilities available for provisioning often appear to be unlimited and can be purchased in any quantity at any time.

5.  Measured Service. Resource usage can be monitored, controlled, and reported providing transparency for both the provider and consumer of the utilized service. 

    From an IT perspective, items 3 and 4 are the real differentiators. On premise computing and applications simply don't act that way, you have to buy hardware to ramp up, purchase licenses, and live with the fact that your computing power may be sub-optimized or overwhelmed based on specific timing of user need and quality of hardware purchased. Item 5 is what makes it all work from a business perspective, enabling us to pay for exactly what we used when we used it. 

    So, cloud computing is not complex, it is just offering the same capability set we are used to from on premise in a different model. Most of us have been using cloud for years (anyone use Gmail or Hotmail?).  

    To keep this brief, I want to close with one other reality check – the question to ask is not 'cloud or not' but what should be in the cloud and what should not. For the vast majority of business, the cloud will simply be an integrated part of our computing strategy, not a replacement for on premise. There are many complexities and capabilities that are not best managed via a cloud solution. However things like collaboration, off site backup and storage, and perhaps in many cases key applications or email may be perfect fits for the cloud. 

    Make the discussion around cloud part of your annual IT planning discussions. If you lack expertise in house, bring it in and ensure you have a clear understanding of how cloud computing should and will be part of your company's future! 

    And always make sure you are practicing happy computing!
    Richard Brunke

    Windows 8 Part 2

    Lots of talk about Windows 8 recently (not surprisingly). As I blogged earlier, I am a fan, but there are considerations that need to be considered when determining if you want to move to the new OS.

    First of all, I tested it using a touch device with a keyboard. Really the way this OS shines. I find myself naturally using a combination of touch and keyboard controls for a nearly seamless experience. If you took away the keyboard, I think that it would still be very compelling from an ease of use standpoint (once you figure out the basics). So, it is really at its best on a mobile touchscreen device, which is why I think the tablets and phones using Windows 8 will do so well (coupled with the rest of the productivity ecosystem of Microsoft).

    But, if you take away the touch screen, is it a good operating system? Yes, it is. But, not as compelling as it was with a touch screen. Windows 8 is a move forward in many ways. It is a lean OS that boots fast and lacks a lot of the bloat that previous versions suffered from (in terms of performance). It is visually appealing. Heck, boot times and leanness alone would make me interested. But, without that touch screen, there are actions that are more challenging, and you may find yourself learning some keystroke combinations to take certain actions with. Not a huge deal, and all things that can be learned quickly, but still not the full experience.

    On the desktop with a standard monitor you will have a fast OS that looks great and is well organized. You will also have to unlearn a few things and relearn them. Closing applications is different. Opening applications is different. Not worse really (unless you define different as worse), but defiantly new.

    If you are considering the upgrade, just make sure you ask yourself (or your IT professional) what you are hoping to achieve. Perhaps consider upgrading to touch screens where you can. There are a number of choices in touch screen monitors like the Acer T230H 23" monitor you can add for your PC that would enable optimal use of Windows 8. Even if you are not ready for new monitors, the speed and visual impact may be enough. I'd recommend if you upgrade you upgrade the whole office and conduct training so that you don't suffer from the slow dribbling of issues that come with learning a new OS. Make the change, train the staff, and move on.

    Or wait a while until you can buy touch screens, or until a service pack comes out. Either may be the right strategy for you, it depends on what you are trying to achieve!

    Just make sure you are focused on happy computing!
    Richard Brunke