New Website for ISOutsource

As our company grows and reaches new audiences, we occasionally find we have outgrown our website and feel the need to start again. In this case, it is not about brand, as our brand remains the same – we are here to ensure our customers are happy, productive and feel supported. That has been core to our business for years now and remains our brand promise, and central to how we run our business.

But the world of IT continues to grow and expand. Cloud is 'all intrusive' in the lexicon or IT and business for starters and it is critical to ensure everyone understands 'we do that'. More importantly, we wanted to make 100% clear that ISOutsource has a flexible approach to outsourcing that embraces both small business (often as a sole IT provider) all the way up to true mid size businesses with hundreds of employees who may really want to augment existing resources. We believe we are one of the few outsource providers that provides engagement methods for virtually any business that is serious about managing their technology in an intelligent and pro-active manner. Whether you have 4 employees or 400 we have offerings that will speak specifically to your needs, to your business. Flexibility is the key to our business, as is exceptional services done in a transparent way.

We earn tomorrows business from our customers through the service we provide today. That is important to us. Long term contracts have their place I suppose, but not in IT. You deserve the flexibility to work with a vendor who earns your business every day rather than once every 2 or 3 years. You deserve the opportunity to work with an IT firm that, while focused on being a provider of managed services, still understands that your investment levels in IT will ebb and flow as your business cycle changes, and you need to manage to that reality, rather than be forced to manage to the schedule of a fixed price, fixed service contract which limits your choices and ability to rapidly adjust to technology changes.

We understand budgets and work to them all the time. Time and materials is not open season on billing… if that were true we would not maintain clients very long. Time and materials is simply the most transparent model available to our customers to ensure that they have a chance to understand and validate the value of all of our actions taken on their behalf.

Anyhow, you can read through the site and see all of this, likely worded far more eloquently than I do here. The fact is, I am proud of the company that we have built with the support of our customers, and I feel like our new site helps show what that company can do and how it can help you. If you have ever wondered how an outsource provider may be able to help you, fill in a contact form and talk to us!

We look forward to adding you to our list of happy, productive and supported customers.

Because it is all about happy computing!
Richard Brunke – COO

Windows 8 Upgrades

This question comes up every time Microsoft releases a new version of Windows – Do I upgrade, or not?

It is not a simple question, and one that has real business ramifications. I'll make this one simple for most of you – if you are NOT using touch screen computers, and you are NOT interested in being on the latest and greatest thing for the sake of being on it, then NO, you don't need to jump on the bandwagon of upgrading your PC's right away. Windows 8 is a big change for the OS, and one that absolutely represents the future of computing. Trust me, you will all be using Windows 8 eventually, and will wonder how you got by without it. But perhaps not today for many of you.

It is likely you WILL experience it in other ways, such as Windows 8 phones (I am VERY excited by the OS as it relates to smart phones) and tablet computers. Windows 8 will take the tablet experience to a new level for business users in my opinion, offering the business user a tablet with complete Microsoft Office functionality. That is HUGE for me and will be for many of you. These mobile devices will let us cut our teeth on the OS and get used to it, and as we go through our next hardware replacement cycle, many of us will start considering touchscreen enabled desktops. There is huge potential for productivity increases in these devices with the proper operating system.

So, upgrade if you like. Upgrade if you have a touch screen currently. But don't feel that you are being left behind right now if you don't. You will… soon enough. I will say, however, if you are on XP, its time to move on. Windows 7 is a powerful and stable environment and holding on to the comforts of the soon to no longer be supported XP just does not make sense… but that is another topic all together.

I'll be using a Windows 8 tablet soon. I believe it will be a critical mobile productivity tool. I look forward to talking more about it next month!
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Stay tuned… I think I'll discuss the differences between RT and Standard Windows 8 for tablets in my next blog entry!

And keep practicing Happy Computing!
Richard Brunke

Well, zombies are very popular right now, and it only was a matter of time before someone figured out how to link Zombies and IT. Well, it happened! An article entitled Zombies Are Killing Your Bottom Line actually turned out to be a relevant and interesting read and I thought I'd summarize a few key points to consider for those of you interested in protecting your bottom line (anyone???).

The key point of the article, which experience tells me is 100% correct, is that the odds are that most businesses have servers running that are not doing anything relevant, or that could be decommissioned.

All of us know that our needs change over time, as does our infrastructure. With changes in IT, sometimes no one is really clear what the server does, or thinks it can be decommissioned, but fails to do so because of fear of creating downtime, or interrupting something that may be relevant. The more servers you have, the more consolidation you've done, the more risk that this is a real issue!

Sometimes the server simply has been partially decommissioned, but left running, though it is no longer providing any relevant purpose. So, why care? Well, it is important to keep in mind that these 'zombies' cost money to run. In fact, the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative, Sept. 2011 states that the average cost to support a single mid-tier server is $2,000 per year! Wow.

Think about the efforts we go through to save a few hundred dollars here and there, and you realize that identification and eradication of zombies is important, and even in a small business could easily add up to many thousands of dollars. Especially in light of other estimates that state between 10 and 30% of most companies servers are indeed zombies! If you have 6 servers, you may be sitting on a few of these and spending $4,000 per year. Can you think of a use for that? I know I could!

The secret is documentation! If you don't have excellent documentation, then spend the time or money to get that done and figure out what zombies you may be harboring behind the closed doors of your server room. Then execute a program to fully decommission these zombies and eradicate the waste they represent. IT spend it part of business, but IT waste does not have to be, and servers should not be allowed to become expensive zombies sucking the life out of your profits! As always, Happy (and cost effective) Computing!

June 20, 2012 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                             
ISOutsource Named One of Washington's Best Workplaces by Puget Sound Business Journal
2012 Finalists to be honored and winners announced at special event on August 9  

SEATTLE, WA – June 20 – ISOutsource was named as one of the finalists for Washington's Best Workplaces by the Puget Sound Business Journal.  The program was launched in 2007 to identify and recognize best practices in the hiring and retention of great people.  This year, after an extensive and rigorous process, which included more than 300 nominees and the completion of surveys by nominee-company employees across the state, workplaces in four different categories have been identified as Washington's best, based on their various employee benefit offerings, leadership culture and work/life balance philosophies. In total, 85 companies have made the grade as finalists.  

The computer industry often ignores the people it supports and places the focus on technology.  By contrast, ISOustource has developed a culture that is customer-focused.  The company has found that the market is very responsive to this unique approach and the result has been an enviable 26% year-over-year growth.   

"At ISOutsource we find that when we provide a happy, productive and supported experience for our clients, that carries over to our employees as well." says Day Hay, owner and CEO.  "We do things differently at ISOutsource, and we know that when employees feel valued they deliver on our promise and clients will experience happy computing."  

"Work force development has never been more important – or more difficult – than it is in today's global economy," said Gordon Prouty, publisher of the Business Journal. "We believe the Business Journal has an important role to play in drawing attention to innovations and excellence in the management of our region's No. 1 resource: its people."  

The finalists will be celebrated at a one-of-a-kind awards event at Safeco Field on Aug. 9. Honorees and the public alike are invited to come cheer for the workplace accomplishments of these companies from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. The celebration will include ballpark food and drink, walking the bases, speed pitching, and an awards presentation. The company with the greatest number of employees present will win a suite at a future Seattle Mariners game.  

For more information, visit: www.wabestworkplaces.com    

About ISOutsource is the largest provider of I.T. consulting services in the Pacific Northwest and is the trusted partner for over 500 companies.  With vast resources, ISOutsource provides flexible end-to-end I.T. field consulting services combined with their best-in-class local help desk ensuring a fast response time.  Founded in 1992 and headquartered in Bothell Washington, they have additional office locations in Seattle, Tacoma and Portland.  ISOutsource holds the rare distinction of being a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner.  Visit ISOutsource on the web at www.isoutsource.com  

About Puget Sound Business Journal is the region's premier source of business information, serving an unparalleled audience of business and community leaders. In addition to the weekly newspaper, the Business Journal provides 24/7 business news via its web site and email alerts.  The company also plays a vital role in bringing the area's leadership community together by hosting a wide variety of events throughout the year, from the annual 100 Fastest Growing Private Companies celebration to the Women of Influence awards event. Puget Sound Business Journal is a unit of American City Business Journals, which operates 40 local business newspapers throughout the United States. Visit Puget Sound Business Journal on the web at www.pugetsoundbusinessjournal.com or www.psbjconnects.com  

Contact:
Tammey Newton, Director of Sales and Marketing
(425) 646-6004
www.isoutsource.com  

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Well, maybe. The new iPad will cost the same as the old but will have a screen (double the old) resolution and updated technology to keep it fast. There's more, but their are also a thousand blogs to look that up on. The question I wanted to answer is 'is this a game changer for business users'. Likely no. 4g is the biggest feature change for a power business user, with hot spot capabilities. Considering how many people spend most online time in wifi mode, even that is of limited value in terms of upgrades in my opinion.

So, its cool. For personal uses like casual gaming and video, it is an amazing upgrade. For work, I'd not move my iPad 1 and 2 users over by any means.

But there was more to the press conference that really has some meaning. Apple stated that 76% of their sales were from 'post PC' products. They also stated that iPad sales in Q4 (units) were higher than the sales of the largest PC manufacturer in units for their PC's.

From an IT standpoint, that is a transformational statement. From a business standpoint, that means that these devices are proliferating at an astounding rate. People want them and are buying them, and they are integrated personal/business devices in many cases.

There is an opportunity for business to embrace this and reap the productivity rewards these devices offer. Make it known that you are tablet friendly and have IT help users configure these devices to fully enable business productivity use. Between the Apple tablets and the Amazon offering and all the 'also ran's' the odds are many of your employees are using these devices daily.

Heck, you may reap the benefits without even having the make the investment! As I've posted before, I think the investment justified. It has paid off for me and my team (we all use iPads). Tapping into these productivity resources and being ready to embrace them and integrate them into IT plans is not only smart, its necessary.

Happy post PC Computing!

-Richard Brunke

" />There are many scary things in life: taxes, death, spiders and the newest one for the list – texting while walking. The following video takes a humorous approach to this new issue.
 


 

Ok, so perhaps it is not the 8th sign of the apocalypse, but it is a legitimate concern for all of us and our employees. Keep in mind, if you expect people to be 'always on' and responding within a minute to any text or email you send, you are not really giving them much choice other than to be a texting driver, texting walker, etc.

I for one remember fondly the concept of collecting up my thoughts and concerns and delivering them via a daily phone call with my boss. A focused time of communications and priority setting. Then I spent my day achieving those goals, making decisions and doing things. Not texting or emailing about doing things, but actually doing them.

I love technology. I love the added productivity it enhances our lives with. However, I also realize that we have to be smart and manage these tools and use them intelligently, not become enslaved by them.

My simple rules for texting (or emailing) on a mobile device:

1) In the bathroom. Never. Just don't. I could explain, but I should not have
2) Driving. Never. People die that way.
3) On a date or in a social setting. Be careful. It is no different than starting up a physical conversation with another person, so be aware of who you are with.
4) Walking. Maybe not. Or at least not near traffic, water fountains, doors, or crowds. Plenty of YouTube 'fails' to see on texting and walking to prove that this now belongs on the list.

Let's just be careful out there, and practice safe AND Happy Computing.

-Richard Brunke

Will Windows 8 Be Relevant in 2012?

Well, the simple answer is YES. And NO.

I suppose that bears a little explanation. The fact is, for business PC users, Windows 8 on the PC won't likely become something you will be looking at for several years. There are not a slew of powerful features coming to drive upgrades. I'd expect that upgrades to Windows 8 will come more when PC hardware has moved deeper into the transition to touch screen usage, and the integration of functionality between tablet usage and PC usage is a more common issue.

But that is not a 2012 issue, so your budget is safe.

What about tablet users? While the iPad has a stranglehold on the market, and Amazon is pushing hard, Microsoft is late to the game. However, a common complaint I, and many other tablet users have is that we don't have our applications. We have 3rd party apps that do similar things, but are not fully compatible, behave different, etc. Frankly, I want Microsoft Office. That's my productivity suite. I also want my other common PC apps to run on a tablet. The PC is the center of my computing universe, and it sets the bar for what things I want to be able to do. I want my tablet to behave consistently with that. That is where Windows 8 comes in. The idea of having a tablet, with all the conveniences of a tablet, that allows me to easily do all the same things I do on my PC, in the same way, is a powerful one. That is the experience I want. I think in this way, Windows 8 on tablets may be a slow start, but it will be a contender if the hardware is solid. There are many business users who could care less about Angry Birds that would love to have the experience of having the full power of their laptop at their fingertips with the convenience of a tablet. I feel that tablets are indeed a productivity boon for the small to medium enterprise (and beyond) and Windows 8 will perhaps take this up a notch. I'll be watching this carefully, and likely test a device or two this year.

Home users also will experience Windows 8 in spades, as it will roll out by the millions. The new all in one touch screen PC's are really optimized for the Windows 8 experience. Again, as hardware shifts in this direction in the enterprise (give it a few years at least), Windows 8 will find a home.

About the time Windows 9 comes along.

Ah, the one constant in technology is change!

Happy Computing!

-Richard Brunke

One of my pet peeves is not having enough screen real estate to do my job. While it is common to buy new computers every 3 years, or less in some cases, it is also common to see those new PC's connected to old monitors, often 5 years old or older, and almost always small.

This is a problem, and really a big mistake. First of all, the entire computing experience is through the monitor. The less space you have on that screen, the more you have to jump back and forth between applications. All day long. You know what I'm talking about, don't you?

Frankly, you should think about your monitor like your desk. It would be hard to be efficient and effective on a 2′ desk, now wouldn't it? All of your important stuff could not even sit on the desk at the same time, and reading any papers would take the whole space. I can't imaging anyone with a 2′ desk. Well, that is what you have if you have a single 19″ or smaller monitor.

For the average PC user, you are using several applications at once throughout the day. Email is always open, Excel is open, Word is open, and perhaps even some line of business application is open. We work on these periodically while always jumping back to email. A large monitor, or FAR better, two large monitors, would allow you to work on these applications without jumping back and forth. It saves productivity and frustration. It also simply speeds up the completion of many tasks.

In my case, two large screens allow me to have spreadsheets displayed in a way so I am not scrolling all the time to see everything I need to see at once and keep email live on the screen. It seems like such a simple thing: Don't put those new PC's on ancient monitors! Really, anything under 21″ is absolutely in need of an upgrade! You productivity will increase, and morale will increase. Everyone loves getting a new monitor!

The best news is that monitors are not that expensive! Here are a few great choices –

The Viewsonic VX2450wm – LED which is a 24″ screen for $180
The Dell S2230MX which is a 22″ screen for $170
The HP 2311x which is a 23″ screen for $160

Personally, I'd go with the 23″ minimum or the 24″ for another twenty bucks if you can swing it. You will be amazed by the increased functionality you will have with that expensive PC! Next time you set your IT budget, seriously look at your monitor inventory and start upgrading to newer larger screens, and where possible to two per user (for those who will benefit). It will be a smart investment in your employees productivity.

Happy (and productive) computing!

-Richard Brunke

iPhones and Adroids and Windows, Oh My!

I was reading an article on CIO.com today about Apple in the Enterprise: Breaking Microsoft's Grip and found that while it was interesting, it sort of really missed the point. One would assume from the headline that Apple is driving into the enterprise and pushing out Microsoft at the level of core apps or operating systems. Well, not exactlyÂ…

The article is misleading in that the reality is that Apple (and Android) are actually EXPANDING the overall technology spend and enhancing productivity through new products that were poorly penetrated or did not exist. They are talking about iPads and iPhones (and I will include Android phones and pads into that) which are seeing hugely increased penetration into the enterprise. Well, tablets are new to the market, and are NOT replacing primary computing sources, but are creating incremental spend for incremental productivity. Smart phones are much the same, though clearly they are pounding away at the Blackberry market share.

Now one could certainly see these products as beachheads into the enterprise and assume that Apple will expand outward and start pushing out core computing assets that are traditionally Microsoft based from an OS and application standpointÂ… but I don't know that this can be assumed. I believe that new devices are adding value to enterprise users creating new spend and frankly, simply enhancing the overall productivity of the enterprise user, not devaluing the core Microsoft application in any way, in fact, I find email even more valuable when I can access it in many ways, and accessing it on my phone and iPad do not threaten the lock Microsoft Exchange has on email in any way as I see it. In fact, we all seek apps for our devices that best emulate Outlook, so our email can behave the way we expectÂ… the way Microsoft has trained us that email should look and behave.

It is a fundamental truth that IT environments are becoming mixed, and more complex. The other side of that coin is that IT environments are becoming more user oriented, more focused on providing multiple methods of access via multiple devices for our email, files, and applications. This trend will only escalate, and I'd not worry too much about MicrosoftÂ… I think they will be just fine, and if they recognize that THEY have developed the user experience we all expect and benchmark by (like Microsoft or hate them, their enterprise apps are the de facto standard) then they should be able to continue to own the critical back end systems and PC user experience, especially if they embrace the reality of the multiple different ecosystems (some that are competitive) that in fact benefit from and perhaps even rely on their products, and feed off of their user base.I think that we will see more integration in years to come, not less, and more diversity of technologies all sharing the same base of applications and data. I don't think that the cloud will be the primary source for most of this, but our good old servers running our core applications will, all accessed in a tightly integrated fashion by Apple, and Android devices.When you put it all together, you definitely have more ways to experience.

Happy Computing
 -Richard Brunke

Thankful for IT Support?

With Thanksgiving just a day away, I was pondering the many things I am thankful for, much like everyone does this time of year. Strangely, IT support never makes the top of my list. I knowÂ… I knowÂ… it seems impossible that the COO of and IT services business would say that. But, in reality, as an IT service provider, our job is to be behind the scenes, and to not draw attention, to be honest. I often liken our service to an electrical outlet on the wall. We don't think to say 'thank you power company' every time we successfully plug an item in and find out we get power. It is supposed to work, and when it does we don't think twice.

But, when it does not workÂ… then we notice, and not in a good way.

So, I understand our role in the lives of our customers. IT is obviously a critical enabler of business, but it needs to just work. IT providers need to provide their service in a way that shows an understanding of the realities of your business. We are here to serve your needs, and to wrap ourselves around them, not the opposite. There should be no mystery in IT, no black box into which you are not allowed to peer for fear of your discovering what you are really paying for. It is a service, and a service that requires specific and deep expertise, and a service that must be done in a way that is focused on you and your business. We really mean it when we talk about HAPPY, PRODUCTIVE and SUPPORTED as the primary goals of our business as it relates to our clients.

Anyhow, not a big marketing message today. To get to the gist of this blog entry, at ISOutsource, we are thankful to our clients for the opportunity to serve them. We feel like partners in every business we support, and genuinely are motivated to help ensure your business is successful and your users are productive and feel supported. There is no greater calling than providing valuable services, and we are proud to provide those services, and we thank every one of our customers that has shown us their trust and enabled the growth of our business over the years. Being the biggest is an outcome, not a goal. We have endeavored to be the best, and by focusing on that goal, we have become the biggest. We fully intend to keep our focus on being the best, and ensuring that, like with that outlet, when you plug something in, it simply works without a lot of thought about it.

Thank you for letting us help you practice Happy Computing.
 -Richard Brunke