10

Dec

2020

The Pandemic is Coming in Rip Tides, Not Waves. Is your Office and Staff Prepared?

 

We are now officially in what is being called the second wave of Covid-19. The reality is that these waves so far are smaller than prior pandemics, in most part to the fast-moving responses of governments and businesses in Canada. The impact when these waves hit can be tremendous though due to these responses (shutdowns, social distancing orders, capacity limitations, localized isolations, etc.). Unlike a gentle wave, these effects are more like riptides and if you are not prepared for it, they will pull your business under.

With the numbers rising again, and new response measures in place, employers are continuing to embrace work from home arrangements. Some smaller companies have returned to the office, and a few have a date set in mind for a potential return, but many want to keep the work from home regime alive and are in no rush to have their employers return to the office, especially with all the remaining uncertainty.

We are going to have to prepare for at least some or all our offices to be in lockdown over the next year. As waves of the pandemic come through your staff may have to self isolate because one of their kids encountered another kid at their school. They may have come into the office and had contact with other staff members. Your local community may be shifted back to a Stage 2 or Stage 1 lockdown to prevent community spread of the virus.

The key to remember is that you will have no control over this, and neither will your staff.

Collaboration tools have moved from “nice to have” to MUST haves, and you must have the right tools for your organization - not just what may be conveniently available at the time. What tools can allow your team to work as seamlessly as they would in the office? Can GoToMeeting sufficiently replace in person meetings? If you need to host a larger event, will you invest in GoToWebinar? Are Jive phone systems, and Microsoft Teams the right tools to allow continuous communication throughout your organization? If so, you need to ensure your team, and organization is equipped with these tools from the comfort of their own home offices.

Having your entire team working from home, or potentially “anywhere” can propose some problems. The biggest problem being security, which is closely followed by bandwidth. With your team working away from the office, your organization is going to have more files moving across the network. This is going to cause a slower and more painful user experience, and because of these users are going to begin taking shortcuts that could potentially compromise security. Creating a Virtual Desktop may be one of the most important things you do for your employees and your organization. Your team will have access to your organization's network so they can safely access and share documents with one another in a protected environment no matter where they are working from.

Lastly, since this pandemic has gone on for much longer than anyone had initially anticipated it is crucial to ensure your team is comfortable in their home-office. Providing your employees with the right tools such as laptops, webcams, printers, phones, and headsets could make all the difference within their day to day duties and allow the work from home experience to not feel so far away from the reality of working in office.

TIG has a team of experts who can help you put together a unique plan for your organization. We will work with you to learn more about your organization, what your goals and needs are, if they have changed, and deliver a full rounded package of products and services that will have you and your team prepared for long-term success.

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11

Aug

2020

Will we ever print at the office again?

Hint: Yes, but how we work with paper is forever changed.

As companies work through how to bring staff back to the office, how they work will drive many changes in policies and required infrastructure. One of the critical pieces to assess is print workflows. Our own company is planning for big changes in how our team members work together, and like you, it’s affecting how we work with paper.

Until a vaccine for COIVD19 is readily available, offices are going to have to enforce policies that protect the health and safety of their employees. That means reduced office capacity and enforced social distancing at the office. When you have to stay 2 metres apart from everyone, how work gets done will change. First, not everyone will be able to physically be in the office at the same time, and second, even if they are in the office they can’t work in close proximity.

The Three Workflow Styles and Paper Usage

Work in most offices can be divided into a few “workflows”. The first is individual administrative work - dealing with emails, organizing tasks, setting calendar appointments, etc. Next is individual focused work - the time that staff is working on individual tasks and projects to the exclusion of all other distractions, and finally there is collaborative work and meetings.

People print on paper for all 3 of these workflows today. In administrative mode - some people print out calendars or specific emails because they like to see the information they are working with on paper. Similarly, in focused work, they may print out revisions of work to see how it looks and to produce final copies of output. And in collaborative mode, they may be printing out information to share in a meeting with colleagues or customers. Even in offices with paperless policies a lot of printing still occurs.

All these print jobs generate demand in terms of paper output and printing supplies, but it also creates office traffic as users walk back and forth between their workstations and the printer. (And the breakroom for a coffee).

COVID IS Dropping Print Demand

There is currently a significant drop in print demand during the pandemic as in-person meetings are replaced by GoToMeeting Video Conferencing, and Office365 online document collaboration. Additionally, staff will be discouraged from printing superfluously either out of concern of their own health, or by enforced policies from IT as frequent trips in the office could increase the likelihood of virus spread.

Still some printing will occur and offices will need to plan for new workflows accordingly. For example, marketing professionals may still have a high need for marketing materials, direct mail, labels, etc. Finance departments may still need to print invoices for customers. These identified high output individuals may be better off getting their own specialized print devices placed closer to them to reduce the number of trips through the office.

What About After There’s A Vaccine?

The likelihood that things will go back to normal is low. A readily available vaccine is likely a year to 2 years away at this point, and while we are working in this new mode, we are training staff to be paperless. There’s a good chance that they will build collaboration habits that will not be undone when the pandemic is over.

Now Is The Best Time To Reimagine Your Print Setup

It’s probably a good idea to do an assessment of your setup, as you may be oversized for the amount of print volume you’ll be doing

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7

Feb

2018

4 Unexpected Ways Data Egress Fees Could Cost You

Cloud computing is often cited as a way for SMBs to save money. Smaller business, which typically don’t have the resources necessary to maintain their own in-house computing infrastructures are often seduced by the convenience and flexibility of public cloud services. Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure and Google Compute Engine (GCE) are the Big Three in this area, and millions of businesses rely on them every day.

Unfortunately, with most of the public cloud services come a whole raft of hidden costs, and it’s not always easy to take back control. After all, since the service providers want to discourage customers from getting out, there’s usually something of a vendor lock-in in the form of data egress fees. Data egress refers to outgoing data which, in this case, is data being migrated from one cloud service to another, an on-premises device or to another region operated under the same service provider.

Unsurprisingly, uploading data to the cloud (data ingress) is usually free. However, when companies want to move anything out of the cloud, they’ll typically be charged data egress fees. Fees are charged on a per-gigabyte basis, with multiple fee brackets meaning that cost per gigabyte is reduced once you reach larger data loads. Nonetheless, the costs can still run into thousands of dollars per month, which can be crippling for any small business that relies heavily on data.

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31

Jan

2018

Data Egress Fees Can Cost You – Here's What You Can Do About It

Ask any group of enterprise IT managers why they migrated to the cloud and most of them – if not all – will cite cost-savings. The cloud represents a new standard for enterprise applications, with Forbes reporting that 70% of all organizations have at least one app in the cloud as of late 2016. 90% of all organizations today are plan on running apps in the next few years.

The picture is clear: clouds save businesses money. However, although the cost-savings may be readily apparent when comparing cloud services to on-premises infrastructure, how do cloud providers match up with one another? What should customers look out for beyond the standard monthly subscription price?

Introducing Egress Fees

Most cloud service providers discriminate between various types of data transfer. Just like an international call costs more than a domestic one, so too does transferring data from your cloud to some far-off external destination. The fees for transferring data outside your cloud network are called data egress fees.

Data egress is the opposite of data ingress – transferring data from within your cloud to a destination also within your cloud – and most providers don't charge for ingress, but place a premium on egress.

For example, Google charges $.12 per GB for the first terabyte of data egress towards most destinations outside its servers. Amazon charges $.09 per GB for the first 10 TB of data egress. It's easy to see that any business relying on large transfers of data can quickly find itself overwhelmed with fees.

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24

Jan

2018

Cloud Management – Colocation Needs Explained

Colocation Services Improve Speed and Reliability

One of the main obstacles to using major cloud provider services is that most do not offer colocation services. Colocation is the ability to integrate client-owned assets and data with the existing cloud infrastructure – essentially keeping the most business-critical data elements at arm's reach.

Neither Amazon nor Microsoft allow for colocation services, so data uploaded on their cloud networks may end up residing in servers very far from the workstation handling the data. As physical distance increases, so does loading time and connection unreliability. The inability to have client-owned (or third-party) assets reside on their cloud networks is a serious disadvantage in terms of speed and cloud dependability. For enterprises that already own and operate their own data centers, colocation is the heart of the hybrid cloud strategy. For businesses just entering the field, local third-party colocation service providers can make space for clients on their infrastructure, ensuring that the most often-used data is available locally.

Enterprises are moving their mission-critical deployments to colocation servers for two primary reasons:

  • Data Center Design Improvements: New advances in data center design have made outsourced colocation more cost-effective than building a dedicated data center. Colocation providers can offer power, space, and cooling at prices that individual companies cannot match.
  • Increased Computing Demands: Virtualization and the continuing drive to handle ever-greater workloads puts a strain on purpose-built data centers. Retrofitting an older facility is far more expensive from a Total Cost of Ownership perspective than using colocation services – even in the long-term.

This is an enormous advantage for companies that need to make large amounts of data immediately accessible in different physical locations – large enterprises and government institutions, for example. The only other alternative would be building and staffing several distributed data centers in different geographical regions at great expense.

How Colocation Ties into Cloud Management

John Hall, Head of Portfolio at Atos UK/Ireland, asserts that most organizations fail to effectively manage their cloud deployments. He says that the combination of re-positioning existing IT departments to use cloud services and the fact direct executive-level communication occurs exclusively with cloud service providers creates loss of visibility. C-suite decision-makers effectively, "don't know what they don't know".

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