WAN, LAN, INET, WLAN, WIFI, RAID, SAS, SATA…
LOL! Can we get another acronym here? Things are so cray -cray with the Phoenix IT Support scene, it’s kind of unnerving (#GOINGCRAZY.) Anyway, MMA Systems is here to help. As a valued customer, we’ll be bringing you small and informative pieces in order to help you understand all of this technology. These articles will be focused on concepts such as new or emerging technology, trending ideas in business computer systems, best practices, and general thoughts on today’s twisted, fast paced, circuit driven, regulation pounding, busy, busy, business world we all live in. We hope you enjoy and look forward to serving you in the future.
This Month’s Topics:
VLAN or not to VLAN…that is the question…or is it?
So, you just got back from a conference and sat in on one of the technology sessions where the presenters were talking about this and that, about things you know, and things you already do and wait what’s that??? What’s he saying about ‘V’ what? VLANs, what’s that? Do I have one? DO I NEED ONE?!?!?!
You may or may not have heard about a technology called VLAN. It stands for Virtual Local Area Networks. Virtual? Huh? How can wires to my computers be virtual? Well…it’s not really the physical hardware and wires that are virtual but
how the data travels across said hardware and wires. It’s kind of like when you were traveling on vacation in a car and your siblings wouldn’t stop looking at you (or touching you) so your Mom rigged up a device to hang a towel or blanket
down the middle, separating you and your pesky brother. You’re still driving in the same car, still can talk to Mom or Dad, still can hear the radio and will still get to the same destination, you just don’t have to look at their gross face.
Huh? Well…while flashbacks are great, try this for a more real world example:
Think of your current work environment with you and your co-workers computers. Everything is connected and talking to each other. Your computer can talk with the printers and talk with the server and talk with Bob’s computer (if your Bob, you
can talk to Sally’s computer.) This would be a typical LAN environment. Now let’s say that a group of five co-workers get a ‘special project’ and they still need to print, still need access to the sever but they need to not be seen by other
computers and need not to see other computers for security reasons. One way of accomplishing this is to physically separate them with new wiring, new switches, new network routers, etc. This is a costly investment in hardware and setup time.
Plus when the projects are done and the ‘special project’ people need to be reintegrated into the rest of the LAN, you have to change it all back and now you have all this extra hardware and cabling. Enter VLAN technology (with bridging).
A VLAN allows every computer to be on a separate LAN, not physically but virtually. It uses technology at the network switch that allows you to program what computers go to what VLAN. You can specify a VLAN for a single computer, separating them
from the rest of the LAN or groups of computer. With bridging, you can allow different VLANs to use shared resources, such as printers, servers, scanners, etc. The technology allows you to specify which VLANs have access to what shared resources
or not to have access to those shared resources.
VLANs are great for environments such as human resource departments, IT and IT security departments, financial groups. They’re perfect for two or more small businesses sharing costs of rental space, network infrastructures, etc., but don’t
necessarily need to share data between them. Basically, any time a need calls for data segregation and not necessarily physical segregation.
OK, raise your hand if you have VoIP phone systems or an extensive video surveillance system or utilize video conferencing heavily. Good there’s a few of you. As you know (or we may have told you) these technologies are very data intensive
and will consume your bandwidth not only at your internet connection but also on you LAN. Once again enter VLAN technology. When these technology get used, because of the dynamic nature of voice and video, they flood the network with all kinds
of data and can severely slow down or halt your network. VLAN technology can place all of this type of data traffic on its own separate network, preserving your normal business network for your everyday tasks. This will make both the VoIP or
video and your regular data run much smoother. Kind of like a car pool lane for data intensive technology.
This is all great, but do I need it?
Well, if you have any of the situations described above, then you could benefit from VLAN technology. Business that have a small staff or don’t have a need to segregate data, VLAN might overkill. But if you have ‘departments’ and sensitive
information stored on desktops or resource (e.g. color printer) you only want certain people to ‘see’, VLANs would be beneficial. And of course if you have a good number of VoIP phones, you might consider looking into VLAN hardware to help
smooth out the data flow on your network.
VLANs are a pretty interesting concept and while not applicable for everyone, they have they’re place and a lot of business don’t know about them or understand them to be able to see their application. If you think you might be a candidate
for using VLANs, feel free to contact us and we’d be more than happy to analyze your situation.
Security For Business In The 21st Century
The growth in technology has been great in opening doors of opportunity, however, this increased opportunity now mandates an effective IT policy and strategy to keep your business secure and safe from a data breach and compliant with ever increasing and
complex laws and regulations.There is one key word that will reduce the risk to your business. “POLICY”. A comprehensive acceptable use policy (AUP) should be implemented by all organizations that can monitor business activities at a granular level to help you
reduce risk and plan for the future.In today’s article, we will cover AUP for Social Media
“Personal info is easily harvested these days from blogs, social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter,
or from a business’s web site itself. It’s as uncomplicated as searching for blog postings about buying certain products, monitoring LinkedIn for people who work for a particular organization, or capturing the names of friends on Facebook pages. One report revealed that 324 spear phishing attacks against 88 employees of the same company appeared to come from their senior executive email addresses – addresses most likely gleaned from professional networking sites.”
Zeus Botnet Targeting Macy’s, Nordstrom account holders, SC Magazine, December 09, 2010With the right filtering tools, you can develop your AUP to allow marketing employees to have access to Social Media sites anytime, other employees can be limited to certain hours of the day while disallowing games entirely to protect bandwidth and productivity. Your policy can also define applications access such as web application, Adobe Acrobat, or Microsoft Excel.Finally, your UAP needs to address the issue of employees posting on company twitter or Facebook pages that can expose sensitive information or objectionable comments that create negative PR, loss of customers, or fines. Be certain you understand how social media sites can be used to move your business forward and then develop your AUP to protect you.-Rusty McCurdy – CEO, MMA Systems
White Hat vs. Black Hat SEO
In this day and age, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has become one of the top contributors to gaining new customers and generating more revenue for all types of businesses. And with the internet being the first thing everyone turns to for answers, why shouldn’t it be? SEO is the method for driving a website to the top of the SERPs! What’s a SERP? A SERP stands for Search Engine Results Page. This is the page that lists all the results of your search after you press the search button on Google, Bing, Yahoo or any other search engine.
Are you ready for an example? Open your web browser and go to google.com. Now search for “IT consulting Phoenix” and inspect the SERPs on the first page. Keep in mind that the first two or three of these results are paid for ads that most consumers overlook. Now, what websites are listed as the top three? Did you say mmasystems.net was in that list?! Holy Cow, how did we do that?! (#MAGIC) That’s right! MMA Systems has begun providing SEO as a service to any of our clients with a website. If you don’t have a website, then what are you waiting for? We can make one for you!
Now that the idea of SEO has become clear, it is important to know that there are two different ways to go about increasing a website’s position in the SERPs and that one way is better than the other. First, there is Black Hat SEO. This method will get a website to the top of the SERPs as quickly as possible. The tasks involved with Black Hat SEO involve buying external links from link farms or a shady person who is willing to put a link to your website on any other website they can get their hands on. External links are links on a website that take a web surfer back to your website. These are sometimes called backlinks! Unfortunately, backlinks created in this way are rarely put in relevant or appropriate websites.
Another technique practiced in Black Hat SEO is used by many firms trying to get quick results. This technique is called ‘keyword stuffing.’ Keywords are the words placed in a website that match the words you type in your search query on Google, Bing, or Yahoo. ‘Keyword stuffing’ is the act of placing as many of these keywords into a website as possible, which may lead a search engine on to find it. Even so, this can make the website seem like spam and unreadable to visitors. Another sneaky tactic is stuffing keywords into the website and making them invisible, or the same color as the background.
These routines may seem easy and quick, but they can yield some nasty consequences! Google has been cracking down on Black Hat websites and removing their page rank or banning them from the Google index all together. The Black Hat SEO may seem like a quick answer, but it is definitely not worth it!
When it comes to SEO, MMA Systems does not mess around! We use the White Hat SEO methods. The White Hat SEO route is a bit more formidable than a Black Hat. White Hat requires tons of research and analysis. We rewrite your meta-tags (information in your web page that tells Google what the page is all about) and website content to make it readable for visitors, but pepper it with relevant keywords. We seek out reputable websites that can provide backlinks to yours. We write articles that relate to your products and services and disperse them to credible article web sites. Then, we search for blogs that pertain to your business and add to the conversation within the comments here and there. After we have made our appearance and gained the trust of the bloggers on that site, we’ll drop a backlink to your site. These are just some expert secrets of White Hat SEO. We don’t want to spoil the rest!
White Hat SEO may seem tedious and time consuming, but the results are magnificent! Your website comes within standards on Google, Bing, and Yahoo and you don’t have to worry about getting banned from the SERPs. Your web site will also have a tendency to stay near the top of the SERPs once it gets there. And once your website gets there, you won’t be able to count the money that comes rolling in!!
Business Growth through Client Centered Marketing
How many times do we need to hear as business owners, “the best form of marketing is word of mouth” before we start reaping the benefits of word of mouth marketing?
Here are three simple things you can start doing today that will lay a successful foundation for growing your business through your client’s word of mouth referrals:
1. Ask for the referral
Don’t roll your eyes; I would not have to say this if it was not the biggest reason why businesses do not get client referrals. How you ask may improve your statistics,
but if you never ask then you’re missing 100% of your opportunity.
Did you start your business with the idea, “I’m going to make my clients as miserable as possible and make millions doing it.” No. Most of us have a passion behind what
we offer; whether you’re a medical office, retail store, or specialized service professional, a lot of why we got into business is centered on an idea that we
have something better to offer than our competitors. With that passion or purpose we know a good business has a solid base of repeat customers; and a successful business
is based on client based growth. Be successful, ask for referrals.
2. Make it easy
If I am a perspective client, how would I give you a referral? Where do I go? Who do I tell? How do I know if you’re even interested in referrals? Now that you’re going to start
asking for referrals, make it easy for your clients to give them to you. Make signs, add a referral page to your website, remind them in newsletters, and make an easy to fill out
form, or create a referral program. By the way did you see MMA System’s new referral rewards program?
You may have the best relationship with your clients, but if they don’t know how to communicate with you, then you are missing out on the opportunity for them to share how wonderful
they think you are to others. All too often we business owners are sucked into this idea that clients will automatically recommend us to their friends or business partners; but without
referral-based tools to give clients, we do ourselves a great disservice. So make it easy.
3. Track your referral sources
Now that you’re asking and giving your clients the resources they need to give you referrals; start tracking where every client comes from. You need to be actively looking for opportunities to
say thank you to your clients. There are a million different ways to say thank you and ALL of them are cheaper than running a TV commercial or radio ad. If you create a referral program make
sure you are clear on the rules or parameters so you can protect yourself from ‘gamers,’ but also remember this is a tool to grow your business so don’t be too strict in application. Never let your clients think they are not appreciated so, be prompt in your response time for the clients who have referred.
These are essentially easy things to do, right? But how consistent are you? The real measure of success will be in your ability to maintain consistency in your referral cycle. Commit this month to do these three things and remember without consistency you will fall right back into old habits.
“Severe change and exceptional returns usually don’t mix.” – Warren Buffett
Do You Feel Like a Prisoner to Your Business, Employees and Customers?
Men are not prisoners of fate, but only prisoners of their own minds. – Franklin D. Roosevelt
To begin, let me ask you some revealing questions. As a business owner, can you walk away from your business today for one or two months and come back to find it operating smoothly and profitably? Can you even escape for two weeks? Have you ever had a work-free vacation? If your answers are “no”, you don’t have a successful business, you have a glorified job in which you are trapped! You don’t have an effective business system; you are the business system! In a large sense, you are a prisoner of your own success.
Do not be offended by this very direct and frank communication. Please note, I admire, respect and serve business owners and their managers. However, I get paid to help my clients “face reality” and then hold them accountable for the changes and goals they desire.
No matter what industry you are in, you should not be a prisoner to your business! If you are, you have it backwards. Your business should serve you and your dreams. It should give you greater freedom, not less. In fact, your business, properly designed, should function practically without you, not because of you. It should run predictably and automatically whether you are in the office or not, in the store or not, out in the field or not, on vacation or not. Your business should not depend upon your presence, personality, problem solving and perspiration for its daily survival. If so, your business does not work, you do!
Bottom line, you should run your business; it should not run you, your family or your life. Your business should work harder so you don’t have to. It should be systems-dependent and not owner-dependent or expert-dependent for its success. It should have its own heart, mind, and soul – it should not steal your vital organs and spirit!
Stop for a moment and think of the consequences. If everything in your business flows through you and is dependent upon you, then you are restricting dramatically the growth and profits of your company. As a single human being, there are natural limits to the amount of work, transactions, problems, and decisions that can flow effectively through you in a given day. Stop being a bottleneck or clog. Otherwise, you will continue to restrict the potential of your employees and business and ensure your persistent exhaustion. Stop missing out on greater personal freedom, money and happiness.
Let me be very clear, you are the expert in your business and industry. I am not and will never claim to be. My expertise is guiding business owners to unlock greater potential in themselves and their businesses. I coach and mentor owners/managers, like you, to define clearly and then reach their business and personal goals. To implement the changes they desire. I guide owners to become more effective, focused, productive and strategic. To face reality, identify solutions, and help them stay on track. I help overwhelmed owners/managers to work “on” themselves, “on” their businesses, and “on” their specific issues, opportunities and goals.
If you would like to achieve greater freedom, fulfillment and financial returns from your business, please contact me.
- Wayne Pratt – Owner/Head Coach, The Growth Coach