Here’s how to deploy IT hardware in America’s most complex city

new york cityIf you think a major IT deployment in New York City is easy, fuggedaboutit.

That was the challenge The Legal Aid Society faced when preparing a new hardware rollout. About every seven years, The Legal Aid Society refreshes its hardware infrastructure, which is about 2,500 devices in 26 offices spread throughout New York City. Because The Legal Aid Society provides free legal assistance to some of the city’s poorest residents, its staff of lawyers, paralegals, and interns (more than 2,000 law professionals) couldn’t be disturbed by long waits for new equipment.

But while the process of deploying new laptops and desktops might sound simpler than many other IT jobs, it wasn’t as straightforward as it sounds. The Legal Aid Society had to carefully adhere to grant funding requirements, as well as manage union rules, building policies, and the logistical problems associated with a large scale IT initiative in New York City. Continue Reading…

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Assessing security: How one health care provider stepped up its security outlook

healthcare securityWhen the federal government offers incentives to support a change, many organizations sprint to meet the benchmarks that trigger the payoffs. That was the goal when, in 2009, the government offered grant money to spur the adoption of electronic medical records (EMRs). Since 2009, 80 percent of doctors and 60 percent of hospitals have converted to EMRs, and $28 billion has been paid out to health care providers for converting paper files to digital.

A large health care provider in the Midwest was among them. Serving more than 200,000 patients, the organization had thousands of medical records on file that needed to be digitized. The company ramped up the push for electronic records to meet the government incentives, including its requirement to use only electronic records for Medicare and Medicaid patients by the end of 2013.

But as the company, like many providers, rushed to meet these new EMR requirements, it found the cyber security requirements were changing far faster than other technologies.

The organization knew it needed to ramp up security — and quickly — to continue to meet its responsibility to its patients and their privacy, and to continue to meet health care privacy rules and HIPAA requirements, while maintaining the security of the entire system. But with IT resources tied up in the switch to EMRs, how could the organization best upgrade its security? Continue Reading…

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The hazards of ad hoc data centers

SHI PSO data center case studyIf I’ve seen it once, I’ve seen it a hundred times. Organizations start out by installing a few small-scale servers to back up and restore network data. Then as the business grows, storage needs increase, leaving IT departments to stitch together temporary solutions. These brief bandages often end up becoming long-term solutions and create a patchwork infrastructure that can leave organizations overspending time, money, and resources to manage their growing data stores.

This is exactly what happened recently to a point-of-sale and management software provider. The company’s ultimate decision on how to update its environment underscores every organization’s responsibility to proactively design its systems rather than take an ad hoc approach.

Unmanageable infrastructure

The company was quickly outgrowing its data center as business expanded, and it needed a cost-effective way to revamp its storage solution. Instead of updating its current servers, which would have cost thousands of dollars, the company opted to add on two EMC VNX storage systems, three Lenovo RD640 rack servers, and four Brocade ICX6610-48 switches from SHI. While the new servers were a step in the right direction for its data center refresh, the company had no plan for implementation. Instead, they asked us to step in and handle the update. Continue Reading…

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What one organization’s migration from Windows XP can teach you about your IT department

LaptopsWindows XP reigned as one of the most popular Windows operating systems, making the end of support for the beloved system a bitter pill to swallow for large and small organizations. Many feared the potential headache associated with transitioning their infrastructures to Windows 7 or Windows 8, not to mention losing the familiarity of XP, leaving some waiting until the last minute to migrate. However, some companies that have moved on found that the migration process wasn’t as difficult as they expected, and more importantly, the conversion created an opportunity to improve their IT processes as a whole.

Facing the end of Windows XP

With the April 8, 2014 deadline quickly approaching, a state agency with more than 22,000 employees took steps to get ahead of its transition, developing a conversion process that it hoped would simplify Windows 7 adoption throughout the organization.

To ease implementation, the agency turned to long-time partner SHI. Knowing the complexities of the agency’s environment, we assessed the conversion process with an eye toward any potential holes as well as opportunities for general improvements to IT. Continue Reading…

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Tablets in education: Why one Texas school district turned to the Surface RT

The tablet landscape is crowded with iPads, Galaxy Notes, Kindles, and Surfaces, each including a different blend of features, that IT managers must carefully evaluate to select the tablet that best the needs of thousands of users. Unfortunately, there is no “best” tablet for any industry or organization — it all depends on what systems you’re currently using and what functions you need to achieve defined goals. That’s exactly what a Texas school district recently discovered as it navigated this exact situation, vetting the many tablet options to find the one that best fit its teachers’ needs and its existing IT infrastructure. Here’s how the school district narrowed down the tablet field and what option they ultimately settled on.

The Challenge

The district sought to equip its 2,200 district teachers with tablets to aid in classroom activities and increase mobility and productivity throughout the school year. But many tablets could achieve those objectives. The district was unsure which tablet would offer the greatest benefits, and needed to narrow down the choices. It turned to longtime partner SHI to dig into its true needs and match the district with the right device.

SHI defined the district’s six key device needs as follows: Continue Reading…

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The silent 12th man: How IT could help the Broncos win the Super Bowl

With Super Bowl XLVIII looming, you can be certain the Seahawks and the Broncos are leaving few things to chance. Coaches are refining their game plans. Players are reviewing tape. Trainers are assuring their teams are in peak physical condition. And while Seattle won’t have its famous 12th man–the loudest fans on Earth–in full force on Sunday, the Broncos will have their own version of the 12th man working behind the scenes: their IT team.

In the typical football game, the IT team is invisible to the fans, but crucial to the players. I’ve heard that when Peyton Manning steps off the field after a drive, he’ll grab his tablet to playback the series and pinpoint any adjustments he needs to make. It’s a smart strategy if connectivity is fast and reliable. But just five minutes of slow Internet could prevent him from watching the feed, eliminate the chance for corrections, and potentially change the game’s outcome.

A single game at Sports Authority Field in Denver eats up as much bandwidth as a typical neighborhood block over a month as announcers, coaches, and players all connect to the network. In an effort to solve this bandwidth problem and gain greater security and control over the Broncos network as a whole, the team sought out a more reliable and manageable solution. Continue Reading…

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Gila improves performance, scalability, cost structure, and disaster recovery with the SHI Cloud

Early concerns over the cloud’s security and privacy are proving no match for its efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and elasticity. And hybrid cloud infrastructure, which blends the cloud’s benefits with the security organizations desire, is taking hold.

In fact, a recent study commissioned by Microsoft and conducted by 451 Research indicates that 68 percent of businesses plan to adopt hybrid cloud models over the next two years.

Customers concerned about the security of sensitive or proprietary data can take comfort in the hybrid cloud’s use of in-house servers while capitalizing on the scalability and cost savings of a public cloud infrastructure.

Now one of the early adopters of hybrid cloud and, in fact, SHI’s first hybrid cloud customer, Gila, is speaking out about its IT goals and challenges, the solutions it implemented, and the benefits it has achieved by deploying a hybrid cloud strategy. Continue Reading…

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Recommended Reading: Cloud services help SHI redefine the buyer-seller dynamic for huge efficiency gains

Earlier this summer at the Ariba Live Conference in Washington, D.C., SHI’s John D’Aquila met with Dana Gardner, analyst at Interarbor Solutions, to talk about how the cloud, BYOD, and other technology trends are changing IT asset management and how SHI is utilizing e-commerce to help customers simplify and streamline the process.

John shared the example of SHI customer AGCO, an American agricultural equipment manufacturer. SHI developed a customized online catalog of the products and solutions that meet AGCO’s IT requirements in order to give end users plenty of approved tech options that they can obtain with a simple click while centralizing procurement and creating a more transparent process for easy reporting and oversight.

Dana’s complete Q&A with John is published on ZDNet in “Cloud services help SHI redefine the buyer-seller dynamic for huge efficiency gains.” I encourage you to read through it to learn more about how SHI’s e-commerce offering can streamline your IT product discovery and purchasing processes.

ZDNet Cloud Services SHI

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SHI simplifies Microsoft True-up for Mid America Computer Corporation

Properly licensing software in a virtual environment can be a challenge for many organizations, and I’ve heard the process described as everything from a “minefield” to “a ticking time bomb.”

However, an experienced IT Asset Management (ITAM) partner can help you navigate the virtual terrain. Take this customer case study, for example.

THE PROBLEM

Billing and software solutions provider Mid America Computer Corporation (MACC) was approaching its annual True-up reconciliation for its Microsoft software. To make sure the company’s license inventory was in compliance with its contract prior to renewal, MACC needed an accurate, comprehensive look at exactly what software was being used on what devices.

Kourt Jensen, Network Supervisor at MACC, faced three challenges:

  1. He didn’t have the time to collect a complete inventory himself.
  2. He lacked the confidence in the software inventory tools MACC had in place to provide up-to-date licensing information necessary for an accurate True-up.
  3. And he needed help understanding the licensing requirements for a virtual server environment. Continue Reading…
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