Documenting and Assessing Your IT Needs

Documentation and assessment of your IT needs might expose the fact that your IT environment isn’t as efficient as you thought it would be. This may explain why you are experiencing problems such as a weak internet signal or a web browser that won’t load.

Today’s businesses rely heavily on computers. That’s why most entrepreneurs invest in the best computer hardware and software that their money can buy. Because of this, they expect everything to run smoothly and all their IT needs to be met with the use of these wonderful computers.

In reality, however, you wind up experiencing a weak internet signal, your web browser won’t load, or you can’t get your email running. All these occurrences cost you valuable time – time you can’t afford to lose.

You can avoid these incidents by using PointeCare Managed IT Services. Our professionals will conduct a comprehensive analysis of all your existing IT processes and functions. We will gather facts from what you have experienced with your systems, and assess which have been proven to run efficiently and produce the most favorable results for your company. This will all be clearly documented as part of your overall business practices.

As the documentation progresses, you may find out that your IT environment is not as efficient as you thought it was. You may also discover specific needs that you were unaware of. If these needs aren’t addressed, they could negatively affect productivity and result in a decline in revenue. In fact, they could even lead to expensive IT network emergencies if you don’t have the right technology and proper maintenance on hand.

We understand these risks and challenges, and we’re here to assist you in assessing your needs through this documentation process. We can help you identify the right IT solutions that are best for your business, as well as provide solutions, including outsourcing certain network functions such as Hosted Exchange email, backup and recovery, and security. We’ll also help you maintain your IT network while making sure that all your systems are updated and running smoothly so that you can avoid system failure or downtime.

Give us a call today to learn how we can help you get the most out of your IT investments.

Pointe Systems Sponsors 2013 Triangle Golf Challenge

Pointe Systems is honored to have the opportunity to be one of the sponsors of the 2013 Triangle Golf Challenge, held on June 14, 2013 at the UNC Finley Golf Course in Chapel Hill. The 2013 Triangle Golf Challenge is an all-inclusive two-day event with a reception, silent auction, golf, and fundraising for the selected Triangle charities.

UNC Finley Golf Course is one of the top 20 collegiate courses in the country. The club offers a well-conditioned, comprehensive facility with a driving range, putting green, and chipping. Tom Fazio designed this challenging layout that is diverse enough to appeal to players of all skill levels. He included his trademark false fronts and greenside bunkers. To keep the golf course approachable, there are several different ways to play the bunkers, and there are numerous risk-reward opportunities. Five sets of tees ranging from about 5,000 to 7,300 yards make the course even more versatile. The 15th through the 17th are a beautiful stretch of holes that provide a formidable test as well. The excellent conditions are another feature of the UNC Finley golf course that has made it popular.

Featuring celebrity hosts including Walter Davis and LeVelle Moton, the tournament benefits charities including Communities in Schools (CIS) and The Banks Foundation.

How A Managed IT Services Assessment Can Help Your Business

You can avoid computer problems with PointeCare Managed IT Services. Our IT professionals will conduct a comprehensive analysis of your IT processes and functions and help you assess how to produce the most favorable results for your business.

Today’s businesses rely heavily on computers. That’s why most entrepreneurs invest in the best computer hardware and software that their money can buy. Because of this, they expect everything to run smoothly and all their IT needs to be met with the use of these wonderful computers.

In reality, however, you wind up experiencing a poor internet signal, your web browser won’t load, or you can’t get your email running. All these occurrences cost you valuable time you can’t afford to lose.

You can avoid these incidents by using PointeCare Managed IT Services. Our professionals will conduct a comprehensive analysis of all your existing IT processes and functions. We will gather facts from what you have experienced with your systems, and assess which have been proven to run efficiently and produce the most favorable results for your company. This will all be clearly documented as part of your overall business practices.

As the documentation progresses, you may find out that your IT environment is not as efficient as you thought it was. You may also discover specific needs that you were unaware of. If these needs aren’t addressed, they could negatively affect productivity and result in a decline in revenue. In fact, they could even lead to expensive IT network emergencies if you don’t have the right technology and proper maintenance on hand.

We understand these risks and challenges, and we’re here to assist you in assessing your needs through this documentation process. We can help you identify the right IT solutions that are best for your business, as well as provide solutions, including outsourcing certain network functions such as email, backup and recovery, and security. We’ll also help you maintain your IT network while making sure that all your systems are updated and running smoothly so that you can avoid system failure or downtime.

Give us a call today to learn how we can help you get the most out of your IT investments.

Managed IT Services = Optimum Efficiency + Productivity

How much is your IT currently costing you?  There are a lot of hidden costs in addition to that bill you get when you call your computer consultant.  Consider the costs of reduced efficiency, how much you’ll spend hiring a consultant or pulling someone away from their normal job every time you have a computer breakdown or outage – and how much money your business loses during that downtime.

These days businesses are increasingly dependent on IT, making it essential to have experts to handle the regular maintenance of your IT infrastructure. However, most small and medium businesses cannot afford to hire a qualified, full-time IT administrator. Managed Services is the best solution, since it allows you to concentrate on what you do best - managing the core competencies of your business.

When you choose Managed Services, all of your IT operations are handled by a highly qualified and knowledgeable provider who assumes ongoing responsibility for monitoring, troubleshooting, and managing selected IT systems and functions on your behalf. The Managed Services Provider is in charge of network equipment and applications located on your premises, as specified in the terms of a service-level agreement (SLA) established to meet your company’s specific business needs.

Why is Managed Services important for your business?

1. Managed Services is cost effective.
If you’re not an IT expert, you’ll need to hire consultants for basic IT maintenance - and this is usually too costly for small and medium-sized businesses. The downtime during breakdowns of computers or outages will cost your business more money in the long run than outsourcing costs.

2. It’s easier to predict how much you need to spend.
Managed Services offer a choice of service levels which may be priced on a per-month or per-device basis. This subscription model gives you more predictability in expenses as opposed to the as-needed time and billing models used by consultants.

3. Managed Services Providers take full responsibility, but business owners have full control.
Although Managed Services are outsourced, you do not surrender complete control of your IT infrastructure. You decide which aspects of your network the service provider will take care of and what you want to handle. You are also informed of everything that happens in the process and management of your systems.

4. Managed Services involves 24/7 IT support.
With Managed Services, you get support whenever you need it. You don’t have to wait in line for whatever system problems you need resolved.

5. Knowing your IT is in good hands gives you peace of mind.
Knowing that your IT system is in the hands of experts, you are assured that somebody is there to do proper maintenance of all your computer hardware and software. You can also be confident that if you encounter any problems with your IT, there are experts who will help you fix them immediately.

If you’re looking for computer support in Raleigh, Durham and the Triangle that takes the time to understand your business in addition to your technology, give us a call today for a free consultation!

Protect Your Business With Backups, Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity

Data loss can happen at any time – either from losing a critical file that’s not backed up, or in the event of a natural disaster or server loss that causes you to lose all your data, and often with little or no warning at all. Planning ahead is imperative to ensure that your business can get back to normal operation as quickly as possible, with minimal loss and damage.

Small to medium-sized businesses usually think that disaster plans are only important for large enterprises. However, these days even small businesses can’t afford to operate without a disaster plan. Plus, recent technology innovations make disaster planning reasonably priced for virtually every business, regardless of size.

For any business owner, three objectives exist for disaster planning:  1) the assurance of never losing critical information, 2) reducing downtime when emergencies happen, and 3) quick recovery after a loss of data.

These three objectives translate into three IT services:

  • Backups
    The process of protecting your data by copying it to a secure device so that it can be easily and and quickly recovered in case of loss.
  • Disaster recovery
    The process of reinstating crucial business data and procedures after a disaster happens.
  • Business Continuity
    A carefully constructed plan that specifies exactly how your company will recover and re-establish disrupted functions after disaster strikes.

Of these three tasks, Business Continuity is the most comprehensive since it entails much more than a simple discussion of IT matters—it’s a thorough, systematic action plan. And though you definitely need to consider protecting your IT infrastructure and data, you must also consider what you and your staff should do if a disaster occurs. Is there a meeting place where your staff could gather in the event of a building evacuation? Do you have a plan to get in touch with all your staff and their emergency contacts to relay important information? Is there a way for you to communicate with customers to advise when you’ll resume operations? What will you do if one of your main dealers experiences a disaster?

The significance of these three services should never be taken lightly, but unfortunately many small and medium-sized businesses ignore them.  Why? Simply because when people think about disaster, the first things that pop in their minds are earthquakes, floods, and fires, and they figure there’s a low chance of those happening. But remember that there are also human-induced disasters such as hackers, unhappy employees who sabotage, and employees who thoughtlessly erase important data. Any of these could easily happen to you.

You may already have a backup system in place, and perhaps, you have all three—backup, disaster recovery, and a business continuity plan. However, since business goals and technical environments constantly change, your plan requires regular assessment to ensure it’s still accomplishing all your needs. We can assist you in evaluating your existing disaster preparedness or suggest options if you don’t have plans yet. Contact us now for more details on how we can help your business with your disaster preparedness, or if you’re looking for a new IT support firm in Raleigh or Durham – we pride ourselves on exceptional service, and would love to talk to you to see how we can help your business.

Take Advantage Of VoIP In Your Business

Small businesses can now put VoIP to work for their business.

The same network that handles the flow of data such as web access and email can also accommodate voice as well. A few years ago, Voice-over-IP (VoIP), or Internet telephony, was touted as the next big wave in technology. For many businesses – especially geographically distributed ones – VoIP provides a way to dramatically reduce the cost of communications and maximize investments already made in their network infrastructure.

In addition to saving money and using resources more efficiently, VoIP lets employees be more productive and efficient by giving them the ability to receive and make calls anywhere with a data connection. VoIP also reduces the complexity associated with managing multiple networks and devices for communication. Companies can set up their office network so that each employee can use a single device, such as a computer or a smart phone, to handle everything from email, chat, messages, fax, and more. Finally, VoIP enables real-time collaboration when used with video conferencing and screen sharing applications.

All this used to come with a big price tag, but that’s no longer the case. With the great strides made in technology the last few years, VoIP is now easily within reach for many businesses – large or small. The range of choices include free, downloadable software that allows users to make free calls over the Internet from PCs or mobile devices, as well as services that can be used and accessed from your web browser, your favorite email service or software, and even old-school analog phones as well!

VoIP is certainly a technology that has come of age. It’s cheap, ubiquitous, and easy to use, and all businesses would do well to add VoIP to their toolset for substantial cost savings and greatly improved efficiency and productivity.

Recently, a second type of VoIP has emerged – hosted VoIP is where the infrastructure is hosted at your provider’s location, and all upgrades and feature additions are handled in the background, without interrupting your business. Additional benefits of these systems are the ability to have iPhone and Android apps to have your caller ID show as your office, and the ability to plug up an office phone anywhere you have an internet connection and have it function as an extension.

Looking for some guidance in adding VoIP to your toolset, or for a new IT service provider? Give us a call – we’re happy to help!

Entrepreneurs and Managed IT Services – The Perfect Combination

Most entrepreneurs are not IT professionals or IT experts. Outsourcing IT services to experts is a definite advantage for business owners.

The term Managed Services is defined as “the practice of transferring day-to-day related management responsibility as a strategic method for improved effective and efficient operations”. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Managed_services) While large corporations regularly choose this technology solution, many owners of small and medium-sized businesses are still hesitant to go this route. Here are some reasons Managed Services can benefit all sizes and types of business:

1. IT is an integral part of most businesses.
Especially in recent years, the business world has become increasingly dependent on IT. Almost all businesses rely on some sort of technology. With this increased use of IT comes an increase in problems and outages – and even loss of data – all of which result in loss of productivity.

2. Faulty or under-supported IT causes costly downtime.

Small, in-house IT departments of one or two people are usually not able or equipped to handle occasional IT breakdowns, and employees must call on somebody else for help, sometimes resulting in hours or even days of lost productivity. This downtime greatly affects the bottom line of your business.

3. Technology is constantly improving.
Improvements in technology are continuing at a rapid pace. Equipment is upgraded and new specialties in IT are emerging. Small to medium-sized businesses are not equipped to keep up with these constant changes.

4. IT Managed Services provide state-of-the-art solutions.

Managed Services providers are experts in the field of technology, and bring knowledge and experience in the latest solutions to your business. And taking advantage of scale of economies, the Managed Services model gives you access to affordable state-of-the-art technologies previously only available to large enterprises.

5. Many businesses involve special compliance requirements.
Even small to medium-sized businesses can have complicated compliance requirements, but most owners do not fully understand how to comply with these regulations. Many Managed Services providers stay current on these regulations and requirements, and can help you translate them to your technology needs in order to stay compliant and avoid fees – and possibly worse.

6. IT Managed Services cost less in the long run.

With today’s economic downturn, IT budgets have been slashed in most companies. But bear in mind that businesses still depend heavily on IT, and work increases as resources diminish. This can bring about low morale for employees and lost productivity – and ultimately customer satisfaction suffers. While IT Managed Services may cost more in the beginning, lost productivity and lost customers cost a lot more.

The question is, are you an expert in IT? Most entrepreneurs aren’t. If you want to concentrate on your company’s core competencies without having to worry about your IT infrastructure, outsource your Raleigh IT services to a reputable Managed IT Services provider.

Taking Care Of Your Data Backups

For most business, the result of a sudden and immediate loss of data would be devastating. Yet data backups are probably one of the most neglected aspects of data management for many businesses.

Let’s begin with a simple question: How important your data is to you? Think of all the information you have in your computers – all your databases, spreadsheets, documents, files, projects, emails, software – and think of how valuable they are to your business. Now try to imagine it all disappearing in an instant. What would happen to your company? What would you say to your clients? You’d have to start from scratch – and would you even have the capability to do so right away?

For most business – if not all – the result of a sudden and immediate loss of data would be devastating. Operations would be crippled, and productivity would grind to a halt. Many businesses rely on soft data and losing that data, simply put, prevents them from working on anything – at least until the data can be recovered or the system goes up again, and in some cases, they’d have to start from scratch again.

The difficulty of starting with virtually nothing is obvious. Things look a little brighter when a company goes the data recovery route, but the effects are just as debilitating to daily operations. For one thing, data recovery is not an exact science. Sometimes, if you’re lucky, all the data can be recovered, but many just a few tidbits of it can be retrieved, and sometimes you might get nothing at all. To top that off, data recovery is a long and expensive procedure, especially if you have a lot of data.

What is the solution then? Simple: back up your data. Data backup services are much cheaper than data recovery services, and if you lose your data, you have something solid and reliable to fall back on. Data backups are probably one of the most neglected aspects of data management for many businesses these days – but it is also one of the most essential ones. Some companies think that it’s a waste of time and resources. But in the long term not only do you pay a fraction of the cost of data recovery to have your information backed up, you also prevent your business from suffering if you lose everything.

You never know what events might happen that compromise you data. Natural disasters, accidents, and simple hardware failure can occur when you least expect it to, so it is only prudent and it’s responsible to make sure that your data is safely backed up. Talk to us – we’ll help you find the backup solution that’s right for your business.

Why A UPS Is Essential For Every IT System

In every business, keeping people productive is very important. Lost productivity means less profit, so to keep things going, even when there’s no power, you need a UPS.

Keeping productivity going is important. The more productive your people are, the more work gets done and the more profit you make. Every hour, and even every minute, of lost productivity costs you profit. It might seem inconsequential individually, but in the long term lost time adds up and you can lose a considerable sum. This is why companies have stringent rules regarding internet usage, deadlines, and other mechanisms to ensure that people are doing what they’re being paid to do – no more, no less.

However, there are situations when things are simply out of your hands, and a perfect example is power interruptions. Power interruptions are usually unexpected and can cost workers hours of work. Just imagine your PC suddenly shutting off while you’re in the middle of an important project – either you fail to save part of it, or maybe you’re in the middle of a task you cannot save (like uploading or downloading a particularly large file or bunch of files). What can you do, except start all over again?

The solution is installing a UPS – or uninterruptible power supply – for every unit in your IT infrastructure. A UPS acts as a temporary source of power for the CPU, a back-up battery of sorts that your CPU automatically switches power to in case of a power interruption. This gives you time, at the very least, to save important files and wrap up tasks before shutting down properly. UPSs also guards against power surges, prolonging the life of your computers, making them less prone to suffering from electrical damage.

In the long term, it’s always better to be safe than sorry, and a UPS is a relatively inexpensive precaution against loss of data – especially considering its benefits. If we can help with your uptime and IT support needs in Raleigh, Durham or anywhere else in the Triangle, let us know and we’ll be happy to help!

Is your Business Vulnerable to Social Engineering Attacks?

Hacker attacks via “social engineering” can be a serious threat to the security of your organization.

Be aware that hackers have another tool in their toolset that employs a particularly subtle, insidious way of compromising the security of your systems and network. Called social engineering, it’s the use of psychological tricks to deceive targets into revealing potentially compromising information about the systems in their organization. In practice, it can be as simple as a hacker calling an employee and asking subtle questions to gain information, or posing as someone trusted, perhaps as building maintenance, walking in the doors of an organization to directly gain access to systems—or even searching through the trash and refuse left behind by employees. The popularity of social networking has also increased the danger with the ease and convenience of creating connections to potentially trusting members of your organization.

However, there are some actions you can take to protect your business:

  • Create a policy outlining the proper handling and sharing of information online as well as offline.
  • Put systems and procedures in place to protect your systems if sensitive information does get out—such as the regular replacement of passwords.
  • Educate your employees about the threat. You cannot solve a problem if your people do not know that a problem exists in the first place. Awareness can be your best defense.

If you have any questions about your business’ network security or need IT support in Raleigh, Durham or the rest of the Triangle, give us a call!