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Mar
25

How Well Do You Know Your IT Support Services Partner

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As your business grows you must choose wisely when it comes to your computing, collaboration (voice/video) and networking and security solutions.

Understanding The Architecture Of Your Network

First and foremost, it is paramount that you understand as much as possible about the architecture of your network and the equipment that comprises it.  This network carries the life-blood of your company, the efforts and results of every employee.  When your IT provider develops a solution for your company, you should be involved every step of the way.  Any detail that you provide, will guide them into making the best decisions for your business at every turn in the process.  At the same time your knowledge of the system they develop will grow as a result of your staying hands-on at every stage of the process.  If you are currently not included in the process and are disconnected from your IT Solutions Partner, you should really ask yourself these three simple questions:

  • Are my Phone and Computer systems communicating in a way that is best for the productivity of my business?
    • Many voice and data communications providers don’t include you in the process or act like you hired them, because they are the experts and that’s what they do.  This is a mistake for two reasons.  One, you need the opportunity to stay hands-on to ensure your business’ needs are being met. Second, if you decide to eventually part ways with them, they have the ability to hold you hostage with 100% control over you’re your solution.
    • Do I have 24/7access to my IT team if we need service or have a business-interrupting glitch in our system?
      • A number of IT companies treat your problem like it is low on their list of priorities and they work on it when they get around to it.  This is very common and a poor way to treat the people who pay for your services.
      • How much do I know about the framework of my system? Do I even have access to the passwords and administrative privileges?
        • This is key information that should be at your disposal at any time. Any solution you pay for, whether within your four walls or “in the cloud” should be yours.  You pay for it, so this information shouldn’t’ be proprietary to the company that installs and manages it.

Remove the Mystery

At RTM Communications, we keep the fact that they work for you in high regard.  If fact, our name “RTM” stands for Remove The Mystery. We don’t keep secrets, nor do we hold our clients network hostage.  Our team shares as many details about our efforts as our clients wish, so they will understand the value of the work being applied on their behalf and will be able to make better/informed decisions about their options and support in the future!  Living by this philosophy, RTM has been rewarded with greater than 85% customer retention rate over the 13 years!

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Feb
28

Server Virtualization Trends Affecting Today’s Market

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Is your company in need of virtualization for your IT infrastructure? RTM Communications in NH can be your answer.

There’s a market for server virtualization that is still slowly growing as more businesses embrace it and use it to improve their IT structure. There are many trends that have helped shape the virtualization market in the past year and these trends are changing the way that firms implement virtualization for their clients. Following are the top five trends from the past year:

1. More Competitive Choices: Virtualization would be a different world if the trend had started this past year. Imagine that VMware had started at the same time as its competition. As choices for virtualization increase, the prices for these services have become a bigger factor in an enterprise’s search for a virtualization partner. Companies that haven’t virtualized yet have more choices today than ever before.

2. A Chance for Second Sourcing: There is a growing concern about costs and getting locked in with just one virtualization partner. There are an increasing number of companies that have begun looking into “second sourcing” or using a different virtualization technology in a separate area of the enterprise. The ability to mix these virtualization technologies isn’t truly prevalent, but there has been an increase in interest in it.

3. Challenging Pricing Models: There’s a wide range of pricing options in virtualization from free hypervisors to moderate to expensive hypervisors, core-based pricing and even the introduction of memory based entitlements. The pricing model has always been in a state of turmoil and change and with a growing trend in cloud technology taking place, the pricing of virtualization tech will continue to change and challenge enterprise IT structures.

4. Virtualization is Growing Fast: Within the past year virtualization has had a penetration of 50% of today’s market. With that comes more competitors and smaller business owners who are driving down the prices. Due to these incredible increases it is going to be a challenge for server vendors to keep up with the demand until virtualization slows down. The next few years will challenge vendor behavior as the market grows.

5. Cloud Service Providers are Taking Chances: With an increase of virtualization, cloud service providers are scrambling to create a way for their offerings to appeal to companies. They’re rolling the dice on such topics as:

  • Creating Standards (Will this limit their appeal?)
  • Buying Virtualization Software used by Enterprises (Will this commoditize them?)
  • Build or Buy Software that Improves Interoperability (Will it work?)

This is a chance any cloud service provider is taking and some will win and some will lose as virtualization spreads.

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Feb
21

Product Spotlight: HP Converged IT Solutions

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In need of a virtualization solution for your business in NH? RTM Communications is the answer for youVirtualization as we know can reduce overhead costs, improve the availability and performance of applications and increase your flexibility with IT management. IT managers also have to rethink their entire infrastructure due to Virtualization and how it affects their software, servers, and storage and networking components.

Implementing a Virtualization package can be confusing though. With HP’s Converged IT solutions it doesn’t have to be. A pre designed solution can provide you with the infrastructure you want without the risk of starting from scratch or trying to mix vendor components together that might add complexity and a higher cost to your virtualized environment.

What this means for you is:

Less Costs: With HP’s Converged IT solution you pay for only what you need with the ability to get the standard building blocks that provides you with scalable design. You also get LAN solutions backed by an industry leading lifetime warranty.

Improved Infrastructure: With HP’s ProLiant servers you get the world’s most intelligent servers that provide you with:

  • Administrator productivity improvement up to three times over the leading competitor
  • Performance increase up to six times even on the most demanding environments
  • A performance increase of 65% even on the same power and space as before

Offsite storage ensures continuous storage availability even in the case of a complete site outage. VMware provides you with the virtualization software you want to power all those applications.

Easy Deployment: HP’s Converged IT Solution makes it so that you don’t have to worry about trying to integrate tools, hardware, and software from different vendors and trying to make it all work together. This would increase complexity as well as the costs. With one services package you get the vendor support you want as well as being able to rely on the configurations provided to perform at your expectations.

Easy Management: HP Insight Control provides you with the ability to:

  • Prevent failures
  • Optimize system efficiency
  • Manage your entire inventory and all warranties
  • Plan and implement storage and capacity in real time

And you can do all this while working remotely from one computer. That’s how easy HP’s Converged IT Solutions work for you and your company. It saves you on costs, improves your infrastructure, is easy to deploy and easy to manage. So you should be asking yourself, why aren’t you using HP’s Converged IT Solutions yet?

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Jan
23

The Benefits of having a Wireless LAN

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RTM Communications can provide your company with the network support it needs.

Your office network is well established but you have a problem with the amount of Cat 5 cables you have running through your office. Cables are the preferred way of setting up a network but can create problems. They have a limit of how far they can carry a signal and moving them around to reorganize a network can be a hassle. That and wires poking out everywhere can be an eye sore. The solution to these problems is simple.

Establish a Wireless Network

This type of network has become a more viable and affordable method than having to deal with the limitations of wires all day. A wireless network can also be called a WLAN or Wi-Fi (wireless fidelity) network and all the computers on the network use radio signals to broadcast information. This provides you with an easier way to setup your office as you’ll be free of the congestion of cables. As your office grows and you add more devices to it, a wireless solution will make it easier to connect new staff to the network.

A wireless network provides employees with:

  • Increased mobility
  • Ability to share files, printers and computers
  • Easier internet access
  • Access to Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) or Voice over Wireless WAN (VoWWAN)

This can be especially helpful in the meeting room as laptops don’t have to be wired in and provide ease of access for sharing the necessary information for important meetings.

A Wireless network can be a stand-alone network or an addition to your already existing wired network. Realistically, if you were to switch to a wireless network, it wouldn’t happen overnight. It would be a process where you slowly integrate it with the already existing wired network.

A wireless network can increase the flexibility of your network and allows for you to expand your network easier as your company grows.

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Jan
11

Implementing a Network Security Policy

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RTM Communications can provide your company with the best network security in NH You’ve taken the time to figure out how your employees use the internet and what services they need in order to best do their jobs. Now you can start writing and implementing your network security policy. One of the best ways to do this is to work from a template or take a sample of an already existing policy and work off that. Many online organizations like the SANS Institute specialize in the development of policies and can provide you with many different templates to choose from.

Make sure to have a plan to regulate the traffic using your firewall even if you don’t have any formal procedures in place to protect your network. This is especially important if making a network security policy for a home, office or a small business.

Using a template, build your own policy and make sure to fit it to the needs of your company. Make sure to address the following:

  • Purpose: The reason why the network security policy exists.
  • Who It Affects: This will address which departments and employees are subject to the policy. This can also identify who might be exempt from the policy.
  • The Body: The policy part of the policy. This will define what the requirements are, what conditions need to be followed and what standards the employees will be expected to uphold. This will include what internet services are allowed through the firewall, the content that is filtered and if any VPN connection will be enabled.
  • Enforcing the Policy: This part identifies the consequences and actions to be taken for violating the network security policy.
  • Terminology: The definitions of certain terms and acronyms so that everyone can read and understand the policy clearly.
  • Revisions: The documents that make up any changes to the policy after its creation. You will also have to provide the dates of the revisions and make sure to only use the most up-to-date version of the policy.

With these elements in place you’ll be able to properly implement your network security policy. Remember to have your policy edited and finalized to avoid having errors or oversights that can cause a network security breach sometime in the future because something in the policy wasn’t clear enough. The policy is a document that will help you define the network security for your business and will help protect your network.

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Jan
04

Planning a Network Security Policy

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Is your business in need of a new network security system? Look no further than RTM Communications in NH

When it comes to planning your network security policy, the first place to look is at what Internet resources are necessary for your employees to do their jobs. Do they need fully unrestricted access to the Internet? Internet access consists of multiple information services such as the Web, FTP, chat, messaging, e-mail, telnet, streaming audio and video, newsgroups, etc.

With full, unrestricted access to the Internet, the threat of cyberspace and the insecurities it provides are also a problem. Firewalls can be used to restrict or grant traffic to the network services your company needs to run. Your network security policy should address the usage of every service you use.

E-Mail

E-mail is not only the most popular Internet information service; it is also the most popular delivery method for viruses, Trojan Horses, and other vicious code attacks. There are three primary e-mail protocols:

  • Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) This is used to send outbound messages to e-mail servers. These servers move the e-mail from server to server until it reaches its intended destination.
  • Post Office Protocol version 3 (POP3) A more widely used e-mail client to acquire email from an inbox on a server.
  • Internet Message Access Protocol (IMAP) Another e-mail client to get email from an inbox but it natively supports encryption as well.

When talking about e-mail it’s also important to talk about attachments. An attachment means that a sender can send any piece of digital information up to a certain data amount. This data could contain a virus as easily as it can contain a Word document.

With your network security policy, you’ll want to require the use of IMAP over POP3 since it supports encryption. Virus scanning should be required on all SMTP and IMAP traffic and you’ll need to specify to allow traffic through the firewall with content filters in place to avoid abuses of the system.

Content Filtering

When writing a network security policy, filtering content must be a priority. You can either allow all traffic to come through the firewall or to filter it based on a pre-determined set of acceptable content rules. This list tells your employees what they can and can’t access on the Internet when using company equipment. By creating a list of acceptable and unacceptable activities you will create your acceptable use policy.

From your acceptable use policy you can create a set of rules for inbound and outbound traffic to manage your firewall. Make sure to run your acceptable use policy by your employees first though to make sure that what you’ve created won’t affect their everyday work.

Virtual Private Networks (VPN)

A VPN allows a user to connect to a network from a remote location without compromising the network security. The user goes through their local Internet connection and then creates a VPN link with your office network through the Internet.

If your office has employees who from home or from the road often, you’ll have to include a VPN as part of your computer system and it will need to be included in the network security system as well. As you create a policy for access through a VPN, you’ll need to decide on what protocols are allowed and which of your employees will be able to use VPNs.

These are just a few things to consider when creating your network security policy. By investigating what your employees use the Internet for you’ll be able to create a comprehensible acceptable use policy that will protect your network and provide your employees with the access they need.

Categories : Network Security
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Dec
28

Virtualization Implementation Problems that are Easily Avoided

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RTM Communications can provide your company with the Virtualization solutions that you need.

With a proper implementation plan when it comes to the virtualization of your infrastructure, your business can easily transition into a virtualized environment. During the implementation phase however, there are a few traps that you can avoid to make things easier on yourself.

  • Miscalculate the RAM needed in virtual hosts: Even with an application like VMware’s memory over commit, your virtual hosts will still use all the RAM that you provide them while running virtual machines. The recommended amount of minimum RAM for a virtual host is 16 GBs. With more virtual machines, more memory might be needed, so be sure to monitor your virtual hosts.
  • The amount of storage for your shared storage is underestimated: The amount of storage used by virtualization can be reduced with VMware’s new vStorage Thin Provisioning software. However, remaining storage can be used up quickly by virtual machines when not kept in check. Applications such as VMware’s Thin Provisioning or Vizioncore’s vOptimizer Pro can allow you to reclaim storage that has been over allocated to the virtual machines.
  • Virtualization and training: When it comes to the virtualization of a physical server, the process is very easy and can be done in just a few minutes. The important part to do first is to train junior administrators and update your documentation so you don’t have the virtualization without having anyone to run your new virtual machines.
  • Don’t Practice Overprovision: Since the creation of a VM is so simple, it’s easy to forget what you actually need for virtual machines and for you to create an overabundance of VMs. As with physical servers, only create VMs that your business needs. If you don’t, you’ll have many VMs using up server resources and it’ll cost your business in the amount of OS licenses you’ll need to purchase.
  • Forgetting to Test: 99% of all applications work on a VM, and testing them can be as simple as running a test P2V conversion into VMware Workstation and verifying the results. Certain graphics-intensive applications (such as CAD) or those that require license-key FOBs need extra attention and need to be tested before use on your VMs. Even if the application is compatible, make sure your virtual infrastructure can handle the application and provide the level of performance that you want out of it.
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Dec
21

Implementing Server Virtualization

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In need of Server Virtualization for your company? RTM Communications can provide the solution you need.

After planning out your server virtualization and assessing your IT environment, it’s time to implement virtualization into your infrastructure. This part will involve the servers, storage, network, security, and management software. Here are some steps to follow as you go through this process.

  • Construct your virtual environment: Install your servers with your choice of virtualization hypervisor (Hyper-V from VMware for example) as well as the centralized management platform (VMware vCenter). After that is complete, install the virtual hosts to the management platform.
  • Configuration: Servers will have to be configured with their static IP addresses and correct network settings. Network VLANs may also have to be configured during this phase.
  • Secure the environment: This phase has quite a few steps that start with creating and setting a complex root password on all virtual hosts. Within Windows Active Directory, create a group and add VMware administrators to it. That group will then need authorization to be administrators for the VMware vCenter and remove the domain admin as well. Think about creating additional groups and roles if you have other users administering their virtual machines.
  • Add to the environment: Populate the virtual infrastructure with new virtual machines to increase your virtualization. Create fresh VMs, install a new OS, then perform a P2V conversion with VMware’s Converter Enterprise or use virtual appliances from VMware’s Virtual Appliance Marketplace. P2V migration is an important consideration here.
  • Watch your environment carefully: During implementation you’re going to want to monitor the virtual host using the tools that come with VMware’s vSphere Client. The advanced performance graphs within vCenter offer more options however, and can alert you about performance issues among other features.
  • Manage the virtual environment: Maintenance on your infrastructure can involve one virtual host and a few virtual machines or it can involve maintenance tools. VMware’s vSphere includes an update manager with it and can be used for patch management. Update manager will keep patches on the infrastructure current for the hardware, OS, and some software applications. VMware’s Distributed Resource Scheduler can update your servers without creating down time.
  • Remember to Backup Servers:Virtual servers need to be backed up just like physical servers do. Virtualized physical servers have to be backed up from day one. A typical backup isn’t recommended for virtual machines; instead, use virtualization specific backup programs that can identify the VMs on specific hosts and if they’ve been moved. The virtualization specific applications support Microsoft Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) and ensures consistent backups and supports other features such as:
    • File and image level backups
    • Data reduplication
    • Data replication

A virtualization specific application you can use is VMware’s Data Recovery.

  • Troubleshoot if needed: Documentation and diagrams of your virtual infrastructure should be easily accessible in case something goes wrong during the implementation of your environment or during the first few weeks of use. Support information and a support contract for all of your hardware, network, storage and virtualization software is recommended as well.
  • Teach your administrators: As with any new hardware or software setup, the proper training is required before your employees will be effective with the new environment. Documentation of the infrastructure and common administrative tasks that need to get done is also a good idea. A virtual server is different to troubleshoot and administrate than a regular server so your administrators will need to be educated on how to perform the tasks they’re used to doing within a virtual environment.

The steps listed here are a good set of guidelines to help you throughout your implementation phase of your virtualization. By following these steps, you’ll have little problems and your business will be able to seamlessly transition into a virtualized infrastructure.

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Dec
14

The Benefits of Video Conferencing

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unified communications provided by RTM Communications to assist your business in day-to-day matters In the ever-evolving technical world that we live in, the need for everyone to be at a meeting or to have someone travel across the country to meet a client diminishes with the growing presence of video conferencing. This technology that provides unified communications on a global scale has made it easier for offices and companies to save money and increase production even while everyone isn’t in the same building. Following are six benefits to video conferencing to help your business improve.

1. Less Travel Costs- We live in a world that is connected globally and travelling used to be a requirement when doing a routine business trip. Nothing will replace live interaction, but what if there was a way to do the mundane things from your office in California with your client in Florida?

The answer is that you can use video conferencing to replace those routine business trips. With the quality, ease of use, the ability to share content quickly and though a high definition connection; video conferencing places you in the office with your client without actually having to be there.

You might think that a video conference investment might be expensive with the equipment, service, the training to use it, and the network to run it, but the Return on Investment (ROI) in travel reduction alone will be worth it.

2. Increased Workflow Amongst Satellite Teams- Your business has teams all over the world that need to be in constant contact with each other, however, they use the traditional methods of phone calls, e-mail, texting, instant messaging, or using workflow applications. This can present problems in messages being misunderstood, slow messaging speeds or lost communication between teams. The majority of non-verbal communications can severely restrict the progress of a project.

With the unified communications that video conferencing can provide, these problems can be solved as the teams would be able to see and hear each other and the non-verbal cues that are a part of every day conversation will be seen, addressed, and taken care of. This results in decisions being made quicker, projects being completed faster and an increase in productivity.

3. Hiring Improvement – The hiring process can be long and arduous especially with possible candidates located all over the country. If your interview process involves multiple people as well, then the process can become quite expensive. With video conferencing, candidates can be interviewed at a facility closest to them and be interviewed by multiple people from many different locations while being interviewed in person. These can also be recorded for those who can’t partake in the interview but who are part of the hiring process.

4. Ability to Cater to Employee Needs- Employees have lives outside the office and sometimes that can affect their availability to come into the office. Video conferencing can assist with this and provide employees with connectivity they couldn’t get before. Remote employees can stay connected with team members and management. Employees who need to balance their work/life can travel less and spend more time at home with their family; video conferencing also allows employees to work full-time from home to alleviate travel expenses. Video conferencing allows for real-time face-to-face interactions that are an improvement over endless e-mails and phone calls.

5. Advantage over the Competition- Video conferencing can provide you with the ability to sustain a competitive advantage via multiple ways:

  • Communications between teams are faster, resulting in knowledge shared wider, quicker, and can reduce the time it takes to market new products and services
  • A support person can create a more personal relationship with their customers to encourage a loyalty that a call center wouldn’t get
  • In Manufacturing it can be used to check product quality, make quick changes, and provide accuracy throughout the supply chain, which is much quicker than the next day delivery service the competitors rely on
  • The use of video conferencing can provide Public Relations and Human Resources with an opportunity to promote the company’s efforts to protect the environment, thereby ensuring a spot on the short list of vendors for environmentally friendliness which helps when going for competitive government or commercial bids

6. Supporting the Environment- Investing in video conferencing means that your company is taking a step in investing in a “green” technology. By reducing the need for travel, you reduce energy use, and substantially reduce your company’s carbon footprint. This ensures a basis for regulatory compliance.

With video conferencing, your company can provide a way to hold meetings, conferences, share content, increase productivity, all while keeping your company connected all around the world while reducing costs at the same time.

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Dec
07

The Applications of IP Security

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Need network security for your business? Look no further than RTM Communications in NH

You may think that your computer network is secure and safe until your computers start to slow down and your data becomes compromised. To prevent IP and security attacks from unknown threats, it is important to implement IP security on your network. Network security has been put into place in many other applications that you use every day:

  • E-Mail (Privacy Enhanced Mail, Pretty Good Privacy [PGP])
  • Web Access (Secure HTTP, Secure Sockets Layer[SSL])
  • Network Management (Simple Network Management Protocol Version 3 [SNMPV3])

Some users’ security concerns can cut across multiple protocol layers and endanger your network security. To prevent those security breaches an enterprise can disallow links to untrusted sites and run a secure TCP/IP network. They can also authenticate packets that enter the network and encrypt those that leave it.

IP security can provide secure communications across a LAN as well as across public and private WANs and through the internet. Some examples include:

  • A user whose system has IP security protocols that can contact the local Internet Service Provider (ISP) and acquire secure access to a company network. For employees who travel and telecommuters, this reduces toll charges and provides secure remote access over the internet.
  • Creating extranet and intranet connectivity with partner companies and other organizations. This ensures confidentiality, authentication, and provides a key exchange mechanism.
  • Reducing network management costs by building a secure virtual private network over the network or a public WAN. This takes away the need for private networks and allows the company to rely upon the Internet instead. This provides you with secure branch office connectivity.
  • Utilizing IP Security for electronic commerce instead of using SSL which is the common practice now to secure web traffic for commerce sites.

The principal feature of IP Security is that it is able to support all those applications and can encrypt or authenticate all traffic at the IP level. This provides security for all applications that you would use on a daily basis.

Categories : Network Security
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