How and Why Is Cloud Computing Beneficial for Small and Medium Organizations?

Cloud computing is not just for large organizations. That’s a fact.

Many small businesses are migrating to the cloud and experiencing benefits that were never possible before.  Cloud computing allows people access to a wide range of applications via the Internet.  Prior to the advent of cloud computing, software had to be downloaded and installed on physical computers or servers in brick and mortar offices. Those days are gone.

The cloud is becoming more popular because:

  • Cloud-based applications and services can be accessed anytime from anywhere. All you need is a device with an Internet connection.
  • The time, effort and cost of managing your systems goes away
  • The cloud is effectively infinite in size; you need not worry about running out of capacity

Here are some top reasons why organizations are choosing the cloud…

Work from Anywhere. If you have an Internet connection, you can work. Most cloud services are accessible from any device. Organizations can now offer more flexible work schedules to their employees, thereby increasing productivity.

Disaster Recovery. Organizations of all sizes should be investing in robust disaster recovery. For smaller, budget-conscious organizations, cloud-based disaster recovery is ideal. It saves time and money by eliminating high, up-front costs, and internal IT teams are no longer tasked with the complexity of maintaining a best-in-class disaster recovery system.

No Hardware Costs. Cloud computing eliminates the high cost of hardware. You “pay as you go” using a subscription-based model that’s easier to budget.

Security. When your data is stored in the cloud, you can access it anytime from anywhere. You can even remotely wipe data from lost or stolen laptops so it doesn’t get into the wrong hands.

Automatic Software Updates. Servers are off-premise so you don’t have to worry about maintaining them. Software updates are performed as they’re released.

Flexibility. Cloud-based services are ideal for organizations with growing or fluctuating bandwidth demands. If your needs increase, it’s easy to scale up your cloud capacity. If you need to scale down, you can easily do that, too.

Collaboration. Employees can access, edit and share documents anytime from anywhere. Cloud-based file sharing apps are updated in real-time, giving everyone full visibility into current content. Prior to the cloud, workers had to send files back and forth as email attachments to be worked on by one user at a time. That method often led to conflicting document versions.

Greater visibility means improved collaboration, which ultimately translates into a better practices and a healthier bottom line. If you’re still relying on old methodologies, it’s time to move into the 21st century and explore new, reliable cloud-based options that will streamline the way you conduct your business.

For more information about cloud computing, or to inquire about Bryley’s full array of Managed IT Servicesand Managed Cloud Services, please contact us at 978.562.6077 or by email at ITExperts@Bryley.com. We’re here for you.

Brief Review of Cloud Trends in 2016 and Beyond

Cloud trends include1:

  • Options – Switching Public Cloud platforms and Private Cloud compliance
  • Familiarity – Greater understanding leads to refinement in selections
  • Growth – Cloud tends to be the primary engine for IT growth
  • Benefits – Reduction in costs leads all other benefits

Options

Approximately 43% of companies using Public Cloud services that were surveyed in CompTIA’s Trends in Cloud Computing2 switched to a different Public Cloud platform (i.e.: from Google G Suite to Microsoft Office 365). Of these, 46% noted that this secondary migration was more difficult than the initial migration to the Cloud.

The top Public Cloud implementations – email, web presence, and business productivity suites – were used by 51%, 46%, and 45% of the survey respondents, respectively.

Familiarity

Most Cloud-using organizations have a one-to-five year history with Cloud services; they have been through the process before, which simplifies the selection and procurement of new options.

Cloud options, Public, Private, and Hybrid, also are better understood, leading to greater refinement in the cloud-selection process. However, Private Cloud is likely the least-understood option, often being used to refer to a hosted datacenter solution, which is becoming the norm.

Growth

The Gartner Group forecast Cloud revenues of $204B in 2016, a 16.5% growth over 2015.3 Gartner’s 2017 forecast is continued, double-digit growth of 17.3%.

Benefits

Of the CompTIA respondents, over 40% of all organization types – large, medium, and small – cite “Ability to cut costs” as the primary motivation in Cloud computing. Small and medium organizations were also likely to emphasize “Reduce capital expenditures” as a primary motivator.

1Please see ClikCloud Technology Trends for 2017.

2See CompTIA Trends in Cloud Computing from September 2016.

3Visit Gartner Group Gartner says Worldwide Public Cloud Services Market Forecast to reach $204B in 2016 from January 25, 2016.

Case Study – Virtual CTO Helps Ensure Fourstar Connections Continuously Meets Customer Needs

The Company: Fourstar Connections

Since 1986, Fourstar Connections has offered comprehensive solutions to tackle a wide range of manufacturing needs. The company partners with leading companies to find better ways for designing and producing products—from cable assemblies to complex box builds—and then quickly ramps up to meet target dates and volume requirements. The Fourstar 28,000-square-foot corporate headquarters—with a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility— is located in Massachusetts. The company also operates affiliate manufacturing plants in Mexico and China.

The Challenges: Prevent System Downtime and Forecast Future Technology Needs

The server running the Fourstar Connections primary operations software—the Sage 100 ERP manufacturing module—nearly crashed one day due to reaching its computing capacity. Realizing how close the company came to shutting down operations, President and Owner Phil Holman knew the time had arrived to advance the relationship with its IT solution provider, Bryley Systems. Bryley had provided general IT consulting, solution deployment and troubleshooting services to Fourstar for many years. But Holman wanted to elevate the partnership to the level where Bryley would proactively monitor the health of IT systems and help plan the company’s technology future. “We needed a mechanism to recognize in advance when our IT systems will reach capacity, and we wanted to forecast which technologies we will need down the road to support anticipated future growth,” Holman says. “Up until that point, we played ‘hot potato’ with our internal personnel as the senior management team took turns managing IT over the years. But given their primary job responsibilities, they did not have sufficient time to dedicate to the task. And while we are experts in our core operations, we are not experts in IT.”

The Solution: Virtual CTO Enables a Proactive Approach

To enable Holman to proactively plan for future growth, Bryley recommended its Virtual CTO (Chief Technology Officer) service, which provides expertise in applying technology to achieve business strategy and goals. Virtual CTO also ensures Fourstar gains as much value as possible from its current technology investment while defining and setting the standards for future requirements.

Bryley then assigned Michael Carlson, Chief Technology Officer at Bryley Systems, as the Virtual CTO for Fourstar. He serves as a trusted adviser on technology issues and designs solutions based on the technologies that cost-effectively ensure that Fourstar IT investments support the strategic business direction.

“We receive tremendous value with Mike as our Virtual CTO,” Holman emphasizes. “After our near server crash, we realized we did not know when trouble was heading our way. But Mike prevents such occurrences by proactively monitoring the health of our IT systems.”

Through the Virtual CTO service, Fourstar and Bryley have established a high level of trust. Fourstar provides confidential projections on company growth and the technology expectations of its customers. Armed with this information, Carlson then plans which technologies the company needs to deploy in order to scale to the correct level of IT resources. As a result, Fourstar has come to rely on Carlson to inform them in advance when to upgrade existing IT systems.

“When it comes to IT computing power, we don’t want to be left short, but we also don’t want to overspend,” Holman says. “Mike advises us just as though he’s our internal CTO. He presents the options and the costs to make sure we have the right technology balance in order to keep providing a high level of service to our customers.”

The Deployment: Virtualization Reduces Server Count, Enables Software Upgrade, and Permits Failover

Under the guidance of the Virtual CTO program, Fourstar turned to Bryley Systems to virtualize its server infrastructure. In addition to reducing, by 50 percent, the number of servers Fourstar requires to support its 75 employees, the new infrastructure allowed Fourstar to deploy a Sage 100 ERP upgrade, a software package that the previous server infrastructure could not handle.

Bryley—with project management and system engineering resources to support Carlson’s virtual CTO services—also deployed a disaster-recovery failover server for Fourstar in the Bryley data center. In the unlikely event the onsite server at Fourstar should crash, Bryley can quickly restore operations via the failover server.

“When presenting the virtualized server and disaster recovery proposal, Bryley gave us three options,” Holman says. “Each option came at a different price level, and Bryley clearly explained the benefits of each approach. We felt comfortable knowing what we were paying for as well as the differences in the capabilities that each option offered.”

The Benefits: Cost Savings with Assurance IT Systems Will Perform as Required

Bryley Systems’ Virtual CTO service empowers Fourstar Connections to allocate their IT budget more efficiently. For example, under Carlson’s guidance, Fourstar has improved the way they configure employee workstations, reducing IT costs. “We previously spent $1,200 per workstation when factoring in the hardware, software and deployment time,” Holman says. “But we lowered that number down to $800 per workstation thanks to a recommendation from Mike.” By analyzing the business processes within the Fourstar manufacturing facility, Carlson determined that some workstations did not require the standard Microsoft Office suite. End users needed to view business documents, but they did not need to edit documents. Carlson thus created a configuration that uses Microsoft Viewer software, which reduces the cost per workstation by approximately $400. Fourstar expects to add about 80 such workstations as the company grows over the next three years, so the new configuration will save the company $32K.

“This is another example of how Bryley always strives to reduce our IT costs as much as possible,” Holman says. “As another example, we estimate that the options they gave us for our virtualized server with failover capability saved us about $40K.”

From a cost standpoint, Virtual CTO eliminates the need for Fourstar to hire a CTO-level employee, which would add significantly to payroll costs. The company would likely also incur on-going training costs, and someone who is technically talented might eventually leave to find an opportunity offering a greater variety of technical challenges.

Holman also emphasizes how it’s difficult to find someone who is a good fit and has the necessary skills. “Anyone we hire would also likely have less experience and fewer skills than Mike,” Holman notes. “And in addition to his services, it’s beneficial that Bryley provides access to any additional resources when we need them for project management, technical support and deployments. As we grow and our needs change, Mike will identify what we need, and Bryley will always have the resources to meet those needs.”

But the greatest value Fourstar derives from Bryley is the assurance that IT resources will continue running at peak levels, and the company no longer has to fear whether any unknown IT disasters may be lurking. “Bryley ensures we stay up and running and also provides a way to recover should a disaster beyond our control strike,” Holman says. “They also look ahead so that as we grow and change, we know the technology will adapt and we can continue to function efficiently in servicing our customers.”

Major Benefits—Virtual CTO Provided by Bryley Systems:

  • Enables advanced planning of required technologies to support future company growth.
  • Identifies when existing IT systems approach capacity to prevent system failures.
  • Prevents over-spending on IT resources.
  • Ensures sufficient computing power to meet operational and customer needs.
  • Aligns long-term technology and business plans.
  • Minimizes IT spending by presenting multiple options for resolving IT challenges.
  • Eliminates need to hire internal CTO and the cost of salary and benefits.

For more information on how Bryley can assist your organization with IT goals, please contact us at 978.562.6077, or email us at ITExperts@Bryley.com.

Disruptive Tech Trends for 2017

So, another year departs, obsoleting old technology while ushering in new gadgets and trends. Even though gadgets get the attention; trends set the direction.

A survey of 196 IT professionals1 revealed these disruptive trends in technology2:

  • Predictive IT and Self-service IT
  • Internet of Things (IoT)
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Mobile payments
  • Next-gen WiFi

Predictive IT and Self-service IT

In the IT-support world, things have been transitioning from:

  • Reactive – Your PC’s drive is broken; we are going to fix it now, to
  • Proactive – Based on our remote tooling, it looks like the drive in your PC is starting to fail, which we can replace now before serious damage occurs, to
  • Predictive – Based on historic data of similar drives and on our ongoing analysis of the specific drive in your PC and its expected, long-term behavior, we are going to replace the drive now before it exhibits failing tendencies.

Predictive IT reduces the effort and improves the response of an IT-support team; it allows the team to focus on critical issues, while optimizing the time spent on predictive issues.

The ease of deploying consumer-grade technologies and lower-level Cloud services, combined with service-management platforms with knowledge-based response capabilities (like ConnectWise, a leading Professional Service Administration tool used by Bryley Systems), is leading end-users toward self-service IT.

Self-service IT enables both IT-support teams (by redirecting their time spent on end-user issues toward higher-level IT concerns, like security) and end-users, providing a world where the end-user can support themselves (to some extent).

Internet of Things

IoT is here, and it can be hacked: One of the most-hacked, in-home appliances are Samsung TVs, but a recent, Denial-of-Service (DoS) attack on DNS providers3 was perpetrated primarily through unsecured, IoT-based surveillance cameras.

IoT refers to all of the IT-enabled items, both home-based and commercial, that communicate through the Internet, primarily providing end-user access and/or sending data back to a collection point for analysis.

IoT traffic and security are significant concerns: All of those not-so-smart devices (projected at 20B by 2020) constantly sending data can consume bandwidth, while presenting themselves as easy targets to hackers and crackers.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Remember HAL? (No, I’m not referring to Bryan Cranston of Malcolm in the Middle.) Back in 1968, 2001: A Space Odyssey was a fairly accurate portrayal of space travel; the HAL 9000’s cognitive ability and self-preservation-at-all-costs behavior seemed extreme, but may become necessary since AI has been bent to the will of hackers, teaming repetitive acts with mindful observation to attack secure sites.

AI forms the basis of Big Data, IoT, and Predictive IT; although disruptive, it will likely remain safe for human beings, with the ability to secure itself (somewhat).

Mobile Payments

Being a cash-carrying/credit-card-wielding, baby-boomer payer; I am not sure I agree with this one, but I do know millennials who always upload gift cards onto their smartphones, using them to expunge their purchasing debts.

Statistics support the supposition that Mobile Payments will endure and prosper:

  • Over 70% of US citizens own a smartphone, and
  • Over 70% of those using a mobile-payment tool are millennials or Gen Xers.

Retailers and urban-area merchants best get ready; if they wish to accept payment from their young clients, they will need to deploy the technology to enable mobile payments, or risk losing them to the competition down the street.

Next-Gen WiFi

Tomorrow’s WiFi ain’t what grandpa uses today; it will be faster, but will also work over greater distances with lower-powered, IoT devices.

The emerging standard is known as WiFi HaLow, based on IEEE 802.11ah. It will double the range, provide greater penetration through obstacles (walls, doors, etc.), and enable power-efficient use.

IEEE 802.11ah also supports machine-to-machine (M2M) markets, permitting direct communication from sensing devices to the applications they serve.

REFERENCES

1Please see ComputerWorld Tech Forecast 2017: Complete survey results.

2See the ComputerWorld article 5 Disruptive Technologies to track in 2017 by Beth Stackpole on December 5th, 2016.

3See Jon Gold’s article DNS provider Dyn hit by DDoS attacks that takes out major sites in the October 21, 2016 edition of ComputerWorld.

Case Study – Ruland Manufacturing Finds Comfort and Trust Outsourcing IT Services to Bryley Systems

The Company: Ruland Manufacturing

Established in 1937, Ruland Manufacturing designs and manufactures high-performing shaft collars and couplings. Innovation is a hallmark of the company as Ruland continuously refines its proprietary processes such as special surface treatments, anti-vibration coupling hardware and precision honing. In recent years, the company expanded its product line and added metric rigid couplings, step bore rigid couplings, and motion control couplings. All products are carefully manufactured under strict controls in Ruland’s Marlboro, Massachusetts factory.

The Challenge: Staffing Sufficient Expertise to Manage IT

The transition started when the internal IT administrator supporting the Ruland Manufacturing IT network and end users decided to pursue another job opportunity. That’s when company president William Hewitson decided to consider a whole new model for managing and maintaining IT systems.

“We traditionally handled IT in-house, but with all the ever-evolving technologies, it was challenging to hire and retain people with the experience to properly maintain our systems,” Hewitson says. “It’s difficult for a company of our size to attract high-end technical resources and keep them interested in supporting our environment.”

Over the years, Ruland typically hired mid-level or low-level technical resources, but Hewitson found they usually could not properly support the company’s servers and high-end networking devices. New solutions Ruland deployed tended to fall short in meeting business requirements.

“For the vital applications we run on our servers to keep our business operating efficiently, we need an IT support resource with solid knowledge of technologies such as Microsoft SQL as well as security measures to protect against website and email intrusions,” Hewitson says. “Those skill sets are typically found in senior-level IT resources.”

The Solution: Bryley Managed IT Services

Hewitson began analyzing the use of an external service provider to manage and support his company’s IT systems by comparing the cost of outsourcing to the cost of hiring a senior IT resource. After determining an outside service provider could reduce the support costs considerably, he then spoke to colleagues at other similar companies.

“We discovered many other companies our size have also made the transition to an outside service provider,” Hewitson reveals. “For us, the decision came down to feeling comfortable with turning over support to an outside firm and knowing we would receive fast responses when we need help. We were skeptical about the level of service we would receive.”

While conducting research of service providers, Hewitson hoped to find a local company with broad IT expertise and a diverse pool of technical resources. “We need someone local who can get here quickly when necessary,” Hewitson says. “We also wanted to strike a balance between a service provider that’s so large that they won’t value our partnership—and one that’s so small that they can’t always be here when needed.”

Bryley Systems turned out to be one of the few companies that met all the criteria Hewitson had established. And based on his research, the IT solution provider was the only one he invited in for a discussion—to hear about the Bryley Managed IT Services offering.

The Deployment: An Increasingly-Expanded Role

Upon meeting with Hewitson, a Bryley systems engineer conducted an initial site survey to understand the Ruland IT infrastructure. He immediately identified some maintenance services that needed to be applied to the servers. “The entire Bryley team is personable and quick to react to our requests,” Hewitson says. “We were impressed by their technical knowledge and the initial assessment of our IT infrastructure—this gave us the comfort level we needed to change to an outsourced IT model.”

“We chose to partner with Bryley because we appreciate their level of professionalism and that they provide services to other customers of similar size,” Hewitson adds. “They also offer a technical staff that gives us all the coverage we need, and they provide all information we need to understand their pricing and the various services they offer.”

After initially providing managed services for the Ruland servers, Bryley System deployed new hardware to replace three servers reaching end-of-life status. By applying server virtualization technology, Bryley was able to replace the three servers with just one new server to reduce initial hardware costs as well as on-going power/cooling and maintenance costs.

Bryley then refreshed Ruland’s networking equipment and the backup server. After all the aging gear was replaced, Ruland expanded the managed IT services contract with Bryley to include the company’s 40 desktop computers. “Over time, as we have grown more-and-more comfortable with Bryley, we have expanded their role,” Hewitson says.

The Benefits: Sharply Reduced IT Costs and No Down Time

As for the ROI of Bryley’s Managed IT Services offering, Hewitson estimates the cost is about 60% less than the cost of the salary and benefits of a full-time senior IT resource. “But more importantly, placing the management of our servers in the hands of experienced professionals from Bryley has probably prevented significant outages,” Hewitson points out. “As is the case with every business, the cost of downtime is big, but we have yet to go down since Bryley replaced our aging hardware.”

Bryley also came through in a big way before the aging servers were replaced when one of the systems crashed. “At that time, we were entitled to a response within 24 hours, but Bryley sent a team over right away,” Hewitson says. “They cloned the server onto a loaner so we could get up-and-running quickly while they fixed the server that crashed. Bryley had that server back on-line the next day.”

Since that incident, the virtualization technology along with the new backup server Bryley deployed now make it possible for Ruland to failover even faster to a backup system should any server problems occur. Bryley also deployed a new firewall to give Ruland added protection against malware and viruses.

“In addition to the more reliable IT network and the great technical support we receive by partnering with Bryley, they also save a lot more time for me in leading the company,” Hewitson says. “I no longer have to manage an IT person and can take a hands-off approach—knowing things are getting done and receiving regular reports from Bryley that show us everything is in good shape. There’s also no fear of our IT guy leaving the company or having sick days. Bryley is always there when we need them.” 

Major Benefits—Managed IT Services Provided by Bryley Systems: 

  • Reduces cost of IT support 60% compared to hiring an internal resource.
  • Prevents servers from crashing so company can maintain business operations.
  • Frees up senior management from having to hire, train and manage internal IT resources.
  • Ensures fast responses when IT service incidents occur.
  • Provides the latest infrastructure technologies to keep critical business applications functioning at peak performance.

For more information on how Bryley can assist your organization with IT goals, please contact us at 978.562.6077, or email us at ITExperts@Bryley.com.

Bryley Basics: Working with Webroot

Greg Livingstone (Engineer) and Gavin Livingstone (President), Bryley Systems Inc.

Webroot1 is a cybersecurity firm with “…leadership in developing next-generation approaches to prevent attacks, and a proven technology base that spans millions.”2

Webroot’s SecureAnywhere® Nex-Gen Endpoint Security (NGES) is a small-footprint (<1Mb) agent with Cloud-based threat intelligence designed to deliver advanced, next-generation, endpoint security. Webroot NGES offers these advantages:

  • Detection – Behavior-based, predictive/proactive detection
  • Management – Minimal impact with no signature updates
  • Protection – Collective protection among Secured EndPoints
  • Remediation – New threats are journaled to facilitate rollback
  • Threat Intelligence – Machine learning

With its innovative, predictive capabilities, it is becoming the standard end-point protection application of many IT-service providers, including Bryley Systems.

Webroot basics

When Webroot is deployed, this Webroot icon webroot-logo displays on the bottom-right taskbar. Right-clicking on the Webroot icon exposes these options:

  • Scan now – Perform a malware scan
  • Open – Open the SecureAnywhere console
  • Help and support – Show the online help site
  • About – Display the current Webroot version
  • Refresh configuration – Refresh Webroot version*
  • Save a Scan Log – Save scan results to a log file
  • Shutdown Protection – Disable Webroot

scan-now

 

*Refreshing the configuration uploads the current profile, resulting in this message:

secure-anywhere-prompt

Webroot SecureAnywhere console

Selecting Open displays the Webroot SecureAnywhere console, which may also appear in the bottom, right-hand corner during scans. The SecureAnywhere console displays current protection information.

secure-anywhere-icon

Webroot Browsing Security

Webroot SecureAnywhere includes BrightCloud® Threat Intelligence, an add-in for Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer to warn against unsafe browsing.

When enabled, BrightCloud shows the following Reputation icons prefixed to web sites. Hovering over the icon will display a risk statement:

trustworthy Reputation: TRUSTWORTHY – When visiting this website there is a very low probability that you will be exposed to malicious links or payloads.

low-risk Reputation: LOW RISK – When visiting this website there is a low probability that you will be exposed to malicious links or payloads.

moderate Reputation: MODERATE RISK – When visiting this website there is some probability that you will be exposed to malicious links or payloads.

suspicious Reputation: SUSPICIOUS – When visiting this website there is higher than average probability that you will be exposed to malicious links/payloads.

high-risk Reputation: HIGH RISK – This website is a “Malware Site”; there is a high probability that you will be exposed to malicious links or payloads.

These icons are displayed on your Internet browser pages and define the risk associated with clicking on a particular site.

webpage-image

By default, HIGH RISK sites are blocked with the following pop-up.

high-risk-icon

REFERENCES

1Wikipedia history of Webroot.

2Please see the 2015 Frost and Sullivan review WebRoot Smarter CyberSecurity.

Case Study – Transportation Company Relies on Bryley Systems to Stabilize Technology

The Company: RTA Transit Services, Inc., a private company operating on behalf of the Worcester Regional Transit Authority

The Worcester Regional Transit Authority (WRTA) service area includes over half a million in population and is the second-largest regional transit authority in Massachusetts, serving 35 communities. WRTA maintains a fleet of 47 buses including four clean diesel-electric hybrid buses for 23 fixed routes in Worcester and 10 surrounding communities. WRTA also provides para-transit and special services for elderly and disabled passengers. The organization is a state-run agency, and as mandated by federal law, is operated by a private company—RTA Transit Services, Inc.

The Challenge: Build a Stable, Redundant and Scalable IT Infrastructure

To help manage WRTA daily operations, RTA Transit Services previously relied on a variety of software solutions that each functioned on separate hardware system in the data center—with each software vendor specifying its own needs. To address the issue, RTA and its previous IT solution provider deployed virtual machines to handle the application load. But the architecture did not account for future growth, and the two host virtual servers operated independently. A hardware failure on either one would have taken down half the operation.

“We wanted to transform our data center into a more robust platform that could scale easily and adapt to new technologies as our needs change over time,” said John Carney, RTA Transit Systems General Manager. “We also wanted to add a high level of redundancy since it’s critical that we maintain service to our customers in the event of a system failure or a power problem at one of our operation centers.”

At the time that RTA Transit Services considered these changes, the IT team also planned to deploy a new intelligent transit system from Clever Devices that helps manage bus maintenance and provides bus-schedule updates to customers via the Internet and digital signs at stations. In addition to ensuring Clever Devices would run properly, RTA also needed to migrate all of its operational software systems to the new platform.

This included CyberAudit by Videx for security; a PTM Brokerage Services system that interfaces with an SCM Elderbus system for handling transportation services for handicap passengers and requires virtual-private-network connections; and a HASTUS group-scheduling and planning solution from GIRO that helps with bus scheduling and operations.

“Finding a new technology partner with the expertise to help us build a platform that could handle all of these systems was critical since the level of service we received from our previous IT support vendor had reached its limit,” Carney said. “We also wanted to partner with a solutions provider that could work within our budget but still design and deploy an effective solution.”

The Solution: A Virtual Server Data Center Designed by Bryley Systems

RTA Transit Services appointed a committee to search for an IT solutions provider and considered multiple firms. Bryley Systems won the project based on its ability to offer a team with a wide breadth of experience across all the different technologies involved in the project. “Bryley also has the ability to provide remote support and fix problems behind the scenes, which is important for us going forward,” Carney said. “When we submit a request, Bryley assigns an appropriate-level resource with the right expertise to address the issue.”

Bryley first assessed the overall server infrastructure at WRTA and designed a new platform that could run all of the various software applications effectively and scale as needs emerge. Bryley also documented the components that required upgrades and provided a blueprint for how to add computing resources in the future.

“Bryley developed a comprehensive plan and recommended clear steps to advance to where we wanted to be,” Carney said. “They then broke it down for us into components to help us determine what we could reasonably do so within our budget.”

Because of the complexity, the WRTA hired a consultant to assist its internal resources with the project. The consultant’s recommendations confirmed the need to deploy the infrastructure that Bryley recommended. “The consultant’s viewpoint confirmed that Bryley had the expertise we would require over the long term and gave us confidence that the project would be handled effectively,” Carney said.

The Deployment: Project Moves Forward Even When Unplanned Roadblocks Occur

Based on the value of the Bryley assessment and design as well as the consultant’s recommendation, RTA then asked Bryley to deploy the new data center infrastructure. Bryley deployed a VMware-based virtual server environment with a P4500 series storage area network from HP. The design also included five HP DL360 servers running Microsoft Windows Server operating systems, and high-end Cisco firewall equipment. In addition, Bryley created a dual-location disaster recovery solution with completely-redundant systems and full failover capabilities between the WRTA operations and call-center locations.

As part of the project plan, Bryley assembled the virtual server rack and shipped it to Clever Devices in New York where Bryley experts worked side-by-side with the Clever Devices team to configure the servers. Clever Devices then installed their solution on the servers, which were then shipped back to WRTA.

When the rack arrived back at WRTA, it had sustained minor damage during the shipping process, and the ramps that allow the racks to be rolled into place were missing. But Bryley adjusted quickly and was able to move the rack into place without the ramps. Bryley also assessed the damage to help WRTA with the insurance claim.

“Bryley reacts to changes like this very well and can address project-schedule adjustments caused by circumstances outside of their control,” Carney said. “They helped keep the project moving forward and demonstrated solid project management skills in addition to their technical capabilities.”

Bryley also evaluated the connectivity circuits between the operations and call-center sites and established a virtual-private-network connection between the two buildings that can be accessed by key vendors such as Clever Devices and Elderbus. Bryley then updated the system security with a Cisco ASA appliance and set up 10 desktops from which RTA personnel manage the Clever Devices software.

The Benefits: New Infrastructure Platform Enables Improved Customer Service

WRTA now has 21 virtual Windows servers running on five physical servers at its Grove Street location and three physical servers at the Main Street location. The agency also now has a stable platform on which RTA can run the business as well as add on to in order to meet future needs. RTA will also continue to consult with Bryley when working with software vendors to ensure any new solutions are deployed correctly within the new infrastructure

“Bryley helped us greatly in organizing and stabilizing the environment,” Carney said. “They know how to utilize hardware effectively and prepare for the future by designing scalable systems. In addition to adding high-level redundancy, we also eliminated unnecessary hardware so that we have a data center that’s much easier to manage.”

The Clever Devices application, powered by the platform designed by Bryley, allows bus passengers to use smartphones to check on bus schedules. The software also processes next-stop announcements on buses and next-arrival announcements at stops. In addition, the application also counts passengers.

“With the new technology platform empowering Clever Devices, we are greatly enhancing the level of service we offer to our customers,” Carney said. “By using smartphones, the Web or viewing digital signs, passengers can now see the status of any bus at any moment. This not only helps customers avoid missing buses that are ahead of schedule but also eliminates the frustration of arriving too early for a bus that is running late.”

RTA also plans to rely on the Clever Devices solution to replace its radio system with a VoIP solution. The complexity of this project generated a lot of logistical challenges for which Bryley provided its expertise. “We were not sure if we should replace our radio system with a Verizon VoIP system,” Carney said. “But Bryley met with us and Verizon to help us understand how the solution works and confirm VoIP was the way to go.”

The server infrastructure that Bryley designed and deployed is now the backbone that keeps all IT systems running at WRTA. The overall system also helps improve services to disabled people since RTA has backup systems for monitoring customers that might need rides to medical care appointments. RTA can also move the phone system to a new location if it there’s a problem at the main phone center.

“Bryley has turned out to be the perfect IT partner for us,” Carney added. “They first helped us develop a plan for future technology investments that we can consider as our budget allows. They then built an IT infrastructure platform that supports technologies that allow us to improve the services we offer to customers and ensures we have sufficient redundancy in place should any of our systems experience a failure.”

Major Benefits—WRTA Technology Platform Designed and Deployed by Bryley: 

  • Stability: Enables applications that run the business to perform consistently
  • Sustainability: Supports future enhancements as business requirements change
  • Redundancy: If main location goes down, system automatically fails over to backup site
  • Improved Customer Service: Supports applications that enable efficient phone, texting and Web services to provide passengers with immediate access to bus information

 

For more information on how Bryley can assist your organization with IT goals, please contact us at 978.562.6077, or email us at ITExperts@Bryley.com.

Announcements, news, events, and promotions

Bryley Holiday party

It was a fun-filled early afternoon as many Bryley employees sat down to a luncheon feast followed by an old-fashioned Yankee swap!

holiday-party-2016

 

Nicole Sawitz Accomplishes her HP Sales – Personal Systems Services Certification!

In this day and age, it’s imperative for sales professionals to be able to bridge the technology gap and gain insight into how to best serve their clients.  That is precisely what Nicole Sawitz, Sales Support within Bryley’s Sales team, accomplished when she earned her HP Sales – Personal Systems Services certification.  She underwent highly relevant, practical training to demonstrate her ability to effectively anticipate clients’ business needs and provide the optimal HP solution.  we look forward to seeing Nicole put this certification to work for our clients!

Introducing Engineer John DeCola

John DeCola recently joined Bryley Systems.

John has over 20 years of computer-support experience, working with clients throughout the Northeast. He is well-versed in Microsoft Server products, firewalls, and network-support tools and holds a degree in IT Technology.

john-decola

 

Introducing Jessica Giunta

Jessica, a Marketing Specialist, joined Bryley Systems late November.

Jessica has worked as a marketing/project manager and as a Marketing Associate where she maintained the ConnectWise database, managed social-media accounts, assisted in presentations and events, and fielded calls from clients.

Jessica is a graduate of Bentley University and a Girl Scout Gold Award Recipient.

jessica-giunta

 

STEMPower – A manufacturer’s resource

STEMPower is the Massachusetts Hub for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Manufacturing (STEM); it can be used to review resumes of recent trainees and to network with other STEMPower members.

You can join STEMPower as a member simply by setting up a user account. STEM employers can sign-up by emailing Lisa Oden, STEMPower Project Director.

We’re looking for field-service and business-development employees

Bryley Systems is growing. We have an immediate need for field-service personnel with IT experience and plan to add a person to our business-development team.

Interested applicants may email HR@Bryley.com or call 978.562.6077.

 

Case Study – Bryley Allows Manufacturing Firm to Focus on Internal Resources & Core Business Tasks

The Company: Built-Rite Tool & Die

A custom mold-making and design firm founded in 1984, Built-Rite Tool & Die is the corporate parent and driving force behind its Reliance Engineering and the LSR Engineering divisions. Built-Rite hires highly-skilled engineers, designers, and mold makers to execute demanding design challenges. The company is a leader in the manufacturing of precision molds for the liquid-injection molding of liquid silicone rubber and injection molding of thermoplastics as well as thermosets, compression and transfer molding of thermoset plastic materials.

The Challenge: Improve Network Performance without Diverting

Internal Resources

As a small business, Built-Rite Tool & Die does not employ a full-time resource to support IT operations. Robert Eaton, a design engineer for the company, previously managed IT on his own and sometimes relied on an outside consultant, who was not always readily-available during business hours.

“As the company grew from 10 to 25 employees, we reached the point where we needed to ensure consistent computer network performance with the capability of receiving service quickly when problems occurred,” Eaton said. “We also wanted to ensure we had reliable backups of our work. If a server goes down, we don’t want our design engineers having to replicate weeks of work.”

As Built-Rite began adding desktops and purchased a new server for each operating division, Eaton began working with a computer reseller but was not satisfied with the level of service provided.

“We needed a higher level of expertise that could recommend a technology support solution that met our specific needs and could ensure the technology would function properly on a consistent basis,” Eaton said. “It was time to solidify the management of the network. With everyone dependent upon up-time and proper backups, it became imperative to hire professional help.”

The Solution: Managed IT Services from Bryley Systems

Eaton conducted research on possible technology partners and met with two IT solution providers that presented proposals. He ultimately decided on Bryley Systems and its Managed IT Service offering.

“Bryley gave a professional presentation and clearly explained the multiple levels of service they could offer to match our business needs,” Eaton said. “The Managed IT Service takes the worry of IT operations completely off or our plates so that our internal resources can focus on our core business.”

Built-Rite also selected Bryley for the local presence it offers, which allows system engineers to visit on-site quickly if necessary. In addition, Bryley’s pricing structure compared favorably to the other solution provider, a large regional firm.

“Bryley also established a stronger personal connection,” Eaton added. “Their team seeks to form a true partnership in which they listen to our business needs and strive to create solutions that balance our technology needs with our business needs. They are also attentive to detail and willing to adapt their service to meet our needs rather than asking us to fit our operations into what they offer.”

For the Bryley Systems Managed IT Services options that Built-Rite chose, Bryley provides managed services for the two servers, 25 workstations and the Built-Rite firewalls. Bryley also manages server backups and the disaster recovery process as well as the workstation anti-malware software and overall network security, providing compliance with most of the technology mandates of Massachusetts privacy statute 201 CMR 17.

The Deployment: Uninterrupted Operations and System

Enhancements

Bryley deployed the Managed IT Services solution with minimal interruption to Built-Rite’s daily business operations. Bryley first benchmarked both servers and all of the desktop computers while making sure not to interrupt each employee’s work day.

Early in the partnership, one of the Built-Rite servers began experiencing RAID array crashes. Bryley repaired this system and stabilized the server with proper backups. As the second server began experiencing performance issues, Bryley recommended and installed a new HP server with a virtualized operating system.

“Our goal is to eventually consolidate our two severs onto the one HP sever with two virtual instances for each division,” Eaton said. “Bryley will play a key role in this by helping us determine the best way to connect our two buildings so both divisions have access to the virtual server—whether it’s by a fiber, wireless, or an Ethernet network.”

While providing managed services, Bryley has shown it’s adeptness at resolving general technology issues. “As a machine tool-and-die shop, we have a lot of CNC (computer numeric control) equipment with CAD software to program our tool machines,” Eaton explained. “We had machine controllers that did not always communicate correctly with our CAD software, but Bryley helped with this issue—even though it’s outside their primary service offering. Bryley engineers enabled our CAD software application to talk to all the CNC machine controllers.”

The Benefits: Server Costs Reduced and Internal Resources Focused on Core Business

Since partnering with Bryley Systems, the Built-Rite computer network has run smoothly, and any issues that have occurred have been addressed quickly. “The networks of both divisions run much better than they used to,” Eaton said. “We have experienced very little down time, and that which has occurred has been due to hardware failures of systems that were previously installed.”

In addition to receiving Managed IT Services, Eaton also now looks to Bryley to help determine whether Built-Rite needs to deploy any new IT solutions, and if so, which technology makes the most sense. “Bryley’s advice that we virtualize our main server so that it can provide services to both divisions saves us in capital expenses since we won’t need to purchase a new physical server and storage,” Eaton said. “This approach also saves us in the areas of on-going maintenance, support and backup costs.”

Having a partner like Bryley “who is always there” to support the business when needed is the primary benefit that Eaton points to. “Bryley takes a big load off of my shoulders, which is important because I’m not always here. And I can’t always divert my attention from engineering tasks.”

Eaton also emphasizes that Bryley is very easy to work with, dependable, and always gets the job done: “It’s good to have a technology partner willing and able to help in other areas outside of their service contract. They know how to diagnose general technology problems even when they occur outside of their primary area of expertise.”

Major Benefits—Managed IT Services Provided by Bryley Systems: 

  • Allows internal resources to focus on core business tasks
  • Creates cost savings with new solutions such as virtualized servers
  • Improves performance of computer network so employees experience fewer interruptions
  • Stabilizes system backups so design work can be recovered in the event of server failure
  • Provides a reliable partner that can advise on new technologies
  • Provides partial compliance with Massachusetts 201 CMR 17.00

For more information on how Bryley’s Managed IT Services can benefit your organization, please contact us at 978.562.6077 or by email at ITExperts@Bryley.com.