Archives for February 2013

Nine Lives Media Names Network Management Group, Inc. (NMGI) to the MSPmentor 501 Global Edition

Sixth-Annual Report, Formerly the MSPmentor 100, Lists The World’s Top 501 Managed Service Providers (MSPs)

HUTCHINSON, KANSAS — February 19, 2013 — NMGI has landed on Nine Lives Media’s sixth-annual MSPmentor 501 Global Edition (http://www.mspmentor.net/top501), a distinguished list and report identifying the world’s top 501 managed service providers (MSPs). This year’s report has been expanded extensively to include:

  • New: MSPmentor 501 Global Edition
  • New: MSPmentor 100 Small Business Edition (top MSPs with 10 or fewer employees)
  • MSPmentor 200 North America Edition
  • MSPmentor 50 EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Africa) Edition
  • MSPmentor 25 AANZ (Asia, Australia, New Zealand) Edition
  • New: In-depth data tracking mobile device management (MDM), managed cloud services and other recurring revenue opportunities for MSPs.

“This prestigious award further validates the strides NMGI is making in providing total Managed Services to our business clients from Boston to Honolulu. We are honored to have been selected to both the Global 501 and Top 200 MSP’s in North America” said Steve Harper – Chairman and CEO.

The MSPmentor 501 report is based on data from MSPmentor’s global online survey conducted October-December 2012. The MSPmentor 501 report recognizes top managed service providers based on a range of metrics, including annual managed services revenue growth, revenue per employee, managed services offered and customer devices managed.

“MSPmentor congratulates Network Management Group, Inc. on this honor,” said Amy Katz, president of Nine Lives Media, a division of Penton Media. “Qualifying for our MSPmentor 501 Global Edition puts NMGI in rare company.”

MSPs on this year’s global 501 list lifted their combined annual recurring revenues 24.5 percent to $2.54 billion. Together, those MSPs now manage more than 5.6 million PCs and servers, and nearly 400,000 smartphones and tablets, according to Joe Panettieri, editorial director, Nine Lives Media.

MSPmentor, produced by Nine Lives Media, is the ultimate guide to managed services. MSPmentor features the industry’s top-ranked blog, research, Channel Expert Hour Webcasts and FastChat videos. It is the number one online media destination for managed service providers in the world.

About Network Management Group, Inc.
NMGI is a national provider of consultative services with an emphasis on computer networking, business continuity, and technology services for small and midsize businesses and organizations located throughout the United States. Network Management Group, Inc. designs, implements, and manages business technology solutions for our clients. Founded in 1984, NMGI is headquartered in Hutchinson, Kansas.

For more information Contact:

Tom Hammersmith
Marketing Coordinator
Network Management Group, Inc.
(620) 664-6000 x132

For more information on Network Management Group, Inc.:

http://www.nmgi.com

About Nine Lives Media
Nine Lives Media, a division of Penton Media (http://www.penton.com), defines emerging IT media markets and disrupts established IT media markets. The company’s IT channel-centric online communities include MSPmentor (http://www.MSPmentor.net), The VAR Guy (http://www.TheVARguy.com) and Talkin’ Cloud (http://www.TalkinCloud.com).

Contact:
Nine Lives Media, a division of Penton Media
Joe Panettieri, Editorial Director
212-204-4206 or joe.panettieri@penton.com

Share

Windows 8: Is it right for you?

Sanchez Williams, Systems Engineer – Network Management Group, Inc.

Ever since Windows 8 was released in October of last year I have been asked several times when I believe companies should consider upgrading to Windows 8.  Is it faster, better, and most importantly will it increase production are the most common questions I receive.

Let’s start off with the most important one; will it increase production out of my current staff?  Like all things technology this is best answered with “it depends.”  For most users my experience with the product would lead me to answer no.  In fact I would expect production to reduce and user frustration to increase substantially for the first few months of use while users get used to the new Metro Interface.  The Metro Interface completely changes how users access their applications by placing a series of tiles on the main screen in lieu of a Start Button.  The Metro Interface can be extremely frustrating and downright confusing to use.  Even after forcing myself to use Windows 8 for several weeks I still didn’t have navigating through the Metro Interface down and would commonly bypass it to get
my work done more quickly. Many people wonder why Microsoft switched to this interface and the short answer is they wanted the same Interface/feel through all devices (ie. Smartphone, tablet, laptop, PC) so that users can seamlessly move between them.  There is an obvious emphasis on mobile devices which is what makes using it as an everyday workstation so awkward.

The flip side to this design is that it works incredibly well with touchscreen devices, and not just tablets and smart phones.  If you work in a factory that uses touch screens instead of a mouse and keyboard Windows 8 is spectacular.  It is easy to navigate the Metro Interface with a touchscreen device and is quick and responsive.  Internet Explorer is available in the Metro Interface as an “application” instead of just a web browser, making it easier to use and overall better looking when using a touchscreen.

So did these major changes translate into a faster experience?  Boot times are noticeably increased along with login times.  During my testing it took about half the time to get from CTRL+ATL+DEL to a usable Desktop than it did in Windows 7.  As far as the experience once logged in there wasn’t really a notable difference in speed or performance.

This brings us to the final question and a great way to conclude, is it better?  If you are a company that heavily uses touchscreens throughout your company that I would give it a solid yes.  Windows 8 was clearly designed for use on a touch screen and both the feel and appearance confirm this.  However, if you are using it for everyday office use I can’t say I would recommend it just yet, at least not on a large scale.  I would get a test workstation or a Virtual Machine setup for users to play with and get comfortable before expecting solid production out of them.

Share

Hey, What’s Going on Here?

Randy Johnston, Vice President – Network Management Group, Inc.

2013 promises to be a big year from a computer hardware perspective with new Ultrabooks, tablets and phones, but the real news for 2013 will be in software. The basic building blocks of software, the operating systems, have been quietly going through a metamorphosis during the past few years. We will see the results of these changes positively affect our working style and ability this year and beyond. Operating systems are converging into what are called platforms, and the platform is now important as we will see later. Some of the operating system changes made by Microsoft and others were motivated by remote connectivity, portability and the cloud and some were motivated by trying to simplify the way we work. Applications have been swept along this sea change…perhaps it should be called a rip tide.

Since 2013 is a year of radical technology change, we have to plan our strategies. Successful strategies for your business might include: 1) strategic vision, 2) client focus, 3) working with your team, 4) simplification, and 5) technology. Choosing the right strategy and tools to service your market and clients the best way you can is a winning approach.

The Big Shifts

The vision is simple: 1) hardware is changing, 2) the operating systems that support these systems are changing into platforms, 3) the applications have to change to support mobility, web and ease of use, and 4) the backbone and infrastructure that supports all of our computing is changing, including virtualization, backup, private and public clouds, SaaS, and hosting.

First, let’s consider some background issues. We believe that brand name computers will generally have a lower cost of ownership over the life of owning the product. White box clones may be cheaper to purchase initially, but operational and compatibility issues can eat up any potential savings rather quickly. Second, there is a notable revolution in progress for the size and speed of end-user computer hardware and phablets (=phones/tablets) in the market leading to the bring your own device (BYOD) revolution. Third, we believe that the system software that runs these devices is converging and your choice of platform determines many of your options or choices. Most businesses have standardized on Microsoft Windows in the last two decades. We see three main platforms evolving currently: Windows 8/Microsoft, iOS/Apple, and Android/Google. Fourth, access to software through hosting or using Software as a Service (SaaS) is leading some businesses to a simpler configuration of computers in house. Some refer to this approach as the public cloud. In other cases, the systems requirements have become far more complex to the point that it is rare a single IT professional can install and maintain everything in a complete system. NMGI can very effectively run an entire IT operation from our offices with today’s remote support tools. The support approach used for in-house systems, often called managed services, allows a trusted and knowledgeable technician to maintain your system, often to the level of installing updates to applications such as accounting or your operating systems from anywhere. Because of these factors, you should pick an end-user computer hardware strategy that fits your needs. However, it is pretty clear that computer hardware platforms matter less today than they did five years ago.

Consider the impact of Ultrabooks and phablets and look at end-user computing hardware today:

Desktop Notebook Ultrabook Netbook Tablet
Speed Fastest Can be close to desktop speed Light, yet close to Notebook Low cost, slow Slowest
Size Largest Heaviest and largest portable Close to tablet Heavier than Ultrabook Smallest
Portability None Heaviest Close to tablet Between Notebook and Ultrabook Lightest
Cost $450-1000 $600-1900 $700-1100 $300-600 $150-1200

All of these computing tools can be used to run in the cloud. The netbook, tablet and smartphone do the worst job of running applications at high speed today, but they are very portable. The backbone is getting stronger and the applications are getting better to make these devices more usable. However, they are still best for consuming content, reading results, answering a few emails or taking notes, but are not very good for heads-down data entry.

But the big news?

The big news in technology is the seismic shift in operating system convergence to a single platform. For example, in 2013, it is pretty clear that technology platforms and operating systems will converge. Think: Windows 8, iOS/Mountain Lion, or Android Ice Cream Sandwich on phablets and computers. These three platforms are being designed so the same operating system, or one that looks and operates in a similar fashion, runs on your phone, tablet or computer. When you buy into a platform from a vendor, the way applications integrate and work together is largely controlled by the vendor. As you can guess, this is a fight between Microsoft, Apple and Google right now. Some of the fight is controlled by intellectual property, patents and lawsuits, some is controlled by innovation and ease of use and some is controlled by application availability. A future that allows applications to seamlessly run between a phone, tablet and computer could be very attractive as long as the application behaves appropriately on the different devices. Even more attractive would be a future that allowed applications to run on any platform and seamlessly work together.

For me personally, it has been a blessing to switch from one phone to another frequently including iPhones, Android phones and Windows Phones. Most of you don’t get the benefit of doing this because of your multi-year contracts. I usually carry a phone for 90 days or so to learn how it works, and then pass this product on to someone else. Today, I’m carrying a Windows Phone 8X by HTC, because I wanted to see how the Windows phone environment worked in conjunction with my Windows Surface Tablet and my Windows 8 computer. For sure, I say wow! While these technologies are far from perfect, the Windows 8 phone and the Windows Surface tablets may not quite be ready for the mass market, but I’m able to do key tasks quicker on my Windows phone than I could on my iPhone. Another big recent learning in this area was that the data shared between the Windows Phone, Windows Surface and Windows 8 is all a seamless experience. While I prefer running Windows 8 with a touch screen, it has also become apparent that with Microsoft or Logitech mice that have updated software to run with Windows 8, an upgrade to touch screen technology is not mandatory. Further the more sophisticated software like SetPoint for these mice actually makes Windows 8 more productive than Windows 7. The choice of platform has made my work processes easier. Even though the Apple iPhone was more elegant and simple, it is not easier than running Windows everywhere. As an additional point, with my Mac Air 2, iPad and iPhone, I did not have near the integration possible with Windows 8. As one last point, with my Google Chromebook, Google nexus7 and Motorola Droid phone, I did not have near the integration possible with Windows 8.

Platform limits choice while enabling ease of use. If we choose a particular vendor, we get the most benefits and the most restrictions by adhering to the vendor’s rules. Think of iCloud and iTunes as enabling your ability to shop easily and restricting your choice to what is in the Apple Store. Microsoft and Google are trying to mimic this model. Is a single supplier in your business’ best interest? Some say yes, while others say best of breed supports their strategy most effectively.

Some of our greatest frustrations come from hardware failures, inconsistent results or confusing design. Platform will minimize the differences between hardware run within the family. Each device will work in a similar fashion. Most of us could care less what the hardware or software is or whose brand is on it as long as it runs reliably 100% of the time and helps us get our job done. Platform will help us build our ideal future. Consider your platform choice and your providers carefully to get the best results for your business.

Share

5 things small businesses forget when planning for a new or redesigned website

by Jeff Graber, Media Services Executive – Network Management Group, Inc.

There is a lot to think about when planning for a new website or a redesign of a current website. There’s marketing, design, branding, accessibility, and a ton of other things that go into a successful website. But there are some things that are frequently left out or forgotten in the planning process. I have put together a short list of some of the more critical things that are often excluded from the planning process:

1. Mobility

By now, the decision of investing in a mobile website is becoming very obvious. The use of mobile devices for web browsing doubled in 2012, while smartphones and tablets became even more popular and powerful. Some of the characteristics of a
n effective mobile website include fast loading time, navigation optimized for touchscreens, and an easy contact option such as a call button. Having a mobile website keeps mobile visitors engaged longer because information becomes easier to find and frustrations associated with loading delay and formatting go away.

2. Search Engine Visibility

Another important characteristic of your website is how easy it can be found in search engines like Google and Bing. If you are not taking specific measures to ensure visibility in search engines for certain keywords, then you will not be found by people searching for your products or services on the web. Some things to consider when optimizing your website for search engines include locations where you primarily do business and the products or services you provide.

3. Content Sources

Something a lot of businesses don’t think about when planning for their website is where the content will come from. Will employees write website content in-house? Will content come from marketing materials that have already been written? Will content creation be outsourced to professional copywriters? These questions should be answered during the planning process, not after a website is built or redesigned. And remember, the quality of your content is a reflection of your business. So make sure your content is easy to digest, well worded, and grammatically correct.

4. Content Management Solution

Once you have a plan for where you content is coming from, you will need a way to manage your content and get it to your website. This is where a content management system comes in. A content management system stores your content and allows your website to pull from and display it. With a content management system you can update content on your website without having any web development knowledge or experience. A complete content management system should include easy online access with a secure login, options for publishing now or in the future, and version control.

5. Backup & Recovery

Finally, the most critical consideration for your website is backup and recovery. If your website goes down you will need a way to obtain your data and get it back up quickly. Your website backup plan should fit into your business continuity plan. Some options to consider for a reliable backup solution are offsite backup, file backup as well as database backup, daily/nightly incremental backup, and restore procedures.

If you are planning for a new or redesigned website, NMGI is here to help with these and other website considerations. If you would like more information, give us a call at (620) 664-6000 or visit our website at http://www.nmgi.com/services/webcare.

Sources:

http://www.w3schools.com/browsers/browsers_mobile.asp

Share