We are your local IT Consulting / Computer Consulting experts who can assist in all aspects of software implementation, as well as repairing your network and server, whether they run on Windows or Linux. Like most small business, you may not have the luxury of having your own Information Technology department to take on new projects or tackle complex challenges. You may be just barely hanging on to what you currently have and praying that your systems do not break down. We are here to come in with our knowledge, expertise, and experience to do the job of the Information Technology Department you wish you had.
Servers do much more these days than simple file and printer sharing. Your business computing needs can be broken down into services. These services include file and print sharing, but also may be more specialized like database application servers, or servers dedicated to a major software you use to run your business. We can help you determine what type of server you need, build, implement, and maintain.
We recommend the equipment we use and know works well. As far as Servers and Workstations are concerned, we have a relationship with Dell that allows us to pass volume discounts along to our customers. We have been working with Dell for many years and when we send a customer to one of our Dell sales representatives, they know we are the ones who will be installing your systems. Dell knows that by the time you go to them, you have our recommendation and there is no expensive sales process or questions to answer so the savings are simply passed on to you. Dell knows to treat our customers well because we send them over a million dollars a year in business. They also know that we can do much of their field work as far as warranty and replacement goes, so they give us high priority access to support and parts. Dell sees us as an asset, saving them a great deal of money for each system they sell. We pass that savings along to you as part of the value of our consulting services.
Computer Technology changes over time and eventually you will need to modernize, or bring your systems up to current specifications. Is that old server and software that has served you well for many years starting to show signs of its age? Is your system no longer capable of running the now current version of the software you need to run your business? We can help with a carefully planned and implemented IT Modernization project. There is much more to migrating to new servers, workstations, and software than simply replacing machines. Data has to be transferred, preserved, and updated. End users need to be trained on new software and procedures, and in the end, everyone needs to see the change as an improvement.
Our IT System Administration and Maintenance Plans are tailored to your budget and needs. Computer systems require regular maintenance in order to continue running smoothly and with proper security. Once we evaluate your system, we will estimate the number of hours needed to be spent on Proactive Maintenance, Administration, and IT Technical Support in order to keep your systems running smoothly and reliably. This time can also be used for future planning, consulting, and improving your computer environment. The more time you commit to buying on a quarterly basis, the more discount you receive on our base hourly rate of $150/hour.
There are two types of computer networks in business today. Those that were designed and installed well by competent professionals, and those that were not. Most likely your network falls into the second category because you are looking for help and reading this! Most networks that we encounter are a product of evolution. When you first set up a network, it was a simple matter of running some wire around from computer to computer until the lights started blinking. You either installed your first network yourself, or gave a deserving kid an opportunity to earn some money and gain experience while on summer vacation. Maybe it was your own kid or relative and nobody wants to criticize their work. It all seemed simple enough, but then you started adding more computers and eventually a server to share files. You added Internet and maybe some multi-user software, printers, and other devices. At some point, you added a wireless router so that your employees could use their laptops, smartphones, and tablets. Somehow it all magically worked,,,, until it didn't! This was all great until things started slowing down. Strange error messages started appearing on your screens, and some computers could not get reliably connected. Data got corrupted and you started having some real problems. You can see from the variety of types and colors of network cable lying around that different people have come through and expanded or repaired your network, spendng no more than what it takes to get by. You lost track of what goes where and what is actually being used. Employees come and go and nobody today really knows exactly what you have or understands how it all works, nor do they care. Eventually something breaks and you find out that the company, or individual who installed your network is out of business, or grew up and moved on. Now you have a mess and you want someone to come in and straighten it all out. Yes, we have seen it all before. It is time for a new network, this time professionally installed!
The “Guard Dog Security Server” is a customized stand alone server, dedicated to analyzing all your network traffic, and actively responding to security threats. Security threats are quickly shut down by Guard Dog sending firewall commands to a Tomato / DD-WRT router to immediately cut off the threat.
The server itself is based on Security Onion, a well known Open Source NSM “Network Security Monitoring” program, that runs on a customized Linux operating system. We customized Security Onion by adding some of our own programming that draws the latest threat information from various sources and effectively creates an Active Intrusion Protection System.
Good network security has several layers of protection. The first level of protection is at the firewall. The firewall, such as in our Tomato Routers, filters out a lot of unwanted traffic. We developed an America Only Internet feature that will filter out all but American (or whatever list of countries you choose) Internet IP addresses. A well set up firewall is a good first layer of network security. The firewall basically determines with whom your network is willing to communicate.
The Guard Dog Server adds another layer of protection to your overall network security. A copy of all the traffic passing through your router is sent to Security Onion. Security Onion analyzes that traffic to ultimately decide whether there is a threat or not. If a threat is detected, Security Onion will generate an alert which, using some of our own custom programming, results in a rule being sent to the firewall on the Tomato Router. The rule which is generated by the alert basically says “Drop all traffic for the offending IP address and deny further communication.” The rule effectively shuts down hackers trying to break into your network before they can do any damage.
Guard Dog monitors both incoming and outgoing traffic. If, for example, one of your computers on the network is infected with a Malware program, Guard Dog will detect that it is trying to open up suspicious connections to outside servers. These suspicious connections may be to receive further instructions or downloads. Like a real life guard dog, Guard Dog is always looking for an intruder to chew on!
Security Onion consists of an integrated set of Open Source programs that, when used by someone with the right forensic skills, can answer a lot of questions about what an infected computer is trying to do, what information it is trying to steal, and who it is trying to send it to. Security Onion keeps a history of all your router traffic for a week or two. This stored traffic can recreate suspicious activity for analysis. Security Onion is great at detecting and analyzing threats and the damage they do. Our approach is to shut down threats before any damage can be done.
Once set up, Guard Dog Server can be maintained and monitored remotely by our staff. Our servers send Guard Dog daily updates so it will know about the latest security threats.
The Guard Dog Server runs on the combination of a Server and Tomato Router. The cost is around $3000 for a small office with a dozen or so users. For medium sized offices or heavy Internet traffic, we have a more powerful Server at a cost of $5,000, which includes installation.
Our extensive experience is our biggest asset. We take the time to listen to users, analyze customer's needs, and recommend solutions that work. Whenever we install something, we make sure we do the job right, according to well established industry standards and best practices. We will only use the best available computer hardware and software that will assure success. We are used to solving problems that nobody else can.
With experience in the field, implementing and maintaining mission critical computer systems, networking, and servers, we are in a position to recommend solutions that we have used before. There is "No need to recreate the wheel" every time you need a solution. We use our experience to your advantage. While we know what works and what to recommend, we also will keep you from making the mistake of investing in a system that does not meet your needs.
With our experience setting up hundreds of servers over the years, we can navigate the many choices and arrive at a practical solution. Servers can be expensive and most businesses cannot afford to buy the wrong equipment. Servers require experienced professionals to design and set up, otherwise they can lead to pure misery for all involved. Since we specialize in small and medium sized business computing, we will have a good idea of what server is right for your business, based on our experience working with other companies like yours.
There is a big difference between cheap home computers and Professional Business Computers. We stand behind the equipment we recommend and install because we only recommend and install top quality systems for mission critical business applications. Money invested in professional grade computers is always money well spent.
We have suppliers we work with for Servers, Computers, Software, and Networking. We have Electricians who can install network cable properly. We are used to taking on new technologies and solving unique problems. We thrive on challenges. We know what works well and what does not. You will benefit greatly from our experience and successful track record working with other businesses that have faced similar challenges.
It is true that upgrading and migrating to a modernized system is much more difficult than building a system for a new business. We look at your goals and help lay plans to purchase the necessary equipment, networking, and software to implement your new system. This is not a time for learning from costly mistakes. It is wise to trust your major project to a team with Experience over Many Years and Changes in Technology. You need someone who understands the old technology you are trying to get away from as well as the new technology you are wanting to migrate to. You need the seasoned experts at Computing-Management, Inc.
We provide guidance to help navigate your business through a sea of technology. We can perform a management, decision making role as a member of your team.
Decisions need to be made, and right or wrong decisions can make or break a business. Without consistant administration, your computer system will be adrift and eventually show the signs of neglect. Your system needs someone to keep a watchful eye on changing technology and innovations in Windows, Linux, network security issues, as well as all the hardware and software in use. Someone needs to make practical recommendations on how to utilize new technology to your best advantage. Someone needs to be looking down the road at emerging technology and the future of your company.
Many companies no longer have the luxury of their own IT Departments to, or even dedicated, qualified, IT Personnel as a result of downsizing or recent economic hardship. Your computing environment is unique and it is wasteful to have different technicians come in from time to time and try to fix or maintain a system they are not familiar with. By performing regular maintenance and IT Technical support, we build a level of familiarity that will allow us to diagnose problems and implement solutions much more quickly, thus saving you a lot of money over time.
We have experience setting up both Windows and Linux Servers. There are advantages and disadvantages to both and they each have their own place in your computing environment. We view a server as a tool which is used to perform a particular function or functions, usually serving as a platform to run a specific program like an accounting system, or practice management system. Software companies like to sell their own servers to customers who do not have any IT Support, but these servers are generally overpriced and under powered. Have them quote you a price and we will show you what we can do for the same money and will exceed their requirements. In other words, with us, you get more bang for the buck!
The two most common upgrades we do to servers and workstations is adding as much memory as you can afford, and replacing your Mechanical Hard Drive with a newer and much faster Solid State Drive.
What may have seemed like a lot of memory at the time you bought your computer has gradually slipped below today's minimum recommend specifications. The speed of your computer is highly dependent on having enough memory. These days, having 4 GB of memory is average, and 8 GB is needed to make the newer versions of Windows run well. Every update that is pushed out by Microsoft, seems to put more and more demand on the limited resources of your computer. Windows XP, with all its updates, is an entirely different animal than what you started out with.
Solid state drives have come of age in terms of size, reliability, and affordability. Solid State Drives, or SSD's run about eight times faster than your existing drive, so everything you do wll run faster. We have the ability to upgrade your drive, without the need to reload your programs and data. Solid State Drives are also much more reliable than the older "mechanical" hard drives.
Recent versions of Windows Server include Windows Server 2008, and the newer Windows Server 2012. Your major software package may require one of these Windows Server Operating Systems. Windows Server Operating Systems require licenses from Microsoft, or something they call CAL's (Client Access Licenses). The cost and number of CAL's you need to buy is based on things like the number of users who will be using the server. Different features within the Windows Server Operating System can be turned on or off, and often require their own CAL's. Just to illustrate the complexity of Microsoft Licensing, check out the following information from Microsoft Licensing CAL's. If that information does not give you a headache, you can then look at the pricing involved and start shopping! These are all waters that we have navigated and are familiar with, based on servers we have installed. We will save you a great deal of time and money by simply showing you what you need to buy and prevent you from making costly mistakes. The major software application that you need may require that your server runs Microsoft Windows Server.
We consider all the resources available to us whether it be placing a temporary server, offloading services to our own network, or knowing where to quickly obtain a critical replacement part. We do whatever it takes to get you operational as quickly as possible. An example of this is a customer who runs QuickBooks Enterprise on their server that crashed. In order to buy time to build a new server, we installed their QuickBooks on one of our servers for the customer to access remotely. Once the new server is up and running, the QuickBooks and Data were transferred to the new or repaired server.
We have loaner Servers, Switches, Routers, Hard Drives, and pretty much anything else to get your system back up and running so your business will not suffer.
The answer to that is mainly because of sales tax issues. We are purely consultants. We will recommend the hardware and software you need and then point you in the right directions so you may make your own purchase. We do not profit from hardware sales so our advice is honest. We make our money by consulting and installing computer systems.
Server Security, especially for servers accessible through the Internet must have the proper security to keep them from getting hacked. We take server security very seriously because we realize just how dangerous the world is. It is a given fact that there will be attempts to hack into your server every hour of every day. This is just the nature of the Internet and a properly setup and secure server will be prepared and protected from such attacks. We utilize firewall security, user and file security, as well as intrusion detection to keep your servers secure. Servers, and the software they run, must be constantly maintained and updated to protect against the latest security threat. Server Security is something that should be set up and maintained by competent professionals like us. We can set up your server and monitor and maintain it remotely keeping an ever watchful eye for problems.
We have experience setting up both Windows and Linux servers and maintaining them in production environments. We have solutions for all the different types of servers commonly used in small and medium sized businesses. We know what works and have the ability to duplicate our successes and make them work in your computing environment.
We always tell customers that we save them a lot more money than we charge. We will make sure that you are buying exactly what you need and nothing more or less. We know what it takes and are familiar with the current products that we recommend to fit your needs.
With big projects, we quote the cost and that will be your cost regardless of the the number of hours involved. Typically our customers will pay half to get their project started, and then the remainder once the project is complete. Our quotes are based on actual experience installing systems all around town. We know what it takes to get the job done and we will not take on a project unless we feel we can do the job right and be proud of what we accomplish. In the end, we want our customers to be happy and feel that their computing environment is greatly improved.