The Support Gamble

 

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You spend money to save money

Annual support contracts and updating your End of Life products offer critical assistance in unexpected situations. Period.

Have you ever found yourself reviewing those yearly support contracts, struggling to sign that dotted line? Have you been overruled in your arguments for maintenance and forced to coast along without plans to replace or upgrade your EOL hardware or worse software versions?

I have, and it’s not an experience I’ll repeat.

 

Rolling the dice on support and expired equipment

A few months after my start date I was in the process of migrating to a full virtual shop, the company didn’t have support for several old servers nor their EOL Microsoft Exchange version. It’s a huge risk, one that I wouldn’t wish on anyone. In fact, today I’d quit before I’d let anyone managing the company purse strings walk me out onto this ledge again.

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It was the last week of December and the holidays were upon us. The office was closing early for last minute shopping, friendly cocktails, family gatherings, or some much-needed rest. I, on the other hand, was living the nightmare of a network outage. A “glitch” had just crippled MS Exchange, along with the company’s core database server.

Historically, during the first hour of any outage (after fielding countless help desk calls, calmly instructing your team, meeting with management, assessing the damage, and referring to your DR binder), I have continued to frantically google for help instructions, but this is serious, and the clock is ticking so I keep my head down, assess the magnitude of the outage, estimate downtime and get moving. Oh, but first I’m tasked with broadcasting the company-wide voice message stating there is an outage NO EMAIL, NO DATABASE so STOP trying to log in! –no one wants to attach their voice to this news but I kept the message calm, commanding, and to the point – the old “we will update you with the latest news as it becomes available”.

 

No means No. No support. Period.

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Without any support it’s a bleak picture: no helpline to dial, no magic wand, no soothing voice on the phone offering to take over, remote in, or walk you through recovery. Just me – or possibly that new network vendor that’s been after our business. Now, there’s an idea. I make the call and without the slightest hesitation, they prepare to step in. These situations are what they’ve built their business around, it’s why they succeed and survive. While all eyes are cast in my direction I announce to the management team that help is on the way. The look of relief that flashes across their faces tells me they too realize I’m out of my element. After all, I run the daily stuff.  This is beyond my scope and even they don’t expect me to steer this ship alone.

While awaiting the arrival of my new-found rescue team, I start to decipher if this is going to be a bare metal rebuild; or, fingers crossed, just a software reload. Pull all the power out of that server and start the rebooting – and praying, lots of praying. By the way, where are those install files? We needed to find the files and get organized; pull it together.

The once friendly-now nervous-faces are still “popping by” to check and see how much longer I think it’ll be before they can check email and that ginormous lifeline they call the company database. I’m 3 hours into this and the stress is building at a pace I hope to out-run.

Recovery and the weeks that follow

The disaster recovery process began officially at 3 PM, December 22nd, and although it would only be another 16 hours before employees could be logging in again, the deep dive of recovery would last another 3 weeks.

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Years later, my memory is a bit fuzzy and perhaps it’s best to forget. However, this I do recall: my stomach was a mess, my head was throbbing, I had a sense of constant panic, my Christmas shopping wasn’t completed, the Holiday was here, and the little money we saved on support was about to put me over the edge. I didn’t feel any Holiday spirit and the remaining days of family and friendly gatherings were a blur. All I could think of was…this could happen again at any time to any one of our servers…and again, it would be my responsibility to rebuild and keep the company connected and working. My first goal is now to sign on the dotted line and employ support.

Support Contracts provide added value for your internal IT staff

Typically, IT staff is in the business of connectivity, and break-fix events. Long days of keeping the organization connected: telephones, voice mail, faxes, printers, email, databases, data files, internet, WIFI, moves, adds and changes, and all things attached to a cable or a plug. That’s just the front of the house. The back of the house is the server room, the backups, the APC’s, the firewalls, the gateways, keeping things current, patched, running, secure, and even cooled. The days of paginating a word document, or helping staff use pivot tables in excel are few and far between. It’s all about connectivity. Downtime and loss of connectivity are not an option and not an option you should be willing to back.

There’s no hiding in IT

About 4 months later I’m at a company function, sitting with a large group of employees I’ve never met. Several people mention the time the email and database were down, and how inconvenient it was, they wondered too if the President and CEO knew how much money they lost during the incident. After all, they couldn’t sell a thing during those 2 days without email or the database. Since I worked in the IT department, they wondered too if I was or knew of anyone involved with the event –  I rose to excuse myself and replied simply “No”.

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The Washington Duke Inn & Golf Club Visit

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We are thrilled to have visited The Washington Duke Inn & Golf Club this week!

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Our CEO, Michael Velasquez had the pleasure of visiting this stunning property earlier this week. The Washington Duke Inn & Golf Club is one of the most prestigious hotels near Duke University and has an extensive history dating back to 1988.

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Duke University Golf Club 9th Hole
Duke University Golf Club 9th Hole

While there, Michael stayed in one of the beautifully appointed 271 guest rooms located within the 300 acres of the Duke Forest. When asked about his stay Michael said, “The property was immaculate and the staff were incredibly hospitable. It was a brief business trip but I really enjoyed my time and I will definitely be back!”

Welcome Liam to the Team!

Please help us welcome Liam Doring to our Chicago team!

It is always nerve-racking coming into a new company and trying to break the ice. Ensuring that new employees feel comfortable is crucial to building a positive transition within a company. We thought it would be fun to ask Ian a few questions to get to know him a little better.

Let’s get started!

Q: What is your official work title?

A: I am a System Support Specialist.

Q: Can you tell us more about your professional experience/ history?

A: I spent a lot of time in the technical theater world, which usually involved lots of wood and metal working, as well as some electronics. I then worked repairing Segway vehicles for a rental company and finally decided to focus on linux and coding.

Q: What do you like to do outside of work?

A: I still love to see live theater and occasionally perform. I like rock climbing and I want to see Chichen Itza next.

Q: What would you say your professional goal would be now that you are employed at Percipia?

A: I am very excited to be able to travel and work with such a talented group of people! I plan on learning as much as I can from my colleagues to help secure our customers’ trust.

Now on to the more personal questions.

Q: Favorite movie?

A: My favorite movie, at the moment, is Stalker by Tarkovsky.

Q: Guilty pleasure music artist?

A: Enya, ugh, I know!

Q: What are your greatest travel experience?

A: My favorite place to visit so far has been Florence, Italy. As the hub of the renaissance, it is just filled with mind blowing art and culture. The central area still uses the medieval streets so it’s easy to be a pedestrian.


Q: What is something that inspires you?

A: I am inspired most by the potential of Moore’s law that computers will double in computing power every two years. I feel very privileged to watch humanity adopt and develop the myriad technologies around us. Prometheus, eat your heart out!

Well there you have it! We are so happy to have Liam join the team and contribute to the success of Percipia.


You can send Liam some fan mail by tweeting @PercipiaNetwork

TribalNet15

This year the team headed to Las Vegas for TribalNet15. TribalNet is an industry resource for technology professionals in the Native American industry and is the connection between tribal IT leaders and technology available for this unique and specific market.

The conference was held on November 10th – 13th. With speakers and trade show booked throughout. TribalNet is a very important event for Percipia, we see so many individuals in our industry and it is always a blast to network.

Here is a timelapse video we made at the resort!

Welcome to the Team!

Please help us welcome Ian Brown to our Chicago team!

It is always nerve-racking coming into a new company and trying to break the ice. Ensuring that new employees feel comfortable is crucial to building a positive transition within a company. We thought it would be fun to ask Ian a few questions to get to know him a little better.

Let’s get started!

Q: What is your official work title?

A: Systems Support Specialist

Q: Can you tell us more about your professional experience/ history?

A: I use to work for AnyMeeting as their Technical Support Specialist.

Q: What do you like to do outside of work?

A: I play music with friends, practice martial arts, cook, read, and study. I also play chess, albeit terribly.

Q: What are your greatest travel experience?

A: A jazz combo I was in was hired to play a few fancy to-dos around the country. One was in L.A., where we stayed in the famous ‘riot house’ hotel on Sunset Blvd, played a party inside the Director’s guild (with free drinks), and had ample opportunity to enjoy the nightlife and beaches. All expenses paid, of course.

Now on to the more personal questions.

Q: Favorite movie?

A: Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo

Q: Guilty pleasure music artist?

A: Eazy-E

Q: What is something that inspires you?

A: The chaotic energy of the city. It’s 2.7 million people, from the lowliest beggars to the highest paid CEOs all living together in the same place. It’s the rhythm of the train, packed to the brim as it throws you around inside the car. It’s walking in a pack of people on the streets, all focused on their path and each with their own destinations and goals. It all reminds me of the fast-paced and jagged rhythms of bebop. The city itself is alive!

Q: What would you say your professional goal would be now that you are employed at Percipia?

A: ? To become an IP-PBX guru, performing feats of computing wizardry scarcely dreamed of by mere mortals.   

Well there you have it! We are so happy to have Ian join the team and contribute to the success of Percipia.

You can send Ian some fan mail by tweeting @PercipiaNetwork