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10 Reasons Why You Need an IT Solutions Provider to Guide Cloud Migration

By | Blog, Insight

When it comes to managing enterprise workloads, the cloud rules. Nothing else enables them to run smarter and reduce cost when it comes to IT services for business.

“Cloud services are definitely shaking up the industry,” said Sid Nag, research vice president at Gartner. “At Gartner, we know of no vendor or service provider today whose business model offerings and revenue growth are not influenced by the increasing adoption of cloud-first strategies in organizations. What we see now is only the beginning, though. Through 2022, Gartner projects the market size and growth of the cloud services industry at nearly three times the growth of overall IT services.”

Once the decision has been made to move to the cloud, most companies employ the expertise of a Cloud Solution Provider to optimize benefits and minimize risk. IT professionals are equipped with a complete understanding of the cloud, how it operates and how to take full advantage of its benefits to support and help grow businesses.

An IT solutions provider can migrate email, desktops, applications, servers, and data to the cloud, manage it on an ongoing basis and be available for consulting as your enterprise grows. To break this down even further, we’ve identified ten reasons why using a partner is critical to successful cloud migration:

  1. Frees you up to grow your business. Most business leaders are more skilled and knowledgeable in their industry, and not on managing technology. Using the skills of a Managed Services Provider lets you do what you do best—envisioning and executing growth strategies—while an MSP implements and supports technology initiatives.
  2. Instills confidence in the future. Digital transformation isn’t a one-and-done situation. Your technology initiative will continue to alter as new tech emerges to coincide with and support the growth of your business. Having a proactive solutions provider positions you for future-proof technology.
  3. Creates cost savings. A full-time IT staff is often not feasible for a small or medium-size business. Utilizing a Cloud Solutions Provider can help to offset the cost of a full IT staff, and bring specialized skill sets that are out of reach for most SMBs, without sacrificing quality and support. In most service provider relationships, you’ll receive a fixed recurring monthly fee to help you manage expenses without sacrificing support.
  4. Decreases resolution time. With the tools a service provider can leverage, most issues can be quickly assessed and resolved remotely. When an issue requires hands-on support, the partner can dispatch the right technical resource to resolve. Less downtime means your business operates fluidly with no impact to customer interactions or other workflow processes.
  5. Greater security is possible with cloud migration. Breaches of IT assets are all too common threats to businesses today. However, the right IT solutions partner can bring cloud security expertise in all the steps of a secure IT environment—development, deployment, implementation and ongoing monitoring, management and maintenance.
  6. Streamline backup, disaster recovery, and business continuity. Business continuity is critical in all companies so the possibility of a huge outage can strike fear into many business leaders. Aligning with the right IT solutions provider can avoid catastrophic loss situations through the smart storage of data and responsiveness.
  7. Monitors the cloud IT environment. There are varying levels of support available with most Managed Service Providers. Look for a partner that aligns with your needs to ensure uptime, security, and availability, and will effectively monitor your cloud IT environment.
  8. Helps determine Your total Cost of IT. Your MSP partner should be able to simplify your IT budgeting and finances. A quality partner will help you assess your total cost of ownership in a cloud assessment to realize the benefits of a right-fit solution.
  9. Integrates critical services. Cloud services are managed in enterprise datacenters which allows all enterprise users access. Some businesses find they need a more complete ecosystem of enterprise-class IT-as-a-service solutions, such as Calyx’ @Work model, which includes a fully-managed cloud environment, on-premise network and support, and business intelligence.
  10. Builds strong business relationships. When it comes to technology in your business, you need a partner you can rely on. The foundation of a good relationship is trust. Find a partner that looks to understand your business and how cloud services can enhance your services, products, offerings or customer experience. This fosters growth in your business, which should be the outcome desired by all parties.

One of the smartest decisions you can make for your business is partnering with a reputable, professional IT solutions provider. When you partner with an IT solutions provider like Calyx, you’ll see reduced security risks, lower total cost of ownership, business scalability, streamlined processes, better continuity and more productivity for your business.

How to Choose the Best IT Solutions Provider for Your Business

By | Insight

More and more companies are realizing the benefits of working with an IT solutions provider — often referred to as a Managed Service Provider (MSP) — to help utilize technology better, ideally increasing efficiency and productivity, while assisting with security, support, and projects like cloud migration.

There are components that form the foundation of smart MSP partnerships that are nice to have. And then there are the critical components that may not even be on the checklist when considering partnering with the right MSP. Understanding these known and unknowns is critical to selecting the right partner for your business.

Calyx takes a different view of providing managed services than most others do and we want to share our perspectives here to help businesses understand that choosing the best MSP hinges not so much on the provider, but on you and your company.

They establish trust.

A best-in-class Managed Service Provider isn’t in business to sell technology and services to benefit themselves. They are sincerely interested in helping their clients achieve success through business growth and becoming a trusted partner. Trust is something that grows throughout the course of the business relationship but there are clues at the beginning of the partnership that indicate a strong intent.

Some things to consider when evaluating a new MSP partnership are tangible such as IT support, security initiatives, budgets, etc. but you should have a good feeling about your interactions with a Managed Service Provider before entering into any agreement. They should welcome any and all questions and happily provide references. Remember, this is the future of your business and you need to trust any other providers who enter into that critical zone.

A provider who has a fast answer to every question or seems to have an off the shelf solution to any business challenge should be vetted carefully. Having an established way or principle is critical, putting every client within a single product, service or other “box” does not ensure fit.

They identify the gaps between IT and business objectives

Most businesses lack a comprehensive understanding of their true cost of IT, how it relates to business objectives, or where they stand relative to competitors and industry standards. This clarity will help you organize and prioritize your current and future objectives, and help you make better business decisions. Identify an IT solutions provider who is willing to invest the time in comprehensive discovery and planning to ensure ongoing alignment between business plans and IT strategy. In doing so, you’ll ensure that you’re on the same page technically, philosophically and financially, and have a firm foundation for future success.

The best MSP will design a total system that promotes your business growth.

An exceptional Managed Service Provider knows that it is supporting the growth of your business, not only your technology. To support the growth of your business, your IT partner must work in lock-step with your business to ensure that your IT overcomes today’s challenges and prepares you for the future.

They’ll want to know your tolerance for risk. What are your business-critical processes? Are there any possible bottlenecks that could be eliminated by technology? They can only build the ideal support plan for you if they know what challenges you face and how you plan to address them.

Understanding your overall business strategy and how technology aligns with your goals is the foundation of a true partnership. Knowing what is needed today to be successful, paired with strategic planning for future needs, is the road to a productive relationship.

Don’t base your decision on pricing only.

We’re talking about the IT operations, security, ongoing support and growth of your business. So basing your decision on price alone is not a guaranteed recipe for success. IT should be an investment and an asset, not just a cost center on your P+L. This isn’t a lunch special. Trust that a best-in-class MSP will always be looking for new ways to improve your IT operations and will offer continual recommendations. Some of these may add to the budget but you will always get a thorough explanation as to why they’re critical and how they’ll add value in moving your business further toward desired growth.

Reputable IT solutions providers will also look for ways to make more effective use of your money, either cutting cost where possible or looking for improved technology for your spend. This is part of that trust issue that builds over time. They are looking for ways to benefit your long-term business success and cost just shouldn’t be the first factor in making such an important choice. Look for a partner that provides value beyond the bottom line. As Warren Buffet suggests, “price is what you pay, value is what you get.”

Service and support, without passing the buck

A common complaint among business who’ve experienced frustration with their MSP is lack of accountability. All too often, providers pass the buck and place blame when a technical issue arises. The right IT solutions provider ensures white glove, end-to-end-service and support, working on behalf of the client as their single point of contact. It should be clear that their sole interest is to address issues in a timely manner and mitigate future issues whenever possible. Look for a provider who is willing to be candid and accountable when things go wrong, not providing unclear answers or passing the buck.

Look for industry-specific expertise.

MSPs are expert in technology, security and execution. But you’ll want to partner one which has experience working with other companies in your industry. Many IT initiatives share the same equipment, same processes, same philosophies. But if you have a financial business, it helps to know that they have dedicated experience working in the financial industry.

Knowing that they know about financial companies puts them ahead in the learning curve with you and they know what to look for on a daily business. It’s another one of those aspects that build trust at the onset and as time goes by. The same holds true across any industry. Having shared experience or knowledge only serves to build a more successful relationship.

A total solutions pricing model

It’s typical for MSPs to provide clients with a Chinese menu of options, from technology platform to security and backup/disaster recovery, from upgrades to capital equipment. Nobody likes to be nickel and dimed. The limitless line item options are overwhelming and fail to provide clarity to business decision-makers. Further, they often bind the client to a lengthy contract term. Look for an IT solutions provider who, rather than intentionally mystifying the process, adds value by simplifying the complex. Calyx, for example, offers a simple pricing model based on two key line items — people and locations, with no contract term. Hardware expenditures, which often require investment, are included.

Explore their penchant for innovation.

The best-in-class Managed Service Providers are always improving their skill sets and recommendations based on new technology and solutions. They’re inquisitive. They’re proactive. And they’re resourceful. They need to bring you the best growth recommendations, and that requires innovation.

How will you transfer to the cloud? What are your mobile strategies? What internal efficiencies can save time and money? You don’t want an MSP to plug and play with your business. You want qualified recommendations that will build trust and drive the growth of your business.

These are all great things to be on the lookout for when looking for the best MSP for your business. Calyx delivers on all counts. When you partner with us, you’ll see lower Total Cost of Ownership, business scalability, streamlined processes, better continuity, security and more productivity for your business.

Why Manufacturers Need Managed IT Services

By | Insight

All businesses today have IT requirements, but manufacturers have very unique needs. In fact, they rely on IT for almost everything. When you think about machines doing tightly-controlled production work, as well as the machines to control those machines, it’s easy to see why IT is so critical. It is part of everything operational — logistics, production, customer interaction, supply chain and more.

Oftentimes, manufacturers support the needs of multiple locations, while sharing data, applications and management from a centralized location with fixed budgets and staff. Added to these challenges, IT must help to move forward business objectives, maintain competitive advantages and ensure the security of their intellectual property. Here’s where managed services for manufacturing comes in.

Outsourcing core IT functions to a professional IT solutions provider is a viable solution because it allows IT staff to focus on strategic, business-building objectives, instead of day-to-day break/fix and routine maintenance.

IT solutions providers can specifically help manufacturers in a number of ways to overcome these unique challenges.

Consistency and standardization across systems and locations

Standardization allows for consistency for all processes, especially when it comes to rapid recovery from issues that arise. This is especially true for manufacturing companies that don’t deploy and use the same technology across multiple locations. Various CRM, ERP and other software are used to manage operations. This creates an unnecessary tangle of communications and consistency that thwarts employees and the business in general. Partnering with an IT solutions provider will decentralize IT and make it universally available in the cloud so that all users have the same experience regardless of their location.

Scalability

Scalability—or adaptability—is huge when it comes to managing manufacturer IT needs. Industrial companies often work on large projects that require a small burst of employees and resources. Once the job is completed, the resource needs decrease and the company can’t afford to maintain the additional employees. How can a manufacturer responsibly manage these situations?

Outsourcing a technology ramp-up to an IT solutions provider is the perfect solution because increased workloads can easily scale to the cloud with no upfront costs or time delays. And even better, the manufacturer can easily scale back down when the project is complete, using additional resources only for a specified time.

Predictable IT Spend

By adopting an outsourced IT model, a manufacturer can simplify budgeting with predictable monthly IT fees. Using the services of an IT solutions provider also reduces the risk of downtime through the management of computing, storage and fixed network assets. Soft cost loss and productivity hurdles are also minimized due to less connectivity downtime caused by network fluctuations.

Sufficient IT Support

Staffing appropriately can be a moving target with manufacturing companies. Plugging in the right team members and other resources can vary based on workload and more times than not, staffers spend time putting out fires, not working proactively. When a company outsources to an IT solutions provider, the correct amount of team members and resources are directed to the workload so that work emergencies don’t occur and dedicated staffers can work productively.

Rapid Deployment

If you’re a manufacturer, mergers and acquisitions are a fact of life. So, what do you do when you encounter massive technology integration needs inherent with M&A? You outsource to an IT solutions provider like Calyx that manages quick and easy deployment and integration to a new location or newly purchased business.

Simultaneous Upgrades

Outsourcing IT solutions is a particularly efficient step when it comes to simultaneous upgrades of all servers and devices. What usually would take a long time to complete—deploying machine upgrades—is now easily managed due to the resources of a professional IT solutions provider.

Manufacturing and industrial companies have special technology needs that should only be accommodated by a professional IT solutions provider. When you partner with an IT solutions provider like Calyx, you’ll see lower Total Cost of Ownership, business scalability, streamlined processes, better continuity, security and more productivity for your manufacturing business.

5 Reasons Why Your Business Should Outsource IT

By | Insight

Most businesses have growth strategies that will lead to the need for core competencies that don’t reside within the business, and new tactics are required to maintain or further their growth initiatives. Requiring new expertise does not indicate that a company didn’t plan appropriately. It simply means that it has grown beyond its resident skill sets.

This is especially true in the case of small businesses. Founders build companies based on their passions, and invariably grow to require skills and new tactics that are outside their wheelhouse, oftentimes including IT. Fortunately, IT can be readily outsourced, minimizing the financial and workforce investment necessary to strategically grow the business.

Knowing when to outsource IT operations can be a challenge but we’ve identified 5 of the top reasons why your small business should outsource IT and share them with you here.

1. Minimize the risks. No doubt, your goal is to focus on the parts of the business where you can have the most impact. Areas of sales, marketing, customer experience and more need visionary input. Fortunately, IT solutions providers can provide the tech support necessary to grow the business. They can also provide specialized services for short-term plans.

When you outsource to professional IT solutions providers, you get a trusted partner with the expertise to provide secure services while you manage other aspects of the business. You’ll be able to relax, knowing that cybersecurity issues are being managed with in-depth expertise, minimizing your company’s digital risk exposure.

You’ll also get best-in-class technology solutions to prevent unauthorized access and data vulnerability. Your specialized security team will be able to respond in real-time to minimize data breaches and hacking. With qualified IT partnerships, you don’t have to worry about surprise downtimes, unexpected costs or personnel issues. You do what you do best and your IT solutions provider will do the rest.

2. Enterprise-level IT at lower costs. When you want a fully functioning IT initiative, outsourcing is the way to go. The rest will follow. And even if you’re not quite enterprise-level, act as if you are. A large enterprise typically has a full-time IT staff and can invest in tools and systems to manage all parts of their network. Small businesses usually can’t afford those luxuries but outsourcing offers all the enterprise benefits of expertise and insight as they scale.

3. Immediate value. When small businesses take the IT outsourcing step, they not only get access to the skills and expertise of the IT solutions provider, but also the financial economies that accompany the partnership. IT solutions providers give access to lower software and hardware pricing so companies don’t have to invest on their own. Your human resources can be more effective in building your business instead of working to keep systems running, updated and secure. Cost efficiencies can be channeled into other areas of the business when IT is outsourced properly.

4. Focus on core areas of the business. If IT isn’t your strong suit, don’t try to force the issue. You started your business because you wanted to provide a product or solution. Your passion lies in the development and creating new business strategies so don’t try to become an IT expert. There are things that only you can do such as provide strategic insight and business-building initiatives. Let the IT issues to the IT experts. Don’t ever outsource your core competency but always consider outsourcing the IT elements to a trusted IT solutions provider, you can relax knowing that details are being managed while you take care of what you do best.

5. Experienced IT support. Managing IT costs is huge for small businesses but sometimes cost-saving efforts result in inexperienced IT staffers who can’t work proactively to keep your technology running smoothly. When you outsource to an IT solutions provider, you’ll get pros who know what to do before any problems can occur. Plus, you don’t have time to manage IT issues. Let the pros take over and ease your mind from any technology issues.

Overall, when you partner with an IT solutions provider like Calyx, you’ll see reduced security risks, lower Total Cost of Ownership, business scalability, streamlined processes, better continuity, and more productivity for your small business.

The Real Cost of Business Interruption

By | Insight

Technology can be seen in the smallest details of day-to-day business operations, from increasing productivity to creating significant competitive advantage. However, most businesses have become so reliant that downtime associated with an outage, security breach, or catastrophic event can be detrimental to the bottom line.

Have you ever experienced a technology outage? If so, what did the outage cost you? According to Gartner, the average cost for one minute of downtime is $5,600, while 98% of organizations claim that a single hour of downtime costs over $100,000.

Interruptions consume, on average, 238 minutes per day and an additional 84 minutes to get back up and running. This equates to an estimated cost of $588 billion a year in the U.S.

60% of small businesses that experience catastrophic events like hacking and ransomware shut down within 6 months of the attack. Other lesser events can cause significant downtime, loss of productivity and costs.

And while revenue is the main factor affected by an IT disruption, it is not the only. Below are the three main ways an outage will disrupt your business:

Loss of Revenue

Have you calculated what one hour of downtime would cost your business? According to Gartner, downtime, at the low end, can be as much as $140,000 per hour, $300,000 per hour on average, and as much as $540,000 per hour at the higher end. Back in 2017, Delta airlines had to cancel 280 flights due to an outage. This single outage incident cost the airline over $150 million dollars. How would a single IT interruption impact your bottom line?

Productivity

On average, businesses lose 14.1 hours per year to IT downtime, equating to 545 hours of staff productivity. More so, the average company spends over 200 minutes to resolve a single incident of IT downtime. How much time have you spent dealing with IT interruptions in the past year?

Brand and Reputation

How your organization is perceived by your customers and stakeholders is pivotal to your success. Downtime not only can jeopardize customer relationships, it can also impact sales and brand equity. An outage or breach, especially one that is not handled expeditiously, can have a long-term impact on your brand reputation and negatively impact revenue and profitability.

While no business is immune to IT interruptions there are numerous ways that you can prepare yourself for such an event. By putting a P.I.E. strategy in place you can prevent an outage and drastically reduce the costs associated with downtime.

Plan

IT outages are often avoidable with strong technology strategies and systems in place. Run regular threat and vulnerability assessments and configuration reviews. This will help your business prevent many of the system failures that can occur. More so, conduct drills and tests to ensure you’re are prepared for worst case scenarios to reduce downtime.

Next, make sure you have an effective disaster recovery plan in place. The plan should include the technology and processes required to get your business back up and running as quickly as possible. Prepare for an outage but take every precaution to prevent as much downtime as possible.

Improve Training Process

75% of all downtime is not related to a failure of technology, but rather, is caused by configuration, administration and human error. In fact, 22% of all IT outages are a direct result of human error. The majority of outages could be prevented by improved training and/or planning. Instruct employees on the proper way to report issues, how to prevent outages and breaches, what to do during an outage.

Engage a Qualified Service Provider

According to a survey in USA today, one in every 10 companies stated that they need their uptime to be greater than 99.999%. And while it is impossible for a company to achieve zero downtime, there are service providers that can come close to obtaining the goal. For instance, Calyx IT has reported 99.997% uptimes on network service — among the best in the industry. Calyx also reduces IT ticket incidents by 75%, minimizing downtime and increasing productivity.

By taking the time to understand the cost of a technology outage and putting a plan in place to address inevitable downtime, your organization stands to save thousands or even millions of dollars, as well as protect brand reputation and customer loyalty.

How to Accurately Assess Your IT Spend

How to Accurately Assess Your IT Spend

By | Insight

How do you know if you are spending the right percentage of your budget on IT? It can be a tricky and deceiving line item to manage. Many companies don’t consider the risks associated with not having a comprehensive IT infrastructure in place. But how do you know what you need? Your company’s IT budget is affected by multiple variables, including protocols, compliance, current technology, and business needs. Having a complete understanding of your industry standards, current IT requirements and spend is a great place to start.

When allocating the IT budget, business leaders need to balance the requirements along with the overall needs of the business to evaluate the opportunities for digital transformation for both long term results and spend.

Today, technology is not just a business enabler. It’s a competitive differentiator. It’s important to make sure you’re at least keeping up with peers in terms of IT spending, if not seeking ways to gain an advantage through technology.

A study by Deloitte Insights found that companies spend on average 3.28% of their revenue on IT. The study also found that of high-performing companies (those that consistently outperformed the S&P), 57% increased their IT budgets from 2016 to 2017.

Benchmarking your IT spend relative to peers is a valuable exercise to make sure you’re not falling behind. A Deloitte study illustrates IT spending as a percent of revenue, by industry.

Enterprise IT has been highly resistant to change and thus forces companies to decide between acting quickly to deal with elevated risk or moving slowly to mitigate risk. But when the cost of a security breach can cost more than the value of your company, there is simply no choice but to evolve. But where do you start?

We’ll help answer some common IT budgeting questions and share insight on how to approach your IT budget.

What are you currently spending on IT?

To first understand what you need to spend you must know what you are currently spending. Many companies to do not have an exact figure on the true cost of their IT. To begin, do a thorough analysis of your IT expenses.

Your IT budget should include everything from computers and servers to software, apps, cloud services, cybersecurity web hosting, maintenance, telecommunications, audiovisual equipment, outsourcing, consulting, travel, and of course, your IT staff.

Need help evaluating the total cost of IT to your business? Contact us here for more information and a free diagnostic evaluation for qualified businesses.

Where should you focus your IT spend?

The focus on your IT spend will depend on your industry. In years past, businesses primary spend was on automating back-end systems and maintenance and upkeep of infrastructure. Today, technology investments need to align with your business goals. Your IT is entwined with every business function and has the potential to increase revenue, performance, and competitive advantage. And while there is no right place to spend your IT budget, the most common spend is on data center systems, enterprise software, devices, and communication services.

Are you comfortable with your level of IT risk?

Cybersecurity is a significant and growing IT issue. Just look at the news. Every day you can find a large company that has experienced a security breach. Most executives have a poor understanding of the risks. Do you know all of your risks?

You need a comprehensive system for managing IT risk that assesses not only the threat and cost of an attack but an understanding of how you will restore your data and get your business up and running again with minimal downtime.

Does your IT roadmap reflect the full potential of technology to improve your business?

Technology can increase revenues, reduce costs, and lower risk. By updating and staying abreast of technology advancements and mitigating threats, companies can dramatically improve their overall business outcomes.

Ultimately, the strategy that emerges from a thorough IT assessment and integrated plan should place your business goals at the forefront. An intensive, well thought out IT plan is not merely a revised annual IT budget, but a tactical plan that should provide a competitive advantage for years to come.

Spending your IT budget wisely entails IT not only provide an infrastructure to serve data but also improving your overall business. Understanding your current IT spend and how best to leverage IT for business success is key. If your company doesn’t have internal IT staff or a CIO that can evaluate solutions, consider hiring an IT Solutions Provider.