Tuesday, October 31, 2017
In the last few years I have personally observed a pretty profound shift. More and more Macbooks (or other Apple computers) are showing up in these once exclusive shops. I believe the willingness of small business owners to move away from Microsoft and toward Apple is a direct result of their experience with other Apple products, namely the iPhone but the "why" part of this story is a post for another day.
This shift has created an opening for introducing Linux into the small business space, as well. In a small shop of, say, 10 to 20 computer users where over half of them are Mac users it becomes less and less beneficial (read: cost/beneficial) for the business owner to invest in a Microsoft server product. Especially when a small Linux server running DHCP and DNS daemons along with SAMBA and CUPS for file and print can provide many (if not all) of the services they receive from a comparable and way more expensive Microsoft server.
In addition to cost, Linux servers can be easily configured to automatically install critical security updates and actually get them very quickly. Updating and upgrading a Linux server is quick, easy and, in my humble opinion, much more reliable than doing the same in the Microsoft Windows world.
I have recently deployed two Linux servers in just such a scenario. The cost of entry to running an Ubuntu LTS Server OS on a small Dell Server is many times less than the equivalent hardware-software combination running Windows Server. Using Webmin as a management front end even provides administrators inexperienced in Linux the ability to easily manage the essential functions.
Linux integrates well in these small shops with diverse sets of operating systems and the cost of entry is low - reliability is high.
Times are changing in the small business IT support world. Linux and open source products are well positioned to be a part of that change.
Friday, April 6, 2012
Previous to their Google Apps migration O'Connor Headwear struggled gaining access to their production and sales data from remote locations. They relied on Remote Web Workplace (RWW), a component of MS Small Business Server, to access computers in the home office. In order to use Remote Web Workplace the O'Connor "road warriors" were tied to one browser and one device and were often frustrated by spotty performance. The "clunky" manner in which they gained access to data through RWW just added to the frustration. Since moving to Google Apps remote workers and sales reps can access important information from any browser and on any device through the same process no matter their location. Bert Atkinson is especially pleased with the close integration between Google Docs, Gmail for Apps and his Android phone. The combination of Google Apps and Android is an important resource to O’Connor’s mobile sales team.
Thursday, April 5, 2012
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
I wish I had a dollar for each time I've heard a small business owner object to cloud computing on the basis of "security concerns". I always listen carefully because I want to be certain to understand their security requirements so that I can guide them appropriately if those concerns are valid.
Monday, January 10, 2011
Colin Smith posted a blog of the same title as this one on Tech Republic today. You can view the post HERE. As it relates to small business, Mr. Smith got one thing absolutely right - cloud computing provides a small business affordable access to IT resources on a scale unimaginable in the past. From the aspect of a small business managed service provider, I would like to point out a couple of cloud computing truths that he missed.
First of all, the small business managed service provider's value-add does not necessarily become eroded. The managed service provider must, however, transform him or herself into a "performance improvement" strategist as well as an IT guru. The managed service provider must provide value-add by assessing the IT needs of the small business and implementing cloud services to meet those needs. And, this process should be ongoing. Most of us who have spent any time supporting the IT needs of small business know they can benefit greatly from the new scale of IT services at their disposal. In addition (and I know my fellow small business managed service providers can relate to this), small business owners and decision makers must be gently led, by the hand, into the new "cloud paradigm" and the new paradigm must be simple.
Second - Simplicity is key! Mr. Smith cites the Microsoft BPOS/Office365 example in his post, but when it comes to simple Google Apps for Business is king. Google Apps provides all of the large scale IT resources the vast majority of small businesses need. Granted there are some small businesses whose processes might require the complexity of Sharepoint but, from my experience, those are few and far between. Google Sites and Docs usually meet collaboration and work flow requirements with a much greater degree of simplicity.
My Geeks On Call franchise in Charleston SC is both a Google Apps and Microsoft Online services reseller. When we assess the IT/performance needs of a small business, we find Google Apps is very hard to beat when it comes to features and the simplicity it provides.
Saturday, December 11, 2010
So, if putting an end user to work (or back to work if your netbook is damaged by ice cream) is as simple as providing a new Chrome Notebook for access to your Google Apps account, does this spell the end of IT departments, outsourced support providers and system administrators? I don't think so. Does the Chrome OS/cloud computing model foretell a change in the way small business information technology is "done"? You bet it does! We in the IT support community must embrace the new methods and technology exposed by a pure cloud computing model. We must get to know how our customers use IT to do their business and help them find the right tools and methods to enable them to compete. And that's an ongoing, constantly evolving process! It is an interesting and exciting challenge for us small business IT service providers.
Is your IT service provider talking to you about ways to move your business processes to the cloud? Visit our website at http://www.sc-geeks.com/apps for information. We are talking about the cloud (and beyond!) to our small business customers.
Our Geeks On Call franchise in Charleston, SC is a Google Apps Authorized Reseller. We see our job in this new information technology support "climate" as helpers in moving our small and medium sized businesses to the cloud.