Archive for January, 2018

How Your Computer Network is like a Dishwasher

Posted on: January 24th, 2018 by Jessica Diehl No Comments

Every house is full of items that you expect to “just work.”  The roof should not leak.  If it doesn’t leak, you don’t celebrate that, you expect it.

Same goes for the hot water heater, the light switch and the ceiling fan.  Perhaps we should express gratitude, but we don’t.

The dishwasher, when it works, is no different.  That said, every few/several years, the dishwasher breaks.  The most common response to its failure is to replace it. When it is down and doesn’t work anymore, you are upset, as the flow of kitchen processes is broken.  No more rinsing and stacking in the dishwasher after the meal.  When the dishwasher is down and there isn’t a replacement dishwasher or dishwasher repair on the horizon, you hand wash the dishes.

You never get used to it.  You look forward to having a new one.

When the dishwasher worked, you ignored it.  You didn’t spend any money and probably no time, either, maintaining it.  The only time you spend money on it is when it doesn’t work.

Your Computer Network is Similar

We conclude that businesses treat their computer network the same way that they treat their dishwasher.  They spend money, albeit reluctantly, when it is first installed, then they spend near nothing at all keeping it secure and up to date.  Only when it breaks and is unusable do business leaders respond to maintenance and security issues seriously.  In the meantime, users who make the money for the business yearn for the days when the technology works the way it used to work.

Normally, when something mission critical fails to perform, people ask, “what can we do to prevent that from happening again?”  The answer is a consistent, “we need to take care of it before it breaks, to reduce the risk.”

No one challenges this thinking.  Today’s response of asking an already overloaded IT department to “stay on top” of computer network issues results in more of the same, with perhaps the addition of some monitoring tools that claim to keep you informed.

No one has the time to review those tools.  Heck, they don’t even have time to finish the projects that are top of mind to everyone in the company, let alone the maintenance tasks that may or may not make a difference.

TNT’s Fully Managed Network means just that.  We “fully” manage it.

We provide equipment at no cost to you.

We put the equipment in, again, with no cost to you.

We do all the updates, moves and changes as part of our monthly fee.

We keep your network secure with patches on the firewall, network switches and access points, sending you only monthly reports of our findings.

We don’t want you to treat your network like a dishwasher.  We want you to have a predictable race car, where we do the oil changes, tire rotations and the like.  Use our stuff to go fast and let us worry about the rest.

Learn more about TNT's Fully Managed Networks here.

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7 Technology Predictions for 2018

Posted on: January 18th, 2018 by Jessica Diehl No Comments

This blog is misnamed.  Instead of '7 Technology Predictions for 2018,' it should really be “what are the technology trends between now and the end of the 2nd decade of the 20th century.

As I view the last third of the decade, I see that there are political drivers outside that will impact our IT focus.

1.  Political and Technology Gap will Widen

More than ever, the gap between political power and knowledge of the current state of IT widens.  The average age of a House member is 57 and a Senator is 62.  This demographic embraces technology at a marginal rate compared to groups only 10 years younger.  They will not see the importance of standards for cybersecurity, Internet of Things, and crypto currency until others have already made decisions.  To complicate matters, those providing them what they deem to be knowledge of the issues (Warren Buffet, et al) have no conviction that they need to be overly concerned with these matters.  This has nothing to do with the political party in control.  It has to do with the disconnect in values placed on technology.  Heck, I got an email from a Congressional assistant that I have repeatedly worked with earlier this week, and it was obviously a phishing attack that used information from their account to target me.  If they aren’t safe, they won’t get overly concerned whether or not we are safe.  I was hoping the Hillary Clinton email fiasco would draw a positive light to the issues associated with cybersecurity, but they didn’t.  Shame on me for thinking otherwise.

2.  Increase in IoT Devices

Human propensity to take the easy way will lead to the creation of more IoT devices, controlled by mobile devices that aren’t secure. On my cell phone (Samsung Galaxy), I have apps that control light switches, fans, a thermostat, and my garage door opener.  These apps aren’t getting updated when my operating system is, and I can only imagine that exploits are already out there/under way to make it possible for people to get into my house.  As part of this technology prediction, privacy concerns may be the only item that drives government to really get serious about creating standards and regulating communications between devices created with GoFundMe capital and my safety.

3.  Shift in Passwords

Passwords, as we know them, will go away. An ever-growing industry exists to manage the overt password management issues that we all face.  Tools that allow you to get back to a single password to get into everything are nearly as commonplace as the devices that they operate on.  In essence, we are migrating back to a world of negligible security, once you get through the front door.  As facial recognition/fingerprinting technology becomes commonplace, we will see an end of Pass@words as part of the use of technology.

4.  Shift in Medicinal use of IoT

Medicinal use of IoT will be the catalyst behind the medical industry’s drive to address HiPPA concerns and the need to keep down costs. Health insurance costs will not decrease without the ability of providers to offer more services via automation than they currently do with office visits and procedures.  IoT is the Obi-wan Kenobi of that movement.  Expect some take-your-breath-away applications of IoT in the medical devices that we use.

5.  Networking Migration will Continue

Networking will continue on its migration away from the wired world to the wireless world. I anticipate that 5G will be immediately adopted, and many individuals will go to work and bypass the company’s network altogether as the access cloud based apps that they use to do their jobs.  Why use a 1 GB network that is being shared when you can have your own 1.2GB network that doesn’t have any restrictions?  It will demand that companies offer services to the users that are better than 5G or give up on offering anything at all.  Bring your own lunch will be as common as bring your own cloud connection.  Bank on this one happening beneath the sheets, when none of the executive management are watching.

6.  Cyber Jobs will Increase

Jobs in cyber will grow at record-setting rates, and attract far more than the stereotypical tecno-geek types portrayed in movies and on TV. Cyber and counter cyber represents a way to add another venue for social equality that folks on the edge of society living 20 years ago couldn’t dream of.

7.  Technology Services will Shift

Technology services are on a path not much different than automobile maintenance. Early on, everyone learned how to change their own oil, brake pads and alternator.  Now, with computers knowing more about what is going on under the hood than even the designers, it makes nearly no sense to learn how to diagnose issues and fix a car.  This is coming from a former motorcycle mechanic.  People will have technology services companies like mine take care of everything possible, so they can focus on business.  No more “who is going to change the oil on the network” conversations.  Folks like us will do it, every time.

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5G Coverage Could Soon Revolutionize the Internet

Posted on: January 11th, 2018 by Jessica Diehl No Comments

A change in telecom is coming of the sort we have never seen, related to 5G coverage.

Let’s do the history game, first.  “Home Phone” used to mean Land Lines attached to a predictable device that could be used to send and receive phone calls, even if the power was out.  The use of the word “Land” implying that they ran under, on, and over land to get to your home.  That technology was a staple of telecommunications for nearly 100 years.

At a recent staff meeting, 0% of TNT’s employees admitting having a Land Line at their house.  Everyone has either VoIP service running on the Internet connection or they use their smartphone to act as their Land Line.

One staffer repeated the word back to me, using a condescending tone that bordered on arrogance.

“Land Lines?  Who uses Land Lines?”

I no longer will capitalize land lines.  There.  I have formally divorced from land lines.

I predict that we darn well might see 5G coverage do to cable and DSL that VoIP and cell phones did to the land line.

Verizon and Samsung have announced that they have finished (not started) deployment of 5G coverage in five US cities in preparation to begin allowing customers to use 5G-based devices (more than just your phone), beginning in April.    The 5G trials involve using a new portion of the spectrum 28 GHZ and using a fancy new technology called “advanced beam forming antenna” to make the delivery pass over 1G of throughput, through the air.

Places in New Jersey, Massachusetts, Texas, Washington DC, and Michigan will get to try this out in April and tell the rest of us how it works.

If I can get 1.2 GB (truth be told, I would LOVE to get 100 MB, so a 9% delivered-as-promised outcome would be Godsend), then terrestrial technology becomes my failover and wireless becomes my primary Internet connection.

The future conversation will go something like this…

“What?  You have cable (FTTH, DSL, etc)?  Why aren’t you using 5G?  How do you do two-way Ultra High Def pictures and video sharing?  That must be so painful running at a mere 250MB/sec.  Dude, I need to introduce you to my people!”

Today, TNT sells customers network appliances that come with all you can eat 4G failover at a fixed monthly fee, as business is impaired when the Internet is down.  If 5G gets built into the US telecom space and delivers as promised, then Ethernet, MPLS, DSL and Cable will be the failover connection, real fast!

Imagine that world….coming into a city near you.

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Technology Shifts in 2018 at TNT and Beyond

Posted on: January 4th, 2018 by Jessica Diehl No Comments

Over the last year, TNT has seen a shift in technology spending comparable to nothing that we have experienced.  The shift towards putting both data and computing power in the cloud is unprecedented.  Previously, the only “killer apps” that existed in the cloud for small and mid-sized businesses were online banking and perhaps payroll.  Now, directory services, databases, email and office applications, and even file services are online-only services for many of our customers.

TNT's customers have been part of this technology shift. At the start of 2017, only a few TNT customers had mission critical data and applications running on servers that they could never touch or see.  Now, over a quarter of all active TNT customers are using TNT to both migrate and use cloud services for their day-to-day functions.

  • A manufacturing company is migrating its primary manufacturing application to the cloud.  Considering they already have email and business continuity services in the cloud, they are about as “all in” as a company can be.
  • A local government put all of their messaging and message archives in the cloud.
  • A property management company moved to the cloud.
  • A car dealership went “all cloud.”

It seems like all sectors that can use the cloud for day to day operations ARE using the cloud.

Our sales team is seeing the shift as well, as they are helping educate our current and new customers on the advantages of moving to the cloud. We think this trend will continue into 2018.

There is some attrition.  Some of TNT’s main vendors (Cisco and Microsoft) are publishing decreasing financials as the world cares less about “owning” the best IT and migrates towards “renting time” on the best IT services on the market.   Cloud only ideas are really taking off; not just Instagram and Salesforce.  Webroot cloud-only security products are gaining fast traction and monthly networking services that include no upfront equipment charges or installation fees are ideas that business owners have been looking forward to.

The technology shift has affected TNT internally as well. Our engineers earned lots of cloud certifications in 2017 from Datto, Axcient and Microsoft.  We felt only limited need to train on non-cloud services, as their future isn’t what it used to be.

Like most companies, we bought and maintained the hardware for our servers, but after reviewing the total cost of ownership in comparison to using a cloud based infrastructure, we decided to migrate to Azure. All business operations are now in Azure, and provisioning new servers or increasing resources to accommodate new business processes has never been easier. Engineers can now focus on more important things like secure operations rather than dealing with failed hard drives or airflow to servers.

As the shift into the cloud grows in 2018, TNT plans to be on the leading edge, and help empower our clients the enhance their business outcomes through IT.

 

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The Network Team