Prior to working with HG Consulting, for several years another IT Consulting organization, who will be left nameless, provided IT Support Services to ALW Associates. During that time, ALW invested time and resources into their IT infrastructure, but received very little in return. Little by little their network resources became more and more unreliable and unstable. These are the experiences that give IT Outsourcing a bad name. However, IT Outsourcing can be very beneficial to small and medium sized businesses if partnered with the right IT company. Here is a good story about IT Outsourcing and how it benefited ALW Associates.
The jist of the story: Within 6 months, HG Consulting completed over 10 IT projects (both large and small), improving the speed, reliability, and overall experience of ALW's network. But, let's go into a little more detail how HG Consulting came to be a very good business partner of ALW Associates.
The biggest pain point for ALW was ensuring that their data was protected in the event of a failure. ALW had been utilizing tape backups to backup their main file server. In the best case scenario, backups were completing once a week. More commonly, however, backups were completing twice a month. The majority of the IT budget was consumed by their IT consultants changing tapes, and setting up the backup job for the next week, which the majority of the time would fail. Great investment, right?
Within the first month, HG Consulting migrated from the antiquated Tape Backup solution to a more robust cloud-based Backup solution. ALW's backup window decreased from 1.5 days to almost instantaneous. The time spent managing backups also decreased from 2-4 hours per week, down to 15 minutes each month. The time it took to recover a file has been reduced from an entire day down to minutes. ALW saw the value of their new IT partner when a critical client file corrupted, and HG Consulting was able to restore the file within the hour of receiving their phone call.
Firewall & VPN
ALW's remote access policy comprised of initiating a remote desktop (RDP) setting from a home computer to the external IP address of their Netgear SOHO firewall. The Netgear firewall would forward their connection directly to the desktop via the corresponding PAT (or Port-Forwarding) rule created. Because the security settings for the RDP protocol had Encryption as "Optional," this remote connection was created insecurely 9 times out of 10. The main file server that houses all of the sensitive client data was also accessible via this remote access method.
After installation of a Cisco ASA firewall, HG Consulting slowly migrated users from their insecure RDP session and trained them how to use the new Cisco AnyConnect VPN solution. This new VPN solution utilizes SSL encryption to ensure that all data that passes over the Internet is unreadable by external entities. The migration took two months to completely disable all of the previous PAT rules created, but zero down time was experienced during the process. ALW now accesses their network resources securely without worrying about compromising sensitive customer information.
ALW has their own domain, alwassociates.com,. however, their email was still linked to an older domain they had been using several years back, taxbiz.info. The email server for this domain also was very old (7+ years), with no secondary mail server or backup of the mail database.
Looking at this from a business perspective, it also does not seem professional to have a website located at www.alwassociates.com, but emails coming from email@example.com. To a prospective client this can seem to be a phishing scam, or give a bad, unprofessional impression of your business.
During the first couple of months, HG Consulting assisted with setting up new emails on the alwassociates.com domain, which is hosted on a redundant mail server platform. To ensure no email would be lost from existing clients that already utilize the taxbiz.info's, email aliases were setup to receive email for both taxbiz.info and alwassociates.com, and deliver them to the same mailbox.
Now the business is not only represented consistently across the Web, but also their email is safely being stored and backed up on a redundant server platform.
Phone System Migration (In progress)
We are in the process of migrating from a 10+ year-old software PBX program (TeleVantage) running on a 10+ year-old Dell Server running Windows Server 2003. This project was started because of a near-hardware failure, and replacement cards cost between $2,000 and $3,000. More to come on this project in the future!
Other (minor) projects completed within the first 6 months:
- Recabled the office with CAT6 cabling. Prior to being recabled, half of the office was using wireless cards because the cabling was not stable.
- Group-Policy Deployment. All of the computers were setup manually. Printers, Mapped Drives, etc.
- HGC migrated from a very-expensive, resource-intensive Anti-Virus vendor to a more practically priced and easier-to-manage Anti-Virus provider.
- Upgraded Internet Circuit from 4Mb to 10Mb, and reduced monthly Internet contract cost by 50%.
- Updated the look of the ALW Website
- Developed Logo & Letterhead, and developed Company LinkedIn Page.
On top of.....
HG Consulting helped ALW with the above projects on top of day-to-day responsibilities and taking care of the office users. HGC was able to accomplish all of this within six months, all while only being on-site on average about 6 hours per week. How can we help your business streamline their technology needs while at the same time saving your business money? Contact us today to see how we can help!