EdTech Takes Center Stage

OETCThe thinkCSC team attends the Ohio Educational Technology Conference (OETC) every year, and we’ve been witness to the explosion in EdTech that has occurred over the last decade. A computer class was once something students took for 30 minutes a day as a way to become familiar with new technology; today’s students come into school knowing and using more types of technology than any previous generation. This is changing the way education is delivered, and schools often find it difficult to keep up.

The future of education is exciting, because technology does hold the key to transforming how students learn. Rather than sitting through a boring social studies lecture, jotting down facts about myriad countries, students can go online and collaborate on projects with students in another countries. Teachers from different schools can collaborate on assignments and projects as well, and as teachers begin to embrace the value of technology, they are finding easier ways to meet all of the added requirements of documentation and testing that would otherwise be burdensome. Even parents are benefitting from the EdTech revolution, enjoying more transparency, from access to information about their children’s’ progress to easier access of school information.

For school administrators, however, each change in technology is accompanied by the stress of determining how to best implement the technology while still working under budget constraints, still keeping students safe, and still keeping data secure. It can be time consuming and troublesome for schools to troubleshoot and maintain equipment, manage warranties, or even to manage backup and recovery solutions that keep the school operational.

thinkCSC partners with K-16 schools to assist in developing cost-effective EdTech strategies. From helping schools purchase hardware and software at discounted rates to providing better-than-OEM warranties that ease the pain of managing tech in schools, thinkCSC is a proud partner in education. If you will be attending #OETC15, please be sure to stop by and see us at Booth 542. To learn more about what we can do to help your school embrace EdTech safely and cost-effectively, contact us.

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IT Trends – 2015 Edition

Crystal BallLast year we predicted several IT trends that are, for the most part today, standard operating procedures for most businesses. From VoIP to secure collaboration using Enterprise File Synchronization and Sharing, the big focus last year was the shift away from legacy processes and applications, with the gradual adoption of access-anywhere, work-anywhere work tools that didn’t compromise security.

This year we predict nearly every operational focus trending in IT will have something to do with security. IT security is the trend of 2015.

In fact, the biggest trend of 2015 will be the acknowledgement that no business is secure. No business – from the one-man work-at-home freelancer to the largest international corporation – is immune from incident. If you use technology and access the internet, whether from a smartphone or through applications on a bank of servers, you are a potential target for malware, cyber-attacks, viruses, natural disasters, and other business-disrupting issues.

Managed IT

Managed IT services, while not a new trend, will take center stage for even more companies because the need to maintain state-of-the-art equipment and have access to offline backup and disaster recovery will be too great to ignore and too costly for every non-IT business to do well. Shifting from a capital expenditure model for IT to an OPEX model will also be a priority for businesses striving to remain globally competitive. Managed IT services accomplishes that.

BDR Goes Mainstream

When disaster strikes, business leaders recognize the need for remaining operational. Backup and disaster recovery services provide a cost-effective business continuity solution that reduces downtime and allows you to keep serving customers from anywhere.

Enterprise Threat Detection

Rather than waiting for hackers and malware to highlight security gaps, then developing security patches in response to protect businesses, you can make your approach to security more aggressive. Enterprise threat detection offers proactive security that uses predictive analytics to stay ahead of the next attack. This will become a necessity for businesses of all size.

The most competitive businesses are the ones preparing for possibilities and designing their infrastructure in such a way that they can remain flexible, proactive, and competitive. Managed IT and BDR are not new concepts, but they are trending in 2015 as adoption becomes ubiquitous.

Discover how thinkCSC can help your business. Learn more.

Windows Server 2003 Nears End of Life

windows server 2003If you thought it was tough to adapt to the extinction of Windows XP, you’ll find yourself mired in a tar pit if you don’t soon take action to upgrade your Windows Server 2003 operating system. If your business is utilizing Windows Server 2003, begin your countdown now: Support for Windows Server 2003 will end July 2015, and businesses that hope to escape issues associated with bottlenecks, security, and third-party applications need to upgrade now.

Don’t Let Your Business Be Affected

Even though Windows Server 2003 has a short amount of life left in it, the third-party applications you use are going to create issues sooner than later – and may already be affecting your processing speed and uptime. Newer applications use larger amounts of paged-pool and non-paged-pool memory, something Windows Server 2003 simply wasn’t built to handle. This will cause your server to slow or stop running, requiring a reboot. Slowed and down systems are costly – and in the long run are more costly than upgrading to the recommended Windows Server 2012.

Don’t Let Windows Server 2003 End of Life Herald Your Doomsday

July 14, 2015 may seem far enough away to keep you from sensing any imminent doom, but the application-moving process required to upgrade your server from Windows Server 2003 to Windows Server 2012 is a time-consuming and delicate process requiring:

  • Application inventory
  • Analysis of which applications are using which servers
  • Careful planning of server migration and application updates

With proper planning, your migration from Windows Server 2003 to Windows Server 2012 can be a relatively painless process. The thinkCSC team is here to handle all of the heavy lifting for you. Failure to migrate in a timely manner will result in security issues, reduced functionality, issues with applications on which your teams rely, and increased downtime.

Take Action Now

Windows Server 2003 has moved to the top of the endangered species list. Better performance and security is within your grasp. We recommend upgrading to Windows Server 2012 as soon as possible to ensure ongoing security and stability. If you’re not sure where to start, thinkCSC can facilitate the migration of your Windows Server 2003. Contact us today for more information.

 

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Securing Your Business Network

13900884393bkprReports of security breaches are coming in fast and furiously. What started as a trickle of breaches at a handful of retailers like Target and Home Depot has turned into an all-out assault on business networks across the globe. Security breaches can literally stop your business in its tracks. Securing your business network has never been a more important consideration for your continued business operations.

Network Security – A Necessity

Your network is the heart of your business, connecting your employees to the software, communication, and information applications you need to operate your business. A properly secured network keeps your business operational.

Proper security:

  • Keeps your business flexible as conditions change
  • Provides a secure foundation from which you can interact safely
  • Allows you to collaborate effectively with team members and customers
  • Ensures governmental and industry standards compliance
  • Allows you to control who has information access, as well as how and when information is accessed
  • Reduces costs (data loss and security breaches cost U.S. businesses almost $70 billion a year)
  • Allows you to leverage a flexible and remote workforce without risk
  • Reduces risks of downtime, data loss, and litigation

Developing a secure network is more than just having policies and procedures in place if you don’t have the hardware and software to back up your plan. A truly secure network can only be achieved by making sure every access point – every email address, every laptop, every file – is securely stored, controlled, and monitored.

thinkCSC Offers Superior Network Security

Network security is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. thinkCSC recognizes the need that business owners have to balance security with cost-effective solutions. Our experts begin by conducting a risk assessment: identifying your needs, pinpointing your most critical vulnerabilities, and helping you develop a comprehensive plan and security strategy. From firewall protection to hosted email to offsite data backup in a private, locally owned cloud, thinkCSC has the solutions you need to sleep at night. Schedule your Technical Needs Assessment today.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

1385192667zrjpqNovember seemed to come very quickly this year, and with this festive holiday landing so close to the end of the month, Christmas will be upon us before we know it.

As we edge closer to the quarter-century mark here at thinkCSC, we realize more and more every year how important our clients, team members, and community connections are. We are exceptionally grateful for the continued support of our clients and partners; we are blessed to be part of the Columbus community.

Have a very happy Thanksgiving!

Tom Hastings

Leadership Series: Community Properties of Ohio and CPO Impact

by Tom Hastings

CPO ImpactCommunity Properties of Ohio  (CPO) was initially formed to manage the Community Properties Initiative in Franklin County, managing a $100-million budget and endeavoring to rehabilitate neighborhoods and provide affordable housing for low-income residents of Franklin County, giving them the opportunity to acquire housing, become more stable, and contribute to the success of the community.

What Is CPO?

Community Properties of Ohio are the property management affiliate of Ohio Capital Corporation for Housing (OCCH). Working with OCCH, CPO has led the rehab efforts that provide improved residential opportunities in seven urban neighborhoods around The Ohio State University and Near East Side areas. CPO partners with OCCH in a variety of capacities to ensure affordable housing for Columbus and for Franklin County.

How CPO Benefits Columbus: CPO Impact

CPO works to provide affordable housing, but their mission is to “move residents beyond poverty.” To further their goal, CPO created CPO Impact, a nonprofit foundation established to work in partnership with the United Way of Central Ohio and other foundations.

CPO Impact Corporation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit affiliate of the OCCH and CPO. The primary mission of CPO Impact is to develop initiatives that increase the success of CPO residents. Their key objectives include increasing stability and safety, helping residents move beyond poverty, and providing support for CPO resident children.

Why I Believe in Supporting CPO Impact

Having the safety and security of a home is vital – not just for the people in need but for the entire community as a whole. A community is only as strong as its residents, and one of the ways to strengthen a community is to address the challenges facing the most marginalized members. I urge you to do what you can to support the efforts of the CPO and CPO Impact.

To learn more about how to support CPO Impact, visit www.cpoms.org.

 

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We Help Our Clients Keep Their Promises to Their Customers

Businessman Hand Working With New Modern Computer And Business SWe often talk about our services in terms of what we deliver to our clients:

  • Predictable costs
  • Uptime
  • Enhanced security
  • Collaboration tools
  • Secure remote work options

But what do these benefits really mean to our clients?

Government agencies must meet legislative requirements and serve a body of constituents. School district must not only comply with mandates but also meet parent and student expectations. Private business must remain profitable in a highly-competitive global environment while satisfying both customers and business leaders. thinkCSC services are designed not just to deliver on our promises but to make sure you can keep your promises to your customers.

Predictable IT Costs

Predictable IT costs are good for business because it makes budgeting easier when converting capital expenditures into operating expenses. But it’s not just about managing the budget; it’s also about your ability to offer competitive pricing to customers or meet mandates within the constraints of your budget that truly make predictable IT costs something worth pursuing.

Uptime

Uptime is a common goal for managed service providers. It’s the way that we measure, in part, our ability to deliver on our promises. Uptime also means that you have the ability to meet the needs of your customers when they expect you to.

Enhanced Security

Security is the foundation of the integrity of any business. And while enhanced security is something we offer our clients, our enhanced security really means that our clients have the ability to meet both mandated as well as guaranteed protection of customer data. Whether you operate a business that processes financial transactions or a medical office required to maintain HIPAA standards, enhanced security is as much a necessity of doing business as it is a benefit.

Collaboration Tools

The collaboration tools we offer allow you to securely and efficiently work with team members around the world. And the reason this becomes important is because it allows you to be flexible and responsive, offering your customers the best innovations at the most competitive prices possible.

Secure Remote Work Options

By offering you secure, remote work options, we provide you with freedom. Whether it’s the freedom to attract talent from other locations around the globe or the freedom to work from home yourself, it’s a powerful offering. But what it really means to your customers is that you can be available to meet their needs from wherever you are – or reach the members of your team who can.

Predictable costs, uptime, security, collaboration, and remote workforce tools: Those are the benefits we offer our clients. What we are really delivering, however, is the ability for you to keep their promises to their customers.

thinkCSC Managed Services: Making IT Expense Predictable

1388361357w8dh9Unpredictable IT costs are both frustrating and difficult to manage. Your organization feels the economic impact of both employee downtime and out-of-budget IT spend. thinkCSC’s Managed Services offering minimizes the economic impact to your IT budget by guaranteeing a predictable monthly cost and uptime for your IT environment. A managed service provider (MSP) converts your organization’s IT spend from a capital expenditure to a predictable and manageable monthly operating expense, much like a utility.

Benefits of thinkCSC Managed Services

Not only do thinkCSC’s Managed Services make your monthly IT costs predictable, but it also transforms your IT support needs from reactive to proactive. Because MSP services are a predictable monthly cost, your IT provider does not get paid when your organization has IT issues (downtime).  With an MSP, your IT provider has “skin in the game” and benefits economically when your organization’s IT is running smoothly.

MSP shifts the focus, for your IT partner, to preventive efforts. Curbing issues before they happen, minimizing and preventing downtime and ensuring that your infrastructure is operating at peak efficiency helps to guarantee maximum profitability for both your organization and your MSP partner.

Organizations who have managed IT services:

  • Have a managed service program that is a true partnership where the desired outcome is “uptime,” which benefits both your organization and your IT provider.
  • Convert IT costs from an unpredictable and variable capital expenditure (CapEx), which depreciates over time, to a predictable and fixed monthly operating expense (OpEx), which will free up cash for those investments that drive revenue and growth.
  • Have a team of accessible IT professionals whose primary focus is preventative services to avoid downtime and expensive, reactive repairs
  • Have a streamlined ability to shift to cost-effective cloud-based services without risk
  • Have reduced risk through continual monitoring of your infrastructure, up-to-date patch management, ongoing support for required software upgrades
  • Have better regulatory compliance through state-of-the-art security, IT best practices and software license control
  • Have 24/7 access to support

If your organization is seeking a way to make IT costs more predictable while alleviating the strain on your internal IT resources, consider the benefits thinkCSC’s MSP offering. Contact thinkCSC for more information.

Leadership Series: EO Columbus

by Tom Hastings

eoI have been a member of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) Columbus chapter since 2004 and have held various positions in the organization, including President. EO helps entrepreneurs achieve their personal and business goals by providing peer-to-peer learning opportunities and experiences as well as connections to experts in every industry. What I admire most about the organization, however, is its focus on encouraging entrepreneurs to be active members of their communities.

What Is EO?

Founded in 1987, EO is a global organization for entrepreneurs, providing support to and connection for individuals who have the desire to not only develop themselves and their businesses but also to become better partners and leaders in their communities. The members of EO are part of a growing global network that supports entrepreneurs and business owners in more than 46 countries through 143 local chapters.

The EO Difference

EO chapters like EO Columbus provide members with local resources to support business growth, including educational events, networking and mentorship. EO also strengthens the global business landscape by partnering with local businesses, thereby encouraging job growth.

They have programs to support upcoming entrepreneurs:

  • The Global Student Entrepreneur Awards program recognizes undergraduate students who own and run businesses while attending a college or university.
  • The Accelerator Program provides business owners with the tools, knowledge and skills to grow their businesses.

Why I Believe in Being a Part of EO

No business can be successful if the community in which the business operates is not also successful. From supporting budding entrepreneurs to encouraging community leadership, EO is an organization designed to help business leaders thrive locally and globally.

To learn more about how to become a member, visit the Columbus chapter of Entrepreneur’s Organization.