How to Boost Your Wireless Signal 150 150 Kerry Butters

How to Boost Your Wireless Signal

Wi-Fi strength is important to ensure that your business is always connected to the internet. Cumbersome Ethernet wires snaking around your office merely get in the way and with wireless speeds becoming much quicker the advantages to a wired connection are dwindling.

It can however be infuriating to have a Wi-Fi network set up but be unable to connect at the speeds that you expect and require. If your wireless network is struggling to meet the demands of your network then there are some options to boost your wireless connectivity, without changing routers and providers.

Wireless networking technology is pushing more and more users away from wired options due to its convenience. Users however are also aware that a Wi-Fi connection can be frustrating and fickle. If you’re unfortunate enough to be a victim of a poorly functioning network, there’s no need to suffer in silence. Here are a number of tips to boost your wireless range, connectivity, and browsing speed.

Upgrade your network

Wireless-G (802.11g) is currently the most common Wi-Fi network but it’s not the fastest or even the most up to date. Wireless-N is the next step and for users that are able and willing, upgrading to this option is recommended.

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A Rough Guide to Choosing Antivirus Software 150 150 Kerry Butters

A Rough Guide to Choosing Antivirus Software

If you’re a business working with any kind of private information – be it of your customers or your employees – then it’s essential that you have antivirus software installed on your business network. Digital crime is becoming increasingly sophisticated, and the very nature of the crime means that antivirus providers have to be reactive. Because of this, often the most important feature of antivirus software is that it updates regularly, ideally in real time.

There are plenty of antivirus options available to businesses, and it can be frustrating sorting through the pros and cons of each, so here’s a quick breakdown of some of our favourite antivirus software to make your decision easier.

What’s your budget?

The first decision that you have to make is whether you’re going to be able to pay for your antivirus or whether to go with a free package. Just because a product is free doesn’t mean it’s not secure – many of the free antivirus offers the same defence as paid alternatives – but it often means they only offer you defence. Paid options will often include other features such as password protection and file clean-up. So if you’re a small business or want to save money, quite often free antivirus may be enough for you. If you’re handling very sensitive information though, or have the money to splash out on more features, it’s worth considering the paid options as well.

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Social Media and Cyber Security 150 150 Kerry Butters

Social Media and Cyber Security

Everyone who has any sort of online presence uses social media sites. This can be a useful way to promote content, increase exposure, and network with your peers. However, the increasing usage of sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Google+, come with its own set of problems, namely: online security.

Many new employees in the global workforce feel that personal and private lives are increasing the security challenge for businesses. This is most evident in social media and this is often accompanied by a low regard, or even a total disregard for privacy concerns.

Nearly 91% of Generation Y students and workers believe that the age of privacy is gone and a third of that percentage are unconcerned about the data that is captured about them. This is according to the latest Cisco Connected World Technology Report.

“More Generation Y workers globally said they feel more comfortable sharing personal information with retail sites than with their own employers IT departments.”

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Reluctance to Hire Staff Holding Back Big Data 150 150 Kerry Butters

Reluctance to Hire Staff Holding Back Big Data

Big Data is big news and many companies are embracing it whole-heartedly. It can provide an organisation with a good idea of whom its customers are and what they want from the services provided. It has promoted the idea of ‘value exchange’ and allowed companies a better means of communicating and understanding its customers.

So how can Big Data be utilised within marketing campaigns?

Infogroup Targeting Solutions recently published a study that revealed that the investment from business into Big Data marketing would increase hugely in 2014. This is due to new initiatives that allow a business to fully embrace the massive amount of data that its customers are relaying. However, the study also found that although the benefits of Big Data are clear, there are many companies that are not making the correct plans for data-related job positions.

According to David McRae, president of Infogroup Targeting Solutions:

“The survey findings also indicate that marketers are moving from the information-gathering stage to the analytics phase of Big Data adoption. But a downturn in hiring could stall Big Data implementation, as the need for human capital is greatest during the analysis and action stages.”

It seems that marketers already have the information they need and are now looking for the best application of that data through analytics tools. The problem facing most businesses is the implementation of Big Data policies as many are failing to hire the correct staff within this burgeoning sector.

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Making Office 365 work for you 150 150 Kerry Butters

Making Office 365 work for you

Microsoft’s latest move to the cloud has seen all of its Office programs make their way online. The software giants are also offering a not inconsiderable discount for students attending and going into university. This means that it will soon be in your interest to upgrade to Office 365, if you haven’t already, as your workforce begins to expect it.

This shouldn’t be seen as a bad thing however. This new offering comes with some very useful features and benefits that you can harness to your company’s advantage. First and foremost, the fact that Office is now running in the cloud means that Microsoft is now taking a lot of the burden for maintaining that software and, more importantly, security. This frees up your IT staff to do other, more essential, work and gives your administrators a deeper understanding of exactly what is going on with the software.

A quick warning, if you’re running Windows XP (and if you are, you need to think about updating), then you won’t be able to install the local files for Office 365 (Office 2013) and will have to rely on the web-based service.

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[Infographic] The State of Cloud Adoption 150 150 Kerry Butters

[Infographic] The State of Cloud Adoption

A 2013 infographic by Aryaka, containing results based on a survey carried out by Rightscale, shows that cloud adoption is no longer in question. For many companies, moving business processes to the cloud has become one of the best moves that they have made and the survey reflected this, showing that those who were early…

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Increase your Productivity using Windows 8.1 150 150 Kerry Butters

Increase your Productivity using Windows 8.1

Windows 8.1 hasn’t exactly been met with acclaim, instead it has become one of the most maligned version of Windows and an OS that many are loathe to adopt. However, there are a number of new additions to the interface that, if used correctly, could make the jump to Windows 8.1 more appealing.

So for those of you who have the OS or for those who are interested in getting it, here are some tips to help increase productivity on Windows 8.1.

Search everything

The Windows 8.1 search tool doesn’t just scan your system, but instead it’s now integrated with Bing. This means that it delivers internet results and sometimes even Wikipedia inspired summaries of whatever you’re searching for straight to your desktop.

If you want to give it a go, launch the Charms bar and type in your keywords – this will bring up the search box on the right of the screen. Hit enter and you’ll see any matches in your own documents, media library links, and you’ll get online links to explore as well.

There’s more increased functionality and if you swipe left (or spin the mouse wheel) you’ll find even more pictures and links. Clicking any of these links will take you to the webpage. You can effectively use the charms bar as a Bing search bar.

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How to Choose the Right Cloud Vendor Kerry Butters

How to Choose the Right Cloud Vendor

More and more now we are seeing businesses turn to the cloud to get an edge over their competitors. There are many advantages to moving your business into the cloud, including reduced hardware costs from bring your own device initiatives; more readily available talent through remote working and devices that pick up where you left off on another computer. These can all have positive impacts on your business and workflow.

Moving to the cloud also frees up your IT workers, as your chosen cloud vendor will take care of things like security, tech support, data backups and server maintenance. There is still a hesitation amongst some towards taking the leap to cloud however, as they don’t know what questions to ask when shopping around. So here’s a handy hotlist of questions to ask that’ll put your head firmly in the cloud.

What services do you require from your cloud vendor?

Vendors can offer you all sorts of services, including:

·         Storage (Video, audio, simple data etc) Dropbox, ZipCloud and JustCloud are all popular examples

·         Remote desktops – Extrasys and Bomgar

·         Accounting – Quickbooks, Freshbooks, Kashflow

·         CRM (Customer Relations Management)Salesforce, Goldmine

A Brief Definition of Cloud Computing

There are three basic types of cloud offering that you’re likely to come across when shopping for your service:

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Does BYOD Present Security Issues? Kerry Butters

Does BYOD Present Security Issues?

The BYOD model is becoming increasingly prevalent, as employers and employees alike embrace the smartphone boom. Now productivity can be increased as employees can have constant access to their company’s online services.

However, with this ease of access come security risks that are worth considering. If you have, or are intending, to adopt BYOD solutions in your business it’s important to be aware of the effect, both positive and negative, that it could have on your business.

One of the major problems in the BYOD market is the lack of enhanced mobile security in communications between devices. At the moment, many BYOD enabled networks use the built-in security measures that employee’s smartphones come with. This could be a potential security vulnerability that could be exploited.

Another challenge for the BYOD market is the difficulty for businesses in tracking deployed assets. This is because once a mobile device is deployed in an organisation, tracking it becomes increasingly difficult, even with the implementation of BYOD security solutions. Both of the above areas have been considered in more depth in a market report by Infinity Research that found several security vulnerabilities in the BYOD model.

Security vulnerabilities

The report stated that one of the major drivers in the BYOD market is the need for enhanced mobile communication security. Most businesses are not properly safeguarding online networks and proper mobile device management (MDM) is paramount. Using MDM enterprise software allows an organisation to better protect and control data and configuration amongst mobile devices within an organisational network.

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[Video] Changing Role of the CIO 150 150 Kerry Butters

[Video] Changing Role of the CIO

There’s been much debate recently concerning the changing role of the CIO within business. Much of this is due to how much technology itself has changed in recent years, with mobile, social and business intelligence becoming increasingly important.

This means that the CIO has been living in uncertain times for a while, when it comes to how their job is defined. It’s no longer all about the IT for the CIO, but about innovation and maintaining an agile environment.

IDC predict Redefinition

This, IDC predict, means that the “adoption of 3rd Platform IT technologies will redefine 90% of IT roles.” The technologies referred to by the analysts are those mentioned above, as well as innovation and customer relationships.

It also means that CIOs will have to alter skill sets to incorporate a strategy that encompasses increasing a business’s digital presence. Public social networks can be difficult to manage, but are increasingly important to the online presence of a company, especially one that’s consumer facing.

In the video below, NetApp’s senior vice president and CIO, Cynthia Stoddard discusses the changing role and what CIOs can do to help address it.

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Windows 9: Is your Business Ready for Another Migration? 150 150 Kerry Butters

Windows 9: Is your Business Ready for Another Migration?

The Windows OS hasn’t been doing so well of late. Windows 8 and 8.1 were both prone to errors and now it seems that Microsoft will be releasing a newer version of its famous OS. Windows 9, codenamed Threshold, which is scheduled for release in April 2015.

That’s if you believe the rumours of course, but if it’s true the OS will arrive just 18 months after the launch of Windows 8.1. Many businesses are still struggling with the news that Microsoft intends to drop support for XP in April and those organisations are scrambling to transition to Windows 7. Some businesses will have only just migrated its systems to Windows 8/8.1.

With the possibility that Windows 9 will be released next year, it seems that the current trend for migration and upgrades for users of the Microsoft OS will continue. This is bad news for IT departments as OS migrations are one of the most costly, stressful, time-intensive and manpower heavy projects possible. It appears that software has a shorter lifespan these days, but what does that mean for businesses?

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5 Reasons to Use Hosted Exchange 150 150 Simon Randall

5 Reasons to Use Hosted Exchange

Microsoft Exchange has become the main business class email and collaboration solution available to businesses. Without a doubt email is the most collaborative and communicative tool for businesses regardless of size. Microsoft Exchange is the most widely adopted hosted service; however, it’s also the most complicated and costly to manage.

That said it’s a powerful tool that can reduce costs from in-house servers and increase the saturation of newer business practices like BYOD. Hosted Exchange solutions provide a business with a flexible, secure, scalable, and mobile business email solution. This service is backed up, replicated, and available 24 hours a day.

Using a hosted Exchange solution can provide and allow a business real-time integration of business email, calendar, and contacts between different mediums including Blackberry, iPhone, Android, and Windows Mobile. This means that Hosted Exchange mailboxes are available from any device and there is no need for a business to physically synchronise accounts.

Reduce costs

Hosted Exchange allows a business to enjoy the services provided by Exchange without the costs and headaches of managing an in-house server. The Microsoft Exchange hosting company manages all of the software and hardware installation, management, and upgrades. Using an Exchange hosting service also allows the host company to “load balance” services across their own hardware. This means that businesses can more effectively monitor and control server hardware and power usage across its services.

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Which Big Data Analytics Tools Should I Use? 150 150 Simon Randall

Which Big Data Analytics Tools Should I Use?

For some decades now companies have been gathering large amounts of data. Over the last few years more light has been shed on how the information obtained from customers is being used. While we all know that knowledge equates to power, it takes accurate interpretation of the information gathered to transform it into a powerful tool for businesses. The use of big data analytics comes in handy once you know what to look for within the information collated.

For it to be considered big data, it needs to be not only large in its volume of results, but also varied in its format. An IBM report highlighted to businesses just how effective interpretation of the hundreds of thousands of tweets sent in a single minute are. This could reveal how customers are viewing any given business products. The information also highlighted how that information could be used to better understand consumers, ultimately increasing revenue.

The four main areas where big data analytics is of benefit:

  • Develop and promote an existing product or service being offered
  • Improve internal processing
  • Develop a new product or service to offer
  • Transform the current business model 
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How to Land the Perfect IT Job Simon Randall

How to Land the Perfect IT Job

IT is a large and multi-faceted industry and it can be hard to find a job within it. IT covers everything from design and development through to the management of computer software, hardware, and networks. Within IT there are several management positions that don’t require technical skills, but instead requires business acumen. IT, like most industries, needs people who can communicate effectively with customers, suppliers, and colleagues.

So if you are considering a job in this sector let’s firstly look at the qualifications needed.

For specific jobs in areas such as programming, network support, technical support, database administration, computer and network security, and website development, you will need certified technical skills. These are worth considering and these skills will certainly not hamper your chances of getting a job in IT, so if you don’t currently have them it’s perhaps time that you looked into getting them.

The best certification programs can be expensive but are recognised throughout the industry and the world; these include:

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The Importance of Wireless Data Networking and Mobile Computing 150 150 Simon Randall

The Importance of Wireless Data Networking and Mobile Computing

In an information heavy age where access to the internet is expected immediately, it’s important to keep your employees connected. Through data sharing via Wi-Fi and mobile technologies such as 3g and 4g, it’s now possible to remain in constant contact with your staff. Thanks to wireless networks it’s no longer so important for your employees to be in the building, especially if you allow BYOD or remote working.

Mobile Computing

Effectively a mobile computer is a one that’s not limited to one location. Instead of being chained to a desk, the mobile computer can be taken anywhere and internet access is available wherever there is signal.

In recent years the variety of mobile devices on offer has drastically increased. This has led to a trend for ubiquitous computing. Computers are now all around us, allowing and enabling access to the online world at anytime, any place, and anywhere.

Future of Computing

Mobile computing is the future of technology as it allows constant contact with the Internet and data that needs sharing. The mobile world ensures that we’re all connected at the touch of a button and in business terms, it’s incredibly important to stay abreast of this revolution.

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Why Upgrade from XP? 150 150 Simon Lunt

Why Upgrade from XP?

With the support cut-off deadline looming, we look at the case for upgrading from XP to a later version of Windows.

Windows XP has been a well used, and in many cases, well-loved operating system. However with the recent news that Microsoft is withdrawing support on April the 8th it seems like another nail in the coffin for a system that’s nearly a decade old. That’s a long time when you consider the rapid speed that technology evolves at. Window XP is a near-relic and it’s probably about time you updated your computer software.

Many users will likely feel that an upgrade is unnecessary, as they are still content using Windows XP. However with technology upgrading and support for XP falling away it is likely that loyalty to the OS will not benefit users in the future.

You don’t even have to upgrade to the often-problematic Windows 8. You only need to upgrade as far as Windows 7. So for those users who do not want to relinquish Windows XP here are the reasons why you should.

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Beginner’s Guide to Migrating from Windows XP to 8.1 150 150 Simon Lunt

Beginner’s Guide to Migrating from Windows XP to 8.1

You may have held out and still not upgraded from your Windows XP OS and if that’s the case, time is running out, as Microsoft is pulling support for the OS on April 08 2014. Microsoft has released several patches to fix many of the common Windows 8/8.1 bugs and the tech company has also given Windows 8 users a free upgrade. This is limited though and if you are still using an earlier version of the OS, then the steps to upgrade are slightly more difficult.

Let’s have a look at the options and really get to grips with how to upgrade from the XP era to Windows 8.1.

Some of the general benefits to upgrading to Windows 8.1 are:

  • Access to the Windows Store
  • Tiled start screen
  • Microsoft account

The newest OS also offers enhancements in personalisation, search, Store apps, and cloud connectivity. This is on top of the usual tools and programs that you would expect Windows to contain.

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[Infographic] Migrate Before it’s Too Late – Lenova 150 150 Simon Randall

[Infographic] Migrate Before it’s Too Late – Lenova

Early next month all support for popular operating system Microsoft XP will end, leaving many systems vulnerable to attack from malware and hackers. This isn’t the first we’ve heard about it of course, Microsoft has been warning for months that the April 8th cut-off date is looming.

So if you’re still using XP, now’s the time to stop, especially if you’re an enterprise user and need to protect both company and customer data. Currently, Microsoft are working on a number of tools to help those that have not yet updated with data migration in order to make switching a painless affair.

Why Fix What Isn’t Broken?

Because without security updates and fixes, it soon will be and whilst, as the BBC point out, many issues with XP come through third-party applications such as Java and Adobe products, the lack of patches to address issues with these will lead to infection.

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[Infographic] 20 Questions to Ask Your IT Support Provider 150 150 Simon Randall

[Infographic] 20 Questions to Ask Your IT Support Provider

IT support is something that every business needs to consider these days. Whilst the small business may not consider it a necessary expense, any IT disaster can be costly to a company, especially if it involves client data.

SMEs with an office network will have to have some kind of support in place, to ensure the least downtime and expense when it comes to IT equipment. Many companies work under the misconception that IT support is expensive at SLA/Break-Fix level, but this needn’t be the case. From weekly to monthly maintenance, much of which can now be carried out remotely, to emergency call-outs when things go wrong. having an engineer at the end of the phone is often a big relief.

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An In-Depth Guide to Audio Visuals 150 150 Simon Randall

An In-Depth Guide to Audio Visuals

A well-balanced audio visual system should pull together audio, video, conferencing, lighting, and related displays. The objective: to create high quality business environments, boardrooms, conference facilities, auditoriums or training rooms. It’s essential not only to select the right elements, but also to deploy them efficiently and effectively.

Many options are available, so let’s get cracking.

Projection Systems

Projectors still have a major contribution to make, as they offer the ideal solution for medium and large displays at a cost effective price. They have a range of uses, including delivery of computer content, video, live TV, and video conferencing.

Factors to consider when choosing a projector are:

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[Video] Plugging the IT Skills Gap – Education 150 150 Simon Randall

[Video] Plugging the IT Skills Gap – Education

The IT skills gap has been subject to much discussion over the past few years and is something that makes it difficult for many companies to find the right skills that they need in order to help their business grow.

So what is being done to address it? There are plenty of programs around for adults to gain certification in many areas of IT, from Microsoft Engineering certification, to various Google programs that are aimed at improving on existing skills. But what does this mean for the future of the industry? Is it enough?

Computer Science and the UK Curriculum

Of course, in some schools around the country, Computer Science has become part of the curriculum, but for the most part, education around the sector remains lacking. Even the degree level course of the same name doesn’t really address the high-end skills that the industry lacks even now.

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Designing and Deploying a Successful Intranet 150 150 Simon Randall

Designing and Deploying a Successful Intranet

An intranet is the backbone of many businesses and in the modern, connected world, intranets are becoming increasingly sophisticated. Whilst once they were just a means of connecting workstations to the main and mail server, an intranet can now contain many components.

This is especially true due to the rise in the use of mobile devices, the increased demand for collaboration across organisational departments and the inclusion of social as a means to further engage employees.

But what makes a great intranet? How do you ensure that your organisation serves the needs of the employers and allows them to work efficiently and productively?

Let’s take a look.

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[INFOGRAPHIC] IT Skills Gaps 150 150 Simon Randall


Technology is advancing at an incredibly fast rate to the point that many of those in business feel that they can’t keep up. This poses a big challenge to enterprises, both large and small, as they work to stay up-to-date with rapidly evolving technology that helps to make business processes easier and more automated.

Where this challenge is most pronounced is in the work force. As the infographic shows, a group of three hundred IT leaders in the U.S. were polled and 63% of them projected that the impending IT skills gap would have a negative impact on their business.

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Network maintenance and trouble shooting 150 150 Simon Randall

Network maintenance and trouble shooting

Networks are integral to the survival of many businesses. Fine, when everything works as it should. But when problems occur, your support staff need proper training, the right tools, and a solid troubleshooting methodology. This leads to speedier problem solving – minimising downtime, and getting network users back to productivity faster.

Know Your Network

The most common local area networks (LANs) use Ethernet, a data link layer protocol, and Internet Protocol (IP), a network layer protocol. Devices on the network are linked physically by twisted pair copper, fibre or wireless access points.

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BYOD: What Every Company Needs to Know 150 150 Simon Randall

BYOD: What Every Company Needs to Know

This in-depth look at BYOD and its increasing use in the workplace gives a great overview of what every company needs to consider when thinking about implementing a BYOD scheme. Whilst for many, security remains an issue, with strong policies and MDM software, BYOD is now completely manageable.

Bring your own device (BYOD) describes a situation where employees use their personal computing devices in the workplace. It’s employees using smartphones, tablets, netbooks etc., to access business enterprise content or networks.

BYOD also takes in software and services, as employees use cloud resources and other tools on the web in order to connect to the company intranet.

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Which Fibre Broadband Option is Best for Business? 150 150 Simon Randall

Which Fibre Broadband Option is Best for Business?

There used to be a time when dial up was the latest revolution in modern technology, and then along came ADSL showing its predecessor to be snail paced and prehistoric. It’s that time again and fibre optics are the freshest pair of cables out of the box. Installing fibre optic cabling to your premises will make an impressive difference to your business and the efficiency you and your colleagues are able to offer your clients.

Keeping up with the modern client now includes having the ability to access all relevant information whilst on site; immediate invoicing and remote video calling in the highest HD quality. Not the easiest thing to do if you’re still chugging along the ADSL2+ line, that generally delivers 12Mbps, despite the advertised 24Mbps. Businesses of all sizes are looking to not only get the fastest speeds now, making full use of the cloud and its capabilities, but to future-proof their network for all possibilities.

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5 Elements of Structured Cabling 150 150 Simon Randall

5 Elements of Structured Cabling

Structured cabling is the simple name for a building or site’s cabling and connectivity telecommunications cabling that comprises a series of subsystems made of standardised smaller elements.

The structured cabling system generally controls voice, data, and video and can be further integrated with the management of systems such as alarms, security and energy. So it’s worth adopting at the start of a new build, or implementing as part of any major update.

Without a structured cabled system, voice and data cabling is often left until the fit out stage of a build, which means there are already inherent compromises in the system. If it’s addressed at the start, then the voice and data systems can be integrated with the fire alarm, security and energy management cabling to create a more efficient overall solution.

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[INFOGRAPHIC] Most Unusual Data Centres in the World 150 150 Simon Randall

[INFOGRAPHIC] Most Unusual Data Centres in the World

From data centres that float, to portable ones to those that are nuclear proof, these nine data centres are proof that innovation continues to march forward at an amazing rate. Of course, the cloud means that more and more are being built all the time and the need for ecologically friendly centres are now more important than ever.

Created by, this great infographic is a snapshot of what’s happening in the world of the data centre and is useful for those with techie knowledge and without.

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How to Make Your Data Centre More Eco-friendly 150 150 Simon Randall

How to Make Your Data Centre More Eco-friendly

There are a number of factors that cause data centres to consume significant amounts of energy and these days, this is something that is less acceptable to many businesses that may want to choose a data centre that allows them to be billed as a ‘green’ company. Can data centres be eco-friendly or are they energy-consuming monsters by nature?

Let’s start with what data centres are designed to do. 

The core of the IT infrastructure

The data centre is at the core of an organisation’s IT operation, where its data is stored, managed and from where key information is distributed for use elsewhere. It is a key part of the organisation’s infrastructure, housing a network’s most critical systems. Ensuring reliability and the security of the data centre is paramount for any organisation. Data centres are now more widely used than ever as they also serve cloud computing models, from application (SaaS) and web hosting to hosting entire IT infrastructures (IaaS).

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12 Steps to PCI Compliance 150 150 Simon Lunt

12 Steps to PCI Compliance

The Payment Card Industry Compliance (PCI Compliance) is a set of rules and security measures businesses are required to implement to protect credit card data against any threat. All organisations that use or handle data credit transfers must follow the PCI Compliance requirements, issued and regulated by the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council (PCI SSC) and…

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12 Steps to PCI Compliance 150 150 Simon Randall

12 Steps to PCI Compliance

The Payment Card Industry Compliance (PCI Compliance) is a set of rules and security measures businesses are required to implement to protect credit card data against any threat.

All organisations that use or handle data credit transfers must follow the PCI Compliance requirements, issued and regulated by the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council (PCI SSC) and assessed by the merchant’s credit card brand.

There are twelve requirements that businesses must meet in order to be PCI compliant, which are as follows:

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Big Data – is it possible to define it? 150 150 Simon Randall

Big Data – is it possible to define it?

This is a big question and one which, once fully considered, has massive implications for any business. Every day, businesses are amassing an increasing amount of data and the scope of what can be measured is also expanding at an incredible rate. While businesses are still getting to grips with how to use this data meaningfully, some are struggling to manage it effectively.

Sometimes that means databases becoming corrupt at an increasing rate as they become larger, or more difficult to store effectively in-house. Massive databases may be creating too much demand on infrastructure when being processed at speed or being that diverse in nature that it is difficult to know where to start when organising them into a usable format.

What is Big Data?

Once upon a time, a business would store essential information such as client names and invoice details, order history and accounts records for example. This information would be structured into usable format and, with the dawn of the computer age, tied up with software making it easy to access. Looking back to that era, data was gathered conscientiously and with a definite purpose in mind. The bigger the business was, the bigger the databases required to store its prized information.

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How to Build a Data Centre 150 150 Simon Randall

How to Build a Data Centre

Building a data centre is a massive undertaking, but it’s one that many companies may have to face in the near future. Cloud computing and the increasing reliance on web applications and intranets means that current data centres, designed for storage and web hosting, are constantly hitting the wall in terms of capacity and more than 40% of IT architects are now considering expansion of their current centre, or a total new build.

Demand for data centres, whether they be rented spaces or proprietary units, is set to increase dramatically and data storage has even been labelled as “the new oil.” Corporations that simply rent server space are having to up their game and consider moving into data centre builds or face being held to ransom by the industry.

If you’re one of them then it’s important to know what you’re letting yourself in for and to plan for the future.

Think Small, Grow Big                              

The data centres currently out there have become big and slow and the way we’re going, half the world will be covered with huge shipping containers filled with racks of servers. The next generation need to be smaller, streamlined, more effective and energy efficient. It’s time for a total rethink from the ground-up when it comes to what’s required of the modern data centre, so if you’re already investing in the planning process, then you have to think about ways to reduce the company footprint.

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The Truth about BYOD 150 150 Simon Randall

The Truth about BYOD

Virtually everybody is armed with an internet ready phone or tablet in the modern world and in a large company, this means a mass of potential security breaches marching through the door each and every day. Most companies operate some kind of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy now, but it’s a complex and costly animal to control.

Information Week claims that 45% of the 424 managers it surveyed had suffered data loss through the BYOD programme in the past year. 11% were forced to disclose it publicly, which inevitably damaged the company’s reputation.

Mobile Boosts Productivity

In the old days, of course, when a mobile phone was simply a phone, the company provided laptops and other items deemed essential for everyday tasks. Now, almost every employee owns a smartphone and there are huge advantages, as mobility boosts productivity and employees can tap into the work system at any time or in any place.

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Windows 8: An Open Door for Cybercriminals? 150 150 Simon Randall

Windows 8: An Open Door for Cybercriminals?

Windows 8 represents a huge step forward for Microsoft’s operating system, especially for touchscreen devices. Microsoft has also made bold claims that the new system would be less appealing to hackers, thanks to the increased security measures that include built-in antivirus software.

Progress rarely comes without a price, however, and Microsoft may have again underestimated the determination of the hacking community. There are a lot of shiny new features in the new OS and substantial improvements in almost every area, but there are also disturbing weaknesses that cybercriminals could exploit to the full.

The Ongoing Windows Experience

This is not exclusive to Windows 8: every generation of Windows operating system has faced this baptism of fire.  A whole new wave of architecture means there are inevitably holes that an army of hackers take great joy in exposing to the world.

 It’s an international sport for some, with hackers exchanging bragging rights on forums around the world. For others, it’s big business. Cybercriminals have turned hacking systems in to one of the big growth industries of the new Millennium. So it was not a big surprise that within days of receiving Windows 8, French agency Vupen had found its first virus. That’s how fast this ‘market’ moves.

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5 Tips for More Secure Wi-Fi 150 150 Simon Randall

5 Tips for More Secure Wi-Fi

You already know you need to secure your business Wi-Fi network. But did you know that Wi-Fi access points are still a weak link that could compromise your efforts and put precious data at risk?

Wi-Fi signals don’t respect boundaries and often spill out into the street. That can be an open door for hackers and unless you take steps to nail down your Wi-Fi, you may as well leave the office unlocked at night. If you don’t secure your network then, at best, you’ll get the local Wi-Fi moochers stealing your bandwidth. At worst you’ll have a serious security breach on your hands.

Here are five tips to beef up your Wi-Fi security and keep hackers out.

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5 Advantages to Fibre Optic Cabling 150 150 Simon Randall

5 Advantages to Fibre Optic Cabling

The standards for the cabling of data communication and networking infrastructures revolve around two main philosophies. The first is based around a twisted pairing of copper cored cable, and the second is based around fibre optic cable which uses a glass core.

Fibre optic cable is also available in a plastic version (PFO – Plastic Fibre Optic), and PCS – Plastic Clad Silica version. Of the 3 types, the glass cored version has the lowest attenuation; the PFO has the highest attenuation; and the PCS is pitched somewhere in between the other 2. Attenuation means loss of power, so in other words, the lower the attenuation, the better.

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How to reduce your ICT energy costs 150 150 Simon Randall

How to reduce your ICT energy costs

The larger your company, the higher your ICT energy levels are likely to be if you rely substantially on computers, data banks and/or large networks to operate your day to day business. As an example, many universities and colleges here in the UK spend approximately £147 million per year (opens PDF) on ICT related energy costs (correct at the time of the linked report). For this particular market sector, the UK climate change act of 2008, which targets higher and further education establishments has decreed that they must reduce their carbon footprint by 34% by the year 2020, and 80% by the year 2050, when compared to their energy level consumption back in 1990.

Of course, it’s not only desirable from an environmental point of view, but companies would also benefit from a financial and ethical standpoint too.

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[INFOGRAPHIC] Winning Gadgets and Tech from 2013 150 150 Simon Randall

[INFOGRAPHIC] Winning Gadgets and Tech from 2013

This week’s infographic takes a look at the top trends and winners and losers in the technology sector for last year. It also gives an overview of what we can expect in the coming year, which as we discussed in an earlier post, includes such wonders as the growing wearable tech sector, consumer devices such as Google TV and smart home technology.

The winners and losers are listed as to what went down well in 2013 and what’s expected of 2014. Whilst the graphic focuses a fair amount on consumer devices, with the ever-increasing trend towards BYOD, it’s a useful insight into which devices worked well over the past year.

Surface RT of course was something of a disaster for Microsoft this year, as was the introduction of Windows 8, which was redeemed slightly by 8.1 and the reintroduction of the start button. However, Microsoft are making some inroads, especially with Windows Phone and given the security issues that continue to surround the Android OS, Windows Phone and Surface could well become the devices of choice for the enterprise this year.

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The Structure of Fibre Optic Explained 150 150 Simon Randall

The Structure of Fibre Optic Explained

Fibre optic cable is the cream of the crop when it comes down to network cabling quality. It’s faster, and more secure than twisted paired copper, but it’s also more expensive. But for some applications, particularly those with very heavy data loads, where bandwidth is an issue and speed a premium consideration Fibre optic is also useful where outside interference is a problem, it’s hands and shoulders above anything else on the market. It can also carry the data far greater distances before the signal requires any sort of boost.

3 Main Types of Fibre Optic Cable

There are three main types of Fibre Optic cabling available today. They are:

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5 Top Tech Trends for 2014 150 150 Simon Randall

5 Top Tech Trends for 2014

Yup, it’s that time of year again when we all speculate on what’s going to be hot this coming year in the world of technology and what’s on the way out. As the majority of our readers already know, technology moves at an increasingly fast pace, so let’s have a look at what we can expect to be hearing more about in 2014.

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[INFOGRAPHIC] 25 Years of Technology! 150 150 Simon Randall

[INFOGRAPHIC] 25 Years of Technology!

As the New Year is upon us, we thought a little less cables and a little more fun facts were suitable to see 2014 in properly. This interesting infographic from Insight below looks at how technology has changed over the course of the last quarter century.

For many of us that have been involved in technology for quite some time, it’s odd to think that the World Wide Web was first being developed by the UK’s very own Tim Berners-Lee and team just 23 years ago. Did anyone back then in 1990 see it coming to this?

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What is a structured cabling system? 150 150 Simon Randall

What is a structured cabling system?

A structured cabling system (SCS) refers to a complete system of cabling, together with its associated items of connectivity hardware, that is uniquely designed and installed to carry the services of business’s IT infrastructure around any given premises.

This is as opposed to point to point cabling, which only connects specific devices to each other. A SCS is totally independent of any other devices such as servers, or PCs, or printers etc, yet it serves to provide such devices with the signals and data they need to operate.

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Wired vs. Wireless for SME’s 150 150 Simon Randall

Wired vs. Wireless for SME’s

Wi-Fi is nothing new but it has rocketed in popularity over the course of the last decade. For the individual private consumer, it is both the height of fashion and the height of convenience too. In addition, with more and more people now taking their personal devices into the workplace, under the auspices of BYOD, the decision to use a structured cabling solution, or a wireless one can be tricky.

The Dividing Line between Large Enterprises and SMEs

The only thing that is quite clear in the wireless v wired debate in the business world, is the easily seen dividing line being drawn between large enterprises, and SMEs, whereby the decision of bigger businesses is often more straight forward to make. The larger enterprises are for now sticking with wired LANs in the main, using wireless only as an addition for the convenience of top brass, and facilitate visitor access. But for how long?

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Preparing for an IT System Compliance Audit 150 150 Simon Randall

Preparing for an IT System Compliance Audit

IT audits often feel like something of a personal imposition, especially to the people who are responsible for operating the IT system. However they are a necessary evil that substantiate whether the IT system being audited conforms to any industry compliances that may apply, or industry best practice.

Industry Standards

Here in Europe ISO 9001 helps to ensure businesses adopt best practice in terms of quality of information, and procedural discipline, across both their entire administration infrastructure, and any production facilities; whilst within the IT sector, (across all industries), it is ISO 27002 which rules the roost in terms of recommending the measures that should be deployed in order to best safe-guard information security.

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[INFOGRAPHIC] Fibre Optic Cabling Benchmarking Test Results 150 150 Simon Randall

[INFOGRAPHIC] Fibre Optic Cabling Benchmarking Test Results

This week’s infographics takes an in-depth look at fibre optic cabling and how different types can affect network performance. The image itself is courtesy of US company Siemon, following benchmarking tests on different types of fibre cabling.

The testing and accompanying study included looking at generic fibre jumpers, which can be obtained through retail channels, usually online through approved resellers and big brand names from around the globe. This was intended to help infrastructure specialists help understand the variables that could be at work when it comes to the solutions that they choose.

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Security Threats and the Business Network 150 150 Simon Randall

Security Threats and the Business Network

According to Symantec’s 2013 Security report, there was a 42% increase in targeted attacks on businesses in 2012, with 31% of these aimed at companies employing less than 250 workers. There were 14 zero-day vulnerabilities found and one waterhole attack infected 500 organisations in just one day.

This highlights the fact that internet security remains one of the biggest challenges that face modern businesses, especially as the use of the internet and cloud services become increasingly important to the enterprise.

Further to the stats above:

·         32% of all mobile malware threats steal data

·         Windows PCs are now not the only target, Macs are also vulnerable

·         Phishing sites that ‘spoof social networks’ have increased by 125%

·         Web-based attacks grew by 30%

·         In 2012 there were 5,291 new threats discovered with 415 of these threatening mobile OS

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9 Advantages to using a Wireless Network 150 150 Simon Randall

9 Advantages to using a Wireless Network

Many businesses today use LAN (Local Area Network) technology to enable employees to share a common data source. It also provides a common point via which the devices that employees use, can communicate with one another. There is however an ongoing debate as whether businesses should deliver their LANs via a wired, or an unwired connection.

But with more and more companies now opting to deploy wireless rather than wired technology, are they perhaps not fully informed, or is it that they see are making informed decisions and are opting to avail themselves of the many advantages that working wirelessly facilitates?

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[Infographic] The Cost of Data Centre Downtime 150 150 Simon Randall

[Infographic] The Cost of Data Centre Downtime

As we rely more and more on technology to help us to increase business agility and profitability, downtime on the network can be costly to any business. For the data centre, it can be fatal if they have a lot of customers relying on the various services that they may offer.

As the use of cloud computing increases and more businesses turn to the technology in order to host their entire IT infrastructure, any downtime a data centre may suffer will have a ripple effect on the businesses that they serve.

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How to Implement a Disaster Recovery Plan 150 150 Simon Randall

How to Implement a Disaster Recovery Plan

All businesses, regardless of size, should have some sort of Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP) in place. Even a sole trader will be in trouble if his/her computer goes down, denying all access to programs, outstanding order details, billing and shipping addresses.

Having a DRP in place is only Half the Battle

Having a good DRP in place is only half the battle. Knowing how to implement that plan, and making sure that the plan works as it is meant to, are both equally important factors too – in fact more than that – they are essential. Finding out that the plan cannot be deployed for any reason, or that it has failed to take some important aspect into consideration, may well prove to be as bad as not having a plan in situ in the first place.

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