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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How Green is your Network Cabling? 150 150 Simon Randall

How Green is your Network Cabling?

Back in 2007, Gartner technology researchers found that ICT accounted for 2% of all global CO2 emissions. They also pointed out at this time that this was as much as that produced by the aviation industry.

The USA’s Initiative

The realisation that industries such as IT have a significant part to play in the CO2 emissions war, has given rise to a number of international initiatives focused on the construction of new environmentally friendly buildings. For example in North America, the USGBC (United States Green Building Council) have just had the LEED v4 rating system officially approved, and relevant trades within the industry have been advised to take note.

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Why Choose an SLA for Small Business 150 150 Simon Randall

Why Choose an SLA for Small Business

The IT function within any business can be considered as a tool designed to leverage the attaining of that business’s goals, the biggest of which is to make money – to turn over a profit. What no company can afford to do is to jeopardise that goal, by allowing the best tool it has for achieving it, to under-perform.

The Product Guarantee

Most of the important tools that are used in operating a business are protected with a guarantee. These guarantees are usually straightforward. If the product fails within a given time scale, (usually those time scales can be lengthened to meet circumstances), it will be repaired or replaced free of charge. If the tool in question is a Van or a Lathe, that arrangement works well, always providing the repair or exchange is done in a timely manner. But with IT it’s quite different.

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Why Network Security is Vital to your Business 150 150 Simon Randall

Why Network Security is Vital to your Business

Network security, is something like your own personal health. When you’re in good health, and fighting fit as it were, everything is hunky-dory. But as soon as you begin to feel under the weather, you suddenly realise just how much you took your good health for granted. Well, it’s exactly the same with network security. During the time it functions well, it also gets taken for granted. But as soon as it becomes compromised, we suddenly realise just why, network security is vital.

The Private Network of the Internet

In the broadest sense of the word there are two types of network. On a personal level, you have the internet, whereby any number of individual devices can share one common source of data. In this “personal” sense, network security is all about the security of the individual device (e.g. a PC, a laptop, a tablet). Most of the operating systems today that are preloaded onto the various types of devices all tend to incorporate a firewall. 

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