Archive for August, 2011

The topic of disaster recovery is always of interest. Fortunately and unfortunately, I am providing a link to an article that was just published in the August 2011 print newsletter, The CMIT Solution. A peer of mine, his employees and his clients are survivors of the tornado ravaged city of Joplin, Missouri. Our industry is always reminded that backing up data is just one aspect of protecting one’s business. That data isn’t worth anything if it can’t be restored successfully.

Below is the article in its entirety.

A few months back tornados ripped through Joplin, Missouri and Tuscaloosa, Alabama causing massive devastation. If you were fortunate, you only had to suffer through minor interruptions of utility services, with others paying a far steeper price. In fact, a peer of mine who also offers IT services had his office in Joplin reduced to a pile of rubble (see photo). This got me thinking about how important disaster recovery planning is to any business. No one expects terrible things to happen, but when they do, having that plan in place can really save your bacon. And one of the MOST important aspects of this is the recovery part – how are you going to get that data back onto a working platform that allows you to continue serving your customers and operating your business.  The shocker for most business owners is that simply having a copy of the data does NOT guarantee a fast recovery. Let me give you an analogy to help you understand…

     Let’s suppose we put a disaster recovery plan for your home. Your house would represent the server and platform, and all your furniture and personal items would be the data. Now let’s suppose we could make a backup of your home by making an exact copy of everything that’s in your house (all your furniture, appliances, clothing, etc.) and storing it in a “backup” shed. Then the unthinkable happens: your house gets leveled by a tornado, flood or fire and everything is gone (or a critical part of it is damaged and needs to be replaced). You would think, “Well, at least I have a copy!” True, but the first thing you would need to do is replace the home itself (remember, that’s the platform that everything resides on). Next you would have to “reinstall” the services like gas, electricity and water (let’s call that the software). Then you would have to haul everything from the shed back to the house and “reformat” it by arranging it into the house. Depending on the extent of the damage done to your house, that could take days or weeks; chances are you’d have to find a hotel to live out of in the meantime. In addition, there’s the time and cost of moving everything back in and re-arranging and restoring everything to its proper place.

     Plus, the above assumes you have a recent, working copy of your entire home and everything in it. If you failed to make a copy – or if the shed where you were storing everything had a water leak that destroyed everything inside due to mold – then you’re really out of luck. 

    Of course, this is a simple analogy – and there are ways to back up your data and network so that recovery can happen inexpensively in a matter of hours versus days or weeks. But if you simply think having a tape backup is…going to be your saving grace, you might be unpleasantly surprised. I can’t tell you the number of businesses who ended up losing incredibly valuable, irreplaceable data because they didn’t think through the RECOVERY part of the backup equation.

So what do you need to think about? First, the way you backup your data should be based on how important your data is and how fast you would need to be back up and running in the event of a disaster. If losing your data would only be a mild inconvenience and you could stand to be down for a couple of days, then tape backups may be okay. If that’s not an option for you and there are certain critical functions that need to happen to keep you from getting into hot water with your customers and to prevent you losing a LOT of cash, then you want something more reliable than tape drives.

     The BEST thing to do is contact our office to schedule a strategy meeting to go over your needs and expectations for what should happen in the event of downtime or an outright disaster. That way you know for sure what to expect and – more importantly – how to accurately prepare for a disaster.

Let’s review your disaster recovery and business continuity plan so you can be prepared. I don’t expect a tornado of the Joplin magnitude to hit the Denver metro area; however, I am sure that my colleague John, his family, clients and the citizens of Joplin never expected such a devastating occurrence either.

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The Simple Solution

In this month’s print newsletter, my personal article was about keeping things simple. Thought it might also be a good read in electronic format for those who receive the print newsletter and especially for those who don’t.

Isn’t it funny how things come together? Each month as I brainstorm for what I will write for my personal article, I notice that as I put together the rest of this newsletter the “talking points” for this article come to the forefront. How fortuitous that the first week of August is “National Simplify Your Life” week and that I found a great blog post on solitude.

My grand aspiration (which comes from the Latin root “ad + spirare”  for “to breathe”) is to simplify and make my life easier. At home my aspiration may be to have family activities recorded and logistics for those activities figured out so that I am on top of things and can manage my time better and resources (i.e. Phil and the kids). In fact, one thing the Bush family has put into place is an web-based shared family calendar so our core family as well as other local relatives have one place to reference for “out of the ordinary” activities like vacations, special school events, kids’ football games and such. No more [or at least less] emailing and phone calls to one another to find out “where will you be on such and such a date.”

As you read last month, you saw how I have assembled my Marketing Wall to make things more simple in the context of management of activities. One of the headers on the Wall is “systematization” where both Phil and I post different tasks or processes to complete so we can be more efficient with our own time. This, in turn, will make our team more productive and our clients too. 

When we hire a new engineer or my new marketing intern, we have a process that has been developed and updated over time to onboarding and orientation. This helps tremendously in making things happen faster with the new employee where we can make them productive right away. Some of the orientation and education process happens on the job while some can be accomplished after hours like learning our line of business applications that we use on a daily basis.

The phrase I hear and read about on a frequent basis is “Plan your Work and Work your Plan.” One of our country’s most famous and impactful First Ladies, Eleanor Roosevelt said, “It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan.” Another famous person, Zig Ziglar, said, “You were born to win, but to be a winner, you must plan to win, prepare to win, and expect to win.” For me, not only must I plan, prepare and expect to win, I must implement the plan and all along the way be held accountable for my commit-ments. Fortunately for me, I have accountability buddies and groups to help keep me focused and on track.

Have a super August and if you have kids, enjoy the time before school starts and after it starts too.

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Last week I invested (as opposed to spent) 3+ days at the Everything Channel’s annual XCHANGE Americas conference here in Denver. This means that my goal was to have a good ROI for the conference. The purpose of this annual conference (next year it will be in Dallas) is two-fold: to “gain insight into industry trends” and to “share best practices and network with peers.”

Don’t worry, I know you are very anxious to learn about Latin as a dead language.

Both goals were achieved at this conference. From breakfast time until 9pm, I was immersed in learning about industry trends from the top channel partners and vendors in my industry many of whom are competitors of one another so the competitive intelligence was mind boggling.  In the general and keynote sessions as well as the interactive boardrooms (small groups with specific industry topic), I had the opportunity to meet peers and share best practices. These peers serve the same IT space all over the U.S. as we at CMIT Denver do and an extraordinary number of peers serve the midmarket and enterprise sectors. Just fascinating and they are normal people like me.

Okay, let’s get to the headline of “Who Says Latin Is A Dead Language.” At the very last event of the conference that I attended – the solution provider breakfast on Saturday – I sat at a table with 5 peers. We were sharing best practices and experiences. One bit of sharing was how we we wished that our engineers and techs would have a greater facility in writing. I mentioned how I had studied Latin for 4 years in high school. David from DC said he had 4 years of Latin in high school and 4 in college. Jim from Kentucky and Keith each had 2-3 years of Latin in high school. We all concurred that having taken Latin was one of our best academic accomplishments. Our Latin training has allowed us to be better communicators verbally and in writing. How cool it was that at our small table of IT owners came upon such common ground! Latin of all subjects! Latin has been a “dead” language for decades if not centuries (except for religious purposes); however, it is far from dead in that all of us still use the best practices of our education to this day. Long live Latin (and of course its offshoot, Italian)!

Continuing my education in the world of IT for the small and mid-sized marketplace as a business owner and marketeer helps me tremendously. Couple this with networking with my CMIT and non-CMIT peers and sharing best practices and challenging one another, this is even better. Napoleon Hill (of Think and Grow Rich fame) recommended the practice of being part of a mastermind group for sharing of best practices and accountability.

All of this comes together to provide me with a winning formula for my business and life! Learn from the past and make it relevant to today and tomorrow.

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The lead article for the August 2011 newsletter “Who Says Latin Is A Dead Language”  articulated the importance of continual learning and sharing of experiences and best practices. In this newsletter post, I will take it a step further by building on my recent experience at an industry conference.

At last week’s industry conference I was surrounded by peers, strategic alliances and vendors. I met individuals from all over the country who have a wealth of knowledge and years, even decades, of experience in the realm of IT services and support. Some vendors in attendance were already partners with the entire CMIT Solutions system, some to individual CMIT offices, and then there were some who would like to become partners of CMIT. I met with individuals who represent an educational arm to my business and learned something new. Also, just having the opportunity to meet people whose positions exist to grow my business and the industry as a whole was invaluable.

Since the launch of my CMIT business in June 2004, I knew that a key strategy for success would be involvement. Local, regional and eventually nationwide involvement would include consistent participation in local networking groups like the Glendale Chamber of Commerce; industry associations; and a community or service oriented organization (Rotary). Another layer of involvement to contribute to the success of my business and as an individual would be solid participation within the CMIT system as a recipient and as a contributor.  The next and final layer of involvement, I think,  is with peers (i.e. non CMIT peers) and involvement with strategic alliances and industry organizations. My involvement with alliances and industry organizations and events has yielded praise and recognition which doesn’t hurt when validating one’s activities to grow the business. You all know who you are!

Mix all of these ingredients together and out comes a successful business. Anyone who believes that they can be an island unto themself and “go it alone” needs a touch of reality. Anyone in the business of servicing other businesses has to build, develop and leverage all kinds of relationships from vendors who can become strategic alliances, clients, prospects and one’s sphere of influence.

Here is a quick glimpse of how these different layers have been beneficial. How can’t I be excited about the recognitions and wins of all kinds that I have experienced recently? 

  • CRN Women of the Channel 2011 
  • Rotary District 5450 Membership Committee Member for 2011-2012
  • SMB 150 Power Player
  • CMIT Solutions’ Momentum Award 2011
  • Attendance at the XCHANGE Americas conference courtesy of vendors like Dell, Microsoft, and HP
  • Winning an HP Touchpad at the XCHANGE conference and many gift cards to boot!
  • And last but not least, we are poised and on track to surpass our 2010 revenues 

Constantly I remind myself and those around me that if you don’t play (i.e. participate and be involved), you don’t have a chance of winning.

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