Welcome to the Sentinel Blog!
We are proud to feature a carefully curated collection of articles and other content related to the most important technology topics of today and beyond. Our posts are composed and edited by Sentinel’s ALWAYS ENGAGED team of solutions architects, engineers, project managers and other subject matter experts.
Five Technology Trends for 2017
We’re only a couple of weeks away from the start of 2017, and as you work towards developing and implementing your IT strategy for the new year, it’s essential to stay on top of what’s coming next. While nobody can determine exactly how the year in technology will go, decades of experience and analysis have enabled our thought leaders at Sentinel to make some highly educated guesses about which solutions, services and verticals are poised to make a big splash over the next twelve months. Pay close attention to the five trends outlined below – they may just help your business achieve unprecedented levels of success!
Given the increased number of attacks on businesses in which important and confidential data is stolen and/or held for ransom, security has never been more important. As technology continues to evolve and more devices than ever are able to connect and communicate with one another, the amount of areas and points of attack increase exponentially with each passing year. That growth is showing no signs of slowing down, which means businesses need to consistently find new ways to protect their files and network while also providing access and convenience to authorized users.
Sentinel’s SecuritySelect solutions offer a complete and robust defense against all known types of attack across all types of environments to ensure your most important physical and virtual assets remain safe. Our assessment services scan and test your environment for vulnerabilities throughout your network, applications, endpoints and more, which is the foundation for building a proper security strategy. In the event of a breach, our monitoring services will immediately respond and contain the threat to minimize any damage restore normal functionality as quickly as possible. Highly adaptable and in sync with the latest trends, SecuritySelect solutions are prepared to protect every aspect of your business throughout 2017 and beyond.
Just a couple of years ago, the cloud was considered to be an advanced platform ready to change how people interact and do business. Now that a vast majority of organizations and individuals have adopted cloud technologies into their daily lives, it’s being used in fresh and innovative ways to stimulate growth across a wide variety of processes, practices and professions.
Sentinel is planning to expand our cloud offerings in 2017, as demand for public, private and hybrid options continues to skyrocket. Reaffirming our commitment to remain Always Leading, we will provide complete integration with Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Azure, the two top cloud platforms in the industry. We also intend to deliver the full range of Microsoft Office 365 services through the cloud, which improves access while reducing maintenance needs and support costs.
Collaboration is one of the primary and most essential pieces of radical transformation. As we’ve seen countless times, truly great things can happen when people work together. With so many new applications being developed to improve our ability to collaborate, it has been ironically difficult to get businesses on the same page and settle on some industry standard solutions. One of the newest and most popular collaboration tools is Cisco Spark, which connects all of your employees across all mediums (messaging, meeting, phone) and devices through a single, cloud-based system. Skype for Business is also likely to show exponential growth in 2017, as the application not only handles messaging, meetings and calls but works in tandem with Microsoft Office 365 for easier screen and document sharing. Of course Office 365 has its own collaboration abilities built right into the architecture as well, which is already leading to new ways of doing business. Sentinel currently offers all three of these solutions for our customers, and expects them to become even more important throughout next year.
If 2016 was a big year for technology in the healthcare industry, 2017 looks to be even bigger. Conversion to electronic health records (EHR) using programs such as Meditech and Epic will continue to expand, as will new security efforts to protect private patient information. But as healthcare organizations continue to invest in technology, vendors are adjusting their solutions to help cater better to their needs. Sentinel anticipates that products and services will be packaged together with contractors and industry expertise to create complex and complete solutions that will allow networks to expand beyond normal support for business technology. This will create new opportunities to improve operations and patient care.
As the manufacturing industry continues to modernize with the addition of new technologies and automation, primary shop floor processes will become easier than ever to install and manage. The Internet of Things (IoT) will connect more machines to one another and enable them to send/receive notifications about operating conditions, so in the event of a problem critical processes can be adjusted or stopped as necessary. This will lower downtime and create less waste. The growing support for cloud will also significantly widen network capabilities, improving access to remote services and data. These advancements will require additional security to protect key assets and information. In 2017 technology is likely to expand beyond traditional shop floor environments as well, aiding in the development of new materials and ways to do business that will improve efficiency and convenience while reducing overall costs. Sentinel is committed to remaining at the forefront of these trends, and is excited to deliver the newest and best manufacturing solutions as they emerge.
Sentinel's 2016 Technology Year in Review
At the beginning of 2016, Sentinel experts assembled a comprehensive list of innovative technology services and solutions we anticipated would improve the industry along with the businesses that utilized them. As the year comes to a close, we wanted to take a moment to look back at some of those selections and highlight how Sentinel has implemented them to help our customers achieve unprecedented levels of success.
Converged and Hyper-Converged Infrastructure
Compute, storage and networking come together in a single package, complete with an intuitive interface for easy adjustment and management. This year saw a large expansion of hyper-converged infrastructure solutions, as Cisco’s HyperFlex and Dell EMC’s VxRail were quickly and eagerly adopted by many of our forward-thinking customers. The high level of interest enabled us to put together multiple events and presentations highlighting the benefits of both solutions. There was a similar amount of enthusiasm for converged infrastructure solutions, which are similar but less agile than their hyper-converged counterparts. Dell EMC’s Vblock was the primary architecture for several major projects developed for our customers in 2016.
As cyber attacks continue to grow in size, profile and frequency, security has become more important than ever. Sentinel’s portfolio of SecuritySelectTM solutions were introduced earlier this year, offering comprehensive protection for every aspect of your business, including network, applications, endpoints, on premise and more. Combined with vulnerability assessments and testing as well as 24x7 monitoring and threat response, our intention is to keep your most important assets as safe as possible before, during and after an attack. Sentinel’s focus on providing the best possible security solutions also meant expanding our proof of value (POV) capabilities. We are now able to develop a POV for our customers in Arizona and Colorado surrounding Cisco’s ASA with FirePOWER to determine if the firewall solution can handle their specific needs and is the right investment for the company.
Cloud and Managed Services
Sentinel’s CloudSelect and related cloud-based services continued to show strong growth in 2016. Of particular note was our adoption and expansion of offerings related to Meraki. Highly scalable for enterprise networks, Meraki is a virtual platform that enables solutions such as wireless, switching, communications, mobility and security to be easily and centrally managed through the cloud. All Sentinel locations are now capable of hosting Meraki demonstrations to showcase the myriad of ways it can enhance and simplify your business. Coming in 2017, Sentinel will also become one of the only providers in the U.S. certified to deliver Managed Services for Meraki.
The primary purpose behind software-defined networking (SDN) is to increase the agility of your business by accelerating application deployment and automating certain IT processes through the integration of physical and virtual network environments. Cisco’s Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) is one of the most prominent SDN solutions, and this year Sentinel delivered it to more customers than ever before. A full demo version is now available across all Sentinel locations, so customers can see it in action before making a commitment.
Sentinel is proud to have established a partnership with Splunk in 2016. If you’re not familiar, Splunk is a software company specializing in big data solutions for businesses. Their platform enables users to search, monitor and analyze machine-generated data in order to gain insights that help make companies more productive, profitable, competitive and secure. This partnership builds on Sentinel’s dedication to providing our customers with leading technology solutions across all types of architectures and environments.
Vertical IT Solutions
Two industries showed remarkable growth this year as they continued to progress forward with plans to modernize through new technologies and digitization. Healthcare institutions continued to convert many of their paper records and patient files into virtual ones. This not only resulted in greater investments in electronic health record platforms such as Epic and Meditech, but also solutions that included storage, backup and unified communications to better manage them. Of course given the sensitive nature of these files and the increased frequency of data breaches, security solutions and managed services took priority over everything else this year.
With the expansion of the Internet of Things (IoT) and the advancement of factory floor automation, the manufacturing industry also continued to undergo a technological sea change in 2016. More customers than ever have been embracing the concept of data-driven factories, where machines are unified on a single platform to better communicate with designers, operators and one another. Sentinel works with a large number of organizations throughout the healthcare and manufacturing industries, and is proud to provide a comprehensive range of solutions to help them meet compliance standards, common goals and individual needs.
As technology has become more dynamic, so have the ways businesses can invest in it. Instead of paying for a product or solution upfront and in full, Sentinel expanded our leasing and financing options this year to make it easier than ever to obtain the new technology that plays an essential role in accelerating your business. There is also a metered offering available for certain solutions and services, allowing customers to pay only for what they use. This is particularly beneficial for growing companies, enabling them to scale out as needed without breaking the bank. No matter your situation or budgetary concerns, we will work with you to achieve that delicate balance between cost, efficiency and productivity.
This past spring, Sentinel opened a new office in Colorado. Located in the Denver suburb of Centennial, our team has been expanding quickly with sales, pre-sales engineering, deployment engineering, and Day 2 support resources. This new branch is equipped to deliver the complete range of business technology solutions offered by Sentinel to customers throughout the Denver region.
Top Tech Gifts for 2016
The holiday season is in full swing, and with it comes the challenge of finding those perfect gifts for friends, family, co-workers and everyone in between. Because spending hours browsing store shelves and searching online retailers for the best gifts can often feel like an unpleasant chore, Sentinel would like to help by recommending a few items you might want to pick up for the tech-savvy person (or people) in your life.
No matter if you live in an apartment building with thin walls or work in a particularly cacophonous office where the room ambience is distracting, owning a pair of noise-cancelling headphones can go a long way toward maintaining your sanity. These over-ear Bose QuietComfort headphones may be a bit pricey, but the sound quality and noise-cancelling technology are second to none. Plus, they’re wireless so you can take them anywhere without the restraint and general hassle of cords.
ALTRUIS X Bracelet ($99-139)
Love the idea behind a Fitbit, but wish it had more features and style? Vinaya’s ALTRUIS X bracelets blend fashion with fitness and functionality. It connects with your smartphone to provide insights into your health and well-being that go beyond counting steps and monitoring sleep cycles. Guided meditation, distraction management and daily inspirational quotes are just a few of the additional features of these bracelets, with plenty of scalability to introduce new functions and measurements in the future.
Tile Bluetooth Trackers ($25)
We’re all a little absent-minded at times and lose important items such as phones, wallets or keys. While the missing item(s) often turn up after a few minutes of searching, the amount of panic and frustration that sets in during that period can be overwhelming. Thankfully there are products available to make those terrifying moments a thing of the past. Tile’s Bluetooth tracking devices are small squares that provide location accuracy for whatever item they’re attached to. It uses sounds and an associated phone app to help you find whatever’s missing. Lose your phone? Press any Tile to make your phone ring. Easy to use and inexpensive, Tile is the perfect gift for the forgetful people in your life.
Amazon Echo Dot ($50)
Voice-activated assistants are all the rage this year, with technology giants Amazon and Google offering competing models to enhance your home or office. Amazon’s Echo Dot is a much smaller and cheaper version of their standard Echo, packing a wealth of features into a device the size of a hockey puck. Play music, control smart-home devices, retrieve information, hear the news, set alarms and much more using simple voice commands.
Intel Compute Stick CS325 ($350)
Turn any HDTV into a full-fledged computer using a stick smaller than a candy bar. The Intel Compute Stick CS325 comes loaded with Windows 10 and a Core m3 processor. All you need to do is plug it into the HDMI port on your TV and connect a Bluetooth keyboard to get started. Fast Wi-Fi, 4K graphics, USB ports and 64GB of memory are just a few of the features contained within this tiny piece of technology.
Writing more than a couple of sentences on your smartphone or tablet can be an arduous task, especially if you have large fingers. This is why some tablets are packaged with separate keyboards to create more of a laptop-like experience. iClever’s 3 Color Backlight Bluetooth Keyboard is pretty much exactly what its name describes – a backlit, wireless, full-sized keyboard that wirelessly connects to your iOs, Android or Windows devices. This particular Bluetooth keyboard sets itself apart by folding inward on both ends to create a thin and compact square that’s ridiculously easy to transport.
The Sentinel Holiday Calendar
Reflecting back on 2016, we have had a great year packed with awards, recognitions, team building, growth, new offices, and much more. We also had a great year with our clients – collaborating to create unique solutions to help them meet their business goals, watching them surpass milestones, joining them as they gave back to their communities, and assisting them as they move their company forward in technology. Throughout the month of December our offices will be celebrating another great year with our clients by hosting some fun, family-oriented events:
*December 1st (Phoenix, AZ): Arizona Zoo Lights*
Sentinel clients, their families and our Arizona team will get together for a special zoo adventure to check out the exotic animals and gorgeous holiday lights!
*December 10th (Brookfield, IL): Brookfield Zoo Holiday Magic*
For our Chicago area clients and their families, Sentinel is hosting a fun-filled afternoon at Brookfield Zoo that includes lunch, wild animal exhibits as well as the famous lights and interactive display show known as Holiday Magic!
*December 16th (Denver, CO): Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Premiere*
Join our Denver office for the premiere of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story! Sentinel and Cisco experts will highlight the latest security solutions to protect your business from the Dark Side in the new year, followed by a private screening of the newest entry in the Star Wars canon! Contact your Sentinel rep for more details.
In the spirit of the holidays Sentinel is also doing a lot inside our offices to not only celebrate, but also to give back.
-Our Downers Grove team is continuing their tradition of adopting a family through Operation Ward 57 to help a wounded warrior military family in need.
-Phoenix and Downers Grove joined together for a Food Drive competition! Employees are labeling their donations with their department name and number. Whichever department donates the most, wins! The donations from Phoenix will benefit Matthew’s Crossing. The Downers Grove donations will benefit the Northern Illinois Food Bank.
-The Michigan team is adopting two families through their local Salvation Army to provide a great Christmas morning for them!
-Our Arizona team is still finalizing their plans, but will also be adopting a family through a local charity to support this Christmas season.
2016 has been a great year, and we are very excited to end it with these fun events and ways to give back! Check back in 2017 to see new events and opportunities!
Sentinel Gives Thanks
In honor of the Thanksgiving holiday, we asked Sentinel employees to highlight some of the things they’re most grateful for this year. We received a wide range of responses, and have been sharing many of them via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn throughout the week. Below is a list of some of our favorites.
Sentinel employees are thankful for:
“My family & coffee”
“My life and colleagues”
“Supportive family & friends”
“Friend, family and bacon (definitely, bacon)”
“Family, health, friends, wine”
“My wife and dog”
“Wine & puppies”
“My sales team”
“My family & salsa”
“Basketball & good health”
“The end of 2016…and the beginning of 2017”
Beyond our employees, Sentinel is incredibly grateful for our clients. It is a pleasure building relationships with them both inside and outside the office and helping to not only achieve their business goals but grow their communities as well. We are also extremely thankful for our partners, whose dedication to innovation and quality enable us to provide the best possible products and solutions to our clients. Thanks to all from the bottom of our hearts. Have a safe and blessed Thanksgiving!
Sentinel CTO Robert Keblusek Discusses Cisco IoT Aware Networking
At their Partner Summit earlier this month, Cisco announced plans to revolutionize the Internet of Things (IoT) through the development of a more intelligent network that will enable devices to connect and communicate with one another in an easier and more intuitive way. We asked Sentinel’s Chief Technology Officer Robert Keblusek to share some of his thoughts on these advancements and how they might affect the technology industry as a whole.
There is a need for intelligence in the network to recognize IoT devices and adapt appropriately. Many IoT devices currently lack embedded security elements and don’t communicate with the network on the policies needed for optimal communications, so any efforts that can be made to create a set of robust standards would be greatly beneficial. Similar to how Power over Ethernet (PoE) and voice intelligence drove a lot of enterprise network upgrades, there is an opportunity for devices to drive a similar upgrade initiative over time. If an enterprise can install an intelligent network ready for the IoT and cloud application services, that prepares them for the future. Innovation is key here, and I appreciate Cisco’s effort to take a leadership position.
Sentinel remains Always Leading by bringing innovations from Cisco and other technology vendors to our customers. For example, we recently worked with a manufacturing company to install intelligent factory automation using IoT devices, effectively turning their building into a next generation production facility. Beyond the actual equipment, we are also able to take advantage of the massive amounts of data generated by IoT devices to create visual interpretations and actionable intelligence that customers can use to improve their businesses.
Having worked with Cisco for many years, I have witnessed them innovate in many areas and applaud them for their efforts to improve the IoT experience. This sort of initiative is why many companies turn to Cisco for their networking needs.
Recently we witnessed some of the first attacks leveraging IoT, and they certainly won’t be the last. If we look at the history of Ransomware for example, we saw approximately 7 attacks from 2005 through 2013 and then a rapid acceleration with approximately 9 in 2014, 27 in 2015 and around 15 unique variants in the first quarter of 2016 alone!
We are likely to see a similar trend in IoT devices with a lack of security, patching and embedded security from vendors that are new to the IT security space. They will need to lean on experienced network and security vendors and partners to secure their devices. I see Cisco’s initiative aligned with these needs and welcome the opportunity to help Cisco bring this to market.
If you would like to learn more about the Internet of Things and how it can benefit your business, please contact Sentinel. We are also hosting a special Lunch & Learn about IoT security at our Downers Grove headquarters on November 30th. Please RSVP in advance if you would like to attend in person or via WebEx.
Sentinel Honors Our Veterans
Sentinel is proud to employ veterans and military families at our locations across the country. We are honored they have chosen to bring their valuable skills, knowledge, leadership and passion to Sentinel. In honor of Veterans Day, we asked Marine Corps veteran and Solutions Analyst Nadia Rios to share some reflections on her time in the military:
Serving in the Marine Corps shaped my life in so many different ways. It taught me the true meaning of teamwork and ethics. You depend on others to complete tasks, and they expect the same from you.
We learned to respect ranks and put aside any personal feelings in order to accomplish every mission. You knew that if you were a platoon sergeant, for example, all those beneath you relied on your knowledge; that these were your Marines and you were responsible for protecting them, guiding them and disciplining them as needed. Their success was your success, and their failure was a direct reflection of your leadership.
The Marine Corps helped me realize that I could accomplish anything I set my mind to. Most importantly, it gave me a newfound sense of pride and respect for my country.
Avoid Conference Room Conflicts With A Room Scheduler
By Jim Michalik & Frank Kristoff, Infrastructure Solutions Architects for Sentinel’s Technology Area Design Group
Most organizations find managing their conference rooms a challenge at some point, or at least to some degree. Double-booking rooms, ad hoc emergency meetings and interruptions due to non-participants accidentally barging in are common examples. In response, room scheduling has proven itself to be an easy technological solution for many of these problems.
The room scheduling panel is a small device that sits on the wall outside the conference room. Tied to the Microsoft Exchange or Notes server, it indicates whether the conference room is free (green lights) or in use (red lights). A meeting organizer can use Outlook to reserve the room as a resource, and meeting information is transmitted to the panel: subject, participants and duration. An organizer with an ad hoc meeting can book a room from any “green” panel, and this information is sent to the Exchange server to prevent conflicts. Meeting running long? Book an extra 10, 20 or 30 minutes right from the panel.
Scheduling panels like this are available from a variety of sources: furniture dealers (such as Steelcase) are offering them, as are audiovisual manufacturers (such as Crestron or AMX). Third parties are providing software for less expensive wall-mounted iPads and Android devices, although these devices sometimes suffer from reliability and theft issues.
Generally, a small API is required for the email server, and many products require an inexpensive, virtualized SQL database to track data completely. The panel itself is powered via Power over Ethernet, and is a network device; the panels can be recessed flush into walls or be mounted to glass (although hiding cables can be an interesting challenge).
Sentinel’s Technology Area Design group provides designs for these systems, end-to-end. For example, our design consultants address the code-compliant mounting heights, back boxes and conduit sizes from room to switch, as well as assisting you in proper budgeting for these systems. Another consideration for planners is how to mount the panels and what size is appropriate. Again, our consultants help make this transition easy.
Consideration of all these factors doesn’t need to be overwhelming to you, and the benefits are significantly greater than the costs of these systems. Sentinel can work with your new or existing facilities to help you manage your meetings successfully. Please contact us to learn more about room scheduling systems.
A Closer Look at Sentinel's Staffing Services
By Laura Curran, Staffing Sales Executive.
Additional contributions from Penny Clancy, VP of Human Resources
One of the biggest challenges businesses are facing today is the shortage of experienced or skilled IT talent. To build our own business over the past 30+ years, Sentinel has worked hard to attract and retain staff for a variety of IT departments and positions, including Administrative, Customer Service, Procurement, Accounting, Recruiting, Voice Engineers, Cloud Specialists, Route/Switch Engineers, Developers, Help Desk and Field Service Engineers just to name just a few. This recruiting experience combined with strong relationships across the technology industry enable Sentinel’s staffing department to help our customers find and hire top talent to fill open positions at their businesses.
My personal experiences and successes have relied heavily on Sentinel’s wide range of IT services, products and solutions. A recent staffing placement that I procured was introduced to me by another sales executive on my team. While working on multiple hardware and network integration projects with a customer, my colleague discovered that their network administrator would soon be leaving for another position. This presented a perfect opportunity to engage with them about our staffing solution services.
After a brief introduction, the IT Director and I had an in-depth discussion to determine what type of candidate they were looking for and the skills required to do the job effectively. One of the IT Director’s main priorities was to find a prospective employee who would be able to adapt fairly quickly to their infrastructure. Because of the customer’s past history with Sentinel, our on-site engineers already had an understanding of their environment, infrastructure, culture and business. This gave us a unique advantage over most other staffing competitors, who often select candidates based on a phone call with a client and standardized industry tests based around the requirements of the open position.
In order to determine the most viable candidate for the position, we asked one of our engineers who had worked on site with the customer to screen candidates in order to validate his or her technical abilities and organizational fit. Our engineers know we expect our candidates to live up to the Sentinel standard and that their technical knowledge and skills are at the level the client expects. Within a week we were able to identify a candidate who was local to the area and highly qualified for the position. After reviewing the candidate’s resume, the IT Director met with the prospective employee for a face-to-face interview where both agreed it was a perfect fit. An offer letter was extended to the candidate later that day. This all took place within two weeks!
In my 2.5 years at Sentinel, I’ve seen the incredible benefits and effectiveness of the marriage between our staffing solutions and IT consulting services. While technical qualifications are extremely important, we also take many other factors into account such as position requirements, hiring models (temporary, temp-to-perm, contract for hire, etc.), budget, length of engagement, desired business hours, geographic location, certification validation, communications skills and cultural fit before presenting a candidate.
Our recruiting department continues to grow as we work toward building stronger relationships with our current clients and continue to add new clients that can benefit from our unique abilities. We may not be a familiar name as a staffing solution provider, but we are intent on becoming our clients’ preferred vendor for staffing solutions!
To learn more about Sentinel’s staffing services, please contact us.
Ten Terrifying Tales of Technology Trouble
The world of IT can be a scary place, and not just because artificial intelligence will eventually become self-aware and destroy the human race. In fact, many of the situations that IT professionals witness on a daily basis are so bone-chilling they make horror films look quaint. We at Sentinel are no strangers to these nightmare scenarios, so join us if you dare as we chronicle ten of the most terrifying moments technology has to offer.
**When the Wi-Fi Goes Down**
As a society, we’ve come to think of wireless Internet as an essential part of our daily lives. The ability to look up information and connect with others via laptop, tablet or phone at the touch of a button is so convenient, it becomes scary the moment it’s not. Whether you’re at home or at the office, when the Wi-Fi goes down there’s the initial frustration at the inconvenience it’s causing, with the hope the connection will be restored within seconds. But as time slowly ticks off the clock, you begin to notice the deafening silence and panic begins to set in. Suddenly it becomes a question of not WHEN the Internet will come back, but IF. Of course the moment everything returns to normal there’s a sigh of relief, but for a few moments the world itself might as well have been ending.
**When Your Email Has Been Hacked and Sends Spam to Everyone You Know**
Unfortunately, passwords are not foolproof. Given the time and tools, hackers may gain the ability to access your email account and wreak all kinds of havoc should they be so inclined. This includes sending out all sorts of spam and malware-infected emails to your contacts, primarily in the hopes of gaining illegal access to their inboxes too. You may not even know it’s happening until friends, family or co-workers complain about it. By then, it’s already too late. Beyond that, attackers can also change your passwords, locking you out of your account entirely. Take a moment to rethink the strength of your password and inbox security.
**When Your Software Update Fails**
Every piece of technology requires an update from time to time, whether in an effort to improve functionality, fix bugs or increase security measures. Refusal to update or upgrade could make you vulnerable and an easy target for those seeking to do harm to you or your business. If only the update process wasn’t so agonizing. You’re stuck watching a progress bar or percentage slowly creep forward for what seems like forever, and should something go wrong it could fragment or even destroy your software or equipment. To receive an error message following an attempted update of a program or system can make you feel like all is lost. This is why it’s essential to have a backup!
**When The Least Technical Person You Know Asks for IT Help**
We all know at least one person who can be described as “not very tech savvy.” Most likely he or she is a bit older and doesn’t quite understand how to operate things like computers and smartphones with ease. Which is why you’re probably the first person on their speed dial whenever they need technology help. Wi-Fi not working? Expect a call. Document won’t print? Your phone will ring. Can’t get access to email? They might as well just hit redial. While it is a kindness to help, and there are few things better than the look on someone’s face when they learn something new, it often takes the patience of a saint to spend an hour talking a friend or loved one through a task you could have easily completed on your own in five minutes. When their name shows up on your Caller ID for the tenth time in a week, a deep shudder may instinctually course through your body.
**When Your Data Center Contains Products from Too Many Vendors**
One of the best things about technology is that there are so many different products and brands to choose from (Cisco, Dell Technologies, VMware, Microsoft, Apple, NetApp, Citrix, etc.). Such a diverse marketplace breeds competition, innovation and lowers costs. Depending on the particular needs of your IT department, it’s almost guaranteed components from at least a couple of different vendors can be found inside your data center. The greater the diversity of IT solutions however, the greater the challenges in managing them all. Older equipment might struggle to keep up or achieve compatibility with newer equipment, and if something breaks it can be a nightmare just figuring out the right technician to call. The good news is that Sentinel has an extensive array of partnerships and technical certifications with leading technology vendors, giving us single source accountability to not only provide the data center components you need, but maintain and support them too.
**When The Blue Screen of Death Shows Up**
We’ve all had the experience at least once in our lives: You’re sitting at a computer working on an important project, when suddenly the screen turns completely blue and a fatal system error message appears. This phenomenon, commonly known as the Blue Screen of Death (BSoD), has been plaguing Windows systems for more than two decades. It is caused by either hardware problems or issues with software running in the Windows kernel. The only solution is to restart your computer and hope for the best. Whatever you were working on may be lost, and the BSoD may be indicative of a critical problem with your system that will require fixing sooner rather than later. Even if everything returns to normal right away, the potential it could happen again lingers like a specter over every keystroke and mouse click.
**When Your Business Is Operating Without Disaster Recovery**
Running a business without disaster recovery is like driving a car without a seat belt – you can do it, but should the worst happen your chances of survival drop exponentially. Disaster can strike at any time, and without warning. It can destroy your files, data and general infrastructure, leaving the skeleton of your company a hollow shell that no amount of money can fix. Disaster recovery can’t prevent the destruction, but retains copies of essential data, applications and infrastructure elements in the cloud or offsite to restore key portions of your business quickly and in accordance with a previously established plan.
**When You Accidentally Hit “Reply All” For A Private Response on a Public Email Chain**
As far as emails go, most tend to be pretty innocuous and focused on the business at hand. But every now and then it’s cathartic to crack a joke or let off a little steam in a reply to a friend or co-worker. Spot a funny photo or video? Send it along to brighten someone’s day. Been having a rough week and looking for a friend to commiserate with? An email is one way to share the burden. Just be careful when and how you do it. Accidentally selecting “Reply All” when sending a joke or complaint response on an email chain can cause serious problems. An off-color joke or derogatory comment about a boss, co-worker or business associate have the potential to permanently damage your career and reputation. Shock, terror, dread and embarrassment are the primary emotions that most often accompany such a mistake, closely followed by desperation in the hope of taking it all back. Sadly, once it’s sent you cannot put that genie back in the bottle. Maybe it’s best to follow the old adage, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”
**When Someone Tries to “Fix” Something On Their Own**
Have you ever thought you could handle a task, only to discover it was much more complicated and difficult than you initially thought? This is a fairly common scenario in IT, as many employees with a rudimentary knowledge of technology believe they can fix hardware or software issues on their own instead of asking for help. By the time he or she realizes the problem requires the assistance of a certified professional, chances are it’s been made much worse through a series of failed attempts at solutions.
**When you forget your password**
If you follow proper security recommendations, you should change your passwords every 60 to 90 days. Not only that, but every password for every account you have should be different. That means memorizing multiple new passwords every couple of months. It can be quite the arduous task, especially with strict requirements involving character limits and complex combinations of letters, numbers and symbols. Everybody forgets a password from time to time, and the trial and error of running through all the passwords you remember but still getting nowhere can be frustrating at the very least. There’s the “Forgot Password?” button, which may (or may not) email you with that information…unless of course the password you need is for your inbox. Not every login screen will provide password assistance either, and some might even lock you out after too many wrong guesses. The whole ordeal can be convoluted enough to drive a person insane.
Not all technology has to be terrifying. Sentinel does our best to ensure customers have the right products, services and solutions to conduct business smoothly and with minimal disruption. Please contact us to learn more about our offerings.