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.
Sentinel's Tech Gift Guide 2018
It’s the holidays, and if you’re still shopping around for some last minute gifts to give friends and family this year, Sentinel is more than happy to provide a few smart tech suggestions that will help make anyone’s life a little easier. These cover a range of concepts and budgets, so hopefully there’s a little something for everyone on your list!
iPad Pro [$800 - $1,300]
Apple’s latest version of the iPad marks a great leap forward for the tablet, incorporating new features that make it smarter, more intuitive, and more powerful than ever before. The all-screen design with Liquid Retina display means there’s even more room to work and all of the colors are vibrant and true to life. True Tone adjusts the white balance to make the display easier on the eyes, and less reflective of the environment around you. New ProMotion technology automatically adjusts the screen’s refresh rate based on what you’re doing or watching on the iPad, so everything looks smooth and immersive. Face ID with TrueDepth cameras use facial recognition to unlock the iPad, login to apps, and make secure purchases. Then there are additional accessories like the Apple Pencil and Keyboard Folio, which have been redesigned to improve functionality. There are 11-inch and 12.9-inch models, both of which have 10 hours of battery life and varying amounts of storage space, so choose according to your needs!
Facebook Portal / Portal Plus [$149 - $299]
Video calling isn’t exactly new technology in 2018, but Facebook’s new Portal device aims to improve on the experience just a bit. It uses smart camera and smart sound technologies to generate more seamless video interactions between friends and loved ones. You can move around a room and talk freely, and the camera will follow you or widen out to include more people if you’re with a group. Background noises are minimized to ensure voices come across clearly. It connects with Facebook Messenger so you can pull up your contacts and have a video conversation even if they don’t own a Portal device. Plus, it has Alexa built in so you can issue voice commands to do things like play music, find out news or weather information, start a photo slideshow, or just look up information from the internet. There are two sizes available, a 10.1” display and a 15.6” display.
Skyroam Solis [$149 for the device, $9 per 24 hours of WiFi]
One of the most challenging things for travel junkies is keeping your smartphone, tablet, and/or laptop fully charged and connected to WiFi while navigating the globe. There are so many different types of electricity plugs and so many different wireless internet access points to try and navigate that the whole thing can become more trouble than it’s worth. Plus, if you don’t have an international data plan the roaming charges can reach astronomical levels. The Skyroam Solis provides 4G LTE mobile WiFi in over 130 countries plus power charging, all through a portable, hockey puck-sized device. You can connect up to 5 smart devices at once, and when fully charged it provides more than 16 hours of WiFi. So whether you’re traveling to Germany, China, Australia, and beyond, you can have a fast, secure, and inexpensive internet connection and power charging hub.
Ember mug [$80 - $150]
Perfect for the coffee or tea drinker in your life, Ember has created the world’s first temperature controlled mugs. Available in copper, ceramic, and travel varieties, you can set a temperature via a control on the mug itself or via an app on your smartphone, and it will ensure your beverage maintains a perfect degree of warmth no matter how long you leave it sitting out. The app also enables you to create temperature presets, receive a notification when your set temperature is reached, and combine with Apple Health to track your caffeine consumption.
Blink XT Home Security Camera [$78]
If you know somebody that receives packages at home all the time, but is consistently concerned about thieves snatching delivery boxes from their front porch or building lobby, provide them with a sense of comfort this holiday season with an advanced security camera. The Blink XT Home Security Camera is a wireless, weatherproof device able to monitor the outside or inside of your home. Features include HD video with night vision, a 2-year battery life, and motion detection for instant recording. You can adjust settings and watch the video feed through your smartphone, and footage is archived and stored in the cloud for easy access.
Etekcity WiFi Smart Plug [$20 for 2]
An update to the mechanical electricity timers, Etekcity’s WiFi Smart Plug fits on top of your regular outlet and allows you to fully control power to any devices plugged into it. You can sync it with your Amazon Echo or Google Home device and control the power settings with just your voice, or manage everything through your smartphone. Create a schedule to turn lights or appliances on and off at certain times of the day. Away from home and forgot to shut off a lamp? It’s as easy as pressing a button on your phone.
GDPR and Securing Your Data
By Rick Spatafore, Sentinel Advisory Services Manager
Earlier this year, General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was put in place to protect the sensitive data and digital identities of European Union (EU) citizens. The regulation creates new definitions and obligations for the following roles in an organization:
Data Controller – Controls the usage and purpose of data usage
Data Processor – Processes the data provided by the Data Controller
Data Protection Officer – Designated individual who understands how their organization collects data and maintains user privacy by performing a risk assessment
European Union citizens are listed as Data Subjects within this regulation and have the following pieces of information protected:
Special Personal Data:
+Health & Genetic Data
+Racial or Ethnic Data
EU Consumer Rights under GDPR Include:
+Consumers have a right to be informed about the collection of their information. Apple, for example, has introduced privacy icons to explain when it is gathering data on users.
+People also have the right to access the information that companies collect on them by submitting a subject access request. Companies must provide this information to the consumer within a month. If any data is inaccurate, companies are responsible for correcting it.
+Consumers may request that any information collected about them be erased, also known as the right to be forgotten. They can also ask for their data to be restricted, so companies can store data but not use it.
+People have the ability to move or copy personal information from one source to another, known as data portability.
+Consumers have the right to object about how their data is used, including for direct marketing. They can also object to profiling, when companies automatically process data to make assumptions about a person for marketing purposes.
It has now been six months since the enforcement of GDPR began on May 25, 2018. Most organizations survived the initial panic of understanding the above requirements and are either compliant or have established that there is no GDPR data within their control. Security professionals have gotten used to this regulatory cycle – they faced similar challenges with HIPAA in 2005, PCI in 2005, and NIST 800-171 in 2017, among many others. The common thread among these regulations is that they are all effective means to protect specific types of data within your control. Whether your organization treats each regulation separately or in groups, in the end they’re all designed to protect consumer data in unique ways.
Security frameworks such as National Institute for Standards and Technologies (NIST) 800-53, NIST Cybersecurity Framework, International Organization of Standards (ISO) 27001 and Center for Internet Security Critical Security Controls, can help an organization efficiently improve their data protection while simultaneously satisfying the requirements for most regulations. It should be noted that there are nuances within each regulation that do not directly align with all of the frameworks, and therefore need additional attention. A security framework mainly enables organizations to take care of the fundamental requirements that are a part of all regulations. Here are a few examples of items that can give your organization a head start on GDPR compliance, PCI compliance, or HIPAA compliance:
+Align to a security framework
+Establish an Information Security Officer / Data Protection Officer
+Review and update privacy policies
+Educate staff on cybersecurity, what data they may encounter, and how to protect it
+Identify your data and develop a Data Classification Policy
+Develop a Data Destruction Policy
+Perform a risk assessment
Sentinel’s Advisory Services are ready to help your organization with all of its compliance needs, including GDPR, HIPAA, PCI, and SOC 2. Our team of expert consultants can also assist with process and framework alignment to improve productivity and security. Please contact us for more information.
Five Hybrid and Multi-Cloud Security Tips
by Michael Soule, Sentinel Strategic Solutions Advisor
Microsoft recently published a great overview of hybrid and multi-cloud security. The piece included five main things to consider no matter how far along you are in your cloud journey. Sentinel remains committed to providing our customers with industry-best guidance, solutions, and tools to ensure your transition into the cloud is smooth and fully optimized. Here are some additional thoughts and tips based on the five points outlined in the Microsoft piece that we hope will help your organization improve its hybrid and multi-cloud security.
Having a detailed and unique cloud adoption plan enables your organization to stay focused on progress and measure success better. Sentinel works with customers at all points of the cloud adoption spectrum, from the ones looking to “get out of the data center business,” to those with clearly defined Cloud Centers of Excellence and cloud-first strategies. Regardless of your technology goals or how far along your organization is in achieving them, Sentinel firmly believes the right strategies will significantly increase the success experienced during any large change, cloud or not. Our approach to rationalizing apps really begins with an inventory of all the workloads your organization relies on, along with a review of your overall business goals. Once we understand those workloads, we identify which ones are best suited for changes to help your organization achieve its goals. Then we help your organization formulate migration strategies and define specific metrics that are pertinent to the specific workload’s success.
Build a solid foundation
After developing your strategy, a solid foundation is critical for successful cloud adoption. It’s similar to how performant shared storage and virtualization hosts are essential when starting the journey toward virtualization. The foundation of your cloud infrastructure is comprised of multiple pillars, such as connectivity, identity and access management, logging and monitoring, automation, and cost control. Sentinel can help modify your existing policies to meet the governance and operational changes required by cloud services. These steps are critical to establish a foundation your workloads can rely on when migrated.
Use built-in services
More important than using the built-in services offered by your cloud service provider of choice is your ability to determine when and when not to use them. Built-in services offer the core functionality needed by most organizations, often with some reasonable cost savings, but they can also include some functionality gaps that should be identified and supplemented with partner solutions in order to achieve the desired level of success. Every organization has different needs when it comes to adopting solutions that mitigate these gaps. Fixes can be as simple as using a tried-and-true virtual appliance from a vendor your teams are comfortable with, or it can be a solution that relies on additional services like AWS Lambda or Azure Functions to update and modify built-in service configurations based on environmental changes.
Establishing the identity layer
Identifying whether someone on a connected device is authorized to use specific resources is a complex topic. There are countless technologies and strategies to improve our ability to provide proper authorization and access. Standardizing identities across solutions and providers is necessary for ensuring an acceptable user experience. Monitoring how identities are used and determining where and what each identity is authorized to use is essential as well. Sentinel offers guidance and efficient implementation on this complex topic, so your organization understands where and when to use technologies like SAML, Certificate Based Authentication, Multi-Factor Authentication, or password synchronization services to achieve a desired outcome.
Adopt an assume-breach strategy
Tracking usage of resources between disparate premise and cloud infrastructures further adds to the complexity and challenges of cloud adoption. Your organization ideally defines controls for most elements to make things a little easier, but the vast amounts of data to review and the pressure to figure out what to do next create a whole other set of difficulties. Adopting an evolving security strategy can be very similar to adopting cloud services, and can often be improved by numerous offerings from cloud providers. It takes a lot of effort to develop a system with the ability to detect changes that threaten compliance, send alerts to the appropriate parties, and automatically revert those changes, but it is achievable. A cloud journey requires operational excellence, but it also requires security excellence. Define the acceptable tolerances for pertinent metrics and their associated constraints to at the least audit, then continually review and refine those definitions.
One final thing to consider. The cloud as a resource for consumption is not always a good solution for every workload or even for every organization. A number of very complex changes are required as part of the cloud adoption process, and that’s not always the best move for some organizations. Try to think of “the cloud” as more than just a resource for consumption. Use the cloud as a tool to improve your own processes and infrastructure. Consider a new or different approach to the cloud. The AWS Well-Architected Framework and associated whitepapers can provide insight and guide your organization to operational excellence even if you only run entirely on premise with bare metal server installs.
If you are interested in learning more about how Sentinel can help with your cloud journey, please contact us for additional information.
Three Key Takeaways from the 2018 Cisco Partner Summit
by Robert Keblusek, Sentinel Chief Technology Officer
While the 2018 Cisco Partner Summit featured many exciting product announcements, keynote presentations, and educational seminars, the ultimate mission of the conference was to keep IT vendors and providers aware of new and evolving technology industry trends. We outlined many of those highlights as the event was taking place two weeks ago in a blog post detailed by some of the Sentinel managers in attendance. As a follow-up, Sentinel’s Chief Technology Officer Robert Keblusek wanted to share three key takeaways from his Cisco Partner Summit experience, with a particular eye on how businesses can begin to prepare for the next wave of technology innovations.
A modern infrastructure experience includes automation, intelligence and simplicity. This can be achieved using software, which is why it is critical organizations think differently in this Multicloud world. While users still need to connect with data centers for computing, they also need to connect with cloud-based Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)/Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Security as a Service (SaaS). It changes the traffic models for enterprises from a centralized hub to a distributed, internet-first and application-aware network. This can only be achieved with a software-defined infrastructure. It will also allow for future innovation to be rapidly and securely deployed throughout the enterprise.
Security needs to be embedded in the platform and must include rapid threat detection and containment. Intuitive SD networking will enable this, and the infrastructure will continue to evolve using software. Automation will allow organizations to quickly and easily access these solutions. Static, monolithic networks need to evolve, and programmability is the key. Security can no longer be an afterthought, it needs to be a seamless part of the infrastructure and distributed throughout the organization.
Internet of Things (IoT) and smart devices are everywhere these days and it is imperative they remain securely connected and carefully managed. Intelligence should be centralized within an organization or cloud provider, but also needs to be available at the edges of the environment. IoT is the fastest growing area within the Cisco architecture as organizations increase their investments in smart devices. There are many factors customers should consider when integrating IoT devices into their environment, particularly the impact they might have on applications and core elements inside a Cisco software-defined infrastructure. Cisco provides multiple areas of IoT management, automation, and security, enabling our customers to achieve unprecedented success with their technology initiatives.
If you are interested in learning more about any of the takeaways listed above or how Sentinel can help your organization achieve a proactive posture through new technology solutions, please contact us for more information. You can follow Robert Keblusek on Twitter, @RKeblusek.
Sentinel Gives Thanks 2018
Thanksgiving represents a time to reflect on the ways we have grown over the past year, and gratefully acknowledge the people, the events, the tools, and other factors that have helped us along the way. We have so much to be thankful for at Sentinel every single day – our customers, our partners, our employees, and beyond. It remains our greatest pleasure to work and collaborate with all of you in an effort to provide technology solutions and services that enhance the way business is conducted.
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 are some of our favorites. Let us know what you’re #ThankfulFor via our social media channels!
"All the engineers that help resolve customers' issues day in and day out. I am also thankful for all the opportunities Sentinel has given me throughout my career."
"My new goddaughter, health, and family across the country."
"Family & Panel Partners"
Dispatches from the 2018 Cisco Partner Summit
This year’s Cisco Partner Summit takes place from November 13-15 in Las Vegas. Several members of Sentinel’s management team are currently attending the conference, eager to hear about Cisco’s new and evolving slate of technology offerings designed to enhance customer environments. After the first full day of keynote speeches, educational seminars, and networking with other Cisco partners from around the globe, here are some details and on-the-ground insights into some of the major announcements and trends being highlighted at the 2018 Cisco Partner Summit so far.
Next-generation Digital IT
Organizations are beginning to reinvent their IT architecture to reflect the increasingly digital realities of today’s business world. This involves building a multi-domain, intent-based environment that enables on premise, cloud, and mobile technologies to communicate seamlessly with one another as part of a single digital ecosystem to make it easier than ever to achieve business goals.
The IT industry will continue to move away from hardware and on premise technology solutions in favor of subscription-based services. Pay for a recurring monthly or yearly subscription and receive all the same benefits and functionality of storage, backup, security, etc. without taking up any space in your data center or having to perform regular maintenance and upgrades. This allows organizations to better anticipate expenses and budget accordingly while also making it easier to expand or reduce their investments as needs dictate.
Cisco used the Partner Summit to discuss the future of SD-WAN, which continues to grow at a rapid pace. They estimate that more than 50% of enterprise organizations will select an SD-WAN solution over the next year. To help make those decisions easier, Cisco introduced a new set of SD-WAN solutions capable of connecting multiple cloud environments and providing advanced security. This combination of features simplifies cloud security management while boosting application performance.
Cloud Calling via Webex Teams
Following the acquisition of BroadSoft earlier this year, Cisco has been working on a solution that integrates their BroadCloud calling service into the Webex Teams platform. This will allow users to make “enterprise-grade” voice and video calls in Webex Teams, in addition to the current messaging and document sharing features. It provides all the benefits of a private branch exchange (PBX) phone system without having to actually invest in and deploy one, while simultaneously creating a single, easy-to-use unified communications application.
Mobile and Shared Collaboration Tools
As the use of mobile workspaces and huddle rooms continues to rise, Cisco announced a new “Huddle Space Portfolio,” aimed at enabling better conferencing and collaboration in smaller locations that may not have the proper equipment to provide them. Tools such as Webex Room Kit Mini provide compact cameras and microphones that are easy to set up and take with you into any small meeting room or shared workspace. Webex Share has the ability to turn any screen into a wireless content sharing device. Webex Board 55 is a portable touchscreen that can be used as a whiteboard and shared with users across Webex Teams. Better agility and teamwork yields better and faster results.
We’ll have more highlights and reactions from the 2018 Cisco Partner Summit in the coming weeks. If you are interested in learning more about any of the trends, solutions, and services outlined above, please contact Sentinel for additional information.
Reflections on the 2018 Chicago Tribune Top Workplaces Ceremony
By Nora Gibbons, Sentinel Social Media Specialist
Here are some important numbers: 3-2-7-1.
I have worked at Sentinel for three years, as of this past August.
This is my second year attending the Chicago Tribune’s Top Workplaces awards event.
Sentinel finished at #7 on the Tribune’s Top Workplaces: Midsize Companies list for 2018.
I had less than one minute to snap this picture of Sentinel’s name displayed on the screen:
Let me explain why these are connected.
I began my position as Social Media Specialist for Sentinel Technologies three years ago. In that time, I have learned so much about Sentinel. The history of the company was slowly revealed to me through random hallway chats, occasional moments of reminiscence, old photos, and over a delicious meal or snack. Hearing the oral history of Sentinel feels a lot like when your family retells stories during the holidays – they are spoken with a smile, a laugh, and can never be told by just one person. One person may start the story, but eventually it ends with two or three others jumping in to help add names or details that were initially left out or forgotten. Even the stories chronicling the growth and success of the company are not long drawn out tales of money and moves, but instead anecdotes about a small team based in Oak Brook, IL that worked hard and collectively pitched in to help Sentinel build its strong reputation in the IT industry.
Working at Sentinel means you become a part of Sentinel’s DNA. The longer I work here, the more I feel it. Just after my two year work anniversary, I attended the 2017 Chicago Tribune Top Workplaces awards event. I was so excited to find out where Sentinel placed on the list, and a little in awe that I was chosen to represent the company.
Now one year later, I once again found myself surrounded by colleagues as we awaited the Top Workplaces announcement at Soldier Field. There’s always a weird mix of nerves and excitement in the moment. I don’t know if the other companies in attendance felt the same way, but you could definitely get that impression at our table. But there was also a deep sense of pride, because Sentinel is an extension of myself and I’m proud to represent them. This award serves as a representation of the teams that make Sentinel a hardworking, vibrant, colorful, successful, and fun family.
The ceremony itself flew by so fast. They read a company name, it pops up on the screens around the room for a few seconds, and then they move on to the next one. As they began the countdown, I had my phone ready and waiting to take photos as soon as Sentinel’s name was announced. This year we had to wait longer than ever before, because we finished at a company-best #7! When our name was announced and displayed on the screen, our table erupted in applause. There may have even been a little dancing, but I’ll leave that detail up to the imagination.
Being present at the moment when Sentinel reached #7 on the Chicago Tribune’s Top Workplaces list for 2018 was really something special, however to me it’s about so much more than just that one number. It’s about all the other numbers that helped get us to this point. We are 36 years old, have expanded to offices in 5 states, have over 500 employees (including 300+ in Illinois alone), 50+ company certifications, 2,400+ individual certifications, employees celebrating their 35/36 year work anniversaries with us, and many more I could add to this list. Sentinel doesn’t treat their employees like a number, which is exactly why we reached this number.
Congratulations to our team, I’m proud to be one of you! I can’t wait to have my phone at the ready next year, making sure I don’t miss the picture.
Five Important Cybersecurity Training Modules for Your Business
Attackers are always looking for new ways to gain access to your organization’s network and sensitive data. While most of today’s advanced security technologies provide an ample and comprehensive defense of your systems and applications, they can’t protect against human error. Users are often the weakest and most easily exploited point of entry for cybercriminals, who use phishing and social engineering strategies to trick people into opening malicious links or files that spread throughout your network.
This is why cybersecurity training should play an essential role in every organization’s protection strategy. It increases employee awareness and makes it easier for them to identify and stop any potential threats. Sentinel’s Advisory Services offer dozens of cybersecurity training modules through our partners at Wombat, each detailing the different types of dangers that users may encounter. While all of them are important, here are brief summaries of five key cybersecurity training modules.
Protecting Against Ransomware
This module provides a brief but comprehensive training on how to recognize and prevent ransomware attacks. The best practices you will learn are also applicable in fighting other phishing and malware-based threats.
Upon completion of this module, you will learn that the best way to prevent ransomware is to be proactive, and that ransomware security training is the most effective way to protect your organization against a ransomware attack. You will also gain a better understanding of the risk and impact of becoming infected with ransomware, and how to detect such an attack. Lastly, you’ll get some important tips on how to keep your device and organization safe from malicious emails and websites.
This module goes beyond the phishing threat to explain dangers associated with smishing, vishing, social media, and in-person attacks. You will also learn how to spot common social engineering techniques and traps.
At the conclusion of this module, you should have the knowledge to protect yourself from manipulation of people into accessing dangerous materials (such as malware), divulging private information (such as passwords or company data), or otherwise providing a foothold for malicious cyber attackers to bring harm to a business.
In this module, Email Security refers to the collective measures used to secure the access and content of an email account or service. It allows an individual or organization to protect the overall access to one or more email addresses/accounts. Learn how to identify and avoid manipulative content, malicious and disguised links, dangerous attachments, inappropriate data requests, and other threats.
Upon completion of this module, you will have a better understanding of how email security has become completely ingrained into the way our communities and companies communicate in the 21st century. With email playing such an important role in our everyday society, it’s important to know what makes email so vulnerable to attacks, and why there is a need for email security for every company.
Data Protection and Destruction
In this module, you will learn how to apply best practices related to the secure handling and storage of sensitive data throughout its lifecycle. It is essential to be able to identify and protect the many different types of data. Sensitive data, such as private or confidential information about people, companies, or projects, applies to both individuals and organizations. Personal and financial details about you, your co-workers, your customers, and your business associates are valuable to both criminals and competitors, as is any information related to intellectual property or proprietary business dealings.
Upon completion of this module, you will fully understand how to handle and store sensitive data, how to safeguard electronic devices and files, and how to properly dispose of confidential data.
Security Beyond the Office
This module introduces best practices related to topics such as the safe use of Wi-Fi networks, the dangers of public computers, and practical physical security measures.
Upon completion of this module, you will gain a better understanding of how to connect to safe outside networks, as well as why you should turn off sharing, enable your firewall, hide folders, and even more.
If you are interested in learning more about cybersecurity training and the many benefits it can offer your organization, please contact Sentinel for more information.
Five Takeaways from Sentinel's Arizona Tech Summit 2018
By Nora Gibbons, Sentinel Social Media Specialist
Sentinel, along with our partners from Cisco, held a Tech Summit in Arizona last week. Customers joined us at Cisco’s Phoenix office for lunch followed by a packed afternoon that included a keynote speech from Sentinel CTO Bob Keblusek, a closer look into the cloud with Strategic Solution Advisor Michael Soule, an in-depth security discussion with Strategic Security Solution Advisor Mark Combs, as well as a Q & A with our panel of experts. Following the event, customers joined us at The Gladly for a happy hour and more conversation about our vision for the IT roadmap ahead.
The presentations yielded a lot of thought-provoking content. Everyone we spoke to left with something to bring back to their teams, whether it be a new solution they had never heard of before, a fresh tactic to implement, or even just a different perspective on Sentinel’s abilities. Here are the five biggest takeaways identified by our customers:
- Two-Factor Authentication
When it comes to establishing a strong security posture, two-factor authentication is a low cost, low maintenance solution that helps businesses create a strong front line of defense. Two-factor authentication has quickly risen in the security world from an outlier to a necessity. The discussion surrounding two-factor authentication also goes beyond the solution itself to help determine the most important and critical services in your organization while encouraging the implementation of other security best practices such as privileged access workstations This solution is needed now, and will only grow in importance in the years to come.
- Evaluating Your Business for Cloud Agility
A major takeaway from the summit was evaluating your business for the cloud. While many IT departments use and manage cloud applications for the organization on a regular basis, sometimes other departments will quietly purchase and control additional cloud applications on their own. For example, an IT department may have an almost 100% on premise environment, yet the company’s marketing team recently purchased and began using a cloud-based prospecting tool without informing the right managers. An internal group focused on cloud adoption, often referred to as a Cloud Center of Excellence, is a great way to take inventory and evaluate your workloads across all departments and make the most informed decisions on your cloud journey. The initial step involves changing the mindset to cloud-first by asking: “is this right for the cloud?” and diving into the decision-making process from there.
- Business Assessments
Sentinel’s suite of assessments allow organizations to peel back the layers of their business and identify the areas they excel and the areas that have room for improvement. For many, when constructing the roadmap for the years ahead, this is the launch point to start them down the correct path. These assessments also allow our experts to work directly with all stakeholders to align business goals with IT initiatives, giving organizations an IT roadmap to bring their teams together under a cohesive plan.
- Transparency Into Your IT Environment
In the coming years, a perfect storm is brewing. Attacks are becoming more sophisticated, and as the number of mobile and IoT devices continues to expand, it introduces more and more vulnerability into your environment. Having visibility and transparency in your network and overall IT environment will lower the risk associated with these business changes and play a critical role in helping your organization stay proactive instead of reactive when it comes to security.
- Managed Services for Business
The demands on IT departments are increasing every year. Teams are being stretched thinner and thinner, and with each new vendor and solution introduced into an environment, a new skill set needs to be learned. Many organizations are looking to offload tasks to managed services providers, allowing their teams to focus on growth and achieving major business goals. This is especially true in security, where a trusted managed services security provider (MSSP) takes those 1AM emergency calls and provides a deep bench of experts to clients that allow them to be proactive in their security posture. For many organizations, relying on a managed services provider has increased productivity, been cost effective, and given them a great technical resource they can lean on to minimize downtime.
Thank you to everyone who joined Sentinel and Cisco at the Arizona Tech Summit, as well as all those who made the day possible! If you attended and would like to schedule a follow-up or demo, please reach out to your Sentinel Account Manager so we can get something scheduled. If missed the event but are interested in learning more, feel free to contact us for additional information.
Finding the Right Wireless Presentation System
by Jim Michalik, Sentinel Technology Area Design Senior Solutions Analyst
Wireless presentation systems allow users to quickly and easily send their presentation directly from their device to a display or a projector. Some of these use a form of MiraCast – a software application in use since 2012 – while others use proprietary methods. Regardless, these systems have become so popular in recent years that nearly every audiovisual design by Sentinel incorporates them.
It’s no surprise why so many organizations want wireless presentation systems:
+They work with almost any platform, including Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, and Linux
+They allow laptops, tablets, and smart devices to connect easily
+IT departments no longer need to support a variety of adapter cables. You can connect in seconds to the display, through HDMI, DisplayPort, VGA, mini-HD or USB 3.0 enabled devices
+You sit anywhere in the room and still show your presentation without having to worry about connecting to the one working audiovisual input at the table
Which type of wireless presentation system is right for your organization? Broadly speaking, there are about three different categories of technologies.
Simple wireless adapters are typically low-cost solutions that are easy to use – just connect the device into the display or projector’s HDMI port, change the display or projector to that input, and switch your device’s settings to recognize the display or projector.
Although these low-cost devices are easy to use, they’re primarily designed for the casual or home user. In other words, they turn your home display into a second computer monitor, or stream a movie or television show from your laptop to a bigger screen.
As a result, numerous compatibility issues can arise between Windows and Macs, and some wireless networks may treat the connection as a rogue device and shut it down. Additionally, many of these low-cost solutions are not equipped to handle resolutions above HD, meaning many recent Macs and Windows Surface tablets exceed the supported bandwidth.
Trusting these adapters can be risky when working with critical presentations featuring essential information or multimedia content, particularly when you aren’t sure what device will be used to host the presentation.
Improving on these solutions are those intended for business, such as AirTame or Barco ClickShare products. Prices vary tremendously, and each has their niche.
AirTame is a popular product that, in addition to hosting wireless presentations, also can provide digital signage-type solutions that you can customize when the conference room isn’t in use. However AirTame cannot support 4K resolution at the time of this writing, and may require wired network connectivity based on the type of content it’s using.
ClickShare is a popular solution due to its ease of use: plug the button into your device’s USB port, and it connects to a receiver near the display or projector. This can be integrated nearly anywhere in your AV system. It automatically installs the needed driver when connected, then deletes itself once disconnected. Unfortunately ClickShare can be quite expensive to purchase, and its USB-based driver method violates many security practices observed by the banking and financial sector.
Thankfully there are a range of other solutions in between these two product lines that can meet your needs. More appear each quarter, using either Miracast or proprietary encoding systems.
For larger installations involving many rooms, particularly where security is a concern, the use of enterprise-ready presentation systems is best. These vary in price as well. While some can be relatively inexpensive compared to other solutions, they can also only be purchased by a certified installer.
For example, Crestron’s AirMedia provides a good example of how these technologies differ from the previous two. This device uses a proprietary encoding method that resists eavesdropping and assigns presenters a rotating PIN to prevent someone outside the room from tapping in.
Further, up to four presenters can connect at the same time, with an assigned moderator rotating between them. This is perfect for education, so small groups can present cooperatively or competitively.
Unlike other methods, these products often have the ability to stream outward, enabling audience members to see the presentation on their own devices. Log in directions appear on the screen at the start of the presentation ask whether you wish to present or view. If you select the latter, you can securely watch the presentation on your own device, allowing those at the back of the room to read text and view graphics without squinting.
Enterprise-ready solutions do more than provide security and flexibility – they can route to other rooms through HD-Base-T, linking multiple conference rooms at different locations to create one large, virtual room.
If your needs are simple and your budget allows, Sentinel recommends you purchase a small number of inexpensive solutions and experiment with them carefully, ensuring users understand their limitations. Just be aware that manufacturers often offer little to no support for these types of solutions, particularly if they’re intended for home use.
If you’re stepping into the business or enterprise class, let Sentinel do the worrying for you. Our Technology Area Design consultants can review your needs and help you identify the perfect product line. If you need installers, we can competitively bid your solutions only to qualified experts and ensure you get the best solution at the lowest price. Please contact us if you are interested in learning more about wireless presentation systems and the benefits they can provide to your organization.