Monthly Archive March 2019

ByAmpurta

How do you decide what needs to be digital?

Many of us small business owners are prepared to get comfortable in the “I don’t care if I do it manually, it just needs to work”

I don’t disagree. From an IT perspective, it is best not to try and fix something that isn’t broken. But when you look at what is available to you in terms of cloud solutions, software, websites and apps that can turn some of your current processes digital, how do you decide what you should make computer based or hands on?

It normally comes down to three things: Security, Time saving, Cost

Security

This is always the hardest point. In the modern news we see all sorts of awful things happening in terms of hackers, ransomware, virus’, email / password leaks, personal data compromised, etc. So if you’re thinking about putting all of your businesses financial information into a cloud service, you might have some anxiety about that. We don’t disagree.

Not every online platform is bullet proof, and sometimes all it can take is a flashy website and a service may seem very secure – when actually it is run by a couple of engineers from a shed. Not saying thats necessarily a problem, but it does mean there is a higher risk.

  1. Research the platform – try and learn how much it is used, and how it manages your data and personal information.
  2. Secure websites – always look for ‘https’ or the friendly green lock in your browser. That tells you that a third party to that website confirms that it exists where it says it does (that www.google.com does actually point to the google.com webservers
  3. Does it need to be cloud? – You could have a computer that exists entirely offline, using some great digital / automation / database software, that never sees the internet. You would need to consider a backup / data retention strategy, but if you don’t want your data leaving your building, theres nor reason you can’t also have some software to help you run the business

Time Saving

I appreciate old school. Us IT professionals have grown up / learned to find our way around not only a computer program, but any computer program. Like someone who has studied music can pick up and play something on every instrument, or reasonably work it out.

Not all of us can so easily adjust to software. There is a science that comes with designing software that is easy to use and intuitive – that things are where you would expect them to be.

  1. Does the software have a tutorial? – video guides are great to teach new skills. If the product gives user friendly links to articles or videos, then you’ll probably get the hang of it
  2. Is there training available? – Big software products like MYOB actually generate trainers / vocational colleges to run courses on the product. If its going to reduce your overheads and increase your productivity in time, it may be worth the investment
  3. Always think: what does the program need me for? – If the payroll software winds up making you enter everything in manually, each payroll, is that really any better? Always look for what the software can do for you, do you want it to, and will it save you time in the long run?

Cost

A lot of products these days are becoming a subscription. I generally like to use a metric of comparing subscribing to a piece of software, with employing an entry level person and training them to do it.

For arguments sake, lets say a casual employee is $20 an hour. Maintaining your sales database right now – spreadsheets and documents – takes at least two hours a week to update after collating all the orders / forms / emails. You would need to pay $80 a month, so $960 a year to maintain that. So if it costs $400 to set up some software, and $50 a month to subscribe to, you’re looking at $1000 for your first year, but only $600 after that. That’s a saving of $360!

Except it probably isnt. Unless the software requires no maintenance or user interaction. If it was going to save you an hour a week, you’re still looking at around $1000 a year to have the program and use it.

  1. How much of my time/money do I need to set it up? – the initial cost is an investment, sure, but you still need to know and budget for it
  2. If it is designed to save me money by saving time, how much time really? – Saving time may always be worth it, but what is the real world comparison. Does it save you so much time that you don’t need to hire another employee, and have all of those overheads associated with recruitment/employment? Software doesn’t take sick days. If all it is going to do is make life easier/happier for staff, that is sometimes a good thing too, but make sure that benefit is worth the cost.
  3. Can my current computers/systems support it? – depending on what you need, there may be other costs associated. Sure the software runs on your computer now, but will it in a years time? What if it no longer supports your computer? You now need to make a commitment to a digital workplace in terms of maintenance.

This is only a short list of things to consider. We often help tailor our services and recommendations to products that our customers want to run to help make their business more efficient. If you’re wanting to look into ways to save you time, get in touch and we can discuss your options!

ByAmpurta

What you need to know about ‘Virtualisation’

Things can get very complicated when you start talking about virtual computers, cloud products, containerisation, etc. So lets break virtualisation down into a few key concepts, so you can understand whether or not this may be of benefit to you and your business.

Your operating system is a Program / App


Whether it’s Windows, Mac or Linux, the operating system itself is essentially a piece of software, a program, or application! Its main purpose is to have the ability to run other applications, as well as its core functions that you know and (hopefully) love.


The Operating System you is initially started by a smaller computer that exists on your Motherboard itself, called the BIOS (Basic Input Output System). The BIOS detects everything hardware, then learns where there are ‘boot disks’, or the instructions to start/open an operating system, then it starts the Windows/Mac program for the much preferable user interface it offers.


So, the only reason your Windows machine knows that a USB drive is connected to it is because the BIOS has detected and passed it over the OS. So what happens if there is another program that pretends to be a motherboard/BIOS?


The virtual ‘Platform’


Here is a bit of a step by step that explains how I could run a Windows application on my Mac computer:

  1. I turn on my Mac. The power button tells the Motherboard to fire up, detect everything connected to it, and look for the Operating system, which is MacOS Mojave.
  2. Now that I’m running the MacOS Mojave – essentially a program, remember, to run other programs. – I go and find my preferred Virtual Computer software (See Virtualbox or Parallels)
  3. I load my Virtual Windows program. In this case Parallels is a program that pretends to be a Motherboard. It pretends to have RAM, a CPU, and a Hard Drive – all of which I’ve configured to be shared from my Mac. Of the 256gb hard drive, 64gb are dedicated to the Windows virtual machine, which Parallels presents to it as a pretend hard drive – right down to the boot / start up instructions.
  4. Parallels is synonymous with the Motherboard – it configures the virtual devices, and looks for the Operating System I installed into the 64gb part of my Hard drive – to load Windows
  5. I’m now running the ‘Windows’ program – which has little to no idea it is running virtually on a mac – and able to run any other applications, which all can barely tell the difference!

Sounds interesting (and still complicated). Why should I care?


Hardware is always a risk. When things are physically made, they normally need a lot of physical solutions. You need to store those computers somewhere in the building. You need to physically replace the hardware if it starts to malfunction. Your environment can effect the longevity of the device. Your new staff member could spill something on it. The real world for a computer is scary!


Many companies are transitioning to using Virtual computers because it offers a separation of some of the responsibility. For example, if we had your File Server running as a virtual server in our data centre, for you it would make no difference – you use it exactly as you always would have. But that File Server is running as a piece of software on a much larger, enterprise machine in a temperature and particle controlled environment. That larger enterprise machine is taking regular backups of the entire File Server, and if the File Server has a problem, another digital File Server can be created rapidly and have all the same data, ready to use.

If you need to scale up, and want to maintain overall cost effectiveness for your data security and IT management, virtualisation can be the solution for you.

If you want to know more about how it can help your business, get in touch today!

ByAmpurta

IT Services in the Modern Business

If you’re a retail business thats more than a hobby, you’ll likely have (or need):

  • A sales machine, potentially with a database
  • A personal machine, with all your customer / provider / finance details
  • Phones and/or laptops for sales consultants

If you’re a service provider or consultants, you’ll likely have (or need):

  • A desktop for every user
  • Printers, maybe a print server
  • A windows server to manage it all
  • A seperate server as a file server, backups, shared drives

If you’re in manufacturing, you’ll likely have (or need):

  • Computer for sales / finance
  • Specialised computer or appliances that get connected to the manufacturing hardware
  • Hand held scanning / factory barcode scanning appliances
  • Front desk admin / reception machine
  • Database for customers / product lists

The reality is for the Modern Business, it makes more sense to embrace technology and make it a part of your business strategy, then it is treat it as a cost.

If you have a strategy to grow your business and expand your staff or company size, then you are almost guaranteed to be expanding the amount of computers and devices in your business. The more you grow, the more you need to think about redundancy, risk, and the cost to the business if any of these things fail.

If you don’t grow technology alongside your staffing or resourcing, then you’re relying much more heavily on a smaller footprint of technology.

At Ampurta, our role is to partner with the business. If you have plans to expand and grow, then talk to us about one of our Service Contracts. We can design a 12 month+ contract that mirrors your growth strategy to ensure that you can plan and budget for expected costs. It adds a consistency to your technology, that as a small to medium business owner/manager, you might have otherwise looked at as a ticking time bomb, or a complete unknown!

Contact us at www.ampurta.com.au to have a free, no obligation quote about your businesses technology needs!