For many small businesses today, their computers have become "mission critical," but the technology can be overwhelming. Vanishing Clouds can help by providing any degree of network/computer administration from specific projects to completely taking over your computer operations. Our computer/network administration clients rely on us for some or all of the following:
Network configuration and administration - Most businesses with 4 or more employees can benefit from having a central "server." We highly recommend Microsoft's Small Business Server and we back that up with a full range of services based on this product.
Purchasing hardware and software - We can specify and configure the hardware and software you need based on a thorough review of your business requirements. To ensure we maintain an independent viewpoint and are obligated only to our clients, we don't manufacture or resell hardware, although we often do "the purchasing" for them to ensure they get exactly the configuration that's appropriate for their needs.
Client PC setup - We have specialized tools that let us install and configure Windows, Office and other standard software in a fraction of the time... and we pass that time savings on to our clients with a fixed-price cost for rebuilding systems.
Security consulting and management - Most of us have an anti-virus program installed but in many cases this is a false sense of security. For example, most people don't realize that without the proper patches installed (and even with the latest virus definition files applied) there are dozens of ways that hackers can take control of your system just by sending you an email or having you visit their web site.
Cloud management - The prospect of outsourcing your servers to a datacenter "in the sky" can be very appealing, especially if your existing servers are due for an expensive upgrade (or have not been managed reliably). But like any technology "solution in search of a problem" the cloud isn't always appropriate. We help clients identify which workloads can be profitably moved to the cloud, and then manage the transition and ongoing maintenance of those services.
- Network monitoring
- Website monitoring
- Remote support
- Licensing / Compliance
- Managed desktops
- Manages server
Microsoft's Small Business Server (SBS) may be the best kept secret in software for small businesses. It consists of a "bundle" of Microsoft's most popular server products, with special additions for the small-business market. And it is offered at a steep discount to their regular prices. Microsoft is willing to do this because they limit it to 75 concurrent users--rarely a problem for small businesses. SBS offers a collection of useful tools for businesses with as few as 3-5 PCs including features like:
Host your own email - freeing you from file-size limits imposed by other mail services. And an unlimited number e-mailboxes.
Workflow applications - For example, easily create applications that automatically collect information in forms and then route them for approval. Get notified automatically when new work arrives, etc.
Workgroup collaboration - For example, share a customer list among all your employees. Or share a "client booking" calendar, with custom rules for who in the office can create, view, modify or delete these appointments. Customize the forms used to collect this information but view it all from within the familiar Outlook interface.
Reduce computer administration costs - as the number of PCs in your office grows, particularly over 10, the overhead costs of sharing printers/files/etc. means many offices simply don't do it--or worse use no security so everyone can "get in"! SBS provides a single-source for all computer accounts within your company, making it possible to "roam" between computers, centrally manage accounts (e.g., cut off access should someone leave) and reduce the costs of the security work you should be doing.
Access your email anywhere - Using only a simple web browser, you'll be able to pick up your email, look up phone numbers/addresses/etc., check your schedule, etc. And you can do this from any "Internet latte bar" in the world!
Share an Internet connection safely - With the declining cost of DSL/cable modem service, many small businesses now have a full time (broadband) connection to the Internet. But due to the high cost and complexity they typically don't have a "real" firewall (using instead one of the lower cost but also less secure "NAT firewall appliances"). Unfortunately these "made for the home office" devices aren't appropriate for professional offices dealing with HIPAA regulations and fiduciary responsibilities to their client's privacy.
Access your office systems remotely - With SBS's advanced firewall, not only do you get better protection from "bad guys" you get better connectivity for you. Many of our clients have a home PC that is configured to let them securely access their office PCs. The time saving for a professional often pays for the SBS software.
Host sophisticated databases - SBS offers the SQL Server database program--the system that currently holds virtually every performance record... and absolutely every price/performance record for databases. With SBS, you'll have a special version of this system appropriate for small business accounting, billing and other applications. Many of our clients find they can save licensing costs with other software (and impress their vendors) because they already have a SQL Server license.
For more details about the SBS product, please see the Microsoft site; but for help deciding if it can be cost justified in your environment, please feel free to contact us for a no obligation assessment.