Posts Tagged ‘IT Consulting’

10 Step Data Center Relocation Methodology

Monday, February 13th, 2012

Following are the ten most critical tasks that any data center relocation must address. Look for a provider who can guarantee all ten of these tasks are meticulously and thoroughly addressed. Otherwise, you are taking a big risk with your most valuable and expensive IT investment.

  1. Take inventory of every component that will be relocated or consolidated.
  2. Address data security and data protection to ensure the business remains un-compromised.
  3. Perform detailed planning to maximize the efficiency and budget of the relocation.
  4. Assess budget to adequately address construction, renovation, site closure, equipment, and staff.
  5. Communicate precisely in RFPs, SOWs and contracts — Vague RFPs create poor SOWs. Partner with a data center relocation specialist right from the start to ensure you have detailed, relevant documentation.
  6. Partner with data center relocation specialists according to your continuum of needs.
  7. Plan the move, move on plan to prepare and engage all components — including staff.
  8. Prepare the new facility, and close the old one to ensure that all data center services are ready, tested and approved.
  9. Back up your data and have a disaster recovery plan and data protection strategy — just in case.
  10. Migrate — the moment when careful planning and competent project management result in a flawless move to a new data center hosting site.

For more information about all that is involved in a data center relocation, what to expect, and how to make it a success, read our white paper: Keys to a Successful Data Center Relocation.

IT Assessments: Have you had your IT physical lately?

Monday, September 13th, 2010

When was the last time you had a physical? Most of us are good at scheduling a physical each year.  After all, we want to make sure we’re healthy and no unexpected medical surprises come up, right?

Now…when was the last time your business had an IT physical?  Yeah, I thought so. You probably can’t remember or some of you might never have had one. Tisk. Tisk.

Just like an annual health physical, your IT infrastructure should be analyzed for problems and performance issues to ensure the technology is current and running at optimal levels. The best way to do this is through organizational assessments.

Business assessments are used to educate and help managers better understand what is working well and where to focus improvement efforts. Assessments are also effective at helping identify and communicate priorities to various stakeholders while monitoring progress over time.

But the real value of assessments is in their ability to optimize performance – to improve outcomes and drive tangible organizational results. The benefits can be significant. For example, Consonus Assessments have yielded the following outcomes:

  • Saved a New England Hospital $150K (compared to imaging vendor’s proposal) in storage by defining the core storage and data needs and generating an RFP 
  • Saved a biotech research firm $100K in Tier I storage capital expenditures by identifying and migrating stale or duplicate data 
  • Improved data management efficiencies at an academic institution as they transitioned from a mainframe to Unix ERP 
  • Saved a major bank $100K in fines by providing a roadmap for DR as required by compliance regulations 
  • Benefited numerous corporations in designing resilient, scalable storage architectures
  • Saved US government entities millions of dollars in improved efficiencies through consolidation

Take advantage of the assessment tools available to save your business big money — schedule an IT physical today!

Employee Spotlight: Sr Consultant Specialist in Virtualization and IT Strategy Stan Yarbrough

Thursday, July 29th, 2010

When he’s not advising, blogging, or speaking about virtualization projects, you can find Stan communing with nature on one of his many hiking and camping ventures.

As resident expert on virtualization solutions and related technologies, Senior Consultant Stan Yarbrough brings over twenty years of IT knowledge and an impressive skill set to Consonus. Based out of Charlotte, NC, Stan serves customers and partners nationwide, delivering strategic consulting and technology solutions in support of a targeted and comprehensive expansion of Consonus virtualization service offerings.

“Consonus is unique in that we have the delivery and fulfillment strengths of a VAR and the vendor agnosticism of a consulting firm,” says Stan.  “We can adapt the needs of our customers based upon their preferences instead of the labels on the boxes in our warehouses.”

Stan’s experience includes management and consulting in IT operations and IT strategic solutions for various client companies of North Highland Company and Katalyst Network Group, primarily Fortune 100 companies throughout the southeast. With an engineering background in complex networking, infrastructure, and data center architecture, Stan has worked with such companies as Cisco, EMC, Microsoft, Novell, Sun/Oracle, IBM and other top-tier network services vendors. Industry certifications include: CCDP, CCNP, MCSE, MCNE, and CISSP.

“Using the breadth of my experience, I am able to engage a client on many levels,” Stan explains.  “I can be a strategic consultant, providing high-level thought to market direction, solving a significant problem, and injecting new ideas into the leadership of an organization. Or I can be an engineering consultant designing the components to develop a comprehensive technical solution.  However, I prefer to act in both roles simultaneously.  I love being in the middle of everything, like the glue that holds the project together. Clients see me as a trusted advisor. I like that.”

One thing is for sure, though Stan’s job keeps him very busy, his main priority is definitely his family. As husband to wife Kim and father to five children, Stan is an active volunteer in the community and donates a significant amount of time to his church.  

And as if that’s not enough, Stan is also an accomplished drummer and bass player, often playing for local bands in the Lake Norman area.

Glad to have you on the Consonus team Stan!

Disaster Recovery Best Practices

Friday, June 18th, 2010

 For those who need a refresher course in disaster recovery, here are standard disaster recovery best practices according to the Disaster Recovery Institute.

1.  Program Initiation and Management
Establish the need for a Business Continuity Management (BCM) Program, including resilience strategies, recovery objectives, business continuity, operational risk management considerations and crisis management plans.  The prerequisites within this effort include obtaining management support and organizing and managing the formulation of the functions or processes required to construct the BCM framework.
   
2.  Risk Evaluation and Control
Determine the risks (events or surroundings) that can adversely affect the organization and its resources (example(s) include: people, facilities, technologies) due to business interruption; the potential loss from such events can cause  the controls needed to avoid or mitigate the effects of those risks.  As an outcome of the above, a cost benefit analysis will be required to justify the investment in controls.

 3.  Business Impact Analysis (BIA)
Identify the impacts resulting from business interruptions that can affect the organization and techniques that can be used to quantify and qualify such impacts. Identify time-critical functions, their recovery priorities, and inter-dependencies so that recovery time objectives can be established and approved.

 4.  Business Continuity Strategies
Leverage the outcome of the Business Impact Analysis and Risk Evaluation to develop and recommend business continuity strategies.  The basis for these strategies is both the recovery time and point objectives in support of the organization’s critical functions.

 5.  Emergency Response and Operations
Identify an organizations’ readiness to respond to an emergency in a coordinated, timely and effective manner.  Develop and implement procedures for initial response and stabilization of situations until the arrival of authorities having jurisdiction (if/when).

 6.  Business Continuity Plans
Design, develop, and implement Business Continuity Plans that provide continuity and/or recovery as identified by the organization’s requirements.

 7. Awareness and Training Programs
Prepare a program to create and maintain corporate awareness and enhance the skills required to develop and implement Business Continuity Management.
     
8. Business Continuity Plan Exercise, Audit and Maintenance
Establish an exercise/testing program which documents plan exercise requirements including the planning, scheduling, facilitation, communications, auditing and post review documentation.    Establish a maintenance program to keep plans current and relevant.  Establish an audit process which will validate compliance with standards, review solutions, verify appropriate levels of maintenance and exercise activities and validate the plans to ensure they are current, accurate and complete.
     
9. Crisis Communications
Develop and document the action plans to facilitate communication of critical continuity information.  Coordinate and exercise with stakeholders and the media to ensure clarity during crisis communications.
    
10. Coordination with External Agencies
Establish applicable procedures and policies for coordinating continuity and disaster recovery activities with external agencies (local, regional, national, emergency responders, defense, etc.) while ensuring compliance with applicable statutes and regulations.

Patrick R. Dunn, CISSP, CBCP
Principal Consultant – Disaster Recovery & Business Continuity

Improve While You Move

Friday, April 30th, 2010

Improve While You Move is said a lot at Consonus. Not only is it catchy, but it holds significant purpose when assessing IT capabilities and developing an improvement strategy. This mode of thinking has evolved into a kind of corporate philosophy that stems from our holistic approach to remedying IT challenges.

At Consonus, developing an IT strategy that improves operational efficiency is more than just a hardware and software upgrade; it’s an opportunity to consider how you are using your tools as much as what tools you are using.  A successful improvement strategy does the following: 

  • Considers the needs of the business or end users (IT’s customers)
  • Considers the current technical challenges
  • Considers the possibilities of both technology and process improvements
  • Accounts for savings gained through capital and operational efficiencies
  • Takes a holistic approach

A technology refresh is also a chance to improve service levels to your business and your customers while moving to a new IT environment that mitigates current pains and accommodates future needs. Use the occasion for technical enhancements to better prepare for the road ahead and pave the way to helping your business innovate and grow.

Don’t just upgrade your current technology headaches; take the time to cast off the constraints of technology and business agility with comprehensive IT solutions. That’s what we mean when we say Improve While You Move. It’s basic IT strategy 101 and it saves you valuable time and money in the long run.

The Value of Project Management

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

One of the most challenging, yet critical skills needed by business leaders today is the ability to predict/forecast with confidence and accuracy.  Whether it is revenue, expenses, resource deployment, profitability or risk, today’s volatile market environment makes this goal more important—and much more elusive—than ever.  How do business leaders leverage the various tools and techniques available to them for the best possible predicted outcome?   I would argue that project management is one of those game changers.  

Project management is an essential element of any short or long-term project, initiative or engagement.  It is not a “nice to have”.   It is a “must have” in today’s business climate. This complex discipline combines essential elements of engineering, technology, quality, manufacturing, financial management and customer service to provide real-time information for business leaders about milestone status, budgetary performance, resource deployment and customer satisfaction.

Certified Project Management Professionals (PMPs) are educated and skilled to very high standards of technical training, as well as in the practical application of that training. These specialists are experts in resource planning, forecasting, costing and documentation plus ensure that key project milestones are delivered on time and on budget. 

The benefits of project management can easily be seen when examining a real-world client scenario. Consonus provided project management services to a large Department of Defense contractor. The client was looking for a cost-effective way to bridge the gap between corporate IT policies and practices regarding compliant procedures that guide the day-to-day operations of the IT service department.  This time consuming process required comparing hundreds of corporate policy statements to existing department procedures to identify disparities.  Over 25 existing procedure documents were updated and several new documents were created to ensure compliance. Each document required several iterations of analysis, remediation, review and approval by multiple people and client groups. Thanks to skilled project management, the client now has a comprehensive, all-encompassing compliance strategy that enables the IT department to effectively address regulations in a timely, efficient manner, according to corporate policy. “I can’t imagine having spent the money better. The quality and caliber of the people sent here was excellent,” said the client’s CIO.

On average, project management expenses as a percent of total project costs generally run in the 15%-25% range.  A small price to pay when compared to the costs of overloading in-house resources, extended deadlines, missed project milestones, project overruns and customer dissatisfaction.                

John Roger
Co-President