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June 2006


Voice over Internet Protocol has buzz: VoIP saves large enterprises serious money, and small companies can now take advantage of comparable savings. But if a company’s network isn’t robust enough to handle the voice traffic, part of the phone savings can be eaten up by network upgrades — of either the necessary or the needless variety.


“I have become a little lazy,” confesses Vlad Karpel, vice president of IT at options Xpress, a Chicago-based online brokerage. “I try to convince myself that I can solve these problems myself, but in my heart I don’t think I really believe that.”

For IT professionals, the possibility of data loss looms large on the horizon like a nasty storm about to hit. To help ease their minds, they spend a significant amount of time preparing for disaster by checking and re-checking their backup and recovery plans. A sound disaster recovery plan can turn a serious job-threatening disaster into a minor setback (and make your team look golden in the process).

Lessons from Katrina?; Reader Recommendation: Wearable Technology; Cyber Savvy; Tech Breeds Small Firms, Fast Growth; T Service Spending on the Rise

Large companies that spend a lot of money with a service provider — be it a phone company, Internet service provider (ISP), Web hosting firm or application service provider (ASP) — typically have the clout to demand the best terms and the highest quality of service. But smaller companies can effectively use the same tool, a service level agreement, or SLA, to negotiate the best available deal.

Every road warrior knows that when traveling for days or weeks at a time it’s not easy to stay in the electronic loop with the main office and other remote workers. Hectic schedules, travel time and unpredictable Internet connections all stand in the way of their ability to remotely check e-mail and transfer files. Hence the popularity of Wi-Fi Internet-access hot spots, which allow travelers to maintain that vital link to their e-mail and other company data.

Photo: Drake Sorey
Antispam software installed at Levine, Blaszak, Block & Boothby, LLP, saves the 35-lawyer firm $1.1 million above its outlay, estimates systems administrator Scott Kossack.

Word travels fast in the Internet age, but never as fast as when that word contains viruses, worms or leaked company data.

Unmanaged or managed switches? That is the question. Whether ’tis nobler to suffer the slings and arrows of unmanaged network traffic or to take up the extra cost and complexity of intelligent switches. Had Shakespeare been an IT manager, Hamlet’s famous soliloquy might have reflected the dilemma faced by many network administrators today.

Online Game Services Inc. hosts multiplayer online games supporting up to 15,000 concurrent users navigating three-dimensional, highly graphical worlds of complex settings and multiple characters. Such an environment demands substantial server processing power that must scale rapidly to keep its clients’ gamers happy, while keeping costs and administration overhead low.

Small businesses have joined large corporations in embracing blade servers for their processing-efficient, modular and scalable architecture. But is it time to consider blade PCs for the same reason?

“I like the concept [of blade PCs]. From an operational perspective, it simplifies things when everything is in one spot,” says Jeremy Noetzelman, vice president of information technology at Big Fish Games in Seattle. “Any time you start doing something with blade system equipment, you get a lot of efficiencies.”



Photo: David Orndorf

Thomas J. Smedinghoff, Attorney at Wildman Harrold, Chicago

Have you adequately protected your company’s data? And is your security sufficient to satisfy your legal obligations?