BizTech Magazine - Technology Solutions That Drive Business en The Simplicity of HCI Helps Businesses Manage Rapid Growth <p>When Scott Barnhill started his job at NetDocuments in January 2016, the company was experiencing exponential growth. The cloud-based document management and productivity platform wanted to be best positioned for the future.</p> <p>“I knew that the infrastructure I had wasn’t going to sustain that kind of growth,” recalls Barnhill, who is senior vice president of cloud operations for the company.</p> <p>Like many growing organizations, the Lehi, Utah-based <a href="" target="_blank">NetDocuments</a> turned to a <a href="">hyperconverged infrastructure</a> (HCI), which replaces compute, storage and networking hardware with an integrated software-defined solution combining all three. A big draw is its scalability: Administrators can seamlessly ramp up HCI to accommodate organizational growth.</p> <p>“We’re getting far more value for the money,” Barnhill says of NetDocuments’ Nutanix hyperconverged infrastructure. “The load on our platform has doubled every 18 months. I can’t imagine dealing with that the way we were doing it before. We would have run out of data center space. Instead, we actually grew our company but shrank our data center footprint.”</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank"><em><strong>LEARN MORE:</strong> Find out how small businesses use HCI to get more from each IT staffer.</em></a></p> <h2 id="toc_0">HCI Supports Growth for All Organizations</h2> <p>HCI is a good choice not only for gr­owing companies but for growing infrastructures. Rather than making a major capital expenditure amid other growth-related costs, organizations can start with a small HCI investment: a cluster of a few nodes that includes the compute power, storage and software to manage it all, says Sebastian Lagana, research manager for the infrastructure systems, platforms and technologies group at IDC. </p> <p>If they need more power down the road, they can buy more nodes. “It’s a lot more bite-sized, and it has everything you need in one box,” Lagana explains.</p> <p>Smaller organizations don’t even need to invest in a full-scale HCI appliance to get started.</p> <p>“You could buy a certified general purpose x86 server, put a <a href="" target="_blank">VMware vSAN license</a> on it, and now you’re operating HCI,” he says. “If you have the appliance, it’s a little more elegant way to do it, and you’ll get more feature functionality out of it. But if cost is a big driver, using a certified server will work and follows a similar purchasing cycle as just going out and buying a general purpose x86 server.”</p> Melissa Delaney Will Contactless Payment Become the New Normal for Retailers? <p>With conditions improving and stay-at-home orders easing, retailers are beginning to open their doors again. But it’s not business as usual. Owners and operators must now balance shoppers’ concerns about safety against sustainable sales potential. How do they ensure customers feel confident in stores while delivering consistent transaction volumes?</p> <p>Retailers face an uphill battle: As noted by <em><a href="" target="_blank">The Washington Post</a></em>, while more than half of Americans are still making trips to the grocery store “and feel comfortable doing so,” 67 percent say they would be uncomfortable shopping at a retail clothing store, and 78 percent won’t be heading to sit-down restaurants anytime soon.</p> <p>While industry-specific challenges — such as creating safe procedures to try on clothes or handle the deluge of dirty dishes — will require tailored responses from relevant retailers, payment is a universal concern. Many shoppers and employees are uncomfortable handling cash, and while they may prefer debit and credit cards, there’s an even better option: contactless payment.</p> <p>The infrastructure for this technology has rapidly evolved over the past few years, but implementation remains with early adopters. Yet current market conditions may provide just the push this no-touch process needs for the move to mainstream. Here’s what you need to know about how it works, where it doesn’t, what it requires and what’s next for contactless customer transactions.</p> Bob Keaveney Cisco Live 2020 Cisco Live Cisco Live 2020: What to Expect at the Virtual Event <p>They can’t attend in person, but <a href="" target="_blank">Cisco Systems’</a> thousands of customers, employees and other stakeholders will still have an opportunity, beginning June 2, to learn how to use the company’s technology to drive business outcomes and solve today’s unique set of problems.</p> <p>With large in-person events shut down for the time being, Cisco has adapted its flagship customer event, Cisco Live!, into a virtual affair, condensing the conference from the usual four-plus days to two and focusing the content squarely on more than 40 webinarlike sessions.</p> <p><em>BizTech </em>will be covering keynotes and other sessions, interviewing thought leaders and discovering Cisco’s latest tech offerings. <a href="">Keep this page bookmarked</a> for articles and videos from the <em>BizTech</em> team.<br />  </p> Bob Keaveney Tech-Loaded Accelerators Support Startup Companies’ Success <p><a href="" target="_blank">Embarc Collective</a> nurtures the growing tech startup community in Florida’s Tampa Bay area as it works to turn the region into the next hotbed for technology innovation. To do it, the nonprofit has built a state-of-the-art facility that is giving the area’s startup ecosystem a major boost.</p> <p>The startup hub’s new 32,000-square-foot headquarters, opened in January, features private offices, collaborative workspaces and conference rooms where startups can work and learn from mentors, experts and each other. It also has a cafe, a library and a 250-person space for hosting communitywide events.</p> <p>“Tampa is going through tremendous growth and has all the makings of a thriving startup market,” says Embarc Collective CEO Lakshmi Shenoy. “The facility allows our members to build their companies, learn and collaborate. It’s also a central landing zone for the community’s activities around entrepreneurship, innovation and technology.”</p> <p>The renovated, century-old brick warehouse in downtown Tampa features a content creation studio for recording videos and podcasts and videoconferencing equipment for meetings.</p> <p>“We make sure our members have easy, remote access to their investors and customers, wherever they are,” Shenoy says.</p> Wylie Wong Comprehensive Security: IT and Business Leaders Get on the Same Page <p>Whether your users log in remotely or from the office, security remains critical to ensuring a safe and productive work environment. But often, protecting your data and systems is easier said than done.</p> <p>While there’s no one reason that organizations might struggle to manage risk, a lack of alignment between IT and business leaders will make any security obstacle — whether it’s tied to resources, regulations or information silos — that much more difficult to overcome.</p> <p>Open communication is key to bridging the understanding gap and paving the way for a proactive, comprehensive security approach that empowers business goals. That means technical and nontechnical stakeholders must come together to explore their organization’s needs, goals and challenges from all sides.</p> <p>This infographic outlines key ideas that can help guide conversations between IT and business leaders. It includes:</p> <ul><li>Data and talking points about the likelihood and impact of a breach</li> <li>Explanations of how top-priority security solutions support wider objectives</li> <li>Additional considerations, such as common security obstacles</li> <li>High-priority action steps for IT and business leaders</li> </ul><p>Print it out, share it with your colleagues and reshape the security discussion at your organization.</p> Make the Case for Security Spend <p>Comprehensive cybersecurity is as critical as ever to keeping businesses of all types up and running. And in recent months, security has taken on greater urgency as hackers seek to exploit the added strain on networks and employees’ anxieties in the face of long-term remote-work scenarios. </p> <p>Yet even during ordinary times, security often comes up short in the competition for budget dollars. And these are far from ordinary times: Budgets are being squeezed tighter during this period of economic retrenchment.  </p> <p>Research from CDW and IDG indicates that business leaders expect to devote around 24 percent of their IT budgets to risk mitigation over the next two years. Modernizing IT, improving collaboration and transforming user experiences — all vital priorities for businesses in their own right — are mostly being funded at higher levels.</p> <p>That’s not necessarily a problem, but if an organization isn’t spending what’s needed to secure data and systems properly, that could be a sign that IT and business leaders aren’t on the same page about their organization’s risk posture.</p> BizTech Staff When Business Growth Leads to Chaos, Collaboration Tech Is Part of the Answer <p>Like most organizations, the <a href="" target="_blank">Michigan Farm Bureau Family of Companies</a> relies on close collaboration among employees to innovate and provide the best service possible to its 200,000-plus members. But until it introduced new collaboration tools, employees relied on clunky, outdated processes to share information back and forth, making it difficult for everyone to get on the same page.</p> <p>“It was attach and send, and then hope everybody could work off of the same document,” explains Tom Nugent, director of human resources at the organization, noting that employees also sometimes used <a href="" target="_blank">USB drives</a> to share information. “We would route things around and we’d end up with 14 different versions. Eventually, managers would bring everybody into the same room to look at the same document. We needed to find a tool that would allow us to work collaboratively.”</p> <p>The Michigan Farm Bureau was founded in 1919 to defend the rights and interests of farmers, and over the past century, it has become the parent organization for several subsidiary companies. These include Farm Bureau Insurance of Michigan, started in 1949 to satisfy the insurance needs of its membership.</p> Calvin Hennick Knowledge 2020: Unpacking a Successful Digital Transformation <p>A companywide digital transformation is a daunting task. It’s a process that involves cooperation and input from multiple departments, a roadmap to implement, and execution by employees. </p> <p>Under normal circumstances, this is a challenge. With the global health crisis leaving the future of business operations unclear, many organizations are being forced to move through this challenge faster than anticipated. </p> <p>“There’s a lot of change going on,” said Steven Horvath, chief architect for management solutions at CDW. “As executives, it’s something we deal with on a daily basis, especially in IT.”</p> <p>During <a href="" target="_blank">ServiceNow’s</a> <a href="" target="_blank">Knowledge 2020</a> virtual conference, Horvath pulled back the curtain on what it takes to plan and execute a successful digital transformation. </p> <p>“It’s like widening the road when you still have to drive,” he said.  </p> Keara Dowd