Blog

integration and implementation of technology-focused business solutions

We’re ready to take our relationship to the next step

August 2nd, 2016

Choosing a backup and recovery partner is a lot like choosing your partner for life. You’re looking for someone to be by your side in the best and worst of times. Sometimes, it even can feel like a competition to get the best backup provider.

You need a strong partner who can protect you. After all, there’s a world of problems out there and those solutions aren’t in most people’s wheelhouse. Start asking random folks what they know about the cloud and you’ll see what we mean. The data world is complicated and without a caring mate, it’s easy to get in trouble and lose data that makes it critical for your business to operate.

Care is also important. And we don’t stop caring. In fact we care 24 hours a day and seven days a week, which is how often we’re available for technical support or to start recovery in the case of a disaster. To some of those backup bachelors out there, you’ll just be a number, just another notch in the server rack and nothing more. Don’t fall for their sweet talk and limited-time promotions. Choose somebody who really cares about you all the time.

Now, you’ve got to know that we’re in this for the long haul. If we weren’t serious about a relationship with your business, we wouldn’t put all of our qualifications on the table. You can see them here. If you would choose to give your company’s data heart to our Biz-E line of services, you’d feel safe knowing that our mission is to give you peace of mind.

It’s scary out there. There are countless ways to stumble and create a lot of problems. But when you have somebody serious about caring for you by your side, it takes an edge off the worry.

So what do you think? Do you see us together?

Comments: None

Face risk head-on

July 19th, 2016

Risk managementSome people simply don’t want to talk about risk. Unfortunately, ignoring potential problems doesn’t make that potential go away. That’s what makes risk management so important.

When we meet with clients, the topic of risk doesn’t always go over very well. They want us to tell them that the job will be done and nothing could ever go wrong. Unfortunately, that’s not the way that the world works.

It’s essential for any business to identify and reduce risk, which is why we’re transparent with risk-management conversations with our clients.

Identifying and reducing risk

Part of poor risk management is misunderstanding what risk is. Risk is ever-present in every aspect of a company’s daily operations. Larger risks are fairly obvious: The building could get hit by a tornado. A project could go over-budget.

Other types of risk aren’t as obvious but can still have a profound effect. What if a project manager leaves the company? What if the company loses experience with high turnover rates? These are also serious risks and should be taken into account.

Identifying and planning for these situations is vital to making sure that operations continue regardless of what may come.

Avoiding denial to avert risk

Another problem that we find in talking about risk is poor communication or outright denial. Some managers are results-oriented. They want any project to produce the desired result without a hitch, and the last thing they want to hear about is potential problems.

Everyone is a little resistant to change now and then, but it pays to be transparent and acknowledge what may happen, even if it’s unlikely.

Denying the existence of risk doesn’t make it go away. In fact, denying it sets your company up for a painful and embarrassing failure if the problem that you didn’t want to discuss or plan for actually happens.

At the outset of your company’s important projects, be sure to acknowledge and plan for all that may happen. That way, you’ll be prepared to handle it well if the unexpected occurs.

Comments: None

Oracle resources for developers of all skill levels

July 5th, 2016

Online researchWhether you’re in search of information about a specific application that you’re working on or simply want to learn more about Oracle, there’s a place for all of your needs - Apex.world.

What is Apex.world and what can you do there?

Apex.world is a community for the discussion of all things Oracle. Perhaps the most valuable aspect of this community is that it’s a place where developers of all skill levels can network and exchange information outside of the world of conferences. For many developers, this is a way to meet and learn from the best in the industry.

This forum isn’t only a place to find information about your projects. Apex.world also frequently features announcements about job openings, conferences, presentations, code sharing, and more.

What makes Apex.world so special?

There were plenty of resources for Oracle before Apex.world came around. However, these resources were very spread out. If you were new to Oracle and searching for help, finding it could be a daunting process. The founders of Apex.world brought all of that information to one location. Using the Slack platform, they made it easy for people to get answers from other specialists.

Who is Apex.world for?

To put it simply, Apex.world is a community for anybody involved with Oracle. Developers at all stages of learning will find content that’s helpful for them. Apex.world is also a great place for managers and recruiting agencies who are looking for talent.

The most common use of Apex.world, though, is to help developers finish excellent work. Developers value this community as a resource that will help them complete projects and get the desired results form Oracle.

Comments: None

Combining virtualization with DBaaS

June 21st, 2016

CodingRecently, we wrote about the benefits of switching to cloud-based database as a service technology (DBaaS). To complement that experience, you might consider virtualization.

Virtualization is possible regardless of whether or not your company’s database is in the cloud. It involves moving from one operating system per machine to a virtual system of several operating systems. Virtualization alone improves the efficiency of your database hardware and allows for easier scaling, recovery, and security.

Virtualization and implementing the DBaaS are closely related tasks. Opting for virtualization improves the efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and productivity that you gain by choosing a cloud database.

When you’re making decisions about the future of your company’s database architecture, you should definitely put serious thought into virtualization as well as DBaaS.

In fact, if you’re considering purchasing a DBaaS for your business, it’s important that you find out whether or not a provider can offer virtualization.

Without that virtualization from your DBaaS provider, you’re still tasked with maintaining the database. Your ability to quickly replicate and change databases as needed will likely suffer.

Implementing a DBaaS already takes care of the inefficient and expensive burden of operating the company’s database in your own physical space. It only makes sense to stay free of the task of maintaining it.

Turning the administration of the database over to a virtualization provider allows your company to fully harness the opportunities that having a cloud database provides.

Comments: None

Database as a service, demystified

June 7th, 2016

Data centerDatabase as a Service (DBaaS), which gets lumped in with other “cloud” services, has been around for a long time. Still, we see many businesses hesitant to adopt it. It’s time to demystify DBaaS and explain some potential benefits of making the switch.

It seems that in Oklahoma, the movement toward using a cloud database service has been slower than elsewhere in the country. I think that’s a simple matter of caution.

Cautious adopters are slower to opt in to new technology until it’s crystal clear that the kinks have been worked out of it. It may surprise you to know that DBaaS is an older technology, relatively speaking.

At the end of the day, opting for a cloud database is all about who has physical control over your IT infrastructure. When you use a DBaaS, you hand over physical control of your network infrastructure to a trusted third party.

Even putting it that way probably makes it frightening to the cautious operator. But it’s important to remember the benefits of building your database in the cloud-and if you do choose to implement DBaaS, make sure the third party is one you trust.

Affordability

You’re likely used to paying for the physical space for database servers to occupy: the hardware that the database is running on, software, licenses, and more. Those expenses associated with physical ownership disappear when you use a DBaaS.

Efficiency

Along with not having to pay for the physical database infrastructure, you’re also using your database technology more efficiently. Processes like provisioning, administration, and security are simplified and streamlined so that there isn’t a lag in the functions of the database.

More productive IT staff

When you’re saving costs and making operations more efficient, your IT staff can also become more efficient. They aren’t concerned with the grunt work of physically running the database and have time to handle projects that make better use of their expertise.

In short, DBaaS frees you from the burdensome inefficiencies that often arise from physically owning your own database. Think of it like building a product in a wood shop. You don’t have to provide your own tools, plans, or know-how to build it. But you still get the product you need!

Comments: None

biz-E I.T. services for the SMB market

May 17th, 2016

biz-EAt LSG Solutions, for years our focus has been on mission-critical, enterprise-class, professional software solutions for medium to large corporations and public sector entities. However, were were also uniquely positioned to see the needs in the SMB market. As a result, we created our biz-E line of I.T. services less than 10 years ago.

What issues do biz-E I.T. services solve?

Many small and medium businesses need a professional enterprise-level approach for their database systems, but simply don’t have the same budget as much larger organizations.

Naturally, many in the SMB market opted to invest in software solutions (SaaS) online that gave them quick results at a modest budget. However, these solutions frequently create data integration point issues.

As a result, the server database that is part of the software solution needs routine support, as do the desktops accessing the server. And not only do your data and software need protection, but they need to align with your business processes. Due to LSG’s experience with medium to large corporations, we were able to begin providing our biz-E line of business to support SaaS options, many in the SMB market use.

Let’s face it, most in the SMB market don’t use a full time administrator. But at the same time, the technology is often too complex to handle internally.

That’s where biz-E steps in. Our managed I.T. services allow you to focus on your products or services instead of your I.T. infrastructure. We manage your devices, databases, networks and the cloud. We provide affordable, cash flow-friendly fixed cost services.

How to contact biz-E

If you’d like to know more, you can connect with us online, visit our website, or just call us.

Connect with biz-E on Facebook
Connect with biz-E on LinkedIn
Connect with biz-E on Twitter
Visit the biz-E website
Call us at 405-285-2500

Get in touch to see if we’re a good fit for your SMB’s I.T. needs.

Comments: None

LSG Solutions announces biz-E line of business – Part 1

May 3rd, 2016

Small business staff meetingSmall businesses often find that the software solutions they need to fill a specialized technology gap in their operations can be relatively expensive. From data integration issues to routine maintenance, many small business owners feel trapped by how many much time managing the necessary software requires.

Many smaller businesses rely on Microsoft Access and Microsoft Excel for database technology. But once those technologies no longer can accommodate the needs of the business, frustration grows among the users and the executive relying on the small databases to make decisions. These systems are typically referred to as home-grown systems. Managing I.T. issues internally takes up time that could otherwise be spent growing a business. Often, they hire a full-time resource to manage these small databases when in reality, if they were developed correctly with the right automation and self-service, they would not need a full-time resource for operation and maintenance.

Our clients, still today, were investing in software solutions (SaaS) via the internet that quickly enabled the HR, CRM, Sales and Accounting functions of the company but created data integration point issues. Eventually, this service-based solution with inexpensive database software was morphed with the small business's office I.T. support. Through the database and software services that LSG Solutions was already doing for medium and large Oklahoma businesses, we determined that there was a significant need for those services on a small-business scale. We were uniquely positioned to meet that need, and created a new branch of LSG Solutions to do it: biz-E.

In 2009, we gave biz-E an identity without any marketing. That is another story another day. It was designed to provide small businesses with a professional, enterprise-level approach for their database systems that fit their budgetary needs. Secure database systems that should be accessible via your mobile phone or tablet without being in the office can be very affordable per the biz-E approach. A biz-E solution that has local recognition is the BC Clark Pray for Rain campaign. Brothers, Coleman and Mitchell Clark, needed a multi-user, web application requiring authentication for data collection and analytics of their newlywed customers; essentially a CRM subset.

Eventually, this service-based solution with inexpensive database software was morphed into small business office I.T. support. The database servers needed routine support and the desktops accessing the servers did so too. Eventually biz-E was keeping little issues from becoming expensive problems. Services include I.T. maintenance, proactive monitoring, and mobile device management, along with business continuity via backup and disaster recovery solutions.

Our expertise and industry knowledge allow us to provide high-quality information technology management for small businesses in an economical manner. Since LSG Solutions is a small business too, we can help small business owners identify how to use technology to promote growth and cut costs.

Visit our website to learn more about biz-E’s enterprise-level software management for small businesses.

Comments: None

Case study: Employment Securities Commission

April 19th, 2016

Hands with dollarsRecently, we’ve been working with the Employment Securities Commission at the state government to create better, more efficient information tracking systems. We’ve done that a couple of ways.

Here’s how we’ve been able to help so far.

Electronic Benefits Payments Control (BPC)

For a long time, we supported the Employment Securities Commission’s interoffice document management system from a database perspective. We’ve expanded our work for them to help them with their electronic benefits payments control.

The electronic benefits payments control has an audit tool to detect when overpayments have occurred. This is specifically to catch overpayment of unemployment benefits, when there is a glitch in the system or someone is trying to “double-dip.”

A cross-referencing system in place increases the ability to detect when claimants may be trying to get around the regulations. Intelligent, dynamic case assignment of claimants helps as well. Collecting data and running it through benefits payments control system can indicate if a case or a claimant need investigation.

This system will help the state keep better track of who is receiving benefits. Our next step is to prioritize flagged cases that could save the state a significant amount of money, if the issue is resolved.

For Employers filing quarterly unemployment taxes

Another project that we’re working on is called Easy Tax Express. Our goal is to make it easier for employers to pay their quarterly unemployment taxes.

Currently, the process for unemployment taxes is difficult and inefficient. We meet with decision-makers on a regular basis to discuss this mission-critical project, and are involved in several initiatives to improve this process through an efficient system.

One improvement is new requirements for automating the process when your terminated employee applies for unemployment. In the new system, when someone is fired from a job, they will apply for unemployment, and then there will be an automated notification to the previous employer asking for verification. Then the employer will be able to will download a pre-filled form, streamlining the entire process.

The changes we’re making to this system are gradual, and it will take time to update the entire system. We look forward to being able to fully implement the plans we are forming.

We’re energized by the work we’ve been able to do so far for the Employment Securities Commission, and happy to share about the impact that efficient systems can have-not just for one workplace, but for the entire state.

Comments: None

Protect your customers’ information

April 5th, 2016

Old fortress, tower under attackAre you ever worried about someone hacking into your company’s database? It’s where all your most secure information is. If someone is able to bypass the security in your website, it’s often not much harder to access your database from there.

A security product from Oracle known as Oracle Firewall could help. It lets you see all the IP addresses of the people accessing your website, monitoring what kind of data is being requested. It also serves as a barrier between your website and your database, making it more difficult to get to your most secure data.

One way you can use this firewall to protect your data is to change the accessibility settings on your website. You have the capability to block your website’s accessibility to people outside of the United States.

If your business is international, of course, that would be a terrible thing to do. But if all of your current and future clients will be Americans, you can filter out literally billions of people who would not be customers but could potentially be hackers by toggling those settings.

Depending on what someone hacks on a website, it could be a minor, embarrassing nuisance, or a large security breach. If someone hacks your website and changes a page, that’s embarrassing. But that’s all it is. If a hacker is able to break into your database, there’s the potential for a significant confidentiality breach, especially if you keep credit card information or social security numbers in your database.

This Oracle firewall is a great resource for website owners who are worried about their customers’ security. It could be a good fit for your business if you need to be PCI (or PCIDSS) compliant to do credit card business, if you need to be HIPAA compliant, or if you need to adhere to SOX. All the security requirements for your printed information are required for your online information as well.

For optimal security, you need to have access-level reporting that will tell you the location of the people who are accessing your website. This system will take care of that.

It can even monitor SQL commands to determine what kind of data is being requested. That means this Oracle security system can help block hackers from your database based on what they’re looking for on your website. They won’t even get close.

This firewall will give you realtime alerts and you can give it passive or active permission for monitoring and addressing threats. It works for a variety of database systems, as well-not just on Oracle systems.

Whether you’re a small business-owner or you have your own IT team, this new Oracle system can greatly increase your company’s database security. Especially if you have confidential information stored on your database, it’s worth your consideration.

If you want to know more about this security system, feel free to give us a call.

Comments: None

Non-innovative software development

March 15th, 2016

I'm not listening“The customer is always right” can lead to a disaster if followed too literally. Obviously, software developers shouldn’t try to override their client’s needs or ignore requests, but there’s always a reason for a business to hire outside IT assistance. It’s typically because the staff at that business have reached a problem that lies outside their scope of expertise, and they want someone with software development expertise to help them solve it.

A developer should trust that the client knows what they want on a high-level, but it’s unfair to assume that they know all the details or best-practices of how they need to get there. They wouldn’t have called for help if they did!

We recently spoke with a client about their experience with a large systems integrator company whose technicians made that exact assumption.

These technicians did the bare minimum work in order to achieve exactly what the client requested. So, for example, when the client asked for a form with fields for different entries, the developers did just that. They didn’t talk with the clients about the options of how to achieve that end result, or make any suggestions for slight variations that could mean a much more efficient system.

When these clients asked their former IT team why the fields didn’t autofill any repeat entries, the developers responded that since they weren’t asked specifically to do that, they didn’t do it. Their mission was to fulfill requirements at a minimum effort and nothing more, offering no innovation or suggestions.

Here’s why this is so problematic: IT is the expertise of the software development team, not their client’s expertise. Even when a client has a substantial background in new system development, their reasonable expectation is that they’ve hired experienced professionals to do the work. They shouldn’t have to explain user-interface best-practices to them!

Another way to look at it is thinking about a different type of work. If someone hires me to paint their room blue, there are some questions that I will ask them and some assumptions that I will make because of my experience. I’ll ask them what color blue and if they want anything special done, and then I will use my own best judgment on how to do that best.

If I painted a room with a toothbrush and didn’t use painter’s tape or a tarp on the floor, it would be silly of me to object that you didn’t tell me to use a roller and tape or protect your floor! Those things fall under the realm of expertise that can reasonably be expected.

The most striking part of our conversation with our clients about the team that they worked with in the past came out in a meeting. One of the staff members made a great point, saying “We didn’t know what they didn’t know!”

The bottom line is, no one can read minds. When you hire a developer, programmer, or an entire IT team, that starts a conversation between all parties. Everyone needs to be transparent about the decisions that are made, but also take ownership for those decisions.

When both parties put themselves in the shoes of the other party, good communication will occur and that’s how problems get solved.

Comments: None

CONTACT

501 E. 15th St., Suite 200B
Edmond, OK 73013
(405)285-2500
info@lsgsolutions.com