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Author Archives: Admin

We Made the MSP Pioneer 250 List!

CRN MSP 500 ListYesterday, CRN®, a brand of The Channel Company, named Smart Dolphins IT Solutions on its 2017 Managed Service Provider (MSP) 500 list in the Pioneer category. This annual list recognizes North American solution providers with cutting-edge approaches to delivering managed services. Their offerings help companies navigate the complex and ever-changing landscape of IT, improve operational efficiencies, and maximize their return on IT investments. More specifically, the Pioneer category recognizes organizations “whose approach to delivering managed services is one innovative step ahead.”

In today’s fast-paced business environments, MSPs play an important role in helping companies leverage new technologies without straining their budgets or losing focus on their core business. CRN’s MSP 500 list shines a light on the most forward-thinking and innovative of these key organizations.

“Managed service providers play an increasingly important role in the day-to-day operations of businesses across North America,” said Robert Faletra, CEO of The Channel Company. “MSPs help organizations streamline their spending, effectively allocate limited resources, and benefit from advanced expertise in the latest technologies. We congratulate the service providers on CRN’s 2017 MSP500 list, who have continually succeeded in meeting their customers’ changing needs and help them get the most out of their IT investments.”

Way to go POD!

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Our Podtionary

PodtionaryYou’ve probably seen our smart cars with fins cruising around Victoria or maybe even met a Dolphin or two over the years. Not surprisingly, our references to one particular aquatic mammal doesn’t stop there. We’ve developed an entire PODTIONARY and we thought we’d share some of it with you…

  • All Fins – A bi-weekly meeting with all Dolphins.
  • Team Aquarific – Our internal team that leads our fun activities.
  • Dolphin Defenders – This is one of our proactive teams. These brave Dolphins have regularly scheduled onsite visits with our clients to bring them into alignment with our standards.
  • The Dolphin Code – Our “Code of Conduct” that guides us to success.
  • The POD – That’s us! We’re the passionate, dedicated group of people all focused on helping local organizations better leverage technology.
  • Dorsal Pride – one of our 5 core values that just too magical to define.
  • Technology with Porpoise – That’s the world class standard that we offer our clients.
  • Breakwater – Our service platform design to improve our customer service experience.
  • Finley – Our mascot. You’ll find him in most of our branding.
  • Pod Pointers – Our tech tip email newsletter created by our own Dolphins since May 25 2011. Subscribe to it here.
  • Core Dolphins Award – A bi-weekly award that goes out to the Dolphin that receives the most praise by fellow Dolphins.

 

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Why Outsource your IT?
IT. Here’s the top 4 reasons we think you should consider:
Smart Dolphins

Productivity. Productivity. Productivity.

Smart Dolphins help professionals be productive. Whether we’re implementing a new software or upgrading technology, our goal is to help your organization be successful.  With our IT solutions, we can get your employees out of the day-to-day IT management, so that they can focus on what they do best. 

Save Time

You can save time with IT outsourcing. The POD is made up of professionals who know how to do things quickly and efficiently. You won’t be the one responsible for these tasks anymore, so you can focus your time on what matters.

Save Money

Cost is always the biggest issue we hear about when it comes to IT. So many professionals we meet with have no idea what their IT costs are. We’ll sit down with you and help you understand how you can save money by strategically aligning your IT with your business goals.

More Services

When you outsource your IT, you get more services. We become your IT department. One common misunderstanding is that Managed IT Service Providers are simply an IT support desk. But our IT support desk is just one of five areas of service delivery. We lead organizations out of IT mediocrity by delivering a complete range of proactive IT services.

 Want to learn more? Let’s meet for coffee. Contact us today for an assessment.

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The Smart Dolphins Service Desk

The service desk is the most familiar area of the IT support business. A client contacts a service desk representative when they perceive a need, usually when something is broken or when there is a change in the business (i.e. a new computer is added to the network for a new hire). The mission of the Smart Dolphins service desk is to provide quality and comprehensive reactive support for our client’s IT challenges. It is just one of our five service delivery areas.

The Service Desk team is organized so that it can handle a large volume of “tickets” in an efficient and friendly manner. Customers can call and have their call answered by a real person or they can choose to email or electronically submit their problem through “Breakwater.” Breakwater allows our clients to create new service requests, attach screenshots, upload files, view their service history and more. It’s a service software designed to improve the overall customer experience.

Once a ticket has been submitted, it is then assigned to the appropriate technician and the client is notified. The technician follows up, troubleshoots and resolves the issue.

The success of our reactive team is determined by key metrics, such as tickets closed and our customer satisfaction score (CSAT). We receive very high feedback scores, which is a challenge given the nature of the work.

This team is also responsible for helping the proactive roles identify systemic problems and patterns to ongoing issues so that the root problems can be corrected by our proactive functions.

Service Desk

Daniel, Chad and Ross

Our service desk is made up of three tiers:

Triage/Level 1 Technical Support – Ross Speirs

Level 2 Technical Support – Danny Tew, Daniel Knippshild, Werner Baron

Level 3 Technical Support – Chad Ryan

There is no limit or additional costs associated to how much our Support Team is called on. You can even call the Dolphins up for “How To” questions!

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Dolphin Defenders to-the-rescue!

Most business leaders we develop partnerships with are new to the concept of proactive IT. They’ve usually had some experience with the hourly IT support company (i.e. reactive IT). A big part of our job is to educate leaders on the results of proactive IT and then, to deliver an IT support model that helps their company grow and succeed.

Dolphin DefendersAt Smart Dolphins we have a team dedicated to proactive IT…our Dolphin Defenders. They drive the proactive IT work that is often neglected by other IT support companies. They are the “boots on the ground” that bring to life our unique approach to IT. Their porpoise is to:

  • Develop best IT practices
  • Defend networks against unnecessary risk
  • Develop and implement new technology

Ian Bird

Ian Bird and Andrew Rivett make up our Dolphin Defender Team.

Andrew Rivett: Andrew has been with Smart Dolphins for 4 years. Andrew spent his early Dolphin years on the support desk and just recently transitioned into his new role. Previously focused on reactive work, Andrew now gets to focus all of his time on implementing IT solutions that drive our customer’s growth.

Ian Bird: Ian joined the POD just under a year ago with an impressive background in computer science and IT support.  Like Andrew, he’s passionate about proactive IT and focuses much of his time addressing technical inefficiencies that prevent IT problems and headaches!

If you think your Vancouver Island organization could benefit from a Dolphin Defender, please contact us to arrange a network assessment.

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Meet our vCIOs

While enterprises have had Chief Information Officers (CIO) for decades, the Virtual Chief Information Officer (vCIO) is fairly new for small to medium-sized organizations. For organizations with less than 15 employees, the cost of employing a dedicated CIO is too much to justify. That’s where we come in. Smart Dolphins becomes your IT department, and our vCIO is your IT consultant.

“Think of a VCIO not so much as a technician but as a trusted IT consultant, who has years of experience, aligning business objectives with IT Systems.”

The role of the vCIO became permanent at Smart Dolphins following our switch away from reactive IT support to managed IT services in 2010. The VCIO works closely with the leaders in a company, helping them to plan, budget and strategize their IT with the overall goal of aligning IT with business goals.

Here’s a list of our vCIOs core duties:

  • Create and present budgets (short and long term expenses)
  • Quote hardware and software
  • Identify and propose projects
  • Create a strategic technology plan and design
  • Hold annual technology reviews
  • Consult and onboard new customers

Victoria vCIOs

Smart Dolphins employs two full-time, vCIOs, Joe Payne and Ty Hedden.

Joe Payne: Joe has been with Smart Dolphins for over 10 years. Joe maintains an intimate understanding of our customers and their needs, and uses that understanding to guide and plan their technology decisions. From what types of workstations and software licensing best serves a customer’s needs, to planning entire server and network replacements, with Joe’s expertise you’ll have someone managing your technology for today and into the future.

Ty Hedden: After 7 years as a Smart Dolphins Network Admin, Ty became a VCIO in 2015. Ty’s focus is on proactive maintenance and risk management. Ty is also a cybersecurity advocate and he frequently gives talks on safe computing to members of Vancouver Island business community.

If you think your Vancouver Island organization could benefit from the results of having a VCIO, please contact us to arrange a network assessment.

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The Rise of Ransomware

Ransomware is generally defined as malicious software that infects your computer and denies you access to your computer or files until you pay a ransom. Millions of ransomware infections are reported every year. Organizations today, require a multifaceted IT security program that is regularly evaluated and re-adjusted.

The Rise of Ransomware

The Challenge

Smart Dolphins manages the IT networks of over 50 businesses, the majority of which are small businesses with limited resources for network security. Our challenge was to deploy an automatic multi-layered security solution across a large group of companies.

The first layer of our security approach includes these six essentials:

• Strong gateway security (firewall and routers designed to protect against ransomware)
• End-point anti-virus and anti-ransomware group policy settings
• Anti-malware DNS services
• Regular software patches and OS updates
• Rock solid backup and disaster recovery system
• Ongoing user security training

In early 2016, we added another layer of defense against ransomware. We now leverage the power of Microsoft’s File Server Resources Manager (FRSM) to detect ransomware at work and stop its spread through network server shares. FSRM accomplishes this by stopping all server shares when it notices suspicious file access, thus stopping the ransomware from further encrypting file resources on the network. It also notifies us that an active infection has been found. By minimizing the damage ransomware can do, and ensuring that we become aware of infection promptly, business impact and recovery time can be greatly reduced.

While adding FSRM as a protective layer is a routine security measure, what is noteworthy is the automated, scalable way in which we have applied it. Without automation, we could not deploy it across our entire customer base and keep it up-to-date as new threats emerge.

Results

Since the implementation of these various layers of network security we have not had one threat across our entire customer base. Our approach to network security is proactive, as is our approach to all aspects of IT. We don’t wait around for problems, but instead we have configured our computer solutions and network operations to greatly reduce problems before they happen.

If you are concerned about your organization’s network security, contact us to set-up a free security and backup audit.

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New Dolphin Hunt

Christmas. Birthdays. Blue moons. These things don’t come around all the time. Career opportunities at the best dang company to work for on Quadra street (hint: Smart Dolphins), they also don’t come around all the time.

New Dolphin Hunt 1

We have just started our hunt for our next Dolphin (hint: employee) and we need your help to spread the word.

We’re looking for a well-disguised geek. In other words, we need someone who has the super powers of a geek, but isn’t outwardly an obvious geek in the stereotypical sense. We want someone who LOVES TECHNOLOGY AND PEOPLE and loves helping them to behave well together. Read all of the details on this career opportunity on our careers page.

Our recruitment process is a little different than many companies. We like to start by having an interested Dolphin-to-be apply online and then by actually coming down to our office to have an informal meet and greet.

Hopefully that is a good balance of enough information to allow you to help and not too much information that you stopped reading three paragraphs ago ;). Thanks in advance for your help with our Dolphin-hunt! And I’m sure the person we choose will end up thanking you if they feel like Ty Hedden:

Ultimately, working for Smart Dolphins means being able to do all the geeky things I would be doing at home anyway. It means getting paid to be myself and do what I love every day.

P.S. With this expansion in our Dolphin resources, we’re looking again to expand our client base. Can you think of a company that could use us? How about a professional (say a lawyer or accountant) that has had technology problems recently? Connect us and do us all a favour!

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Smart Security

Kaspersky Labs recently reported a 17.7% global increase in ransomware between April 2015 and March 2016. This steady spread and rapid evolution of ransomware means businesses today require a multi-layered approach to IT security.

What security essentials does your organization have in place?

Smart Security

Weak IT security increases your organizations’ network to risks which can result in:

  • Downtime (lost business, frustration and stress);
  • Costly, disaster recovery plans;
  • Lost customers or valuable employees due to IT hassles;
  • Data loss;
  • Breach of privacy and;
  • Litigation.

Managed service providers can help organizations prevent ransomware. But it’s equally important that businesses and their employees remain educated on what to look out for in a ransomware attack.

Want to learn more about the Smart Dolphins approach to network security? Download a white paper or join us for a lunch and learn.

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Emerging Technologies

Nearly all organizations benefit greatly from today’s technology. Getting to tomorrow’s technology is a huge challenge and is becoming extremely complex. The speed of change continues to accelerate while our options widen.

Navigating the Cloud

IDC expects a 11 per cent shift of budget dollars in Canada toward cloud technologies by the end of 2016. Further, the launch of Canadian Microsoft data-centres earlier this year will inevitably drive more Canadian businesses to the Microsoft cloud.

While the trend toward adopting emerging technologies is clear, many Vancouver Island business executives that we meet with struggle to understand how they can best align their business goals with specific technologies that will boost their productivity. Our experience resonates with another study by IDC that reports that only 17 per cent of Canadian firms consider the digital transformation as a key part of their business strategy.

Have cloud services been adopted in operations or your IT plan? Are you aware that cloud computing may lower the cost of your IT? What is the opportunity cost of ineffectively integrating future technologies?

Reconsider your approach to IT! Contact Smart Dolphins to arrange a complimentary IT assessment.

Did you miss our Cloud Computing Lunch & Learn? Read the slides here.

 

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