Q&A with IT: We Love Questions

This week we got a new client, and it was a fantastic first meeting that it must be shared.

It was a simple 5 person company but they were government funded. I can’t reveal much more than that without disclosing what they do. Small but important.

On the first meeting, the new director was recommended to us by a friendly competitor of ours, which is always a plus.

Breaking the Break-Fix Mentality

At the first meeting, you could tell the person was used to the break-fix mentality, such as if the computer goes down they call someone. After an hour explaining how Managed IT works, from the perpetual maintenance to the included services, software, and hardware, it was like watching a light bulb go off. It was an epiphany moment the likes of which you never forget and always wished would happen.

The Importance of Q&A with IT

We stayed for half a day answering all sorts of questions from VoIP to security cameras, remote access, and more. It was a truly great moment watching these questions from all the employees get answered, EVEN before they became a client. Years of issues with given solutions and years of pent up animosity were obliterated in hours.

They signed up even before we left and are onboarding for the first of April.

If your existing IT provider doesn’t want to hear your questions, we are here to listen.

Always Online: Industries That Never Sleep

We have a client who absolutely must be online, ALL THE TIME.

Are they a stock broker? A police station? Bank? Nope. Solar array farm. Yup, fields, and fields of solar panels.

The Power Must Flow

Why? Simple. The electric company doesn’t tell them when they aren’t generating power, and if there is no power being generated, the return on investment of the solar panels is not be fulfilled, aka losing money.

Back in the day, they would drive out to the farm every morning and look at the day’s performance and compare it with the previous day. Up and down the rows and rows of panels they would inspect the panels and hope they were working fully and not just look like they were. It was an all day job and you’d have to pay someone to do it. Issues were hard to detect and when they happened, it might take you months to find and resolve the issue.

A New Controller System and a Botched IT Installation

Luckily the panel manufacturer made two years ago a controller system that would query each panel and see how it was producing, costly, but worth it. What did they didn’t provide was the communication system, so they worked with a local IT company to install a wifi and a cellular link.

2 years later, and dozens of replacement of hardware, that solution was obviously NOT commercial grade. The owner was spending a similar amount in costs which were supposed to be saved in defective ineffective hardware.

That is when he contacted Triton for a solution, and that is exactly what we did.

Triton Installs Industrial WiFi

What exactly did we do?

  • Installed multiple Ubiquiti Nanobeam AC point to point access points for wifi at each of the rows to a central tech shed.
  • Within that shed, we installed a Multitech rCell with TaoGlass cellular antenna amplifier.
  • That was connected it all to our at&t partner wireless network provided by with our cellular wholesaler Data2GoWireless.
  • With Cisco industrial switches connecting them all.

It was installed a month ago with 8 solar farms, and setup was completed within 3 days.

Always Online IT for Always Online Industries

We followed up with them yesterday, and how many times did they have to reset anything: Zero. That is right, zero times, from the cellular router to the access points to the switches, it all worked. It was installed in the dead of winter with snow around and it performed flawlessly. Their labor cost plummeted and their production was now consistent. Issues could now be resolved immediately and notifications of the problems when they arose was near instant. No more going up and down the fields like you were patrolling for raptors at Jurassic Park, but instead located in an office 10 miles away sitting at a workstation LITERALLY seeing the money rolling in and on the power grid.

Lesson learned, if you want to go big, you need to get the big dog hardware. Hardened, commercial industrial grade hardware that provides consistent and reliable communications is cheaper in the long term that anything you’ll save up front. Learn more about our IT service for the Energy Industry, as well as related fields such as Manufacturing, Transportation, and Government. If you’re in an always online industry, contact us to make sure it stays that way.

Network Security: First, Middle and Last

We had the fun privilege this week of doing a security check for a restaurant.

We have agreements with banks, credit card processors and more to analyze a network for security issues or make changes to a client’s network because of a new point of sale system to be installed or modifications to existing ones.

The Restaurant’s Network

It was a simple restaurant, 5 workstations, a router and on-screen credit card swiping.

The meeting was to discuss security, and how to implement it in a manner that doesn’t impact the business. I arrived early with the credit processor and sat down.

Gaining Entry to the Network

Within a minute I had on a Samsung Tablet, logged into his wireless, logged into his router, cataloged his entire network, logged into the music system and started playing “The Pinacolada Song” through the overhead speakers.

With the next two minutes, I logged into the into the point of sale computer, copied the outstanding credit card batches report, locked all the workstations, and had the HP printer print out the lyrics to “I’m a little teapot.”

By the time the manager sat down, the network was in our total control with the ambiance now the melodic sounds of Rupert Holmes which were heard throughout the restaurant.

Complete Takeover: Under 5 Minutes

Total time, 4 minutes. Complete network take over without any advanced tools.

As I explained this in front of his credit processor, I could see the blood leave the face of the manager. And to show I truly did have control, I changed the music to “The girl from Ipanema.”

You could hear their collective jaws drop as they hit the table.

What You Need for Network Security

Over the next hour, we talked about securing the network using Sophos Firewalls, Ubiquiti Wireless Access, and a Cisco switch to VLAN everything together. Proposal accepted in FULL.  

Security is no joke, and it should be the first thing you consider when designing a network. It’s not a burden when it protects what you have, your clients data and can keep your business working especially when the banks can giveth and taketh away your credit card processing ability. Contact us today if you’re interested in knowing how secure your business network is.