IT, by nature, is innovative – changing and adapting to remove the constraints of manual business operations and streamline the efficiency of organization. To adopt the mentality of “set it and forget it” with your technology is a sure way to tell your clients “we are resolved to becoming outdated and inferior.” At the same time, the industry has taught us that technology for technology’s sake is not a sound business model either. Keeping up with trends in the technology world becomes an even more overwhelming challenge for with every new, in vogue capability, there are countless iterations already in incubation. So, how do CIO’s and IT executives stay ahead of the curve to ensure systems will grow with an organization and protect valuable capital from being flushed away? Server Virtualization is a prime example of what was once looked upon skeptically as an interesting attempt to change the way IT managed cost and systems until it was proven prudent and lucrative by Fortune 500 firms across the spectrum. Now however, companies are out of license compliance, and have lost control and visibility into the enterprise.Business is constantly changing, and this trend of change is seen more than ever in recent years with virtualization, cloud computing and IT outsourcing. These changes are difficult to effectively orchestrate but your people, your needs, your clients, and you must be able to adjust and evolve if everyone is to survive as value-players within the organization. Like any other evolution cycle, this one, too, is survival of the fittest.So are you adapting (driving business innovation) or are you strong (stabilizing the platforms for better business operation)? To begin, you need to take a step back and evaluate your current IT situation and the services IT is providing. Understanding the longevity and sustainability of the services, software, and hardware you are currently managing is imperative to current viability. Whereas adapting to changing business needs is crucial for your future viability.Where’s the balance?Here’s how to avoid stagnancy and keep your IT systems evolving, while keeping your company’s long-term goals in mind.Model your business and IT servicesBy mapping out your business services to IT services and the assets that support them, you build the solid connection that is required to understand the complex relationship between technology health and business health. So how do you get the information and where do you start? More than likely, you already have 2 key areas where this information is kept.1st) Your catalog issues listed in your help desk.Yes, you have probably already mapped your critical business services. The simple reason is users don’t call to complain about the “Server03”. They call to complain about the “registration system” or some other business function not working. This is a great source of information to start your business service modeling.2nd) Your functional QA team.No QA team has time to test 100% functionality which is why they must prioritize the critical functions of the business to be tested first. Within the service, they will also have the vital business functions labeled and mapped to the interfaces and applications.Monitor your End-User ExperienceEnd-User Experience Management is all about viewing your services through the eyes of your user. Nothing is more frustrating than when a product marketing manager insists that there are issues with an application or user-interface module and IT argues that from a functionality stand-point, everything is A-OK. End-user experience monitoring incorporates so much more than tracking click-through metrics. Understanding the intricacies of back-end systems, content delivery networks, streaming technology and other factors contributing to a positive end-user experience can have a huge impact on your bottom line. The system not only has to just work; it has to work for your end-users. The value of the technology is not only found in the functionality it provides, it also comes from its ability to be utilized over the internet, in the middle of the night, within five seconds – whatever is required. That is where the real value of the technology is seen, in its utility and warranty.Manage your Application PerformanceIt would be unwise and counterproductive to hire new employees, train them, and leave them to their own devices – never again checking in to see how things are going. Yet, this is often the case with new application deployments. Application implementations require upfront customization for your organization and thorough testing to ensure functionality with all current operations, but it should never be considered complete without a system in place to measure performance. If there is a problem, you need to isolate it and determine root cause in order to keep the problem from reoccurring. As changes are released and the complexity increases, you need to ensure that your end-users are not adversely affected. Implementing a system to measure application performance gives you the ability to keep your operations running at optimal levels.Infrastructure ManagementInfrastructure Management (IM) has always been about managing more than hardware, software and the multitude of cables that connect it all together. While we would like to say keeping it running is easy, the reality is that infrastructures are more complex than ever. A strategy needs to be built to help manage the state of the infrastructure as it relates to the quality of service it is providing to the end user. Monitoring needs to incorporate more than just availability or faults. Performance, capacity, changes and security are all conditions of the infrastructure that will translate into a healthy or unhealthy condition for the business to operate in. Each of these attributes must be polled and brought together into a single engine to determine root-cause-analysis. Otherwise you risk over-alarming (page-floods) which can be worse than no monitoring at all because it causes the “cry wolf” syndrome. Like any observation, it should be instrumented methodically and matured (or increased) over time.
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Congratulations, young lady! You’ve just graduated high school and are off to college in the fall. Along with all the questions swirling in your mind about what classes to take, what clubs to join, and where to live, the ultimate question for fashionistas is “What am I going to wear?” For most students, it’s the first time they’ll be living on their own without a parent telling them how to dress in the morning.Don’t let that freedom make you think it’s okay to go to class in your sweats and flip-flops. Dressing up for college is important because you want to make a good impression with your professors; it shows you respect them. And you want to look your best just in case the future love of your life is sitting right next to you in class. So here are the wardrobe essentials you should be packing, according to our panel of fashion school experts.Jeans. They’re practically the uniform of the college student. Stock up on various washes and fits, and make sure you’ve got some skinny jeans in the pile. Don’t worry if they’re not expensive designer labels. Stores like Forever 21 and H&M sell the latest, must-have styles for not a lot of money.Dress slacks. Oh yes, you’ll want to wear pants that aren’t jeans as well. They’ll be perfect for faculty meet-and-greets, job interviews, and even church on the weekend. Stick with basic colors like black, grey or navy, in a dressier fabric like wool. Cotton trousers are fine, but should be reserved for more casual occasions.A boyfriend blazer. An adorable little boyfriend blazer is a great piece to tie your whole look together. Even if you’re wearing a tank top and jeans, donning a blazer over it will make you look quite fashionable. And the more relaxed look of the boyfriend blazer will go with most of your wardrobe. A show of hands with our fashion school panel also suggests that professors might take you more seriously and give you better grades when you wear one now and then.Dresses. We’re not talking ball gowns here, or even a Little Black Dress (though that’s always nice). Get a few simple jersey dresses in various solids or fun florals. You’ll find them to be some of the most versatile pieces in your wardrobe, great for both going to class and going on dates.Tee shirts. Just when you thought our fashion school experts were going to get all fancy on you, along comes the good ol’ t-shirt. Let’s face it, if you’re going to college, you have to have them. The graphic tee is a fashion essential, while ringer tees have that college flair. You may also want to get a t-shirt with your college logo, but wait until you get on campus to see what other students are wearing. Sometimes only freshmen buy logo wear, and you don’t want to stick out as a newbie.
Cute tops. Sure, you’ll have t-shirts, but a few dressier tops will add flexibility in your wardrobe. Basics like button-down shirts, in white, blue or pink, are also great wardrobe staples.Sweaters. Try to have at least one cardigan, great for layering over tank tops and blouses, and one warm, fluffy crewneck to keep you cozy during those all-night study jams. Of course, it goes without saying that every college student owns five sweatshirts to every sweater, but it’s always nice to have the option.A coat. Depending on where you go to college, you will need some kind of coat. Students on the west coast can get away with a lightweight jacket, but remember that even in warm Southern California, evenings can get pretty chilly. If you’re going to college on the east coast, or most of the middle of the country, it goes without saying that you’re going to need a heavy jacket. Try coats with a Thinsulate lining for less bulk, so you don’t look like an Eskimo.Flat shoes. You’re not going to have a lot of time running between classes, so a pair of flats will be easier on your feet than flip-flops. Classic sneakers like All-Stars are also a good footwear choice. And topsiders are back in a big way, so if your look is preppy, go for this quintessential boat shoe.Our panel recognizes that, outside of a fashion school, the typical college student is going to wear shorts, t-shirts and flip-flops all year long. But you should dress better than that because college is a place to grow up, not regress into childhood. In which case, we may have to make your mom move in with you. And that wouldn’t be pretty.
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The virtual private network (VPN) has opened up a wide range of possibilities for remote network access to files from almost any geographic location. Using VPN software, computer users can access the files on their home or office computer anywhere they can get a reliable Internet connection. Unfortunately, this easy access to files has also created a new threat in the form of data thieves, criminals who steal personal or sensitive information for personal gain or malicious use.To protect your information and enhance your network security, you should incorporate a few simple protocols into your system. The first step in virtual private network protection is the creation of a secure password. Data thieves, commonly called hackers, use a variety of tools to discover the passwords used to access a private network. Security experts tell us that common passwords, such as words found in the dictionary or numeric sequences, can be broken very quickly, sometimes within a matter of minutes, using a brute force attack tool.By making your virtual private network password more complex you can protect your network security and ensure that your private files remain private. Secure passwords include both letters and numbers, as well as special characters. For the best possible protection, these passwords should be randomly chosen alphanumeric and special character sequences, rather than dictionary based words or calendar dates that could be easily guessed. Longer passwords of at least thirteen characters further enhance your private network security.One great tool for virtual private network security is the password generator and storage program. Many free or low-cost options are available for these tools which ensure your passwords are unique and secure. The storage area of the program should be encrypted and locked with a master password as well in case your laptop or remote computer is ever stolen. By doing this, it protects your passwords from theft and misuse while making them easy to retrieve for your own personal use. It also makes it possible to create a different virtual private network password for every network you connect to regularly to ensure that your other virtual private networks remain private even if one is compromised.In addition to using secure passwords, you can also choose to enhance your VPN security by using encryption. Encryption is a method of scrambling the data into an unrecognizable stream and then reassembling it properly on the remote machine that has the correct decryption software. By running encryption software at both ends of the virtual private network, security is maintained and communications remain safe from data thieves.Finally, adding a warning system to your VPN security arsenal can further protect your privacy. These systems are software based and range in price from freeware to the very expensive, depending upon the level of protection you need. In most cases, this software logs the Internet protocol (IP) address of the remote computer, the time the connection was made and the files accessed. High end software may even send alerts to the system administrator when an unknown IP address accesses information or if the wrong user account or password has been entered multiple times, alerting you to the possibility of a brute force attack on your network.
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