Andrew Egan profile image

Andrew Egan

Director & IT Specialist at

Member Since March 2013

Hoppers Crossing, VIC, 3029

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28 FOLLOWERS

I am an IT professional with more than ten years experience. I run an IT support and consultancy firm providing IT support and services to business, including server, network and desktop support, new hardware and software supply and installation, cloud migration and management, strategic IT advice and IT consulting.

Andrew Egan answered this question

Jef Lippiatt
Jef Lippiatt, Owner at Startup Chucktown

Hardware and Software

Are you utilizing open-source in your organization?

I'm an IT provider, so I'm across open source on at least a general level. I do have a linux server that's used for web development test site. I've got a client who has a linux-based file server and a separate linux proxy. It was already in place when I took over 2 years ago, but it's going strong and solid. It rarely needs reboots or patching.OSS does require a bit more understanding than a windows platform - there are notable differences and if you're not technically inclined it may be difficult to adjust.I don't usually see linux on desktops but I'm definitely aware it happens. I have a general policy of "what's the best fit for this specific scenario" - but that can encompass all sorts of things, including ongoing supportability. It's harder to find good linux engineers than good windows engineers

Andrew Egan answered this question

Leah Cortes
Leah Cortes, Owner / Personal Assistant at

Customer Retention

What is the best way to approach prospective clients?

Referrals from existing clients is a good opportunity. Make sure you regularly ask your cuirrent clients if there's anyone they could refer you to.. maybe even offer referal bonuses ?

Andrew Egan answered this question

What to consider when looking for a business partner or employee?

I think Jeff is correct on a high level. I'd like to diverge into IT generally.You should be looking for the following important factors for an IT support provider:resource skill level - how much experience do they have, do they have vendor partnerships, vendor certificationslevel of resource - how many team members will they have available to work on your system. Will there be a dedicated resource for your business if needed?continuity of resource - what happens if a primary resource leaves, are they cross training each other on client systems?security - how do they handle your passwords and access to your systems. availability - if you need out of hours support, are they happy to do that.what happens when they encounter an issue they can't resolve. do they offer service level agreements, assurances, guarantees or rebates if they aren't methow do they triage your support requests

Andrew Egan answered this question

Ling Lee
Ling Lee, at Digital Marketing and Personal Branding

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

Is SEO categorised as part of IT or Marketing?

I have a different view on what an IT strategy should contain. IT strategy is a high level, global/infrastructure based document. Our strategy reports usually look something like this:current status of:Physical or virtual servers - hardware, operating system software and productivity softwarephysical desktop environment - hardware, operating system software and productivity softwareBackup, BC and DR - what's in place, when it was tested, whether it works, how much the backed up data has grown bySecurity and Antivirus - stopped and detected threats, areas where protection is identified to be deficientBest practice - whether the infrastructure adheresCapacity - whether the infrastructure was able to copeBusiness - whether it grew, how much it grew by, if it was in line with our previous expectationsRegular incident (something is broken) request (you need something done) or training (your staff need to know how to do something) occurancesThen we add whether any of those things might be aging and need to be replaced or upgraded in the next 12 months, suggestions for capacity improvement or best practice improvements, or staff training opportunities. We then determine with business what they expect growth to be, where they identify failings in the IT infrastructure and ways we can provide better value to business.The strategy report doesn't say, for isntance "we propose a new server with X Y &Z componentry" - that's not strategic. It says "we propose replacing Server1 with a new, 'performance' server in Q3 to cope with growth" or "based on current data growth, we expect your backups to exceed available storage space by X, would recommend increasing backup space prior to Y, to prevent impact to your backups"To say that how a website is structured, including things like 301s and 404s, shouldn't form part of a high level IT strategy. It's part of a Website design strategy, sure. But IT is more than just your website. You should definitely have a strategy for your internet presence, but it's not your IT strategy. It could form part of your IT strategy, but only in terms of capacity and availability of the web presence, not the actual design.

Andrew Egan answered this question

Michael Prior
Michael Prior, Principal at PB Advisory Group

Telecommunications, Mobile and Wireless

What were your experiences with Australian VOIP providers?

Hi Michael,

 

It's a very broad area, however I'd be happy to answer specifically targetted questions. Below is a quick high-level rundown.

Like Micha said, there are plenty of providers, however I'd recommend sticking with the larger names. Internode and Exetel would be two major ISPs I can think of that offer SIP trunks.

There's more to it than that though. I have one client with an internal VoIP system that actually uses ISDN to make all their calls. This is potentially more expensive than using a SIP trunk.  Other clients just use SIP trunks.

What's the difference? Well, a SIP trunk uses spare internet connectivity (there's a bit more to it, but this is the simple explanation" so it's important to ensure you have enough bandwidth. Usuallly, an ADSL2 connection wouldn't be enough and you'd want to be looking at a minimum of SHDSL, depending on the unmber of phone calls you wanted to make/receive at any given time.



If you'd like to discuss more, I'm happy for have a no-obligation free discussion with you and help identify a solution that's right for your needs.     Personally, I've got an internode Nodephone service and one of my clients has 5 exetel services, none of which I can fault.

regards,

Andy

Andrew Egan answered this question

What stops you from fully moving into the cloud?

I think a crucial show-stopper for several of my clients is the internet speed to their present location. I've got two clients in particular who aren't able to achieve any more than 2M/sec downstream - it's hard enough for them to just browse the internet in an office of 8 people, let alone conduct all their business across it.

It's also not cost effective for them to move to a more appropriate solution such as SDSL or Ethernet - in both cases I've done SQ anyway to find that they'd be paying huge amounts of money but not really able to acheive much better speed.

 

Andrew Egan answered this question

How to assist my staff wanting to bring their own devices to work?

Skeeve - the new Blackberry OS offers this. It has distinct "corporate" and "personal" partitions (for lack of a better word) that allows the enterprise side to be controlled by the enterprise, and the personal side to be offlimits to enterprise. This means the enterprise could wipe all the corporate data when an employee leaves, without damaging their personal information.

to my understanding, there obvioulsy has to be some communication between the two sides but it's kept fairly separate..

Andrew Egan answered this question

How to assist my staff wanting to bring their own devices to work?

Hi Andrew,

The model you're suggesting is actually more or less exactly the way it should work.... although whether or not it needs to be cloud-based is a different issue :)

Andrew Egan answered this question

Phil Joel
Phil Joel, Director at SavvySME

Cloud Computing

Should I have my own server or make use of cloud computing?

The decision to host something on the cloud or run your own server is dependent on each particular business. Cost for the actual service is part of it, but there's also things like data privacy and who owns your data, the cost of an enhanced internet connection (you'll find your staff require not only more speed, but to be able to upload and download more data - you have to remember that now ALL of this is going over your internet connection)

then there's things like preventing rogue employees from accessing data outside of work time. If you have an inhouse IT platform, then your team usually cannot access data outside of work hours, so if you've got someone who is leaving, or intent on doing damage, they can only do it while at work. Plus, you can log this and know what's going on.

If your malicious employee is able to access all your systems from home and export all your customer service records and provide them to a competitor, how would you stop that? And what sort of logging and security is in place, what info will the vendor give you?

 

In-house servers aren't the solution for all businesses, but equally, the cloud isn't the solution for all businesses. It also drives better recurring revenue for IT providers than just getting a server installed.  And interestingly, on the idea that it's far cheaper to run all your services on a cloud-based platform, consider your TCO or Total Cost of Ownership. Add up the cost of all the hosted services you pay for on a monthly basis, then add a multiplier of 3 to give you a 3year TCO. Now look at the cost of an inhouse server (which is normally capitalised over a roughly 3 year life span).

You'd probably need to include in your TCO the cost of your business losing access to it's critical business tools if your internet is out for a day, or 3, or 5, or whatever. Plus, even though it's "backed up" you'll still want to be backing up your data anyway - what happens if your provider falls over or goes bankrupt and you lose all your data?

One final point.. the truth of the matter is, reselling cloud services is far more revenue friendly for IT Providers - we generate ongoing recurring revenue for minimal effort, as opposed to the installation of hardware, which gives us a single one-off revenue hit. That's the reason so many providers push it as the solution. They are looking after their business over the mid to longer term, rather than focussing on what your business actually needs.

 

Andrew Egan answered this question

What is a great business a teenage kid can start this summer?

I think the honest answer is it depends on the teenager and their interests and abilities as well as access to startup funds. A couple of low-cost options:

Lawn mowing business. Dependent on them having a ute, or car with a trailer. Fairly low startup cost, they just need to buy a lawn mower and a whipper snipper, maybe a few other things. Base your rate on an hourly rate, work out roughly how long it might take you to mow a particular lawn, then just do fixed-cost for that lawn. You'd be competing with Jims etc, but it's an option.

Car wash/window wash. While not really a business, when I was much younger I used to spend time at the small local shopping center, offering to wash car windows for $1.00 while people were shopping. Maybe as a teenager you'd want to charge a bit more though.

As the second poster mentioned - become a reseller or dropshipper and sell things on ebay? Dropshipping - where you as the business don't actually own and hold the things you're selling, but the supplier delivers them direct to te end-purchaser, with your branding.

 

Andrew Egan answered this question

How to assist my staff wanting to bring their own devices to work?

The second major concern with BYOD (or Bring Your Own Device) is your actual support costs. Many businesses (especially once they start to become structured and controlled enterprise-based organisations) have a very specific set of software, processes and configurations.

Once your team start bringing their own equipment to the workplace, what happens if it doesn't work? Who is responsible for it, you or them? If they are responsible for it but it's incompatible with some of your systems or software, what happens then? Do you have a pool of spare devices for those who BYOD and it doesn't work?

What if your in-house IT team do some work to make it work and as a result the employee loses data, or the computer breaks down. Will you then be accepting responsibility, or will you just tell your IT support members not to fix personal devices? (In which case your employees may then need to involve an external provider who can fix it for them, but at the same time potentially gain access to, or knowledge of, your network.)

BYOD isn't something that should be avoided, but it's also not a solution for every business. You need to weigh up the potential cost of lost productivity time, as well as the cost of having IT support look after the devices, or making sure your infrastructure is capable of handling BYOD devices.

You might also need a hard and fast set of rules, as outlined in the first response above - "all windows computers must have valid antivirus subscription and be up to date within 2 days of definitions and within 7 days of Windows patches." Then use system health validators to firewall the devices off from your network if they don't meet those requirements.

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Andrew Egan answered this question

Jef Lippiatt
Jef Lippiatt, Owner at Startup Chucktown

Hardware and Software

Are you utilizing open-source in your organization?

I'm an IT provider, so I'm across open source on at least a general level. I do have a linux server that's used for web development test site. I've got a client who has a linux-based file server and a separate linux proxy. It was already in place when I took over 2 years ago, but it's going strong and solid. It rarely needs reboots or patching.OSS does require a bit more understanding than a windows platform - there are notable differences and if you're not technically inclined it may be difficult to adjust.I don't usually see linux on desktops but I'm definitely aware it happens. I have a general policy of "what's the best fit for this specific scenario" - but that can encompass all sorts of things, including ongoing supportability. It's harder to find good linux engineers than good windows engineers

Andrew Egan answered this question

Leah Cortes
Leah Cortes, Owner / Personal Assistant at

Customer Retention

What is the best way to approach prospective clients?

Referrals from existing clients is a good opportunity. Make sure you regularly ask your cuirrent clients if there's anyone they could refer you to.. maybe even offer referal bonuses ?

Andrew Egan answered this question

What to consider when looking for a business partner or employee?

I think Jeff is correct on a high level. I'd like to diverge into IT generally.You should be looking for the following important factors for an IT support provider:resource skill level - how much experience do they have, do they have vendor partnerships, vendor certificationslevel of resource - how many team members will they have available to work on your system. Will there be a dedicated resource for your business if needed?continuity of resource - what happens if a primary resource leaves, are they cross training each other on client systems?security - how do they handle your passwords and access to your systems. availability - if you need out of hours support, are they happy to do that.what happens when they encounter an issue they can't resolve. do they offer service level agreements, assurances, guarantees or rebates if they aren't methow do they triage your support requests

Andrew Egan answered this question

Ling Lee
Ling Lee, at Digital Marketing and Personal Branding

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

Is SEO categorised as part of IT or Marketing?

I have a different view on what an IT strategy should contain. IT strategy is a high level, global/infrastructure based document. Our strategy reports usually look something like this:current status of:Physical or virtual servers - hardware, operating system software and productivity softwarephysical desktop environment - hardware, operating system software and productivity softwareBackup, BC and DR - what's in place, when it was tested, whether it works, how much the backed up data has grown bySecurity and Antivirus - stopped and detected threats, areas where protection is identified to be deficientBest practice - whether the infrastructure adheresCapacity - whether the infrastructure was able to copeBusiness - whether it grew, how much it grew by, if it was in line with our previous expectationsRegular incident (something is broken) request (you need something done) or training (your staff need to know how to do something) occurancesThen we add whether any of those things might be aging and need to be replaced or upgraded in the next 12 months, suggestions for capacity improvement or best practice improvements, or staff training opportunities. We then determine with business what they expect growth to be, where they identify failings in the IT infrastructure and ways we can provide better value to business.The strategy report doesn't say, for isntance "we propose a new server with X Y &Z componentry" - that's not strategic. It says "we propose replacing Server1 with a new, 'performance' server in Q3 to cope with growth" or "based on current data growth, we expect your backups to exceed available storage space by X, would recommend increasing backup space prior to Y, to prevent impact to your backups"To say that how a website is structured, including things like 301s and 404s, shouldn't form part of a high level IT strategy. It's part of a Website design strategy, sure. But IT is more than just your website. You should definitely have a strategy for your internet presence, but it's not your IT strategy. It could form part of your IT strategy, but only in terms of capacity and availability of the web presence, not the actual design.

Andrew Egan answered this question

Michael Prior
Michael Prior, Principal at PB Advisory Group

Telecommunications, Mobile and Wireless

What were your experiences with Australian VOIP providers?

Hi Michael,

 

It's a very broad area, however I'd be happy to answer specifically targetted questions. Below is a quick high-level rundown.

Like Micha said, there are plenty of providers, however I'd recommend sticking with the larger names. Internode and Exetel would be two major ISPs I can think of that offer SIP trunks.

There's more to it than that though. I have one client with an internal VoIP system that actually uses ISDN to make all their calls. This is potentially more expensive than using a SIP trunk.  Other clients just use SIP trunks.

What's the difference? Well, a SIP trunk uses spare internet connectivity (there's a bit more to it, but this is the simple explanation" so it's important to ensure you have enough bandwidth. Usuallly, an ADSL2 connection wouldn't be enough and you'd want to be looking at a minimum of SHDSL, depending on the unmber of phone calls you wanted to make/receive at any given time.



If you'd like to discuss more, I'm happy for have a no-obligation free discussion with you and help identify a solution that's right for your needs.     Personally, I've got an internode Nodephone service and one of my clients has 5 exetel services, none of which I can fault.

regards,

Andy

Andrew Egan answered this question

What stops you from fully moving into the cloud?

I think a crucial show-stopper for several of my clients is the internet speed to their present location. I've got two clients in particular who aren't able to achieve any more than 2M/sec downstream - it's hard enough for them to just browse the internet in an office of 8 people, let alone conduct all their business across it.

It's also not cost effective for them to move to a more appropriate solution such as SDSL or Ethernet - in both cases I've done SQ anyway to find that they'd be paying huge amounts of money but not really able to acheive much better speed.

 

Andrew Egan answered this question

How to assist my staff wanting to bring their own devices to work?

Skeeve - the new Blackberry OS offers this. It has distinct "corporate" and "personal" partitions (for lack of a better word) that allows the enterprise side to be controlled by the enterprise, and the personal side to be offlimits to enterprise. This means the enterprise could wipe all the corporate data when an employee leaves, without damaging their personal information.

to my understanding, there obvioulsy has to be some communication between the two sides but it's kept fairly separate..

Andrew Egan answered this question

How to assist my staff wanting to bring their own devices to work?

Hi Andrew,

The model you're suggesting is actually more or less exactly the way it should work.... although whether or not it needs to be cloud-based is a different issue :)

Andrew Egan answered this question

Phil Joel
Phil Joel, Director at SavvySME

Cloud Computing

Should I have my own server or make use of cloud computing?

The decision to host something on the cloud or run your own server is dependent on each particular business. Cost for the actual service is part of it, but there's also things like data privacy and who owns your data, the cost of an enhanced internet connection (you'll find your staff require not only more speed, but to be able to upload and download more data - you have to remember that now ALL of this is going over your internet connection)

then there's things like preventing rogue employees from accessing data outside of work time. If you have an inhouse IT platform, then your team usually cannot access data outside of work hours, so if you've got someone who is leaving, or intent on doing damage, they can only do it while at work. Plus, you can log this and know what's going on.

If your malicious employee is able to access all your systems from home and export all your customer service records and provide them to a competitor, how would you stop that? And what sort of logging and security is in place, what info will the vendor give you?

 

In-house servers aren't the solution for all businesses, but equally, the cloud isn't the solution for all businesses. It also drives better recurring revenue for IT providers than just getting a server installed.  And interestingly, on the idea that it's far cheaper to run all your services on a cloud-based platform, consider your TCO or Total Cost of Ownership. Add up the cost of all the hosted services you pay for on a monthly basis, then add a multiplier of 3 to give you a 3year TCO. Now look at the cost of an inhouse server (which is normally capitalised over a roughly 3 year life span).

You'd probably need to include in your TCO the cost of your business losing access to it's critical business tools if your internet is out for a day, or 3, or 5, or whatever. Plus, even though it's "backed up" you'll still want to be backing up your data anyway - what happens if your provider falls over or goes bankrupt and you lose all your data?

One final point.. the truth of the matter is, reselling cloud services is far more revenue friendly for IT Providers - we generate ongoing recurring revenue for minimal effort, as opposed to the installation of hardware, which gives us a single one-off revenue hit. That's the reason so many providers push it as the solution. They are looking after their business over the mid to longer term, rather than focussing on what your business actually needs.

 

Andrew Egan answered this question

What is a great business a teenage kid can start this summer?

I think the honest answer is it depends on the teenager and their interests and abilities as well as access to startup funds. A couple of low-cost options:

Lawn mowing business. Dependent on them having a ute, or car with a trailer. Fairly low startup cost, they just need to buy a lawn mower and a whipper snipper, maybe a few other things. Base your rate on an hourly rate, work out roughly how long it might take you to mow a particular lawn, then just do fixed-cost for that lawn. You'd be competing with Jims etc, but it's an option.

Car wash/window wash. While not really a business, when I was much younger I used to spend time at the small local shopping center, offering to wash car windows for $1.00 while people were shopping. Maybe as a teenager you'd want to charge a bit more though.

As the second poster mentioned - become a reseller or dropshipper and sell things on ebay? Dropshipping - where you as the business don't actually own and hold the things you're selling, but the supplier delivers them direct to te end-purchaser, with your branding.

 

Andrew Egan answered this question

How to assist my staff wanting to bring their own devices to work?

The second major concern with BYOD (or Bring Your Own Device) is your actual support costs. Many businesses (especially once they start to become structured and controlled enterprise-based organisations) have a very specific set of software, processes and configurations.

Once your team start bringing their own equipment to the workplace, what happens if it doesn't work? Who is responsible for it, you or them? If they are responsible for it but it's incompatible with some of your systems or software, what happens then? Do you have a pool of spare devices for those who BYOD and it doesn't work?

What if your in-house IT team do some work to make it work and as a result the employee loses data, or the computer breaks down. Will you then be accepting responsibility, or will you just tell your IT support members not to fix personal devices? (In which case your employees may then need to involve an external provider who can fix it for them, but at the same time potentially gain access to, or knowledge of, your network.)

BYOD isn't something that should be avoided, but it's also not a solution for every business. You need to weigh up the potential cost of lost productivity time, as well as the cost of having IT support look after the devices, or making sure your infrastructure is capable of handling BYOD devices.

You might also need a hard and fast set of rules, as outlined in the first response above - "all windows computers must have valid antivirus subscription and be up to date within 2 days of definitions and within 7 days of Windows patches." Then use system health validators to firewall the devices off from your network if they don't meet those requirements.

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