Why take an IT Support Contract over Adhoc Support??
Why take an IT Support contract over Adhoc support? This is a question that we get asked frequently. There are a number of reasons as to why an all inclusive IT support contract is a positive step to take for your business. The main reasons being:
- Fixed price service – with no hidden costs
- A guaranteed support desk available 24/7
- Guaranteed service level agreement (SLA) in place – 1 hour call back
- Your business is assigned both a designated business account manager and technical account manager
- We get more involved in your business, helping plan, budget and advise according to your business plans and requirements.
Whilst not everyone feels the needs for a contact, there are a number of pitfalls to an Ad-hoc arrangement. The biggest being there are no service level agreements in place. Other main issues being:
- We operate an “as soon as possible” approach to any support tickets falling into this category
- Unexpected costs can become expensive & detrimental to your budget planning
MPR IT’s Fully Inclusive Business IT Support package, is our most complete and rewarding contract. In fact it is used by 90% of our clients. With a fixed price contract there can be no nasty hidden surprises, for your IT Support. Our contract includes both remote and on-site support for your business, meaning you are safe in the knowledge that a Technical Engineer is on hand to solve any issues. The cost for this service is £30.00 + VAT per workstation per month and inlcudes 24/7 monitoring. This cost per user covers all of your IT support needs – there are no other hidden support costs, allowing you to manage your IT budget effectively.
In addition to workstation support, we are aware that many of our customers are now using Cloud-based servers and storage, therefore server support is not always a requirement and is therefore a separate option. For those business that do require this, there is an additional charge of £82.50 + VAT per month per server, please contact to discuss your requirements.
The Service Level Agreement for an All Inclusive contracts is a 1-hour callback with a 4-hour response along with emergency out of hours cover.
Emmanuel Charbonnel from DAD UK says:
Moving to a “Monthly Fixed Rate” support cost from a “Pay as you Use” scheme has improved our IT support structure in many ways. Firstly, there are no hidden surprises at the end of the month with invoices. We know what our bill will be and can budget accordingly, allowing us to invest in our IT infrastructure during the year.
Secondly, any of our employees can now contact the MPR support desk, which in turn, improves the reaction and solution speeds. And lastly it has resulted in a closer working environment between all employees across our two companies making MPR a true partner
To discuss your business requirements please contact our team on 0800 030 20 30 option 2Read more
Disaster Management Plans
Over the weekend, the big story in the news was all about the IT system failure at British Airways. The CEO of BA has released a statement that the systems crashed due to a short power surge knocking out the main servers, unfortunately for the company the back-up systems then failed to take over. This resulted in over 75,000 customers being affected and flights grounded around the world.
When the story first broke, BA did not release much information to the public, no doubt as the Directors were scrambling to find out what had gone so badly wrong. However, this resulted in various speculation such as systems being hacked, no back up servers in place or that this was due to cost cutting by out sourcing IT Support. It would appear, that none of these were the case.
Many people in the IT industry are watching this story closely to understand how this situation happened. With many questions being asked, including:
- Why did the back-up servers not take over?
- Are the back-up systems in the same location as the main servers?
- Are the communication systems such as website and mobile app in the same location?
- What was the Disaster Management Plan?
Irrespective of your IT Support being in house or outsourced these questions should not be being asked. Here at MPR IT, we support a wide range of customers for IT, on both a daily basis and, also with larger projects such as server/network installations and server hosting. With all our customers, we hold the same approach, no matter the size of your company – you need to be prepared for any eventuality. Whilst we have not had to deal with an incident the size of BA’s problems at the weekend we have had to deal with various situations where a company server has gone off line. These include a flood in an office, or a system hack. Essentially the plan is the same – get the company back up and running in the shortest time possible and preferably without their customers ever knowing there was an issue and with the least cost involved. I think we can quite safely say this is going to be very expensive for BA.
Disaster Management Recovery plans are one of the most important things that your business can put in place. The aim of a DMR is to ensure that your business continues smoothly with little or no disruption, and your company needs will differ from that of any other company. The main points that you need to consider are:
- Is your data/server backed up daily?
- Is this back up stored in a secure separate location to the main server?
- Can your customers still contact you?
- Can your staff continue to carry out their duties?
- Can your operation continue and will your customers be affected?
We have written blogs in the past about important it is to have a Disaster Management Plan in place, however the events this weekend have shown that it is not just in the case of fire, flood or bad weather that your company needs to plan, in advance for. In the case of BA it was apparently due to a power surge, that the systems failed. Not as many speculated in the first few hours, that it was due to out sourced IT Support or being hacked with a virus. If you and your company would like to discuss your current Disaster Management Plans please do not hesitate to contact us.Read more
Wanna Cry Cyber Attack – Over the last couple of years, I have spent several hours if not days reading articles on cyber crime and hacking as part of my role here at MPR IT. If you follow us on social media you will also see how this is a hot topic for us and we quite often post news stories of hacks and how you can protect yourselves, I have also written a few blogs on the subject (all of which can be found on our website). So, the breaking news on Friday and all over the weekend of the hack affecting over 150 countries around the world, with some 200,000 machines affected this wasn’t entirely a shock for me. All too often I see stories of both large corporations and small one person business being hit by hacking or ransomware.
As a company that takes pride in providing the best support and advice to our customers, our priority is prevention rather than cure, although we do unfortunately have experience on the cure as well. Our key guidelines for protecting your systems are pretty simple:
- Ensure you Operating System is the most current and up to date – Microsoft release patches and updates regularly. This particularly virus is targeted towards out of date, older systems. Please ensure your system is fully up to date. If you have any concerns please contact us and we can check this for you.
- Many virus’s are spread through email attachments – NEVER open anything from someone you don’t know or aren’t expecting. If you are unsure about an email or attachment, call MPR IT or the company where the attachment has come from and enquire as to whether it is legitimate.
- Ensure you permanently delete any emails with attachments that you do not need, or where you don’t know the sender.
- Make sure that you have an up to date Anti Virus – MPR IT can check this for you if you are unsure how up to date this is or if you don’t have anti-virus we can provide anti virus software to your company.
- NEVER share passwords with anyone and make sure that passwords you do have are always different. PASSWORD1 is surprisingly still a popular choice – it’s not a good idea as very easy to guess.
- Back up your data daily and store a copy off site securely as well on site. The worst that can happen if data is backed up is that you lose one days’ work, and not everything.
The virus ‘Wanna Cry’ that hit the world on Friday, and spread over the weekend is mainly targeted at Government departments. Where systems are older and the networks are very large, this allows it to spread so quickly, we are therefore not expecting for this to affect many of our customers, however please be assured that our team are prepared and ready to deal with any issues that you may experience.
To our customers with a contract that includes workstation monitoring, we have already rolled out emergency patches to any potentially affected machines. If you do not have a contract that includes workstation monitoring please contact us and we can look to update any patches or we can review your contract to include workstation monitoring should you wish.
Please take this simple advice and pass to your colleagues and get the message out on how to avoid potential cybecrime hacks and viruses. Hopefully one day soon I won’t be spending so much of my time reading articles on cybercrime.Read more
Emergencies can happen in any office, as one of our clients found out one weekend.
One of our long standing clients, Russell Laboratories, has been receiving support from MPR IT for a number of years now. The package we provide includes our fully inclusive Server Support package, as well as a number of larger projects including server replacements, network cabling and CCTV. MPR IT and Russell Laboratories have a close working relationship and as with all our customers we meet regularly to discuss the support we provide, and help to identify any areas that require attention.
Russell Laboratories are a leading provider of advanced plating and finishing services to the electronics, aerospace and allied industries. Based locally in Ashford the company has been in operation for 40 years. The decision to outsource IT support was made to allow the existing staff, at Russell Laboratories to concentrate on their own main roles within the business. As well as having the knowledge of a fixed price contract for ongoing daily support and security that any additional work required would be carried out by experienced engineers who fully understand the network.
As part of the inclusive server support, our systems monitor the servers on site 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, alerting our team to any issues with the systems. This means that even at weekends or over holiday periods, Russell Laboratories are safe in the knowledge that should emergencies happen they have no costly invoices for out of hour’s support.
One Saturday morning, our out of hour’s team were alerted to an issue with the server at Russell Laboratories. Our on call engineer contacted them to discuss this and it was then discovered that a water leak had occurred and the server had been damaged by water. With the knowledge and expertise of our engineer, within a short period of time we were able to transfer email access to Office 365 enabling the flow of email to continue uninterrupted. After a quick site visit to identify the equipment affected, new hardware was ordered to arrive the next working day ready for installation. As part of the support package we provide, Servers are backed up daily by MPR IT and with the data from the Friday night incident it meant that no data had been lost. The team at Russell Laboratories lost no data and they were able to continue working, with access to their emails and the total downtime from the first notification of the incident was 48 hours over the weekend.Read more
Canterbury Archaeological Trust, one of the UK most famous Archaeology firms based in Kent, turned to MPR IT over 5 years ago looking for an outsourced IT company. They required a reliable company to provide day to day support, Office 365, Anti-virus and also support on any larger projects that may require IT services.
Included in the support that we offer to the Trust is an all-inclusive server support and AVG anti-virus software. Ensuring the charity is safe in the knowledge that the systems are monitored and support available 365 days a year, all for a set cost per month. No unexpected bills for when something goes awry on a weekend or holiday period.
This support became invaluable one weekend when something went wrong on the network. As 24 hours support was in place, an out of hour’s call was made to MPR IT. With the ability to remotely look at the network our engineer quickly identified that malware had in fact infiltrated the system, and he quickly made the decision to make his way to the site.
Within an hour of the initial call out the network on site had been shut down and all machines physically unplugged to avoid any further damage occurring. This is key with any malware attack, the sooner the network is detached from the outside world the quicker it will stop from spreading. Over the next few hours, the infected file was identified and removed whilst the remaining files were scanned. The network is backed up on a regular basis,which is something we recommend to all our clients. This meant that when restoring the network it was easy to revert to the most recent back up and limited data lost, especially as this occurred out of hours meaning that there had been limited access since the back up the previous evening.
What Canterbury Archaeological Trust have to say about MPR IT
Just a quick note to thank you and the team – and especially David and Mitch – for the fantastic response to the weekend viral attack on our computer systems, and for your sound advice in the first place which resulted in building such a resilient set-up. From your first response on Monday, which limited the damage, to the speedy and efficient disaster recovery, we could not have asked for more. Several of our staff have commented on their amazement at the speed with which you got us back up and running. Brilliant job, well done!
Personally, I can’t help contrasting it with what happened a few years back when the Raid Array blew, that really was a disaster. We’ve come a very long way since then, thanks to MPR-IT.
Commercial Operations Director
Canterbury Archaeological Trust
For more information on how we can support your business please do not hesitate to contact us and discuss your requirements.Read more
Do you own a Hewlett Packard notebook or laptop? It has recently been announced by HP, that a number of their batteries need to be recalled. This is part of a worldwide project and follows an earlier recall notice in June 2016. You are advised to to check your battery as a matter of urgency. Even if you checked your battery last year you must still check again following the expansion of batteries being recalled.
If you have an affected battery you must stop using this IMMEDIATELY. You can still use your notebook but you must connect your notebook to a main power source. Once logged with HP, you will be sent a replacement battery.
We also strongly advise that your files and documents held on your notebook are backed up in the event of the battery overheating.
Please see the HP page with details on how to check your battery. You can either check this manually or you have the option to run a utility.exe to establish if you are affected.
Alternatively, for option B, you will need your notebook and battery serial number to input into the site. You will need to switch off your device to obtain this information, please follow this link.
If you are still uncertain if you are affected by this please contact our help team as a matter of urgency 0800 030 20 30.
Ransomware, cryptolocker and cybercrime seem to be the most popular topics in the news this year. I look after the social media here at MPR IT and a large chunk of my role is to review numerous websites looking for news that may be of interest to not only our customers but also to our team. By keeping on top of the news means we can be one step ahead of new technology coming out, and also what to watch out for.
Most of the news seems to be about cybercrime and hackers lately. Companies are attacked daily, from small websites through to the American government. Utility companies, dating sites, children’s toys they have all been in the news and not for the best reasons. Just this week it was reported that train companies in the UK had been hacked. With more and more companies relying on technology to run it, I sadly fear it won’t be long till some unscrupulous organisation will try a major attack to infrastructure.
Whilst reviewing news sites this week, I was extremely pleased to see a report on a University in Florida. They are one small step closer to helping the world combat cybercrime, by designing a technique called Crypto Drop. The report showed that by monitoring activity on targeted files, it was possible to block ransomware when only a tiny percentage had been encrypted. Whilst it is not fail safe, it is a new approach against hackers. The technique includes countermeasures which are triggered once ransomware infiltrates the network. This technique relies on three indicators of ransomware activity:
- Bulk modification of file types
- Dissimilarity – plain text looks nothing like encrypted file
- Entropy – encryption produces high entropy
Whilst running the demonstration it was proven that Crypto Drop can contain the action of malware. Only 0.2% of files were encrypted. In essence this is an early warning system as opposed to a fail safe solution. Ransomware will still be on your network, and action should still be taken to clean the network, however only a small percentage of files will be lost as opposed to the network. This will not be an automated piece of software and will require your network administrator to run the software to help distinguish between expected and unexpected activity.
As we all know the people behind cybercrime are equally as clever and constantly coming up with new ways to infiltrate our systems and come up with new scams, once a program such as this is developed fully and launched they will no doubt be looking at ways to break through Crypto Drop.
So there is a little light at the end of the tunnel in the war against cybercrime. In the meantime please ensure you review your network security and business practises to ensure you do not become a victim to cybercrime. We have blogged before about the best ways to stay ahead of hackers and this technique will be no excuse to not continue ensuring your systems are secure and backed up regularly. If you require any assistance on making sure your network is secure at all times please contact us at MPR IT Solutions.Read more
From researching this subject there are many blogs, reviews and pages giving information on SQL Servers and the end of support. As well as the many different options out there to replace the 2005 version. Much of which washes over my head and confuses me more. I am sure the same could be said for many people out there. When I write our blogs, my aim is to make a subject simple and easy to understand. Thankfully I am not at MPR for my tech expertise, I leave that to our helpdesk and engineers. That’s their speciality, they have it down to a fine art of understanding and reviewing all products on the market. So here is what I have learnt about SQL servers in normal simple terms that you & I will probably understand.
Microsoft SQL server is a database server developed by the Microsoft Corporation back in the 90’s and has progressed as with many things over time with various new releases. The time has now come that Microsoft will stop providing updates and support for this particular version, as with many of their older systems. We have previously experienced the end of support for various Windows operating systems, such as Windows 2003 server in July 2015.
In basic terms a SQL server is mainly used to fetch the data requested by any other software from the data stored in the server itself. The software, which requests the data from the server, could be on the same computer or either could be located away on a different computer connected remotely via the internet.
Microsoft SQL 2005 a.k.a. Yukon was launched in October 2005 by the Microsoft Corporation. At the time of its launch, it consisted of some advanced and extra features which the preceding version didn’t have. The same is for the new launch of any new product. Since its launch there have been further versions released as time has gone on that have been more advanced and effective.
From 12 April 2016, if you are running the 2005 version you will no longer receive any security updates from Microsoft and so could be at risk to attack or loss of your data. Microsoft are now recommending that you upgrade your SQL Server 2005 to either SQL Server 2014 or to Azure SQL Server to maintain security and compliance.
Our team at MPR can help you make the decision between all the options available based on your business needs and help to plan the upgrade and roll out to your business with minimal disruption. There are many different variables to help make the choice between SQL servers, whether cloud based (Azure SQL Server) or on-site (SQL Server 2014) MPR will investigate which of the options are most suited to your business. Additionally giving you the peace of mind that the upgrade has been carried out professionally along with any additional support you may require.
Please contact the team at MPR if you are running SQL Server 2005 or if you are unsure of the SQL Server version you are operating to discuss your options.Read more