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Special Edition Cisco CyberSecurity Report for SMBs

Announcing the first-ever special edition cybersecurity report for small and midsize businesses.

Many small and midmarket businesses aspire to more effective cybersecurity practices just like larger counterparts. SMBs are dynamic – the backbone of innovation and the poster child of hardwork. They run even faster and work even harder than enterprise peers. And they are exposed to the same cyber threats.

Check out this recent Special CyberSecurity Report from our partner, Cisco, to learn how SMB’s can fortify their defenses against today’s threats. If you have questions, email us today.

Download the report today.

Hot Holiday Tech Gifts You Can Afford

When shopping for holiday gifts on behalf of your business, keep in mind that tech gifts are always appreciated. Finding tech gifts that recipients will appreciate that are also in your price range can be a challenge, so we’ve put together a menu of hot tech gifts for 2018 in a variety of price ranges for you.

Less than $10

NUBWO Portable Bluetooth Speakers with HD Audio and Enhanced Bass

This handy speaker is not only small (3.8×3.8×3 inches) and light (8 ounces), it also connects with most Bluetooth audio devices in three seconds and provides room-filling sound. It can be used to make hands-free calls from smartphones, tablets and more.

Less than $50

Blue Microphones

Blue is the hottest name in microphones today. Whether used for recording, streaming, Skype, Twitch, conference calls or any other way a computer microphone can be used, whoever you give a Blue microphone to will be heard loud and clear.

Less than $100

Ring WiFi Smart Video Doorbell

The Ring video doorbell is a tech gift that lets the home resident get up-close-and-personal with whoever rings their doorbell – even if they are on the other side of the country. The doorbell is connected via WiFi, which enables use of the Ring app on iOS and Android.

Less than $150

Beats by Dre Solo2 Luxe Edition Wireless Headphones

Solo2 headphones look like a sports car, feel like they were made for whoever is wearing them and sound totally awesome. Includes HD audio and enhanced bass. Plus, depending on the device you use, the RemoteTalk cable lets the user change songs, adjust volume and make calls without getting up.

Less than $300

4K UHD TV

You can spend $3,000 or more for a Smart 4K Ultra High Definition (UHD) TV with High Dynamic Range (HDR), but you can also find a selection for less than $300. 4K UHD TV with HDR is the new standard for Smart TV because the picture has double the pixels in each direction and looks incredible.

Less than $400

Apple Watch Series 4

Perfect for the Apple enthusiast, the Apple Watch Series 4 is bigger, better and more affordable than its predecessor, and one of the hottest gifts available. Displays are 30 percent larger. Sound is 50 percent louder. There’s a built-in GPS as well as potentially life-saving electrical and optical heart sensors. It’s also a true marker of success.

 Less than $1,000

HP Spectre X360 Laptop

For the PC user who admires everything about a MacBook Pro (except that it’s a Mac), the HP Spectre X360 is the perfect gift. At 2.78 lb. with a full HD screen (or higher resolution), the Spectre X360 runs Windows 10 and is a business computing powerhouse.

Every item on this list is a business-appropriate gift the recipient will use and enjoy. Holiday gifts let people know they are appreciated and help solidify business relationships. Of course, you’ll want to remember the people who do the work in your organization.

And what about the organization itself? An IT infrastructure that works the way it’s supposed to and drives growth by maximizing productivity is about the best gift you can give your organization. Contact us today to discuss how much more your technology could be doing for your organization.

Jenna Barboza Honored with 2018 Tech Collective Award

Jenna Barboza

Join us in congratulating our Service Operations Manager, Jenna Barboza! On Nov. 15, 2018 she will receive a 2018 Tech Collective Next Tech Generation Award, an honor that celebrates outstanding up-and-coming technology professionals. A graduate of the New England Institute of Technology, Jenna joined Vertikal6 via our Apprentice program almost three years ago and has never looked back. She motivates her teammates and goes above and beyond to assist our clients on a daily basis. We are amazed by her everyday and this award is proof that hard work pays off! Congratulations Jenna!

We took a few minutes to catch up with Jenna and ask her a few questions about her career, how she leads her job and her passion for technology.

  1. You were recently promoted to Service Operations Manager. What does this job entail? In this role, I will lead the Service Desk and NOC teams and work in a cross-functional capacity with the engineering teams to maintain and enhance our overall delivery of service. I am also excited to continue to grow and improve upon our recruiting efforts and internal training methods and systems. It is a passion for me to help my teammates move along their career paths to reach their professional goals as well as ensure that Vertikal6 fosters top technical talent.
  2. How do you prioritize training for your team? At Vertikal6, we hire our Level I Support staff as apprentices, so I oversee the in-depth training and certifications necessary to shape these apprentices into skilled technicians with a wide breadth of IT knowledge. We want everyone at Vertikal6 to be trained to the highest industry standard while delivering outstanding customer service. My approach to training aligns nicely with our company culture – keep it fun, challenging and collaborative. It’s always rewarding to see my team truly excited to come to work every day and continue to learn.
  3. What is your favorite part about your job? The favorite part of my job is making work fun for my team. Help Desk can be an extremely stressful job, so I am grateful to work for a company that allows me to put a stronger focus on making it an enjoyable position. Although we have a large amount of exciting company-wide perks and events, the focus I have is to make training fun. The apprentices have to complete two certifications which can be overwhelming, so making the training fun is a great way to relieve some of their stress. It’s important to me that they are excited to learn and grow their skills, so I am constantly developing new ways to train them. We often have competitions based on training videos or daily goals, and occasionally even play Jeopardy with questions based on skills, SOP’s, and even client specific details.
  4. How do you envision your work or innovation changing technological, business and/or cultural environments? I hope that the work I do will help change the hiring and training process within the technology field. At Vertikal6, we hire apprentices in order to train our team based on our core values. We focus a great deal of our training on how to utilize all resources available. This enables the techs to be much more independent when assisting clients and allows them to grow towards high positions much sooner than normal. If this process becomes more widely accepted then there will be more opportunities available at an entry-level. Self-taught techs and even people from different fields will be able to more easily enter this growing and rewarding field.
  5. How did you become interested in working within the technology fields?  My passion for technology was sparked by my grandfather’s own interest in tech. He was always buying the newest machines and gear, so once he saw my interest growing he began giving me all of his older machines. I finally realized it was time to start committing myself to a career in technology when I was working in healthcare and noticed that I had become the unofficial IT technician for the company.
  6. Describe some of your greatest technology accomplishments. My personal greatest technology accomplishments have been with Vertikal6. Since joining the company as an Apprentice in February 2016, I have earned four major promotions. I grew from an entry-level Apprentice to a Level I Associate and then to a Support Team Lead, all by December of 2016. Exactly a year later I was promoted to Service Desk Manager, and most recently Service Operations Manager. I have always had such a strong passion for technology and Vertikal6 has made it such a satisfying career for me. I worked so hard to be where I am today, and I am so grateful to have a company behind be that supports me and rewards me for my hard work and dedication.
  7. Where do you see yourself in five years? I hope to still be with Vertikal6! It truly is an amazing company to work for and I hope to see the company grow while actively growing along with it. Seeing the people that I train move to higher positions has been extremely rewarding for me, so I’m excited to see where they continue to go and the amazing achievements they will have with Vertikal6. I look forward to the new and interesting positions that will become available as the company grows.

 

Proactively track, manage & forecast your IT budgets with ESP

ESP Elevated Strategy Platform

IT Health & Much, Much More

Introducing ESP – Powerful Success Software for your IT

Have you heard about ESP? It’s our proprietary software that helps our MaxCare clients adhere to and surpass IT best practices. No other Managed Service Provider in the area uses technology like this. With over 160 questions within six IT areas, we’re able to review and assess your IT strengths and risks, not to mention the level of risk and anticipated timing!

Our Reports Provide the Real Story – What, When and Why
ESP gives you visibility into the ongoing health of your IT in six key areas so you can make the right decisions, eliminate surprises, remove roadblocks and keep your team productive. Our VCIOs utilize these reports to develop a plan to align your strategic and technology goals, showing you where you are following best practices as well as our recommendations to mitigate each risk that is identified. We believe that technology is more than software and hardware. It’s about service. It’s about making your technology work for you, and providing peace of mind. Our IT Success Software aligns all of your IT information and insights in one place to proactively track, manage, and forecast your IT budgets all from one system.

 

  • Know When to Act: Knowing where you are allows us to assess and mitigate the highest risks and can work with you to proactively take action when it’s right for you.
  • VCIO Insight: Our VCIOs utilize the information in ESP to help you answer why. Their insight provides a powerful perspective on your overall IT health. Often times simple changes can provide powerful results.
  • A Roadmap Based on Your Operations: Know how your technology decisions integrate into your business — now and in the future. By analyzing your needs, challenges, and goals over time, we’ll help you navigate and plan through any tech challenge.
  • IT Inventory Management: Manage assets, network inventory, workstations, warranties, subscriptions, renewals, and more all in one place.
  • Focused on Success: Define, manage, and measure your methodology for driving IT success by leveraging industry best practices.
  • Budgets Backed by Strategy: Not only will you know your technology budget for the next 3 years at all times, you’ll know the exact reason behind the plan.

Is it Time to Optimize your IT Journey? Call us today at 401-825-4401 or email info@vertikal6.com to learn more.

Everything You Were Afraid to Ask About Section 179

Taxes can overwhelm the best of us – but if you’re the owner of a small or medium-sized business, Section 179 is well worth the extra effort this tax season. If you’ve put off looking into this bottom-line-boosting provision, let us break it down:

What is the Section 179 tax deduction?

Instead of gradually depreciating technology over several years, Section 179 allows you to deduct the full price of any qualifying equipment or software purchased or leased during the year. It’s meant to encourage businesses to stay competitive by purchasing the equipment they need while benefiting their bottom line. Depreciating assets in the first year also helps reduce overall profit, which is the figure that ultimately determines your tax payment.

Will it benefit me?

No matter your industry or the size of your business, you rely heavily on technology to service your customers, make your job easier and capture your share of the market. Section 179 allows you to upgrade to the newest technologies without the blow of a huge upfront cost. Even businesses with a net loss are qualified to deduct some of the cost of new equipment and carry forward the loss.

What qualifies?

  • Purchased, financed or leased business equipment
  • Computers and “off-the-shelf” software (productive, anti-virus, administrative, etc.)
  • Office equipment and machinery (e.g. servers and printers, routers, network switches, network security appliances)
  • Commercial use vehicles
  • Improvements to nonresidential property

What do I need to do?

  • Purchase, finance or lease equipment and put it into use by midnight on Dec. 31, 2018
  • Use it for business purposes more than 50% of the time
  • Consult with your accountant to determine your eligibility

What are my limits?

  • $1M – Maximum total amount you can write off in 2018
  • $2.5M – Maximum total amount of equipment purchased in 2018 eligible for full deduction

How can I take advantage of the Section 179 deduction?

  • Simply make the purchase and use Form 4562 to claim your deduction
  • The full deduction can be claimed until you’ve reached $2.5M in equipment or software purchases
  • Past the $2.5M point, the deduction decreases on a dollar for dollar basis and disappears once $3.5M worth of equipment is purchased

 Stop making excuses not to invest in yourself and get a powerful edge over your competition by taking advantage of Section 179. Not sure where to start? Contact us today to talk about upgrading your technology infrastructure.

Microsoft Teams: Unleash the Power of Teamwork

Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams brings chat, content, people, and tools together, all in one hub, wherever you are.

Teamwork is how work gets done. Today, people who work as teams are more likely to be high performers: working faster, iterating quicker, and accomplishing more.

Employees have been using chat tools like text messages and social media with ease for years. Transitioning to similar forms of communication at work is a natural next step for the mobile-first, instant communication-driven workforce. Microsoft Teams is the collaboration tool that enables teamwork at all levels of your organization, making it easy for your staff to work, share, chat, and achievemore.

Chat, calls & meetings for today’s teams: Communicate in the moment and keep everyone in the know. Chat in public or private groups or one-on-one. Audio and video calls are just a click away, and notifications and chat history ensure everyone is kept updated.Host audio, video, and web conferences with anyone inside or outside your organization. Get features like scheduling assistance, note taking, desktop sharing, uploading files, and chat messaging. For big meetings, go live with Skype Meeting Broadcast. Host webinars, all-hands meetings, and other one-to-many presentations with up to 10,000 attendees internal or external to your organization.

Collaborate with integrated Office 365 apps: Teams makes teamwork easy. Access and manage all your conversations, files, and tools in one team workspace. Coauthor and share files with popular Office 365 apps like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, SharePoint, and Power BI.

Customize for each team: Tailor your Teams workspace to include content, capabilities,data and apps your teams use every day. Integrate apps from Microsoft and third-party partner services to tailor your process, increasing teamwork and productivity. Tailor your workspaceto get notifications and content from services you care about—Trello, GitHub, Adobe Creative Cloud, SurveyMonkey, and many more.Tabs and Connectors provide quick access to frequently used documents, websites and 3rd party apps such as Trello, GitHub and Asana.

Minimize silos and increase transparency with channels: There is never only one project happening at once. Channels are used to separate content and conversations which will help your team focus on specific topics or areas. Channels are dedicated sections within a team to keep conversations organized by specific topics, projects, department, disciplines and more —-whatever works for your team!  This also makes it easy for different members of the team to see what’s going on when.

Enterprise security, compliance & manageability: Teams is integrated into Office 365, which means it features the enterprise-grade security and compliance you expect from Office 365. Teams is Tier C-compliant at launch. This includes the following standards: ISO 27001, ISO 27018, SSAE16 SOC 1 and SOC 2, HIPAA, and EU Model Clauses (EUMC). Teams also enforces team-wide and organization-wide two-factor authentication, single sign-on through Active Directory, and encryption of data in transit and at rest. Files are stored in SharePoint and are backed by SharePoint encryption.

With Microsoft Teams you’ll unleash the power of teamwork, and Vertikal6 can help you get started on the right foot. We have extensive experience in driving value realization from Microsoft’s teamwork solutions. Our experience with Office 365 including Microsoft Teams, SharePoint, Yammer, and Stream will help you build a culture of collaboration that empowers your employees while adhering to the growing security and compliance requirements. As your partner we can provide guidance and insights you can use to help your employees drive adoption and make the best use of Microsoft Teams within your organization. Contact us today to learn more.

 

Why Your Business Needs a vCIO to Succeed

If you have plans to expand your business, your technology needs to scale with you and support your growth. But, your IT team is too busy with day-to-day tasks to perform comprehensive assessments, research the newest tech innovations and create a strategic roadmap for the future. Hiring a costly executive to oversee your IT might be out of the question, but you’re not out of options. Enter a virtual CIO, or vCIO – an expert or team of experts focused on managing your high-level IT needs, for a fraction of the cost of an in-house CIO.

Here are four reasons your business needs a vCIO to succeed:

Creating a Plan for the Future

Your IT might be keeping pace with your needs today – but, without a strategic plan for growth, the technology underpinning your business gives you headaches or fails altogether. A vCIO assesses your current technology infrastructure and consults with you about your business goals to develop a detailed roadmap for the future. This ensures that your hardware, software, applications and other technology solutions align with your needs, and that you’re not wasting time and money on technology that won’t bring you closer to your goals.

Ensuring Business Continuity

Do you have a backup and disaster recovery plan in place? Do you know where your data is stored and how to access it if your primary systems fail due to a natural disaster, cyber attack or employee error? A vCIO designs a disaster recovery strategy tailored to your business, so you’re protected from every angle. They monitor your network 24/7 for potential disruptions and resolve them before they impact your business. Additionally, a vCIO mitigates the risk of downtime and data loss while updating or migrating systems.

Making Smart Investments

New products and services always sound good – but, how do you know if they’ll actually provide a strong return on investment? Virtual CIOs stay up-to-date on tech innovations and understand which ones will support your business now and into the future. Your vCIO can also help you prepare for aspects of the transition that would otherwise cause unexpected hiccups. Make decisions with confidence, knowing that you’re choosing the best investments for your business.

Meeting Industry Requirements

Whether you’re in healthcare, retail, financial services or another industry, you face a long list of regulations – and failing to comply results in crippling fines. Virtual CIOs develop industry-specific experience, so they can help you meet regulations such as HIPAA and PCI, stay current with standards and protect your customers’ data – and your reputation. They can also make recommendations on the best software programs and applications for your specialized business needs.

Virtual CIOs help you achieve success by adding value to your operations – without the full-time salary, benefits and office space of an in-house CIO. Interested in learning how a vCIO can impact your business? Contact us today to find out.

Why Should You Consider IoT? The Good, the Bad and the Integration

As technology progresses, we’re finding new ways to keep all of our devices connected for a seamless user experience. This idea is called the Internet of Things (IoT), and it works for more than just computing devices – it also includes mechanical and digital objects.

From microwaves, washing machines and lamps to televisions, projectors and security systems, connecting your technologies is a powerful concept. Gartner predicts that IoT will be a $1.9 trillion industry by 2020. So, what do you need to know to take advantage of this trend to grow your business?

The Good

The IoT helps you track behavior in real-time and enhances situational awareness, but what does that actually mean for you? Imagine it’s 6 pm, and you’re cooking dinner while listening to music. You connect your mobile device to your surround-sound television. Your technology keeps track of your activity, and IoT uses that information to analyze what you’re doing, viewing or listening to in real-time. Using that data, you’ll gain a customized experience. You skip a slower song, and your devices react by adjusting algorithms to produce fewer slow-tempo songs. Now, imagine how you can use IoT to enhance your customer’s experience. You can use the data you collected to figure out when their technology needs updated or to identify breaches based on location and trends.

The Bad

It’s important to note that the more devices connected to the Internet, the more vulnerable your information is to unauthorized users. By connecting your mobile device to your home security system, your business’s Wi-Fi, your email and more, you open up a variety of entry points for hackers and other cyber criminals to access and manipulate your systems. But, even the bad isn’t all bad – a reliable IT partner can keep your endpoints protected by multiple layers of security.

The Integration

When considering an IoT approach, you need to ask yourself a few questions:

  • What are the goals of my business?
  • What is my realistic budget?
  • Which solutions make the most sense for my business?
  • Should I integrate technology all at once or in stages?

A managed service provider can help you answer these questions while ensuring IoT devices are properly integrated and secured. Integration begins with identifying your needs, determining which solutions work best for your business needs, then deploying those solutions, testing services post-deployment and protecting your endpoints.

Adopting the IoT approach impacts your business significantly. The vast amount of data and services available can shape your daily workflow. For more information on how IoT can affect your business, or to start implementing IoT, contact us today. We’ll help you work through the good, the bad and the integration.

5 Lessons 2017 Taught Us About IT Disaster Recovery

We can look back on 2017 as the worst of times – when it came to disasters, at least. Severe weather, data breaches and global hacking attempts affected thousands of businesses, costing them an estimated $926 to $17,244 for every minute of unplanned downtime. Instead of letting the unthinkable damage your business, fight back with these five strategies:

  • Back Up Your Data to the Cloud

Following Hurricanes Irma, Harvey and Maria, hundreds of businesses found their physical equipment and servers submerged in water. Storing data on-site is convenient, but an unexpected disaster can wipe away years of information in the blink of an eye. Migrating your data to the cloud means your information is protected and readily available – and you’ll never have to start from scratch.

  • Prepare for a Remote Workforce

Even after the Thomas wildfire in California was contained, smoke and poor air conditions made it impossible for many employees to return to their offices. Anything from a severe storm to surprise pest control treatments can force employees out of their workspaces, so have a plan in place that will allow your team to access necessary tools from any Internet-enabled location.

  • Monitor for Breaches and Respond Quickly

A massive breach of data from Equifax – one of the three largest credit agencies in the US – lasted from May to July and wasn’t reported publicly until September. The Social Security, credit card and driver’s license numbers of more than 145 million consumers were compromised, and victims rushed to protect themselves against potential identity thieves. Avoid losing your customers’ trust by proactively monitoring for breaches, shutting them down promptly and providing a full inventory of the damage to those affected.

  • Don’t Underestimate Human Error

People are unpredictable – that’s why 90 percent of cyber security issues stem from human behavior. Employee negligence is the number one cause of data breaches at small to medium-sized businesses. Comprehensive training can close the gap, but it’s not foolproof. Combine your team’s efforts with strong cyber security policies.

  • Update Outdated Software Programs

The WannaCry Ransomware Attack, which resulted in hackers taking control of more than 200,000 computers in 150 countries, targeted a weakness in outdated software for which a patch was already available. Hospitals, airlines, police departments and more were brought to a halt, and paying the ransom did not result in the return of data. Update your software regularly to fix vulnerabilities and avoid becoming an easy target for hackers.

Don’t panic. A solid IT disaster recovery plan will protect your business and get you back up and running with minimal – if any – hassle and downtime. Unsure where to start? We learn the ins and outs of your business to develop and implement a customized recovery plan. Contact us today to get started.

Vertikal6 Achieves Cisco Premier Certification

(Warwick, RI)– [06/04/18] – Vertikal6 announced today it has achieved Premier Certification from Cisco®. To earn Premier Certification, Vertikal6 had to meet standards for networking competency, service, support and customer satisfaction set forth by Cisco.

“We are extremely excited to be recognized as a Premier Cisco Partner and proud of our amazing team for this accomplishment. At Vertikal6, one of our six core competencies are to Improve Eternally and attaining Premier Status signifies that we have received extensive training in Cisco solutions as we continue to provide our customers with best-in-class products, services and technical support.”  Said Chief Executive Officer, Rick Norberg.

As a Cisco Premier Certified Partner, Vertikal6 demonstrates a range of technical expertise. To achieve Cisco Premier Certification, Vertikal6 was required to achieve the Cisco Express Foundation Specialization. This specialization includes tests on technical competency in the integration of basic routing and switching, wireless LANs, and security technologies. In addition, Vertikal6 was required to have one hybrid IT offering and demonstrate measurably high levels of customer satisfaction based on independently audited customer satisfaction surveys.

About Vertikal6

Vertikal6 is a full-service IT consultant serving the Greater New England area. They offer IT Outsourcing, Professional Services, Hosting Services, Software Development and Help Desk to help their clients maximize revenue and uptime. As one of Providence Business News’ (PBN) fastest growing and most innovative companies in 2014 and a PBN Best Places to Work in 2016, 2017 and 2018, they understand the impact of hard work and efficiency. They work hard to partner with their clients to understand the specific needs of their company and employees. To learn more about Vertikal6, visit www.vertikal6.com.

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