Archive for the ‘Helpful News’ category

Obamacare Site Disaster: How To Fix It

November 7th, 2013

As the government attempts to figure out the problems with the Obamacare flagship site and the backend databases, solution providers said that there are options for a few so-called “quick wins” to help the site get up and rolling. The 20 million hits on the website show that people are voting with their mouse clicks, and that many people want to use the site to sign up rather than phone calls or paperwork. In light of all the technical problems, Here’s a look at the first steps solution providers say they would take to get the site working again.

The first step that should have been taken was to follow best practices from the beginning. if you build performance culture early on, finding the problems as you go along is a lot more efficient than trying to find them at the end of the process, If best practices had been followed, the time constraints on the launch would not have been as much of an issue.

We have found it is best practice to develop one function at a time, both to test individual performance and communicate the results to the customer. However, a lot of people still follow the “waterfall” approach, he said, which isn’t nearly as effective. We have seen startups go from zero to 10 million users in three months with no problems when using best practices. This can be done.

Instead of launching the site to the entire country all at once, it would have been better to do a scaled rollout. Compare the situation to a Black Friday rush, where it’s better to let customers slowly come onto the site rather than allowing a stampede of holiday shoppers trample each other for the latest toy.

First offer the program to small businesses as a smaller-scale trial run and implementing the lessons learned from that rollout before expanding the offering to individuals and families.

They could have scaled it much differently than going for the big bang theory of providing the service.

One of the major areas of blame for the site fiasco was the immense amount of traffic that hit the site since its Oct. 1 launch, already logging more than 20 million hits. The problem could have been helped if the developers used a scalable cloud approach instead of throwing more money into hardware. The hardware would also work, but it is a lot more labor and capital intensive,

It’s unbelievable what you could do now with the cloud approach. The cloud is the best option for unpredictable workloads and data sizes.

Just look at Netflix. Netflix traffic spikes as people come home from work, so the site keeps extra space on standby to accommodate the additional traffic. Although cloud virtualization becomes trickier with personalization, the same approach could have helped the site.

Even though Connecticut’s state-run health exchange has been running well, with no downtime so far, interacting with the federal database system is still a struggle. The site has to interact with a variety of databases from insurance companies, healthcare organizations and the IRS, to name a few. There isn’t a set of standards among the databases, which is one of the problems with the healthcare exchange. It’s almost like they’re reinventing the wheel. There are solutions out there already.

One solution would be to force healthcare providers to standardize their databases instead of simply adhering to what they had been doing before. You end up doing the same thing a hundred different ways with each provider.

After experimenting on the site, we found it needs improved search capabilities and a virtual agent to assist consumers. Instead of clicking all over the site, which chews up bandwidth, consumers could find their answers much more quickly. For example our own experiment showed thaif we searched I have a heart condition or What if I live in Connecticut which has a state exchange, no results popped up. But, if you type into the search that you cannot afford insurance, for example, it spews out more than 100 results that aren’t necessarily related.

The site is preventing people from self-educating, which 20 million-plus site clicks proved people wanted to do. Going forward the search data would help refine the site in the future, as companies like Amazon and Google already do. That should help them understand how the has to transform itself to actually support what the consumers are looking for.

One of the keys to the Connecticut state health exchange success was a tough decision in January to cut functionality by 30 to 35 percent, said exchange CEO Counihan. “In retrospect I think it was the smartest decision we made,” Counihan said.

We suspected that part of the problem with the site was discussions about what functionalities should be included. I could only imagine that all the internal bureaucratic debates on what the app should do and shouldn’t do … was a big part of the problem.

Enhancing that issue was the contract basis of the work, because workers are often paid per line of code. He joked that it makes people more inclined to code Ferrari-like features into the system rather than taking a simplified business approach. There were a lot of extras, which created inefficiency. It’s like everything and the kitchen sink was left in the website whether it was needed or not.

One major problem was the “broad overuse” of third-party services, a number of which were likely unnecessary because many of the third parties performed the same tasks. Financial services companies usually have five to seven third parties involved with their sites. The site had well over 20 or 30 third parties, the analysis found a very aggressive overuse of these third-party services.

The other main problem with the third parties is that they are out of the site’s control, if the third party can’t handle the traffic load,and then the site will collapse.

Basic performance culture is to eliminate the amount of times that the site must call up Web elements. An analysis of the site shows it takes an average of more than 16 seconds for each time the site has to call up a page.

Each one is a performance penalty to the website. It’s like doing laps on the track. Four versus 100, it slows things down. It takes a lot longer for the website to load.

It would make a lot more sense for the government to pull in companies like Facebook or Twitter, both of which have millions of users pulling information from different sources all of the time.

Multiple companies have offered their application performance management software to the healthcare site, including Compuware APM and AppDynamics. It would be helpful to do an analysis to discover the location of bottlenecks.

Without having a system that can do this accurate performance analysis, they’re really falling into the age-old trap of looking in all the areas without having any visibility of what to fix. Without that,they’re really flying blind.

The government is bringing in some great companies to help fix the problems, such as Verizon, but without APM, the companies won’t have any idea where to look. They’re bringing in some really good people who could help if the problem is in a specific area, but I think they’re really guessing at this point. At the congressional hearing with the major contractors involved in building the site, none of the contractor representatives were able to answer the question of who was in charge of compiling the pieces and testing the final project, except for generally attributing it to CMS. Testing is usually the last piece of the project, but it is crucially important. I think the biggest problem is that, especially when you’re trying to get the website to market, if you don’t have a focus on performance, it’s often too late to cross your fingers and hope performance is good. We recommend performance testing before a website goes live.

Connecticut Health Care Exchange’s Counihan said the Exchange tested its site a few months before launch and found 67 defects, which it was able to fix before the launch.

In the end, problems after rollout damage the company’s brand. There will be a lingering reputational impact on the site going forward because of the botched implementation.

Planning an E-Commerce website

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By Sarah Kuranda

How to Build a Highly Effective and Cost-Efficient Disaster Recovery Plan

July 15th, 2013

Small and midsize businesses have an opportunity to significantly improve their disaster recovery plans at a cost-efficient price point through a combination of virtualization and advances in storage technologies. Even organizations that have infrastructures with 10 or fewer physical servers can save money and increase protection by implementing an end-to-end approach to disaster recovery, delivering better protection, faster recovery times, reduced downtime costs and improved business availability and continuity.

It’s an opportunity that should not be ignored. All businesses these days are more dependent than ever on the availability of their IT infrastructures to deliver products and services to customers. We are in an era of 24/7 global operations, and any downtime can be costly. Significant downtime can be downright crippling: According to one study, 43% of companies that suffered a “major loss” of data went out of business immediately, while another 51% had to permanently shut down within two years.
Furthermore, a recent  study showed that the cost of data center downtime now averages $5,600 for every minute that the IT infrastructure is not available.Only 6 percent of companies survive longer than two years after losing data. Unfortunately, too many businesses are not getting the message.
Approximately one-third of companies surveyed  said they had no disaster recovery plan in place, and 10% said they didn’t even have plans to develop one.  The most common reasons cited by the companies were disaster recovery plans are too complex, are not being pushed by top management or are just too expensive. However,virtualization and network storage technologies have changed the game for disaster recovery, making today’s solutions less complex and less expensive to deploy. Given these technology advances, combined with the risks of downtime and lost data, there should no longer be any excuses for businesses of any size to not deploy an adequate disaster recovery plan. For SMBs, it shouldn’t be a question of why a disaster recovery plan is needed, but how to put an effective disaster recovery plan in place. This article will focus on some of the fundamentals you need to build and sustain a cost-efficient disaster recovery plan for your small or midsize business.

Building blocks for disaster recovery

One of the keys to building a successful disaster recovery solution is to identify the requirements of your business for recovery. What would be the cost impact if certain applications were unavailable for a specific period of time? What are your recovery point objectives (RPO) and your recovery time objectives (RTO)? Do these vary from application to application? When you examine your goals, you are likely to find that traditional methods of disaster recovery are no longer cost efficient for SMBs. The idea of creating a separate mirrored data center is cost prohibitive and unnecessary. In today’s environment, the most effective disaster recovery solutions are built on a foundation of key technologies: virtualization and networked storage.

Virtualization has truly changed the paradigm for disaster recovery. In traditional non-virtualized environments, organizations have to set up a mirrored infrastructure. This means spending money to buy, deploy, manage and support a duplicated data center, with a duplicated server infrastructure and a duplicated network environment. In addition, the IT department must establish and oversee the processes and procedures for restarting servers and operating systems, re-launching applications and getting users back up and running all while deploy- n resources to determine the impact of the disaster and how much and which data was lost. In a virtualized environment, you no longer need duplicate mirrored systems. By separating the hardware from the underlying software, youare able to create an image of your product- tin virtual machine and replicate that on a second virtual machine, which can be located anywhere. You no longer need to invest nearly the same amount in additional equipment facilities, power, cooling and management. For many organizations, best practices still dictate the need for a separate disaster recovery site, but the costs involved in creating and managing that site in a virtualized environment are far lower than they are in a traditional environment.

Network storage is another building block that is changing the face of disaster recovery. Major technology advances such as automated tiering; storage virtualization, snapshotting, compression and reduplication have significantly simplified disaster recovery processes, while introducing major cost
efficiencies in backup, replication and recovery. With networked technology solutions, your entire storage infrastructure can be far more effective in addressing backup and recovery challenges, particularly in today’s environment, where storage volumes are growing dramatically. Integrated reduplication reduces the amount of files you have to save and creates a single, current version of each
file. Automated tiring moves data to appropriate storage devices throughout its lifetime, enabling your organization to extend the lifecycle of older devices so that they can be used at a failover site for disaster recovery purposes. Storage virtualization allows you to centralize management of your entire
storage infrastructure so that is appears as a single device. Snapshotting can dramatically improve RPO and RTO by enabling you to accurately pinpoint when your systems went down and where to begin the recovery process.

Building a cost-efficient disaster recovery solution putting n place the essential building blocks of virtualization and network storage backup will put you on the path toward a successful disaster recovery solution. But he ultimate success of your plan will be contingent on choosing the right platforms, tools and partners. You want to make sure that your storage and virtualization solutions give you the ability to manage your disaster recovery environment from a central location so that you can speed all of your processes, from deployment and provisioning through monitoring, testing and validation. You also want to make sure your storage and virtualization vendors are closely aligned
with integrated solutions that have been designed to work together to enable efficiencies in managing your policies and processes. Here are some of the key considerations in building a cost-efficient disaster recovery solution on a oundation of virtualization and network storage:

Centralized management: In the event of a disaster, you want to be able to manage your recovery operations from a single console so you can coordinate activities more quickly and efficiently. This will result in significant cost savings, not only when a disaster occurs, but also in the ongoing processes of provisioning, monitoring, testing and validation.

Increased automation: The ability to automate key functions of disaster recovery is a major advantage of a virtualized environment. With the proper platform in place, you should be able to automate the entire recovery and migration process, including failover and site migrations, leading to far faster recovery and much ess chance of human error. Automation will also help you simplify testing of recovery plans, which is often an import- tent requirement for compliance purposes.

Updated storage technologies: Automation is a major factor in reducing risk of failure in your storage environment. Automated snapshots can capture data at any given point in time, and your organization has the ability to determine how often those snapshots should take place, depending upon defined factors based on how much risk you are willing to take. Storage-based replication enables you to improve performance at lower costs. Features such as automated tiring and automated reduplication will make your entire storage infrastructure more efficient by reducing the amount of data you are storing and ensuring that where you are storing your data is appropriate to its age and value to your organization.

The time has come for SMBs to get serious about disaster recovery. The threats are increasing, and the impact of a disaster can be devastating. What’s more, through virtualization, advanced storage technologies and disk-based backup, the costs and complexities involved in disaster recovery are much more manageable than ever before.

Need more information to create a Disaster Recovery plan for your compnay, contact The Computer Company 800 418 2358



Tablets Trump Smartphones for Ecommerce-Are PCs Next?

June 30th, 2012

(Article from CNBC) Retailers tend to lump tablets and smartphones into the same category called “mobile,” but that might not be wise, according to the results of a new study by online marketing technology company Monetate.

The company has studied more than 100 million online shopping experiences and the results make it clear that tablets and smartphones should be separated out as separate audience segments or retailers risk alienating customers. What’s more, as other studies have found, tablets are a much more valuable device for ecommerce than smartphones.

Shoppers who are using tablets are much more similar to shoppers who use PCs than shoppers who are on their smartphones. They tend to view nearly the same number of web pages per visit as tablet users, while smartphone users view fewer pages.

 Monetate also has seen that the tablet user conversion rate, or the pace at which browsers become buyers, is pretty much equal to the conversion rate among PC shoppers, whereas few smartphone shoppers become buyers.

According to Monetate, conversion rates have consistently been above 3 percent for both tablet and PC shoppers, while the conversion rate for smartphone shoppers in the latest quarter was 1.39 percent and has never gone above 1.7 percent.

Tablets Chip Away at PC Traffic

But those tablet shoppers are poised to become increasingly important to retailers as consumers continue to shift to tablets from PCs. The pace of this shift is so rapid that if it remains at its current pace, website traffic from PC users will dip below 75 percent in less than a year, according to Monetate.

In the first quarter, 88 percent of website visits came from PCs, down from 92.1 percent in the prior quarter, Monetate said. The bulk of the lost share is going to tablets.

Read the whole article by by Christina Cheddar Berk | CNBC…

Time for Something Good

May 1st, 2012

Hope you find these encouraging… I know we do.

Quotes by Anthony Robbins

“The past does not equal the future.”
― Anthony Robbins

“You can’t hit a target if you don’t know what it is.”
― Anthony Robbins

“Its not about the goal. Its about growing to become the person
that can accomplish that goal.”
― Anthony Robbins

“Every problem is a gift - without problems we would not grow.”
― Anthony Robbins

“The path to success is to take massive, determined action.”
― Anthony Robbins

“How am I going to live today in order to create the tomorrow
I'm committed to?”
― Anthony Robbins

“People who fail focus on what they will have to go through;
people who succeed focus on what it will feel like at the end.”
― Anthony Robbins

“People are not lazy, the simply have impotent goals..that is..
goals that do not inspire them.”
― Anthony Robbins

“The quality of your life is the quality of your relationships.”
― Anthony Robbins

“When you are grateful, fear disappears and abundance appears.”
― Anthony Robbins

“If you do what you've always done, you'll get what you've
always gotten.”
― Anthony Robbins

“It is your decisions, and not your conditions, that determine
your destiny.”
― Anthony Robbins

“Focus on where you want to go, not on what you fear.”
― Anthony Robbins

“Identify your problems but give your power and energy to solutions”
― Anthony Robbins

“If you can't you must, and if you must you can.”
― Anthony Robbins

 “Live life fully while you're here. Experience everything.
Take care of yourself and your friends. Have fun, be crazy,
be weird. Go out and screw up! You're going to anyway,
so you might as well enjoy the process.
Take the opportunity to learn from your mistakes:
find the cause of your problem and eliminate it.
Don't try to be perfect;
just be an excellent example of being human.”
― Anthony Robbins

“In essence, if we want to direct our lives, we must take
control of our consistent actions. It's not what we do once
in a while that shapes our lives, but what we do consistently.”
― Anthony Robbins

“I believe life is constantly testing us for our level of
commitment, and life's greatest rewards are reserved for
those who demonstrate a never-ending commitment to act until
they achieve. This level of resolve can move mountains,
but it must be constant and consistent. As simplistic as
this may sound, it is still the common denominator separating
those who live their dreams from those who live in regret.”
― Anthony Robbins

“Why live an ordinary life, when you can live an
extraordinary one.”
― Anthony Robbins

“Success in life is the result of good judgment.
Good judgment is usually the result of experience.
Experience is usually the result of bad judgment.”
― Anthony Robbins

“In life, you need either inspiration or desperation.”
― Anthony Robbins

“To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different
in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a
guide to our communication with others.”
― Anthony Robbins

“It is in your moments of decision that your destiny is shaped.”
― Anthony Robbins

“You can’t have a plan for your day,
‘til you have a plan for your life.”
― Anthony Robbins

“It's not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives.
It's what we do consistently.”
― Anthony Robbins

“The quality of your life is in direct proportion to the
quality of your relationships.”
― Anthony Robbins

“How am I going to live today to create the
tomorrow I've committed to?”
― Anthony Robbins

“Success is buried on the other side of rejection.”
― Anthony Robbins

“It is not what we get. But who we become, what
we contribute ... that gives meaning to our lives.”
― Anthony Robbins

“Nothing tastes as good as looking good feels.”
― Anthony Robbins

“Our beliefs about what we are and what we can be
precisely determine what we can be”
― Anthony Robbins

“For changes to be of any true value, they've got to be
lasting and consistent.”
― Anthony Robbins

“Want to learn to eat a lot? Here it is: Eat a little.
That way, you will be around long enough to eat a lot.”
― Anthony Robbins

“If you talk about it, it's a dream, if you envision it,
it's possible, but if you schedule it, it's real.”
― Anthony Robbins, Get the Edge

“Our beliefs about what we are and what we can be,
precisely determine what we will be.”
― Anthony Robbins

“Every man dies. Not every man lives.”
― Anthony Robbins

Note: There are MANY great sources for his quotes on the internet, these came from

Prevent Thumb Drive Security Disasters

January 30th, 2012

We came across this article, and wanted to pass it along.

For such a small device, the plastic, handheld USB flash drive can cause big security headaches. Even if you have robust end-point security and establish rigid policies about employee use of these drives, employees still find a way to copy financial reports and business plans for use at home. While other security breaches are more traceable, a flash drive is more difficult to monitor, especially after the employee leaves work.

Some security professionals suggest a radical approach to locking down USB flash drives. Sean Greene, a security consultant at Evidence Solutions, advises his clients to use a clear silicone caulk and fill every USB port on every PC to prevent USB attachments. He says the only way employees can transmit sensitive business documents is by email, a method that his clients can easily monitor.

Chris Harget, a spokesperson for security vendor ActivIdentity, adds that many military organizations don’t allow the drives at all, and they have resorted to gluing USB ports closed to prevent breaches.


It’s Official: Flash Mobile Player is Dead

November 9th, 2011

Adobe confirmed what reports were saying all morning: It’s done with the Flash Mobile Player and has now thrown its lot in with the HTML5 crowd — for mobile at least.

“We will no longer continue to develop Flash Player in the browser to work with new mobile device configurations (chipset, browser, OS version, etc.) following the upcoming release of Flash Player 11.1 for Android and BlackBerry PlayBook,” wrote Danny Winokur, Adobe VP and general manager for interactive development in a blog entry this morning.

See rest of Article on:

Get moving on going mobile

September 10th, 2011

Mobile advertising is becoming increasingly more important as cell phone usage rates continue to grow, especially with the adaptation of smartphones. And it has been predicted that marketing and advertising budgets are going to significantly increase in regards to mobile marketing over the next few years. This means businesses need to be cautious and be sure they are spending their time developing an effective mobile marketing campaign that reaches their intended audience. » Read more: Get moving on going mobile

Apple vs. Amazon: Who will win the Battle of the Tablet?

June 2nd, 2011

The number of tablets that will be on the market this year is forecasted somewhere close to 200, but by the end of 2011, Apple is expected to dominate the tablet market at an estimated percentage of 80%. Why so? Apple, who recently released their newest tablet, the iPad 2, is the preferred favorite due to their accurate pricing, knowledgeable employees and unbeatable in-store customer experience. However, Amazon, among a few other big contenders, may have the ability and motivation to break Apple’s winning streak and develop a captivating and successful tablet.

Read more about how Amazon and others could potentially bring down Apple’s share of the tablet market here.

Social Media: An Agent of Worldwide Change

January 5th, 2011

If you asked the average person five years ago what social media sites they were using, you might have received the response “social…what?” Over the past five years, social media platforms have evolved into a worldwide phenomenon. Have you met anyone recently who hasn’t heard of Facebook? » Read more: Social Media: An Agent of Worldwide Change

More energy-saving solutions are here for SMB

December 16th, 2010

As the technology world becomes more complex and advanced, it’s no surprise that the amount of glitches and errors has also grown, leading to further complications and problems within an IT infrastructure. Luckily there are technological advances that can prevent these issues and keep IT networks running smoothly, even for small businesses. With virtualization solutions from VMWare or Hyper-V, protecting and managing your IT systems can be highly efficient in many ways. » Read more: More energy-saving solutions are here for SMB