January 18th, 2013 by Bryan Parsons
All SpiderGroup services are operating normally today, if you find yourself having to work from home due to the poor conditions on the road you can still access your email using SpiderOffice.
You can get the latest Bristol travel news here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/travelnews/bristol. Bristol City Council are also Tweeting updates here: https://twitter.com/BristolCouncil.
Our Support team are still available although many will be answering your calls from their homes.
December 21st, 2012 by James Cook
So I have had my Surface for about 3 weeks now meaning it is about time I wrote a blog article with my view on it. At SpiderGroup we always like to give technology a test drive before we give advice to clients so this is my opinion on the new Microsoft Surface RT. For the record I got a Surface RT 64GB with the Touch cover.
I didn’t want to bore people with a long article about the device so I thought I would summarise my thoughts in a bulleted list in no particular order:
- The kick stand and Touch cover keyboard are great, although it is little tricky to type on your lap due to the flex in the keyboard (trade-off between weight and thickness)
- Having a proper version of office is brilliant
- Finally OneNote can work properly across all of my devices (I also have a Window Phone)
- I still find it weird trying to do things as I would have done on the iPad because that is what I got used to
- Having a touchscreen on Windows 8 is great, I have been using it on my Macbook Air for 3 months or so and the gestures are really intuitive and a great addition
- Needs smartcard support (this is a personal one for me, won’t be an issue for most people)
- At first I wasn’t sure about buying one until I had had a go
- Some parts are restrictive on the Arm processor such as smart cards and the software you can use
- I also haven’t noticed a lack of apps although it will be nice to get the proper Twitter, Facebook and Zite apps (all on their way apparently)
My overall experience is very positive and I am pleased to be using this over the iPad that I had, this is finally a tablet form factor device that is designed for content creation rather than just consumption. This is obviously just the first version of this range of devices but I think they have a real shot at adoption both by users and more, this will probably become a mainstream business device.
August 30th, 2012 by chloe.wheeler
At SpiderGroup we often get asked why a company should outsource their IT rather than hire an IT technician to manage IT in-house. There are benefits to both methods so we thought we would investigate one of the biggest factors – cost.
The average wage of an IT support technician is £22,000*. That’s just over £1,800 per month for one employee, which doesn’t take into account any IT equipment, software or other items they may need, nor cover for when they are on holiday. For comparison we looked at what £1,800 per month could give a business if they outsourced to SpiderGroup:
- A whole team of IT professionals to support the business when needed
- 35 Microsoft Exchange email accounts hosted on our solid infrastructure
- Your own remote desktop server hosted in our cloud for 35 users
- Full peace of mind that all your data is backed up and secure in our data centre
- Your own company intranet using SharePoint 2010
- SpiderGroup broadband for your office with full monitoring
- Your website hosted on our resilient platform
Outsourcing also means you save on a desk space and no longer require an IT cupboard or servers lurking under desks so you can have a clutter-free office. When choosing to outsource or keep IT in-house we suggest the following to consider:
- What and how much IT do I need supporting?
- Which systems would suit my business?
- How extensive is my IT need?
- How do I find good outsourcing partners?
- How quick do I need response times to be?
Ultimately outsourcing and employing a full time technician are big decisions, however with new technologies and more people working remotely with a shift to cloud computing we think the future will see more outsourcing occurring as the need for office based support decreases. As a third alternative we also see many clients who have in house IT managers who work with an outsourced IT company who provide the infrastructure while the inhouse IT provide the support. Perhaps we shall see more hybrid relationships like this develop too?
* Source: http://www.itjobswatch.co.uk/jobs/uk/it%20support%20technician.do
August 6th, 2012 by chloe.wheeler
When we think of moving to the Cloud for our Business IT, one of the first things often considered is cost. What’s my Return on Investment (ROI)?
Different ways to measure the ROI of upgrading your IT has been discussed and researched by many. However should our return on investment be solely put down to cost or should we look into measurements of what value it brings to our business?
We would like to think a successful ROI would mean saving hard, physical money, yet, how can we calculate this when we could consider the following softer measures:
- Time saving
- Stress saving
- Employee agility
- Space in office
- Cost to the environment
The saying ‘The whole is greater than the sum of its parts’ could be linked to the above.
Calculations for measuring the ROI often exclude these additional benefits, only physical savings on moving to the cloud are used to decide the future. We could argue unless these are fully calculated to the precise penny would this be a good measure of ROI on cloud computing? Should the other contributing factors outlined above be included?
We believe that while money has a strong hold on the decision to move to the cloud, we also view these other values as a good measurement of ROI. If employees are saving time and stress and can work from anywhere in safety then in the long term work rates will increase which ultimately leads to more profit!
What would you measure as a good ROI for cloud computing?
June 27th, 2012 by Kerry Hale
May 30th, 2012 by Kerry Hale
Our next Tech Talks event examines the positive and negative impact of technology on society, here is my opinion on the above question:
Of course technology has had a positive impact on society and will continue to do so. How we work and how we communicate has been revolutionised, it saves enormous amounts of time and businesses have been able to grow much quicker because of it. It also means we have a more flexible society, one which allows people to be contacted anywhere – people no longer rely on office or house phones and computers, today we have mobiles, tablets, laptops and the Cloud.
Social Media has also had an amazing impact on society in my opinion, an example being the earthquake in Japan last year. Facebook & Twitter allowed families to make contact with one another when phone lines were down. Here in Bristol, a Twitter campaign called #Itsnotmuch raised over £3000 for the charity.
Until recently I would have found it difficult to come up with any major negative impacts of technology on society. Then I met Vipul Patel who is on a crusade to educate consumers on the true costs of technology. Vipul raises concerns on the ethical values of some technology manufacturers and introduced me to the campaign RAISE Hope for Congo. Here the militia, who have killed millions of Congolese citizens are funded through the selling of minerals which are used in our computers and mobile phones.
It’s clear there is a negative impact of technology, though I don’t think that this should necessarily discount the positive impact. I feel that as consumers we should be more aware of how and where we spend our money so that technology can continue to grow in the right way.
Decide for Yourself
If you are interested in hearing more about this debate, come along to Tech Talks in Bristol next Wednesday where we have two speakers examining the positive and negative impact of technology on society. Book Here. Or let us know what you think below.
(Image from Free Digital Photo’s)
May 10th, 2012 by Kerry Hale
April 19th, 2012 by Kerry Hale
Although Cloud Computing allows you to outsource much of your IT, I would like to stress the importance of support. Yes Cloud Computing is simple and safe, however, like any technology, sometimes things go wrong and in such cases having support is crucial.
Beware: Not all Cloud applications allow you to pick up the phone and report a problem.
Office 365 for example gives you access to e-mail, calendars and document collaboration; an excellent tool. However, their support isn’t very… supportive. In fact it states on their help page that: “There is no support by telephone on technical issues for Microsoft Office 365 for professionals and small businesses.” Instead you can check articles and forum posts, which can be extremely frustrating.
We don’t claim that Cloud Computing is perfect – or that any technology is. We do however believe that your IT should always be looked after. Some companies will add support as an additional service at an extra cost and some will charge you when you need it, which again can be costly.
We include support in our packages for the following reasons:
- If something goes wrong, our clients can simply pick up the phone and report it, which means that the problem gets worked on immediately. For us, it means that if they can speak to us direct they will be less likely to report the problem on Twitter or to colleagues!
- Call out charges can be costly to the client and make invoicing more difficult to track
- We get great feedback. When people speak about SpiderGroup, they speak about our support; how clients always know who they’re speaking to and how friendly our support team are. This is obviously great for our clients and for us.
We don’t want support to be optional, for us it is compulsory and a major part of our offering.
Would you rather pay ever so slightly more per month and have constant support or would you rather pay the bare minimum and pay extra for support when you need it?
(picture by mrpuen)
April 17th, 2012 by Kerry Hale
SpiderGroup’s Chris Marshall tells us how he uses the Cloud outside of the office:
For the last three years I have been building up my training for an Ironman triathlon, and the end is finally in sight. On July 22nd 2012 I’ll be part of a group of 1500 people taking part in a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike ride and a 26.2 mile run. This race could take me up to 17 hours to complete, and requires a lot of preparation not only for the day, but in the time leading up to it.
An important part of preparing for this task (apart from long boring hours on the bike) has been keeping records of what training has been carried out, comparing it to past training and planning for the future. The best method I have found to help me prepare has been to use an online training diary. Every training session is recorded to keep track of distances and times completed. This has helped keep me motivated to undertake sessions when it is pouring with rain, and freezing in the winter. The fact that it is online means that I can update it from anywhere, and check it from anywhere to make sure I am on track towards my goal. The main benefit is that it is an independent witness, unlike my memory it doesn’t selectively forget the training sessions I have missed, and helps to keep me on track.
This method of keeping an online diary is becoming more popular, and the longer I train the better the site becomes as I get a longer history of what has been carried out.
For anyone interested, my website of choice is www.triblogs.com . It is free to use and it is being improved upon all the time, though there are many more out there available.
April 5th, 2012 by Kerry Hale
When you hear of Cloud Computing, one of the benefits you come across is scalability. But what does this really mean to you?
We say: Scalability = Manageable costs and the ability to grow and down-size quickly.
Having scalable IT means that you can add and remove users precisely when you need to. It takes the worry and the expense out of expanding your IT equipment. As your company grows, your IT grows (but without the lump sum investments).
If you already have an in-house server, the performance is likely to be affected once you reach 10-15 users until eventually your staff will be unable to access it all. This is the time that you will need to purchase a new server, which will cost you in the region of £1,800-£2,500 making your newest recruit very expensive! If you have a virtual server in the Cloud, it expands easily and quickly without the large sudden investment. With Cloud Computing you simply contact your provider each time you take on a new member of staff and they will add the new person directly onto your system. You do not need to worry about the efficiency of your equipment, licenses or lump sums of IT expenses. Further more, if they leave or you have to downsize the very same procedure can remove them and reduce your IT bill accordingly.
Having a scalable IT system keeps things very simple, and your cash-flow much more manageable.
Is your business likely to grow in 2012? What IT systems do you have in place?