Question: What makes Zephyr Networks different from competitors in terms of how you problem solve?
Marc Winger: I think one the big things that we do differently is a focus on preventative and proactive solutions with the ultimate goal of making sure that you have the most amount of up time possible with no interruptions and that they’re the most productive that they can be. Really technology was supposed to be that way. It was supposed to make you more productive. All the bad software and poorly thought out products haven’t really improved people’s productivity and get it the way of doing what you need to do the most. Which is getting your work done. So our primary focus is to help you get your work done.
Question: What’s the top service that you could provide to me that would lead to more up time/ more productivity?
Marc Winger: I think that the product that we sell is the Zephyr Manage Services (ZMS), that’s a combination of monitoring and maintenance, which is really designed for different sized businesses and different needs. The concept behind them is the same: A full monitoring and an on-site preventive and productivity focused visit. We actually come on site and communicate with the employees and management and say, “Hey this is what we’re seeing” “what are you seeing?” “What’s the best route to make you more productive and move forward?
Question: I’m a small business, with less than 10 employees, is this an affordable solution for me? Or do I need to be a bigger business?
Marc Winger: We have a package for smaller businesses that’s really inexpensive. That package includes two hours of on-site support per month. We have packages for larger companies as well.
Question: So how does the process begin if I already know the problem I’m having?
Marc Winger: We do a 1st hour free. You get to know us and we get to know you. We get a look at your network. We don’t usually log into servers unless you ask us to. We kind of take a look at the systems that you’re using and the problems you’re having. We’ll usually offer a few basic recommendations at that meeting. If you decide to hire us at that meeting we’ll then go on to focus on the base of our pyramid, which is stability. Try to make sure your network is as stable as possible. Using the technology that’ll last for 3 to 5 years minimum (the latest technology) and focusing on what’s going to be the most stable. Basically, putting in a solid infrastructure is probably the most underrated and yet the most important part of building a stable network.
Question: Can you support continuity in my computer network in the event that we go down?
Marc Winger: We certainly can. In fact one of our specialties is business continuity planning. Business continuity planning is far more than just getting a backup of your data and taking it off site. It’s really what happens in case of a disaster or a long-term business outage of some sort. How do you survive that as a business? There is a lot of statistical data supporting the fact that if you lose data it affects your business in ways that a lot of time put you out of business. So, this is a whole planning process that includes backups, archiving of data, planning for how to function if you can’t get to your server or data. Also, how to foster communication between your employees, clients and vendors? It’s an essential part of any business that’s often under-addressed and rarely is it actually written anywhere. It’s really an essential part. Living in an earthquake country or hurricane country, the examples of when its made a difference for a business are everywhere. That is an essential part of any business planning/network.
Question: Is there an average percentage of up time my business could expect if it were to become a client of yours?
Marc Winger: Well, I think every company is a little bit different. A lot depends on the infrastructure that exists already, but for the most part our existing clients will tell you, 99.99% is up time. From our experience, our preventative and proactive model has shown incredibly successful in keeping our clients running.
Question: My business deals with a lot of very personal data that needs to be kept secure. What type of network security can you provide?
Marc Winger: Network security is also one of the pillars of a good network solution. The security that we provide is 3 pronged. One is that it’s safely protected (firewalled) from the outside. There are a lot of good tools we can use to protect you from malicious hackers and malicious competitors (which tend to be the major problem in these situations.) The second prong is protecting you from yourself, which can be difficult because a lot of people don’t want to take the time to learn good Internet prevention. They will click on almost anything sometimes. Good passwords and well planned out security is a thing that a lot of people will resist. We try to do it in a way so it doesn’t upturn everything and doesn’t interfere with the way that you do business. Depending upon your security needs you may need to have the absolute locked down network. If you’re dealing with very personal information ( e.g. SS #s, medical, etc.) you also need to look into the 3rd fork, which is compliance. If you’re looking for HIPAA compliance for example in the medical industry. We work with another company, which helps certify compliance and well also work with an education group that will help teach your employees to comply as well. No matter what, you can’t take the human factor out of security. The weakest link is a person who doesn’t know that they possibly could be giving out passwords to the wrong people. SO it’s a combo of education and then locking things down from the network stance as well. And compliance: making sure that you’re following all the rules per the government bodies or industry bodies; whichever applies.
Question: My business would be better able to afford Zephyr manage services if I could enhance productivity. What could you do to ensure higher levels of productivity among my staff?
Marc Winger: Really what we start with is the basic “where are you having problems now? What’s slowing you down now?” and unfortunately it’s different with every client. Usually what we find is that people could use better collaboration tools. Usually well bring people into Google apps, which has great features. Or Microsoft Exchange or SharePoint. We also have or offer Office 365, which is Microsoft product and cloud based. All of these things can help a team effort. We also focus on education. We’ll help management on their computers and show them the shortcuts that will make everyday jobs faster. We keep our pulse on technology and focus very hard on little things that make things more productive on the desktop things as well. We try to make certain that we can provide personalized support in ways to help you be more productive.
Question: Are their particular types of computer networks that you don’t support? In other words, how would I know that you could service our type of network?
Marc Winger: Unfortunately, we are limited in our ability to support Linux systems. We cover Macintosh quite adeptly. We are very Mac based more than most IT support companies. We do Microsoft. We support everything from Windows 2000 to the upcoming Windows 8. We have quite a bit of experience in those systems. We have worked with Linux workstations but we don’t find much call for them so it hasn’t been a priority. But really there is very little we can’t do.
Question: You mentioned experience. How long have you been in this line of work in terms of your qualifications?
Marc Winger: Zephyr has been in this business since about 2000; so about eleven years. Some of our employees have been in this industry since the late 80’s. So, we have a depth and breadth of experience that’s probably more detailed than any other small IT company out there.
Question: If we were to choose your company over your competitors, what do you think is the single biggest difference that we would experience?
Marc Winger: Well, communication is a central part of it. We make it a central priority to be transparent and very good at communicating. We like to be responsive. We are here to serve small business people who don’t want to listen to an answering machine. You want to be able to eventually answer questions yourself. You don’t want to be tied to a tech guy. A lot of times we find that clients don’t even know the passwords to their own network or who there network provider is. Its part of our ethos to make sure you have that information documented and in your hands and most importantly in the your name. It’s your info, your data, and your accounts. We want to make sure you have control of that information. We don’t want it to be in the laps of the tech guys. We find that a lot of clients get taken advantage of that way. That’s not our style.
Question: SO, I’m afraid of technology. I don’t really speak that language. Can I work with you directly or do I have to have staff internally that can work within that boundary?
Marc Winger: We endeavor to speak English as opposed to “Tech-ese” We find that that makes us accessible to you and to your ability to ask us questions. We take pride in our ability to communicate technical issues in a way that you can understand it using analogies, whatever it takes. People understand when we explain the issues to them in that way. These ways have made most of our existing clients smarter in the way they understand technology. We don’t just want to do things for you; we really (and I cant stress this enough) want you to understand why we’re doing these things so we can have that transparency. This is a major portion of the way we do business. We really try to put a lot of effort into explanations so you understand the value of things.
Question: It sounds like your focus is on creating long-lasting relationship with clients. Do we need to keep an ongoing relationship or is there some sort of end-date?
Marc Winger: The need for management services often grows, as systems get older. It’s kind of like putting oil into your car. A computer’s not that much different. Most of the energy has to be focused on the data side of things with computers. It’s a long-term relationship. The management services are really just about maintaining. Now if you want to move everything up to the cloud, that could work just fine and would alleviate the need for monitoring servers. However, the technology there is not 100% and there are still security concerns present. The short answer to your question is that it is in fact a long-term relationship and it is best to stay with a maintenance plan continuously.
Question: How frequently will my company need to replace hardware?
Marc Winger: The most manufacturers will suggest a 3-year refresh rate. Which tends to serve their purposes quite well. More often than not we find that clients can keep their workstations for up to 5 years and the same seems to be true of servers. If you consider a 5-year life span, which is the standard for any computer, that’s the most efficiency you’ll get at this time. As technology moves more towards the cloud, or to services that are focused on remote desktops or remote terminals, then you can survive on older technology for longer. We try very hard to stay on top of that information and try to figure out the best solution for you. Often times if there is new technology, we won’t recommend it if we don’t think it’s necessary.
Question: So I have a specific device that my company purchased. Can you tell me which devices your company supports?
Marc Winger: Well we are very involved with Cisco, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Sonicwall, all of the major vendors we have good relationships with and know how to work on. One of our technicians (engineers) is actually a Cisco instructor. We can support any type of Cisco hardware whether for small or large businesses. We focus also on technology that may be just unique to just you. There’s a lot of line of business applications. We work really well with Sage Mass products, some Oracle products, certainly with QuickBooks and those types of products as well (Peachtree and the like.)