Based in North America and operating in seven countries, BlueRange Technology (BRT) is an IT reseller and consulting company focused on helping clients succeed by bringing them solutions that matter to them
Our goal is to treat every client, regardless of size, as if they were our only client. Our focus starts with understanding our client’s goals and their current obstacles. Then, we architect technology and process solutions to remove those obstacles and help achieve the client’s goals.
One of the universal truths about IT is that most clients, especially non-IT executives, find IT to be prohibitively expensive. While the cost of technology can be costly, this really speaks to how clients pay for IT versus what they pay for IT.
We have financing options that allow us to work with your business’s budget. From simple terms, traditional leasing, and some very inventive consumption-based financing models to move the cost of acquisition from your capital budgets to your operational budgets.
Keeping You Secure
Among our most important services are those that keep your data safe. Learn more about BlueRange ransomware prevention & recovery.
Bring Your own Device (BYOD)
Bring your own device (BYOD) has been driven by the consumerization of the computing experience.
Where once only the fastest and most powerful PCs were to be found in the office, today corporate consumers have a plethora of options that rival (or exceed) what was formerly available to them.
In many instances, the quality, performance, and reliability of the laptops, desktops, and other devices that employees personally own is much better than what a company can provide. The employees also picked out these devices, so there is an inherent acceptance as it was not foisted on them by IT. As a result, employees are happier and more productive when compared to using a device they did not choose, they are unfamiliar with, and they do not like.
Increased productivity is not the only potential gain brought by BYOD. The company no longer has to purchase, manage, or repair those devices. This can be a substantial cost savings to the company. In an ever-increasing competitive marketplace, every penny counts.
Cost savings are important, but not if it means increasing the risk of security issues. Security trumps everything in IT. There are a lot of questions to be asked and variables to be looked at for BYOD initiatives. For instance, who do you let connect their personal devices to your LAN / WiFi infrastructure? How to you ensure that this access is limited to these devices and these users? What about viruses and other malware?
BYOD is about business process transformation, and many technologies will support the success or failure of the project. BlueRange is experienced and uniquely positioned to work with clients to drive these types of projects to a successful outcome.
Work From Home
Like BYOD, work from home is much more about strategy and business process transformation than any single technology solution. However, it is directly dependent on the success of the technology solution discussed below.
Let’s start with why a business may want to enable their users to work from home.
- The business can hire people in different states and cities that have lower salary requirements.
- If the business is based in a congested metropolitan area or an area with limited commuter options, commuting can become an inefficient use of time for the employee and can be a catalyst for superfluous stress.
- The business is large or growing and they have no more physical capacity to house people in the office.
These are but three simple and common challenges that lead many businesses to adopt a work from home strategy. Our team has been involved in projects that were driven by all three of the above challenges. The impact can both immediate and much deeper than anyone though possible at the inception of the projects.
In one instance we worked with an enterprise client based out of large and congested U.S. city. They were running out of office space, and, due to length and congestion of the commute, the employees were growing increasingly frustrated. This frustration was beginning to surface in the work environment. The company implemented a work from home policy that still required employees to come in for one week out of the month to stay connected to the “mother ship” and the specific departments they were assigned to.
The new policy had a tremendous positive impact on employee morale, but there were other unintended benefits. Space availability was no longer an issue. The company was able to sell one entire building, thus relieving them of the management and financial burden that it had become.
Think about not having to pay a mortgage on a building in excess of twenty floors. Think about not having the burden of the power and cooling costs of that building, not to mention the property taxes they were relieved of.
Lastly, the company was able to lease several floors of the building that they did decide to keep. Since they were in a prime location where office space was running at premium, they turned a burden into a significant asset. This was a huge win for this client.
However, we have to temper that success story with the reality that work from home programs can, if not implemented properly, have a negative impact on the business. If you are allowing people to work from home, you need to ensure security and performance are going to be high enough to allow them to be productive.
This means having firewalls and VPNs in their home offices so they can connect to the core IT infrastructure without creating risk. It means ensuring that logons from home should happen as quickly, or nearly so, as if they were in the office. If it takes the end-user 45 minutes to an hour to fully log on, then you have negatively impacted productivity. These scenarios are the very things that BlueRange Technology can help their clients resolve or eliminate from inception.
***Fill out the quote form to the right for more information on how BlueRange can build successful work from home initiatives with your business.***
Today, we are connected to the world via our devices 24 hours a day. Work is no exception. That means that our IT organizations have a broader focus now, with more requirements to meet than ever before. Employees and executives want the newest, best, and most flexible computing experience available.
The reality is that the quality of their user experience in getting their jobs done has become a differentiator in attracting and maintaining employees. This adds a new dimension to the impact that our IT strategies have on the competitiveness and ultimate success of the business.
First among demands on IT is end-user experience flexibility and the ability to connect from anywhere, anytime, with any device. If you look at an IT project from 2011, you will see that some of the largest and most successful enterprises rolled out projects code named “A3” (anytime, anywhere, any device) in homage to this movement. Now, the demands for this type of capability are spilling over into the SMB markets as advancements have made the underlying technologies more affordable.
However, IT staffs (particularly security) still have a job to do to protect their data by managing the increased risk that comes with this approach:
- How can your business control and track what devices have access to its network?
- If one or more employees’ devices are lost or stolen, how can a reportable breach be proactively prevented?
- How can your business facilitate the employees gaining secure remote access in a way that is not complicated, provides a good user experience, and that does not compromise security posture?
- How can employees have access to their desktop or application computing experience when they may be connecting from a tablet, laptop, smartphone, or other PC?
These are but a few of the dilemmas that IT organizations struggle with. These type of questions and requirements gave rise to or renewed focus on the following solutions.
Mobile Device Management (MDM)
Mobile Device Management (MDM) also known as Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) is all about controlling, tracking, and securing the devices allowed to connect to the IT infrastructure and being able to wipe the devices, applications, and data to differing granular degrees should they be lost, stolen, or retired for a new device.
In this space, BlueRange Technology offers the following solutions:
- Citrix XenMobile
- VMware AirWatch
- Sophos Mobile Control
Secure Remote Access
Once the end devices are secured with an MDM / EMM solution the next step is setting up Secure Remote Access to the desktops, applications, and data. There are several solutions that BlueRange Technology offers in this area.
Secure remote access (SSL VPNs as well as ICA Proxy), load-balancing, and application / desktop delivery solutions from:
- Citrix – NetScaler
- Cisco – Application Control Engine (ACE)
Firewalls and VPNs
Single Sign-on and Multi-Factor Authentication Solutions
- EMCs RSA Authentication Manager (part of SecureID)
Virtualization of Applications, Desktops, and User Experience
One of the more critical security and access issues is providing access to desktop and applications from anywhere without negatively impacting the current security posture of the organization.
One of the more frequent issues that occur today is that an end-user may lose their laptop, or it might be stolen. There is a good chance that sensitive or proprietary information is contained on the device in question. It could be anything from a spreadsheet with client or fellow employee information, including financial data or personal identity information. When this happens, it may fall into the category of a reportable event that the company then becomes liable for. These events also lead to loss of confidence by those who were affected, or even potentially affected. Do they now have to be on constant alert, concerned that their account information could fall into the wrong hands?
Another concern for companies is how to provide access to applications and their underlying data set to remote employees. Engineering and architecture firms, digital media companies, law firms, even medical clinics have remote employees that need access tools and databases to perform their jobs. Another set of users are off-shore developers and support staff.
How do we allow these users to access what they need to do their jobs, control what they can do with that data, and ensure that the performance is as good or better than what they are doing today?
Yet another reality that businesses and business owners have to deal with are operating system (OS) upgrades, such as Window 7 to Windows 8/8.1, or Windows 7/8/8.1 to Windows 10. The larger the organization the more complex these upgrades can become. However, even for small businesses OS upgrades can be cumbersome, particularly for those who simply do not have the staff and experience to deal with it. How can we help customers be more efficient and flexible with addressing this problem?
An answer to all of these questions is desktop and application virtualization. The leading players in this space are:
This still only addresses part of the problem. What about the user experience? Everyone who owns or uses a Windows computer has a “profile” and folder structures where data is saved before, during, and after sessions. The profile is where your settings are saved; things such as icon placement, icon size, text size, screen images, etc. For these challenges, we turn to profile management and folder redirection, the combination of which we refer to as user environment virtualization or UEV. The key technology vendors that we work with to address these challenges are:
To empower your teams, we need to address collaboration. This means we have to provide a mechanism for them to communicate and meet virtually. We need to provide a mechanism to not only access data, but to share that data for the benefit of the team’s goals.
With work from home programs being adopted at an increasing rate, and with companies expanding into world markets, real-time collaboration is a key to success.
Skype for Business
Skype for Business (formerly known as Microsoft Lync) can be a standalone solution, or it can be purchased as part of the Microsoft Office 365 (O365) solution.
This solution offers the ability to screen share and collaborate on documents and presentations. It also allows you to have voice and video calls with one or more attendees, facilitating a virtual meeting.
There are other solutions in this space such as Cisco’s WebEx, Citrix GoToMeeting, and Google Hangouts just to name a few. In addition to Microsoft, we also partner with Cisco, Citrix, and Google.
Enterprise File and Data Sharing
The purpose of these solutions is to allow employees to share files and data (unstructured and structured data) securely and synchronize this data across all of their devices; phone, tablet, laptop, and PC/Mac. If the user makes a change to the file from one device, the data file is updated in the repository and all devices now have access to the latest file. Extending this concept to the team dynamic, we can ensure that all team members are working off of the same and most up to date data.
While data sharing is important, so is security. The solutions below are, to differing degrees, secure. The solutions below are HIPPA, ePHI, PCI, and FedRamp certified just to name a few. Of course, there are numerous organizations leveraging these solutions today that are focused on compliance issues.
SharePoint allows you to share files and documents and work together. This can be accomplished through their online solution (O365), onsite, or a combination of the two. Share your ideas, discover answers, and keep track of what your co-workers are doing.
- Publish content to SharePoint from any Office application and share it with people inside or outside of your organization.
- Share documents, update your activity, and keep in touch with co-workers.
- Organize all your projects and tasks to get visibility into upcoming deliverables across SharePoint, Outlook, and Microsoft Project.
- Set up a new team site, track meeting notes, and bring together all your team’s email and documents in one place.
- Sync your content into SharePoint and to your desktop. Documents are only a mouse click away, even when you are offline.
Citrix ShareFile is a purpose built file sync and sharing solution with maximum security that even has e-Signature capability built in. The solution works well for both MS Outlook clients as well as those who utilize Gmail – email encryption and automatically converting attachments to secure ShareFile links is a breeze.
One key feature that many businesses like is the on premise storage repository. This allows companies to keep all of the data within the walls of their datacenter while leveraging the control plane that sits in the ShareFile cloud. This can be done for all storage repositories or on a case-by-case basis depending on project needs.
OneDrive integrates with your Microsoft operating system and looks to the user as if it is another drive letter, but labeled “OneDrive.” A user’s Documents folder, Download folders, etc. can be redirected to save under OneDrive. This allows the organization to securely capture and protect data without the user having to think, or even know, that these actions are being taken. Coming from a world where this data is lost frequently due to hard disk drive (HDD) failures, this is a real and positive game changer for companies.
This solution allows for easy collaboration and data sharing with others using familiar MS office applications. Best of all is the enterprise quality security that O365 products bring to the table by default.
Without a doubt, Box has a lot of momentum in the marketplace that seems to be driven by a “customer first” attitude. When businesses needed more compliance in the healthcare field, Box stepped up. They are now HIPPA compliant and have a BAA that they will put in place with their clients.
Like the other solutions listed, Box is not confined to the healthcare field; they have clients across education, retail, energy, banking, and finance.
Companies are increasingly turning to these cloud solution providers to deliver secure and flexible file sync and sharing solutions.
Infrastructure is an area of need for all businesses; even those who use cloud services for email, collaboration, backup, and disaster recovery. A sound infrastructure is a necessity so that companies and employees can get to the internet, and to connected devices and users who are in the same office. However, the opportunity here is much greater. Many businesses, either due to personal preference or regulatory compliance, will want to maintain their own data center (private cloud), or at least some portion of it.
There is no business today that does not have a need for networking. For years, the “core” network that a business maintained became bigger and faster. Speeds went from 10 MB, to 100 MB, to 1 GB (1000 MB), and are now at 10 GB or even 40 GB speeds – all with greater port density to support more devices. The faster transactions and data could be processed, the better it was for the business. It helped make them more competitive and profitable in their core business, whether they are in financial trading, online retail, or even healthcare.
Cisco, Juniper, and Brocade have all built their businesses on this model. While the technologies have grown and changed, the model itself has remained steady. Vendors such as Dell, HP, and Lenovo also offering networking solutions. Where we’ve seen a shift in this space is really in two areas:
Yes, Wi-Fi has been around for a long time now, but prior to Apple’s 2007 iPhone release, the growth of this technology was well-controlled and without significant impact. Once the iPhone hit the market, the consumerization of technology began in earnest. It was at this point that the quality of the devices that a consumer could purchase at big box retail stores or online started to surpass the quality of the technology provided in the workplace.
This consumerization of technology, in essence, threw fuel onto the fire called “Wi-Fi.” This movement gave birth to the idea and ability of bringing your own devices to work; after all they were better, faster, and the employee was far more comfortable (interpreted as productive) when using their own device.
This posed a problem. How do you allow these users to leverage their own devices and still connect to the networks? Wi-Fi stepped up and provided at least part of the answer. If you go into a business now, you assume they have Wi-Fi. If they don’t, in many cases that’s considered a negative. If they do have Wi-Fi and it is poor quality, it is an even larger negative.
In certain areas such as higher education, this opportunity and challenge is even greater. On a campus with 8,000 people, each with at least two devices, plus faculty and staff, how can you provide sufficient connectivity, speed, and security? It is a modern day arms race.
Our current solution providers in this area are:
- Meraki, a Cisco Solution
- Aruba, an HP Solution
- Ruckus, a Brocade Solution
Storage has been a growth area for over two decades. Companies have been born into this space only to be acquired. More so than any other area of technology, there seems a constant sea of change for storage. This is surprising since, for the most part, the economics of storage did not improve as they have for memory, CPU, or even graphics.
For years, the improvements were around management, and improvement is a relative term when you consider what the benchmark was. Today is a different story. We have simplicity and efficiency improvements in the management GUIs, improvements in the storage medium with SSDs -vs- HDDs. The flash or SSD market alone is overwhelming; we have MLC, SLC, eMLC, and TLC flash options, not to mention NOR Flash -vs- NAND Flash architectures. What is an IT person to do?
Then we have breakthroughs in regards to data deduplication (ensuring that you are not writing and storing the same piece of data any more than you need to, so as to not waste storage capacity): Should it be inline dedupe or should it be deduped at rest? What about compression and encryption?
This is an area where one could truly “geek out.” The good news is that our clients don’t have to geek out in order to determine what is right for them, because now we have an array of solutions on the market that aim to make these decisions not only simpler, but practically transparent.
Today we have tremendous solutions, at a fraction of the previous prices, available from:
- Pure Storage
“HyperConverged; what does it mean? A few years ago everyone was talking about “Converged” systems; is that the same thing?”
These are questions that we hear frequently. A quick way of understanding the differences and similarities is this:
- Converged systems sought to combine server, storage, and networking hardware into a single chassis system, such as the IBM BladeCenter, Lenovo Flex System, HP Blade Chassis, Cisco USC, etc. Management of these converged systems derived their limits based on management limits of the hardware vendors themselves.
- HyperConverged systems seek to combine all of these things logically at the hypervisor level. There is no requirement that the hardware being utilized be “converged.” In fact, in most cases HyperConverged Infrastructure (HCI) uses 1U and 2U servers with internal HDDs or SSDs. One of the bonuses for this solution is the management limits are based more on the hypervisor and the software vendors included in the solution. Meaning they should be less restrictive, especially over time.
The idea behind HyperConverged Infrastructure (HCI) is to deliver more of a turnkey solution to the business. One that is very easy to setup, configure, manage, and expand as and when needed. The time it would take company to vet the intended architectures they were looking at was prohibitive and inefficient. If they were looking at a VDI solution for 500 non-persistent users that have zero to very low graphics requirements, then so were 1,000 other clients.
So, why not leverage that knowledge and design and architect the base solution once? It saves everyone time and energy and allows businesses to start deriving value much sooner and at a lower cost. The same scenario may play out for SAP HANA solutions, SQL solutions, MS Exchange Solutions, or Big Data. There is an HCI solution out there that was built with your solution needs in mind.
Some of these solutions have better graphical user interfaces (GUIs) and management features than others. Others have slightly better deduplication ability, or compression capability, or IO acceleration. Understanding, based on data, what your true needs are means that we can deliver quality solutions to your business in a much shorter time frame than ever before.
One of the nice things about this approach is that we no longer need a separate storage network (SAN) or storage array, we can use commodity (though differentiated) x86 hardware with really big HDDs or really fast SSDs, or some combination thereof and deliver better speed and function at a significantly reduced price.
Today we have solutions available from:
Software Defined *
Software defined solutions aim to drive the core features and functions of storage, networking, or data centers into software and away from proprietary hardware solutions. Besides not being locked into a specific vendor’s hardware, this approach has the added benefit of being able to bring new solutions to the market much faster and much cheaper than before.
Developing the features into chipsets is an expensive undertaking and once in place, changing their (chips) microcode and therefore their feature / function set is no trivial matter. By abstracting these functions from the control plane, data plane, and underlying hardware, the control and efficiency that the business gains would seem to be immeasurable.
The rate of change in the storage space has been on rapid acceleration for years. However, Software Defined Storage is not all that new. IBM pioneered this field with their SAN Volume Controller (SVC) and SAN File System (SFS) solutions in 2001. While SFS went by the wayside, their SVC product continues to thrive today. The problems IBM was solving for in 2001 are not that different than what we are solving for today.
The big storage array vendors (IBM, Hitachi, EMC) made a fortune selling big iron storage arrays. They each had their own proprietary management interfaces as well proprietary functions around replication and copy services. These things not only locked your business into a specific vendor, but it also meant the vendors were charging a premium for everything.
What SVC did is created a “man in the middle” architecture where by the SVC nodes looked like the end-client nodes to the storage arrays, but represented as the storage array to the end-user servers. This means companies had more flexibility in which vendors’ solution they purchased and their real deep knowledge could be focused on the SVC management interface and framework.
Using the SVCs multipath software (Subsystem Device Driver or SDD) meant that businesses could save a ton of money by not paying EMC, Hitachi, and others for all of the multipath licenses – lots of efficiency and cost savings in comparison to what life pre-SVC offered.
Today, Software Defined Storage wants to help businesses like yours reduce capital expense by leveraging software solutions with commodity x86 hardware and commodity storage options. If the CPUs and storage are co-located within the same x86 server, then processing is sped up.
What is the difference between HyperConverged Infrastructure (HCI) and Software Defined Storage (SDS)? Primarily, this:
- HCI pre-packages and installs the x86 server and storage hardware with the SDS software and upon receipt the businesses have to go through a simple graphical user interface (GUI) driven setup process.
- SDS allows your business to purchase the software separately and place it on existing hardware, which can preserve existing/sunken investment, or on new hardware of their choice which provides much more granular control.
Some of the HCI / SDS vendors in the market are:
- Atlantis Computing
- Formation Data Systems
- VMware / EMC vSAN
In networking, the 800-pound gorilla is Cisco. Their hardware solutions can get very complex and very expensive in short order. For Software Defined Networking (SDN), that means that everyone besides Cisco stands to gain a lot of opportunity. Cisco has had to decide if they will continue down the path where their hardware and operating systems will continue to be a key differentiator, or of they will become an inhibitor to competitiveness. Initially Cisco was pretty quiet about this, but then they started developing an SDN strategy. As the market continues to evolve so is the stance Cisco is taking.
Cloud Computing, Big Data, and Mobility are the growth engines behind the SDN market right now. The vendors in this space are who’s who of IT:
Where is software defined going? The data center, also known as your “private cloud.” Traditional data centers were driven by the choice of hardware vendors for decades. The ability to virtualize servers that VMware brought to the market as well as the ability to virtualize applications that Citrix pioneered have reshaped data center strategy. When we combine virtual infrastructure and virtual applications with secure remote access and mobility initiatives we now evolve to a “private cloud.”
There is a race to get a piece of the next evolution of the data center to be fully software defined. Where there is still substantial room for growth is with the tools and technology to bring all of these virtualization and software defined layers under a management control plane.
We have certain solutions in this space that answer part of this. VMware has numerous tools, but for businesses that want to get away from the expense and control of VMware, that can present a problem. So, solutions from Turbonomic to help control the infrastructure and vendors such as Workspot that provide a control plane for the virtualized work space (desktop, apps, and data) are of utmost importance.
Managed Services are the practice of outsourcing management functions and responsibilities for improvements to operations and expenses.
It is an alternative to the on-demand outsourcing model where the provider performs services and is paid for services rendered on a case by case basis.
Under the Managed Services model, your business owns and has direct oversight system being managed, and the managed services provider is a provider delivering services to you. These services are bound by a contractual, service-level agreement that states the metrics of their relationship.
Managed Services is an efficient way to address a range of issues related to cost, quality of service, and risk, as well as stay up to date on technology.
Today’s managed services have expanded to include Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Software as a Service (SaaS), to complement existing offerings such as Support/Helpdesk services, End-Point Support, and Datacenter Co-Location Services.
Level 1 and Level 2 Support Services
Technical Support (often referred to as “helpdesk support”) refers to the services by which an organization provides technical assistance for the technology products and services it provides to end users.
Technical support services usually address specific problems with a product or service. These services are provided in a multi-tiered fashion based on level of need and the expertise provided.
Level 1 refers to the initial support level responsible for basic end user issues, initial end user contact, and basic level technical support functions. This level is responsible for end user contact, issue information gathering, initial analyzation, and issue resolution where possible.
Level 2 refers to the next step up in technical expertise where a more in-depth level of technical support is needed. This level is usually responsible for escalated issue resolution from Level 1, administrative support, and advanced technical troubleshooting and analysis.
Level 1 and level 2 support services for end-points provides support for desktops, laptops, thin-clients, and mobile devices, thru various means of monitoring, remote technical service, and hardware repair/replacement.
- Level 1 provides end-point users with a means of contacting support for issues regarding the basic use, functionality, and health of their end-point devices.
- Level 2 provides higher level technical issue resolution as well as health monitoring, update management, and repair or replacement determination.
Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI)
Level 1 and level 2 support services for Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) provides support for:
- Level 1 provides your business with a means of contacting support for issues with virtual desktop connectivity, functionality, and health of the VDI environment.
- Level 2 provides higher level technical issue resolution as well as administration, update management, and upgrade services for the virtual desktops and underlying VDI environment.
Level 1 and level 2 support services for Infrastructure provides support for an organization’s information technology infrastructure, such as server computing, networking, or storage, resources.
- Level 1 provides your business with a means of contacting support issues regarding their managed infrastructure resources and initial issue analysis and resolution.
- Level 2 provides higher level technical for issue resolution, administrative functions, configurations, updates, and upgrade services.
We work with you to understand your business goals and current obstacles, then we custom build technology and process solutions to help your company succeed. Our IT services and solutions are triple-tiered, giving you the most support and the best value:
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