How to Stay Ahead of Data Center Trends

June 25th, 2014 | Posted by Sarah Jones in Uncategorized - (Comments Off)

NVTC is inviting members and industry leaders to serve as guest bloggers, sharing insights and information on trends or business issues relevant to other members. In the below post, Marc Berman of member company Vector Technical Resources steps that organizations can take to say ahead of data center trends and make a smooth transition into virtualization.


Cloud computing, automation, and virtualization have changed the data center forever. Thanks to these technologies, companies are now able to significantly reduce costs while increasing reliability at the same time. These changes are exciting, and the benefits of new data center environments are clear.

But these advancements have also led to some challenges. IT departments have had to make fundamental shifts in strategy in order to manage virtualization. But there are some steps that organizations can take to say ahead of these trends and make a smooth transition into virtualization.

1. Don’t Abandon All Legacy Systems

One of the biggest concerns when moving into a new data center environment is what to do with legacy systems. Some of these systems cannot be virtualized. Some can, but

they might not be well-suited for that environment.  And there are some that can be kept on without disrupting overall virtualization. Organizations are often left struggling with their legacy systems after they move to a virtual environment, which can lead to costly and sometimes unnecessary upgrades and redundancies.

Before migrating, it is important to take stock of older systems. Many of these technologies are still very stable and may not require a replacement, and often times, hybrid solutions can actually make the most sense. Determine how these systems will fit into the virtualized data center before you make the move, so that your company can make the best financial, technical, and personnel decisions for the future.

2. Engage Multiple Outsourcing Providers

New data center environments are built for outsourcing, but not in the same ways as old data centers. Outsourcing now involves the actual infrastructure and platforms, while architecture and control can typically remain in-house. Thanks to virtualization and cloud technologies, companies can employ remote infrastructure and management providers. Given the global availability of these services, this shift allows IT departments to engage multiple providers in very low-cost delivery centers.

3. Invest in the Right Talent

Fewer areas of operation change more rapidly than information technology.  An organization could run the newest and most advanced systems available, but without the right people in place, those systems are worthless.  Traditional data centers required hands-on skills and expertise. Tech pros were responsible for installing, connecting, and maintaining hardware in addition to managing platforms. But virtualized data centers require a distinctly different skill set. These professionals must be well-versed in multiple platforms and must be able to manage and troubleshoot dynamic operating systems.

Investing in the right talent for a virtualized data center can help organizations get the most from their investment. The skills and expertise required to succeed in these environments are not the same skills and expertise that were in demand a decade ago. As IT departments are continually pressed to do more with less, it’s more important than ever before to have the right people in the right jobs.

 

 

 

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How To Be Strategic With Your IT Hiring

June 18th, 2014 | Posted by Sarah Jones in Guest Blogs - (Comments Off)

NVTC is inviting members and industry leaders to serve as guest bloggers, sharing insights and information on trends or business issues relevant to other members. In the below post, Marc Berman of member company Vector Technical Resources shares strategic steps for managers when hiring an IT staff.


Hiring tech talent can be a serious challenge for many organizations. Depending upon where your company is located, you may be competing with shinier, flashier tech
companies that can offer massive salaries, on-site gym memberships, free daycare, and other perks. Conversely, you may be operating in a rural area where new IT talent is hard to come by.

The (somewhat) good news is that no matter where you are or what your organization does, you are not alone. The Technology Councils of North America conducted a survey in 2013 that found nearly 70% of participating executives believe there is a shortage of quality tech talent in the marketplace. They feel that “all the good ones are taken,” and it can be difficult to attract and hire the right people.

Making Strong IT Hiring Decisions

This climate can lead companies to make poor IT hiring decisions. Hiring managers may feel pressured to jump on the first candidate with the appropriate skill set. But even if an IT candidate’s skills match up with your needs, there are other things to consider before making an offer.

Here are some tips to help you make strategic IT hiring decisions:

  1. Documented Work – An IT candidate can claim certain skills and accomplishments, and it may be possible to glean their expertise from an interview, but it is important to get documentation of previous projects.
  2. Look for Broad Experience – Specialization can be beneficial for certain positions, but more often than not, your organization will depend upon IT pros with a broad knowledge base. When someone focuses narrowly on one specific skill, it can lead them to be less effective at solving large problems.
  3. Match Personality with Company Culture – Employees must be happy in order to do their jobs well, and if the culture of the organization isn’t a good fit, your new hire won’t feel comfortable or happy. For example, individuals with a laid-back attitude and work history in casual environments may feel stifled in a workplace with a more rigid corporate structure.  Be sure to take personality and your company culture into consideration before making an offer.
  4. Don’t Make a Panic Hire – Making a fast hiring decision out of sheer panic rarely turns out well. If the position is so critical that it must be filled immediately, it’s worth it to take a breath and move deliberately, because a bad hire will ultimately force you back into a desperate situation. Never hire for an IT position after one interview.  Always conduct a phone screen first. This can help narrow the field before you potentially waste your time and the candidate’s time on an in-person interview.
  5. Include the Team – If an IT professional will be reporting to three managers, include all three managers in the hiring process. It is important that everyone gets a sense of a candidate’s personality and work style, so that they can feel comfortable bringing that individual on board.

 

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NVTC is inviting members and industry leaders to serve as guest bloggers, sharing insights and information on trends or business issues relevant to other members. In his second post on the NVTC blog, Matt Rajput of CohnReznick shares his insights on new methods for valuing technology companies.

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As the IPO market continues to churn and with plenty of money on the sidelines, could it be that investors are changing their models for valuing a technology company?

In recent years, a company’s top line revenue and projected growth carried significant weight in attracting interest from investors as evidenced by valuation multiples of 5x, 10x, even 20x. However, we’ve recently seen that an increasing number of investors are taking a closer look at “marginal gross margins,” which is defined as a new dollar of revenue minus the cost of producing that revenue as the company grows.   Simply put, this measurement identifies the cost incurred in earning another dollar of revenue.

Calculating marginal gross margins has become a more popular method of calculating the value of a technology company because it is considered a cleaner look at operational efficiency, which is often challenging to measure in acquisitory companies that actively buy customers and market share to drive growth.  Some investors feel that buying customers and market share through acquisitions is not a favorable long term strategy for solid growth.  What happens when customers become more challenging to find and the next couple of deals fall through?

To me, it doesn’t make sense for investors to acquire a company that spends a dollar to earn a dollar in revenue, even if revenues increase by millions of dollars resulting in impressive top-line results.  A few months back, the $19B valuation of WhatsApp seemed outrageous to some, but when industry analysts began to dig deeper into the numbers, it came to light that WhatsApp had a very high operating gross margin. Coupled with its ability to grow as a cutting-edge technology, the sustaining membership revenue cash flow, and the sizable market cap, this valuation seems more reasonable.  WhatsApp passed the sticky test with flying colors!

Stickiness usually leads to higher gross margins.  The better that a technology company can become engaged with its current client base, the greater the opportunity for increasing gross margins and in turn the more positive an impact on the valuation of the company.  So, as an alternative strategy to building value, technology company decision-makers may want to think twice about buying that next customer or company and instead develop new and engaging products and services that contribute to the organic growth of their customer base.

If you’re a technology investor or a technology company decision maker, I’d be interested to hear your thoughts.

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Matt Rajput, CPA, is an Audit Manager with CohnReznick LLP and a member of the firm’s Technology Industry Practice. Working from the firm’s Tysons Corner office, Matt has eight+ years of experience servicing publicly-traded and closely-held companies in the technology sector and he routinely provides services to private equity and venture capital backed companies. Contact Matt at matt.rajput@cohnreznick.com.

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Considerations for a Cybersecure Network

June 8th, 2014 | Posted by Allison Gilmore in Guest Blogs - (Comments Off)

NVTC is inviting members and industry leaders to serve as guest bloggers, sharing insights and information on trends or business issues relevant to other members. In the below post, David Farmer of member company Environics Communications shares cybersecurity advice for companies and their CIOs. This blog was originally posted June 2, 2014, on the Environics Communications blog.

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According to CNN Money, half of American adults have been hacked this year.  That is a frightening statistic, especially since the year is not even half over.  Virtually every day a new cyberbreach is exposed, increasing risks associated with everything from conducting transactions in-person and online to ongoing national security efforts designed to protect Americans.

Last week at the Hub, Environics Communications sponsored a panel on which several cyberexperts shared valuable insights for CIOs to consider as they deploy their various networks.  The Hub is a networking organization that inspires ideas by connecting leaders in the technology communications industry with one another for business development, innovation and insights.  Cyberindustry expert Jason Gayl of Cyber Capital Partners moderated the panel.  Panelists included Chris Kauffman of Personam, Christopher Garcia of Calibre, Brett Wilson of Cyren and Kevin Jones of Thycotic.  Each company offers unique solutions to help organizations better protect their networks against cyberthreats.

One key take-away from the discussion is that companies need to properly prioritize their cybersecurity efforts in order to ensure adequate protection from cyberthreats.  Such prioritization must be done carefully after performance of a risk-based network assessment.  A prudent first step is to consider what is typical in your sector, and then determine how to do it better.  Since decisions made at this point will identify the required internal and external resources (and therefore budget allocation), it is imperative to make sure priorities are actionable and implementable.

Companies must also be sure to account for insider threat possibilities as they continue to be one of the largest opportunities for security breaches, whether intentional or accidental.  Insiders are integrated into an organization’s culture, and they know what the most valuable data is and where it is stored.  Therefore, insiders can cause more damage more rapidly than an external hacker.  Typically, malware does not identify insider threats, so CIOs should explore the growing field of insider-threat detection technology.  Since their job is to protect the network, CIOs must weigh the potential cost of stolen data against the potential HR liability stemming from insider threat detection.

CIOs sometimes have a thankless job.  When all is well, their effort is taken for granted.  The minute something goes wrong, CIOs become the center of attention.  Budget constraints are not an acceptable reason to fail to deliver the security required to protect an organization or business.  CEOs need to keep cybersecurity top of mind when it comes to considering the technology, resources, and budget CIOs need to deliver the security required.  Failing to employ the right cybersecurity tools and procedures has enormous implications to the long-term viability of an organization.

CEOs and their respective communications officers must be forthcoming when a cyberbreach occurs.  It is important to learn from recent examples where major corporations suffered breaches of their electronic payment systems and online shopping networks.  Being proactive in informing the public what a company does and does not know will earn favor from its customers.  Not sharing information about the breach instills a lack of trust among customers and can be detrimental to business and profits.  Communications officers must be ready to share information quickly, even if one does not have all the answers.  In such an instance, it is ok to let the public know when you expect to have more information.

One way to stay informed on the latest cybersecurity advancements is by attending industry events on the subject. Additionally, blogs published by some of the panelist companies mentioned above also offer some guidance: Cyren Security Blog and Thycotic Blog.

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David Farmer is with Environics Communications, a mid-sized, full-service marketing communications firm.  He has 25 years of corporate communications and marketing experience in the technology sector with a track record of producing results for domestic and international telecommunications, security, and information technology companies serving business, consumer and government clients.  He has broad experience in strategic planning, corporate communications, messaging, public relations, marketing, product management, mergers and acquisitions.  In addition, David is actively involved with NVTC. 

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Five In Demand IT Skills You Should Consider Getting

June 3rd, 2014 | Posted by Sarah Jones in Uncategorized - (Comments Off)

NVTC is inviting members and industry leaders to serve as guest bloggers, sharing insights and information on trends or business issues relevant to other members. In the below post, Marc Berman of member company Vector Technical Resources shares technical skills that employers will be looking for in the near and long-term future.


What are the IT skills that employers are looking for in 2014 and beyond? Thanks to the rise of the mobile device, organizations’ reliance on big data, and the ever-present threat of cyber attacks, IT hiring is currently on the rise. Companies are looking for information technology pros with expertise in:

  • Big Data – Big data is all the rage, and it’s not going away any time soon. Organizations are hungry for even the smallest bit of information that they can capture in order to help them gain a competitive edge in the marketplace. Developers with skills in Apache will be valuable in the marketplace as businesses move away from relational database management systems (RDBMS) and move towards NoSQL databases to manage big data.
  • Database Development – Big data requires big databases. CIOs are looking to staff their teams with individuals who can manage these critical systems. Specifically, they are on the hunt for those skilled in Oracle, Informatica, MongoDB, and MySQL.
  • Information Security – Every advancement in technology brings new advancements in hacking. Cyber attacks are on the rise, and employers are looking for IT professionals who can help maintain network security. Those with skills in auditing, risk management, cloud security and mobile security are in particularly high demand.
  • Mobile Application Development – Individuals and organizations are shifting away from the desktop computer as their primary means of connecting to the Internet. Mobile devices are more prevalent than ever, and mobile applications are very hot right now. Employers are on the lookout for candidates with skills in HTML5, JavaScript, CSS3, Android development, and iOS development.
  • SAP – While SAP skills are not as new and flashy as big data and mobile apps, they are critical to business operations. As more IT pros move toward these sexier areas of expertise, they have left a major void in SAP, and many organizations are struggling to find qualified individuals to fill those open positions.

Hiring trends in technology are always changing. Expertise that is in demand one year can be out of fashion the next. Knowing the skills that employers will be looking for in the near and long-term future can help IT professionals plan their careers. It can also guide them in identifying the new skills they will need to gain in order to remain relevant and competitive in the employment marketplace.

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