7 TIPS TO PROACTIVELY TRIUMPH OVER IT UPGRADES

2017-07-27T00:01:00+00:00 May 29th, 2015|News|

May 29, 2015 – As a CIO, you may live by the old adage “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” But in the world of Information Technology, doing so can put your organization, and your career, at risk. Unless you’re walking the halls and meeting with your end users regularly, you could be exposing your organization to inefficiencies that need to be addressed, simply by assuming everything’s fine when it’s actually not.

A critical aspect of your job is to create a successful and secure technological environment for your end users that allows business to run smoothly, especially if your C-suite wants to stay competitive (and they do)  in today’s ever-shrinking, fast-paced world.

Think upgrades. They’re a vital element of end-user experience optimization and maintaining business continuity. CERT/Coordination Center even estimates that 95 percent of all network intrusions could be avoided by keeping systems up to date with appropriate patches.

To help make the most of your upgrading opportunity, here are our top 7 tips to proactively triumph over IT upgrades.

  1. Maintain an accurate and comprehensive inventory of all computing assets including hardware, peripherals (make, model and age), operating systems and software (by version).
  2. Establish an aggressive policy for upgrades and patches/fixes. Ensure there are clearly defined responsibilities, proper training, documented processes that include guidelines/best-practices, prioritization, change control, project management (for upgrades), exception handling and verification.
  3. Review and consider federal regulations affecting your organization, and the impact they may have on your technology requirements and priorities.
  4. Stay abreast of what your executive leadership team is looking to accomplish in the near future, and research new or currently underutilized technologies that can help bring their business vision to life.
  5. Evaluate your options. Weigh the risk and reward of both internal and externally-hosted technology applications – i.e. cloud based solutions, virtualization, Hyper-converged datacenters, and more. There could be some gold mine efficiency propellers in there worth exploring.
  6. Proactively plan and budget for anticipated upgrade, replacement and related support/maintenance costs of current and planned hardware/software assets. Compare the costs, capabilities, interoperability, limitations and expected life of aging systems against known or anticipated technology advancements and manufacturer’s end-of-life support announcements that might drive a decision to upgrade, transition to a cloud-provider or a rip-and-replace decision.
  7. Decide whether to insource or outsource upgrades and fix/patch management work to experts.  Experienced technology consulting and managed services providers can help analyze, define, and implement the most cost effective upgrade methods and strategy to meet your long-term business objectives, minimize downtime, and satisfy end user essentials.

Making a business case for IT upgrades is vital to achieving the highest functioning IT system to meet your company’s strategic vision. Cost will certainly be a factor. Admittedly, it’s costly to keep up with these upgrades and patches/fixes, but such costs are typically dwarfed by inefficiencies and security holes that if left unaddressed, can have a disastrous impact. Maintaining security, adhering to federal regulations, and making sure all IT infrastructure works in tandem are also impactful elements for making your case for upgrades.

Following this list of 7 tips will arm you with the tools you need to make the most informed upgrade decisions possible. Your end users will notice the difference, as their IT interruptions will be replaced by stronger IT efficiency. Roaming the halls will become a welcome reprieve. And your executives will thank you for your valuable input towards achieving the company’s primary business goals.

4 VIRTUAL DESKTOP TECHNOLOGIES THAT IMPROVE CLINICAL PRODUCTIVITY

2017-07-27T00:01:00+00:00 May 21st, 2015|News|

May 21, 2015 – So you’ve made the leap. You’ve transitioned to an EMR, your clinicians are getting more comfortable with electronic health records and charting, and now they use a virtual clinical workstation instead of a physical one. Are you still hearing feedback? Is most of it critical? Chances are that your virtual clinical desktop is causing some frustration, because most are simply not efficient or intuitive enough. And even if you aren’t hearing complaints, you may be surprised to find out that there are huge productivity losses or gains to be had depending on what type of virtual clinical desktop you’re using.

Don’t worry, though. We’ve got your back. Check out these four ways that an “Optimized Virtual Desktop” can improve clinical productivity:

1. Eliminate secondary time penalties through a Citrix “Double-Hop” environment.

Clinicians using a virtual desktop normally experience a secondary time penalty by waiting for applications to reconnect to the virtual desktop while they’re roaming.  This time penalty results in up to 8-10 seconds of productivity loss per patient encounter, per clinician – resulting in many hours of provider inefficiency, per day, throughout the health system.

Coretek VDES© utilizing xAppNow© gives time back to clinicians in the reconnection of applications through a Citrix “Double-Hop” environment, eliminating the reconnection time penalty. Imagine the efficiency gained by handing your clinicians 8-10 seconds per patient encounter! This adds up quickly to hours, and even days, over the long term.

2. Provide real-time battery monitoring before losing connectivity.

Even if you’re working within an efficient virtual desktop, the reality is that most virtual desktops are operating on devices that are on healthcare carts, and can’t display the battery of the device itself. Coretek VDES© – Battery Monitor© displays the battery status of the device through a system tray of the virtual desktop. This means that clinicians know when the battery is running low and can plug the device in before they lose connectivity to their desktop, and their EMR. This adds up to yet another increase in productivity – no time lost plugging in and reconnecting.

3. Improve clinical workflow with enhancements that allow for the EPCS (Electronic Prescription of Controlled Substances) for many different hardware configurations.

Coretek offers clinical workflow enhancements that allow for the Electronic Prescription of Controlled Substances (EPCS) for many different hardware configurations that are DEA compliant, using Two-Factor Authentication Modalities. The hands-free addition to the EPCS workflow offers the greatest user experience and time savings for Two-Factor Authentication to date.  This workflow increases the number of patients seen and medication orders placed, while giving time back to the provider at the point of care.

4. Most importantly, create an end user experience that is more intuitive and more efficient than existing physical workstations.

Issues with user experience have stalled countless virtual clinical desktop deployments across the healthcare landscape. The main reason why these projects tend to get stuck at the proof of concept phase or fall apart after a small pilot, is that the user experience in the virtual environment was not comparable to that of existing physical workstations. AppSense DesktopNow Suite offers specific configurations that far and away exceed any physical workstation experience. AppSense is able to address all of the common issues that cause other virtual desktops to fail, by offering features that make life easier for your clinicians. They can easily roam between virtual and physical machines, with local resources (printers, networks, etc.) activated as needed within a familiar environment. They experience unified physical and virtual desktop integration.

What does this all add up to? With any (or all) of these four virtual desktop technologies, you’ll see immediate out-of-the-box performance and productivity gains. When the virtual desktop experience is seamless, fast, and intuitively designed, your clinicians can stay focused on patients. So instead of waiting for applications to load, logging in and logging out, unplugging and plugging back in, they’ll be paying attention to their patients. The math is pretty simple: an efficient and optimized virtual desktop with tuned and integrated solutions, leads to improved productivity and better patient care.

3 OPTIONS FOR DEALING WITH AN AGING DESKTOP FLEET

2017-07-27T00:01:00+00:00 May 20th, 2015|News|

May 20, 2015 – No end user would tell you that they prefer to be tied to their workspace in order to achieve any level of productivity. But this is exactly what happens when your business is operating on an outdated desktop fleet. Their desktop is the own personal sacred business ground. It belongs to them, and this ownership is validated through their login and passcodes, personalized settings, unique applications, and files utilized for both business and personal purposes.

But this personal office “kingdom” is really more detrimental to security and business productivity. Even if your company utilizes on premise file services where files can be accessed from computers attached to the network, workflow efficiency is extremely limited. The time it takes to log-in to a different computer, find the needed document, open the correct application, adjust settings to fit their personal needs, and get back to work can be an enormous productivity loss.

There’s new technology out there, no new news to you, which allows your company to virtualize their desktop fleet in a number of ways. Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) has been on the scene for almost half a decade, but there could a be a number of things holding you back from engaging this fantastic addition to your end-users work flow.

I’ve talked to a number of CIOs who find the move to VDI a risky one, primarily in cost of implementation. The top concerns we hear are being unable to get VDI technology to a point of full functionality, the impact to workflow efficiency without proper end user training, and the costs of ongoing maintenance. All very valid. But in truth, ongoing VDI maintenance quickly pays for itself by allowing you to expand your hardware refresh cycle from 3 years to 8 years. That’s some solid ROI. And it’s because VDI requires lower cost devices to run the same business functions as your current, expensive desktop fleet. Beyond that, if you partner with a solid IT provider then implementation, training, maintenance, and capital expenditures will all be done properly, effectively, and strategically to your benefit.

However, we don’t make the decision for you. To help you out, we’ve outlined your 3 basic options for virtualizing your desktop environment:

1.     Stay the status quo.

This might feel like your safest bet – especially if you’ve already attempted to move to a VDI solution without success. But while maintaining your company’s technological status quo may work for now, it won’t allow your end users to stay competitive, enhance productivity and revenue, and ultimately achieve top business objectives. The technology you implement is a vital component to your company’s overall ability to succeed.

2.     Only implement the VDI solutions most appropriate to your end users’ needs.

You don’t have to dive straight into the deep-end. You can start small. Replace your desktop computers with laptops that can move around the workspace, be taken home, really just allow your end users access to their work from any location. Truthfully, people will work more if you give the freedom and flexibility to do so. Another option is to virtualize your applications by putting them into a cloud so they can be used from any device, accessed through a simple log-in process. With the increase of millennials entering the workforce, who have grown up with the fluidity of technological capabilities, they expect to be able to use multiple devices to accomplish a task, and don’t like or understand being tied to one desktop computer.

3.     Embrace the full advantages of a complete Virtual Desktop Infrastructure.

VDI technology allows your end users to access their own personal “desktop” from any computer on your network, simply by logging in. They won’t be required to drag any hardware around from place to place, they won’t have to configure a different computer to readjust to their workflow needs, and they can maintain full productivity regardless of what hardware they’re using.

VDI solutions are beneficial to all business types and verticals.  One of the main reasons is that a migration to a virtual desktops and a replacement of aging traditional PC’s with low cost Thin Clients allows IT to skip refresh cycles or use those refresh dollars to fund a virtual desktop initiative. For industries with a mobile sales force or road warriors, VDI can users to be mobile and access their desktop, applications and data from anywhere.  VDI can also serve as a way to minimize risk of data loss and downtime, by reducing the amount of reliance end users have on a specific, personalized device. And ultimately, it makes your end users happier and more productive, which makes your customers or clients happier, which makes your CEO happier, and your work world becomes a much happier place. It’s like you’re some kind of super hero.

Ignite 2015 – Download Specific Videos and Slides…

2017-07-27T00:01:00+00:00 May 7th, 2015|Uncategorized|

I was unable to attend the Microsoft Ignite event this year, but I wanted to try and get all the value out of the conference that I could from afar.  I knew I needed to get the session videos and slides, similar to the scripted process that I did for TechEd last year

And while I’ve seen a few download scripts out there, I specifically want just my favorite slides and videos, not a whole category.  Plus, I want the lower-quality MP4s so that the download consumes less space.  And since I’m downloading them while they still post them (the week of the event), I need to permit that they may not yet be available, and that I may re-run it until I get everything I want.

And so here it is, for all my Ignite/TechEd peeps…  It’s a “how-to” to help you grab the content you want, and *only* what you want…

Step 1

First, go to the Ignite 2015 Session catalog at Channel 9 and figure out which session Videos and PowerPoints you want.  Look for the little code by each session, for example FND1451, BRK3505 or BRK2306, etc.

Step 2

Next, create a folder.  I created C:TempGetVideos   …Yes, original, I know. 

Step 3

In that folder you created, make a text file called “MySessionIdList.txt”, and paste in a list of the session IDs, one-per-line, like this:

FND1451
BRK3505
BRK2306

…and so on. 

Step 4

Again, in that same folder, create a text file called something like I did, “GetSessionVideos.ps1”, and paste in the following code:

Import-module bitstransfer
$inputFile = "mySessionIdList.txt"
$mySessionList = Get-Content $inputFile
$myUrlPathParent = "http://video.ch9.ms/sessions/ignite/2015"
$myRestPath = "http://s.ch9.ms/Events/Ignite/2015/RSS/slides"
$myRestComparison = "http://channel9.msdn.com/Events/Ignite/2015"
# For pete's sake, do NOT show this to Don Jones! I can't take that level of criticism! ;)
foreach ( $sessionId in $mySessionList )
{
# Check to see if the file is present before attempting to download
if (!(Test-Path "$sessionId.pptx"))
{
# Yep, the dreaded Write-Host, because I actually want to watch the script run...
# I'm crazy like that...
Write-Host -ForegroundColor GREEN "Getting $sessionId.pptx..."
# Get the PPTX
$MyThing = Invoke-RestMethod $myRestPath | Where-Object link -Contains "$myRestComparison/$sessionId"
if ($MyThing -ne $NULL)
{
$MyPptxUrl = $MyThing.getelementsbytagname('enclosure').url
start-bitstransfer -source "$MyPptxUrl" -destination "$sessionId.pptx"
}
else
{
Write-Host -ForegroundColor CYAN "Sorry, the PPTX for $sessionId is not yet available..."
}
}
else
{
write-host "Already have $sessionId.pptx, skipping..."
}
# Check to see if the file is present before attempting to download
if (!(Test-Path "$sessionId-mobile.mp4"))
{
# Go ahead and revoke my MVP, Don...
Write-Host -ForegroundColor GREEN "Getting $sessionId-mobile.mp4..."
# Get the MP4
start-bitstransfer -source "$myUrlPathParent/$sessionId-mobile.mp4" -destination "$sessionId-mobile.mp4"
}
else
{
write-host "Already have $sessionId-mobile.mp4, skipping..."
}
}

…And run that script in a Powershell session to get your videos! It might look something like this, using my examples above (note that some files were downloaded, some skipped, and some not yet available):

Of course,you can modify the code to suit your tastes, but this simple set of instructions should get you going.

Have fun viewing and learning!

Note: This is an update from my TechEd 2014 download script posted here.  And thanks to THIS POST for the clue on the Rest API call, due to the *horrible* naming convention for the slides this year. 

 

Walk For Wishes 2015 – A Record-Breaking Success!

2017-07-27T00:01:00+00:00 May 6th, 2015|Uncategorized|

http://www.coretekservices.com/sites/default/files/WalkForWishes2015.jpg

What a great event, on what turned out to be a great day!

For 2015, my family and I again joined fellow Coreteker Sarah and her family for a fun way to help out a wonderful cause: the 17th Annual Walk For Wishes® by the Make-A-Wish® Michigan organization.  Sarah and her team are veterans of the Walk, and I’ve been proud and grateful to have a chance to participate with them the last few years.

And as usual, Sarah’s son made an excellent (and patient) tour guide, sharing his wealth of knowledge about the Zoo.  He should run the place!  😉

In the process, we helped to raise our part (thanks to Coretek and other donors) of the event total of more than $445,000.00, with a record-breaking attendance of more than 4,500 walkers!  This amount means the organization will be able to grant wishes to more than 400 Michigan kids this year.  Awesome. 

If you didn’t get the chance to donate before the event but still would like to, please click here to donate with our team.

Thank you!  And see you out there next year…