As the Upstate area continued to welcome TSAChoice to the business sector due to consistent growth, John was named the Sales Manager over the Voice and IT division for the Greenville office. John brings with him a military technical background, as well as time in the B2B world of technology.
If we only had one word to describe John at the office, it would be "methodical," as the engineers would tell you, he is very orderly and systematic in his approach to problem/solution scenarios. He works on projects that demand his expertise in IT, voice solutions, customer service, contact centers, efficiency and security. He has worked through many interesting projects including Hartness International, Piedmont Reproductive Endocrinology Group (PREG), Asheville Buncombe Community Christian Ministry (ABCCM) and most recently with the beautiful Tryon International Equestrian Center.
John is originally from the Asheville area and graduated from TC Roberson. Following high school, he decided to sign up for the Navy where he spent 6 exciting years on both the USS Wisconsin out of San Diego and USS Princeton out of Long Beach. His ship, the USS Princeton, was almost sunk during Operation Desert Storm, on the morning of February 18, 1991.
Whether watching or doing, sports are a significant part of his work life balance. He is an excellent teammate for a triathlon; he is a runner, likes to bike, and loves anything in water. His athletic influence flows to his children: Kippen is currently a cheerleader for UNCG, and he has enjoyed coaching his son Jackson in football. His only requirement for his wife, Caryn, when planning the wedding and honeymoon, was that it needed to be completed prior to football season; obviously the UNC Tarheel football team holds a special place in his heart.
Are you a risk taker? Do you like living on the edge? Then don't install software updates and patches and you might be met with more excitement and challenges than you can handle. Otherwise, if you are concerned with your data being compromised, be sure to err on the side of caution and take care of the updates and patches required for software.
The Bad News
An intrusion to your network can be devastating, especially if you don't have a disaster recovery plan in place.
These breaches can then lead to unexpected financial burdens due to locating information accessed on the network, repairing your network, loss of revenue due to downtime and even loss of revenue because of a damaged business reputation.
The Good News
The United States Computer Energy Readiness Team (US-CERT) has published that "85% of targeted attacks are preventable."
How can you help prevent these attacks? Simply install updates and patches as soon as they are released.
Yes, this may be easier said than done, you may be overwhelmed with the amount of software programs to manage, the time required due to scheduling updates and down time to reset systems after updates take place.
Managing Updates on a Windows Network
So, let us suggest a few ways to make this process manageable on your Windows Network.
- Use a managed services program such as our . As part of this plan, we will automate and manage mission critical updates of Windows software patching for workstations and servers, then provide comprehensive reporting of the activity on your account each month.
- Purchase software that allows a review of your systems with suggestions for programs that require patches or updates.
- At a bare minimum, setup your Windows PC's and Servers to complete automated updates. Also confirm updates and patches are being applied to Open SSL, Adobe software and Java as they are listed on the "Top 30 Targeted High Risk Vulnerability" with US-CERT.
As mobile devices tend to be the new "hot" target of cyber criminals, it is critical that updates on the applications and the device itself are completed.
Updates on Servers, PC's, MACs, and mobile devices, can sometimes trigger a glitch, resulting in an unusable program. Just be aware that this may happen, and realize that an alternative may be necessary at least until a patch for the glitch is released.
Other proactive steps you can take to protect your data network include increasing human awareness, and even small to medium businesses should be following this four prong approach to front line protection.
At that time, the solution fit our needs perfectly. Over the last couple of years, as technology evolved and developed, we found that we needed to make a change.
The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) in January 2014 released the 802.11ac standards; it was perfect timing, considering our company was planning on changing out this technology soon. Many laptop and mobile device manufacturers had already began incorporating the 802.11ac functionality in their devices since as early as 2012 to be prepared for the release of these standards.
Our challenges included:
- • Bandwidth issues as a result of multiple mobile devices per user
- • Technology advancements with our mobile devices (in particular, supporting video applications) was exceeding the features and functionality that our older access points could support
- •Control and access for our guests and applications required during their visits
Armed with our customized wireless testing apparatus that Bob Romano created, we proceeded to complete our wireless survey to determine the best locations for access points.
We chose to install Aruba IAP-225 access points to provide 802.11ac (also known as 5G WiFi) coverage throughout our building. These access points provided immediate and noticeable benefits including blanket coverage throughout our facility as well as outside areas that required coverage while also doubling our channel bandwidth.
802.11ac standards include improvements such as increases in bandwidth speeds and beamforming technology. Skipping all the technical jargon, bottom line, speeds of 3x's faster of the previous 802.11n wireless infrastructure should be expected and the new beamforming technology allows the ability to focus signal strength toward active user locations. If you would like to read the Aruba tech version of 802.11ac features and functionality, click here.
Ben started out in our voice division supporting our telephone customers and Mitel Direct customers located primarily in the Greenville, Spartanburg and Anderson, SC areas.
Ben originally hails from Miami, but has lived in many different states including Michigan, Kentucky, and North Carolina; much of this due to being raised in a military family. A few years ago, he finally decided to settle down in South Carolina.
Since he began working at TSAChoice, Ben has succeeded in becoming our most certified engineer acquiring certifications from Mitel, Cisco, Microsoft and CompTIA. He has recently been promoted to the Technical Services Manager for our Greenville, South Carolina office. Ben is a relentless worker, making for the perfect problem-and-solution guy. He finds overcoming tough challenges with which he is presented exhilarating.
This need to face challenges head-on falls right in line with his adventurous, big game hunter side. A look at his bucket list reveals items such as Kodiak bear hunting in Alaska, hunting the big 5 in Africa, Caribbean spear fishing while living on a sailboat, and a walkabout in Australia ending with a little spear fishing on the Great Barrier Reef.
He is an avid outdoorsman who enjoys scuba diving, kayaking, swimming and hunting. He and his wife are very active in the community in which they live; Ben assists his wife Amanda with Bruce Unlimited Designs doing face painting for parties (part of the proceeds go to support Miracle Hill Ministries). Bruce and Amanda are also in the process of launching an outreach to the homeless in the Greenville area.
Relying on an automated process and forgetting about it is tempting, but if a system crashes and you try to restore from a non-existent file that was supposed to be there, you will wish you had taken the time to verify those backup procedures.
A dangerous mistake is backing data up in only one location. Over the years I've had many a work laptop crash that contained system backup information, and so have developed the habit of backing up my backups to a shared network drive, which is then backed up to the cloud. In other words, backup your files in as many places possible to ensure that you are able to get a hold of them when you need them; from my experience, some files become corrupt or damaged and require hours (or even days) of programming to fix. Just back back back it up!
As a rule, every time you make a change to any system, including your phone system, you need to get a current backup. That backup file needs to be copied offsite, either to a network storage device of some sort, or to the cloud. This simple precaution can save hours of downtime, headaches, and hundreds to thousands of dollars in labor and lost business associated with re-building a system.
So how does one backup a phone system? I'm glad you asked! The following is a brief description of how to backup the Mitel MiVoice Office, Mitel 5000, Mitel MiVoice Business, Mitel Communications Directory (MCD) and the Mitel 3300 systems.
Directions to backup the MiVoice Office and 5000
- 1. Launch the System Administrator & Diagnostics Tool.
2. Click the telephone button, or select the drop down and choose Launch DB Programming.
3. From the Operations Menu (located at the top of the screen), select Backup Operations and then Save Backup.
4. You will want to select Save Database to a PC, choose your save to location, assign a file name (example 0115.m5k) and click the start button.
5. Once your file is saved to your PC (remember the discussion we had above about multiple backups) copy that file off to a remote location (the cloud, NAS, etc.).
6. You're done!
Directions to backup MiVoice Business, MCD and Mitel 3300
- 1. Open Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox and browse to the address of your phone system.
2. Log into the Embedded System Management (ESM) interface, and select System Administration Tool.
3. Select the drop down menu on the left side and choose Maintenance and Diagnostics, then Backup/Restore, then choose Backup.
For this save you can choose whether or not to backup your call history and voicemail messages, I recommend not backing these up (as they add time to the process), and by the time a restore is required, the data will most likely be irrelevant.
- 4. A ".tar" file will be auto generated.
5. After the backup is complete the file can be saved to a specific directory.
Again, once your file is saved to your PC (remember the discussion we had above about multiple backups) copy that file off to a remote location (the cloud, NAS, etc.).
That's it, nothing to it! This is just some simple maintenance that could save you time and money in the long run. If you need assistance with either of the processes listed above, feel free to reach out to our Customer Care department and we will be happy to assist.
Benjamin Bruce, Technical Services Manager, South Carolina Region
Jennifer is the contract administrator for TSAChoice. Her position consist of maintaining all of the technology service and support contracts including Complete IT (CIT) contracts, Comprehensive Service Agreements (CSA) for Mitel phone systems, Technology Assurance Program (TAP) contracts and Block Amount Agreements. She also sets up new customers and contact information, makes the dreaded collection calls and doesn't even mind cleaning out the ice maker in the refrigerator when it freezes over.
Jennifer is a very organized person, expecting nothing less than perfection with whichever jobs she is charged. If a task is in Jennifer's capable hands, her co-workers know they can let it go and move on to their next assignment.
Jennifer grew up in the Williamson area of South Carolina, graduating from Palmetto High and moving on to get her degree in Radio and TV Broadcasting from Tri-County Technical College in Pendleton, SC. She moved straight into the radio business working nights for WSSL in Greenville, with her personality tagline, "Let Jennifer put you to bed."
Orange seems to be her preferred color of choice, with some purple mixed in and a tiger strip here and there. Her work area definitely defines where her allegiance lies: it's complete with a Clemson keyboard, a Clemson gnome, orange sticky notes and even an orange paper corrector. If you want to get on her bad side, just let a derogative comment slip about the Clemson Tigers football team.
In her time off, she cares for her mother, spends time with daughters and grandchildren and lives with a couple of finicky cats. She has been known to break out in song at the closest Karaoke bar, she enjoys grabbing a bite at the Whistle Stop at the American Cafe in Travelers Rest and she can't resist a good biscuit with gravy from Biscuit Head in West Asheville.
To understand the importance of having an RCDD involved in infrastructure projects, you must first understand what the Building Industry Consulting Service International (BICSI) organization is about. BICSI is a professional association that supports the Information Transport System (ITS) industry. BICSI works with companies like TSAChoice to certify installers and designers specializing in complex cabling projects.
RCDD is a designation that is awarded to individuals that have a minimum of 2-4 years experience working with infrastructure solutions and 2) has proven their knowledge by completing an extensive exam based around topics such as:
- • Principles of transmission
- • Backbone and horizontal distribution systems
- • Firestop systems
- • Bonding and grounding
- • Field testing of structured cable and optical fiber
- • Outside plant cable
- • Data and wireless networks
- • Data centers
- • Audio visual systems
Due to the constantly evolving tech industry, this designation is renewed every 3 years with 45 hours of continuing education and attendance at a minimum of one BICSI conference.
An RCDD is an integral part of the designer phase of a project, working from the beginning with architects, engineers and general contractors to provide a proper design and a plan that can be functional, flexible and scalable.
Working with any type of cable or optical fiber, there are codes and standards that BICSI has outlined that should be followed to avoid future issues and complications. If the standards are not met and appropriate testing not followed, the cable infrastructure could experience electrical interference, inadequate data transmission performance, there could be life safety issues, issues with meeting code and even aesthetic challenges. These problems could lead to additional costs including lost time on projects, trouble shooting, and unplanned maintenance costs.
The RCDD credential is meant to provide companies like TSAChoice a professional designation of excellence, a status recognized and mandated by many private and state organizations, a mark of design knowledge and an indication of experience, training and knowledge known throughout the information and communication technology industry.
TSAChoice has consistently kept one or more RCDDs on staff, as well as multiple BICSI certified installers and technicians to ensure the organizations we work with are receiving the best options for cabling projects to provide long lasting performance.
This operations center will be the new hub to manage, monitor and respond even more quickly to our managed network service customers.
The NOC will initially consist of four workstations for three full time IT engineers and one voice engineer to monitor and maintain our Complete IT (CIT) customers. Two 60" monitors will provide instant views of managed networks, dispatch boards and current locations of TSAChoice engineers.
This operations center was created primarily with our CIT customers in mind, these customers are high touch, need additional resources and quick response times from our team. This group will also assist in dispatching and monitoring service ticket queues for our non-CIT customers, therefore increasing the efficiency of our entire service department.
As we continue to refine and grow our CIT offerings, these customers should expect to see continued improvements in our ability to provide them with outstanding technical support.
The operations center will go live on Monday, May 18th. If you would like to schedule a visit to our office to see what support and resources we can offer please call 828-254-4464 or complete this form.
Mr. Fix It is our nickname for Bob around the office; not only does he take care of our customers needs, but when anything goes wrong internally, or even with his co-workers, he is the first person to call. He has repaired everything from our laptops to TV's to broken glass on our smart phones.
As an in-house bench tech, he works on everything from basic monitors and printers to large video walls and plotters. He is one of only a few people in Asheville that has the expertise to repair this specific type of equipment. When working in the field, he works primarily with our audio visual division on
Bob is the kind of guy who welcomes a challenge. The most unusual item he has repaired in his career was a laser drill used to burn holes through diamonds, although recently he completed repairs on a coin operated football video game and an art project, a video "sky" for Degrees of Paradise, that was created out of the old tube style televisions. He also custom designed an apparatus that TSAChoice uses to complete wireless surveys for larger applications or for buildings with high ceilings such as manufacturing facilities.
Bob has a beautiful wife of 35 years, a daughter Katie and son John (both in their 20's). In his spare time, he enjoys renovating his 150 year old house, and taking trips in his Corvette along the beautiful North Carolina countryside.
Twenty-five years ago, few businesses had a CTO, an in-house IT department, or even a server room next to the break room (or, as we’ve seen, a server stack IN the break room.) Now technology is a major player in every office environment, and it’s unheard of to have a break room that doesn’t have a recycling bin it.
Initially, technology was imperative for increasing the speed and efficiency of business transactions. Thanks to a continuing new stream of products and initiatives from the tech sector, technology also has a growing role to play in lowering your company’s carbon footprint. By making informed choices, your business can enjoy the benefits of going green well beyond your waste-recycling program.
Two Shining Examples
“We are so proud that the finished product is not only the most eco-friendly GM dealership in Western North Carolina but also the most customer-friendly. We could not be more pleased that Sunshine Chevrolet is the first in America to be recognized as a GM Green Dealer!” states Don Elliott, President and Owner of Sunshine Chevrolet.
In March, TSAChoice customer Sunshine Chevrolet (Arden, NC) was recognized as the first recipient of General Motors’ Green Dealer Recognition program for its proven track record in areas such as energy reduction, renewable energy use, water conservation efforts, recycling and community outreach. Energy efficient LED lighting with state-of-the-art programmable capabilities, advanced building techniques, and high efficiency cooling and heating are just a few of the specific ways Sunshine implemented environmental features on its site.
You can view a short video that shows how Sunshine Chevrolet worked with TSAChoice to use smart technology throughout its facility here.
TSAChoice customer Kanuga Conferences, Inc. was also recently recognized for seeking ways to reduce its carbon footprint. The Energy Solutions Center awarded Kanuga Conferences and PSNC Energy with its Partnership Award for Innovative Energy Solutions for working together on a large-scale conversion from propane to natural gas in 2014, resulting in more energy efficient heating and hot water supply for Kanuaga’s lodging, program buildings, kitchens and staff housing.
Talk (Clean) To Me
TSAChoice is able to help its customers in Asheville and Greenville reduce energy use and costs simply by choosing the right phone system. Mitel, for which TSAChoice is an Exclusive Partner, is a world leader both in product recyclability and e-waste decommissioning.
Recyclability is included in the design of all Mitel products: MiVoice IP Phones are at least 66 percent recyclable by weight and Mitel has a comprehensive recycling program that diverts up to 65 percent of Mitel’s waste from day-to-day operations. In the US, Mitel has partnered with Global Investment Recovery Inc. (GIR), a signatory to the Electronics Recycler’s Pledge of True Stewardship.
Other Mitel recycling activities include:
• All telephony equipment designated as e-waste is decommissioned at local area facilities.
• Equipment decommissioning and destruction practices are respectful to the environment.
• Scrap metal and precious metal components are recovered and recycled for reuse.
Continuing the Green Revolution via Office Technology
For its own facilities and operations, TSAChoice either recycles or safely disposes of electronic waste and utilizes the services of Resolution Recycling. TSAChoice staff utilize online forms, use smart devices for scheduling and service calls, and recycle day-to-day items all to reduce energy consumption and office waste. TSAChoice is also in the process of converting to e-billing so look for more information about that switch soon.
As we continue to drive these improvements, we love to hear stories about our partners doing the same. Share your green best practices with us.