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400 Servers In Under 4 Hours

In the immortal words for Forrest Gump, “it happens.”  In technology, truer words might never have been spoken.

But when “it” does happen, Azzaron’s team of system admins and network of support personnel work very hard to ensure “it” has little impact on end users.

Responding to a critical outage of its entire storage infrastructure, Azzaron engineers were able to shut down, repair, and restore over 400 virtual servers in under four hours!  The coordination involved the installation and subsequent upgrade of an entirely new storage rack system and a full upgrade of Azzaron’s switch infrastructure.

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Is My Internet Fast Enough?

One of the most frequent questions we get asked at Azzaron during the testing process is "will my Internet connection be sufficient for hosted desktops?"

Azzaron uses sophisticated compression technology to improve the customer experience, but there are some minimum specifications for enhancing usability and system speed.

Many IaaS users take advantage of mobile and consumer-grade connections that work great for a few employees.  When an office has more than ten users, a business-grade Internet connection is typically recommended.  A good rule of thumb when purchasing business-grade services is to calculate 1Mb of Internet connection per every two users (i.e. an office of 40 people should have a minimum 20Mb Internet connection).

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Three Reasons to Cloud Connect Your File Server

Half of your employees love the file server, since it is fast, easy, and centralizes all work files in a single location on the network at the main office. The other half of your of employees likely hate the file server, since they must login remotely and more often than not, they often are missing critical files when they are in the field. The problem is especially acute for employees who are always remote. Over time, difficulties with remote access cause employees to get out of sync with the rest of the company, leading to data sprawl for corporate documents and to critical content becoming trapped in personal silos.

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How Many IT Guys Does It Take To Change a Lightbulb

Tonight I replaced the lightbulbs in my kitchen.  Sweating near the ceiling I was pondering all the good jokes about how many country western singers it takes to change those things.

Really, the little twist-in glass globes that we rely on so much to see are a perfect analogy for the IaaS model that Azzaron is bringing to small businesses all around the country.

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Paperclip Problem

I’m overrun in paperclips.  Big ones, little ones, and those really fancy ones with the bendy handles.  Some are plastic coated with patterns like hearts, but I have no idea where those came from!  I don’t really know what I’m going to do with them.  Maybe the kids can make holiday decorations or something.

This weekend my desk filled up with paperclips.  And it’s not the first time it’s happened.  It all started when I decided to turn some old papers at my storage unit into secure digital files.  After all, finding papers in storage is difficult and time consuming.  By scanning some more of my old stuff, I now have access to it from anywhere in an instant, it’s backed up, and I’ve reclaimed real estate which would be much for valuable for other uses.  I can retain my information without worry about longevity, accessibility, or backup; I know my files are easy-to-find and safe.

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Data Recovery Communication

The following is a e-mail with a vendor:

VENDOR: Thank you for choosing us for your data recovery needs. Unfortunately we have not been successful in performing a recovery for you. There is just too much damage for us to get any type of reading from the media. Please know that every effort has been made in attempting to retrieve your data. It is very disappointing for us to be unable to achieve our goal in getting you the data that you requested. If we can be of any other service please do not hesitate to ask. If needed, please let us know how you would like us to get the media back to you.

ME: Yikes. Um, I guess just toss it. I'll go jump off a cliff.

VENDOR: Oh my god – please don’t! I’m so sorry we could not get this done for you.

ME: Sorry. I'm sort of a sarcastic guy. I'm heartbroken, but I'll survive. Thank you for your concern. : )

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Software Support

Okay, so you've probably seen this one on the Internet. It was just too good for us to pass up, though.

Actual dialog of a fired WordPerfect Customer Support employee:

Tech: "Hello, How may I help you?"

Cust: "Yes, well, I'm having trouble with WordPerfect."

Tech: "What sort of trouble?"

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Bad Day In the Sales Dept?

The following is an ACTUAL e-mail conversation between myself and a potential (well, not any more) vendor:

ME: "Looks pretty good. I do need to have a total of 12 36GB drives though (2 x 6) and 6 72GB drives (1x6). Can you please update?"

VENDOR: "Excellent I will get this to you shortly. Do you still need the Microsoft? :)"

ME: "Is there anyway to get this broken down by system? It's rather confusing to an end-user."

VENDOR: "This is our quoting system and there is no way to break down."

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Which XP?

A customer called with a problem regarding their Microsoft Office. They were having a problem with the only computer that could check the company e-mail account. A quick Google search turned up a known Microsoft issue (what else?). I dialed into their computer and started the Office updater. I explained very clearly that they would need the Microsoft Office XP disc to continue.

Not Office 2000. Not Office 2003. But Office XP. I got in the car to head to the next appointment and called to check in with the customer.

"Only 33 minutes left," they told me.

"Hmm, that''s a long time for a Service Pack," I told them.

"Yeah, but we can wait. It had a problem with tape drivers, though. Will that be an issue?" they asked.

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Seriously?!

A customer called our office and explained that a program he was working on had closed itself while he was in a document. The customer was not concerned about the lost document (which he had not saved), but wanted to know when he re-opened the program, how could he get all the programs on the Task Bar back in the right order. Apparently he always opened his computer the same way each day with the same programs and didn't know how to work when they were "out of order" on the bottom of the screen.

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Webcam

A customer of was having bandwidth issues for nearly two weeks when he called us. After monitoring the line and making sure the ISP and firewall were good, we still couldn't find where the leak was coming from.

After some internal investigation, the customer dropped us a quick e-mail. Apparently, the sales staff had started watching a webcam of an African watering hole around the same time everyday.

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Internet For Dummies

The following conversation is repeated in some form or the other every week with a customer.

ME: Okay, please open Internet Explorer and go to www.logmein123.com.

CUSTOMER: Okay. I entered that. Do I want the official site?

ME: No, enter that site in the address bar.

CUSTOMER: I did and it came up with a bunch of results.

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Where'd It Go?

Okay, so I just have to write this one and get if off my chest. For the third time in as many months, the same customer just called me about missing files. Here we go again.

HIM: "There's something wrong with the computer system," he tells me, "half of the company documents just disappeared."

ME: "When did you notice they were gone?"

HIM: "Well, I was trying to select some and then they were gone."

ME: "Did you possibly drag them into a another folder?"

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CD-ROM 101

The following is an actual conversation with a customer:

ME: Okay, I can fix this issue, but first I'll need to to put the Microsoft Office CD in the drive.

HIM: I found the disk, but the comptuer is standing up. It won't go in.

ME: Find the little tabs and slip the disc in.

HIM: I can't. It just slides out.

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Shut Me Down

The following is an actual phone conversation with a customer.

THE SETUP: A high-strung customer called freaked out that he could not drag an drop files into an e-mail. Okay, so the nerdy punchline is that he had clicked Attach File already and was trying to drag a folder from the Insert window to the e-mail, so of course it wasn't going to work. Meanwhile, the conversation was pretty priceless.

HIM: Can you tell me what's wrong with the computer? I can't drop-and-drag files into e-mail.

ME: Okay, let me get into your computer.

HIM: I can't believe this. Why is this happening?

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Azzaron's Q2 Survey Results

At Azzaron, we strive to improve our service level and expand our product offerings on a continuous basis.  The respondents of our latest survey for July-2011 have already provided us with a lot of information but you are always welcome to send us suggestions and comments by email as well to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Our customer satisfaction survey ran during the month of July and we were very pleased with the tremendous participation rate–even higher than the last one! The overall survey results showed that 85 percent of our clients are satisfied with us and 95 percent of those responding would recommend us to friends or colleagues.

Last month, we heard your feedback for wanting us to be a bit more patient and to slow it down when dealing with your technical difficulties.   We are pleased to report that this score did improve so we’re headed in the right direction (see report).  Customer Service and meeting your needs is of the upmost importance to us at Azzaron.  We thank you for your feedback to help us improve both our products and services to you.

An area we need to focus on more (and we will) is our Help Desk Ticketing system.  The question is looking for feedback on the process being both helpful and informative in terms of logging a ticket and getting follow-up on the ticket disposition.  Overall, we dropped by 11% on this question with the gap being from those of you responding ‘undecided.’   That tells us we have more work to do.  As we didn’t get any specific feedback comments on this question, we will continue reaching out to you for that feedback as well as making enhancements along the way.  Please feel free anytime to provide us feedback.

Lastly, we would like to congratulate Michele A. with Pinnacle Lien.  Her name was randomly drawn to win the $10 gift card for completing the July client survey - 2011.  Congrats Michele!

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Just a Second

The following is an actual conversation with a consulting customer. Unfortunately, I'm sure this happens every day.

ME: Okay, I have access to the one computer, and I see what you're saying. I can't access the files on that other computer either. Can you please go over there and give me remote access to it.

THEM: Okay. Just a second. Let me go turn it on.

ME: (silent scream)

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What the ?!?!?!

Alright, so it's not OUR datacenter, but this is quite hilarious.

The Yellow Wall

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Corn on the cob

The following is an e-mail conversation with a customer:

CUSTOMER: Just another note: this server crashes all the time. It’s very unstable. I’ll be working and it’ll just go down and this happens a lot.

ME: There’s a new kernel. I’ll reboot it right now. I haven’t gotten any other reports, but I will put a monitor on it…

CUSTOMER: I don’t know what the association with corn is but if it helps then that’s a good thing. ;o)

ME: Hehe. The kernel is the core of any operating system…

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Roll-out

In 1800, Jared Bates died.  His tombstone reads: "His widow aged 24 who mourns as one who can be comforted lives at 7 Elm Street this village and possesses every qualification for a good wife"1

Talk about making the most of an opportunity!

For a decade, I've been helping small- and medium-sized businesses leverage their IT resources to become more efficient and save time and money.  And now I'm being encouraged by customers and, well, the marketing people, to bring my expertise, success principles, computing ideas, and stories to a broader audience.

I think most blogs start out the same way; bloggers tell us how excited and scared they are to start writing as they lay out their intentions.  I laughed thinking about that.  And then I realized the truth of it.  So here goes.  I'm happy, and yes, a little scared to start bringing myself to the world wide web.  I don't think of myself as a writer, but the truth is, I'm reading and writing all day long.  And oh, the IT stories I can't wait to tell you!  So that's just it: I'll be bringing some clarity and hopefully some levity about the world of IT, business, and occasionally life.

We live in exciting times.  I look forward to making the most of this new opportunity with you, my reader.

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