One year ago, MCPc ventured into what many thought was a “small website redesign” project. (Just between us, this thought never crossed my mind.) Before we could put the old site to rest, there were many unanswered questions that were critical to MCPc presenting who we are, the expertise we hold and what value we provide to our customers.
Though we are a technology solutions provider with more than 40 years of experience, we were new to several emerging online technologies ourselves. The journey thus far has been interesting, challenging and rewarding, and today I wanted to share a few lessons I’ve learned in the process.
Lesson #1: A website redesign must start with defining or redefining your company’s unique value from the eyes of all stakeholders.
After dozens of questionnaires littered with hundreds of questions, we determined our messaging and proceeded to website design and content development. Six months later, on January 11, 2010, we publicly launched our new site (98 brand new pages just to start). It was the greatest example of collaboration I’ve experienced in my career thus far, as every member of the MCPc management team was involved. We could not have accomplished this without their guidance, and I would like to shout out a big thank you (you know who you are) for their hard work.
Lesson #2: Get started in social media & thank those who help you get there.
In addition to all of the new content developed for MCPc.com, our new site launch was also MCPc’s inauguration into this strange new world of social media — starting with the MCPc blog. Without knowing what to really expect, I had six staff members willingly agree to “be a blogger.” What this meant…well, we were all about to find out.
A special thanks goes out to Lance, Ira, Jeff, Jason D., Beth, Perry and Jason T., who endured many hours of writing, tweaking and even more tweaking to deliver relevant, informative and thought-provoking commentaries to our online community. Together, they have contributed 32 new pages of fresh new content on our site.
I would also be remiss if I did not thank my “significant others” at PR 20/20 for their exceptional knowledge and direction. These are a team of people who care very much about the success of MCPc and our goals and objectives. This partnership has resulted in unprecedented growth and effectiveness of our website in its first six months.
But the number-one reason for investing in our blog is you — our customers, readers and future customers. If your inbox is anything like mine, about every two minutes you sigh at the dozens of new, unread emails. Though some may truly provide quality information, I know that if I read them all the quality of my own work would suffer.
We understand your time constraints and pressures. Truly, we live it here too. Your readership tells us that we are delivering a product of value, which is our one and only goal. Thank you.
Lesson #3: Evaluate your successes so far, and adapt moving forward.
The Internet provides a venue for people to seek out new information and resources. That being said, understanding what kinds of content our readers are most interested in is the key to being able to consistently provide valuable information. The most-read posts from our blog’s first six months include:
On the horizon are innovative and thought-provoking articles on a wide range of topics that we hope will provide you, the leaders in today’s complex IT world, some excellent food for thought:
- Economical and Effective Redundancy Solutions (by Frank Marro, a new addition to our blogging team)
- Technology Assessments: What, Why and How
- Key Reasons to Consider Email Archiving
- Top Ten Tips on Saving Money in Your Printing and Imaging Area
- You Can’t Hire Attitude
- When is Virtualization Right for Your Business?
Months ago, when I told my mom about our blog, she thought it was a weather condition. Although we are not where my mom is, we are still learning.
What we do know is that our employees get to hear from some of the brightest minds in our organization on a regular basis. Our bloggers get to share their years of expertise, hours of training and extensive engagements with customers across all industries, and in businesses of all sizes, with the very people knee-deep in the plethora of changing technology.
Lesson #4: Communicate, communicate, communicate: Keep people informed, ask for feedback and act on it.
So now it’s time to hear from you. What have you gained from our blog? What topics or questions would you like to see covered in the next six months? We’re listening and are ready to provide you with the information you seek.
Thanks for reading; stay tuned for new things to come. Oh, and Happy Independence Day! We have much to celebrate.
Anne Browning is Marketing Manager for MCPc and is responsible for the development and execution of corporate marketing strategies that enable us to better communicate with, reach and serve IT professionals. Connect with Anne on LinkedIn.
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Are you a business leader in Northeast Ohio interested in learning more about mobile devices and other advanced technologies for your organization? Join us on Wednesday, August 10 at 3:00 p.m. for a roundtable discussion: Mobile Device Explosion. This will be the second session of a three-session series that also includes Path to the Cloud (7/19) and Intuitive Collaboration (9/29). All three events will take place at our future headquarters, 1801 Superior Ave. in downtown Cleveland. You can attend all three or any combination of sessions. Click here to learn more and register.
The typical perception of HR is, unfortunately, based on little more than that we hire and fire. Don't get me wrong, my profession does have its fair share of being the bad guy - when we are in "grim reaper" mode, or have to enforce the dress code policy, or push managers to enforce disciplinary actions when needed. But there's something important for any employee at any organization to know: We do so much more!
"HR professionals have evolved from the behind-the-scenes administrative role of the 20th century to active involvement in shaping company policy." - Society for Human Resource Management's handbook, "Choose a Career. Choose HR."
Many people that choose to make their career in HR do so because of their interest in people and how employees relate to a business' success. I know from experience that at MCPc, our HR department is genuinely interested in the people who work with us and what makes them tick.
Rather than talking to the HR team only when you have a question about your benefits, I recommend that you "make friends" with the department. Here are three reasons why:
- One of the key functions of an HR department is to act as an advocate for the employees. We are the messengers between management and "the people." If you want your opinion to be heard, give us some feedback. We want to hear from you and for you to help us understand how to make the workplace a more productive, enjoyable and welcoming environment.
- HR has the ability to change things. We write the policies, correct? So, if you can articulate how a flex-time policy would benefit the company or think a particular manager needs to work on their delivery, tell us and we'll make sure the right people hear about it.
- We tend to be quite honest. HR representatives are fortunate enough to be privy to company information that some people don't have the opportunity to hear regularly. Join us in the lunchroom or stop us in the hall for a quick chat and ask us about what you want to know. By learning more about the company and its goals, you may find new ways to advance your career and the business.
My first manager out of college used to scoff at new graduates who would answer "I like people," when asked why they chose a career in HR. I mean, with all the millions of personalities out there, people can be challenging, complex and even a little crazy.
But what I've learned throughout my career is that at the core, people are interesting and truly are the greatest asset that any company has. By giving your HR department a chance to get to know you and understand your needs and goals, they'll have the opportunity to make new policies that improve company culture and provide more value to employees at all levels of the organization.
The MCPc HR Team on Tropical Hawaiian Friday
Now, I realize some of you reading this may not be used to an HR Department like ours at MCPc that knows how to have fun and even be silly at times but we are a reflection of our culture (or maybe our culture is a reflection of us). Sure, we know how to adhere to policy and play by the rules but we're not your average HR Department. We are truly interested in the well-being of every single person who works here and we try to have fun every day in addition to working hard.
It's like my Dad always says, "If you can't have a few laughs, it's not worth getting up in the morning." (Happy Fathers Day Dad!)
Ok, so before I get too off track... when are you going to take that trip to the HR office and reintroduce yourself?
Beth Stec is VP of Corporate Communications and Human Resources at MCPc, and is responsible for the development and management of personnel programs and policies. Connect with Beth on LinkedIn.
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If you are responsible for determining the requirements for your organization's datacenter or computer room's power and cooling capacity, then you have some work in front of you. There is a lot that goes into determining your needs that is difficult to accurately predict long-term, not the least of which is how much your business will grow over the next 5-10 years. Nobody wants to purchase more capacity than they need — especially when unsure about how long additional capacity will go unused — because there is, of course, an additional cost involved with this extra space.
How difficult is it to accurately predict datacenter needs? During initial commissioning, the typical datacenter is oversized by a factor of ten and ultimately plays out to be oversized by a factor of three at the end of its lifespan (which is usually planned to be 10 years, but is more likely 5-7 years).
To further complicate matters, downtime is no longer tolerated in today's business world. Even small companies need assurance that their critical applications will be available 24/7. Since the power and cooling systems are foundational to the systems that host those applications, proper design, implementation and ongoing management are essential to achieving this expected level of availability.
Achieving fault resiliency with traditional datacenter designs — monolithic power and cooling systems — is difficult, space consuming and expensive. Also, many older systems do not have flexible remote- or network-based management applications.
Modular Datacenters Offer an Alternative
In a word, modularity has become the proven way to overcome all of the above challenges. Indeed, we are in the midst of a transition from traditional monolithic power and cooling solutions to more adaptive and flexible modular designs.
For example, the ability to add UPS (Uninterruptable Power Supply) capacity incrementally — or in modules — as demand increases, means that it is no longer necessary to purchase an exceptionally large UPS system up front in anticipation of a potential future need.
Modular UPS systems are more flexible regarding physical location as well.
- They can be located closer to the equipment that they serve, resulting in further cost savings in wiring costs and associated labor expenses.
- Fault resiliency is more easily achieved because you can simply add redundant power modules as opposed to entire systems as in the traditional approach to datacenter design.
Power Distribution Units (PDUs) have also become modular in design, and can now be located within the computer equipment cabinets that they serve, or very close to them. Traditional design principles dictated a large UPS system positioned against a wall with one or more power distribution and circuit breaker panels bolted to the wall nearby. This resulted in vast amounts of electrical cabling running from the PDUs to the equipment racks and cabinets, which was typically run under a raised floor (which often caused another issue of the cables preventing proper airflow). As a result, modern datacenter design recommends that power and data cabling should be run overhead.
Modular design in computer systems and storage devices has resulted in substantially greater computer power and storage capacity in a given physical space (e.g., blade servers, high-capacity storage arrays, enterprise-class network switches, etc.). A problem with this design, however, is the concentration of heat, which must be removed in order to prevent equipment damage. Consequently, older monolithic cooling solutions are no longer adequate because they were primarily designed to provide cool air but not necessarily remove heat efficiently.
This is because traditional Computer Room Air Conditioners (CRAC units) are designed to provide cooling for an entire room, and are essentially ineffective at removing the localized heat loads generated by modern computer, storage and network equipment. Again, modular design comes to the rescue by allowing air-conditioning capacity to be acquired incrementally and be physically located close to the source of the problem — the heat-generating equipment.
Benefits of Modular Cooling
People now realize the inefficiency and waste in providing cooling to an entire room when it is possible to employ modular cooling solutions that are designed to efficiently remove heat and prevent any potential intermingling of hot and cold air. This modular datacenter design offers long-term operational savings in electricity costs which can in fact be the largest ongoing expense associated with a datacenter.
Traditionally, the power and cooling in the computer room was supplied through the building's main systems. The facilities team would contact the IT department to see what their power and cooling needs were in the computer room. With the modularity of cooling units, they can be put in-line with the IT systems, removing the heat close to the source.
Another potential benefit of modular design that is typically overlooked or unnoticed by IT personnel, but certainly appreciated by the CFO, is that equipment located physically close to the computer and network equipment it services will probably not be considered as part of the facility, and consequently it may be possible to depreciate it as if it were IT equipment.
Modular systems are also generally more portable than traditional solutions, should the need arise — another potential cost savings.
Start with a Datacenter Assessment
To begin any datacenter design project, the key to getting started is to perform a datacenter assessment that can determine the present conditions in the room, identify any areas of concern with varying levels of priority, and ultimately offer suggestions to resolve issues and achieve greater efficiencies.
For reference, here are a few industry websites that offer further insight into power and cooling considerations for datacenters:
The Datacenter Journal
Perry Szarka is a Solution Consultant at MCPc with expertise in data storage and network infrastructure. He works closely with clients to understand their business objectives and discover solutions to help them achieve their goals.