Safe Online

Computer network security is more important than ever for businesses today, but security device management and services can often come heavy financial burdens for small companies.

Brookfield-based Vanguard Computers Inc. president Deborah Smith says her company offers a solution for a small or large company’s security woes at a reasonable price.

“As the industry changes, security has become more and more of an issue for our customers,” Smith said. “At the end of 2007, we became a gold partner, managed security service provider, with a company called Fortinet (Sunnyvale, Calif.), which allows us to offer equivalent scalable services to all of our customers, small or large.”


According to Vanguard vice president David Juneau, the Fortinet unified threat management system is capable of performing a variety of tasks.

First, the hardware security appliance is installed on the “perimeter” and between each security layer in an organization, in order to scan every piece of content coming into or going out of every computer hooked up to the server. The device is able to detect threats before they get to the actual system.

Fortinet users also receive antivirus, intrusion prevention, a secure firewall, content filtering, and can also conduct reports, track user activity, and set up detailed event logging of every connection made, and every packet of information received from the outside in or sent from the inside out on its server, Juneau said. 

“It is a scalable solution so it can really vary depending on the needs of the customer. We have had large companies purchase all of the equipment and then come back and have us manage the security anyways,” Smith said. “It’s nice because some companies might not have the IT resources available within the company, so we can do that work for them. Staffing for most businesses is their biggest expense; Fortinet remote security management alleviates some of the need for that extra staff.”

For one fee, customers of Vanguard can either buy or lease all of the Fortinet equipment, or they can purchase or lease one box and have the Vanguard IT staff manage the security issues remotely. Vanguard offers a complete protection package including hardware and managed services with compliance reporting for small companies of 5-10 users starting at $99 per month, Smith said.

Formed in 1982, Vanguard Computers first specialized in selling equipment but expanded to hold some state contracts early on.

Compurent, the rental business of Vanguard, was originally an offshoot that came from customers asking to borrow equipment for short time periods. It became a separate company in 2004 and serves as a way for businesses to obtain their temporary technology needs.

“Certain industries have surges of busy periods in their business where they might need extra equipment,” Smith said. “We get a lot of tax accountants using this service, marketing firms working on a big project, training companies as well as smaller companies who may not have the budget to buy all the equipment up front.”

Compurent enables a company to rent laptops, personal computers, printers, plasma monitors, servers, projectors and many other devices.

“We are serious about helping people run their business,” Smith said. “It’s valuable because the company can always have all the current technology plus the service of an expert staff that can network and repair the rented units.”

A University of Wisconsin System school reached out to Vanguard in 2002 to help supply students at the university with their own laptops. Vanguard provides similar programs for other organizations, Smith said.

“Our job is to make that machine end-user ready. That way, it is fully functional immediately when they receive it,” Juneau said.

According to Juneau, the computers are refreshed, and the students receive a new laptop every two years. Vanguard assists the university with maintenance and basic repairs with onsite technicians.

“It seems like we are doing a lot of different things here at Vanguard,” said Smith, “Everything we do though has a common thread. We try to really listen to our customers and offer them solutions that work for them. Because we are a small company, we are able to be more flexible.”

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