Server maintenance

Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:33 pm

Ordinary businesspeople have become increasingly tech savvy, but many of us still don’t know what to do when the server crashes, and we tend to pace back and forth, biting our nails, when our e-mail goes down. When such crises arise, the call goes out to an information technology (IT) company to come to the rescue. Yes, in a crisis, these geeks are our saviors. But when it comes to the bottom line, which it always does, is it worth it financially for a company to pay for an IT professional to stop by the office to reconnect a computer to the Internet?
Is it worth it emotionally to put all of your trust into that same person, only to have your voicemails unanswered while workers sit idle?
Glendale-based River Run Computers Inc. provides outsourced IT services and tries to ensure its customers’ confidence with its Total Network Management suite of services.
The Total Network Management service suite combines five services that, when packaged together, provide a total IT solution for a business in a discounted package compared with purchasing the services separately, says Paul Riedl Jr., chief executive officer of River Run Computers.
The Total Network Management package includes: River Run’s Regularly Scheduled Visit Program (RSVP) for regular maintenance checks and management of a business network; remote monitoring that keeps an eye on a network at all times; help desk services that help a business determine if an IT professional is needed on site or if a customer can be walked through an issue over the phone; strategic IT planning to ensure a business gets the most for its investment; and IT projects for businesses needing custom solutions.
The objective is to keep the number of emergencies as low as possible, Riedl said. River Run performs maintenance during RSVP visits to make sure the server security is intact and that backup systems are working properly, he said.
Total Network Management provides all three levels of expertise needed to run a network, including the job of the chief information officer, the network administrator and the network technician, Riedl said.
Fi-Med Management Inc., a Milwaukee-based financial medical management company, has utilized Total Network Management for about one year, said Rosa Miranda, IT manager for Fi-Med.
Miranda manages the computer systems at Fi-Med but lacks the technical knowledge to set up servers and exchange hardware. When Fi-Med experienced a growth spurt, the company needed more computers and servers.
"We were looking for someone who could come in and set us up right away," Miranda said. "We wanted to be able to count on them for management but to also provide a knowledge transfer to me so I could still manage smaller things and know someone would be there to back us up."
With IT professionals from River Run working in the Fi-Med office for half a day, once a month, Miranda can keep a list of technical issues that need inspection and, in the case of an emergency, a professional is available who knows the Fi-Med system, Miranda said.
"(River Run) set up our server with a four- to five-year plan to manage growth," Miranda said. "We also do a lot of imaging, and although (River Run) does not support our imaging product, they support the foundation that the product is on and can work with other vendors."
The River Run approach to IT is based on working with systems and businesses in a relaxed setting instead of in an emergency, Riedl said.
"With strategic planning, business owners can spend less time on technology and more time growing their business," Riedl said.
River Run accounts for the time a business has available for IT and the amount of expertise on staff when consulting with businesses about its services. If the business does not have a knowledgeable IT person on staff, then River Run can provide Total Network Management in its entirety.
If a business has a technical person on staff, then it can choose which services or parts of services it needs, Riedl said.
A network is a much more critical tool for a business than it was in the past. Companies do not keep as many hard copies of documents and files for back up as they used to, and businesses are more dependent on the network to be up and running, Riedl said.
Maintenance, including updating the system and installing patches, are crucial to both the life of the hardware and the sustainability of the system, Riedl said.
"Software needs everything running at optimal levels," he said. "You need to treat your network like a valuable tool."
Total Network Management and RSVP have been available through River Run in the past as components of its service offerings, but they were packaged together and re-launched in January, Riedl said.
The investment in Total Network Management differs with each business and each need of a business, but a small business with standard usage of the services could spend about $500 per month, Riedl said.
Milwaukee-based Boelter + Lincoln has used a form of Total Network Management for 10 years, said Wendy Appelbaum, who works in the accounting department and manages IT for the firm.
"We use all of the Total Network Management services, and I like the RSVP the most," Appelbaum said. "It is great knowing that someone is going to be here and that you have their time once a week."
Although Appelbaum manages IT, she is not at a high enough level to perform many of the tasks that are needed. Accounting is the main focus of her job at Boelter + Lincoln.
Appelbaum and other employees involved in IT decisions at Boelter + Lincoln meet periodically with Riedl to discuss if the company needs new hardware. River Run even helped them install their phone system, Appelbaum said.
"We want to make sure the system meets the customer’s needs," Riedl said. "New technology may change the dynamics of a company, and we help clients understand and feel comfortable buying and implementing technology."
River Run also works with a company’s budget and need for return on investment, Riedl said.
"We are a small business, and we found that River Run shares the same ideas and goals as far as how a business is run," Miranda said. "They understand the struggles of a small business, and they are not coming in and scaring us, telling us to do things a certain way. Their philosophy matches ours, which is a great plus."

Elizabeth Geldermann is a reporter for Small Business Times. Send technology news to her at or by calling her at (414) 277-8181, ext. 121. Technology news can also be sent to: Elizabeth Geldermann, Small Business Times, 1123 N. Water St., Milwaukee, WI 53202.

July 8, 2005, Small Business Times, Milwaukee, WI

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