Happy New Year and welcome back to Bagels & Bytes! We had our first meeting on Wednesday, February 6 at the hip North Side coffee shop, The Vault. As a matter of interest, The Vault used to be a real-life bank and trust. To my understanding, we had our meeting in the space above the main tellers’ area where the bank president used to sit on high and run the bank, approve loans, etc. (Kinda neat!) As a coffee shop, it is a modern and comfy space – everyone seemed to enjoy meeting there.
We started the meeting by opening to floor to attendees’ tech issues. The first question concerned ISP redundancy. One attendee wanted to know what is an acceptable (or tolerable) level of downtime for an ISP vendor and what could be done to completely eliminate downtime. Some points brought up by the group:
Acceptable downtime is highly dependent upon the mission and programming of the organization – a healthcare nonprofit, for example, might require minimal to no downtime, while a different type of agency might be able to live with a little more downtime.
It is good to consider that the downtime you are experiencing may not be “normal” for the level of service for which you are paying. You may just have a crappy vendor. (In which case, you may want to read your contract and start shopping around for a new vendor.)
Don’t be afraid to negotiate your contract and pricing with your existing vendor. You won’t generally get a good deal unless you ask for it. Remember – the ISP industry is competitive – there are many vendors and you do not necessarily put up with a bad one.
Talk to your peers to find out who the good and bad ISP vendors are in your area. Word of mouth and referrals are probably the most reliable way to choose a vendor (assuming that you talk to a variety of people and obtain a number of referrals).
Once you find a vendor with which you are satisfied, pinpoint a single-point-of-contact at the vendor and nuture a relationship with that person.
At the end of the meeting, we spent a few minutes on a question about IT auditing. How does an agency go about preparing for the technology portion of a risk-based audit? We didn’t have much time to go into the subject, so perhaps we will pick it back up at the beginning of next month’s meeting.
We will be back at The Vault for the March meeting. If anyone has any topic suggestions or any issues you’d like to discuss at the meeting, please email them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. The meeting is, as usual, from 8 am – 9:30 am.