An inside look at Heliotropic Systems’ operations.

I spend a significant amount of time every month learning about new and improved technology and products from the vendors with which I partner. These vendors include familiar names such as Lenovo, SonicWall, Xerox, APC by Schneider Electric, SentinelOne, and Microsoft. Most of the solutions I obtain from these vendors are designed to help keep you secure while using your computers and network devices.

In the middle of September, I took a mere moment to look up an existing part number. I ended up spending more than 12 hours consuming a ton of new information to offer a more secure business solution. Let me explain.

I keep extensive lists of all hardware components for each of my small business clients. One of those components is a Network Management Card (NMC) found in higher-end APC UPS battery backup devices. NMCs manage, maintain, and report on the condition of the UPS device to which they are connected. I program NMCs to send email alerts when conditions differ from normal (e.g., electrical issues, or battery problems). I also use them to update the device’s firmware with security enhancements.

I was adding new equipment to one client’s Excel spreadsheet, and in doing so, pulled up the corresponding page in another client’s spreadsheet to copy over as a template. I noticed I had not filled in one attribute on the existing spreadsheet, so I logged into that client’s server, pulled up the component in a browser, and highlighted the attribute to copy it to the clipboard. As I did, I noticed that I had not rebooted the network device for more than one year.

That was very strange because I thought I had an Outlook reminder to update the firmware of these devices annually. It should have kicked off at the start of June. But after I looked through Outlook and confirmed the calendar entry, I reviewed my daily activity logbook and discovered I had not done the work. Several issues interrupted my day, and I lost track of the task. (Yes, I admit, that was very sloppy, and I’m pretty embarrassed about it.)

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