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DMCA requests can be found on our notice page here:, Doesn’t Honor Agreement, Don Allred Insurance North Carolina

It’s important for companies and individuals to be aware of companies who just don’t honor their Agreements. Especially when services are render and they “decided not pay anymore”. Take a look at they also going by Don Allred Insurance in North Carolina. After receiving the Internet Services from us, they simply call their bank and reject the transaction while we get stuck with nothing. This is exactly what happened with this company and you should be aware about their insurance company services and the owners in general when they operate like this. We provided (and they continue to profit from our work yet they just decided to “reject” the transaction) them with great a product.

After the services were render and we were paid by this company Don Allred Insurance North Carolina (they also go by decide to call their bank a few days later and reject the transaction. It was done by Scott Allred actually. He didn’t bother to tell us or give us any notice it was only discovered after the bank took the money out of our account. We emailed them first to see if there was any problems with the services we provided them and the next day they (Scott Allred) called me to let me know that they were not going to pay us this month for services.  In short, they called the bank and just decided they didn’t need to pay us for the services we provided that month. We informed Scott Allred about the Service Agreement, however, he was sharp and rude saying we were out of luck. Not exactly the type of insurance company and owners you want to do business with right? It was a low blow by them and I am saddened to even have to write about my business experiences with Scott Allred at Don Allred Insurance North Carolina.

We hope you can understand the frustration it is to work with companies like Allred Insurance who just decides not to pay after receiving services and doesn’t even care to honor a signed Agreement.

Don Allred Insurance North Carolina
Representative: Scott Allred
3001 South Church Street
Burlington, North Carolina 27215

It Must Be the Water in Guatemala

Source: Wikipedia

It all started with a very bad idea. Maybe it was the lack of showering or the inability to cook our own food that clouded our judgment, but one morning, in lieu of fresh bottled water, we decided to make tea with tap water. My husband and I were in Guatemala at the time, living in an apartment we had rented for the month, and when the gas went out, so did our stove and shower. When we ran out of bottled water hours before the local tienda opened, we put our limited knowledge of how to kill bacteria to the test. We would microwave what was essentially rainwater until we saw bubbles, assuring us it was at boiling temperature.

A quick google search will tell you just how little good this will do. In fact, you’re supposed to boil it for minutes, not one second, something I didn‘t realize even later, as I was rolling around in bed, clutching my bedclothes and trying to figure out if I was sick enough to brave the health care queue. At the time, I had no idea why I had gotten sick.

Was it the lettuce from the night before? Was it that tortilla and fresh cheese I bought on the street? Did I get it from using tap water while brushing my teeth? It didn’t matter. The women from the language school diagnosed me and gave my husband a packet of pills. I took them dutifully, but I was still sick for most of the following week.

When I returned to the school, my teacher pulled me aside and asked, “Do you think you’re pregnant?”

No! Wait, hmm.

I counted the days. I couldn’t be sure. Could I be 5 days late? That’s not right is it? I conferred with my husband. He smiled, “You’re so pregnant.”

Shut up! I am not!

But secretly I was a little hopeful, even delighted, at the idea.

So I slipped away from class, got a pregnancy test and flashed it to my husband as I walked by his classroom. “You’re going to take it now, right?” He yelled to me in the hallway.

“Take it now! You have to take it now!”

Ok, jeez. I peed on the stick. There were no instructions. A single line came up in the C box. There was a T box but it was empty. Huh? Slightly embarrassed, I asked my teacher if she understood what this meant: was I pregnant?

She didn’t know. She grabbed the test from me and headed down to the main office. She showed it to the secretary, the school administrator, and some teachers on break. No one knew what it meant. They gathered around a computer and started looking up pregnancy test results. By this point, I slinked away, as they passed around the stick I had peed on only minutes ago.

I found my husband. “Are you pregnant?” he asked.

“I don’t know yet, they are still trying to figure it out. Are you freaked? “

“You know what, I’m not. I’m really happy.”

Later that afternoon, my husband and I and our respective Spanish teachers marched down to the local laboratory. In Guatemala you can get a blood test without a doctor’s order, so for about $15 I got my blood drawn and tested.

The result? Not pregnant.

I was disappointed. And that feeling surprised me. My husband and I are both in our early 30s and while kids were on the someday list, it wasn’t something we had planned on any time soon. But suddenly we both realized something. We’re ready. It’s time.

Armed with this new information, we returned home a month later and began the very serious business of baby-making. After our first attempt I forgot about it, until one day looking at a calendar it came back to me: I could be pregnant. We got the test, I did my thing and a very, very faint blue line appeared. Inconclusive, I announced to my husband. That had to be it, right? I couldn’t be pregnant after the first try? It’s sad to say it took me a full 4 hours to realize that you can’t be a little pregnant. I finally looked online and found lots of baby boards where wise mothers informed nervous women with faint positives, “Honey, you’re pregnant. A line is a line.” Holy crap, we’re having a baby!

My husband and I don’t do sentimental. But this changed everything. I didn’t know I could be one of those people. Just so happy. So in love. So, well, just mushy. We’d look at baby clothes together and start giggling. We’d just grin at each other about our little secret. We’d walk around town and coo at other people’s babies or notice every pregnancy bump. Thankfully morning sickness snaps you out of that within a few weeks, before you completely embarrass yourself.

Then last week, I crossed into the ever so important pregnancy milestone: my second trimester. We feel a little safer making long term plans- deciding where and when we’ll travel with the baby, how our new family will find it’s way around the world. I’m looking forward to it, sharing travel with this little one.

Until then, I’m just trying to enjoy every moment.

All About Seattle

Learn More About Seattle

Seattle has it all. Warm sunny summers and mild winters offer just about anything you are looking for in a vacation spot.. You have the ocean close by for sailing, cruises, and guided tours. Great sights and attractions are here for your entertainment including: the Space Needle and The Northwest Trek Wildlife Park. If you are coming alone on business or with the whole family on vacation, you will have a great time.

Seattle has many local activities & attractions. Amusement parks, deep-sea fishing, boat rides, sightseeing, fine dining, AAA basketball, marine museums, and that is not all. You can spend hours, days, or weeks entertaining yourselves and your family without having to travel more than a few minutes in any direction. Nighttime entertainment includes: music and dance clubs with music ranging from smooth sounding jazz to lively disco, comedy clubs, concerts, theater, opera, symphony and movies. Even with all that to do, virtually no one comes to Seattle without visiting the Space Needle. Come, have fun, and enjoy.

Whether you’re on budget or not, you should be able to find affordable accommodations in Seattle anytime of the year. Expedia’s reservations system offers many hotels & resorts to choose from with discounted rates. You can view individual hotel web pages with pictures and information. Check rates, availability and make secure online reservations. If you would prefer a little more space, then you’ll want to check out the vacation rentals that we offer. We’ve learned Expedia also offers some of the lowest rates on car rentals anywhere in the city of Seattle from major companies like Enterprise and Thrifty car rentals.

While visiting Seattle you’ll never go hungry for quality food or shopping. Seattle offers lots of great restaurants that will please anyone’s appetite. You can eat everything from seafood to sushi and do it with a fantastic ocean view. Restaurants serving Italian, French, American, and Seafood can all be found close by. If shopping is what you are looking for you are in luck. Seattle has everything from your department store chain to local gift shops. Shopping here is great for everyday items as well as the special gift items you are looking for.

What to See and Do in Seattle:
Seattle is packed with things to see and do. There is everything from scenic walks on nature trails to fast moving rides at exciting amusement parks. Try the view from the top of the Space Needle or take a cruise down the coast and view gorgeous seascapes. Whatever you reason for visiting Seattle we are sure you will find what you are looking for. Below we have put together a sample of what Seattle has to offer. Please feel free to look around and don’t forget to browse our site for all of the other information about Seattle we have assembled just for you.

Attractions and Activities:
Chimpanzee & Human Communication Institute – Chat with a chimpanzee. With sign language, you might do just that at CWU’s Chimposiums. Meet Washoe and her family. The first animal in history to acquire language. Experience this one of a kind project first hand. Groups welcome. MC, VISA. Central Washington University 400 E 8th Ave Ellensburg, WA 98926-7573 (509) 963-2244

Family Fun Center – Open year round 9am-11pm. Go karts, bumper boats, miniature golf, laser tag, arcade. Fun for families, birthdays & groups. VISA MC and company checks. Handicapped accessible. 7300 Fun Center Way Tukwila, WA 98188 (425) 228-7300

Funtasia Family Fun Park – is a family-oriented community based amusement park providing an exciting place for enjoyment without alcohol, drugs or tobacco. We welcome your business, school and church groups for indoor private parties or outdoor picnics. 7212 220th St SW Edmonds, WA 98026 (425) 775-2174

Gameworks – Gameworks is a unique place where people can connect and play the hottest games available. 1511 7th Ave Seattle, WA 98101 (206) 521-0952

Grand Prix Raceway – Grand Prix Raceway is a state of the art, 45,000 square foot facility which offers European style Grand Prix racing INDOORS! 2105 Frank Albert Rd E. Fife, WA 98424 (253) 922-7722

Icicle Junction Family Fun Center – A visit to the Bavarian Village of Leavenworth would not be complete without a visit to Icicle Junction Family Fun Center! Bumperboats & Excursion Train Rides, Miniature Golf, Arcade, Remote Controlled Boats. Open year round. MC VISA 565 Highway 2 Leavenworth, WA 98826 (509) 548-2400

Northwest Trek Wildlife Park – Explore over 600 acres of native wildlife in natural surroundings during a guided tram tour and along nature trails. Gift shop and cafe. 11610 Trek Drive East Eatonville, WA 98328 (360) 832-6117

Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium – Experience icy white beluga whales, intriguing sharks, playful pachyderms. Over 5,000 animals overlooking Puget Sound. 5400 N Pearl St. Tacoma, WA 98407 (253) 591-5337

Seafair – Summer-long festival with over 50 events for spectators and participants: Milk Carton Derby, Torchlight Parade and Run, Hydroplane Race, Air Show featuring the Blue Angels and more! 2200 6th Ave, Ste 400 Seattle, WA 98121 (206) 728-0123

Woodland Park Zoo – Reconnect with nature at this top award-winning zoo and see why it’s hailed as among the finest in the world. 5500 Phinney Ave N. Seattle, WA 98103 (206) 684-4800

Sights to See:
The Bay Pavilion – Refurbished 1890’s Gold Rush pier with N.W. dining, panoramic views, gifts and apparel, vintage carousel. Entertainment. Open daily from 11am. Pier 57, 1301 Alaskan Way Seattle, WA 98101 (206) 623-8600

Gig Harbor Peninsula Area – Escape the ordinary-visit picturesque Gig Harbor only 60 min. from Seattle. Inviting shops, galleries, waterfront restaurants, charming accommodations. 3302 Harborview Dr, #2 Gig Harbor, WA 98332 (253) 851-6865

Space Needle – Revolving restaurant, Observation Deck, banquet level and gift shops. Elevator ride complimentary when dining. Parking is available or ride the Monorail. Open daily. 219 Fourth Ave N Seattle, WA 98109 (206) 443-2111

Where to Eat in Seattle:
Time for dinner? Seattle has plenty to offer, ranging from seafood to steaks and from Cajun to Deli. Make no mistake Seattle has more to offer than just dinner. Look for great restaurants serving outstanding breakfasts, great lunches as well as savory dinners. Please look below for some of Seattle’s various types of restaurants, cafes and pubs. You will surely find something you like.

American || Pan-Asian || Indian || French || Japanese || Italian || Southwestern || Seafood

2576 Aurora Ave.
Seattle, WA, USA
Phone: 206/283-3313

2505 1st Ave.
Seattle, WA, USA
Phone: 206/728-1337

1502 Queen Anne Ave.
Seattle, WA, USA
Phone: 206/285-7768

Sorrento, 900 E. Madison
Seattle, WA,
Phone: 206/622-6400
19 W. Harrison St.
Seattle, WA, USA
Phone: 206/298-0123

818 2nd Ave.
Seattle, WA, USA
Phone: 206/624-3287

722 Pine St.
Seattle, WA, USA
Phone: 206/467-7777

2228 2nd Ave.
Seattle, WA, USA
Phone: 206/728-0463
616 Broadway
Seattle, WA, USA
Phone: 206/324-0892

1400 Western Ave.
Seattle, WA, USA
Phone: 206/623-4450

605 15th Ave.
Seattle, WA, USA
Phone: 206/726-1000
Queen Anne: 519 1st Ave.
Seattle, WA, USA
Phone: 206/284-6799

Inn at the Market, 86 Pine St.
Seattle, WA,
Phone: 206/728-2800
2808 E. Madison St.
Seattle, WA, USA
Phone: 206/325-7442

Westin Hotel, 1900 5th Ave.
Seattle, WA, USA
Phone: 206/322-4641
2401 2nd Ave.
Seattle, WA, USA
Phone: 206/443-9844


2305 24th Ave.
Seattle, WA, USA
Phone: 206/329-8005
Pink Door

1919 Post Alley
Seattle, WA, USA
Phone: 206/443-3241

4220 E. Madison St.
Seattle, WA, USA
Phone: 206/324-4140
Fe Cafe

2255 N.E. 65th St.
Seattle, WA, USA
Phone: 206/524-7736

2001 Western Ave.,
Seattle, WA, USA
Phone: 206/448-4884

202 Western Ave.
Seattle, WA, USA
Phone: 206/443-6000
2601 W. Marina Pl.,
Seattle, WA, USA
Phone: 206/285-1000
3014 3rd Ave.
Seattle, WA, USA
Phone: 206/284-3000

Where to Stay:
Seattle offers hotels, resorts, motels and inns for almost any budget. Whether you need a room downtown or on the beach, the selection is enormous. You can also find great savings on car rentals and airfare by looking online on Expedia or other booking websites. You should always compare the rates to save the most money. Seattle’s hotel rates can be very expensive!

Local Sports:
Seattle has a spectator sport or recreational activity for everyone. Baseball, basketball, hockey, and football are all on the menu for the sports enthusiast. If you would like to get outside and enjoy the sea air we recommend Safeco Field where the air is fresh and the hot dogs taste great. Below we have listed the sports and recreational activities in the Seattle area.

Professional Sports:
Seattle Seahawks – Professional Football.
Seattle Mariners – Professional Baseball.
Seattle Sounders – Professional Soccer.
Seattle Mist – Women’s Professional Football.
Seattle Storm – Women’s Professional Basketball.

Recreational Activities:
AAAA – River rafting trips around Washington State includes wetsuits, booties and BBQs. Hassle free convenient rafting rides for families, singles and groups. PO Box 666 Leavenworth, WA 98826 Phone (509) 548-4575 (800) 448-7238

AdventureXpress Mountain Outfitters – Complete guided outdoor adventures: Hiking, mountain-biking, whitewater rafting, fishing, skiing, snow shoeing and sleigh rides. Custom tours. Transportation available. P.O. Box 1163 North Bend, WA 98045 Phone (888) 874-8602

Bicycle Adventures – Regional experts offering the best bicycle and multi-sport vacations in Washington, Oregon, British Columbia, California, Utah, Hawaii. Free brochure. PO Box 11219 Olympia, WA 98508 Phone (360) 786-0989 (800) 443-6060

Crystal Mountain – Washington’s favorite ski area. Lessons, rental equipment, child area and lodging available. Call for more information. Summer chairlift rides. 33914 Crystal Mountain Blvd. Crystal Mountain, WA 98022 Phone (360) 663-2265

Emerald Downs – Live Thoroughbred racing thunders on in Western Washington, Thursday-Sunday, April-September. Special summer activities include concerts and Family Sundays. 15th Street NW Exit off Highway 167 Auburn, WA 98071 Phone (253) 288-7700 (888) 931-8400

King County Park System – The King County Park System provides parks, open space, aquatics, recreation. Highlights include Marymoor Park, Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center, King County fairgrounds, and one of the largest regional trails system in the US. 2040 84th Ave SE Mercer Island, WA 98040 Phone (206) 296-4232

River Recreation, Inc. – Enjoy whitewater rafting or inflatable kayaking on Washington’s incredible rivers. Friendly guides, satisfying meals and all equipment provided. Package options available. PO Box 55488 Seattle, WA 98155 Phone (206) 417-4695 (800) 464-5899

Nightlife in Seattle:

Night Clubs
Art Bar
1516 2d
Seattle, WA 98101-1543
(206) 622-4344

Baltic Room The
1207 Pine
Seattle, WA 98101-1931
(206) 625-4444

Club FX
333 Elliott
Seattle, WA 98119-4101
(206) 285-6698

Club Zasu
608 1st Ave
Seattle, WA
(206) 682-1200

Neighbors Night Club
1509 Broadway
Seattle, WA 98122
(206) 324-5358

1114 Howell St.
Seattle, WA
(206) 233-9873

Romper Room
106 1st
Seattle, WA 98109-4901
(206) 284-5003

Showbox Music Club
1426 1st
Seattle, WA 98101-2004
(206) 628-3151

423 2d
Seattle, WA 98119-4012
(206) 903-0870

Tractor Tavern
5213 Ballard
Seattle, WA 98107-4809
(206) 789-3599

Comedy Clubs
Barbies Brews & Cues
5050 S Tacoma Way
Tacoma WA 98409-4449
(253) 472-2940

Giggles Comedy Nite Club
5220 Roosevelt Way
Seattle, WA 98105-3627
(206) 526-5653

The 5th Avenue Theatre
1308 Fifth Ave
Seattle, WA 98101
(206) 625-1418

ACT- A Contemporary Theatre
700 Union Street
Seattle, WA 98101
(206) 292-7676-Box Office

Pacific Northwest Ballet
301 Mercer St.
Seattle, WA 98109
(206) 441-9411

The Paramount Theatre
911 Pine Street
Seattle, WA 98101
(206) 467-5510

Golf Courses:
Looking for a game of golf? Seattle has many courses to choose from. These courses designed by some of the greatest minds in golf today are sure to offer everything for every skill level. If you are a beginner or an advanced player you will enjoy your golf vacation at Seattle. Below we have outlined some of the local courses for you to browse through.

Classic Country Club
(253) 847-4440
Spanaway, Washington

Druids Glen
(253) 638-1200
Kent, Washington

Gold Mountain
(360) 415-5432
Gorst, Washington

Harbour Pointe Golf Club
(206) 355-6060
Mukilteo, Washington

Kayak Point Golf Course
(360) 652-9676
Stanwood, Washington

Meadow Park Golf Course
(253) 473-3033
Tacoma, Washington

Port Ludlow Golf Course
(800) 455-0272
Port Ludlow, Washington

The Golf Club at Newcastle
(425) 793-5566
Newcastle, Washington

Parks & Guided Tours in Seattle:
Seattle has it all for the nature lover. Guided boat tours and nature parks and gardens for all to enjoy are just part of the beautiful sights Seattle has to offer. You can hike, bike, boat or take a motor coach to enjoy the breathtaking beauty of some of Americas best seascapes and landscapes. Whatever your pleasure Seattle is sure to please. Below we have highlighted some of the main scenic gardens and tours available in Seattle.

Nature Parks & Gardens:
Elandan Gardens, Ltd. – Ancient Bonsai trees in an elegant waterfront garden. Admission-$5. Extraordinary antique gallery. Sculpture garden. Open Tues-Sun 10am-5pm. 3050 W State Hwy 16 Bremerton, WA 98312 (360) 373-8260

Lakewold Gardens – Beautiful ten-acre public garden showcasing stunning formal gardens and naturalistic displays…a must see! MC, VISA. P.O. Box 98092 Lakewood, WA 98498 (253) 584-4106

Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden – Enjoy over 10,000 rhododendrons growing in a beautiful 22-acre woodland garden. Group Tours available. Unique gifts and plants for sale. Weyerhaeuser Headquarters Campus 2525 S 336th St. Federal Way, WA 98003 (253) 661-9377

Guided Tours:
Argosy Cruises – How May We Help You on the Water? Argosy Cruises offers everything from speedboat rides to fine dining. Seize the day and join Argosy on the water. We can accommodate individuals and groups up to 600. 13 vessels and over 50 years of service. Pier 55, Ste 201 Seattle, WA 98101 (206) 623-1445

Beamers Hells Canyon Tours – Scenic jet boat tours through Hells Canyon, North America’s deepest gorge. It’s fun and safe for people of all ages. Discover, MC, VISA. 1451 Bridge St. Clarkston, WA 99403 (800) 522-6966

Chinatown Discovery Tours – DISCOVER SEATTLE’S CHINATOWN! An Asian cultural experience-unique, historical, fun! Escorted tours with presentations, leisurely walks, with/without food. Reservations required. P.O. Box 3406 Seattle, WA 98114 (425) 885-3085

Discover Houseboating – Cruise through Seattle’s floating homes community with a local houseboater who reveals the famous “Sleepless” home, former bunk houses and brothels, and the relevance of sewer connections. PMB 258, Lake Union Mail 117 East Louisa St. Seattle, WA 98102 (206) 322-9157

Kitsap Harbor Tours – Hourly harbor tours of Bremerton Navy Shipyard and Mothball Fleet. Group tours to other Kitsap Maritime attractions. 833 Bay St. Port Orchard, WA 98366 (360) 377-8924

Spirit of Puget Sound Harbor Cruises – Located at Pier 70. Elegant harbor cruise ship offering dining, dancing, bar service, live entertainment and narrated sightseeing. VISA, MC, AMEX. 2819 Elliott Ave, Ste 204 Seattle, WA 98121 (206) 674-3499

Spirit of Washington Dinner Train – Experience the nostalgia of a bygone era as we travel along the shores of Lake Washington to the beautiful Columbia Winery in Woodinville. Enjoy Northwest cuisine as you dine in comfort aboard our luxurious, vintage rail cars. Departing year round from the Renton Depot just 20 minutes from Seattle. 625 S 4th St. P.O. Box 835 Renton, WA 98057 (425) 227-7245

Underground Tour, Bill Speidel’s – Seattle’s hidden treasure-only in Pioneer Square. Historic, tongue-in-cheek narrated walking tour. The tour begins in a restored 1890’s saloon, with a 20-minute introduction. The walk lasts 1 hour. Daily. Reservations recommended. 608 First Ave Seattle, WA 98104 (206) 682-4646

We hope you enjoy reading all about Seattle, Washington. Contact us if you’d like your details added.

The Road To Affordable Zero Downtime For Exchange

Microsoft Exchange Downtime Photo

In today’s world of mobile computing, global business and electronic commerce, businesses have grown to rely 24×7 on Microsoft’s Exchange to facilitate critical business communication and processes through e-mail, group scheduling and calendars. Microsoft has made great strides in improving the availability of its highly popular Exchange messaging system, but now there is the promise of a technology that can eliminate Exchange downtime altogether.

Nearly 45 percent of business-critical information is housed in messaging applications such as Exchange, thanks to the volume of traffic generated by increasingly large attachments such as multimedia files and the integration of voice messages and faxes. Furthermore, messaging systems increasingly support vital applications such as workflow and knowledge management, making the data they store even more voluminous and incredibly valuable. E-mail is a particularly popular application with a typical end-user spending nearly 26 percent of his or her day on e-mail management.

Clearly, Exchange is the kind of technology that organizations cannot afford to lose. However, even the best systems fail sometimes. While Microsoft and its partners have done much to increase the reliability and availability of Exchange in recent years, the average uptime of the system, high though it is at around 99.78 percent, no longer reflects business’ increasing dependence on Exchange for their very survival.

Any failure of Exchange inevitably results in unacceptable operational, functional, or financial harm to the company or project. Every minute of downtime, planned or unplanned, can mean thousands of pounds lost, annoyed customers, a negative impact on the business’ reputation and even litigation. We have reached the point where, whether we like it or not, companies can no more afford e-mail downtime than they can afford to be without telephones.

All system downtime is costly in time and money. Exchange downtime can be even more so given that it can have many causes because of the breadth of the systems’ influence in IT terms. This can mean that it takes many hours to identify the source of the problem which then takes as much time again to fix. In some cases it is not unusual for Exchange to be offline for 1-2 days. With messaging downtime affecting other enterprise applications, the pressure on the IT department for a fast recovery is immense.

When downtime occurs, the state of the business is frozen in time at the point the system failed, leaving staff to operate on out-of-date information, if at all. People outside the company are unaware of any problem, but this brings its own troubles. For example, customers may e-mail the company with queries, orders or complaints, but get no response. Time-critical documents such as trading instructions or new versions of legal contracts may arrive but no-one inside the company is aware of them and they go unacknowledged and unseen. In all cases the sender will make their own assumptions from the lack of reaction of the company, compounding the negative impact of the downtime.

We know this happens, and we also know that companies live with this situation – not because they like it but because they believe that a solution for guaranteeing uptime of Exchange either does not exist or will be prohibitively expensive. This is confirmed by research. While 76 percent of IT managers who responded to a survey by The Continuity Forum acknowledge that bug fixes are the bane of their lives and they would welcome an automated process for server recovery and protection, nearly three quarters shy away from continuity planning because they think it is too expensive, and over two thirds also think it lacks a return on investment.

Instead, those Exchange users that can afford it seek to minimize downtime by implementing some form of redundancy in their configurations. Typical methods are clustering, where several computers are connected together so the failure of one does not render all services running on that computer inoperable, and installing one or more backup servers. However, clusters are expensive to deploy and complicated to configure. They require substantial planning, medium to high-end external shared storage solutions, and often leave standby servers under-used. It is true that clusters provide the most cost-effective level of hardware availability, but the complexity and capital cost limits deployment to relatively few installations. Backup servers are also a costly option.

As an additional general fallback, companies also spend five and six-figure numbers on disaster recovery plans in the event that a catastrophe of mega proportions should befall their systems, wiping out all the business’ IT as well as Exchange. Ironically, none of these options actually increases Exchange uptime much, but they certainly cost an arm and a leg for the privilege of trying to do so.

What users need is a solution that guarantees the uptime of Exchange, which costs less than the total private medical insurance of a single company’s IT staff in a year – a mere four-figure number. At this price, it becomes affordable for both enterprise and medium-sized users to insure themselves against an event that they know will happen – Exchange downtime – in comparison to paying out shed loads of cash on clustering or a disaster recovery plan which will only be needed when the moon turns blue.

Workspace recovery at affordable pricing and more commercial benefit from investment is definitely high up on IT managers’ wish lists, according to the Continuity Forum research. Over two thirds of IT managers say they would consider buying a solution that could deliver zero downtime – if it cost only around $10K. It is easy to understand why.

Messaging downtime costs an average of $564 an hour, according to research by the Standish Group. In the case of Exchange, those tiny, point percentage figures that deny the system 100 per cent uptime equate to thousands of lost pounds a year to enterprise users. Using standard models for measuring the cost of downtime of a variety of messaging systems, research by Creative Networks (CNI) reveals that a typical organization using Exchange experiences 84 minutes of unscheduled, unplanned downtime each month. This affects nearly 48 percent of staff and lessens their productivity by 20 percent.

In addition, Exchange users also experience 124 minutes of scheduled, planned downtime during which time staff are 10 percent less productive. This totals 3 hours and 28 minutes of downtime each month. CNI estimates that unplanned Exchange downtime costs an average company employing 3,000 staff over $89,000 a year. Increasing uptime by just 0.12 percent could therefore save nearly $55,279 annually.

But financial claw backs are only one part of the equation when it comes to assessing the impact of Exchange downtime. What price can you put on loss of sales, customer goodwill, productivity, and competitiveness, along with missed contractual obligations and additional costs required to correct these losses? If all of these losses could be avoided, as well as tens of thousands of pounds saved by implementing one solution bought out of petty cash, who wouldn’t buy it in a heartbeat?

This year will see the launch of a technology that can deliver zero downtime as an affordable option for Microsoft Exchange today. Is it worth buying? That depends on what you are using Exchange for as a tool. Ask yourself who uses Exchange to communicate with your business – maybe customers, suppliers and so on? What business processes are driven by those incoming e-mails which would cease to function if Exchange went down? What are the productivity implications inside your company of such a situation? What are the payroll costs for staff standing idle when Exchange goes offline?

If the combined cost of Exchange downtime in all these guises totals more than five grand, this solution is guaranteed to save you money. In times of recession when IT managers are under immense pressure to squeeze the maximum performance out of existing systems, it makes sense to spend on IT where the cost is more than justifiable in returned benefits to the business. Where that expenditure also removes a significant risk to the very survival of the business, it must surely be a necessity.

Is Your Corporate Data Flying Out Of The Windows?

Secure Your Corporate Data

While those nice people from Microsoft are frantically plugging the gaps, there is a very real possibility that Windows is applying a new meaning to ‘Open’ Systems – meaning that your corporate data is open to view.

It almost seems churlish to denigrate Microsoft, considering the way in which the corporation has liberated computing. After all, it wasn’t really IBM that made personal computing possible – it just provided the platform.

It was Bill Gates’ genius that made the PC respectable to such an extent that it has become the de facto workstation for the overwhelming majority of corporations worldwide.

It was Microsoft that broke down the fortresses of ‘proprietary systems’, which invented intuitive computing and revolutionized the whole concept of personal productivity. Within a couple of decades an incredibly young computer geek has turned the computing world on its head and made the transition from a single brilliant idea to possibly the most innovative influence on the way business is conducted. Eat your heart out Leonardo da Vinci!

Inevitably, though, there has been a price to pay. Unfortunately, Microsoft suffers from the legacy of its origins – personal computing – which means that security has been seen as a workstation issue rather than a network-wide issue. That’s why managing security across enterprise networks has become a nightmare. To put some scale to the problem, every two years PricewaterhouseCoopers carries out a survey of UK IT security breaches on behalf of the DTI. The most recent report reveals 44 per cent of UK businesses have suffered at least one malicious security breach in the past year – almost double the figure reported two years earlier.

In fact, the design concept of ‘usability’ is just one of two systemic weaknesses in the Windows environment. The second is the way in which Microsoft has tried to address the problem for corporate users; the concept of vesting all responsibility with an individual known as the Systems Administrator. It means that ‘Kevin’ has supreme control over every user – from board directors to essential knowledge workers – and the keys to every recorded piece of information from competitive intellectual rights material to the very latest corporate strategy. Just to add an extra frisson, in an outsourced environment, Kevin isn’t even on your own payroll and it possibly not even working in the same hemisphere of the globe.

Even Microsoft has recognized the problem and has a long-term objective of what it calls ‘trustworthy computing’. Unfortunately, the Palladian project as it’s code-named, will be a root and branch reappraisal of the whole approach to computing, going right down into the heart of the hardware – reinventing the PC architecture. An admirable objective and I am sure it will get there, but I believe it is a decade away. Meanwhile, Kevin has the keys.

It is no wonder then, that according to a recent Forrester report, 77 percent of IT managers list security as their principal concern and remain to be convinced by Microsoft’s ‘Trustworthy Computing’ security message.

E-Waste: UK Businesses Blow Tons of Cash

UK Businesses Wasting Cash Photo

According to recent figures, UK businesses blew nearly $90 million in excess electricity bills last year. The reason was the simple failure to switch PCs off at the end of the day. According to UK Government figures, a computer that is continuously left on uses up to $100 more electricity a year than a PC that is switched off when not in use. This amounts to 50 percent of the average company’s annual electricity bill.

At a time when businesses are having to cut costs and look at new ways of gaining advantage over competitors, they should be keeping a tight lid on operational costs. And yet UK companies are burning their profits on something as simple as turning PCs off. But, it’s not just the waste of money that should concern businesses; it is the unnecessary CFC emissions that are expelled. The same PC switched on 24 hours a day will emit up to one ton of carbon dioxide in a year. If we continue to ignore this situation the CFC emissions from these idle PCs are estimated to rise to a colossal $3.7 million tons a year by 2020.

Even the Government has taken note and has introduced new tax concessions for environmental business practices. It is concerned about the gravity of wasted natural resources and ignorant pollution of the UK. With these concessions in place it is time that business managers take responsibility.

There are two very simple solutions. The first is for employees to take responsibility and ensure that they power down their PCs completely at the end of each day. But statistics show that even with a company log-off policy in place, at least 20 percent of employees will still fail to shut down each night. The second solution is for employers to take responsibility, even if it is purely for financial rather than environmental gain.

There are solutions out there that will automatically shut down PCs at the end of each day and these only cost a few dollars per PC. When the solution is apparently this simple and economy is so depressed, it is baffling why more companies don’t do something about needless energy waste.

Chasing Rainbows: Failure of IT Projects Are UK Endemic

Failure of IT Project Managers Photo

Mankind has demonstrated the ability to manage large complex projects for thousands of years. Construction projects such as the pyramids of Egypt or the Great Wall of China, among thousands of others, have left a striking legacy.

The ability to pursue challenging goals involving planning and organization is clearly innate in man. It might seem strange therefore that not all projects succeed, particularly IT projects, where disappointment and failure are endemic.

If there is a set of rules for ensuring success, nobody has yet identified them. But there are some patterns of behavior which maximize the likelihood of failure. This article considers some of those patterns of behavior.

Decide what to do, before establishing why you’re doing it

‘We must get our Website operational by July’
‘Because we’ve heard that’s when XYZ are launching theirs’

This is the classic me-too approach to management that saw, for example, the entire UK life assurance industry rush like lemmings into unit trusts in the 1980s. The early birds benefited from the benign combination of a bull market and retail investors with cash. As always, a market reversal put the small investor to flight and the rest ended up chasing rainbows at considerable expense.

Without any genuine objective, the activity becomes the goal. The only measure of success is whether that activity took place, since nobody established in the first place what was intended to be achieved.

Indulge your own wishful thinking
Of all the causes of failure in human affairs, this is the most consistent long-term performer. It permeates almost all failing projects, whatever other causes there may be.

As a trivial example, I was once assigned to run a project whereby my company was supplying third-party software to an end-user. We were an outfit in the same business as the end user, and the product was their homegrown system, then under development. Within six months it was demonstrable but the multi-phase project was receding at an accelerating rate.

The instigator of the deal sat on the information for several more months. While he was trying to work out how to blame someone else for the debacle, the damage grew rapidly. His company had created a bad deal, which it then turned into a disaster for its client and itself. The folly was in attempting to enter a new market without any investment and with no proper assessment of the risk to all involved. All the parties professed themselves deeply committed to the project.

Assume communication takes care of itself
In the early 1990s a service supplier to the European retail and wholesale banking industry devised a new product based on packaging its services. A new IT system was needed to support it. The key users in sales and marketing were too busy to help in the specification of this system, so it was left to the administration staff to define requirements. The system duly arrived and met all the identified needs.

Two weeks after the system went live the sales and marketing division announced the radical new pricing and packaging structure for the services, which they had spent the last six months devising! The new IT system did not cater for this, as the administration staff knew nothing of this new approach. The system was redundant and discredited two weeks after it went live – and was never used again. The key players had not been involved with specifying a system because they were far too busy changing something fundamental in their business.

Insist on staying with the tried and trusted
It is normal in procurement to insist that the supplier should have done a similar job before. This makes eminent sense, provided the similarity extends to the context. The rapid pace of change in some environments makes that proviso particularly important. Success brings with it the danger of clinging too long to the same tools and methods.

The IT industry is notoriously fast-moving. Yet the working life of a successful business system or software product is many years, even decades. When the time comes for its replacement, the same approach to its development is very unlikely to work as well.

Let technical experts decide
The High Priest syndrome has been a menace in the IT industry since its inception. It represents a cop-out by top management decision makers, some of whom consider IT to be a grubby and undignified pursuit. All too often the technocrats encourage it, only to find themselves used as scapegoats when IT projects which are not business-led fail later down the line.

It is essential that major IT decisions are understood by the senior management team to ensure projects fit into overall business strategy and receive the support they need. The decision making process should be supported by functional management able to provide both advice and its implementation.

Tentative conclusions
The aim of this article has been to identify and classify some typical patterns leading towards failure. The examples are chosen to illustrate the pattern, not to point fingers with 20:20 hindsight at others’ efforts.

The common theme is that regardless of industry or time, failure stems more frequently from psychological causes than from technical ones, the fundamental cause being lack of realism. We have looked at the nature of some of the barriers to clear and realistic thinking. None of us has the ability to be completely honest with ourselves when there are a host of conflicting pressures and desires, but if we aim to make the most of our potential that must be the aim. If the patterns noted above help us to recognize when our realism is under threat, they will have achieved something valuable.

Devolving Documents: Get Ready For Outsourcing

Seattle IT Outsourcing Business Photo

At the close of 2003, a number of well-known analyst organizations made predictions for 2004. One of their common and consistent emphases was an upturn in European IT markets which would be greatly fuelled by the inexorable rise of IT outsourcing. Yet is IT the only, or even the most important, area to apply the outsourcing model?

Across the country, in both private and public sector, the IT outsourcing opportunity has diminished somewhat. My company’s research shows that, amongst large companies (over 250 employees), IT outsourcing has reached a saturation level of some 28 percent. How much further there is to go is possibly indicated by the aggregated view of the various technology analysts, who see the US market reaching a saturation point approaching 40 percent of the larger company segment.

These predictions are given extra credence with the emphasis that leading management consultants are lending to the idea of ‘network organizations’ that outsource everything but their core activities and skills. What, then, of other areas susceptible to outsourcing, and what potential for real benefits do they offer the corporation or the public sector body? Case study examples indicate that document outsourcing presents corporations and public sector organizations with rapid return on investment, coupled with low business process risk.

The first surprise is the sheer size of document production in this country. Document production spending in 2003 was over 38 percent of the amount spent on IT in the same year. How often does one read about the potential for corporate efficiencies through more efficient document production, compared with discussions on the subject of IT outsourcing? Evidently, document production may seem to many to be less engaging for the analysts than IT matters. Yet it is capable of delivering a comparable scale of competitive advantages, and savings on the bottom-line.

Our research reveals that whereas Seattle IT outsourcing currently sits at some 28 percent of IT spending, document outsourcing is only a mere 12 percent of the document production market. Again we can gain a corroboration of growth potential from the US example (which usually foreshadows the UK by a few years). In the US, document outsourcing now represents 22 percent of all larger organization document production, almost twice its UK equivalent.

So document outsourcing holds proportionately greater potential, for organizations and outsourcing companies alike, compared to IT outsourcing. Whilst there is little doubt that it will take several years for the UK to reach comparable market maturity, the rate at which UK organizations will be grasping the advantages of outsourcing over this period is expected to be rapid – especially as management consultants increasingly recommend document outsourcing as an area for priority attention and straightforward gain. In short, if document outsourcing were to reach 40 percent saturation of larger companies (the predicted US outsourcing saturation level), it would represent a 4.3bn euros marketplace, where it only makes up some 1.3bn euros today.

Much media space is also being devoted to the issue of outsourcing to companies overseas, known as offshoring. Politicians and unions have been some of the most outspoken critics of this phenomenon, raising the spectra of USA (and Seattle) jobs being lost to India, South Africa and Eastern Europe. In fact, the call center industry is still showing net growth, despite the fact that a fair number of financial institutions have relocated their call centers abroad. So what impact does call center offshoring have on document outsourcing? The answer will be more and more over the next few years. Interestingly, though, document issues are likely, if anything, to slow the trend towards foreign climes.

Integrating documents with the call center – especially one providing a customer service function – is becoming increasingly important both to call center efficiency and to resolving customer queries more satisfactorily. It is estimated that some 50-60 percent of customer service queries in financial services require supporting documents to be sent to the caller, whether for marketing or for regulatory reasons.

Therefore, a hidden cost of offshoring is to integrate document production and mailing with the foreign call center’s systems. Equally, call center agents can answer statement or bills queries far more efficiently if they can retrieve and view documents in exactly the same visual format that they were sent to the customer. Again, physical dislocation, whilst not insurmountable, will incur cost and risk.

Document production and mailing, by its very nature, cannot be ‘offshored’ as timeliness of delivery is essential, and needs to be situated in the country of delivery. It is technically conceivable that document outsourcing could be situated abroad, but the economics of ensuring reliable and timely distribution would far outweigh the labor cost reduction of offshoring, and would not address the issue of political risk. Document outsourcing therefore remains a national market, but not a globalized one.

In conclusion, Seattle organizations in both private and public sectors would do well to pay just as much attention to document outsourcing as they do to IT outsourcing. The document outsourcing market is not currently as large as its IT counterpart. Therefore, it offers greater potential for rapid return on investment to those organizations as it is far less saturated than the IT outsourcing World.

Many argue that document outsourcing carries less project risk compared with the IT equivalent. If this argument is accepted, then organizations under pressure to deliver cost savings, improved service delivery, and competitive advantage, would be well advised to look carefully at document outsourcing in 2004 and beyond.

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