Fractional IT support, or the Uberization of IT support

Sometimes companies don’t require technical assistance in any amount of hours evenly divisible by 40.  Sometimes, a few hours a week is all that’s needed.
For small businesses, technical assistance is usually accomplished by any number of small shops who provide support. But what is a large enterprise to do if higher end services are needed, but only for a few hours per week
Is that a thing? Is that available? Are there DBA services, or Linux or AIX or even mainframe services available for fractional part-time needs?
Chances are, companies won’t be successful hiring a part timer themselves for these types of needs.  Some have tried, all have failed.
Yet this is just the sort of service some companies like TxMQ have begun to offer to their partners and enterprise customers.
By maintaining an active bench of in house staff, most of whom have some fractional time they can use to support multiple customers, TxMQ can handle part time needs many customers have.
It’s important to realize, when a company like TxMQ provides support, you’re ensured support because it is the company that is supporting you, not just one part-time worker.  A company can offer SLAs and, for compliance driven industries like government, banking and finance, and healthcare, access is restricted only to a few designated resources approved by customers.

Available Across Industries

No matter your industry, we have the skills in-house to support you.

Flexible, Customizable Hours

National retailers, insurance companies, banks and more take advantage of support needs starting at just 20 hours a month. And of course, complete, full time outsourced support is available as well.

Industry Tenure

On average, the industry tenure of TxMQ technicians on the bench is over 20 years of experience. When you enlist TxMQ for our factional support, you’ll be assured the maturity, and depth of skill you need, and deserve.

Nearshoring only

Unless otherwise requested, TxMQ’s teams are US and Canadian based. We will only use offshore resources if you have a special budgetary requirement, or other need.

Why fractional support?

We live in a world of ride sharing (Uber and Lyft), sub-letting (Air BnB and others), etc. At home and at work, why shouldn’t we have those options for tech support?
Fractional support is for the times you know someone won’t show up for work. It’s for vacation coverage, or maternity leave.  It’s for times when you just don’t need 40 hours a week of support, or your team is expecting seasonal surges, and you aren’t quite sure how much coverage you will need.
Sometimes, it starts small, and grows. Sometimes, it ebbs and flows.
Most, (well, really all) staff augmentation vendors are looking for places to put their contractors into 40 hour a week jobs.  And that’s just fine, if that’s what you need. But fractional support provides another option – the right talent with the skills you need, just as much as you need them, when you need them.
Call TxMQ; fractional support is what we do.

Why IT Managed Services offers a Solution for Tech Struggles

Why IT Managed Services offers a great solution for businesses.

Technology is everywhere (and growing) with no end to the constant stream of data and code. Data runs the world. So what does a business do when they cannot keep up with their technology needs, whether financially or talent-wise, on their own? Why is IT managed services a great solution for many Buffalo businesses?

High-demand skills and availability

Oftentimes, businesses have needs in very specific, high-demand, skill categories. High-level database administrators, Integration experts, IBM Middleware specialists, Cloud Consultants and Salesforce admins/developers can be difficult to find and retain. Talent retention issues are often exacerbated in the IT market. There is a growing need for “follow the sun coverage” with 24/7 availability across countries and time zones. This can be very taxing for small IT departments.

A growing expense

Your business might not need a full-time, highly skilled employee to manage your technology needs. It takes a huge amount of time and financial investment to find talent. The “fully loaded” cost of an employee, given the overhead components and cost of attracting the talent, do not end up costing any less than an IT managed services contract. An IT Managed service model offers structure, stability and excellent consultant skills, and they can be lightweight and scaled to suit individual business needs.
A managed services provider (MSP) can act as a safety net by providing several consultants with broader and deeper skills. These consultants can be called upon when needed, especially when there is a concern for overlap with a small IT team. Your MSP can also provide great skills around a very specific technology. If you are in the process of migrating, or not sure if you are going to keep a new application, managed services provides support for the short-term. There is no reason to invest in an expensive or highly skilled employee, when you are realistically only going to be utilizing a specific technology for 6 months to a year. IT Managed Services plans can be built to aid in the transition to a new platform and phase out over time.
From a technology perspective – IT managed services just makes sense. It reduces the burden on IT Managers, and allows the C-suite to focus on what you do best – running your business.

TxMQ’s Managed Services Solution

TxMQ offers IT managed services to suit most customers’ needs. Whether you have a recent investment in new technology – and need some support ramping-up, or you’re migrating your legacy apps to the cloud – or simply need some additional coverage during internal employee vacation periods and time out of the office, TxMQ has plans to fit your budget. Programs can be as short as 6 months and can be customized to gradually reduce the commitment you need from our team. We understand that sometimes you need our full support, while other times, basic over-run support will suffice until you can fly on your own. For more information, contact [email protected] or visit our website

How Do I Support My Back-Level IBM Software (And Not Blow The Budget)?

So you’re running outdated, obsolete, out-of-support versions of some of your core systems.? WebSphere MQ maybe? or WebSphere Process Server or Datapower…the list is endless.
Staff turnover may be your pain point – a lack of in-house skills – or maybe it’s lack of budget to upgrade to newer, in-support systems. A lost of times it’s just a matter of application dependencies, where you can’t get something to work in QA, and you’re not ready to migrate to current versions just yet.
The problem is that management requires you to be under support. So you get a quote from IBM to support your older software, and the price tag is astronomical – not even in the same solar system as your budget.
The good news is you do have options.

We were able to offer a 6-month support package, which eventually ran 9 months in total. Total cost was under $1,000 a month.

Here at TxMQ, we have a mature and extensive migration practice, but we also offer 24×7 support (available as either 100% onshore, or part onshore, part offshore) for back-level IBM software and product support – all at a fraction of IBM rates.
Our support starts at under $1,000 a month and scales with your size and needs.
TxMQ has been supporting IBM customers for over 35 years. We have teams of architects, programmers, engineers and others across the US and Canada supporting a variety of enterprise needs.
Case Studies
A medical-equipment manufacturer planned to migrate from unsupported versions of MQ and Message Broker. The migration would run 6 to 9 months past end-of-support, but the quote from IBM for premium support was well beyond budget.
The manufacturer reached out to TxMQ and we were able to offer a 6-month support package, which eventually ran 9 months in total. Total cost was under $1,000 a month.
Another customer (a large health-insurance payer) faced a similar situation. This customer was running WebSphere Process Server, Ilog, Process Manager, WAS, MQ, WSRR, Tivoli Monitoring, and outdated DataPower appliances. TxMQ built an executed a comprehensive “safety net” plan to support this customer’s entire stack during a very extensive migration period.
It’s never a good idea to run unsupported software – especially in these times of highly visible compliance and regulatory requirements.
In addition to specific middleware and application support, TxMQ can also work to build a compliance framework to ensure you’re operating within IBM’s license restrictions and requirements – especially if you’re running highly virtualized environments.
Get in touch today!
(Image from Torkild Retvedt)

Why Should I Use An IBM Business Partner?

Wouldn’t it make more sense to deal directly with IBM?

This is a topic of much discussion around the TxMQ office these days, as it is at other solutions providers. Prospective customers often ask us: If my company’s able to go direct with my manufacturer/vendor (be it IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, or whomever), why shouldn’t we?
It’s a fair question. Companies, especially large ones, oftentimes have multilayered supply-chain relationships for acquiring software, hardware, and talent.
On the one hand, long-standing, embedded relationships often dictate the way a company acquires technical solutions. A friendship nurtured through years of trusted business dealings – sometimes called a “trusted advisor” relationship – may be the perfectly legitimate and ideal way of solving technical challenges. Yet sometimes things change. What happens when your salesperson – the same salesperson who’s covered your company for years – resigns?
Back to the broader topic of direct or business partner: As software and hardware companies like IBM and the other majors evolve over time, their business models push more sales through channel partners. Business partners are inevitably smaller companies, and are typically far better equipped to build and maintain longstanding, deep customer relationships. Sales teams at the major vendors change, oftentimes annually, leading to spotty coverage of accounts, and occasionally even leaving some companies with no direct coverage at all.
Business partners typically offer more consistency and stability of coverage. In addition, as IBM and the majors continue to add layers of complexity to their brands, and shift products in their portfolios, it’s very difficult for companies (and even their field salespeople), to keep products straight.
Surprisingly, this is a knowledge area in which partners tend to excel. Most of the leadership at business partners were themselves former employees of the majors. They left the majors to explore greater freedom to engage with customers, and to build deeper, better relationships over longer periods of time without the bureaucracy that comes with working in a large shop, or the threat of annual account “realignment.”
Also, as solutions offered to customers become more complex and cross over traditional brand borders, business partners are better able to navigate these tricky waters.
Recently IBM, along with other majors, went through internal realignments that left salespeople covering products new to them, and others were shifted to entirely new lines of business. Not so with business partners, who are free to engage as they always have.
What about software and hardware sales? Logic says it must be cheaper to buy direct. No indeed. IBM, as one example, has dramatically shifted internal teams, and reduced field and inside sales coverage to better align their resources with today’s market. What does this mean? It means it’s usually cheaper to order software and hardware from a partner. IBM knows it’s very expensive to have a large, geographically dispersed sales team, and far more cost-effective to let IBM business partners sell more and more software, services and hardware for them.
Partners therefore have full access to special bid requests, discounting, plus any and all sales tools a direct seller has in the arsenal. In addition, it goes without saying that a business partner’s services rates are nearly always below IBM direct rates.
In the end, each company must decide what’s best for itself, but don’t presume that the way you engaged with IBM and others in the past is the best way to engage in the future. A business partner can be your best ally to stay current with technology, and enable the nimble, robust infrastructure your company needs to compete and win in today’s marketplace.
Let’s take this conversation a bit further – email me at [email protected].
(Image by Flazingo Photos)

How Do You Support Your Software?

Software/OS services & support not your core competencies? We support more than just WebSphere.

In today’s reality of constantly evolving technology, managing software support is critically important. There are never-ending changes to core products, changes to deployment options (on-premises, cloud, hybrid), and a new generation of changes is most certainly lurking around the corner. Especially in IBM’s Systems Middleware world.

The effort to support this endless hodgepodge has grown increasingly complicated. In point of fact, most companies run multiple versions of software on different operating systems, which makes support options even more confusing. That’s why more and more companies are facing hard decisions about whether to continue their vendor-support agreements for software and OS, and why more and more companies are running unsupported software and OS, even if it’s occasionally side-by-side with a newer, supported version of the same.

That’s why more and more companies are partnering with TxMQ for support of their IBM environments, WebSphere systems and far more.

TxMQ is uniquely able to design and deploy support solutions across almost any software/OS environment. And we’ll design a solution that fits right – whether it’s short-term support until the patch/upgrade is finished, or long-term permanent outsource options and partnerships. All options are available 24/7/365.
In addition, we’re one of the few firms that supports legacy mainframe, systems I and P (aix), alongside Linux (all major flavors), Solaris, Windows and other variants. So yes, we’re a lot more than just pure IBM.
A few other notes about our capabilities…

Additional Offerings
TxMQ support customers can also take advantage of reduced rates for TxMQ services, discounted purchasing of IBM software and hardware, and related services like software asset management (ILMT, SUA, SCCD), patch management and other managed services.

Implementation Support
TxMQ’s deeply technical talent can also help with planning for upgrades, replatforming, license optimization and integration services. In select cases, we can also work with in-house development teams to offer support for custom home-built applications.

Custom Solutions
TxMQ engineers and developers can work for you, or with your teams, for custom-application development needs. As with the above services, customers under support agreements with TxMQ are entitled to these services at a discount.
Let’s start a conversation on the advantages of getting back to basics and focusing on your core competencies, then letting TxMQ worry about your support.
Email [email protected] or [email protected] for more information, or call 716-636-0070 x222.

DataPower Appliances Nearing End of Life

As with any hardware, software or appliance purchase you make, it has an associated Maintenance End of Service and Hardware End of Life program. Right now the DataPower machine types 9235 ( XS40, XI50, XB60, XM70, XA35, and XM70FC ) are nearing this first initial ‘Standard Maintenance End of Service Date’. The end date on the service maintenance is 3/31/2014. If you want to get ahead of the game and get the most out of the next models, let TxMQ help you with your upgrades to the newer machine models.
By upgrading to the newer machine models, you will be taking advantage of the latest high performing appliances. The XI52’s and XB62’s go from 4 GB of memory to a whopping 24 GB(7198) or 96 GB ( 7199 ) of memory. The usable hard disk space is drastically larger as well, allowing you to store more logs and files on the appliance. That goes from a measly 70 GB of usable storage to an awesome 300 GB ( 7198 ) or 600 GB (7199) of usable space that you can leverage for your own needs.
Let’s not forget to mention all of the extra interfaces that the new machines now have access to. On the 7199 appliance (XI52 and XB62) there’s a total of 10 X 1 gigabit interfaces. Then there’s the 2 X 10 gigabit Interfaces for those companies that can really let the data flow. The 7198 ( XG45 ) appliance has a total of 6 X 1 gigabit interfaces and 2 X 10 gigabit interfaces.
The newer models have a Standard Maintenance End of Service Date in 2018, so if you upgrade now you can take advantage of the full lifespan that this has to offer and help avoid unnecessary maintenance premiums.
TxMQ has the experience and expertise you need to make sure your DataPower environment is up to date and that you are getting the most out of your appliances and infrastructure. Contact Wendy Sanacore or give us a call (716) 636-0070 (229) for all of your DataPower Appliance, Hardware and Software needs. We would be glad to hear from you.
(Photo courtesy of Kevin Dooley)