Archive for the ‘VISI’ Category

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VISI Holiday Festivities and Toys for Tots

By Meagan Maue | December 13, 2013

For the past several years, VISI employees gather together for holiday festivities around this time of year.  Weeks ahead of time, each participating employee draws the name of a “Secret Santa” co-worker, whom they are to purchase a gift for.  The catch?  The gift should be something that the individual would have liked as a child, as the item will be donated (after being unwrapped by it’s recipient) to the Toys for Tots program.  Each gift is opened one at a time, as participating employees enjoy laughter and a catered meal.

This year, 23 employees participated in the Toys for Tots Secret Santa program and many great toys were donated to Minnesota children in need.  [Photo of Toys for Tots items]

Once the Secret Santa gifts are unwrapped, the group then collaborates to wrap presents that have been purchased for a family that VISI “adopts” for the holidays.  This year VISI’s non-profit giving committee adopted a family of eight – including a single mother and her seven children – through the Neighborhood Involvement Program.  Employees enjoyed seeing the gifts that these children would be opening for the holiday season.  [Photo of NIP family items]

Thank you to our employees for your generosity and Happy Holidays to all our customers!

 

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End2End Technologies Testimonial

By Iris Kurman | November 19, 2013

End2End Technologies needed a data center partner that maintained the highest levels of certification and compliance. They also needed a private cloud solution that provided scalability, reliability, and robust security. They selected VISI to meet their needs. Read more by downloading the customer testimonial below.

End2End Customer Testimonial

 

Be a Good Citizen Part 2

By VISI Blog | August 29, 2013

Last week VISI employee, Meagan Maue, made the trek up to the Red Lake Reservation in northern Minnesota, to assist in Red Lake Rosie’s August spay and neuter clinic.  She was able to do this as part of TDS’s “Be Good Citizens” Volunteer ProgramMinnesota Spay Neuter Assistance Program members brought their large surgical van up to the reservation for three days to provide basic medical care – primarily spay and neuter surgeries – to dogs and cats belonging to members of the Red Lake community.  The reservation has no veterinarian onsite, so for many community members these annual clinics are the only way their canine or feline companions will get this kind of care.

Meagan helped vaccinate, walk, groom, feed and water more than 100 cats and dogs that came into the clinic for various needs.  The days of work were long – about 14-16 hours – but her efforts were rewarded with lots of tail wags and kisses!

“I will never forget some of the things I saw during the spay and neuter clinic – both good and bad,” said Meagan Maue. “I saw a dog come in with dozens of porcupine quills stuck in his face, neck, chest and legs.  I saw an embedded collar wound on a big, beautiful German Shepherd.  I saw an emaciated dog whose mange was so bad it literally made my skin hurt.  But I also saw a puppy with two broken legs who would wag his tail anytime someone would simply just talk to him.  I saw a Dutch Shepherd mix, who was terrified of men, give tons of kisses to the male veterinarian treating his mange.  I have always heard the phrase ‘rescue dogs know that you are helping’ and during my work at this clinic, I found that phrase to be more true than during any of my previous rescue work before.  For that, I am forever grateful.”

To find out about how you can help during the next spay and neuter clinic in Red Lake, please contact Red Lake Rosie’s at animalrescue@redlakerosie.org.

Meagan Maue, Karen Good, founder of Red Lake Rosie, and another volunteer

 

 

 

 

Be a Good Citizen Part 1

By VISI Blog | August 20, 2013

An important shared value of TDS is “Be Good Citizens in Our Communities.” As such, TDS wholeheartedly recognizes the importance of “Investing in our Communities” and being a good corporate citizen to help enrich the surrounding communities in which we operate, reside and work. Employees are encouraged to lend their support/time and become involved in their communities by volunteering in programs which positively impact the quality of life and assist those in need. To help accomplish this, TDS is proud to be able to offer the “Be Good Citizens” Volunteer Program where employees can receive paid time off to volunteer in their local community.  As part of the TDS family of companies, VISI employees also receive this benefit.

Meagan Maue, Marketing and Events Specialist at VISI, will be participating in this program because she is an avid supporter of animal rescue. She is headed to northern Minnesota to assist Red Lake Rosie’s Rescue with their August spay and neuter clinic. Meagan is able to do this using hours from the Be a Good Citizen program. 

The need for spay and neuter clinics became evident years ago when community leaders recognized the domesticated animal population was out of control on the Red Lake Reservation. Since then, programs like the Minnesota Spay and Neuter Assistance Program and Kindest Cut have stepped in to offer three day clinics several times a year. Each clinic sees approximately 150-200+ cats and dogs altered.

If you would like to provide assistance to this effort, the upcoming spay and neuter clinic is looking for donations of canned dog and cat food, blankets, towels, and flea/tick preventative for dogs and cats of all sizes.  Items can be mailed to:

VISI, c/o Meagan Maue
10290 W 70th St
Eden Prairie, MN 55344

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Hybrid Cloud: The Best of Public Cloud and Private Cloud

By Iris Kurman | July 01, 2013

For some businesses, the choice between Private Cloud and Public Cloud is obvious.  For others, that decision is not so clear – nor should it have to be.  Every user is different, and so are your needs and goals. What works for one, may not work for another. More importantly, what works for your business now, may not meet your needs in the future. 

Your Solution is ReliaCloud™ for Hybrid Clouds
ReliaCloud offers three cloud services: Public Cloud, Private Cloud and Hybrid Cloud. Our Hybrid Cloud solution offers a combination of the advantages of both Public Cloud and Private Cloud models, maximizing efficiency, security and flexibility. 

Our solutions architects work with you to design a customized solution based on your unique needs, expanding and scaling your virtual capacities when you need them, how you need them.  Capabilities such as storage, computing power and RAM can be instantly adjusted, resulting in a more efficient and cost-effective IT environment for your business. This stellar combination also enables organizations that have already built a Private Cloud, to use resources from Public Clouds as a way to expand their own IT infrastructure.

Let Us Architect IT, So You Can Focus On Your Business
This cloud stuff can be confusing, but you don’t have to try and figure it all out.  Let our solutions architects use their skills and knowledge to design a cloud combination that works best for you. Let us architect it, so you can focus on your business.

ReliaCloud allows you peace of mind knowing that your data is safe, secure and protected by our state-of-the-art, integrated security. We employ a combination of standard security controls, as well as optional, advanced capabilities that can be added as needed to suit your unique security requirements.

ReliaCloud satisfies the needs of our customers by providing enterprise-class infrastructure and services that are managed 24/7/365 in facilities that are built to Tier 3 standards and SSAE 16 audited.  Delivered in both dedicated and shared resource pools from multiple Tier 3 data centers, ReliaCloud is architected for maximum flexibility and security.  Since resource pools will never be shared, your performance will never be compromised.  Your data is secure, available when you need it, and meets all your compliance requirements.

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Enterprise Cloud Summit Engages Minnesota Companies

By Gary Elfert | October 17, 2012

Thanks to everyone who attended and participated in the Enterprise Cloud Summit yesterday. It was great to see the high level of engagement during the interactive panel session. I put together a summary of the event below using Storify and the @VISIHOSTING Twitter feed.

The Star Tribune featured both of the keynote presenters in a story on cloud computing yesterday. If you missed the story in the paper, you can read it online.

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ReliaCloud Cloud Computing Services Now on the Ground

By Rick Levang | September 21, 2012

When your product is offering 100% availability, your testing had better be bulletproof.  Anyone involved in a significant IT project can attest to the amount of work involved in testing new systems.  The hours, the challenges, and the late nights that invariably accompany the one entry that appears on the project tracking document that says, in one way or another, ‘Testing: 100% Complete’.  For those outside the engineering and development circles it can be hard to understand all that has gone into getting ReliaCloud up and running.

As the Product Manager for the ReliaCloud product, I want to give a big thanks to the team of seasoned professionals at VISI, Vital Support Systems and TDS Hosted and Managed Services who worked long hours the last few months to design and test the ReliaCloud platform.  The team included systems architects, engineers, product managers, project management, and many others who designed, documented, and executed on the test plans.  It is this team that gets the credit for putting the ‘Reliable’ in ReliaCloud.

We tested several complex cloud computing use cases covering three cloud types: Public, Hybrid, and Private Cloud.  Each of the test cases within these was designed to validate different areas of functionality.  Each component and function was put through comprehensive test plans including provisioning, integration, patching, fail-over, recovery, and more.

And we aren’t done.  We understand that offering 100% uptime means we continue to develop, test and improve our cloud computing platform continuously to ensure that ReliaCloud will perform 100% of the time.

You can learn more about the ReliaCloud offering at www.reliacloud.com.

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Get Smarter. Be Nourished. Meet Great People.

By Gary Elfert | September 17, 2012

Over 100 IT professionals in the Twin Cities have already registered for the Enterprise Cloud Summit on October 16. Are you coming?  RSVP today.

Top 5 Reason to Attend Enterprise Cloud Summit

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The Monitoring-as-a-Service Roadshow

By Jason Baker | June 22, 2012

It seems like everything is being offered today “as-a-Service”, and infrastructure monitoring is no exception. Our product team has worked hard over the past year to create a new monitoring service based around enterprise-class tools and talented customer support people. I’ve been on a mini-roadshow during the past two weeks educating our customers on our new monitoring capabilities. As part of this roadshow, I’ve developed a presentation which describes some of the highlights of our new service. Let me know what you think!

 

View presentation in full screen

 

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SEMINAR: Navigate into the Enterprise Cloud

By Alan Muther | May 02, 2012

Businesses can purchase enterprise cloud infrastructure from dozens of service providers in the marketplace today. While many providers classify their cloud platforms as “enterprise ready”, no two enterprise cloud providers are exactly alike. Businesses need to take a reasoned approach to evaluating the capabilities of potential enterprise cloud vendors. In this seminar, Jason Baker, Chief Technology Officer of VISI, will cover a recommended three step approach when contracting services from an enterprise cloud provider:

1. Identify the business IT stakeholder requirements.

2. Map the business requirements to the enterprise cloud provider’s capabilities

3. Create a cloud service agreement

The breakfast seminar Navigate into the Enterprise Cloud will be held on May 30th from 7:30-9:00am at our Eden Prairie Data Center. Stick around afterwards for a tour of our Tier III data center.

Register today at www.visi.com/events

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VISI to attend 2012 Technology Conference, Minnesota Bankers Association

By Meagan Maue | April 04, 2012

This month VISI will be attending the Minnesota Bankers Association’s 2012 Technology Conference at the Arrowwood Resort in Alexandria, MN.  The conference will highlight today’s hot topics within the banking industry, including those related to operations, business continuity and information security.  Several speakers will present on IT-specific topics, and later in the conference attendees will get the opportunity to hear from a Banker/Vendor Panel on the best practices in Mobility.  Check out more information on this exciting two-day event!

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Spoiler Alert!

By Meagan Maue | March 25, 2012

This morning at 10am, the winner of the Nerdery’s annual Overnight Website Challenge was crowned. Two Unicorns, One Moon took home the win for their hard work improving the website of West African Medical Missions. Honorable mentions went to Twin Cities EE who was partnered with Franconia Sculpture Park, The Royal Canadian Kilted Yaksmen who worked with Little Voyageurs Montessori School, and Team Pegacorn who improved the website of Metro CISM Team.

Great job to all 18 teams competing this year! Now get some sleep!!

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Let The Games Begin

By Meagan Maue | March 24, 2012

I woke up bright and early on this rainy Saturday morning to take part in the opening ceremonies of the Overnight Website Challenge.  Over the previous five years of the #WebChallenge, over $2 million in professional services have been donated to 66 non-profits and this year will add 18 more to the list.  This great feat was commended by Senator Al Franken in a video commentary he created for 2012 Challenge participants during this morning’s festivities.

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A Plan To Fail

By Jason Baker | March 20, 2012

I received a phone call from a local Fox News reporter today wanting to do a TV interview related to the recent Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) website problems. The Minnesota DNR has a website that campers use every year to reserve spots at dozens of state parks. The prime camping spots at these parks are always in high demand — especially during the major work holidays. The DNR updated their park reservation system this year, and launched it to the delight of eager campers hoping to win the reservation lottery. Unfortunately, the online reservation system quickly buckled from the user demand, and thousands of Minnesota citizens were unable to reserve camping spots.

The Fox News reporter and camera man arrived at our office and setup the interview shoot in our data center. The reporter asked me some basic questions: Why do website outages like this occur? How do businesses know how much power their website needs? Are 4,500 visitors an hour enough to take down a website? (This is approximately the website demand reported by the DNR).

As I was responding to the reporter’s questions, I thought about the process of website capacity planning. Unfortunately, websites failing due to unexpected demand has been a scenario I’ve seen several times over my 16-year career. The first time was in the late 90′s when a customer called to let me know her product would be featured on the Oprah Winfrey TV Show in a few hours. She wanted to make sure her website could handle the increased demand from TV viewers. It couldn’t, and it didn’t. The website hosting platform was never designed to handle the level of demand generated by the TV show. And even if the website platform could have been redesigned to support the increased demand, there was no way to provision the new website capacity in time for the show.

When companies build out their website capacity they invest in a finite amount of resources. They perform a basic risk-benefit analysis. The risk is that they will not invest in enough website resources to meet customer demand. In this case they damage their reputation and lose business. The benefit of investing in more resources is that the business can support greater demand, and create delighted customers. But greater investment also carries a risk. The business might invest in too much website capacity and spend needless dollars on non-existent demand.

In my experience, most organizations have no clue how much demand their websites can handle. Why? One of the sad truths of IT planning is that most website resource capacity recommendations are based on gut instinct. Sure, this instinct is informed by years of experience and some relevant historical data points. But at the end of the day, website capacity planning still comes down to a best guess. Enterprise architects and consultants usually build in a large enough fudge factor in the capacity plans to cover most scenarios. Companies launch their websites into production and face an uncertain future — hoping their website is successful, but not too successful.

Scientists test the thrust generated by rockets before strapping them to the Space Shuttle. Automotive engineers perform extensive performance tests on every new car model. Apple’s quality control team carefully monitors the manufacturing of its new iPad tablets with retina displays. Why do businesses launch new websites out into the wild without rigorous testing? I’m not talking about a handful of developers clicking on random website links. I’m talking about serious website performance testing — dialing up the website requests until the website infrastructure collapses.

If I’m a website owner, I want to know when my website is going to fail. Then, I can go back and do the risk-benefit analysis to see how much risk is acceptable to my business. It’s not possible to invest in an infinite amount of resources, but it’s possible to manage risk when you have a good understanding of the risk level.

I can’t say for certain if the Minnesota DNR technology team engaged in performance testing before launching the updated DNR website. I’m not in a position to evaluate or critique their process. All I can say is that if they didn’t load test the website before launch, they are in good company.

 

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Overnight Website Challenge Line-Up

By Meagan Maue | March 20, 2012

On March 5th, the non-profits chosen for this year’s Overnight Website Challenge were announced. The competition has grown considerably over last year, with 18 teams competing this year! Here’s a quick run-down on the 2012 challenge:

Aspergers Network Support for Well-Being Education and Research ANSWER provides Aspergers information via resources and support groups for parents, caregivers and professionals.
Bakken Museum The Bakken Museum has a variety of public programming and outreach programs, but is most known for its quirky mansion on the shores of Lake Calhoun, with over 2,200 science and technology related artifacts.
Cancer Legal Line Cancer Legal Line provides and coordinates pro bono legal services to Minnesota cancer patients and survivors at a vulnerable time in their lives.
Career Solutions Inc Career Solutions provides career transition services including career counseling, vocational testing and assessment, and work/life skill building classes and seminars to middle and low-income clients through their Displaced Homemaker, Dislocated Worker and Military Family Re-adjustment services.
Center for Homicide Research The Center for Homicide Research is a Minneapolis-based, volunteer-driven organization addressing the issue of homicide in our communities.
Community Neighborhood Housing Services Community NHS is a NeighborWorks America HomeOwnership Center and HUD approved counseling agency serving Saint Paul and the entire 7-county metropolitan area.
Franconia Sculpture Franconia Sculpture Park supports the talent and ambition of emerging and established artists, where artists are given the opportunity to live, work, and exhibit all at one site.
HOURCAR HOURCAR makes car ownership optional; members receive a personal key “fob” that opens all the vehicles in their fleet. The average HOURCAR member spends just $35 per month on shared car use.
Little Voyageurs’ Montessori School From the beginning, LVMS’s mission has been to nurture the development of each child’s unique potential.
Metro CISM (Critical Incident Stress Management) Team Metro CISM offers a continuum of volunteer lead services to address the stress management needs of emergency services personnel.
Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless MCH advocates at the state legislature for policies that prevent and end homelessness; shares best practices and training between and with member agencies; and educates the public about homelessness.
Minnesota Environmental Partnership Recently named Minnesota’s #1 high impact environmental nonprofit by Philanthropedia, MEP coordinates and convenes the state’s top environmental advocacy nonprofits to share information, plan and implement policy campaigns, educate and engage citizens, and “speak with one voice” on critical environmental issues.
North Star Therapy Animals NSTA aims to provide therapy animal services and the benefits these services bring to individuals.
Valley Friendship Club VFC provides fun, educational and social opportunities for children, teens and young adults with developmental and/or intellectual disabilities, in addition to creating an inclusive partnership and sense of belonging within the community at large.
The Windmill Project The Windmill Project connects families of children with special needs and disabilities to each other
and to appropriate resources and services.
TVbyGIRLS TVbyGIRLS is a nonprofit organization that works with girls ages 10 to 18 to build leadership, compassionate and collaborative working skills, critical thinking and engagement in social justice and the issues of their communities.
West African Medical Missions WAMM is an organization of health care minded individuals focused on aiding in the strengthening of health capacities in West Africa by providing supplies, educational aids, and volunteers to West Africa annually.
Youth Performance Company YPC is an Ivey Award honored youth theater empowering young actors, singers and dancers to reach their artistic potential and become community leaders.

Check out the above websites before they are obsolete; these non-profits will soon have new, cool websites (some hosted by VISI!) by next week! And for a blast from the past, check out the 2011 Minneapolis OWC.

Want to learn more about VISI? Check out the About Us page.