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“We take pride in analyzing the candidates that want to join our team; it’s not just about having the right technical skill set or marketing and sales background, but rather having that drive that motivates each person to be the best they can for that day, and how to be better the next day.”

Based in Washington DC, eGuard Technology Services was founded in 2002 by Khaled Farhang with a mission to help small businesses in the Washington DC metro area get the most out of their business technology.

Since its founding, eGuard Technology Services has helped many small businesses relieve their technology worries so that they can concentrate on growing their businesses and realizing their goals. eGuard is focused on providing the business tools that small businesses need to compete, providing affordable technology designs based on business requirements.

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BusinessInterviews.com: Where does your passion for small business come from?

Khaled: I have always believed there is a lot of innovation, desire to succeed, and energy that comes from small businesses. This hunger is also what drives me and all of our employees to be the best technology advisors to our clients. We take pride in analyzing the candidates that want to join our team; it’s not just about having the right technical skill set or marketing and sales background, but rather having that drive that motivates each person to be the best they can for that day, and how to be better the next day.

Our team enjoys seeing the success of our clients and the growth they experience when we become their advisors and help them through the technology maze. It is very rewarding to see how a non-profit can grow their constituent base because we helped them become more efficient or we found ways to save them money on technology cost so they can allocated that budget towards their cause.

BusinessInterviews.com: What are some of the most common issues you see your clients facing when it comes to information technology (IT) management and how can they be avoided?

Khaled: There are two main issues that we consistently see with our clients that we try to address almost on a daily basis. First is security. The threat of exposure or destruction of data is not only a major concern to our clients, but also very real. We provide daily best practices procedures that can minimize the risk to these threats. We also believe in a multi-layer protection approach when it comes to securing the network. In the real world of small business networks, there is no such thing as 100% protection; we believe that the more layers of protection are implemented in a network, the better the chances of avoiding an issue. The layers of protection would start from the firewall and go all the way to the desktop.

The second issue is aligning technology to the business processes of our clients. This typically means an ongoing dialogue with our clients about their business, what are they doing differently and where do they see the business going in 6 months to 1 year. We believe technology is still moving much faster than our clients want to move; previously it was processor speed and application capabilities, today it is platform change. The platform migration from on-premises to cloud is one that requires a deep dive into analyzing the applications and business processes. The question is what to move: should it be a hybrid-cloud migration or a full cloud infrastructure move?

BusinessInterviews.com: What advice would you give to a client who is contemplating an IT upgrade?

Khaled: As much as some clients don’t want to do an upgrade, it is a necessary evil. Microsoft’s recent decision to stop supporting platforms such as Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 is a good example. The efficiencies that can be gained by an upgrade are also a very good reason for upgrades. A couple of years ago, in order to get access to the files on a client’s server, VPN was the only secure and stable method. Today, we have technologies that can address such a need by providing access to the files from a tablet, Web browser and smartphone.

Our advice to our clients typically starts with a quarterly dialogue to better understand their business needs and direction. From day one, we tell our clients that one-third of their PCs should be budgeted for an upgraded every year and a server should be reviewed every 3-4 years from the purchase date. When a client is ready for an upgrade, we carefully analyze their needs, looking at both cloud solutions and on-premises solutions. Sometimes the best solution is one that’s hybrid; a portion of their upgrade goes into the cloud (minimizing the capital expenditure) and another portion stays on-premises. The best advice we can give is to be proactive in reviewing their upgrade needs and to carefully analyze the line of business applications for best course of action.

BusinessInterviews.com: What’s SharePoint and who should be using it?

Khaled: Recent data shows that some 75% of Fortune 500 companies use SharePoint and they are using it for different reasons. The biggest misconception about SharePoint is that it is software that gets installed just like any other software you have on a server or PCs. Our discussion starts with explaining that SharePoint is a platform, not a software program that can be configured and designed to address a specific need for the client. The best way that we describe the benefits of SharePoint to our client is to outline the different areas where it can provide efficiency and benefits. We typically break down the categories of SharePoint development in: a) Document Management, b) Collaboration, c) Extranet & Intranet, d) Business Intelligence. We will discuss these categories more in detail during our ongoing client business review meetings to see if there is a benefit to exploring the deployment of SharePoint for efficiency gains. The goal is to give the employees of any company the same level of agility and coordination across the board.

BusinessInterviews.com: Can you talk about the significance of your recent partnership with eFolder?

Khaled: Our initial interest to eFolder was through the Anchor software before it was purchased by eFolder. We saw a gap that was left unaddressed for our clients, the need to access files efficiently, securely and with full control at the business level. Anchor provided a platform where we could provide a more robust solution to VPN or SSL VPN. The granular access from any device to the network file server met the need of our client as the tablet and smartphone base was growing rapidly. We saw this as an opportunity to provide a higher level of service to our clients, allowing them a more secure method of accessing their network with total control of who has access and controlling that access at any level management wanted.

BusinessInterviews.com: What are some trends in your industry that you’re excited or think that our readers should be paying attention to?

Khaled: I think the fundamental shift into cloud-based solutions is going to grow even more rapidly in the next few years. It will be very interesting to see how the latest FCC ruling to open the discussion for pay-for-preferential rules plays into the cloud access arena. In the past, the broadband providers could not allow preferential treatment for content delivery, if the new proposal goes into play; it could mean higher cost for better/faster access, which in return could mean a challenge to small businesses on how to achieve overall performance with cloud based solutions.

The explosion of smartphone and tablet use within the network environment is another area to pay close attention to. The IT departments (outsourced tech support and internal IT department) are starting to lose control of devices that are being allowed on the network. This could ultimately mean a less secure network, if access can’t be controlled. Company data can be at risk as the vulnerabilities of tables and smartphones are exploited by hackers and malicious software. The Mobile Device Management (MDM) software tools are going to play a key role in controlling this explosion. We are starting to address this need by adding another layer of protection in our best practice recommendations. The additional layer would be implemented on the smartphone/tablet devices connected to the network.

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