Tech predictions for 2016

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20162016 will see an increased focus on cybersecurity and specifically, cybersecurity training, says technology columnist MJ Shoer.

This was originally published on December 27, 2015 on Seacoastonline.com.

With the New Year right around the corner it’s the time of year when I like to look forward to what the next year may hold for the technology industry.

2015 was a year of tremendous growth for technology utilization in the business world and this will continue into 2016 and beyond.

We all realize our use of technology will continue to expand. This has positives and negatives, but without question, the positives outweigh the negatives and will continue to do so. One of the negatives we saw in 2015 were some fairly high-profile outages in the public Cloud. The public Cloud is made up of the hosting capabilities of companies like Amazon, Apple, Google, Microsoft and Verizon, among others. Nearly every technology company is now offering some form of Cloud solutions, often built upon their own infrastructures that they resell to customers and partners. When these infrastructures experience an interruption, it is often felt across a wide array of businesses.

As we move into 2016, more emphasis will be placed on stabilizing these infrastructures with increased redundancy, both geographically as well as physically, to minimize and ultimately eradicate the impact of any outage event. As more and more businesses and consumers rely on Cloud solutions, this will be critical to insure the ongoing reliability and success of these systems.

Convergence of technology continues to be a significant trend across all industries. You may have heard the term Internet of Things. This broad term refers to almost any device that connects to the Internet. Smart-everything is becoming the norm. You can even install a refrigerator that will alert you if the temperature goes out of range or when the egg tray is running low on eggs. In some applications, you may even be able to order more eggs, right from the door of your refrigerator for delivery to your home the next day. Some will find this type of technology very invasive, but others will consume it.

Wearable devices are putting more sensors on our bodies than ever before. These are mostly for personal use today, but the applications for health care and other industries could be profound. When your cardiologist needs to monitor your heart for a few days you typically have to go to the office, be fitted to a monitor and then return to the office a day or two later to have the monitor removed and the data analyzed. Applications now exist to allow these monitors to feed data, in real time, back to the doctor for instant analysis. Many automobile insurers are offering devices you can plug in to your car to monitor your driving habits. The device communicates through your smartphone, to send real time driving data back to the insurance company and if you qualify, based on your driving habits, you may save a substantial amount of money on your premiums.

All this connectivity leads to the obvious concern about security. We’ve all seen some extremely high-profile hacks of private data. If the U.S. government’s Office of Personnel Management cannot safeguard its data, how likely are you? It’s not a pleasant question to consider. The good news is that you personally, or the business you work for, is not likely to be as juicy a target as a large organization like OPM or the many other household name companies that have been hacked, but the threat cannot be ignored.

2016 will see an increased focus on cybersecurity and specifically, cybersecurity training. Companies will be forced to institute cybersecurity training programs, along the lines of what is done now with sexual harassment training, among other programs. While IT departments will continue to install more sophisticated technologies to help combat these threats, end-user education has become the clear number one risk in the marketplace. At the end of the day, as I have written about numerous times, all the technology in the world cannot prevent a single person from pressing the wrong key at the wrong time and causing a data breach or worse.

Over the coming year, I expect more and more business to start actively testing their security measures. This will involve regular penetration tests, where ethical hackers attempt to breach a network for the sole purpose of uncovering vulnerabilities that need to be fixed. I also expect organizations to undertake phishing probes, where specific e-mail messages that mirror the type of messages hackers use to try to trick recipients into opening the message, thereby allowing malicious software to install on that person’s computer and put the company network at risk. Tests like this will help educate users to the risks. They will not be undertaken to call people out or punish them, but rather to show real world examples of threats and how they need to be addressed to insure the safety of the company network.
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There are many more developments that I expect to take hold in 2016 and the year ahead will be another exciting one for technology. Those of us with careers in information technology have a lot to be grateful for. We work in an industry that continues to change the world for the better. I’m looking forward to 2016 and wish you all a very happy, healthy and prosperous New Year

Internet & Telephone acquires Jenaly Technology Group

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This article was original published on December 6, 2015 on Seacoastonline.com.

paul-mjPaul Cissel, left is chief executive officer of Internet & Telephone, LLC, which has acquired Jenaly Technology Group of Portsmouth, whose president, MJ Shoer, right, will become the expanded company’s chief technology officer.  Paul Briand photo

Two technology providers with roots in Portsmouth are coming together to form a single company.

Internet & Telephone LLC, based in Methuen, Massachusetts, with offices at 11 Manchester Square at Pease International Tradeport, bought Jenaly Technology Group, located at 1 Greenleaf Woods Drive in Portsmouth.

Both are managed service providers, which advise clients on the best uses and applications to address technology needs and concerns.

Internet & Telephone chief executive officer Paul Cissel said he bought Jenaly, not only to expand the business and acquire the workforce talent and experience, but to get Jenaly president MJ Shoer, who will be the chief technology officer in the expanded company.

“MJ is one of the keys that made this such a natural move to make,” Cissel said. “MJ has an incredible amount of vision about where the marketplace is growing.”

Cissel and Shoer have a relationship going back two decades, when Shoer was just starting a technology consulting business and Cissel was working for a tele-communications company.

“We’ve known each other for 22 years, and in that time we’ve been customers of each other and confidantes,” Shoer said.

Over the next six to nine months, Jenaly will morph into Internet & Telephone, changing its name and moving to the Pease location.

Shoer started Jenaly in 1999 in the basement of his home to provide information technology consulting to small and mid-size companies. He said he was focused at the time on helping businesses be smarter about the use of technology. Most needed an IT strategy, most didn’t have one. “There was never a cohesive approach to pull everything together,” he said.

He’s grown from a staff of one – himself – to 11 employees and a client list of about 100 companies within a 30-mile radius of Portsmouth. Once out of his basement, he had an office on Islington Street before settling on the third floor at 1 Greenleaf Woods Drive about 10 years ago.

“We’ve grown the types of services we provide,” said Shoer, changing as technology has changed and developing programs – such as a help desk – to serve clients’ needs. They’ve developed proactive services to, as Shoer said, “Watch and capture issues before the client even knows they’re happening.”

He said he and his employees adhere to the company moniker – “client first” as a way of “thinking of everything from our clients’ point of view.”

Cissel spent the early part of his professional career in the tele-communications industry, getting into providing local telephone service soon after the deregulation of the telecom giants in 1993.

He bought Atlantic Connections, a Portsmouth company, in 1997. It sold to Choice One in 1999 and Cissel stayed on there for a couple of years.

With his business partner, Pete Peterson, they sought other business opportunities after Choice One, creating Internet & Telephone in 2002, first providing voice and data services then moving more toward becoming a managed service provider. They settled initially in North Andover, Massachusetts, ultimately moving to Methuen and opening an office in Portsmouth.

As a telecom and IT service provider, it serves more than 600 business clients and says it is ranked as the 12th largest IT provider in New England. In addition to IT support, Internet & Telephone offers comprehensive telecommunication services including hosted telephones, VoIP, and Cisco phone systems.

“We started Internet & Telephone to procure and provide first class services for our customers’ voice and data needs,” Cissel said.

Internet & Telephone has 40 employees and plans to keep all of the Jenaly employees. Ultimately, it will have three offices – Methuen and Pease and an additional office in Boston in the near future.

“Our goal is to be what we are today,” Cissel said, “a complete solution to our customers.”

Cissel said he was developing a business plan and saw Jenaly as a natural fit.

They have similar philosophies about their approach to business and to customers, Cissel said, and, in order to grow, he needed good people, including a chief technology officer.

“It had always been out there,” Cissel said of his interest in Jenaly. “It became really serious about a year ago when we put together our growth plans for the next five years.”

As a result of the acquisition, each of the company’s clients will benefit from the expanded expertise of the combined groups, Cissel and Shoer said. And, according to Cissel, they’ll be able to take on what has become a backlog of new customers.

“By having extra teammates,” Cissel said, “it allows us to on-board more customers in a particular timeframe.”

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