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It’s Upgrade Time

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Marietta-based Vertisys keeps business running in a digital world

By Haisten Willis

Is your business running on old software? Unless you’re absolutely sure that the answer is no, then you are increasingly at risk for computer viruses and other vulnerabilities that could cost you money, lost productivity, proprietary data, and the personal information of your employees. Read on to find out how one local business is helping others to prevent such catastrophes.

In today’s economy, every business is a technology business. Be it construction, plumbing, publishing, accounting or agriculture, everyone relies on computers to make their firm go. Keeping software and hardware systems up-to-date and functional is critical, and that’s why Matt Baldwin takes his firm’s work so seriously.

“We look at all aspects of a network, and carefully choose the right products for the right customer,” says Baldwin, founder and president of Marietta-based Vertisys. “We apply our knowledge to all components of our clients’ systems.”

Baldwin founded Vertisys in 1992 and has been protecting and upgrading IT systems ever since. Today, Baldwin and his team of over 20 dedicated IT solutions experts provide customer service, product upgrades, and support to businesses across metro Atlanta. Vertisys boasts an especially large presence with legal firms, but serves businesses of all stripes.

Upgrade time
IT security system breaches can bring any business to its knees. Within the last few years, security breaches have done major damage to companies as large as Home Depot, Equifax, and Target, and have even impacted the federal government.

While it may not be as high-profile, the dangers are just as relevant for local businesses. A major security issue can prevent firms from buying or selling products for months. It’s for this reason Baldwin says he always makes sure to warn clients about potential future issues. One big potential issue on the docket for the end of this year is the cessation of tech support for several Microsoft products.

Microsoft has an end-of-life date set for all of its software, and will end support for several products in the near future. This includes Windows 7, Server 2008, and Office 2010. “The reason people haven’t updated is because they haven’t needed to,” says Baldwin. “We’ve gotten to a point in the industry where a lot of customers will not upgrade their operating system without a compelling reason to do so.”

The pending end of support for the software will be a compelling reason for change, even if business owners aren’t aware of it. “Starting in 2020, Microsoft will no longer release security fixes for any of those products,” says Baldwin. “When that occurs, every day those products will become riskier to use, and the vulnerabilities will start to mount. At some point in time, there will be gaping holes in those operating systems.”

Baldwin has been encouraging all of his clients to upgrade their systems ahead of 2020, estimating that 85 percent of commercial computers run on Microsoft systems and that 40 percent of them are still running Windows 7. “It’s about risk,” he says. “We’re trying to get the word out. The computers won’t stop running, but they will become more and more vulnerable to attacks by the day. That’s a risk most business owners aren’t willing to take.”

Another service aspect Vertisys prides itself on is saving clients money, not just through avoiding security issues, but through consulting on software best practices. This includes recommending open-source software that can be downloaded for free, carefully choosing the right products for each customer, and researching and studying costs of implementation and support.

Long history in a changing field
The world of technology seems to change daily, and Vertisys has been there for each twist and turn since Baldwin founded the company 27 years ago. Prior to starting the company, he attended Kennesaw State University to study computers, and found that IT work came to him naturally. Baldwin managed the service department of Applied Computer Technologies for four years before starting Vertisys, which eclipsed the 20-employee mark in 2014. He holds certifications for Microsoft, HP, Dell and Autonomy, with an expertise based on enterprise content management.

Among the diverse lineup of Vertisys clients is construction firm Wayne Davis Concrete Co., engineering company Phillips Partnership, law firm Hall Booth Smith, P.C., and accountants TJS Deemer Dana LLP. Tallapoosa-based Wayne Davis Concrete recently ran into a major IT system problem that stifled its operations for several days. Vertisys was able to make an impact and quickly moderate the damage.

The firm suffered what’s known as a zero-day attack, when a virus got into the company’s systems and spread throughout its entire network. Vertisys had to work with an antivirus software developer and eventually was able to contain the virus and then eradicate it. “Our team was able to contain the virus, clean it, and get the customer back up and running within less than a week,” Baldwin said. “If we hadn’t done that, they could have been down for three months.”

For these types of situations, Vertisys also makes sure its clients’ systems are backed up and can be restored to how they were the day prior to an attack. In the case of Wayne Davis Concrete, the virus was so severe that Vertisys registered it with the FBI. Wayne Davis has been a Vertisys client for 15 years, and Andy Johnson, the company’s IT director, says it’s been a great relationship from day one.

“Vertisys helps us with high-end technical services like database restores, database builds, virtual machine buildups, software needs, hardware needs, and hardware solutions,” says Johnson. “They have been great each time they’ve come out to help us. Matt will give us a call when something better comes along and tells us it’s time to move on to a better solution. It has always worked out very well for us.”

Importantly, Vertisys also keeps someone on-call at all hours of the day for its clients to make sure they are covered when situations arise. “I’ve never had a time when Vertisys didn’t exceed my expectations,” says Johnson.

For Baldwin and his team, it’s a labor of love. Vertisys plans to grow further in years to come and continue serving clients with top-notch service. “I love what I do, and I do what I love,” says Baldwin.