A Strong Relationship

Orlando Steel trusts Verteks to provide good advice and reliable technology solutions.

There are dozens of different metrics for evaluating the effectiveness of technology solutions. Organizations often base IT investment decisions on characteristics such as processing power, capacity, scalability, throughput, availability and more.

However, the quality that matters most to Mark Wolsefer, President of Orlando Steel Enterprises, is trust. It’s why he has depended on the team at Verteks Consulting to keep his company’s critical IT infrastructure current, reliable and secure for more than two decades.

“They are basically my outsourced IT department,” said Wolsefer. “They are just a good, solid, honest group of people. I trust them. They have access to the deepest parts of my computer and network.”

Orlando Steel manufactures and distributes a range of products that includes steel buildings, carports, corrals and fencing. The company also provides custom services such as powder coating, metal fabrication and plasma cutting. Over the years, Orlando Steel has called upon Verteks to implement a wide range of IT solutions and support its entire technology environment.

Growing Together

The relationship began when another technology group hired to set up Orlando Steel’s network went out of business before the job was completed, leaving Wolsefer’s company “holding the bag.” After that, he decided he needed to “go to some reputable people” for his IT needs.

“We got started with Verteks and ended up redoing our servers, our networking cables and the whole thing,” he said. “Our relationship just evolved from there, and now we have an ongoing service contract with them. They do all our networking stuff, they set us up with remote access for our branch location, they helped us move to VoIP phones and they help us with a lot of security-related issues.”

Verteks designed its managed services offering specifically for businesses like Orlando Steel — companies that have neither the staff resources nor the desire to manage and maintain a continually evolving technology environment. Orlando Steel is a midmarket company with about 60 employees, and Wolsefer understands that the business is better off focusing on workmanship, distribution and customer service than on troubleshooting network issues.

The technology landscape is changing dramatically for small and midsize enterprises such as Orlando Steel. Just a few years ago, they might have only needed a fairly standard menu of solutions involving the maintenance of servers, desktop computers and network gear. This is changing quickly as companies of all sizes embrace cloud services, mobile platforms, data analytics and more with an eye toward increasing competitiveness, efficiency and productivity.

“I don't think I have enough IT issues to justify full-time staff, but even with a full-time guy it can be hard to keep up with how much everything changes,” Wolsefer said. “If you hire a guy, you’re also going to have the expense of always sending him out for more training.

“Verteks, to me, is always on the cutting edge with their knowledge. They keep up with the training and certifications, so we always have access to the latest and the greatest. That’s a big factor for me.”

Boosting Security

Security is one area where it is particularly important to stay ahead of the curve. Smaller businesses often believe that they are safe from network attacks because they assume cybercriminals are focused only on large, enterprise organizations.

“That's actually not true,” said Wolsefer. “I am the perfect size to get attacked but Verteks helps keep me up-to-date to reduce my exposure.”

A recent ransomware attack actually prompted Verteks to suggest some significant updates to Orlando Steel’s security environment. Through inadvertent exposure to a piece of malware, some files on one computer were encrypted by hackers who demanded a bitcoin payment in return for the encryption key. Fortunately, nothing of exceptional value was encrypted, and Verteks was able to wipe the machine and restore it to an earlier backup.

However, the experience led Wolsefer to accept Verteks’ suggestion to upgrade security with Datto Total Data Protection, a system that integrates multiple data protection, backup, recovery and business continuity processes. The Datto solution takes snapshots of data and systems at regular intervals, and stores that data in a secure location. If a ransomware attack occurs, Datto makes it easy to “turn back the clock” to a snapshot of the business before the attack happened.

Additionally, the Datto system improves data backup and recovery processes. Data is backed up automatically to a small onsite appliance then replicated to the Datto Cloud. Files can be recovered quickly with just a few mouse clicks.

A Trusted Advisor

Verteks also replaced Orlando Steel’s aging firewall with a next-generation firewall from WatchGuard. Along with traditional firewall capabilities such as packet filtering, network address translation and URL blocking, the WatchGuard appliance adds more robust features such as intrusion prevention, Secure Socket Layer and Secure Shell inspection, deep-packet inspection and reputation-based malware detection.

“I’ve talked to Don (Gulling) and the folks at Verteks about security, and I feel like they understand how to keep me protected and limit my exposure,” said Wolsefer. “I've always taken their advice, and it's always good advice.”

Frequently, it is free advice, Wolsefer notes. When Hurricane Irma was bearing down on central Florida in September, he got a call from Verteks with preparation tips. Because of a likelihood of a power outage, they reminded him to unplug all computers to avoid damage from a surge when power was restored. They also suggested elevating all computer gear to keep it safe from potential floodwaters.

Verteks also made preparations to restore phones and computing at a temporary location in case Orlando Steel’s offices were severely damaged. Fortunately, the company was spared significant damage, and those emergency measures weren’t activated.

“They help us a lot,” said Wolsefer. “They give great advice and help us deal with anything that comes up. They’re just a good, good company.”