Thursday, January 30, 2014

Community Post: List of IBM i Content Providers

+Joe Hertvik compiled an in-process centralized shared list of all organizations or individuals who provide content-specific information on the IBM i platform. United Computer Group, Inc. is pleased to be included. Find the blog post and list here

Learn more about Joe by checking out Joe's Blog 

Thanks, Joe! 

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

5 ERP Business Benefits of 2014

Bob Vormittag
Excellent article in Manufacturing Business Technology written by our partner, Bob Vormittag, President & CEO, VAI. 
"2014 will continue to bring change and innovation to the ERP industry. It is imperative that companies continuously incorporate new technologies that will dramatically improve their business operations. It is also critical for businesses to do their homework when choosing an ERP vendor, so that they fully understand what they can expect throughout the implementation process and beyond. Executives must ensure that they are implementing flexible software solutions to meet their specific business needs and industry requirements in order to stay ahead of the competition and ensure growth and success throughout 2014 and beyond."  Read full article. 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

When Things Go Wrong: A Techie’s Perspective

How to keep focused during a major IT incident 

Most of us have dealt with major IT incidents before. When a major incident occurs in an enterprise environment, all hands are on deck, from top management right down to the technical engineers resolving the issue. During this time, a lot of pressure is on us, the techies, to resolve the incident and bring the system back up and running again. Here are some tips on how to handle these types of situations and work efficiently to resolve the issue.

Adrian Mahendrata shares some tips on dealing with the challenges that a techie faces when a major incident occurs. +POWER IT Pro 

Monday, January 27, 2014

The ROI when moving your data backup to the cloud

Over the years we have spoken with hundreds of CIOs, CFOs, and CEOs about taking their data to the cloud. When the discussion turns to business issues and pain points, we often find that there is one underlying hurdle to overcome: price. And price should not be a final determining factor when making a key decision about an organization's data backup and DR solution. 

For those who take the time to understand and embrace its value, it goes much deeper. They know that United Computer Group's VAULT400 backs up an entire organization’s business-critical data to secure data centers, ensuring financial, HIPAA, and legal compliance for their clients. Safe and off-site, the encrypted data is available online at all times for immediate, user-initiated recovery. VAULT400 works seamlessly within an organization’s existing infrastructure while supporting all platforms and databases. For even greater peace of mind, hardware disaster recovery is available. 

Download  UCG's VAULT400 ROI Calculator
Nevertheless, the intangible benefits may be initially overlooked. This simple ROI chart will highlight the various management costs that come into play when assessing cloud backup costs and may help you focus on your core business competency. 

If you find this information helpful please pass it on. As Oscar Wilde penned, “The only thing to do with good advice is to pass it on; it is never of any use to oneself.”

What The System x Selloff Means To IBM i Shops

"As has been rumored for nearly a year and suspected for the past five years by many of us, IBM has finally gone and done it and sold off its System x server business to Lenovo Group for $2.3 billion. The details of the deal are complex, and there is no guarantee that the U.S. government will approve it, but given the strong presence that Lenovo has in North Carolina by virtue of its acquisition of IBM's PC business in late 2004, the odds favor the nod from Uncle Sam."  Read more:  - Timothy Prickett Morgan, IT Jungle, The Four Hundred

Friday, January 24, 2014

The Internet In 1981 Was Just So Adorable

A little fun for a Friday afternoon from the Huffington Post

"Imagine, if you will, sitting down to your morning coffee and turning on your home computer to read the day's newspaper."

So begins this adorable San Francisco newscast from 1981, chronicling how newspapers are starting to (gasp!) send newspapers over the Internet. Someone is even credited as a "home computer owner."
"Engineers now predict the day will come when we get all our newspapers and magazines by home computer, but that's a few years off," newscaster Steve Newman said.
Apparently it took more than two hours to get the whole newspaper to your computer over the phone. Never complain about your slow Internet again.

Monday, January 20, 2014

How Would You Rate Your Data Backup & DR Readiness Today?

It's Monday and you're already thinking about what's on the agenda for today. Chances are if your existing data backup plan is keeping you up at night, it's on your mind this morning. 

Let us help you with that; it will be simple and painless. 

First, take a moment to rate your data backup and DR readiness:

1.   100% prepared
2.   Above average
3.   Making progress
4.   Unsure
5.   I have my resume ready

Your form will immediately be received by the data backup and DR experts at UCG. They will assess your situation and quickly get back to you with the answers you need, so you can put that resume away for another day.  

That's it! You're welcome.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Getting Social: Going Beyond the Blog

Follow United Computer Group, Inc. on LinkedIn
We thank you for taking the time to read our blog posts, and hope to provide you with plenty of interesting, useful information in the year ahead.

United Computer Group, Inc. offers a diverse array of technology products, services, and solutions. We post frequently on a wide variety of topics on several social media sites in addition to this blog. You can find us on LinkedIn, Google+, YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook

Recommending UCG's Products and Services on LinkedIn

Once you've visited our LinkedIn company page (and clicked on "Follow"), recommendations on any of our products and/or services are much appreciated. For example: 

Larry Holm, Group Leader ERP Support and Development at Teck Resources Limited in British Columbia, Canada recently said, "We have been using VAULT400 for some time now for our i Series system. We have been very successful in completing yearly disaster recovery exercises and verifying our data is available in such an event."

Just yesterday, Kelly Crusan, Programmer/Analyst at Reinhart Foodservice in La Crosse, Wisconsin shared, "We have been using VAULT400 for about a year now and it has worked great! Their support is top notch and always very helpful whenever needed. The software is very easy to use even for someone who is not very familiar with an AS400. All around a great product and very happy to be using it!"

We would love to hear from you!

Where can we connect?

We look forward to a very social 2014!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

UCG completes system-wide technology refresh for Darice Inc.

United Computer Group, Inc. has completed a system-wide technology refresh for Darice Inc., a premier wholesale distributor in the craft industry.

In late 2012, Darice chose Lawson (since acquired by Infor) as their new ERP solution. During the discovery phase, it was determined that their AIX hardware platform was inadequate to support Darice’s growth and would need to be upgraded. Darice was referred to local IBM Business Partner UCG for a consultation. UCG’s recommendation of an upgrade to the IBM i Series (Power System) combined with their VAULT400 cloud backup and DR solution was seamlessly implemented in late 2013. In addition, UCG provided twelve months of admin and operations consulting for Darice.

Jim Petkunas, Darice CIO, stated that, "UCG's 26 years of knowledge, experience, and proven ability to execute in the IBM arena was the winning combination Darice required. UCG provided sizing, consulting, and a turnkey IBM Power System running i OS coupled VAULT400 cloud backup and disaster recovery. We could not be more pleased with our decision." 

“As an IBM Advanced Business Partner for more than 26 years, United Computer Group ensures tight integration of our solutions,” says James Kandrac, President of UCG. Darice’s new IBM i Power System features the latest IBM processors, representing a true leap forward to more intelligent systems that reduce complexity, decrease energy consumption, minimize downtime and drive down operational costs.

By selecting the IBM i Solution Edition for VAULT400, companies gain significant IBM i pricing benefits, and an easy-to-manage cloud backup and disaster recovery solution that delivers a low total cost of ownership. Today, Darice is well-positioned for future growth, and their mission-critical data is safe and off-site. The encrypted data is available online at all times for immediate, user-initiated recovery.

Darice Inc. is headquarted in Strongsville, Ohio. The company was founded in 1954, by Pat Catan, an entrepreneur from humble beginnings who valued hard work and dedication. Today Darice is a premier wholesale distributor in the craft industry, serving many channels including craft, mass market, party, toy, drug and grocery stores.

The company’s key products lines include craft basics, jewelry making, paper crafting, bridal, floral design, fine art supplies, kid’s crafts, including FOAMIES®; as well as, licensed products from names such as David Tutera and Tori Spelling. Pat Catan’s has over 20 stores located throughout Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Twelve Best Practices for Data Backup and Disaster Recovery

Upgrading your data backup plan from tape to a secure backup and DR solution is one of the most significant decisions an organization will make. We encourage you to compare the various solutions on the market, and while doing so, carefully consider each of the following best practices.

Download Solution Brief

1. Reliability. Up to 71% of restores from tape contain failures.

Best Practice: Use cloud-based technology for backups. With cloud-based technology, your backup data resides on disk drives, proven to be far more reliable than tapes. When your backup completes, you know the data is secure and accessible. With tapes you never really know if your data is usable until you try to restore it, at which point it’s too late.

2. Breadth of Offering. Choice in product and service offerings meets the needs of your business.

Best Practice: Don’t settle for less than what you need. Vendor offerings vary widely. Some are designed primarily for consumers and others for enterprise data centers. Choose a solution that scales with your business, and offers the features necessary to provide the level of service you expect. De-duplication and delta-block technologies will improve performance, reduce your data footprint, and save you money. Find out if their de-duplication offering is at the file level or the block level. Make sure the solution can back up servers, PCs, and laptops as well your applications.

3. Security. 60% of organizations using tapes don’t encrypt their backups.

Best Practice: End-to-end encryption with no “back door.” Using encryption with tape makes backups run slowly and often takes too long to fit within a backup window. As a result, most people simply turn encryption off, creating a security risk. Even with the physical safety of cloud backup, encryption is essential. Look for 256-bit AES. Find a solution that encrypts your data during transmission and storage. Make certain there isn’t a “back door” that would let someone else views your data.

4. Accessibility. Companies waste thousands of hours waiting on tapes.

Best Practice: Ensure that you can get your data back with minimal delay. You should have direct access to your backups, with no time spent on physical transport (no trucks, no warehouses). Your restores should take minutes, not hours or days. Set yourself up to work with your data, not wait for it. Make sure your solution provider can meet your Return-to-Operations (RTO) and Recovery Point Objectives (RPO) which determine how quickly you can recover your data and maintain business continuity. Inquire about onsite and offsite replication that provide both improved performance and a solid disaster recovery strategy.

5. Scalability. Some backup systems can’t scale readily.

Best Practice: Invest in a data protection architecture that can grow with your business. You should be able to back up your data no matter how large it grows. Starting small? Look for an option that handles your backups automatically. Then, as you grow, gives you tools to manage complex environments. Look for “changes-only” and compression technologies to speed backups and save space. And insist on bandwidth throttling to balance traffic and ensure network availability for your other business applications. Make sure that their solution offerings rely on common technology to scale easily as your business––and data––grow.

6. Cost-effectiveness. Companies lose an average of $84,000 for every hour of lost activity.

Best Practice: Calculate the true total cost of tape-based back up. When you do the math, the dollars make sense: Go with cloud backup. Unlike tape, there are close to zero handling costs—no rush deliveries, loading, accessing, locating, or repeated steps. And there’s one benefit you can’t factor directly: Reputation. Reliability and security can make an incalculable difference with just one avoided breach or failure.

7. Compliance. Most companies have problems satisfying privacy, security, and data retention regulations.

Best Practice: Choose a data protection partner who has deep know-how about compliance, and the technology to ensure it.

8. Disaster Recovery. Most companies lack a comprehensive, tested plan for disasters.

Best Practice: Find a vendor that delivers a complete DR solution. You can’t say your data protection is complete until you have a disaster recovery plan that is itself complete and tested. Your backup vendor should have both the product mix and professional services team to help you prepare for a worst-case scenario. Make sure they can help configure your backups so you rebound quickly. Best bet: A vendor who can train you to deal with disasters confidently, based on your company’s actual configuration.

9. Ease-of-Use. Some companies don’t—or can’t—manage their backups from one place.

Best Practice: Get control and reporting you can use anywhere, with ease. Managing your backup environment should be simple, and the software you use should eliminate any guesswork that could lead to lost data. You should know at all times if your data is protected across your entire network—including remote offices—by simply looking at a dashboard. The software should be simple to configure using wizards, yet powerful enough to meet your specific needs with customizable views, job propagation, and roles-based security.

10. Operating System and Platform Support. Most backup vendors support a limited range of OS, server types, and applications.

Best Practice: Look for broad and deep technology that supports your complete environment. Your backup solution should accommodate your environment, not vice versa. Demand a single solution to protect your laptops, desktops, and servers regardless of the platform and applications they’re running. Beyond the broad claims, check the fine print, and the level of protection offered for applications such as Exchange. For example, can they restore individual mail messages or contacts, and can they support Exchange running on a Microsoft Cluster?

11. Customer Support. Backup vendors’ product support varies widely.

Best Practice: Find a vendor whose support is passionate, maybe even slightly obsessed.
Customer support should be one of your vendor’s main selling points. You shouldn’t have to wonder if they’ll be there to help when you need them most. Do they offer phone support or email only, and who exactly are you talking to when you call that 800 number? Find a vendor that will treat your data as if it were their own.

12. Reputation. Does your backup vendor have a quality reputation and the financial resources to stay in business for the long haul?

Best Practice: Find a vendor with strong financial backing and customer references. There are a lot of vendors that have come and gone. When you consider a service provider, look for one that has strong financial backing, a solid business plan and the ability to be in business as long as your data needs to be stored. Ask for customer references and case studies as their customers are the best validation you can get.

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Largest Caribbean Distribution and Medical Supply Firm A.A. Laquis Selects VAULT400 to Protect Mission Critical Data

United Computer Group, Inc. has been selected by A.A.Laquis Limited to provide VAULT400 cloud backup for their IBM i system mission-critical data. A.A. Laquis is the leading distribution company in the Caribbean and the largest medical supply company in the region with distribution centers in Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, and Jamaica.

A.A. Laquis researched several data backup solutions before choosing VAULT400 following a successful trial with UCG’s 30 day Try-n-Buy Program. With locations in the Caribbean Sea, extreme weather conditions from the North Atlantic Ocean are a way of life. In the event of disaster, A.A. Laquis has taken the necessary steps to ensure their data is always available to the essential, human-centered industries they serve. 

A.A. Laquis also relies on UCG’s expertise with the IBM i System and S2K Enterprise Management Software, a feature-rich supply chain and business management solution. The IBM i system is an integral component to the development of A.A. Laquis’s pharmaceutical, medical, and consumer products.

The company was founded in 1948 by Anthony A. Laquis Sr., and has been owned and managed by the Laquis family for 66 years.  

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

United Computer Group: A Year in Review and 2014 Initiatives



We hope 2013 brought you good health, happiness, and success, and welcome this brand new year with enthusiasm and anticipation of even greater things to come.

Thank you for your past and future business. Our focus remains solidly in place to solve your business issues and pain points; help your business grow through our advanced technologies; and deliver an excellent client experience each and every time.

Please enjoy this inaugural edition of the UCG quarterly newsletter featuring highlights from 2013 and exciting new initiatives for 2014.

Wishing you the very best in the new year and beyond!

The United Computer Group Management Team and our Trusted Advisors

Seated left to right: Mike Powall, VP; Jim Kandrac, Founder & President; Pam Kandrac, VP

Standing left to right: Julie Mascioli, Administration Manager, VAULT400; Peter Bunevich, National Account Manager; Barbara Belovics, Accounting Manager; Homer Zion, CPA, Zion, Synek & Associates; David Horvath, Legal Counsel, Law Office of David J. Horvath; Frank Fantozzi, Financial Advisor, Planned Financial Services; Francine Ciaccia, Marketing Consultant, MoMo Companies Ltd.; Michael Seday, Senior Consultant; Timothy Prostor, Senior Technical Engineer; Gina Creager, Office Manager; Vladimir Capitanov, Senior Technical Engineer

For over 15 years, UCG has worked closely with our business partner, VAI, to offer their S2K Enterprise Management Software to our existing clients and prospects. In December, we launched a new segment to the UCG website dedicated to Enterprise Management Software.

UCG’s technology roadmap, our shared vision with VAI and IBM, provides companies with a business model based on best industry processes that leverage technology to create and improve performance.

Enterprise Management Software products include solutions for Distribution, Manufacturing, and Multi-channel Retail with industry-specific features for Apparel, Durable Goods, Food, and Pharmaceutical. In addition, web-based software provides mobile access enabling every user in the organization immediate anytime, anywhere computing.

Client benefits

As a team, UCG and VAI provide a uniquely crafted technology solution designed to meet clients' individual needs. UCG clients receive a complete Enterprise Management Software solution with secure data storage, plus world-class service and support from UCG and VAI experts. By integrating VAULT400 with S2K EMS, clients have peace of mind that their vital company information is safe, secure, and available when needed.

As we expand the breadth and depth of our organization, we help our clients compete at a very high level. By leveraging the flexibility and mobility that the web provides, they have unlimited growth potential.

To learn more about Enterprise Management Software for your business, contact us at 800.211.8798, email, or visit

United Computer Group, Inc.
7100 E. Pleasant Valley Road, Suite 250
Independence, OH 44131-5556
Toll Free: 800.211.8798

Main: 216.520.1333
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United Computer Group, Inc. January 2014 
Q1 Newsletter

 UCG in the News:
2013 Highlights

UCG Announces the IBM i Solution Edition for VAULT400
Protects critical data for mid-market firms.

UCG Rolls Out VAULT400 Reports

A web-enabled interface for centralized reporting containing details of their clients’ cloud protected data.

UCG Chosen Number One Business Partner by Austin Powder Company
"Year after year, UCG has added tremendous value as our technology business partner. Their commitment to continuous innovation and outstanding service to Austin Powder Company is a key component in helping us continue to achieve our business goals." - Larry Domzalski, Director of Information Technology and Services, Austin Powder Co.
United Computer Group and IBM i: Celebrating 25 Years of Success!
United Computer Group has been an IBM Business Partner since 1989 and an IBM Advanced Business Partner since 1991. Clients have rated UCG in the top 1% of IBM Business Partners nationwide.

Management Software (EMS) Welcome

IBM PartnerWorld 2013 Leadership Conference in Las Vegas Highlights:

James Kandrac and Paul Gillin discuss Niche Marketing

 Client Spotlight

UCG client Mansfield Plumbing Products upgrades its infrastructure to save money and improve operations.

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Subscribe to our VAULT400 Blog

Friday, January 03, 2014

Assessing Data Backup and DR for Your Business

What is your desired RTO and RPO? What are your business issues and pains as they relate to your current data protection and disaster recovery plan? How long can your business function without access to data and systems? These are just a few of the challenging questions facing businesses today.

The Recovery Time Objective (RTO) factors in the extent to which the disaster affects normal operations and the amount of revenue lost as the result of a disaster. Depending on your organization, the RTO may be measured in seconds, minutes, hours or days. 

Visit the UCG VAULT400 Resource Library to download a client case study showing results from one of our IBM iSeries (AS400). The client was using the less than 24 hour IBM iSeries Hardware Disaster Recovery Option (VAULT400 also offers < 12 hours, < 1 hour and IBM iSeries High Availability).

The timeline for backup and recovery begins when information is saved and ends when your system (or replacement IBM system, for example) is fully recovered after a failure. The specifics of the Disaster Recovery (DR) for their IBM iSeries can provide a reference point when evaluating your own IBM iSeries Disaster Recovery Plan.

To protect against natural disasters or other catastrophic events, many companies reply on tape-based backup or high availability. Companies looking to manage this challenging issue find cost effective solutions with IBM i Solution Edition for VAULT400 cloud backup and disaster recovery.

By selecting the IBM i Solution Edition for VAULT400, organizations gain significant IBM i pricing benefits, and an easy-to-manage cloud backup and disaster recovery solution that deliver a low total cost of ownership. For more information, call UCG at 800.211.8798, email, or visit

Can your business afford to wait?

Thursday, January 02, 2014

How to start a Maxava HA Configuration

Another informative video from our partners at +Maxava HA. This short training video shows you how to start Maxava HA configurations. 

Click here for video