Episode 09: IT Infrastructure – Transitioning from the Office to the Home Office

In this episode, we are discussing transitioning to a home office during the COVID-19 crisis. We talk with IT expert, Scott Verbus, from Linear 1 Technologies who gives us insight into what people can do to make their work from home work-life more productive.

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Topics covered in today’s podcast include:

  • Zoom Conference Calls – discussing the security issues they encountered. Protect yourself by securing your home networks.
  • Why NOT to use your work office phone on your home modem.
  • How to protect data and simple tips/tricks to fully utilizing your home network for work.

A special ‘thank you’ to our guest expert, Scott Verbus from Linear 1 Technologies.

Show Transcript

Speaker 1 (00:15):

[Inaudible].

Matt Adams [Host] (00:17):

Hello everyone. This is Matt Adams from the fearless entrepreneur podcast. Welcome to this week’s episode where we’re going to be discussing transitioning from the Home Office to the home office. So welcome to our latest episode of the fearless entrepreneur podcast. This week. We are going to be talking about this transition. Obviously many of us have been doing this long before the quarantine was in place, but it’s, it’s relatively new for some businesses, but now that your business has grown, so has the logistical complexity I would imagine of your daily operations. I’m your host Matt Adams. And joining me today is my cohost, Matt Byrne and Mike Lunt. Mike is actually going to be behind the camera pushing buttons and trying to make a sound as good as possible. We are three business owners based in Dublin, Ohio with a wide range of business experience as well as an equally different business ventures that were on different paths. So so let’s bring in Matt Byrne. Matt how’s quarantine life treating you these days?

Matt Byrne [Guest Host] (01:16):

It’s a challenge on a daily basis. But thanks for having me. I’m looking forward to interviewing our guests and trying to figure out ways to stay safe and stay productive while working out of your home office. So thanks for putting this together, Matt.

Matt Adams [Host] (01:29):

Yeah, it’s no problem. Actually, if you can probably tell here I’m actually at the office, which I think is probably the safest place for me to be considering my house is running wild with distance learners toddlers. And probably the safest spot is for me to be right here at the at the office.

Matt Byrne [Guest Host] (01:49):

Yeah. Same. Same for me. We’re in, we’re in played benefits and insurance products are essential services, but there’s no one else at my office except for myself. And I joke that the lowest population density for me is here in my office where my house is full of people. But anyway, I’m staying safe. Hope everyone else is as well. And looking forward to sharing some of the things we’ve learned along the way about dealing with cov ID and different challenges businesses are facing with working from home and, and distance telecommuting and things of that nature. So looking forward to talking to our guests today.

Matt Adams [Host] (02:25):

Yeah. So before we get started, let me thank today’s sponsor Metro data center for providing us this this one gigabit or I’m sorry, gigabyte of blended internet. Be sure to check out their website@ www.metrodatacenter.com and also a new sponsor to the show, the Dublin entrepreneurial center known locally here as the deck and you can check them out online www.decindublin.com. So for our discussion today, I wanted to bring on a show, an IT expert to help answer some of our questions, maybe your questions as well, but to also us on how we can better protect our businesses. Linear 1 Technologies, they’re an it MSP Telephany ISP fiber provider. That is a mouthful that offers full scale business continuity and disaster recovery along with cybersecurity and cloud hosting. I’ve known and worked with the owner and CEO Scott Verbus of linear one for many years now and probably better describe his business as the peace of mind experts. Scott, welcome to the fearless entrepreneur.

Scott Verbus (03:29):

Hey, thanks. Thanks guys for having me on. I’m very, very honored to be on on with you guys and Matt and Mike behind the behind the buttons there.

Matt Adams [Host] (03:42):

It’s, it’s really the best place for him because every time he talks Matt’s going to make fun of his accent. So it’s probably better. It goes to 11. That’s a reoccurring joke in entrepreneurial podcast. Let’s make it 10. There’s no need for 11. Alright. Alright. So Scott, let me just jump right in here. I gotta ask you, I just saw in the news was just a couple of days ago with a zoom conference call. Everybody is on zoom. In fact, my team, we’ve gone to zoom conference calls much their own this may we do three calls a day, but it’s been great. We’ve been communicating, but there’s been some security issues. Can you, can you elaborate on that? Can you talk about what’s going on there?

Scott Verbus (04:29):

Yeah. we zoom had a really neat business model in that you didn’t have to have a already existing account with them. Like you do some others, you are, people are able to spin that up pretty quickly and, and move to using zoom. It’s got a really interesting interface. It’s very intuitive. But the, the inherent danger came when people were running a lot of these meetings from their home networks that don’t have the level of security that they have at their office or at their office building provides them because a lot of my clients we’ve got additional firewalls in their, in their system that the building itself may actually offer as well. And so it’s, it’s redundant, which is good. You can never have a little, you can never have too much when it comes to cybersecurity. So zoom was, was really the, the, the folks that got the real bad rap.

Scott Verbus (05:35):

It wasn’t any fault. The zoom really they did a few security faults, but it was more of the fact that people just jumped on zoom because it was the most noted and the most familiar and allowed people to get on and get their meetings going with their team and move forward. But unfortunately they didn’t have the security in place in their homes. And that’s where the problem was. It wasn’t really a problem with zoom per se. You know, we with linear, a lot of my clients, we use teams with Microsoft office three 65 and teams because of the way that you do have to have a secure Microsoft log in that a lot of times people can turn on two factor authentication. It lessen the amount of though I don’t, I haven’t actually heard of anybody that had any issues with teams.

Scott Verbus (06:32):

AWS has a product called chime chime again. You have to have a secured login and authentication method. And so I haven’t heard of anybody having any issues with that. So it was a, it was a thing of people had to get moving with meetings and so they didn’t have a choice but to go to zoom. So it’s not really a problem of video conferencing being that’s going to be I don’t wanna I don’t really care for all the fear-mongering that happened with it. Over over the news. It was more of a, people took advantage because they, they, they could, yeah. Yeah. So, so is

Matt Adams [Host] (07:15):

Are we, are we essentially getting all worked up about nothing? I mean, should it, I mean, or are there things that we need to maybe be doing with our home networks that we can, we can you know, tidy up this security issues? Or is it a nonissue?

Scott Verbus (07:32):

Well, yeah. I mean the zoom has, has done some stuff on their end from what I understand. I don’t definitely don’t mean to speak for zoom. I don’t want to get into those legalities. But they, they definitely did do some things on their end. And then they, they started to educate the people a little bit who were using their products. And some of the things that, that home users can do that aren’t necessarily tech support guys like us who know to do it inherently is to just have a fairly decent router. And when you, when you have that router set up in your home, the documentation that comes with most all routers nowadays is very robust and very easy to follow. And the first thing it tells you is to change that default password that gets used from the factory.

Scott Verbus (08:24):

And that single thing is very, very useful in securing a, a home network. Now if somebody that has the, the network knowledge and everything that if that’s what they do and they are a hacker and they want in a, there’s a good chance that they still may I don’t believe in, in, in false, you know, security, but you can do a whole lot to stop that kind of stuff that zoom have happened by just a little bit of a security with your, with your home network, with a router. It’s huge amount of security added right there.

Matt Adams [Host] (09:04):

Okay. All right. So now I’ve got, I don’t know if this is true or not. I did have I was talking with a colleague of mine and they were talking about that they were going to take home their office phone there and plug it into their network. And that way they, I only know how this would work, but is that something that can be done? Is it advisable? Should we be thinking about that? Should we just be forwarding calls to our cell phones? What do you think?

Scott Verbus (09:30):

Well, you know, speaking from a very intimate level of knowledge with, with doing this, since we are a telecom company that specializes in voice technology, which is voiceover IP yes, people can grab their desk phone and take it home. When you do that, you have to be mindful of how you plug it in though some folks that we were we were trying to catch them before they did it. They were taking the phone home and they were plugging it directly into their cable modem. So, you know, spectrum comes, comes in and spectrum puts in a cable modem in your home. They turn up your internet and for normal everyday life, that’s perfectly fine. And you’re perfectly safe. No one’s going to be doing anything to your, to your network or looking for anything on, on your network. But when you put a foam on that is continually pinging the network because it’s always saying, Hey, I, here I am ready for calls. I’m ready to take a call.

Scott Verbus (10:35):

The unfortunate folks in this world that enjoy, you know, they get enjoyment out of making life hell for the rest of us. We’re running a program called sip vicious and it grabs the phone and uses it for, for basically toll fraud and it can rack up pretty quickly. And the single best thing you can do is to not plug it into the modem, but plug it into your router that protects the phone from looking out onto the public network, onto Spectrum’s network. And being you know, everybody kind of knows that the term fishing in email was kind of the same thing. These, these folks look for ports that are always on and, and a phone dialing into the home, which is, you know, same. My network is going to be susceptible. And so we, we put documentation together, really quickly, educated our users and got everybody behind modems or I’m sorry, behind a router and when we haven’t had any more issues with it.

Scott Verbus (11:43):

There are software out there also that can afford all your phone, all your calls to your cell phone. And we’ve had a couple of clients that have done that as well. And another piece of software is called soft phone and it’s an application that runs on the computer that you can use with a, with a simple headset with a boom mic and it will make the phone calls for you and receive the phone calls as if it’s a phone sitting in front of you, but it’s, it’s on your laptop or, or on your desktop. And there’s even a few of them out there that work on your, on your cell phone so that you’re not calling clients from your private cell phone. And you can still have that number masked when you make a call over a data connection. You have to have a wifi connection for that phone. But you know, I don’t want to get too far into the weeds for the purpose of the podcast, but there are a lot of options to allow people to very effectively and usefully work from home.

Matt Byrne [Guest Host] (12:44):

Yeah, thanks for that Scott. It’s really important to kind of protect yourself and make sure as you’re switching locations and office home basis that you’re taking care of those things. I’ve been running into a lot of quality issues or I’ve heard from my clients that they’re, you know, with between the kids and all their tablets and iPhones and zoom meetings with teachers. I was wondering if you had any feedback for why or sometimes we, when we try to work from home, sometimes we hear, you know, packet loss or you know the fidelity of our calls aren’t as high. Sometimes the speed of our browsers aren’t as fast, you know, tell us what’s going on there and some of the ways that we can fix that.

Scott Verbus (13:22):

Well, a lot of what you’re seeing there is just the nationwide grid as a whole, as an infrastructure as a whole was very taxed. Very, very quickly. I mean because we were, everybody was kind of saying the joking on social media washed your hands. All everybody’s hoarding tele toilet paper. But all of a sudden you know, pretty much almost across the country, everybody went from working in the office to working at home and that put a lot of undue stress on a lot of networks that were that were never really needed for the, for what you’re doing with it. In a, in a good way to put that is a computer or a gaming system can recuperate very, very quickly. When it comes to a packet loss. You very rarely do you see any issue or anything like that.

Scott Verbus (14:20):

When you go to, when you go to spin up a browser and it may take four to five seconds to load a wit to load a website that’s effectively packet loss. It’s either the, the connection to the website or the website is slow or something of that nature. With phones, they do not recover from packet loss very well at all. They almost always will. Higher, you’ll hear the echo where you hear yourself over and over again or you get the, or you get the dead space where it’s like somebody freezing in time and then the voice tries to catch up and then it freezes again and makes a conversation, you know, very, very difficult. That is exacerbated when you have a grid that is also having to deal with all the additional gaming devices because let’s face it, you know, gaming has reported a humongous uptick in daytime players on all of the, the systems that keep track of that and kids on all their e-learning.

Scott Verbus (15:29):

You know, my son is upstairs right now on his Chromebook and his laptop working with Google classroom with all of his teachers and that doing Google meetings and stuff like that, that eats up bandwidth optimization in the home network can work. If you have the knowhow or you have someone that can, you can log into your router if you have one. And you can set what’s called quality of service and you can tell it to give all the bandwidth and quality of service to your foam technology. Not your gaming and they all use very different ports and the, the, the network equipment is smart enough to know that. So when you plug your phone into the back of that router and you have the quality of service turned on for that particular port, you’re going to see a definite uptick in call quality and stability. Again, it’s not something that the average everyday non-techie can do, but there’s a lot of technology, there’s a lot of Google information out there for it. You also have a, all of us it guys at your disposal. I’ve done it for a number of my clients on their home network. We normally don’t touch home networks, but we’ve had to make exceptions during this this trying time to be able to have them up and working. So we’ve had to adapt the same as, you know, almost everybody else.

Matt Adams [Host] (17:00):

Yeah, I would imagine that that being the case and this is probably going to become the new normal. Right? I mean, I think a lot of people are getting very used to working from home and you know, Hey, I, I’m, yes, I’m in a technology field with marketing and, and I’m kind of a still old school that, Oh, you gotta be in the office. I want my team here, the collaborate. But this has kind of forced me into a place of comfort working with my team remotely. You know, I could see this kind of becoming a new normal for us and that’s probably going to be the case with a lot of industries. So obviously when you’re a business you’ll be adapting to that then I assume.

Scott Verbus (17:39):

Yeah. Yeah. We, you when you, when you say that you’re, the people that own a commercial real estate are probably shaking in their boots right now because there’s going be a, there’s going to be a, probably a huge uptick in folks working from home because a lot of companies that prior to that always thought, Oh, it’s too expensive. It’s too complicated. My it group will never support it. They are realizing that, you know, we out of necessity, they had to kind of break through those, those fear barriers and we are able to support it once we get up our net. Once we’ve gotten our clients spun up at home and get the gremlins worked out of how they had their networks set up prior, we haven’t had to touch it. And that makes them realize that there is a lot of benefit to working from home.

Scott Verbus (18:29):

Now I’m with you, Matt. I’m still old school like that. Even though I own a cutting edge technology company but I still like to be able to go and have a meeting once or twice a week with my team and everybody’s there and everybody’s collaborating, collaborative, collaborative. And it, I think that, that, that adds a level of camaraderie that you’ld never will get with with a video call. But we also have clients that they got two people that live in the office and they have 30 that are out in the field that are already used to this. So you’re going to see, I think you’re going to see a big uptake in people working from home and yes it, companies such as mine are going to have to adapt and get get better at and safer at supporting home networks.

Matt Byrne [Guest Host] (19:16):

Yeah. For my business it’s been huge. You know, we were very telephonic in nature and whether we’d be at home in our home office or actually physical at our place of employment or on the road visiting a client using, you know, technology and, and you know, presence management where your cell phone can either serve as your desk phone. I can call, you know, a client right now for my cell phone using my voice over IP and it will look like I’m calling them right from my desk. They can also call my desk and it’ll come to my cell phone and I can answer it on the fly. Now that’s all contingent on good wifi and good technology and good partners like Scott Verbus at linear one to make sure everything’s working properly. But you know, we’ve helped over a hundred small businesses get access to employee benefits. Last year, almost entirely by telephone. So the world’s changing and, and these types of things are forcing companies to get on board and, and see how these types of technologies in these remote working strategies might work for them. So it’s pretty exciting.

Scott Verbus (20:19):

We’re in the process of, I’m sorry Matt. No, no, no, no. Please go ahead. Continue. I just want to say that, that, you know, building on what Matt was saying is we’re, we’re looking at taking what models worked for, for individuals like Matt over its firelight and allowing that to be packaged to be easier for the individuals who thought working remotely or purely from a phone was very difficult and hard to manage. We’re taking those known good models and going to, going to package them so they have a better marketing wrapper so that they’re easier for people to wrap their head around that it actually can work for you. As long as you have a good team and you have a good leader that can communicate. And that’s what we’ve seen. We, the clients that were very easy to transition from home are, sorry, from the office to home had really good communication with their, with their employees. And that was, that was huge. So,

Matt Adams [Host] (21:30):

All right. As you know, because you’ve been working with us working for my company and doing different things for us, you know, that if I can get into it, I can break it. So for others that are out there like me you know, calling you know, it professionals, this is your chance, you know, give us your pitch. What, what could we do to reach out to to you, Scott to linear one. You know, what’s, what are some of the things that we should come prepared for in a conversation with you to help us out, maybe in our, in our current situation you know, we’ve gotta, you know, take care of our networking issues. We’re not having you know, our immediate needs. How can you solve our immediate needs? And then ultimately transition that to the, the once we’re done with a Corona virus and everything gets back to the normal, the new normal, how you’ll be able to help us.

Scott Verbus (22:23):

With, with the two big things we saw that people needed to have some solutions for right off the bat when they went from office to home was one, their, their telephony. And then two was actually accessing to their inside networks. And it was surprising the amount of folks that didn’t want to set up VPN technology prior to all of this happening. And then all of a sudden they had no way for their people to get into their inside files. Everybody was used to coming from or coming into the office and having access there. And so what we can see happening as we move forward and something that, that linear is very good at doing is, is cloud hosting and cloud support for moving servers and file storage and things like that into the cloud where it’s accessible as long as you have internet access now they’re, they’re password protected, two factor authentication, things like that.

Scott Verbus (23:27):

We can work with financial institutions, medical we’re, we’re HIPAA compliant and and SOC, SOC two compliance. So we can move folks into the, and we’re going to probably see a lot of that. There’s going to be an exit us into the cloud I think after this because people are gonna notice that they gotta be able to get to their data from in the office as well as from home or a Starbucks or an airport if they’re traveling and they get stuck. So we’re linear is positioned nicely because of we’ve got a a really robust fiber optic based network. We do host some stuff in the Metro data center. As you guys know, my office is in the deck along with with you guys. And that’s not where I’m at today. I’m enjoying my corner office of the house, but it’s, it’s going to see a lot of people that can go to a linear it.net and in there we’ve got a, we’ve got a chat function that we monitor during normal business hours. As well as we’ve got a support request form on there that people can fill out. It comes to the team and then, you know, we, we would need to know what you’re trying to accomplish that is immediate versus what I’d like to have. So I always like to say,

Scott Verbus (24:49):

Mmm, well wants versus needs. As long as you have those, we can figure out the rest.

Matt Byrne [Guest Host] (24:57):

I think that’s a fair, fair assessment assessment. Matt, do you have anything before we try to maybe wrap this up for the day? No, I think this has been really helpful and really good. You know, I think that certainly Scott’s mentioned that of cloud computing and you know, two factor authentication. It kind of is a different solve than it used to be. Right? A lot of server base siloed technologies and applications living, you know, physically at a location and cloud computing. You know, while it does put everything in the cloud, it makes it a lot more accessible. There’s also different set of security rules that need to be done properly and welded to keep that data safe and easy to get. But you know, I think that it’s, it’s all very promising and, and getting partners like Scott to kind of show us the way is, is huge.

Matt Byrne [Guest Host] (25:44):

So I think that’s it. You know, for me, I just feel like we’re challenging ourselves and our businesses to grow and pivot and kind of look at new ways of doing business and new ways of accessing clients and new ways of allowing our employees to be productive. And that can be, you know, a lot of these, these voiceover internet phones have software management technologies where you can look at talk time and dials, inbound calls, outbound calls, you know, very useful stuff when you’re kind of measuring, you know, for example, sales productivity or, or customer service, you know, hold times and things like that. So the how you manage a technology centric company changes but it’s still possible and I think it’s pretty exciting to, to, to use some leverage some of these technologies to grow our businesses and not be stuck in the box of we all need to show up in the same brick and mortar thing we’ve always done.

Matt Byrne [Guest Host] (26:35):

But I like most people on this podcast and certainly many of you listening, I think nothing will substitute. What I remember a presenter had said to me at a, at a conference down in Florida, he said there’s some, there’s something called the critical yard and that’s the three feet between you and me. It’s really hard in the, in the days of social distancing where we have to be six feet apart where we’re not really allowed to meet with our employees or our clients. But eventually when things get back to normal, it’s all about trying to create that connection in the three feet between you and me. But it doesn’t mean that there’s not a host of technologies that can help accelerate that pipeline and, and feed your business’s ability to have those quality connections with your clients, your employees and your partners. It just doesn’t have to be 24, seven people sitting in desks and chairs at some office building.

Matt Adams [Host] (27:24):

So thoughts on that? That’s, thank you Matt. So Scott, I guess we’ll go, I’ll give you the last thought here. If there’s any, any major takeaway, any tip you know, I know you’re doing some exciting things. They’re quite maybe not quite ready for prime time yet. Things you want to reveal in due time. Maybe anything you want to talk about today, you feel free to mention it. But you know, if there’s anything, one, one good takeaway as a business owner or as an it professional that you’d like to share with our audience. Love to hear it.

Scott Verbus (27:56):

Yeah, we, we’ve, we definitely have we recently grew considerably so we’ve got some things cooking a few things got put on the back burner because we had to, we had to make sure we took care of, of what happened here. But one of the things we were going to be doing is we’re going to definitely be looking really hard at the the video phone technologies out there that can work with our already existing phone system. And it allows people to where they don’t have to have a camera here on their phone or on, on their on their computer and an additional microphone over here or go buy a special microphone here or there. It’s all built into the phone that’s already at your desk. They have seven inch display, stuff like that. So that’s going to be one of the things we’re going to really use to let people know that you can do this. And you can still have interactions with your employees rather than just a phone call. And that, that’s going to be fairly soon after all this is over the, we’re going to try and get people to to get educated on what we’re going to go, what direction we’re going to go with that.

Matt Adams [Host] (29:04):

That’s exciting. Well, Scott, thank you so much for joining us today. This is Scott Verbus from Linear 1 Technologies and a thank you to also to our sponsors Metro data center and the Dublin entrepreneur center. It’s Dublin entrepreneurial center. I, I my office right. [inaudible] Try to spell entrepreneurial. Right. Finally, I think after, after three years of being here, I can spell it. I think folks, this podcast is available on Apple, Google play, Spotify and iHeart radio. Wherever else you get your podcasts, and we encourage you to hit that subscribe button to see and hear the latest episodes as they are released. Don’t forget, please leave us a review. It helps us to reach other entrepreneurs like yourselves. So if you have a topic that you would like for us to address, discuss, or questions, do so in the in the comments below shoot us an email. Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook at the fearless entrepreneur podcast, and you can also read more about us on our website, the fearless entrepreneur, podcast.com. That’s all from us today. So until next time, folks stay fearless.