When we call Dr. Networking, it means that we either need new machines incorporated into our system or we have exhausted our expertise and have a problem that we cannot sort out ourselves. Their staff is always friendly and calm, which is especially helpful in the middle of a computer crisis! They keep an eye on our system and recommend upgrades as needed to maintain smooth operation of our network. It is such a relief to know that we do not have to be our own IT experts.
~ Tanya Graham, Executive Director, Geos Institute
We recently spoke with Tonya Graham, the executive director of the Geos Institute, for a look into an Ashland-based business that is doing vital work on solutions for climate change. We also checked in with Clif Schieck, the owner of Dr. Networking, for an in-depth explanation of the highly detailed and sophisticated computer system he and his team have set up for the Geos Institute.
Dr. Networking: Thank you for talking with us today, Tonya. The Geos Institute has been in business for quite a long time. Please tell us a little about the company and its work.
Tonya Graham: The Geos Institute began 42 years ago as a regional organization focused on forest and water conservation. Ten years ago we merged with another regional organization and shifted our focus to helping leaders address climate change as it relates to forests, rivers, and communities. We help decision-makers create climate change solutions that matter; by that we mean solutions that work for people and nature, address the causes and impacts of climate change, and endure over time.
DN: Can you please describe the services you now provide?
TG: As a science-based civic organization, rather than a for-profit company, the Geos Institute provides services to help local leaders and land and water managers make responsible decisions that address the causes and impacts of climate change. We publish and communicate science about climate change impacts, build partnerships to showcase on-the-ground solutions, and guide leaders in making ecologically sound climate change decisions.
Our initiatives include Working Waters, which helps water managers respond to climate change; ClimateWise, which helps local leaders respond to climate change; and Forest Legacies, which helps forest managers respond to climate change.
DN: The Geos Institute certainly does incredibly important work, both locally and regionally. It must take a special, highly qualified staff to produce such work. Please tell me a little bit about the people who work for the Geos Institute.
TG: Our staff is made up of technical and process experts, most of whom work out of our local office in Ashland. I serve as the executive director of the Institute and work primarily with Marni Koopman, Jessica Leonard, and Christina Mills on the ClimateWise initiative. Dominick DellaSala serves as the Institute’s chief scientist and directs the Forest Legacies initiative. Cathy Kellon leads our Working Waters initiative based out of Portland, Oregon. Patricia Johnson keeps our financial house in order.
DN: It sounds like an environment that depends heavily on a strong, functional computer system.
TG: Yes, we rely heavily on Dr. Networking to keep us running smoothly. We have been working with them for over six years.
DN: What do you like about Dr. Networking?
TG: We appreciate the quick service as well as the deep knowledge of our system and the technology that supports it. When we call Dr. Networking, it means that we either need new machines incorporated into our system or we have exhausted our expertise and have a problem that we cannot sort out ourselves. Their staff is always friendly and calm, which is especially helpful in the middle of a computer crisis! They keep an eye on our system and recommend upgrades as needed to maintain smooth operation of our network. It is such a relief to know that we do not have to be our own IT experts.
DN: Do you work with one technician in particular?
TG: We mostly work with Clif and appreciate his undercover, superhero way. He looks every bit Clark Kent when he walks in, but we know he has a cape under that green polo shirt. Clif makes sure he handles what we need quickly and with as little disruption to our operations as possible. Then he slips out the door and is down the road on his way to save another client with a computer emergency. No muss, no fuss. That’s how we like our superheroes.
DN: How has Dr. Networking helped you in a computer emergency?
TG: Not too long ago we had an aging laptop self-destruct. Dr. Networking helped us select and order the replacement computer, loaded all of the programs necessary to make it work, and then did a Herculean effort to recover files, some of which we had not saved in the correct place. And they put in place a temporary system so that the staff person was able continue working while they got the new system up and running. I can’t imagine what that process would have been like if we were left to our own devices or were working with someone who did not have such an intimate knowledge of our system.
DN: How has Dr. Networking helped you in the general set-up for your computer needs?
TG: Dr. Networking helped us design our network and backup system, which includes managing a large amount of climate data as well as providing secure remote access for our staff when they are away from the office. The Dr. Networking team has worked to ensure that our server is the right technology and size for what we need. I appreciate that they monitor the whole system and bring issues to me before they become emergencies. They have set up two servers for us over the years, and each time the transition has been exceptionally smooth.
We consider Dr. Networking to be a trusted member of our team. They are dependable, and they know what they are doing. But just as importantly, they know how much we care about what we do, and they have shown us over the years that we can count on them to remove technology obstacles from our path as soon as they appear.
DN: How does working with Dr. Networking support your staff?
TG: Our staff faces the very daunting issue of climate change on a daily basis. By ensuring that they have the right technology and that it works consistently, we are able to create a productive environment free at least of the frustrations that come from limping along without adequate IT help. That productive environment helps us translate our staff’s dedication and expertise into significant progress on the issues we are tackling.
DN: Why would you recommend Dr. Networking to others?
TG: They are trustworthy and very good at what they do. Once Dr. Networking is on the job, the near panic that comes with having a serious computer problem we don’t know how to fix simply melts away. I used to carry a general anxiety about computer issues because I knew I did not have the expertise to know if our system had major vulnerabilities. Having Dr. Networking as part of our team has helped us ensure a productive work environment and freed us from the constant anxiety that comes with not having adequate IT expertise in house.
DN: Tonya, we really value our relationship with you and look forward to many years of working together. Thank you so much for your time today.
TG: My pleasure.
The Geos Institute is located at 84 Fourth Street, Ashland, Oregon, 97520. www.geosinstitute.org.
We checked in with Clif to talk with us about the Geos Institute’s extensive computer system. As Clif says, the company is a shining example of embracing current technology for every aspect of their technical system.
DN: Clif, you are a busy guy. Thanks for taking a moment to tell us some of the secret weapons you deploy as the Geos Institute’s superhero.
Clif Schieck: The Geos Institute provides a really important service, and it’s vital to keep their system functionally smoothly at all times. This company is a perfect example of a client who has adopted changes in technology, especially all the cloud technologies. We have simplified their technology so it runs smoothly with fewer issues, and they now have tremendous computing power for their climate studies and data.
The Geos Institute used to be on an email exchange server, which they ran in-house. It was difficult for them to access their email on multiple devices, and there were numerous Outlook email issues. When we started working with them over six years ago, we brought on all the new changes in technology. Now their requirement for 24/7 tech support has been eliminated, since everything runs smoothly and there is no need for a tech to be on call all the time. Also, the money they spend on tech support decreased along with their stress. No more emergency calls with broken technology!
DN: How do they manage their email now?
CS: We set them up with Google corporate apps. This way, they can keep their domain name, but all of their email goes through Google, which does a great job keeping up on spam blocking and virus scanning. They use the corporate version of Google Calendar, and all of their iPhones and Android phones are synced to the calendar. This way, they can keep their schedules up to date across all their devices: desktop computers, traveling laptops, phones, and tablets. They basically have one integrated universe.
The Geos Institute has a mix of Macs and PCs, which are all integrated together. Since two of their staff members live and work remotely, one in Portland and the other on the East Coast, it’s really important that all their computers are linked together. All of their staff members can work from their laptops and access the work network by VPN when they’re traveling on business.
DN: Can you give us a rundown of what programs the Geos Institute uses for various services?
CS: They use Google Docs, Google Drive, and Dropbox for their documents, which they store and share in the cloud as well as back up to a local server. Skype is used for global video conferencing and QuickBooks Enterprise for accounting. For firewall security, we have set up a SonicWALL router, which protects against hackers. We also installed TeamViewer for tech support, which is how we can work on their computers remotely. And to preserve all their work, they have cloud backup as well as redundant local backup for all their data.
DN: Wow, that is quite a system. It sounds like they are well structured and really protected.
CS: Yes, if all companies embraced current technology like the Geos Institute has done, they would have much less downtime and fewer problems when things do go wrong. I really appreciate that the Geos Institute has put their faith in us and considers us team members.
DN: Clif, thanks for explaining this in clear, easy to understand terms, another reason Dr. Networking clients love working with you!
CS: Okay, I’m off to put on my superhero cape now.
Clif can often be found in his Clark Kent guise driving the streets of the Rogue Valley, heading to the next company to save from the grip of poor computer systems and backups. To find out more about Dr. Networking’s services, call 541.488.8765 or drop by their office at 485 E. Main Street, Ashland.