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Staples Offering IT Services To Small, Medium-Size Firms

Hoping to take advantage of its position as a supplier to small and medium-size firms, Staples is branching out with a new offering that permits these companies to outsource their IT needs.

The service, Staples Network Services, is offered as a path to a full range of what it calls affordable IT services.

"Making it easy for businesses to meet their office needs is in our DNA; however there isn't anything easy about making the right decision about your IT environment," said Candy Murphy, vice president of Staples' Contract Technology Solutions.  "With the launch of Staples Network Services by Thrive, we allow people to focus on their business while we make sure their technology infrastructure is there to support them, seven days a week, 24 hours a day."

The company will initially offer three distinct services: Thrive Protect, Thrive Onsite and Thrive Online Backup.  Thrive Protect offers organizations everything they need to keep their IT infrastructure safe and operational, including:

* Anti-spam service, to filter out unwanted e-mail messages and maintain a manageable volume of e-mail;
* Anti-virus protection, to ensure workstations and servers are inoculated against potential threats;
* Anti-spyware technology, to protect PCs from dangerous malware;
* Patch management, to keep all systems up-to-date and in sync;
* Systems and network monitoring, to ensure maximum availability and quickly detect and resolve any potential issues;
* Remote support, to answer users' routine questions and provide helpdesk support; and
* Cross platform and open source support of Windows, Apple (MacOS X and MacOS X Server), and Linux solutions, providing seamless integration across disparate computing platforms. 

Thrive Onsite extends the Thrive Protect service by providing organizations with their own dedicated team of IT engineers who, on a regular basis, work on-site to perform services that can not be done remotely, and to provide in-person support to end-users.  Thrive Onsite will initially be available in the Boston and Atlanta areas, with support in other major metropolitan areas to follow.

Thrive Online Backup, another new Network Service, provides Businesses with Automatic Data Protection." The service makes it easy and economical for small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) to adopt the same kind of business continuity and disaster recovery plans previously available only to corporate enterprises. 

They can back up their systems, applications, and digital information to a secure remote facility, automatically and in real time.  In doing so, businesses get strong protection against all forms of data loss, including hard drive crashes, accidental deletion, natural disaster, theft and vandalism.

Jim Lippie, president of Staples Networks Services by Thrive, added, "We're in the business of providing great customer service and with more than 300 clients, we understand what our clients want.  They want us to take ownership of all the headaches, mysteries, and risk associated with maintaining a company's IT infrastructure, and make it so they never have to think about them again.  In a nutshell, they want us to make their IT problems go away, and that's exactly what we do."

"In today's business environment, organizations have to be prepared for all sorts of disasters - both natural and man-made - and can't afford to fall victim to downtime," observed Murphy. 

"Companies may think they're protecting themselves by backing up to tape, but studies have shown that more than a third of companies never test their backups, and of those that do, more than three quarters have found tapes that fail to restore properly.  Without a proven data protection plan, they're simply taking an unacceptable risk.  By offering a solution like Thrive Online Backup, we're putting enterprise-level protection within reach of any organization," she added.

Key benefits over traditional approaches to backup include:

* It's automatic - You don't need to think about or do anything to backup your data - Thrive just does it automatically.
* It's secure - Data is encrypted and stored securely, eliminating the potential for theft or damage.
* It's cost-effective - There's no software, hardware, or media to buy.
* It's simple - Backup happens automatically without human intervention, and recovery of data can be done anytime, from anywhere, with nothing more than a Web browser and a connection to the Internet.

"Small and medium-sized business customers and suppliers are increasingly savvy, with high expectations for immediate and personalized service and support.  But while expectations are rising, SMBs are also under pressure to do more with the same or fewer IT resources," said Lippe. 

"With limited IT staffs and their own set of unique storage challenges, it's really critical that they protect their most valuable asset - their information.  That's where Staples Network Services by Thrive comes in - we can take all of that worry off their plates, make IT work without them having to think about it, and give them the peace of mind that comes from knowing they're fully protected."

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