Long View Goes All In For Calgary Corporate Challenge

October 8, 2013
From September 6th to 21st, Long View participated in the Calgary Corporate Challenge (CCC), along with over 180 other Calgary companies! The CCC is a volunteer-driven event for Calgary’s business community. It is made up of athletic events as well some not - so - athletic events. In a manner similar to the Olympics, the CCC has opening and closing ceremonies and a philosophy that places more emphasis on sportsmanship and spirit than it does winning. So, pretty much an ideal thing for us at Long View to get involved in. This year marked the second year that we have participated and also my second time for organizing our team. 65-70 Long View employees signed up to compete in events ranging from a 10km run, to foosball, to donating blood. We registered in the mini division, where companies can choose to participate in up to 10 different events. And of course we went all in and registered for the full 10! Our games were kicked off with a fantastic start when we had the honor of having our own Jeff Matthews run the last leg of the torch relay during the opening gala, lighting the torch at Eau Claire Market in front of thousands of spectators! We went on to take silver medals in both foosball and volleyball as well as a bronze in the 10km run. One of the most challenging and competitive events is urban orienteering and we placed seventh in it; something I’m pretty proud of. Participating in the Calgary Corporate Challenge and organizing a team as large as ours at Long View can be lots of work. But, it is a hugely rewarding experience that brings people together from different parts of our business and spreads the Long View spirit among our peers in corporate Calgary. I can’t wait until next year.
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Service Delivery is a Team Game

October 7, 2013
I had the pleasure of attending Long View’s 2014 Fiscal Kick-off – and this is one of my favorite events for a reason. Not only is it amazingly well organized, but I also find it energizing to be around the revenue engine of our company. During Kick-off I was encouraged to try something new. Road biking. Although I have ridden mountain bikes extensively and am an avid cycle commuter, road biking was something new to me. I could not have asked for better stewards for my first rides:  Alex Stieda, Michael Kochorek and Gord Mawhinney. Each morning we would set out for an hour long ride prior to the busy day of sessions. I marveled at the efficiency and power great cyclist can ride with. What I did not realize is how important the subtleties of communication and team work is during a ride. As the leader of the group, you pull your mates along in a draft. When you tire, your team mate taps you aside and you fall back into line to recover as the next leader pulls the team forward. The lead cyclist has a responsibility to communicate about debris on the road or status of street lights. There is a passing of information along the line as you ride to ensure the whole team is aware of the surroundings. When one team mate isn’t in sync (in this case me, who could not keep up on the hills) disaster can strike. Just ask Michael. This got me to thinking about Service Delivery and the importance of engaging the full Long View team for Service Delivery success. It is an obvious statement to suggest that great service delivery relies on competent, well trained consultants. But it’s the subtleties that will determine the success of any service delivery engagement if we are to create lasting relationships with our customers. In fact, service delivery success starts from the first meeting between the customer and our sales people. It continues as our architecture or procurement groups get involved in delivery of a quotation. Engagement of management, could be service delivery, sales management or executives, at the appropriate time fosters additional engagement points for our customers. These are all critical steps to ensuring world class service delivery. I would challenge each of you, in your role today, to determine how you contribute to excellent service delivery and who else should you engage to round out the team.  I would be pleased to be part of any of your current or future service delivery engagements.
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VMware’s VMworld – Anything But Conventional

October 1, 2013
This August marked VMworld’s 10th Annual Conference in San Francisco, CA. The first VMworld conference in 2004 was attended by 1600 people, and this year the conference attracted over 23,000 attendees. Long View has been a participant at every VMworld since the beginning. With a mandate to provide training, hands on experience, product research and analysis, and networking opportunities, VMworld is a convention that takes virtualization to the next level.  For those of you unable to attend, below are links to keynotes, popular sessions, and blog coverage. VMworld 2013 Keynotes: Top Ten Most Popular Sessions: VMworld 2013 Blog Coverage:
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Supporting End Users

October 1, 2013
The staff at Long View who support our End Users never cease to amaze.  In the nearly 8 years that I have been a part of this team, we have seen substantial growth in our End User Computing offerings - service desk, desk side support, ITIL, ITSM Assessments - just to name a few.  A true ground up approach of building a service desk grew out of our Managed Services NOC (Network Operations Centre) and today 250 staff support over 50 service desk clients. When you embark on such a journey you can see the footprints of those that have worked so hard.  From the team that selected our tool to support our clients, to our staff that daily stand as the first point of contact for users, to the clients’ IT departments that we represent.  These dedicated professionals are the reason our service desk customers regularly provide Long View with recognition for going above and beyond just average service.  Words like “exceptional”, “approachable”, “service-minded” have been used by our customers when commenting on the service these teams provide.  It’s a privilege to be able to represent our customers to their customers by becoming the first face of IT they often see. This year we embark on yet another journey by creating a new service access channel.  We are calling this “Self –Selection”.  The user can now choose which service desk agent they would like to talk to through the use of interfaces such as Microsoft Lync and Cisco Jabber - launching video, desktop remote support has just gone to the next level.  We will also be creating a first line social networking ability that will allow staff and clients to reach out directly to each other first, if they so choose.   True Level 0 support, utilizing the many social medial tools available today.  This will meet the needs of the engaging digital players who are now entering our workforce at a steady rate. Watch us grow at Long View and the End User Computing team, and keep up with the latest news by following us on Twitter @LongViewSystems.
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So What Does the VP of Services Do?

September 30, 2013
How do you answer the question,“ So what does the VP of Services do anyway?” when your Mom asks? One of the great honours of being promoted into a position that no one has held before in Long View is that you have free license to create your jobs mandate. Through the creative process three vectors seemed to be the most critical: First, an internal perspective. The services business in Long View requires 850 people to deliver across a broad geographic expanse – that’s a big number. The VP of Services must advocate for the services business at the executive level as well as support the branches – the primary financial unit of the company – as an overlay for the successful execution of services.  Most importantly, however, this role must provide support, escalation, and representation for our largest staff population, the team of technical professionals who make Long View the services company it is today. Second, an external perspective. This role is a critical engagement point with our customers and the industry. There is a responsibility to successfully steer relationships with new and existing customers in good times and in bad. Long View must also be seen as the go-to service delivery organization by the industry both in traditional and new verticals. Third, an innovation perspective. Incumbent on the VP of Services is to ensure we are constantly innovating to remain relevant to our staff, customers, and partners.  Innovation does not always mean bringing a new product to market it can also mean finding new more efficient or better ways to provide an existing service we already do – Shared Services is just one example. So then my Mom just cocked her head to the side and looked at me and said, “Fine but what do you actually do”. So I replied, “I go to lots of meetings, talk to lots of people inside and outside our company and fly around on planes.” To which she closed, “Now I understand – I am so proud of you.” Which felt nice. Follow me on twitter - @pedge07
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Long View Takes on An Epic Ride

September 17, 2013
On August 10th and 11th, I hit the road with a crew of Long View employees from the Calgary and Edmonton offices for the Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer. I took the ride on because I can. And I wanted to do it for all of the people that can’t. Cancer is a horrible disease that has hurt the lives of so many friends and family. I know far too many that have felt this. We need to make a difference in whatever way we can. On the ride I chose to take my time and to talk to people, to hear their story and to honor their story in that way. The ride was definitely epic. We pedaled 220 kilometers over two days, riding through beautiful Kananaskis country to Okotoks and then completing the ride in Calgary. The ride features a fully catered camp-out on the Saturday night and then Sunday is the return trip to our origin point. It was a surreal and inspirational site to see thousands of tents pitched in a huge field; temporary homes to the huge army of us that had taken up this challenge. We had some team members that were seasoned riders and they were right among the first groups to finish Saturday’s 118km in just over three hours - our President, Gord Mawhinney, was one of them! There were also some of us that had just started cycling and had trained specifically for the ride - like me! I was captain of our Edmonton office’s team and we have Alex Stieda working with us. Alex is a cycling celebrity, the first ever North American to wear the Yellow Jersey in the Tour de France, in 1986. He organized a beginner’s riding group, taking us out riding around Edmonton and showing us the ways of the road. Laura Vezer was captain of the Calgary team and they were doing similar rides in the months leading up to the event, as well. I’ve worked with Long View for over a year now, and based on the degree in which everyone around me rallied to support our Ride to Conquer Cancer, and the determination and commitment we all displayed in finishing the ride, I’m totally convinced of that special Long View culture that I’d heard about when I first started. We are all so much stronger together, and the way our incredible team united to complete the ride is such an illustration of this. Long View was able to raise over $53,000 for research through the 19 of us that participated. I might be biased, but based on the fact that the Calgary Herald used a photo of us for their story on the ride, and the organizers also chose a Long View photo for their social media broadcasts, suggests that they might have agreed that there was an extra special quality to our team!
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Staying Modern: Learning by Helping Guide the Ones that Teach

September 9, 2013
It goes without saying that Information Technology (IT) is constantly shifting as the discipline evolves. IT professionals can’t afford to rely strictly on what they’ve done, and must continually work to stay ahead of the industry in order to be truly competent. And at Long View we pride ourselves on our competency. It is, after all, one of our core values. One way that I’ve been able to give back to Long View is by sitting as an advisor on the committee that helps shape the curriculum for the Bachelor of Computer Information Systems (BCIS) program at Mount Royal University (MRU), here in Calgary. Students that complete the four-year program receive a BCIS in Computer Information Systems. Three years ago, I was approached to be a participant on the Advisory Committee. The committee is comprised of twelve people from different organizations and various disciplines within the IT industry. There are Chief Information Officers, Directors, Managers and other very experienced IT professionals. Everybody brings expertise and experience to the committee and offers feedback on what the industry is doing, what the trends are, and where this area is headed in the future. Our input is used by the faculty to adjust the curriculum for the following semester or for future years. That way, the graduates are more future-proof when they are ready to find jobs; the skills and education they receive are current and they can move into real world careers without having to update their skills again after they just completed the program. Being on this advisory committee has also been great for my role as Client Services Manager at Long View. One thing that I’ve found to be very valuable is being connected to the other committee members. I’ll get updates and perspectives from these senior people in other disciplines and I can bring all of that back to my team and to the Long View community, in order to better help us stay ahead. It is an interesting circle. The committee helps shape what the professors teach, and in turn we are constantly learning and evolving and moving things forward.
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You spin me right ‘round: Cisco and the Tour of Alberta

September 5, 2013
You spin me right ‘round: Cisco and the Tour of Alberta We wanted to share with you a post written by Mark Collins, VP of Marketing at Cisco Canada, about the Tour of Alberta. Here is Mark’s talk with Alex Stieda, a Canadian cycling legend: As the first ever televised professional cycling stage race in Western Canada, a six-stage sanctioned UCI 2.1 Pro Stage Race featuring global professional teams racing through the amazing landscape of Alberta, draws near I was excited to sit down with Canadian cycling legend Alex Stieda to talk about the inaugural Tour of Alberta, starting today. Mark Collins: For those readers who aren’t familiar with Alex Stieda, professional cyclist, you were the first North American to ever wear the yellow jersey in the Tour de France. Tell us what that was like and how the Tour of Alberta came to be. Alex Stieda: Winning the Yellow Jersey was a special honour – many pros have ridden the Tour de France for multiple years and have never worn Yellow, never mind winning a stage. I was truly humbled by the whole experience and the next day, I was encouraged by an 11-year veteran of the Tour to be sure that I finished to show that I was worthy of wearing it – sprinting down the Champs-Élysées on the last day was a very special moment for me. The Tour of Alberta has been a dream of mine for 10 years. Two years ago my co-founder of the race, Jared Smith, was able to match him and me up with an Alberta government agency (Rural Alberta Development Fund) who realized that this type of event would showcase their work with the rural communities of the province. Ever since then, we‘ve had a dedicated team of people working hard to bring it to fruition – I can’t wait for it to begin! MC: So I have to ask, because you’re from Ontario. Why the province of Alberta? AS:  As much as I love Ontario, Alberta is my home. And my company, Long View, has deep roots here. We value our relationship with the province, and Cisco’s relationship with the province, so we saw this as an opportunity to show what Alberta can offer the world. The Tour de France is a showcase for the country. You could even call it a 21-day infomercial for it.  We approach the Tour of Alberta the same way. We want to show everything we know that is amazing about Alberta to the rest of the world – the mountains, the prairies and everything in between. And in the wake of what happened with the floods this summer, it’s important for us to continue with this Tour. MC: How has television changed cycling since you competed in the Tour de France in 1986? AS: It’s completely changed it for the better. TV has popularized cycling and allowed fans to follow in ways never before possible. Now you can watch the cyclists at the beginning of the stage, and go on the journey with them right until the end. This is what we hope our fans experience at the tour this year. We want them to utilize mobile devices to follow their favourite athletes and re-create that television experience – where they can ‘see’ what is happening at all points of the race – right at the event. MC: Moving onto your current role as a senior account manager with Long View, a Cisco Gold partner, there is an interesting new service you’re launching called Long View OnDemand.  Can you tell us a bit more about what LVoD is and why you are introducing it? AS: Long View OnDemand is our complete cloud solution for customers.  As a Cisco Cloud Builder partner, we’ve built this based on Cisco and NetApp’s FlexPod technology. That’s a lot of tech-speak, but it means our customers can be confident their data is safe in our hands.  It’s important that our customers know they are getting the best solution, and this is it. As to why we are introducing Long View OnDemand, I think of it this way. If you are a company that houses your data locally – that is, in your office – and your back up is also in that same location, what happens if there is a flood? Or a power surge? Or you need to add racks? Not all companies have the resources to adequately protect their data, or to even keep up with growth. We do.  And I think there are a lot of businesses that can benefit from hosting their data with us. My sincere thanks to Alex for taking the time to talk to me about his career, the Tour of Alberta and Long View OnDemand. If you’d like to follow the inaugural Tour of Alberta this September 3-8, the complete broadcast schedule is available on the Tour of Alberta website.
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Olympian Simon Whitfield, The Gran Fondo and Failure

September 4, 2013
As some of you know, for the past two years a few Long View employees along with some of our clients and partners have had the amazing chance to pedal from Vancouver to Whistler in the Gran Fondo. This year, we are lucky enough to have four-time Canadian Olympian, two-time medalist, and the first person to win an Olympic Gold Medal for Triathlon joining us, Simon Whitfield. He is a personal icon for me, and I have to say, I’m excited to see firsthand how an athlete of his calibre approaches a task as daunting as the Fondo. Although for Simon it’ll be a walk in the park, for myself, those hours are some of the worst (and in turn best) I will experience all year. The ride is 122km but what makes it such a beast are the 5577 feet of climbing you do along the way. The Fondo website assures riders the views are so spectacular you won’t notice the monstrous hills. I beg to differ. You notice. You notice your heart pounding like it’s trying to escape from your chest. You notice the fire in your quads as the lactic acid builds. And you notice how the second the burning subsides, it’s replaced by the sensation that your legs are now noodles. What I also notice is the voice in my head that keeps telling me to stop. I have gathered I’m not alone in the experience of mental assault that occurs during undertakings where you truly test your own limits. Last year a fellow rider admitted that he contemplated steering his bike into a ditch in the hopes that a small crash could end his misery if he managed to sustain injuries serious enough to end his race but not grave enough to incur permanent damage. For the record he ended up finishing in great time. Nonetheless, the road there was anything but smooth. The journey we’re all on with Long View is not dissimilar, it doesn’t play at the same level of intensity but there are daunting climbs, moments of doubt, and periods of fatigue. Our finish line can seem impossibly far away and at times unachievable. I’ve only spent a few hours with Simon Whitfield in person, but in preparation for the Gran Fondo here are few things gleaned from a Google search. In a CBC radio interview shortly after the London Olympics he said “I’m not afraid of failing. I’m afraid of not putting my foot forward and trying.” As words on a page they fall into the category of colloquialisms we’ve heard in various iterations many times before. But there was a conviction in his voice when he said “I’m afraid of not putting my foot forward and trying.” He sounded legitimately afraid. In a newspaper interview he also expressed that the moment in his career he regrets the most wasn’t London, but the 2004 Athens Olympics. At a certain point in the race he was so far behind he knew he wasn’t going to medal and instead of continuing all out, he stopped trying his best, and simply finished the race. Following that experience, his goal for Beijing in 2008 wasn’t to medal it was to make sure that no matter what happened during the race, he wouldn’t stop trying his hardest. Trying always involves the possibility of failing. The voice begging us to stop trying wants to protect us from failing. It’s why we stop giving it our all when the gold medal is no longer a possibility. But the truth is, failing isn’t actually that bad. Simon didn’t regret not medaling in Athens. He regretted not trying in spite of knowing he wouldn’t medal. It was an experience that changed him. Failing was no longer something he feared, he was afraid to stop trying. So for Beijing his goal became making sure he left it all on the course. When he finished the bike, Simon was well behind first place. But he had made a promise to himself, and he was going to keep it. He didn’t stop giving it everything he had and ended up taking home silver. His story is something I’m going to take with me, both in this year’s Fondo but also on my journey with Long View. Because I think Simon’s right, we don’t need to be afraid we’ll fail, we need to be afraid we’ll stop trying.
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Long View Digs Deep at the Calgary Dragon Boat Festival

August 27, 2013
One of the first things I did when I started with Long View in April of this year, was to join the Wellness Committee. I wanted to get involved in the Long View culture that I’d heard so much about, and it seemed like the perfect way to quickly make some new friends. In one of my first meetings, we brainstormed different activities for our branch to participate in. I made the suggestion that we should enter a dragon boat team into this year’s Calgary festival. I was very excited when our committee overwhelmingly said yes! We worked diligently, setting up a team website, ordering jerseys, booking practices and, of course, settling on a team name: Long View Slipstream. I was blown away when we had the required 20 people sign up in just three days! It was a real testament to the energy of the people that work here. Everything was off to a fantastic start but then the reservoir closed due to the devastating floods. Our schedule was suspended and the dragon boats were all under water or buried by debris. Practicing as a team is essential to success and we needed that time to blend as a group. We were able to finally hold our first official practice 2 weeks after that. I was amazed at how focused and committed everyone was and how we all came together in a short time. Before we knew it, the weekend of racing was upon us. The top 5 corporate times would qualify to compete for the prestigious Corporate Challenge Cup. Our time at the end of day 1 qualified us for the C division and was fast enough to be in the running for the cup. Our final race of the weekend was a valiant effort and we ended up having our best race overall. We finished the C Division Final in 5th place and 25th out of 50 teams in the festival. I could not have been more proud of our accomplishment. What was even more impactful to me was that I had several team members remark on the positive spirit that surrounded the festival. I believe that the atmosphere and our team camaraderie was what provided such a positive experience for us all. We did an excellent job of carrying the Long View flag and showed Calgary what we’re made of. I think the festival showed us how to come together as friends and work as a unified team. Next year we’re going for that corporate cup and I feel confident that we have the spirit and the commitment to bring it home.
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