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A Disaster Close to Home

Wednesday, September 09, 2015
A few weeks ago in Coopersville, a construction worker in a backhoe hit a low power line which wrapped around another line above it causing a power outage to several grids in the surrounding area. Thankfully, there were no injuries from this accident but it did cause major backfeeding throughout most of Randall Street, including IT Resource.

The backfeed eventually led to the overheating of two transformers next to our building. One transformer was so hot we couldn’t even get near it and the other began smoking. Quickly after this realization, we called the Coopersville Fire Department and then Consumers Energy. Once everyone arrived, the power was cut to IT Resource and the surrounding buildings. The transformers were able to cool down, and were eventually replaced.

Many surrounding businesses including gas stations, restaurants, shops, and medical offices had no choice but to shut down during this time. Fortunately for IT Resource, our systems and data center remained unaffected. Because of our built in power redundancy, the office and data center continued to operate flawlessly with uninterrupted internet connections in and out of the data center.

This proves that disaster can strike anyone at any time. If the right tools and business continuity solutions are implemented, downtime can be reduced or eliminated. It was a hectic day at the office but at least we had piece of mind knowing that our systems and data center will continue to operate.

Our Interview with Buy Local Michigan

Monday, August 31, 2015
When it comes to helping local businesses flourish, Duane Weed and Buy Local Michigan are making things happen. Their mission is to share Michigan’s story and to promote our businesses, communities and people. Because we believe in Buy Local Michigan's philosophies on supporting all things local, we jumped at the chance to stop by and share our story with them.

In the interview, Gary explained that our philosophy involves getting to know businesses and helping them grow. Really getting to understand the needs of our customers and providing the best solution far exceeds the ability to simply sell products. In addition, he explains that one of the most important aspects of business and technology is data backup because the necessity to house and share data online is growing. With that comes an increased need for proper backup and storage. You must know and understand where your data is, whether it is secure, and whether it is protected and backed up properly.

You can see the interview in it's entirety here:

Thank you, Buy Local Michigan, for inviting us to stop by. We enjoyed the opportunity to share our story and support other local businesses.

Cars, Guitars, and Technology

Monday, August 10, 2015
The Del Shannon Car Show streamlined the registration process this year by utilizing wireless internet capabilities and offering hot spots where participants could use iPads to quickly and effortlessly register their cars, even on the day of the event.
Del Shannon Car Show volunteer, Dennis Raap, Jr. uses the IT Resource wireless setup to register cars on the day of the show. 

To assist the nearly 800 drivers who show up for Michigan’s longest linear car show, we donated services and equipment including wireless internet capabilities, 4G wireless from Verizon to create hot spots, Cisco Meraki wireless cloud networking equipment, and the Apple iPad hub to enable secure connections.

IT Resource technical team member Greg Lundeberg works behind the scenes at the Del Shannon tech hub with volunteer members Dee Dee Fuller and Dennis Raap.

We’ve been long-time sponsors of the Del Shannon Car Show because we love supporting our local community. While we serve customers throughout the Midwest, our business is based in Coopersville. We love being a part of the car show each year because they do an excellent job bringing our entire community together; and raise much needed funds for the NEO Forum youth program.

Congratulations to the winner of the IT Resource trophy at the 2015 Del Shannon Car Show

Cisco SMARTnet Merges with Smart Net Total Care

Friday, August 07, 2015
On July 27th 2015, Cisco announced that their SMARTnet support offering will be merging with Smart Net Total Care to form Cisco Smart Net Total Care Service (SNTC). Even though Cisco SMARTnet is officially retired, SMARTnet customers can still expect the same support and service that they’ve been receiving. There’s no price difference from SMARTnet to SNTC and all of the SMARTnet SKUs will remain the same.

The good news for SMARTnet customers is that they now have automatic access to the perks of SNTC’s smart service capabilities at no additional cost. Entitlement to smart capabilities includes access to the SNTC portal, community support for the portal and collector, and a free download of the collector software. Smart capabilities can also help with correlating install base information including EoS and EoL, contracts and alerts. 

What does this mean for Cisco customers with SMARTnet contracts?
  • There is no action on your part until renewal, current SMARTnet contracts will be automatically entitled
  • All SMARTnet customers have automatically become Smart Net Total Care customers
  • When renewal time comes around, you will renew the same SKUs to continue to receive the updated Smart Net Total Care support level
What does this mean for Cisco legacy Smart Net Total Care customers?
  • If you have an active NLS1 contract, there is no action on your part
  • You will continue to receive all of the current support, access to TAC and all the features you are used to
  • Upon renewal, your legacy device service contracts will be updated to the SNTC levels
If you still have questions regarding this merge, contact us and we’d be happy to explain all of the changes in further detail.

Windows 10 Review :: The Best Features

Friday, August 07, 2015
The Windows 10 operating system was just released last month and there’s a lot of buzz going around regarding its new features and system requirements. Don’t worry if you’re not an early adopter and haven’t upgraded your system yet, the free upgrade (for those with a genuine copy of windows 7 or 8.1 not purchased via Volume Licensing) will be available for a year from the release date. A handful of ITR staff have already upgraded and we’d like to share some of our favorite features so far.

A sampling of the new Windows 10 task bar

Fresh interface:
The new Windows 10 interface is simple yet functional. It’s more comparable to Windows 7 than it is to Windows 8 and many of the Windows 8 features (that most users despised), such as the “charms” have been removed in Windows 10. The new interface will now work seamlessly with touchscreens and PC’s using a mouse and keyboard. The taskbar has a more practical feel that indicates which programs are active and running – similar to the MAC Dock. From the task bar, the user can switch between multiple views and manage numerous apps across various workspaces. If you struggled with Windows 8, this is a breath of fresh air.

Here's a glimpse of the new Windows 10 Startup menu

Simplified Start menu:
The Start menu, which acts as a gateway to your most frequently used programs, has finally returned. In our opinion, the Windows 10 Start menu is much easier to use than either Windows 8 or 8.1. It’s completely intuitive and can easily be customized to your specific needs. It provides easy access to your most commonly-used settings and programs with just a few clicks and comes with 3 shortcuts to File Explorer, Settings and Power. With additional setting options and improved user-friendliness, it’s evident that the return of the Start Menu is one of the best features of Windows 10.

A sampling of the new Windows 10 virtual desktop

Virtual desktop:
We’ve all been guilty of having an unreasonable amount of programs all open simultaneously. It causes confusion, slows your PC, and no one can be focused on that many projects at once. With Windows 10, all these programs can be effortlessly organized using the virtual desktop. This feature lets you create and add multiple workspaces to your PC. Meaning the user can switch between the workspaces (quick shortcut: Ctrl+Win+left cursor or Ctrl+Win+right cursor) as if they were on different screens, so files and programs can stay separated and organized. The virtual desktop feature is called Task view and is located in the task bar. An infinite number of workspaces can be added which can be a life saver when you’re working on multiple projects.

Face recognition: Another exciting Windows 10 feature is the ability for your PC to recognize your face or iris via an infrared 3D camera. While this camera is only available on specific higher end PC’s right now, you can expect to see this becoming more widespread in 2016. Since the camera will detect the user's face or iris and perform a secure authentication, this could mean the end of time for entering a password to log in each time.

If you have a favorite Windows 10 feature that we didn’t mention, share it with us on our LinkedIn or Facebook! And as with all new things, issues and bugs are expected. If you run into a problem after upgrading, give us a call, we’re here to help!

Symantec Subscription Changes

Wednesday, July 29, 2015
Attention: all hosted Symantec users with a current subscription

On July 29th, all new endpoint installs of Symantec Endpoint Protection Small Business Edition will be automatically protected should the user decide to upgrade to Windows 10 in the future. For those currently using Windows 10, Symantec has already pushed out specific patches. There’s no action on the user's part but it is a nice reminder that Symantec has their customers covered by taking proactive action to make sure the user is always protected. Even if a user decides to update their machine to Windows 10 without telling IT Resource, if we are the Symantec administrator for the subscription, we will be notified immediately, then the patch will then be pushed out within 1-2 hours.

Not a Symantec customer?
If you’re not satisfied with your current anti-virus solution, you may want to consider a Hosted Symantec Endpoint Protection subscription. This will protect all of the desktops, laptops and servers in your environment without slowing them down. When connected to the internet, the updates and patches happen automatically without ever notifying you.

Because it’s hosted in the cloud, setup and deployment is extremely simple and fast which means it’s very affordable. To request a quote for the hosted antivirus solution or to discuss in more detail, contact us.

An Internet Solution for Schools and Libraries

Monday, July 13, 2015
In the midst of digital learning, it’s evident that schools and libraries need access to reliable and affordable internet. A common nuisance among schools is that networks are frequently under intense interference conditions causing internet speeds to drag and bandwidth hogging. This ultimately leads to inefficiencies among administration, faculty, teachers and students. In light of this, we’re excited to share a special promotion for a solution tailored to the needs of schools and libraries - the Cisco Meraki Solution for Education.

Rise to the top of the class with Meraki k-12
As a Meraki partner, we have an exclusive promotion for e-rate eligible K-12 schools and libraries. Now through July 1, 2017 you can receive a 5 year license for the list price of a 1 year. This promotion is available on all new Meraki MR-Wireless, MS-Switching, and MX-Security hardware purchases. Now is the time to use your e-rate funding to replace old legacy equipment and update your environment. Don’t lose on productivity with outdated hardware and software - futureproof your network and lock in a 5 year Meraki license for the price of one!

Mobility Management for Schools
A Meraki solution will transform your internet environment to support and streamline every level of your education and business processes creating a unique and holistic approach to Wi-Fi. It offers unbeatable security, deep network visibility to determine where bandwidth is being used and automatic performance optimization in highly dense environments. All Meraki solutions are 100% transparent using the free dashboard application allowing administrators to configure, monitor and manage thousands of mobile devices across multiple networks.

Still not convinced?
Meraki is so confident in their products, they’re giving away a FREE access point just for taking one of their live webinars! Let this solution speak for itself and see the difference before you buy. Contact us today and we’ll send you a customized link to register to attend one of the upcoming webinars eligible for a free AP. This offer is available to anyone, not just K-12, however, existing Meraki customers are not eligible and there is a limit of one free AP per company.

If you’d like more information on the K-12 licensing promotion please reach out to us at 616.837.6930 or via email. At the very least, contact us to request your free customized link to attend one of the upcoming webinars to receive a FREE access point!

PS - We installed a Cisco Meraki system at the Indiana Gamma chapter house at Indiana University after they complained about slow internet speeds and sub-par bandwidth. The process was documented in a case study - read about it here.

Microsoft Client Access License Price Increase

Friday, July 10, 2015
Effective August 1st, 2015, Microsoft will be increasing the price of their Client Access Licenses (CAL) by approximately 13%. This change will be applied to User CALs that allow every user to access the server using a variety of different devices. The price change will NOT be affecting Device CALs and SQL CALs. The following is a complete list of the on-premise user CALs that will see the 13% price increase:
  • Core CAL Suite
  • Enterprise CAL Suite
  • Exchange Server Standard & Enterprise CALs
  • Lync Server Standard, Enterprise, & Plus CALs
  • Project Server CAL
  • System Center Configuration Manager
  • System Center Endpoint Protection
  • System Center Client Management Suite
  • Windows Server CAL
  • Windows RDS & RMS CAL
We’re aware that many of our customers are utilizing Windows RDS and Windows Server user CALs which is why now is the best time to purchase the CALs at the lower cost. If your renewal date is fast approaching, please be aware that you will have the option to switch from User to Device or Device to User on your renewal date.

If you’d like to purchase more Microsoft Client Access Licenses, or if you have questions on what type of CALs you should purchase, please contact our sales department via email, or call our main line at 616-837-6930.

5th Annual Carter’s Kids Golf Event

Thursday, July 09, 2015
Hang out in Traverse City, golfing with IT Resource and Carter Oosterhouse!

IT Resource will be sponsoring and playing in the 5th Annual Carter’s Kids Golf Outing this year and we would love to see you there! The 18 hole outing on Friday August 7th will be held at Traverse City’s beautiful LochenHeath Golf Club with a post reception dinner and party with live music and prizes.

The event is open to the public and there’s still time to register here as an individual or foursome. Don’t play golf? You can register to attend just the after party or dinner too! All proceeds from this event will benefit Carter’s Kids Charity and Glen Lakes High School in Michigan. Carter’s Kids Charity helps fight childhood obesity by building playgrounds in communities across the country and Glen Lakes High School is in need of athletic department improvements.

ZixGateway: Trusted Email Encryption That’s Incredibly Simple

Tuesday, July 07, 2015
No matter what industry you’re in, every organization has sensitive data and it’s the responsibility of the business to make sure its sending and receiving sensitive information securely. If you have concerns or would like to research different email encryption options, look no further than ZixCorp encryption services.

ZixCorp is the leader in email encryption and email security services. Who’s using Zix?
- 20% of all US hospitals
- 25% of all US banks and credit unions
- Nearly 10,000 businesses
- More than 1,900 financial institutions

While Zix offers products for organizations of all sizes, we would like to introduce the ZixGateway product which provides transparent encryption to 20 or more users. This is a policy-based email encryption product that automatically scans outbound email based on what your business deems “sensitive”. It can automatically encrypt outbound messages and attachments or even block them all together and your IT administrator will be able to brand outbound email tailored to your specific policies. Another benefit that sets Zix aside from other services is that it can be deployed in less than a day and there’s absolutely no training for your end users – it’s that simple!

We understand there’s lots of email encryption and email security products out there but we’re confident Zix provides the best security with the simplicity to match. All Zix products are compliant with HIPAA, GLBA, and federal and state regulations.

Ask yourself: does your business have a secure send and receive policy? If not, use this link to register for a 30 minute demo with IT Resource and Zix and see for yourself how easy it can be.