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IT Security :: Are You at Risk?

Saturday, March 21, 2015
A big thanks to all who attended our annual March Madness event on IT Security and Risk in Grand Rapids. We're providing a copy of our presentation - if you were in the audience you can use this as a reminder, and if you couldn't make it to the event you can check out our notes and call us with any questions you may have - its always a good idea to periodically check to see if your business is at risk for a data breach or security attack.

Business Data Breaches
Cybersecurity and Malware
Data Loss Prevention
Internal and External Threats
Firewalls and Wireless Networks
Network Security Assessments
Cloud Solutions

Request a copy of our IT Security & Risk presentation here.

Thanks again to everyone who helped make this event a great success! Our goal is to help customers in the Grand Rapids area prevent network security issues.

Information Technology for the Banking Industry in Michigan

Wednesday, March 11, 2015
IT Resource has built a niche in providing IT consulting services and support to the banking industry. As a service provider for many banks in Grand Rapids, Lansing, Traverse City, and much of the lower peninsula, we make a conscious effort to stay active and relevant in the banking community. We’re a proud member of many banking associations and groups across Michigan including the Community Bankers of Michigan (CBM), Michigan Bankers Association (MBA) and the Mid-Michigan Bankers Group.

While we strive to make the most of our memberships we’re excited to announce we'll be exhibiting and speaking at the upcoming MBA Bankers Education Summit and Trade Show (BEST) Conference. The conference will be held at the Grand Traverse Resort & Spa, March 31 through April 2. If you'll be in the Traverse City area you’re not going to want to miss this show – it will be a great way to gain knowledge on the relevant issues in the banking world - register to attend here. We’d love for you to visit our booth and learn more about our services! On Wednesday from 11:00am – noon our very own industry expert Gary Lutz will be presenting an education break-out session for attendees. He'll be speaking on Backups, Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity as it relates to the Operations and Technology Track. We’re looking forward to creating new relationships and seeing lots of familiar faces.

Check out the following websites for more information on the Michigan banking industry:
Michigan Bankers Association
MBA BEST Conference Brochure
Community Bankers of Michigan
Mid Michigan Banking Group

Our Digital Diva :: Carrie Borchers Talks Sales and Technology

Monday, March 09, 2015
Digital Divas is a new podcast that focuses on women in all stages of technology - from CEOs to "scrappy entrepreneurs." They recently chatted with our Director of Sales, Carrie Borchers, about her career journey in sales and technology.

Carrie shared how she started out with a degree in liberal arts and eventually became the second woman, and first sales person, at IT Resource. She also references her interest in the Internet of Things (IoT) and how it relates to business. You can check out Carrie's podcast here.

The masterminds behind the Digital Divas project include Nicole Johnson, Cisco Systems Engineer; Amanda Lewan, founder and editor of Michipreneur and co-founder of Bamboo Detroit; and Kathleen Norton-Schock, co-founder of ardentCause. The Digital Diva podcast was created to highlight women who are making a big impact in technology.

Microsoft Azure for Small to Medium Sized Businesses

Monday, February 16, 2015
As a business owner do you hesitate when it comes to moving your business applications to the cloud for fear that its not cost effective? What if there were a system designed just for small to medium sized businesses that would grow with you, and had no up-front costs? It might sound too good to be true, but in fact, Microsoft has come up with a system that does all these things and more. Welcome to Azure.

The Microsoft Azure cloud platform gives Small and Medium Businesses (SMBs) the ability to move critical business applications to the cloud without investing in expensive infrastructure. Azure is an industry leader in Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS) providing options for private, public or hybrid cloud solutions.

With so many different options and applications, Azure can be tailored to your unique business environment and increase productivity by allowing your employees to work from virtually anywhere. Cloud hosting also lets businesses take advantage of industry specific platforms that can minimize in-house IT management and upfront costs.

Designed with SMBs in mind, one of the largest advantages that Azure has over other cloud platform providers is their ZERO upfront costs. Azure accommodates by scaling up or down based on current demand, allowing you to pay for only what you use. This solution is designed to grow with your business, minimizing upfront fees and high maintenance costs.

Azure manages and deploys business applications via a network of Microsoft datacenters – offering top line security and reliable backups. Azure supports scalable web applications and integrated services like storage, data, and event website hosting. Eliminate physical storage costs and avoid the rising costs of maintaining aging infrastructure hardware on-premise. You can feel confident that your data is secure as all applications are backed up in multiple locations. All Microsoft Azure customers receive the same level of protection chosen by enterprise customers. This level of security far exceeds typical on-premise firewall protection.

Get peace of mind, streamline your business processes and keep your business moving forward. Give us a call today at 616.837.6930. We can discuss your cloud options and the current promotions from Microsoft to leverage Azure today!

A Cisco Meraki Solution for Internet Speed and Bandwidth Issues

Friday, February 13, 2015

When students from the Indiana Gamma chapter house at Indiana University complained about slow internet speeds and sub-par bandwidth, we were brought on to find a solution. Our technicians conducted an internet-speed test on the existing system and, to no surprise, the findings were unacceptable: 11 mbps for the download speed and 10mbps for the upload speed, well below the acceptable standard. A case study was done on the situation at the chapter house and the findings were featured in the Sigma Alpha Epsilon publication, The Record, and can be downloaded here.

In addition to the speed issues, our site visit and review indicated that the existing system and equipment that was in place was incorrectly sized and not optimal. In addition, the wireless connectivity failed to perform as desired, so users had limited bandwidth. At the end of the day we recommended a Cisco Meraki cloud-based management system in which all devices at each location could be managed from the cloud. The solution provides real-time visibility on the health of each device and can be monitored remotely by Sigma Alpha Epsilon staff using the Meraki Dashboard.

When the Cisco Meraki solution was configured and complete, we performed a final test and the results were stellar: 67 mbps for download speed and 22 mbps for upload speed, a 463% enhancement. The students at the SAE chapter house indicated that the new system didn't just bring them up to par in terms of internet speeds, it gave them the fastest internet on all of Indiana University's campus.

Read the entire article, as it was published in The Record, here.

More Bandwidth and Faster Internet with Cisco Meraki

Tuesday, February 10, 2015
The internet is only getting faster which means everyone needs more bandwidth. Small retail branches and small enterprises - we're talking to you.

The Meraki MX64/MX64W is the newest Unified Threat Management (UTM) security appliance available for purchase. The first of its kind, the MX64/MX64W is the only product currently on the market to provide security with 802.11ac Wireless. With a maximum AV throughput of 200 Mbps, the appliance also delivers unified and centralized management, enterprise security, guest access and a variety of advanced security offerings including content filtering, Google SafeSearch and YouTube for schools. It is ideal for up to 50 users, and its 3 times faster than today’s 802.11n wireless.

Want to find out more?

If you think this solution could work for your business contact us today! If you’re on the fence we can request a free trial and you can test it in your own environment. Meraki will ship you the gear free of charge with zero risk. If you decide it isn’t right for you, just send it back. You can also receive a free 802.11n AP just by attending a webinar! Contact your IT Resource sales rep today and we’ll send you a link to the next one!

Cisco BE6000 Replaces the Unified Communications 500

Wednesday, January 21, 2015
In September of 2013 we shared with you that Cisco had announced the End of Life for the popular Unified Communications Series 500 for Small Business (UC 500) was January, 2014. Initially, many in our industry were disappointed that Cisco discontinued this well received, proven solution.  But, we're happy to share that Cisco has enhanced their product offerings within the Business Edition 6000 Series (BE6000).
The entire series of Cisco BE6000 solutions provides organizations a full range of collaboration tools: voice, video, messaging, instant messaging and presence, conferencing, video conferencing, contact center services and mobility capabilities.

Designed for organizations with 25 to 1000 employees, Cisco BE6000 solutions contain one or more modular, stackable servers. This makes adding more capacity to support additional users simple and easy. The servers utilize virtualization technology, allowing for many collaboration tools into a small form factor.

Cisco BE6000 solutions come with a suite of ten preloaded Unified Communications and Collaboration applications. As your business grows and changes, you can easily activate these applications when the time is right.

There are three Cisco BE6000 platform models. All are built on virtualized Cisco Unified Computing System (Cisco UCS) products, which are designed for performance and density over a wide range of company sizes and business workloads.
● BE6000S: Ideal for small-scale “office in a box” collaboration deployments
Supports five fixed collaboration applications in a single integrated router/gateway/virtualized blade server platform; maximum capacity of 150 users and 300 devices.

● BE6000M:
 Ideal for medium to large-scale end to-end collaboration deployments
Supports five collaboration application options in a single virtualized server platform; maximum capacity of 1000 users, 1200 devices, and 100 contact center agents.

● BE6000H: Supports nine collaboration application options in a single virtualized server platform; maximum capacity of 1000 users, 2500 devices, and 100 contact center agents.

We have designed, installed and currently support many BE6000M solutions for our customers. And, we're excited about the release of the BE600S as this solution is ideal for our SMB customers. Please let us know if you would like to discuss your Unified Communications and Collaboration needs. We're here to help!

Microsoft Server 2003/R2 End of Support

Friday, January 16, 2015

The Microsoft Windows Server 2003/R2 Extended Support end date is quickly approaching on July 14, 2015. If your organization is still running applications and workloads on Windows Server 2003 and you’ve been putting your migration project on the back burner, now is the time to start planning your server upgrade. Don’t wait until the last minute as vulnerabilities discovered after July 14 will not be addressed or fixed and your organization will soon fail to meet industry standards and a compliance audit.

What does this mean for you?
Windows Server 2003 Support end date means no more updates or patches leaving your infrastructure volatile. To put the importance of these support updates into perspective, according to Microsoft, there were 37 critical updates released in 2013 for Windows Server 2003 under extended support. Imagine the repercussions of not receiving any of those critical updates. Even if you think you're saving money by not upgrading your systems, it will soon become more costly to maintain aging hardware and performance will steadily decline.

If you’re using Windows Server 2003 – Datacenter, Enterprise or Standard editions -- we encourage you to get in touch with us to discuss and plan a server upgrade and migration. We can discuss your options including Windows Server 2012, Azure, Cloud OS Network and Office 365, all of which will protect your business, enhance performance and remote access, and reduce storage and upkeep costs. Give us a call today and we can determine which option is right for your environment. This is no longer a choice but a necessity as July will be here sooner than you think!

March Madness : Save the Date

Monday, January 12, 2015
Save the date for our annual March Madness event on Thursday, March 19. It’ll be the first round of the March Madness tournament! Join us at Grand Woods Lounge, in downtown Grand Rapids, for a lunch & learn, then we'll watch the game on the big screen.

Watch your inbox for a formal invitation with all the details, but for now, go ahead and save the date - we'd love to see you there!

Our Fix-It Guy: Steve Nowak

Friday, January 02, 2015

People profiles give you a chance to meet our staff - the folks you may deal with on a regular basis here at IT Resource. 

Official Title: Network Engineer II

What do you do at IT Resource, and what certifications do you have: I provide customers with IT services from ranging server configuration and maintenance, to software license management, projects, and network management. Providing customers with end to end service to fulfill any IT needs they may have is what I do. My certifications include Network Engineer - MCP, Cisco Unified Computing Technology Support Specialist, Cisco Data Center Support for UC Specialist, WebEx Design and Implementation, and VMware VSP.

What would you attempt if you knew you could not fail? Build my dream home on the shores of Lake Michigan. 

Do you have any hidden talents?  I am pretty good at electrical and mechanical work. The repair of small engines and home projects of sorts come naturally to me. I love to work to improve my home and assist my family and friends on their projects.

What is the best part about working at ITR? Every day is an opportunity to learn about emerging trends and to apply those to new and existing customers.

How long have you worked at ITR? Since September, 2011

If you knew then, what you know now, what piece of advice would you give yourself? Add your gut feelings in to the decisions you make with logic. Your gut may be right.

What do you want to be when you grow up? I still would like to work for the US Forest Service in the Manistee National Forest or Yellowstone National Park as a park ranger, if money is no object. Can’t get enough of the natural beauty of either location.

What is the most interesting job you’ve ever had that was not IT related? Fieldman/Truck Driver while in college for a local farm Co-Op. I drove all over Michigan and elsewhere in everything from pickup trucks to tractor trailers. I worked with farmers, and companies like Meijer, Spartan Stores, D&W, and others to make sure that the Michigan farm products (apples, peaches, etc.) were delivered and staged in the stores. 

Tell us something your colleagues don't know about you: I almost joined the US Parks Service but then found out how low the starting pay was for the job of Ranger. I chose wiser.