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EOL. EOS. SOS?!

Monday, September 15, 2014
Information Technology is notorious for acronyms and abbreviations. What do EOL and EOS stand for and how are these terms relevant to you? EOL stands for End of Life. This is when a manufacturer announces they will stop selling a specific product. EOS stands for End of Support and End of Service. This is when the manufacturer will no longer be supporting and servicing that product through patches, security updates, hotfixes, incident support, and warranty claims. Do you really need to pay attention to EOL and EOS? Does one matter more than the other?

Support and Service Lifecycle Policies vary by Manufacturer. Generally there are several years of support and service available for products that have been announced End of Life. Therefore, just because a product has been announced it is EOL it doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t purchase that particular product.  

It is very important to understand when a product has been announced End of Service and End of Support. In most cases, it is not recommend to keep devices in production on your network past their support date.  

If you have questions on specific products and either their EOL or EOS status, feel free to contact us and together we can determine the value and possible risk to purchasing or continuing to use the product in question.

Now that you have your primer on EOL and EOS we would like to remind you that Microsoft Windows Server 2003 R2 Extended Support End Date is July 14, 2015. If you are still using Windows Server 2003 R2 – Datacenter, Enterprise or Standard editions -- we encourage you to get in touch with us to discuss and plan a server upgrade and migration. This is no longer a choice but a necessity as July will be here sooner than you know it!

Changes to Microsoft Office 365

Monday, September 01, 2014
Changes are around the corner for Microsoft Office 365 plans for Small to Medium Sized Businesses (SMB). The current SMB plan options, Small Business, Small Business Premium and Midsize Business will be replaced with Business, Business Essentials and Business Premium.
For new Office 365 customers, the new plan options will be effective October 1st, 2014. Current customers using the Small Business, Small Business Premium or Midsize Business plans will stay on those plans and starting October 1st, 2015, they will renew to the new versions.

Costs and features of the new plans:
Office 365 Business - $8.25 per user per month: Access to Office applications including Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote and Publisher, and ability to install apps on up to 5 PCs or Macs.
Office 365 Business Essentials - $5.00 per user per month: Access to core cloud services including Office online and standard services: Exchange, Lync, SharePoint and Yammer.
Office 365 Business Premium - $12.50 per user per month: This includes all apps, features, and functionality of both Office 365 Business and Office 365 Business Essentials.

*All plans now have an increased seat cap of 300 and include 1 TB OneDrive Storage for business cloud.
Making it more affordable, Microsoft has lowered the price for Office 365 Business Premium (formerly Midsize Business) from $15 per user per month to $12.50 per user per month.

Over 60 IT Resource customers have already made the transition to Office 365. Give us a call at 616-837-6930 or email us for additional information on Office 365. We can help you determine which plan is best for your organization, design a migration plan and efficiently implement this cost effective cloud solution.

Supporting the Community Bankers of Michigan

Wednesday, August 27, 2014
IT Resource is now an Associate Member of the Community Bankers of Michigan (CBM). CBM membership is comprised of nearly 120 community banks and 150 financial institution partners in Michigan. CBM members have access to group discount programs, continuing education like the Michigan Bank Directors’ College, industry advocacy and networking opportunities.
IT Resource joined the CBM in order to support its mission, provide services to CMB members and learn more about this industry so we can better support our growing financial services business unit. We are proud to be connected with the CMB and proud to share that one of our customers, Jim Bosserd, President & CEO of ChoiceOne Bank, is the current Chairman of the CBM. Look for IT Resource at the CBM 40th Annual Convention & Trade Show September 17-19 at the Grand Traverse Resort and Spa in Traverse City. The theme this year is Community Banks + Small Business = Local Prosperity and we couldn’t agree more!

We Are Feeling Fit

Wednesday, July 23, 2014
IT Resource has teamed up with Northern Physical Therapy to provide a Corporate Health and Wellness Program for ITR employees and significant others. With many data and number driven minds on our team, having endless fitness applications at our fingertips is great motivation. We’re halfway through our fitness challenge and would like to share 5 tools and applications that we personally have found to be most successful in shaping an overall healthier lifestyle.
Lose It: This app flows seamlessly between your phone, tablet, and computer. It determines your daily calorie allotment by tracking food and drink, and it will adjust calories based on the amount of exercise performed. Plus, it's customizable to your specific goals and pace. A popular feature is it’s built-in scanner which lets you use your phone camera to instantly add food to your daily log. We can attest that to date, the scanner has successfully and accurately recognized every item we scanned. The ability to easily scan food and drink keeps you on track. Seeing how many calories you have consumed and how many you have left for the day makes it less likely that you will go over. 
Fitbit Flex: A few members of our staff have purchased the Fitbit Flex wristband and have had great success with it. This wireless activity and sleep tracker is worn on your wrist, making it a constant reminder to stand up or walk around. You can install Fitbit on your computer and set goals and easily check your Flex to see how close or how many steps away you are to your daily goal. Another valuable feature is that it tracks how many hours of sleep you get and the quality of sleep. The sleep tracker is very useful because it makes you much more cognizant of how many hours you are actually sleeping and how many times per night you are being awoken or not sleeping soundly. The Fitbit Flex also has an app you can download to your phone and tablet that syncs with the device, and It also integrates with other fitness apps like MyFitnessPal.
MapMyFitness: This app allows you to choose an activity like running or biking and the app creates repeatable workouts and routes. Over time, you can see your performance statistics which will tell you areas that you did well in and areas you need work on. You can even base your workout or route upon current weather, traffic and elevation and the GPS capabilities give you the ability to check your pace. You can receive stats during your workout so if you begin to slip on speed, it will alert you pick up the pace! Other tools like Fitbit, Garmin and MyFitnessPal can sync and import into MapMyFitness to create a multi-platform workout tool.
MyFitnessPal: This is a popular app that’s free for the phone, tablet or laptop. It logs calories, water intake, exercising and weight/measurements. The food database is particularly impressive including over 3 million different foods and growing. The simplicity of the mobile app makes it desirable for people on the go. It provides visual aids including graphs of your daily calorie breakdown, percentages of carbohydrates, fats and proteins that you have consumed and percentages of your respective goals. There is also an option to add friends or colleagues to share progress and keep each other accountable. 
Garmin Edge GPS and Garmin Connect: This GPS allows you to track fitness activities such as bike riding or running. The GPS is very accurate and works anywhere around the world. It tracks your distance and provides data on current speed, average speed, last lap, etc. While monitoring the history of your activities, it also provides additional data such as heart rate, calories burned and cadence. The Garmin Connect app syncs with the GPS and gives you access to charts, graphs and instant data on your health history.

So there you have it - our lineup of the best fitness apps and gadgets. Here's to getting healthy and staying fit...now get out of your chair and get moving!

Training for your Microsoft Software Audit

Tuesday, July 22, 2014
We’ve shared the news before: Microsoft Software Audits are on the rise. According to a study conducted by research firm IDC, Microsoft was found to have issued the most audits among software vendors at 58% audit frequency. Nearly double the rate of the next runner up! Just like your health and fitness, it’s best to “train”, plan and be proactive with your software assets. It’s no longer IF you will be audited, it’s WHEN. As a result of these audits, some customers are faced with needing to “true up” by adding licensing. If you are not regularly reviewing your software assets and managing these assets, these costs can be substantial.

IT Resource can help identify what software you are running in your environment. Microsoft has an updated tool called MAP that will assist with the discovery and reporting. No tool is perfect, but if we combine this tool with others we have – like our Software Inventory Report (our Remote Monitoring and Reporting (RMR) customers can receive this free at any time) and a Network Discovery – we will have a much better picture of what's going on.

When you receive a communication from Microsoft, usually via e-mail, stating you are being audited, please do not ignore this. We strongly encourage you to engage IT Resource to assist and even manage the process on your behalf. We have done this for many customers over the years and we have access to all the tools, the knowledge of the licensing requirements and the myriad of agreement types. Our consulting will be most efficient, thorough and save you time, money and headaches down the road.

Have a BBQ Dinner With Us

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Grab some friends and come on down! We’re celebrating summer and giving a nod to our favorite customers and friends. Bring your family or colleagues and join us on Thursday, July 31 from 4-8pm, at IT Resource.

We promise there will be a great BBQ dinner, refreshing libations, the best live music by Funkle Jesse, and fantastic conversation.

Register now by visiting www.itrw.net/rsvp or call 616.837.6930. We’d love to see you and the gang here!

Women in Tech :: Grow. Learn. Succeed.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014
In an industry of constant change and evolution, Amanda Regnerus has at times found herself lacking the confidence that she would be able to make the change or learn at the pace that was needed to keep up with the IT industry. Her admission to those fears may come as a surprise, considering Regnerus is the Vice President of Marketing at US Signal Company, a global technology enterprise.

“Each time I had those fears, I realized my apprehension was unnecessary. What I began to do is look at the evolution of technology as a challenge to grow, learn, and take my career to the next level,” said Regnerus.
Grow. Learn. Succeed.
It seemed a common theme among each of the women I spoke to. After all, you don’t rise to the top, like Regnerus did, without learning valuable lessons and taking advantage of challenges along the way. Regnerus, along with all the women featured are in the field of technology, an industry predominantly filled with males. According to the National Center for Women & Information Technology, in 2012, just 18% of computer-science college graduates were women, down from 37% in 1985. Despite the decline, we’re seeing great efforts to encourage young women to jump in head first.

STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math) programs are becoming so popular that even the Girl Scouts have an agenda dedicated specifically to the cause. Nicole Johnson, a Systems Engineer with Cisco, believes in the power of mentorship and focusing on attracting young minds and retaining women in the industry. She goes on to say that it’s never too early to help a young girl see the vast options that STEM fields provide. “By simply speaking about your own successes in a STEM career, you can help open doors. They can’t be what they can’t see, and this is the first step. You never know what the influence will be,” says Johnson.

Breaking into the technology field at an early age can certainly help eliminate many of the barriers that come along with an ever changing field, however, that constant evolution is what draws so many people to the industry in the first place. Patti Phillips, Mid Market Account Manager at Cisco, can’t imagine doing anything else. “The technology industry is so exciting, it’s ever evolving and dynamically expanding, so it keeps me on my toes.”

Aside from the positive efforts that STEM programs and mentoring have created, there is also encouragement for women to consider leadership roles in technology from a financial perspective. Women-led hi-tech startups achieve a 35% higher return on investment, and when venture backed they generate 12% more revenue than male-owned tech companies. However, they represent only 3% of tech start-ups. This is according to the study “Women in Technology: Evolving, Ready to Save the World,” which surveyed 500 women in the technology sector and was conducted by Lesa Mitchell of the Kauffman Foundation and Vivek Wadhwa, who holds titles at both Stanford and Duke University. 

Coming off the heels of a recession, it may be assumed that good jobs are still hard to come by, but this is far from the case in the field of IT. “There is a misnomer out there that we have or can quickly find the talent companies are looking for in an ever-changing environment,” said Becky Puckett-Wood, Managing Director with Experis, a division of Manpower that places candidates into IT roles. “With the continuing technical advancement of industries, the talent pool dwindles faster than the colleges can keep up on the current technology trends to keep the pool full for the market,” she explained.

“Whether you are male or female, the technology industry moves fast. Being relevant takes an investment in listening to IT challenges people are facing and staying educated on the latest technology trends. It’s a moving target and I think people may underestimate the time and investment in continued learning,” says Johnson.

Misconceptions About Technology
The perception of technology has come a long way over the last decade. It’s no longer “not cool” to be a female techie, says Deidra McClelland, CEO of The Skye Group, a marketing communications firm. “Science, math, engineering and computers are subjects and industries that young girls and women can definitely handle just as well as their male counterparts.”

Long perceived as a group of “geeks” writing code all day, the scope of technology is so vast it can literally be considered the very heart of a business.

“For many organizations the biggest misconception about IT is that it doesn’t deserve to be in the C Suite. But in reality, IT intersects all of the top business expenses - HR, payroll, inventory, materials, operating expenses, etc.,” explains Carrie Borchers, Director of Sales for IT Resource, a midwest leader of information technology services. “There are manufacturing facilities that have 24 x 7 operations with factories producing goods on machines that cost a million dollars. Yet, they balk at spending less than 1% on their IT infrastructure. What happens if those million dollar machines can’t connect to the network? IT is a key business driver and it belongs at the board room table.”

While businesses may not understand the importance of a solid IT infrastructure, the realm of technology doesn’t have to be mystifying, says Phillips. “It really involves listening to a customer, understanding their concerns and helping them solve their problems with the right solution and the right resources at the right time.”

Rising to the Top
Working in a field where females are the minority, and overcoming the challenges that come with the territory are just part of the daily grind for these women. At the end of the day they each felt the challenges they faced were no different than woman leaders in other fields and industries. They each make efforts to help other women (and men) succeed, whether it be in technology, or any aspect of business for that matter. Rising to the top of the corporate ladder is never an easy feat, but the lessons learned along the way have been instrumental in getting these women to where they are today, and in supporting and mentoring others throughout the process.

“One of the challenges I’ve turned into an asset is knowing my own weaknesses and building a team around me that compliments those. By doing this I’ve been able to build a team that makes me stronger and more well-rounded as a leader, in addition to helping my employees rise to their full potential, all while driving results for the company,” explains Puckett-Wood. “It’s a win, win, win if you can get the right team.”

“Along the way, never forget to stay true to yourself,” explains McClelland. “If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t and this may go into the category of female intuition - it does exist.” But most importantly she reminds us to have fun. “At the end of the day, if you aren’t enjoying what you do, you need to move on and find your passion.”

It’s a Balancing Act
While finding passion in your career is instrumental advice, it often comes with a price. Bringing home stacks of work, getting out the laptop after the kids go to bed, then waking up tired to do it all over again may sound like a familiar situation. That was the life Regnerus led before she learned to be present where she is. By working smarter, not harder, Regnerus was able to separate her work life from her home life and eliminate the overwhelming feeling of trying to be all things to all people all of the time.

This way of life was not unique to Regnerus. Each woman I spoke to indicated that there is a balancing act that needs to take place in order to be your best in each given situation.

The word “guilt” was routinely suggested as one of the feelings that women in general are uniquely good at. “Many of us feel as if no matter how hard we try to balance, we may be paying more attention to one area of our lives at the expense of something else,” says Borchers. “I haven’t figured out the balance yet. This is an area I refer to as the battle I will always fight, but never win. Meaning, I achieve balance when I am intentional. You have to make time for what matters and respect those commitments.”

Phillips makes it a priority to “unplug” on a regular basis, volunteer, and practice yoga which helps keep her centered and balanced physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally. But for McClelland, she feels as though she can never completely “shut it off,” but she is learning. A former boss reminded her that the house wouldn’t burn down if she was gone for a week. It was that vacation that made her realize just how important that little bit of “me time” actually was. You can only do so much in a day’s time. “Impact what you can today, and work on the rest tomorrow,” added Puckett-Wood.

Women do wear many hats when it comes to a career, a home life, and social commitments, but Johnson kindly reminds us that “at the end of the day, we only have one head for all those hats.” She says “I use my calendar and a daily to do “hit list” so I focus on my key activities and I am able to enjoy my home life after. Women tend to want to do it all, so it’s important to let go of feeling guilty for some things you couldn’t fit in and let other people share your load when needed. I try to live in the now, but remember that it’s the “life” I have that supports my success in my work.”

A Special Thanks to Our Contributors
Follow them on Twitter to keep up with the latest tech trends.
Carrie Borchers :: IT Resource Director of Sales :: @csborch or @itresourceinc
Nicole Johnson :: Cisco Systems Engineer :: @tech_nicole
Deidra J. McClelland :: The Skye Group CEO :: @skyegroupgr
Patti Phillips :: Cisco Mid Market Account Manager :: @cisco
Becky Puckett-Wood :: Experis Managing Director :: @experis_us
Amanda Regnerus :: US Signal Company Vice President, Marketing :: @aregnerus

Programs For Women
There are a variety of programs available for women who have interests in technology. Cisco has programs to create communities for diversity both internally and for the general public. The internal networks develop a community within Cisco of peer women from all backgrounds. They also hold an annual global event for women which has motivated members to do more local meet-ups together. 

The public women’s group, called Cisco Empowered Women’s Network (CEWN), provides a forum for all women in IT to network, motivate, and empower each other through energizing and engaging events held during Cisco Live and sustained through ongoing events throughout the year. This helps women bring similar events to their workplace, helps build pipelines and retains women in technology.

In addition, the Michigan Council for Women in Technology (MCWT) is a strong statewide group, and Davenport University has led many efforts to facilitate events for women in technology.

About the Author: Andrea Snyder is co-owner of STUDIO3TWENTY, a West Michigan based marketing firm specializing in consulting, writing, graphic design, and website development. Find them online at www.STUDIO3TWENTY.COM, or @studio3twenty.

Click here for a downloadable version of this article.

Save The Date :: BBQ Bash

Monday, June 30, 2014
IT Resource is throwing a BBQ Bash and you're invited! Save the date and watch your inbox for details to follow.

Families and kids are encouraged to attend! Along with great conversation, guests will enjoy a super BBQ dinner, drinks, LIVE music and mingling, so stay tuned for details to come. Save the date because we'd love to see you and your family here!

Free Coffee :: Just Share Your Ideas With Us!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Our goal has always been to use our blog as a way to create a trusted resource for our readers. You'll often find us talking about the latest technology trends and products, informing you of sales and incentive programs, and of course, sharing company news and tidbits. The numbers are showing us that our blog has been well received, as our traffic continues to grow each month. 

Giveaway Details: Win a Starbucks Gift Card!

We always listen to what our customers and readers are saying, and we've generated quite a few blog posts based on those discussions. But, we've never formally asked for your input, even though we've always wanted it! So here's your chance to interact with us, and maybe even win a cup of joe in the process. All you have to do is tell us what you want us to write about in a future blog post. Maybe you want to know more about hybrid clouds and how they work, or how about what we think about the latest operating system. Heck, maybe you want to know what we had for lunch yesterday. Whatever it is you want to know more about - just let us know!

Leave a comment on this blog post or on our Facebook page with your idea for a future article and we'll pick 5 winners at random on July 31, 2014. Each winner will get a $5 Starbucks gift card!


*Limit to one entry per person on the blog and one entry per person on Facebook. Winners will be notified electronically.

Windows 8.1 Tips and Tricks

Wednesday, June 18, 2014
One valuable function of Windows 8.1 is the Quick Access Menu. This is just like having your start button and provides easy access to Programs and Features, Command Prompt, Task Manager, Control Panel, Shut Down, etc. This can be accessed by right clicking the windows button in the bottom left corner or hitting the windows key+X.
Remember that in 8.1, the keyboard is your friend. Below are some keyboard shortcuts that can boost your productivity.
Lock computer :: Windows+L
Open windows help :: Windows+F1
Search :: Windows+S
Open settings :: Windows+I
Snap window to right side :: Windows+right arrow
Snap window to left side :: Windows+left arrow
Display charms bar :: Windows+C
Minimize all open windows :: Windows+M
Peek at desktop :: Windows+,

Other nifty tips and tricks:
Want to search for a file or program? Once you hit the windows key, the ‘tile’ page (or Start screen) opens and you can type whatever you need.  The search box automatically opens when you start typing. 

Here, the Windows key is highlighted.

Windows 8.1 file history backup allows you to select folder to be backed up and to which device (thumb drive, external hard drive). It will automatically synchronize back and forth to keep files updated.

An alternate way to minimize or maximize a window: drag the title bar to the top of the desktop screen to maximize. Drag the title bar down to minimize.

To show your desktop, hover your mouse anywhere on the taskbar, right click and click show desktop.

To open programs that are pinned to your taskbar, simply hit the windows key + the number of the icon on your desktop. For example, if Word is the third program that’s pinned, hit Windows+3.

If you want to know more about Windows 8.1 functionality or you have some of your own tips to share with us, give us a call at 616.837.6930 or send us an email.