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Technology Tax Savings

Friday, November 14, 2014
Are you looking for ways to save on your business taxes? Aren't we all! Well, now is the time to start thinking about the Section 179 tax break that can be applied to your businesses computer software and hardware year end purchases. This deduction will only be available through December 31, 2014 and can be used to deduct the full purchase price of leased or financed equipment from your gross income instead of requiring the cost to be depreciated. This tax code also allows up to a 50% bonus depreciation on these purchases in the first year and the remaining 50% to be taken during the normal schedule.

Use this handy calculator to see how much you could be eligible to save.
Limit Extension Waiting on Senate Approval
The only question that still remains is the actual limit on how much can be deducted (see our update below). In previous years, the deductible amount has been $500,000 but this amount expired on January 1st, 2014. Right now, the amount that can be deducted has been reduced to $25,000. However, provisions are in place and a bill to extend the $500,000 limit is awaiting Senate approval. Because the midterm elections are now over, we are hoping to see the Senate approve this extension any day now.

What Should You Do Now?
Schedule time to talk with your financial advisor or accountant to determine how your business can best utilize this tax break on your year-end technology hardware and software purchases.

Begin planning your technology purchases for the current $25,000 amount and be prepared for this amount to go up. Stay tuned to www.section179.org for updates as they become available. Also, keep a look out for our December newsletter as we will include a Section 179 update. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to call your IT Resource sales rep, we are here to help you!

*Update
The House of Representatives voted last Wednesday to approve a package of tax breaks which included expanding the Section 179 tax deduction to $500,000. Their approval has been sent on to the Senate where it is expected to be voted on later this week. Please remember if you haven't already, make an appointment with your financial advisor or accountant to see how your business will best benefit from this tax break. It's very likely that the $500,000 expansion will pass later this week, however for now, you can count on deducting the full cost of qualifying computer hardware and software purchases from your 2014 taxes for up to $25,000. Don’t wait until the last minute to make these purchases as the equipment must be purchased and put into use by December 31, 2014. Make sure to check www.section179.org this week for the official announcement and check out the 2014 Section 179 Tax Deduction Calculator to calculate your potential dollar amount savings.

Backup and Disaster Recovery Lunch and Learn

Wednesday, October 08, 2014


 What would happen if you lost all your data?

It’s not a question of IF, but WHEN. Downtime, human error, server failure, disasters and security breaches leave small to midsize businesses at a greater risk, and more susceptible to IT failure. With fewer resources available to prevent a data loss and combat the outage, the odds of a profitable comeback after a failure are not on your side.

Join us for a lunch and learn
We'll be discussing the benefits of Intelligent Business Continuity – a more reliable backup service that is less expensive - versus Traditional Backup methods.

Wednesday, October 15 from 11:30-1 at Bistro Bella Vita, where lunch will be provided. PLUS, registrants can bring their business cards for a chance to win a free Fitbit!

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER
Bistro Bella Vita is located at 44 Grandville, downtown Grand Rapids. If you have any questions, contact Kim at 616.837.6930 or via email.

Cisco SMARTnet Services :: Important Information on Program Changes

Monday, September 29, 2014
Is Your Network Smart?
How do you keep your network available, secure, and operating at peak performance? With SMARTnet Services, of course!

Cisco SMARTnet Service is a technical support service that allows you to have direct access 24x7x365 to Cisco experts and resources, ongoing operating system updates (including minor and major OS releases), hardware replacement (options for 2-hour, 4-hour and next-business-day) and even onsite support. As you can imagine, these services are crucial to keeping your business up and running at an optimal performance rate.
Getting Technical
There are several types of Cisco SMARTnet Service agreements, distinguished by the type of Cisco products the agreement covers: Hardware Maintenance and OS Software Maintenance, identified by CON-SNT-XXX, CON-SNTP-XXX; Software Application Support, identified by CON-SAS-XXX, CON-SAU-XXX; Services for Intrusion Prevention Systems, identified by CON-SU1-XXX, CON-SU2-XXX, CON-SU01-XXX; System-level coverage on Unified Communications Hardware and Software (CallManager, Unity Connection and Unity), identified by Essential Operate Service (CON-ESW-XXX) and Unified Communications Software Subscription (UCSS).

End-of-Life...So, What's Changing?
Earlier this summer, Cisco announced its End-Of-Life for Essential Operate Service (ESW) and Unified Communications Software Subscription (UCSS). These two offerings for Cisco Collaboration software and Cisco Prime software will combine into one service called Cisco Software Support Service (SWSS) pronounced “swiss”. SWSS, identified as ECMU, will replace ESW and UCSS and launched September 22nd. It will be sold as a single service offer and conveniently include both software maintenance and software upgrades.

Previously, ESW was for software updates and sold as a service while UCSS was for software upgrades and sold as a product, two contracts that were sold separately. This was often confusing for both the partner and customers. After Cisco received considerable feedback for improvements, they made the choice to combine ESW and UCSS into SWSS. The new SWSS offering means one less contract for you that will be easier to purchase, manage and renew. Everything that came with ESW and UCSS is included with SWSS. This consists of, but is not limited to, 24x7x365 phone and remote access to the Cisco Technical Assistance Center (TAC), minor updates, hot patches and bug fixes, access to Cisco Online Knowledgebase and application software maintenance for minor and major releases.

What should you do now?
If you currently have an ESW or UCSS contract you will remain covered on your contract until it expires. Your contract will be renewed to ECMU (or equivalent) upon the expiration date of either ESW or UCSS, whichever comes first. To learn more about SWSS contact your IT Resource sales rep at 616.837.6930 or email us.

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!