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Join Us :: Reduce Business Expenses With SIP Trunking

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Join us for breakfast and coffee as we discuss ways to save your business money by eliminating the need for a separate voice and data connection. This presentation, hosted in conjunction with nexVortex and Symplicity Communications, will cover what SIP Trunking is, how it can benefit your business, how it works with your current phone system, and what your connectivity and carrier options are.

SIP Trunking allows phone calls to travel over the internet, instead of using traditional analog public phone systems, making it possible for a business to leverage IP across its network perimeter while also merging voice, data and video into one. We've seen the popularity of SIP Trunking increase heavily in the recent past. In fact, Frost & Sullivan findings reported a 40% increase in SIP users in 2010, and have predicted that the North American VoIP and SIP trunking markets will continue to expand in the near future. As businesses consider switching from traditional telephone connections, they’re seeing benefits ranging from cost savings to increased functionality and flexibility via SIP Trunking.

Time & Location
Breakfast and registration will be held from 8:00am-8:30am and the presentation takes place from 8:30am-10:30am.
Our presentation will be held at the Amway Grand Plaza, in the Haldane Room on the 3rd floor. Space is limited so you'll want to register early, as there is a chance this event may fill to capacity. In the event that there are no additional tickets remaining, please contact Kim to be added to the wait list.

Click here to register today!

Our Holiday Gadget Gift Guide

Thursday, December 05, 2013
If you're looking for a few gift ideas, we've once again put together our staff picks for the best gadgets of the season.

Tile: The world's largest lost and found. This is a Bluetooth device you attach to items you may lose such as keys, a bike, a laptop case, backpack, etc. It uses sound to alert if you’re nearby and gives you the last known location. If you’re out of range, it uses crowdsourcing (other people who have the app on their device and are within 150’ of your tile) to help you locate it.

Google Chromecast: Everything you love. Now on your tv. Only $35 and allows iPhone, iPad, Android, and Chrome to send media to a TV with an HDMI port. It supports Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, and other services.

Innergie PocketCell Rechargeable Portable Battery or HALO 2800mAH Pocket Power Charger: Universal mobile batteries. Both provide power to all USB powered devices such as phones and tablets on the go so that a wall cord is not needed while traveling.

FitBit: Small gift. Big impact. This is a wireless tracker that tracks steps and calories burned and syncs to any smartphone automatically - an effortless way to keep track of your activity and calories burned.

BackBeat GO 2 Bluetooth Earbud Headphones: These headphones by Plantronics feature Bluetooth technology which allows for audio streaming from any Bluetooth device. Wireless ear buds are a great gift for someone who stays active and enjoys listening to music but does not want to deal with the hassle of plugging in or untangling headphones. 

Mophie Powerstation: This power station is similar to the portable batteries mentioned however this option is more heavy duty with a battery capacity of 4000mAh. This product is slightly larger than most other portable power chargers but work great for power hungry tablets or any USB device. 

Nest Protect: This device tells you when there is a problem in your home. It uses human voices to tell you what the problem is and what you should do. Problems that it detects are smoke, carbon monoxide, heat sensor, ambient light, humidity and three activity sensors. The Nest Protect also alerts you via the Nest app, available on any smartphone.

Epic Bluetooth Virtual Keyboard: This virtual keyboard laser projects a full size keyboard onto any flat surface. This compact device even simulates key click sounds as you type. It is Bluetooth enabled and is compatible with tablets and smartphones.

Slingbox: Never miss live tv again. This gives you the ability to watch and control your own TV from anywhere with any smartphone, tablet, or TV. Even when you’re not home, Slingbox lets you watch live and local channels right from your tablet or smartphone. This is a perfect gift for a sports fan, a frequent traveler, or anyone on the go.
So tell us, what's on your holiday wish list this year?

Big Technology Tax Incentives

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

As the year comes to a close, many businesses begin to look ahead at budgets for the upcoming year. Instead of waiting until 2014 to purchase new or used equipment, you may want to do so within the next 4 weeks so you can take advantage of some great tax incentives. Section 179 of the IRS tax code permits full write offs for qualifying purchases!

On or before December 31st, 2013, you can take advantage of these tax breaks:
  • If you purchase, lease, or finance new or used equipment you may expense up to $500,000 in the first year!
  • Assets purchased in excess of $500,000 may be eligible for 50% bonus depreciation. This is available on “new” equipment only. 
  • The maximum that can be spent on equipment before the Section 179 deduction begins to phase out is $2,000,000.

To learn more, go to section179.org or consult your tax advisor. Contact your account manager or lead consultant at IT Resource to take advantage of this great year-end tax break savings!

Happy Birthday IT Resource

Friday, November 08, 2013

It was 14 years ago this month that IT Resource opened its doors and welcomed customers. What started as two partners working from a small west Michigan based office has turned into a full scale operation with over 20 employees, each of whom possess a wide variety of certifications in a number of technology fields.

We've partnered with some of the best companies in the tech industry: Microsoft, Cisco, VMware, EMC, and HP, just to name a few. And while we've grown, built, and migrated over the years, the one thing that hasn't changed is our commitment to our customers. Because of your loyal support, we've been able to flourish, and for that we thank you.

We're looking forward to a long lasting relationship with each and every customer and friend who made this possible. Here's to another 14 great years!

Managing Wireless Interference with Cisco CleanAir Technology

Tuesday, October 15, 2013
Managing interference in wireless environments is quickly becoming fundamental due to the growing number of wireless devices and mobile applications. These contribute to increased interference on your wireless network and hinder network performance. Cisco’s CleanAir technology helps by automatically and continually monitoring interference across your wireless spectrum, categorizing the interference, and alleviating the interference that it discovers. 
Cisco’s CleanAir has the ability to identify radio frequency (RF) interference and adjust the systems accordingly to maximize wireless coverage. There are endless devices in a business environment that can cause interference. Common interference can include neighboring wireless networks and other RF emitting devices such as microwaves, Bluetooth devices, fluorescent lights, video cameras, and even a video game console. Interference that is created from these devices can create security risks and network instability. 

A large part of day-to-day business processes rely on a strong and secure wireless connection in order to maintain productivity. Interference can cause decreased wireless performance which can lead to a reduction in productivity. Network visibility is crucial for managing networks to prevent unexpected downtime. Unlike any other RF detectors, CleanAir provides network visibility in order to classify the interference type, zero-in on it, fix the issue, and make sure it will not disrupt connections in the future. 

Cisco reports that 80% of companies report problems relating to interference. CleanAir will prevent these problems before they cause negative impacts on the daily operations of your business. If you would like to know more about this technology, contact IT Resource at 616.837.6930 or via email. As a Cisco partner, we assist customers in west Michigan, and throughout the midwest.

Save With Microsoft's SMB Advantage

Monday, October 14, 2013

Is it time to upgrade your server? Were you planning on purchasing new software? Perhaps your were thinking about moving to the cloud. Imagine earning payouts on products that you may have already been planning on purchasing. The SMB Advantage mimics the campaign formerly known as The Big Easy, and it's a promotion we've been waiting for all season. It really is a prime time to upgrade!

With SMB Advantage, customers in small and medium businesses earn subsidy payouts on qualifying Microsoft cloud services and on-premises products that they can apply towards future purchases of Microsoft software licenses, subscriptions, or associated services from eligible Microsoft partners like IT Resource. The IT Resource sales team can also explain campaign accelerators that are designed to provide you with additional earning opportunities.

This offer is valid until November 30, 2013, and you must redeem within 30 days of purchase. As a west Michigan based Microsoft partner, we have a long history of helping our customers benefit from these Microsoft subsidy checks. Contact the IT Resource sales team today to see how you can begin to save.

Windows XP and Office 2003 End of Support

Thursday, October 03, 2013

As you begin planning for the end of the year and finalize budgets for next year, please take into account Windows XP and Office 2003 End of Support (EoS).

Microsoft will be ending support for Windows XP and Office 2003 on April 8th, 2014. If your organization is still using this operating system and program, it is highly recommended that you begin your migration to a modern desktop immediately. Do not wait until the last minute to begin your migration as this process can take several months to implement.
What does EoS mean for your environment?
After April 8th, Windows XP and Office 2003 will no longer receive updates and patches. Environments that are not monitored are much more susceptible to security breaches. Hackers may be able to find and exploit flaws in the operating system and Microsoft will no longer update or patch these problems. This can result in complete failure of the system without the ability to recover your system or data.

You will also be limited to the type of software you can purchase as many software companies will produce new versions and updates that will not be supported on the Windows XP operating system. Likewise, many hardware manufacturers will create new products that can only be supported by newer operating systems.

What can you do?
We recommend the implementation of our Remote Monitoring and Reporting service to analyze and monitor your network to determine an exact count of XP devices and Office 2003 programs in your organization and provide a clear upgrade and migration path. Contact our sales team at sales@itrw.net or call 616.837.6930. Our team can determine what your organization requires to migrate to modern systems and minimize your security risks.

Cisco UC500's End of Life

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Cisco recently announced the End of Life for their popular Unified Communications 500 Series for Small Business (UC 500), effective January 20th, 2014. The series eliminated the need for multiple servers and combined voice, data, video, security, and wireless capabilities in one. It integrates with existing desktop applications such as calendar, email, and customer relationship management (CRM) programs.

The UC500 system is one that we have used often with many customers over the recent years. Some in our industry are disappointed in Cisco's decision to end the product line. However, the Cisco Business Edition 6000 (BE6000) is being marketed as the replacement for the UC500.

The BE6000 is a solid system that simplifies your transition from outdated telephony systems to unified communications. The BE6000 solution quickly pays for itself by lowering total cost of ownership. It's an affordable, simple, scalable choice for midsize businesses.

At IT Resource, our consultants have a great deal of experience and a high success rate with this new system. In addition to considering the BE6000 as a replacement, we are attending a large partner briefing later this month where we will be educated on the other Cisco portfolio offerings, such as their hosted collaboration solutions (HCS).

If you are currently running a UC500 system make sure you keep your SMARTnets up to date. You can still purchase the UC500 system through January 20th, 2014. Support as part of the product warranty will continue through January 20th, 2015 while applicable service and support eligible by contacts will be available through January 31st, 2017. You can continue to renew your SMARTnet for that piece of equipment until the service drops off.

If you have any questions on your current UC500 system, or would like more information on the new BE6000 system, we would be happy to review things with you. Give us a call at 616.837.6930, or email sales@itrw.net.

Hybrid Cloud Computing

Thursday, September 05, 2013

The need to respond more quickly to customers and stay ahead of competition has made the agility and cost-effectiveness of moving applications to the cloud an increasingly appealing option.

In general, the term cloud computing typically refers to a public cloud which is shared by thousands of customers all over the world. These cloud providers usually sell storage space, bandwidth and computing power to companies at much cheaper rates than those of physical servers. Using a public cloud can save your company a great deal of money, however, the shared aspect could cause concerns over accessibility, availability and security.


If you have sensitive information you wouldn't want stored on a public cloud, you would potentially store it on your own private servers. To satisfy this need some businesses set up their own cloud-like computing processes, which act as a private cloud. Private clouds work the same way as public clouds but they are used exclusively for one business and can be firewalled away from the rest of the Internet. This gives the private cloud more security and better performance.

Hybrid Clouds
Since most businesses can't get everything they need out of using a public or private cloud exclusively, they use a combination of both to take advantage of the benefits of each type. Public clouds can be used for less sensitive tasks, and private clouds can be used for secure or vital processing tasks. The combination of both these clouds is the hybrid cloud, and it is quickly becoming the preferred method for many businesses. 

An organization might use a public cloud service for archived data but continue to maintain in-house storage for customer data. Ideally, the hybrid approach allows you to take advantage of the scalability and cost-effectiveness that a public cloud computing environment offers without making critical applications and data vulnerable.

Advantages Of The Hybrid Cloud
Cost Savings: Keeping all of your IT services exclusively internal (on private clouds) or placing everything in the public cloud would require you to spend additional money. A hybrid environment allows you to leverage both systems, reducing the potential costs of hardware, software, and services. Services such as managed hosting can become very expensive, while hybrid computing is available at very reasonable rates.

Scalability: With the hybrid cloud you can mix and match your IT systems and infrastructures between internal private cloud solutions and multiple public cloud environments. This eliminates the need to rely solely on any one system.

Security Management: Security levels vary with each organization and with a hybrid cloud you can maintain security internally, or outsource it to IT Resource. Some organizations may have fewer resources and confidential information to manage and others may find that there are specific providers that offer higher levels of security for their data.

Redundancy: By having your data distributed between multiple sites within the hybrid cloud, you have less downtime and data loss.

Flexibility: Hybrid clouds offer the ability to run individual workloads on either the public or private platforms, taking into consideration cost, performance, security and other requirements. Hybrid clouds provide more flexible solutions when compared to either private or public clouds individually, when you consider the entire workload.


Security Issues In The Cloud
Concerns about the safety of data could be resolved by storing sensitive data on the private cloud, and storing all other data and applications on the public cloud. Another resolution is to carry out critical or security based operations in your own data centers, while using the public cloud to carry out tasks that are larger. By implementing this type of setup you can take advantage of both types of data storage.

Overall, hybrid clouds are designed to quickly assess your needs. Because there are several processes going on behind the scenes to achieve a seamless route between various types of clouds, hybrid is the ideal solution for large-scale projects that can be cumbersome to an in-house server. Using the hybrid cloud would save you the extra costs of purchasing server hardware for a specific project, which would otherwise be unnecessary.

If you have questions on how a hybrid cloud relates to your business, call IT Resource. Our engineers would be happy to meet with you to discuss your needs.

Disaster Recovery Warranty Programs

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Networks are the lifelines that connect your customers to goods and services, and the effects of downtime can be significant, decreasing productivity, eroding customer confidence, and losing revenue.

What is a Cisco SMARTnet?
A Cisco SMARTnet is a warranty program that supplements a Cisco purchase. It provides hardware replacements for the duration of a renewable contract. It also gives an organization’s IT staff 24-7 access to specialized assistance, automated troubleshooting, and authorized entry to online resources – including technical documents and support communities. A SMARTnet will increase business efficiency, maximize business continuity, and implement disaster recovery protocols. 
Hardware Coverage
The SMARTnet hardware warranty offers a variety of options based on specific business needs. Hardware replacement can be available by 5p.m. the next business day or even the same day, within 2 hours with the 24x7x2 hour plan. This option is ideal for a business that cannot afford to be inoperable for more than a couple hours. The coverage also offers a Return for Repair option and an On-Site option where a Cisco engineer will travel on-site to troubleshoot and resolve an issue.

Certified and Professional Assistance
A SMARTnet provides free certified IT assistance by directly connecting its users to the Cisco Technical Assistance Center (TAC) through e-mail, phone, web collaboration, or face to face. TAC can be directly accessed 24 hours a day, 365 days. The professionals at TAC are experienced and make it simple to submit a service request, track the issue, and have it resolved. 

Preemptive Diagnoses and Automatic Software Updates
The SMARTnet program provides alerts and identifies issues in real time on Cisco devices. These issues are detected and dealt with by Cisco engineers before it affects business operations. This will maximize business continuity and help prevent disasters. Operating system software updates will also be available free of charge as they are released.

To learn about all of the SMARTnet features and pricing, please contact Sales at 616.837.6930.