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Recognizing the Not-So-Small Business

Monday, April 29, 2013

Did you know that May is National Small Business Month? Since 1963, the United States has recognized small businesses and the impact they have on American culture and economy. More than half of Americans either own or work for a small business, and they create approximately two out of every three new jobs in the U.S. each year.

When you look into the size and contributions of a "small" business you'll find they're not so small after all. The United States Small Business Administration (SBA) breaks down the size of the business based on the industry. For example, a manufacturing business is considered small if it has 500 to 1500 employees. Other industries are defined based on their sales volume. General and heavy construction companies' annual receipts may not exceed $13.5 to $17 million, depending on the type of construction. Despite the name "small business" you can see that an organization that falls within these parameters has the potential of doing some major business.

IT Resource could be defined as a small business as well, and so could a number of the customers we serve. Regardless of the size of your business, you still need technology solutions that can keep up with and exceed your competition, and give your business the edge it needs to drive growth – all without breaking your IT budget. Our experience with highly technical, large enterprise solutions, combined with our commitment to the small business marketplace allow us to offer enterprise-level results at a cost that even the smallest business can afford. We provide our customers with solutions that are necessary for business operations like unified communications, e-mail & messaging, virtualization, and backup solutions at a fraction of the cost of enterprise systems. Just because you are classified as a small or medium sized business doesn’t mean you can’t have enterprise capabilities.

We not only service a large number of small businesses, but we support them as well. We make an effort to choose local when we have services we need administered for our own business. We support the local communities through donated time and money, and by shopping local. This month let's celebrate the "small" businesses of America. Given the incredible amount they give back in terms of revenue generated, jobs created, and supply met, they truly are the backbone of our society.

Buy Windows 8 Pro and Office Standard 2013 and Save

Thursday, April 25, 2013

For a limited time you can purchase Windows 8 Pro and Office Standard 2013 together and save up to 15%!

‚ÄčOn April 8, 2014, Microsoft will end support for the decade-old Windows XP as well as Office 2003. This means you will no longer receive updates, including security updates, for Windows XP from Microsoft. The Get2Modern offer, available now through June 20, 2013, gives you the opportunity to upgrade from Windows XP/Office 2003 to modern tools, including Windows 8 and the new Office. 

To obtain the savings you must purchase both items at the same time. This promotion applies to open business or open government (license or L+SA). A minimum of 5 licenses is required and a maximum of 249 can be purchased at the promotional price.

We recently reviewed the new Windows 8. You'll find features like a new and enhanced start screen, an app store, an Xbox music app, and the ability to sign in with your Microsoft account to any of your PCs running Windows 8 and immediately see your own background, display preferences, and settings.

Office Standard 2013 comes with a variety of applications including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Publisher, and Outlook. It is the ideal package for creating a multitude of projects.

If you are interested in taking advantage of this offer, contact IT Resource today and one of our sales associates will be happy to help you.

2 Big Ways to Save with Microsoft and IT Resource

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

How would you like to get money back on items you currently use, or products you were already planning to purchase? IT Resource has teamed up with Microsoft once again to offer you savings through their annual Big Easy promotion - a program designed to save you money on a variety of Microsoft products.

If you've considered purchasing Office 365 or Exchange, or thought about upgrading your server, now is a great time to do so. The Big Easy allows you to choose from a variety of Microsoft products and solutions while earning money back as a subsidy on qualifying purchases. The subsidy from Microsoft can then be used towards software, hardware, or services from IT Resource. Last year we had a customer who earned nearly $3000 to put towards the services we provided for their upgrade. This year eligible products that might interest you include: Microsoft Office 365, Microsoft Office, Project, Visio, Microsoft Exchange Server, Microsoft Lync, Microsoft SQL and Microsoft SharePoint.

To take advantage of this promotion you'll want to act soon. Purchases must be made no later than May 31, 2013. To learn more about this subsidy, feel free to contact us directly and we can walk you through it and show you the benefits.

In addition to the Big Easy, we are also working with Microsoft to offer you savings through their Cloud Easy Program.

The Cloud Easy is valid on certain Microsoft Cloud products and works the same way as the Big Easy. It has the same date of expiration, purchases must be made by May 31, 2013 in order to receive your subsidy check, so you'll want to act soon! Call our sales team to find out how much you can save!

Expand your Productivity Horizon with Office 365

Monday, April 15, 2013

Office 365 is a cloud based service that combines applications including SharePoint, Lync, Office, Exchange, Access, Publisher, and Visio all in one place. Here are a few reasons why Office 365 would streamline your day-to-day processes and increase your business agility.

Easy Administration
In just minutes, Office 365 allows you to add or remove users. You can also easily reset passwords for users, add storage, or update to new applications. If your company has been using Microsoft (MS) programs such as Excel or Exchange; your employees are already familiar with the process. This will save you time, reduce training costs and lower productivity interferences.

While many people are skeptical of cloud security, MS actually spends millions of dollars protecting their cloud. As a leader in industry privacy, it provides digital security along with professionals who monitor your systems 24-7. Office 365 applications are accessed through 128-bit SSL/TSL encryption so if a message or document is taken by an unidentified source, they will not be able to read it.

Remote Access
Office 365 can be accessed from anywhere an internet connection exists, allowing your employees to work as efficiently as possible. Even if internet is unavailable, archived e-mails and documents are still accessible offline. It eliminates the worry of not making it to the office due to unforeseen situations or inclement weather. Working remotely from home or at a customer site is now very manageable.

Do not waste time or worry about upgrades, updates, or patches – ever again. All the upkeep is done behind the scenes by MS. In addition, MS will be issuing feature releases annually that will increase the proficiency of Office 365 at no additional charge.
To learn more about the benefits of Office 365 and how it can help your business, attend our lunch & learn with the Whitecaps event. It will be a great opportunity to learn more, meet with our staff, and enjoy a baseball game! If you cannot make it to the event, call us at 616.837.6930 and we can answer any questions you may have, walk you through all of the processes, and ultimately migrate your entire business to Office 365.

Stay Up To Date and Competitive in your Industry with IT Consulting

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Is your business operating at full efficiency and maximizing productivity, or do things seem to be moving at the same pace they always have? Oftentimes we get so wrapped up in our day-to-day operations that we overlook processes and before we know it, there is truly a better way of getting things done. That's where IT Resource can help. We provide professional knowledge and solutions for high level consulting and IT design. If your IT infrastructure is inflexible, lacks security, or has out of date software and applications, we can help. Our certified consultants can offer solutions that provide your business with big data, cloud computing, and increased mobility. 

The goal of our high level consulting is to validate that your IT aligns with your business goals. Our consultants have the experience, analytical skills, and full attention to evaluate any IT incompetence and provide objective advice, all within a detailed design proposal. This will maximize your IT opportunities in order to gain a competitive edge in your industry. We offer a more personal approach and thoroughly investigate each client’s environment until we get the details we need for the best and most successful solution.

Technology is constantly changing, therefore your business objectives are probably changing as well. Often times, system upgrades and new technology can be put on the back burner because of demanding work schedules. Let us worry about your IT while you worry about your day-to-day business. We can support your current IT department for a single IT project, we can take constant control of specific IT functions, or we can serve as your entire IT department and provide continued support. 

Allowing us to provide your IT solutions will result in fewer mistakes and a trusted streamlined process. If you’re building from the ground up, it is vital to have IT representation from the start. This helps guarantee a unified install to maximize IT functionality down the road. While providing a unique proposal, we also limit construction cost overruns, and bring the project to completion on time, within your budget. 

We work with clients not only in the state of Michigan, but also throughout the midwest, including Wisconsin and the greater Chicago area. Call us today at 616.837.6930 - we would be happy to take a look at your IT infrastructure and let you know how you can implement changes to increase productivity, efficiency, and performance.

Energize Your Business 2013

Monday, April 08, 2013

One high-impact day. Three dynamic keynotes. Nine hard-hitting breakout sessions. See keynote speakers Dick Vitale, Rebecca Ryan, and John Jacobs, along with IT Resource’s Director of Sales, Carrie Borchers, speak at the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce Event, Energize Your Business, on May 7. It’s your chance to dress down and gear up with the latest tips, tools, and techniques for revving up your team, marketing your organization, and growing your business.

Space is limited for this exciting event, register today!

A Solid Investment: SSD Drives

Monday, March 18, 2013

As time moves forward, technology is close behind; always advancing and changing. Computers have been around for years and we’ve seen them decrease in size but increase in power. We’ve seen new operating systems and better screens, but the one thing we haven’t seen at a consumer level is the change in hard drive technology. While early super computers used Solid-State Drives (SSD) and similar technology, the high price and larger storage options for traditional electromechanical disks made them a popular option for both enterprise and consumer-grade systems. In a traditional hard disk drive, a set of metal platters spin at anywhere from 5400 rotations per minute (rpm) to 15000 rpm providing storage capacities upwards of 4 Terabytes. In fact, you can check out what a spinning hard drive in slow motion looks like to really understand how quickly the data can be read/written. However, moving parts mean hard drives have an expiration date. Also, if a moving hard drive is dropped, there’s a good chance that drive won’t function correctly again. So, what’s the next step in hard drive technology? SSD.

SSD’s are essentially large flash drives that replace existing platter hard drives. The name is misleading however, as there is actually no disk of any kind, but rather a circuit board! Today, they are down to a more affordable level and can be purchased in a variety of sizes. Due to the nature of the drive there are no moving parts therefore the risk of damage from fall and abuse is greatly reduced. Along with less risk, the drive is also much faster so boot times are shortened greatly. Waking a computer from sleep and starting programs once logged in go much faster, since the drive doesn’t have to spin up. The drives also run much cooler along with no noise. Compared to traditional hard drives of today, SSD’s are definitely a bit more expensive, however with a lot of our files and applications moving to the cloud, we won’t need as much storage space available on our personal machines.

So, the next time you’re in the market for a new machine for work, or for home, check out solid-state drives and see if they come as an option for the machine you’re interested in. And as always, if you’re ordering a new machine through IT Resource, request that your new machine have this feature and we can make it happen!

Pandora Unlimited Mobile Listening Has Disappeared

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Unfortunately, the time has come for Pandora, the beloved online music channel to introduce a cap on our mobile listening experience. Over the course of one month, users will only be allowed to listen to 40 hours of music before they’re prompted to pay an additional amount to continue listening. If they decide not to pay more, the user will have to wait until the next month before continuing their listening.

However, Pandora’s Blog mentions that the change should affect less than 4% of their total monthly active listeners at this point. In reality, most of us reading this blog and Pandora’s blog will probably never hit that limit but it’s still something we will now have to watch out for. According to Pandora, the average listener spends about 20 hours listening to their online radio across all devices (Computer, Phones, Blu-Ray, etc…) in any given month. This isn’t necessarily something that Pandora wanted to do, however due to rising per-track royalty rates over the past few years and the expected rise over the next two years, they've been forced to recover those costs by limiting our monthly usage without increasing our ads.

In the unfortunate event that the limit is reached, there are a couple ways to get around issue. The easiest way would be to jump onto a computer and listen from your desktop or laptop which is still unlimited listening. Another way would be to pay the $0.99 and continue listening for the rest of the month. Of course, there is also the option of paying the $3.99 monthly charge for Pandora One and you can get unlimited listening on all your devices without commercials.

So, don’t worry, your music isn’t going anywhere! While Pandora may have put a slight limit to your online listening experience, there are plenty of ways to keep listening once the limit is hit.

Tablets Replace Laptops?

Thursday, February 21, 2013
Over the past few years tablet computers have entered the market and made their way into many of our homes and businesses. In fact, I myself own a tablet computer. However, many users today have laptops they use at home and don’t necessarily find a need for a tablet as well. Granted, a tablet may a bit easier to use while reading a book or looking something up quickly, but in reality, a laptop can do those tasks as well. So, is a tablet worth it? Do you find a necessity with a tablet in conjunction with a laptop, or even in place of a laptop?

I believe a lot of companies are starting to realize that many people would rather stick with their gently used laptop than run out and purchase a new tablet. However, at the same time, I believe that laptops, in a sense, are disappearing due to declining popularity. When a user’s laptop dies, instead of spending $800 on a new laptop, they would rather spend the $500 on a tablet. The problem lies in the tablet companies getting their devices in the hands of users who need laptop replacements and people who would rather have a laptop instead of a tablet.

To combat this, many tablet manufacturers like Microsoft are releasing tablets that have the option for a keyboard to be attached. One of these machines is the Microsoft Surface Pro. Pictured above, the Surface Pro has laptop-like speed and capabilities along with an easily detachable keyboard/mouse to suit your needs, depending on the activity you’re currently working on. The keyboard helps when typing up an important document or working within a spreadsheet. However, removing the keyboard gives you just the screen for ease in browsing the internet or playing a touch based game. It’s not just Microsoft that has the keyboard for their tablet. Asus has an optional keyboard along with the popular Apple branded iPad.

So the overall question: do the tablets of today make a compelling argument to switch from a laptop to a tablet? Do the faster processors and detachable keyboards make them a good alternative to their heavier, more bulky counterpart? What do you think? Would you replace your current laptop with a new tablet?

Save Money and Increase Flexibility with Virtualization

Monday, February 11, 2013

If virtualization seems like just another buzzword, think again. Virtualizing your environment offers a hefty amount of benefits, including saving you money and providing increased flexibility and mobility. So just what is virtualization?

Virtualization is a technique that allows the consolidation of multiple systems or servers to run on a single server or device. Many companies use virtualization to consolidate several physical servers to a single server, saving a lot of money and up-front costs in hardware, and providing long-term cost savings for on-going maintenance, management and energy usage. But, virtualization is not just for servers – it's also available for networking devices, disk storage and even desktop computers. Simply put, virtualization provides the ability to accomplish more with less hardware and less management.

One major benefit of virtualization is the overall cost savings in needing less hardware and devices to provide the same technology services. Less hardware means less on-going support and maintenance costs, too. Companies will also benefit from the increased redundancy and data protection that virtualization solutions provide. For those looking to move to cloud-based services, implementing virtualization in-house will provide a much easier path to the cloud. Finally, the increased flexibility and mobility that virtualization can provide allows a business to quickly adapt to market fluctuations and stay competitive in the marketplace.

If those benefits don't intrigue you, there's more. Virtualization can provide every part of an organization with enhanced capabilities, whether it’s increased remote access for a mobile workforce or providing a test environment to insure smooth and tested technology upgrades. Companies should virtualize to consolidate servers, provide redundancy, increase efficiency of their workforce, and to reduce costs.

With virtualization you can focus more on your core business needs, not just on supporting your technology systems. Businesses that use virtualization are quicker to adapt to change, more responsive to customer demands and better able to align their technology system to their business goals.

To set up a consultation to begin virtualizing your environment, call IT Resource today at 616.837.6930.