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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.

A Partnership with EMC

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Part of being an IT Consultant is the ability to build partnerships with several different companies. With these partnerships come opportunities to try new products and work with new software and hardware. Just in the beginning of this year, IT Resource decided to build a partnership and relationship with EMC, a Cloud computing and IT Solution provider. After talking and working with a few different EMC representatives, we decided to purchase a demo product; an EMC VNX5300 SAN Solution.

The SAN was shipped to us within a miniature rack bolted to a pallet which was dropped into our back room. From there, Kevin, our Data Center Handler, put together a plan to get the SAN moved out of our back room and into our Grand Rapids area Data Center. He worked with a few resources in the building to find some space in our racks, set up access to our network, and determined the best route for getting it installed. Once that was all figured out, several of us gathered together to get the job done!

Step 1 was to figure out a place to put the new device. Kevin organized this location on our Rack:
The next step was to disassemble the device(s) from the rack it was shipped in. Here I am taking the necessary screws out in preparation of the move. The devices have been removed already, but the rails for mounting also need to be moved.
Once that was finished, we moved into the Data Center to get everything installed. We had individually carried the devices over to the data center and set them down while we moved the mounts that I was removing. After the mounts were installed, we moved the devices into the rack. Here Todd and I are moving one of the devices into the rack.
After everything was installed, I put the final screws in and made sure everything was mounted correctly and securely.
To finish off the installation, Todd and Pat connected all the individual devices together to get them working as one. Here they are hard at work.
After everything was all hooked up and secured in, the SAN was ready to be configured! Here is a shot of our finished product.

Now that it’s installed, Kevin will organize a time for everyone to meet together and start configuring the EMC SAN for use in our west Michigan Data Center. The purpose of this installation was to configure and use it normally so IT Resource can evaluate the product and determine if it’s right for new and existing customers. IT Resource strives to give our customers the best and most reliable equipment with expert service to go along with it!

Your Roadmap to IT

Thursday, January 17, 2013

What does your IT roadmap look like? Is your business on the path to efficiency, or are you staring at a wrong turn sign? As we begin a new year, now is the perfect time to ask yourself those questions.

As a businessowner you understand the importance of a solid IT infrasructure, but in order for your organization to run efficiently, you need a trusted partner who can handle those vital aspects of the company. Imagine how smoothly your business would run if you had continuous optimal communication lines amongst each employee. Or, how important a solid and speedy internet connection would be to your entire organization. It's not just one or two projects that require the assistance of a trusted IT partner, it's truly the entire backend of your business.

You see, at IT Resource, we understand that so many aspects of business rely on technology. That's why we've implemented a staff that has specialities in networks, software, hardware, and everything in between. We look for clients who we can partner with on a full scale level. When we are brought on as a member of your team we can insure that your business is running as efficiently as possible. So often companies have leaks that can really add up over time - slowly robbing your business of valuable time and money.

As we begin 2013, your objectives may include taking a look at upgrading your software, adding on to your facility, or purchasing new hardware. When you involve IT Resource from the start, we can work with you to insure you are making the best investments for your business - saving you time and money in the long run. We look for clients who we can team up with - call us today to see how we can help you start your year off right.