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Ease of Data Backup

Friday, August 03, 2012

As we have mentioned before, backups cannot be important enough. Countless hours of video and thousands of digital memories can be lost in a matter of seconds due to hard drive failure, natural disaster, or even employee error. Sometimes months or even years can go by without error; however that doesn’t mean you’re in the clear. Your data should be protected and replicated at all times in case of the unthinkable.

To combat the risk of data loss and increase ease, one of our Chicago based customers recently implemented a new backup solution which will lessen the load on their server, replicate their files off-site, and increase the reliability of their data. Going in the route of Network Attached Storage (NAS), they purchased two Buffalo Tetra Stations to move their shared files to. Since the files are no longer located on the server, valuable server resources can be used for more intensive tasks and storage needs. Plus, since they bought two Tetra Stations, they can replicate the data across the both of them in case of device failure or data loss.  So as one device sits in Chicago, the other is currently stationed at their Wisconsin location so not only is all their data backed up, it’s off-site for added reliability.

Some of the benefits of using the dual Network Attached Storage over tape backup include:
• No changing of tapes
• Automatic off-site backup
• Larger storage capacity
• Faster access
• Alleviation of server resources
• Quicker restore times
• Ease

While not every business may be able to benefit from this particular solution, if your company is looking to possibly upgrade their backup solution, contact IT Resource and we’ll be happy to look into backup options specifically for you!

A New Outlook on Mail

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Just recently Microsoft has been testing a new mail service called Outlook.com. Not to be confused with Microsoft Outlook, Outlook.com is a brand new email service created to eventually replace Microsoft’s dated email service Hotmail. Hotmail has sort of earned itself the reputation for being ad-filled, slow, and hard to navigate. Microsoft wanted to create a new email service that focused more on messages themselves and the overall design of the website. With a more intuitive look and cleaner layout, Microsoft would like to steal the thunder from Google’s email service; Gmail.

If you have an existing Microsoft Hotmail or Live account, you can log into it right now and check it out. I was able to jump in with my existing Live account and see what all the buzz was about. You are also welcome to make a completely new account using the @Outlook.com domain if you’d like. Some of the great features of Outlook.com are the integration with social websites and apps like Facebook and Skype.

Microsoft’s plan is to eventually wipe out Hotmail and Live mail. If you currently have either a Hotmail or Live mail account, don’t worry, you’ll eventually be able to pull all your contact and emails over and keep your email as well. If you’re ready to give it a try, head on over to outlook.com and check it out!

Renovation Work Continues

Monday, July 30, 2012

We've been sharing the progress of our renovations with you ever since day one and things are really starting to take shape. We started with our before shots, followed by some demolition, then the walls came down, and new ones went back up. Here we are again with a new update and this time we've got drywall, cabinets, and some ceiling work done.

Here is a sneak peak at our new kitchen. Cabinets and countertops are in and we're excited to get the appliances, flooring, and finishing touches complete so we can put this room to good use.

Opposite our kitchen cabinets is this long countertop which will serve us well when we have company lunches and buffets.

Here is a look at one of our conference rooms. We'll have a few different break away areas for folks to set up meetings, bring in customers and talk about projects.

We're so thrilled with the way things are coming along. Each week more progress is made and before long we'll be moving in!

Organized Cabling is Better Cabling: Avoid Server Room Spaghetti

Tuesday, July 24, 2012
While working in IT, we've come across our fair share of server rooms, IT closets, and network setups. Everyone has a different way of installing equipment and routing their respective cables; however a large emphasis should be placed on organization and cleanliness when creating the setup. We’ve seen examples of really well done cabling and examples of poorly routed cables. And then, there are examples like this:

A room like this is an extreme. Most server rooms don’t tend to get this bad, however if left unmanaged, things can quickly escalate out of control. Also, the more people involved in cable management, the more disorganized things can become as one employee may run cables one way while another may run them completely different. 

  

Poorly routed cables can lead to an assortment of problems over time. In the above examples, cables could have been plugged into devices as they arrived or hardware mounted in the most sensible locations. This can lead to cables crossing in front of moving parts or spilling out into walkways where they can be tripped on. Not only is it messy looking, poorly routed cables can lead to decreased airflow and improper hardware management. Just imagine how difficult it would be trying to trace a cable through that mess?

Fortunately, companies like Belkin and Tripp Lite offer great cable management products. With the help of these products and a little time and effort, a server room can go from disaster to exceptional!


Better cable management can lead to increase in performance, traceability, and management. Without all those cables clumped in front of the fans, the servers can breathe a little easier, reducing the risk of overheating. Eliminating stray cables on the ground also ensures the safety of the network engineers. On top of all the operational benefits, we can’t forget how aesthetically pleasing proper cable management is either!

Here is a recent server spaghetti story from one of our engineers. Names have been omitted to protect the innocent.

"I was asked to help out in a very small, one-rack data center that, in my thoughts, was actually rather nice. It was nicely cabled, clean, and tidy. I was able to do my work quickly, and I was quite impressed by how well things were put together. On my way out, I was closing the door behind me and flipped off the lights. When the lights went out, I noticed that the room got a lot quieter. That’s when I noticed that none of the equipment was on. There were two light switches that were right next to each other, neither marked. But one turned off the power to the rack. Busted!"

Overall, proper cable management is not something to overlook. It can help with performance and ease of locating devices. If you’d like to take it one step further, don’t forget to label everything including devices and cables. You’d be amazed on how easy this makes managing your network!

A Flame is Growing

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A new virus has shown up in the technological world that has professionals baffled and amazed at the severity and complexity. Flame, also known as Flamer, sKyWIper or Skywiper is a piece of malware that was discovered in 2012, yet appears to have been active as far back as 2010. Flame affects Microsoft Windows PC’s and can spread through a local network or via a USB drive and is mainly targeting cyber espionage in the Middle Eastern Countries. This piece of malware can record audio, screenshots, keyboard activity, and network traffic. It can also record Skype conversations as well. (Gostev, 2012)

Recently, however, the infection has worked its way into Microsoft Updates and can now spread through said means. Attackers located a flaw within Microsoft’s Terminal Services licensing certificate authority that allowed them to create their own ‘valid’ certificates. (Keizer, 2012) From there, they could fool the Microsoft machine to believing their malware was a legitimate Microsoft Update. Following that, the infected machine could then trick neighboring machines to thinking the infected machine was a Windows Update machine, and pass off the malware to other machines.

Researchers are saying this is one of the most complex and largest malware infections they’ve seen. While most infections are less than 1mb in size, Flame is right around 20mb. Professionals estimate around 1 year just to analyze the code of the infection. Microsoft has taken the necessary steps to stop the false certificates from registering within their Operating System to minimize infections. At this point, the best preventive measures include having up-to-date antivirus, monitor which websites you visit, and continue to receive Windows updates straight from Microsoft’s website. While the malware infection may not seem to be affecting the North American continent for now, there’s no saying the attackers will focus their attacks elsewhere. Always stay protected!

Making Progress...

Thursday, July 05, 2012

The expansion project continues.... Just as quickly as the walls came down, new walls went back up. Or at least they're in the process of going up. The studs were put in place last week and we're finally able to get a good idea of how our new space will be laid out.

What you see here is the main entry area off the west side of the building.


This area will soon house our engineers.


Here is another view of our engineer stations.

This is the doorway that will connect our two spaces. Management and sales will be through that doorway in our current office, while the engineering department will be in the new space. 

Its hard to imagine the project coming to completion, but we're right around the corner and new progress is being made every day. We can't wait to show you the big reveal!

Our 3rd Annual Golf Outing

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Summer in Michigan usually means barbecues, get-togethers, and of course, golf. Every year we make it a point to combine all three as a way to say thank you to our terrific customers, vendors, and friends. This week was our third annual IT Resource golf outing and as usual, a good time was had by all. 

The weather cooperated beautifully (although it was incredibly hot), unlike the memorable monsoon we braved last year.

Our awesome IT consultant Andrew is ready to get the party started!

Molly and Hans chat with a few customers while they wait to tee off.


Carrie and Deidra are ready to head out!

Our event was once again held at the Meadows Golf Course at Grand Valley State University. They have a beautiful course and do a great job handling all the details of our event.

About 16 holes in, everyone was having a great time, and surviving the heat!

Gary and Gayla stop for a shot with their teammate Nicole


Here's Leo with his team of golfers

These ladies had a great time! Susan and Gina from Northern Physical Therapy, Peggy from Choice One Bank, and Pat from Raap Signs


Tim and the guys watch as one of their teammates tees off

No golf outing is complete without prizes and a barbecue. Here Leo does the honors of handing out our prizes to the best golf team of the day.

Thank you again to everyone who joined us! We had a record number of golfers this year and we're already looking forward to hitting the greens next year! You can see some additional photos from our outing on our IT Resource Facebook page.

Volunteering Makes Community Stronger

Thursday, June 21, 2012

According to WebMD, volunteering and helping others may be the most direct route to happiness. When we help others our brain is actually releasing endorphins, which in turn, makes us happier. Given that theory, volunteering is a win-win for everyone involved.

Supporting our community by donating our time, energy, and resources is something we have always felt strongly about at IT Resource. While we serve clients all over the Midwest, we feel it necessary to help build and support those in our own backyard.

We have been longstanding members of the Coopersville Area Chamber of Commerce, and after being a member of the Board of Directors for 3 years, our Director of Sales, Carrie, was nominated and elected to serve as President for 2012. As a part of running the Chamber, Carrie has worked hard to grow Chamber membership and make positive improvements in the organization and community.

Carrie is pictured at the Chamber Legislative Luncheon with the event's moderator, Shelley Irwin

In addition to serving the Chamber of Commerce, IT Resource has been an annual sponsor of the Del Shannon Car Show, which offers significant benefits to the city of Coopersville, its local businesses, and residents. Not only are we a financial sponsor, but we also donate countless hours of time to help out in any way we can. It takes a village and we're happy to play our part. If you stop by the Car Show this August, be sure to say hello!

Not only do we work while volunteering, we also play. This summer we sponsored and participated in the Coopersville Neo Forum Golf Outing, where proceeds went to helping at-risk youth by reducing drug, alcohol, and tobacco use as well as reducing violence within the PreK-12 population through education. 

Gary and his son Eric played in the Neo Forum outing this summer.

We also believe in supporting local schools and youth programs which is why we've donated both time and computer networking equipment to Trinity Lutheran Schools, local Boy Scout Troops, and the Spring Lake Band Boosters.

There are so many ways to give back and support others in your community. Whether you give your help seasonally like we did here, or help businesses grow by supporting them through local groups and events, every little bit helps. If you're wondering where to start, look in your own back yard.

Michigan's Economic Bright Spot Awards Ceremony

Monday, June 18, 2012

As we mentioned here, we were so honored to have been included among this year's list of Michigan's Economic Bright Spots, presented by Corp! Magazine. This is the second time IT Resource has achieved this honor in the past 3 years. The awards ceremony was held June 7 at the MSU Management Education Center in Troy, MI.

Our Managing Partner, Gary Lutz, and Director of Sales, Carrie Borchers, attended the ceremony to accept the award.

Gary is pictured with a Corp executive and the 2012 award

Being labeled an Economic Bright Spot in our great state is a huge honor and we are always striving towards enhancing business, the economy, and well-being here. We always have, and continue to believe that Michigan is a great place to do business. We are proud to be recognized for the achievements we have made.

Tearing Down the Walls

Monday, June 11, 2012
Our expansion project is moving right along, and by the looks of things, you can see we've torn down all the walls to start with a blank slate. Its a far cry from where we were when we first updated you on our renovations here, and a much more open and clean space compared to the second update seen here.
We're so excited for our renovations to be complete, we've already started talking about our Open House!