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Meet Kodi Brandt :: Helpdesk Technician

Tuesday, January 31, 2017
People profiles give you a chance to meet our staff - the folks you may deal with on a regular basis here at IT Resource.

What do you do at IT Resource? I am a Helpdesk Technician

When did you start working at IT Resource? In September, 2016

What information technology certifications do you hold? A+, Net+, CSS, OSHA10, HTML5

Tell us something your colleagues don't know about you: I am currently developing my own video game.

What's the most interesting job you've ever had that was not IT related? I worked at a nursing home for a year or two and met a lot of interesting people there.

What was the last book you read? "It’s Kind of a Funny Story" Great book that I relate to on some level.

What's one thing you can't live without? Hard to say. I love the people in my life, so I’d say all of them.

If you could meet one famous person, dead or alive, who would it be? I’m not sure. Maybe DaVinci. I love hearing different perspectives on the world.

What's your favorite movie of all time? "The Emperor’s New Groove"

What's the best place you've ever travelled to? The Holland pier in the winter. The ice covering the lighthouse is awe-inspiring.

What do you consider to be your greatest success or proudest moment in life so far? Having someone sign up to follow my game’s progress online was amazing. Family and friends join because they feel obligated, but having a complete stranger interested is something different entirely. Amazing really.

What's the best piece of advice you've ever received? “Do things right the first time or don’t do them at all.”

When you were younger, what did you want to be when you grew up? I wanted to join the military.

Featured Service :: IT Assessments & Risk Assessment

Monday, January 23, 2017
Hackers and phishing scams are getting more sophisticated, which makes having a secure network essential. With the advent of SSL VPN (Virtual Private Network), Secure Access Control, and Secure Mobility, the corporate office can now be accessed from anywhere and while mobilizing your workforce can increase efficiency many times over, it also opens the door for unwanted data threats that may come from inside or outside the corporate office. Now, more than ever, you’ll want to keep your network secure with an IT partner that has the skills and know-how to protect your most important asset – your data.

We've encountered some potential phishing scams ourselves. Read our blog post where we talk about how to avoid being on the receiving end of a scam.‚Äč Contact us today to set up your IT security assessment.

Featured Service :: Virtual CIO & Strategic IT Planning

Friday, January 13, 2017
With new construction, expansion projects, or upgrades, we make sure your information technology needs mesh seamlessly with your business goals because Information Technology is at the core of every successful business. After all, technology is what makes collaboration and communication possible, and that’s why choosing the right Virtual IT Officer or IT Consultant is vital.

The goal of our Virtual CIO and strategic IT consulting & planning service is to make sure your Information Technology needs support your business goals. As partners, we give you the knowledge and leadership you need to grow and succeed. When we are involved in your IT project, construction, expansion, or upgrade, we guarantee success based on our planning, project management, and execution.

WE'LL TAKE CARE OF IT ALL
- Virtual CIO
- Information Technology Consulting
- Design and Build Consulting
- Owner’s Representation
- Design Specification Development
- Request For Proposal Management
- Construction Project Management
- Systems Implementation
- Project Management

CONSTRUCTION DESIGN & BUILD CONSULTING SERVICES

If you’re building from the ground up, it’s vital to have solid Information Technology representation from the start. This helps guarantee a seamless install, maximizing IT functionality down the road. We’ll work with general contractors, subcontractors, and vendors throughout the project to guarantee success. Our extensive list of large scale projects have taken place in the greater Grand Rapids area, Chicago, Port Huron, Traverse City, and numerous locations throughout the Midwest.

We provide clearly defined and documented build plans along with the project management services you need, leading to:
- Limited construction cost overruns
- Limited change orders
- A project that is complete on time and on budget
- We will carefully define the requirements with the owner, create the bid specifications and work with the necessary parties to make sure your project is planned right, from the ground up.

If you have questions on our Virtual CIO capabilities, contact us today.

Featured Service :: Network Support and Engineering Services

Tuesday, January 03, 2017
Whether your business requires specific, one-time, technical assistance or complete IT support, our highly skilled engineers are here to help.

We specialize in network infrastructure, which includes local area networks (LAN), wide area networks (WAN), wireless solutions, security and virtual private networks (VPN), as well as storage networks (SAN and Blade). We also handle server applications including directory services, e-mail, database, and web; and we also work with storage including SAN and Blades. We have highly skilled network engineers who hold multiple certifications in the areas of virtualization and communication solutions (VOP, Unified Messaging, and Unified Communications). By using state of the art technology, we can connect to and service any of our customers’ locations worldwide with just a few clicks – keeping costs low for our customers while maintaining a stellar level of engineering service and network support.

CERTIFICATIONS
Our engineers hold a wide variety of certifications. While there are too many to list here, we've highlighted a few below.
- Certified E-Discovery Specialist (CEDS)
- CompTIA A+ Certification
Cisco
- Cisco Certified Design Associate (CCDA)
- Certified Network Administrator (CCNA)
- Certified Network Professional (CCNP)
- Sales Expert (CSE)
- Unity Design Specialist
Microsoft
- Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE)
- Certified Desktop Support Technician (MCDST)
- Certified IT Professional (MCITP)
- Certified Network Product Specialist (MCNPS)
- Certified Professional (MCP)
- Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE)
- Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS)
- Windows 7 Certification
VMware
- Certified Professional (VCP)

If you have questions on network engineering, let's talk about your needs. Contact us today.

Featured Service :: Hosting & Colocation

Thursday, December 22, 2016
We offer many different packages for hosting, colocation, and SaaS, for businesses large and small. Let's talk about your individual needs.

HOSTING
From large to small, our hosting solutions can be as simple as a single off-site domain controller to a complete off-site replicated network environment. In order to best serve each individual client, we offer a number of different hosting plans featuring Windows® servers, Microsoft® Small Business Servers and Exchange hosting as well as off-site replication and failover services for e-mail and database systems. Server hosting starts at $75 per month. Call us at 616.837.6930 to begin your plan today.
- Server Hosting (Windows®/Linux/etc.)
- Microsoft® Small Business Server Solution Hosting
- Server replication & failover
- Off-site data back-up archiving
- E-mail antivirus/anti-spam
- Network faxing solutions

COLOCATION
Put your hardware into our data center for one low monthly fee. The rack unit (HP rack) and all utilities (electrical, cooling, backup generator, etc.) are included in the monthly service price. You can choose the bandwidth and number of public IP addresses you require, or you can provide your own telecom connections. Colocation is priced by individual rack units. Pricing starts at $28 per unit rack and discounts are available for full racks. Additional discounts are available for not-for-profit organizations. Engineering services to install and configure equipment are available at time and materials.
- Full colocation rack
- Customizable colocation racks
- Customizable bandwidth
- Monitoring services are available
- Backup services are available
- Engineering services are available

SOFTWARE AS A SERVICE (SAAS)
Subscription based software means no license fees, and because we manage the IT infrastructure, you incur lower costs on hardware and software. Another benefit is that we’ll automatically manage all updates and upgrades so you’ll never have to worry about it. The SaaS provider also manages availability, so there’s no need for customers to add hardware, software, or bandwidth as the user base grows.
- Microsoft® Exchange/Outlook
- Microsoft® Windows Server/Small Business Server/etc.
- DoubleTake® Replication Software
- Microsoft® Office Applications
- DoubleTake® Replication Software

If you'd like to learn more about how hosting, colocation, and Software as a Service can benefit your business, contact us today.

5 IT Problems to Avoid in 2017

Tuesday, December 20, 2016
Data breaches, loss of information, and internet hacks happen, and it's usually a matter of when, not if. But, a lot of IT problems and emergencies stem from events that could have been easily avoided. Having the right tools, training, and resources available to your entire organization is key. Read our 5 most common mistakes that often lead to much larger problems.

Here are 5 common mistakes that often lead to much larger problems
1. Failing to back up your files
Regular backups keep your documents, files, databases, e-mail, images, etc. protected in the event of a system failure. There’s so many different ways you can lose data - from hard drive failure to physical damage, to viruses and theft. To avoid lost data, make sure your organization has a backup solution that protects critical data and functions. Using the 3-2-1 backup rule is a great place to start. This means always having at least 3 copies of your data, 2 of which are local and on different mediums and 1 copy that is stored offsite.

2. Not using secure passwords

As a business owner or decision maker in your organization, you should consider implementing a password policy. While users might find it a hassle, it's far less inconvenient than dealing with a network security or data breach. Simple first steps include resetting all your passwords periodically. The longer you keep the same password; the more time an attacker has to access it. When was the last time you changed your passwords? Learn more about password security here.

3. Lack of a BYOD policy

A BYOD policy protects your organization’s network when employees access it on their personal devices. When you allow your staff to work on their personal devices, including phones, tablets, and laptops, it’s important to make sure that each device is password protected. Also, ensuring there is an automatic lock code or timeout function and using Mobile Device Management technology is very important. There’s no one size fits all approach when it comes to BYOD policies and that’s why it’s important to work with a professional to design a policy and security plan that will meet the security standards of the company and still give workers the flexibility they need.

4. Not protecting yourself from internet threats
A Cloud based security platform is your first line of defense against malicious destinations on the internet, blocking malware, phishing, and other threats. Cloud security platforms provide powerful, effective security that can deploy in minutes. It’s important to have Cloud based internet security because it can block threats before they even reach your users. It’s a very easy and inexpensive way to protect your users and it adds one more layer of protection.

5. Not knowing who to call
Many companies are lucky enough to have IT staff, but sometimes problems can arise that require additional resources and knowledge. That’s where we come in; we can act as your IT department, an extension of your IT department, or as needed. We’re here to be a resource to your organization and to make sure your systems are running as efficient as possible so you can get back to what’s important – your business.

If you have any questions, are looking for additional information, or would like to discuss your security plan for 2017, please reach out to our sales team or give us a call at 616.837.6930.

Free Cloud Management License with Cisco Meraki

Monday, December 19, 2016

Whether you’re adding a few new devices to your network or deploying an entirely new infrastructure, budget is always a concern for IT teams. Here at IT Resource and Cisco Meraki, we understand that challenge, so we’ve created an offer to help your budget go further.

The first year is on us!

From now until July 29, 2017, when you purchase a new* Cisco Meraki cloud management license for 3 years or more, Cisco Meraki will give you an additional year at no additional cost. How’s that for extending your budget?

Meraki licensing includes 24/7 dedicated support from a Meraki specialist, all future firmware updates, and new feature releases. 

For full terms and conditions, visit meraki.com/1YU or email our team.

*Sorry, this offer is not available for license renewals.

Amazon Echo :: A Candid Review

Tuesday, December 13, 2016
We recently asked Andrew Smith, our Director of Technical Services, for his opinion on the Amazon Echo. Below you'll find his candid review.

The Amazon Echo is a success in the realm of home automation that begins a new era in home management and entertainment. The device may have started as a quick way to integrate Amazon with daily life and access music on demand through a powerful woofer and tweeter, but it has found a place that is truly awe inspiring, becoming an asset in every room.

When I got the Echo it had just been released and the features were slim. The number of “Easter Eggs” built in to the system actually outnumbered the add-ons but that isn’t really true anymore. Now the Echo, known as Alexa, has improved voice recognition and abilities to listen to more applications, listen to better news, recipes, home automation, and a host of other items that are continually updated in the cloud, making the system more useful each and every week.

When I got the Echo I was impressed with the sound, and it got really, really loud when I turned up the volume. The speaker and the actual device are solid, with the speaker weighing in as a heavy item that pushes air well. Tied with my music library I can hear the bass in a song and it feels really good.

That’s not all, the Alexa application can be a fun entertainer that can interact with people in spite of disabilities. A good game of trivia, a word puzzle, or just fun facts can make the Echo a part of daily fun, and keep you entertained even when you were not sure you wanted to be.

I rarely miss a day of asking Alexa for a joke, or setting multiple alarms to remind me of whatever I need reminding in a day, but have had even more fun asking stupid questions or saying silly stuff and finding that the programmers actually did put an answer in it. Ask Alexa how much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood and see what you get.

Sure, there is room for improvement, but that's what Amazon has done, improve. They continually make additions and make the Echo a better and better product. I have sent in several suggestions and some of them have eventually turned up, probably not from me, but for the good of the system. (I am sure I was not the only person who asked.)

So if you need a way to control your TV, a way to laugh a little, look up items quickly, order stuff, listen to music, listen to audiobooks, and generally be involved in a lot of stuff, the Echo is a good choice for you.

Featured Service :: Unified Messaging

Wednesday, December 07, 2016
Gone are the days of utilizing multiple devices to check your email, voicemail, and fax messages. Voice and unified messaging solutions let you take control of your communications and maximize productivity. Whether you seek a basic voicemail solution, or a robust solution that integrates all your voice, fax, and e-mail messages in the same inbox, we’ve got a solution for you.

Unified Messaging Benefits
- Access messages through your computer or phone
- Create a single login for voicemails, emails and faxes
- Sync messages so they only show up once
- See your voicemail messages via text which is convenient if you're in an area where you can't hear

If you would like more information on Unified Messaging and how it can benefit your business, contact us today.

Meet Susan Ratzsch :: IT Project Manager

Wednesday, November 30, 2016
People profiles give you a chance to meet our staff - the folks you may deal with on a regular basis here at IT Resource.

What do you do at IT Resource? As Project Manager I communicate and coordinate with our customers on our team's project schedules, while ensuring timelines and budgets are met. I work behind the scenes to make sure things run as seamlessly and smoothly as possible, always making sure that customer satisfaction is a priority. 


When did you start working at IT Resource? I began at IT Resource one cold December Michigan day at the end of 2014 and it’s been quite the ride!

What information technology certifications do you hold? PassPortal Management Administrator certification and am working towards the PMP in 2017.

Tell us something your colleagues don't know about you: I love gingko leaves. I’ve never seen the Titanic movie and plan to take that to my grave.

What's the most interesting job you've ever had that was not IT related? Every job I’ve ever held has been interesting from working in art museums, comic book publishing, to leading teams in video game software development. In high school I was a photographer for those “Olde Time Photos”, dressing and staging patrons in cowboy hats, dusters, fishnets, saloon dresses and shotguns to create their memento from an Ohio amusement park.

What was the last book you read? Brian K Vaughan’s ‘Saga’

What's one thing you can't live without? Humor. Helps put everything into perspective.

What's your favorite movie of all time? As a pop-culture enthusiast, I watch a lot of movies. I don’t think I could claim an all-time favorite movie.

What's the best place you've ever traveled to? I’ve traveled a lot in previous jobs and experienced many big U.S. and Canadian cities. I am thrilled to have trekked to Grand Rapids to plant roots. It has been an adventure to explore Michigan these last 2+ years after moving from Chicago with my husband. This past spring we traveled north and stayed on Mackinac Island for the first time.

What's the best piece of advice you've ever received? As someone who prefers quick action and remediation, it’s always good for me to remember: “While counter intuitive, sometimes doing nothing at all is the best action to take.“ Mind you, to exercise this advice effectively you have to be very skilled at determining just when to deploy such a tactical move.

When you were younger, what did you want to be when you grew up? Wonder Woman, or an artist. Artist utilize many processes and techniques for their creations. I like to think Project Management is the study of processes.