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IT Security :: Are You at Risk?

Saturday, March 21, 2015
A big thanks to all who attended our annual March Madness event on IT Security and Risk in Grand Rapids. We're providing a copy of our presentation - if you were in the audience you can use this as a reminder, and if you couldn't make it to the event you can check out our notes and call us with any questions you may have - its always a good idea to periodically check to see if your business is at risk for a data breach or security attack.

Highlights
Business Data Breaches
Cybersecurity and Malware
Data Loss Prevention
Internal and External Threats
Firewalls and Wireless Networks
Network Security Assessments
Cloud Solutions

Request a copy of our IT Security & Risk presentation here.

Thanks again to everyone who helped make this event a great success! Our goal is to help customers in the Grand Rapids area prevent network security issues.

A Cisco Meraki Solution for Internet Speed and Bandwidth Issues

Friday, February 13, 2015

When students from the Indiana Gamma chapter house at Indiana University complained about slow internet speeds and sub-par bandwidth, we were brought on to find a solution. Our technicians conducted an internet-speed test on the existing system and, to no surprise, the findings were unacceptable: 11 mbps for the download speed and 10mbps for the upload speed, well below the acceptable standard. A case study was done on the situation at the chapter house and the findings were featured in the Sigma Alpha Epsilon publication, The Record, and can be downloaded here.


In addition to the speed issues, our site visit and review indicated that the existing system and equipment that was in place was incorrectly sized and not optimal. In addition, the wireless connectivity failed to perform as desired, so users had limited bandwidth. At the end of the day we recommended a Cisco Meraki cloud-based management system in which all devices at each location could be managed from the cloud. The solution provides real-time visibility on the health of each device and can be monitored remotely by Sigma Alpha Epsilon staff using the Meraki Dashboard.

When the Cisco Meraki solution was configured and complete, we performed a final test and the results were stellar: 67 mbps for download speed and 22 mbps for upload speed, a 463% enhancement. The students at the SAE chapter house indicated that the new system didn't just bring them up to par in terms of internet speeds, it gave them the fastest internet on all of Indiana University's campus.

Read the entire article, as it was published in The Record, here.

More Bandwidth and Faster Internet with Cisco Meraki

Tuesday, February 10, 2015
The internet is only getting faster which means everyone needs more bandwidth. Small retail branches and small enterprises - we're talking to you.

The Meraki MX64/MX64W is the newest Unified Threat Management (UTM) security appliance available for purchase. The first of its kind, the MX64/MX64W is the only product currently on the market to provide security with 802.11ac Wireless. With a maximum AV throughput of 200 Mbps, the appliance also delivers unified and centralized management, enterprise security, guest access and a variety of advanced security offerings including content filtering, Google SafeSearch and YouTube for schools. It is ideal for up to 50 users, and its 3 times faster than today’s 802.11n wireless.

Want to find out more?

If you think this solution could work for your business contact us today! If you’re on the fence we can request a free trial and you can test it in your own environment. Meraki will ship you the gear free of charge with zero risk. If you decide it isn’t right for you, just send it back. You can also receive a free 802.11n AP just by attending a webinar! Contact your IT Resource sales rep today and we’ll send you a link to the next one!

Cisco BE6000 Replaces the Unified Communications 500

Wednesday, January 21, 2015
In September of 2013 we shared with you that Cisco had announced the End of Life for the popular Unified Communications Series 500 for Small Business (UC 500) was January, 2014. Initially, many in our industry were disappointed that Cisco discontinued this well received, proven solution.  But, we're happy to share that Cisco has enhanced their product offerings within the Business Edition 6000 Series (BE6000).
The entire series of Cisco BE6000 solutions provides organizations a full range of collaboration tools: voice, video, messaging, instant messaging and presence, conferencing, video conferencing, contact center services and mobility capabilities.

Designed for organizations with 25 to 1000 employees, Cisco BE6000 solutions contain one or more modular, stackable servers. This makes adding more capacity to support additional users simple and easy. The servers utilize virtualization technology, allowing for many collaboration tools into a small form factor.

Cisco BE6000 solutions come with a suite of ten preloaded Unified Communications and Collaboration applications. As your business grows and changes, you can easily activate these applications when the time is right.

There are three Cisco BE6000 platform models. All are built on virtualized Cisco Unified Computing System (Cisco UCS) products, which are designed for performance and density over a wide range of company sizes and business workloads.
● BE6000S: Ideal for small-scale “office in a box” collaboration deployments
Supports five fixed collaboration applications in a single integrated router/gateway/virtualized blade server platform; maximum capacity of 150 users and 300 devices.

● BE6000M:
 Ideal for medium to large-scale end to-end collaboration deployments
Supports five collaboration application options in a single virtualized server platform; maximum capacity of 1000 users, 1200 devices, and 100 contact center agents.

● BE6000H: Supports nine collaboration application options in a single virtualized server platform; maximum capacity of 1000 users, 2500 devices, and 100 contact center agents.

We have designed, installed and currently support many BE6000M solutions for our customers. And, we're excited about the release of the BE600S as this solution is ideal for our SMB customers. Please let us know if you would like to discuss your Unified Communications and Collaboration needs. We're here to help!

Cisco SMARTnet Services :: Important Information on Program Changes

Monday, September 29, 2014
Is Your Network Smart?
How do you keep your network available, secure, and operating at peak performance? With SMARTnet Services, of course!

Cisco SMARTnet Service is a technical support service that allows you to have direct access 24x7x365 to Cisco experts and resources, ongoing operating system updates (including minor and major OS releases), hardware replacement (options for 2-hour, 4-hour and next-business-day) and even onsite support. As you can imagine, these services are crucial to keeping your business up and running at an optimal performance rate.
Getting Technical
There are several types of Cisco SMARTnet Service agreements, distinguished by the type of Cisco products the agreement covers: Hardware Maintenance and OS Software Maintenance, identified by CON-SNT-XXX, CON-SNTP-XXX; Software Application Support, identified by CON-SAS-XXX, CON-SAU-XXX; Services for Intrusion Prevention Systems, identified by CON-SU1-XXX, CON-SU2-XXX, CON-SU01-XXX; System-level coverage on Unified Communications Hardware and Software (CallManager, Unity Connection and Unity), identified by Essential Operate Service (CON-ESW-XXX) and Unified Communications Software Subscription (UCSS).

End-of-Life...So, What's Changing?
Earlier this summer, Cisco announced its End-Of-Life for Essential Operate Service (ESW) and Unified Communications Software Subscription (UCSS). These two offerings for Cisco Collaboration software and Cisco Prime software will combine into one service called Cisco Software Support Service (SWSS) pronounced “swiss”. SWSS, identified as ECMU, will replace ESW and UCSS and launched September 22nd. It will be sold as a single service offer and conveniently include both software maintenance and software upgrades.

Previously, ESW was for software updates and sold as a service while UCSS was for software upgrades and sold as a product, two contracts that were sold separately. This was often confusing for both the partner and customers. After Cisco received considerable feedback for improvements, they made the choice to combine ESW and UCSS into SWSS. The new SWSS offering means one less contract for you that will be easier to purchase, manage and renew. Everything that came with ESW and UCSS is included with SWSS. This consists of, but is not limited to, 24x7x365 phone and remote access to the Cisco Technical Assistance Center (TAC), minor updates, hot patches and bug fixes, access to Cisco Online Knowledgebase and application software maintenance for minor and major releases.

What should you do now?
If you currently have an ESW or UCSS contract you will remain covered on your contract until it expires. Your contract will be renewed to ECMU (or equivalent) upon the expiration date of either ESW or UCSS, whichever comes first. To learn more about SWSS contact your IT Resource sales rep at 616.837.6930 or email us.

Cisco Adaptive Security Appliance End of Life

Friday, January 17, 2014

Cisco recently announced that a variety of Adaptive Security Appliances (ASA) would no longer be available for sale after September 16, 2013. In the tech industry this idea is referred to as End of Life. If you own a Cisco ASA 5510, 5520, 5540, or 5550 you will be affected, however, customers with active SmartNet contracts for these devices have the ability to continue to receive support from the Cisco Technical Assistance Center (TAC) until September 30, 2018.

Cisco ASA 9.1 is the last software release that will be supported on many of the ASA appliances that have reached their end of sale date so we encourage you to keep your SmartNet contracts active for these devices. For equipment and software that is not covered by a service-and-support contract, the last date to order a new contract or add the equipment and/or software to an existing contract is September 16, 2014.

Cisco's ASA 5500-X series of Next Generation Firewalls

If you are in the market for a new ASA, or would like to update your current model, we encourage you to migrate to the new ASA 5500-X series of Next Generation Firewalls (NGFW) which include a variety of different model options, many of which offer increased throughput, better interface density and the ability to run services like IPS, Application Visibility and Control (AVC), and Web Security Essentials (WSE) without requiring a separate hardware module. High Availability comes as a default option on the ASA 5515-X model. 

Most customers can take advantage of Cisco’s Technology Migration Program to trade-in eligible product, which allows you to receive credit toward the purchase of new Cisco equipment. For information about this program, contact your IT Resource Sales Account Manager, or email our sales team.

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.

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.

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.

West Michigan Users Group – Cisco UCS

Monday, August 27, 2012

This summer, Carolyn Martin from the IT Resource Sales Team went to Davenport University to attend a West Michigan Cisco Users Group meeting. As a Cisco Sales Expert, her hope was to increase her knowledge on some of the technology solutions today and how they can benefit our company. The topic of that particular meeting was Cisco UCS (Unified Computing and Servers).

The main idea behind Cisco UCS is to have a central location where users can access their ‘Desktop’ from anywhere. Instead of having a local computer users log into when they’re at work, they will log onto their account from any computer and have access to all of their files, settings, and saved work no matter where they are. This is incredibly useful for employees traveling or users who work from home. Since the workforce is moving toward mobile computing, it would make sense to move with it!

Here are some of the benefits to Cisco UCS
• Centralized Management for IT
• Any Device can connect – Android, iOS Devices, Apple Computers, Windows PC’s, Linux PC’s, etc…
• Secure Universal Access
• Constant Experience delivered to users
• Smaller and less hardware (Blade Servers)

The big names in VDI (Virtual Desktop Interface) right now are VMware, Microsoft, and Citrix. Cisco’s UCS supports all of these hypervisors on their hardware and each work in different ways depending on the hypervisor. IT Resource has many Cisco devices and some of our engineers are well versed in Cisco certifications. The technology world is moving in the virtual direction and Cisco UCS is leading the way!

If you are interested in learning more about the West Michigan Cisco Users Group, this month is the perfect time to attend as IT Resource will be the featured sponsor at their August event, which takes place on the 29th at 5:30, at Davenport University, 6191 Kraft in Caledonia. For more information visit WMCUG, or contact Carolyn.