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Microsoft Server 2003 End of Support - Final Notice

Friday, June 12, 2015
For over a year we’ve been telling our readers, customers and prospects that Microsoft Windows Server 2003 will be ending support and we promise, this is the last time we’ll remind you. If you have not already migrated your systems away from Server 2003, now is your absolute last chance! Support for Server 2003, including updates, security patches, and tech support will be gone on July 14, 2015. We cannot stress enough that the risks are real. Protect your business and don’t fall victim to an attack or data breach.

Without regular security updates and patches, your data is at a far greater risk of being compromised. Depending on your industry, upgrading your systems may not even be an option. If your business has regulatory obligations – it’s REQUIRED that you upgrade as systems running on Server 2003 will no longer be compliant after July 14th. Not being in compliance not only opens the door for threats but it can also mean losing key trading partners, investors and incurring hefty fines. 

If you’re still running Windows Server 2003 and you’ve waited until the last minute to upgrade, please contact us immediately and we can work with you to create a strategic plan that ensures your data will be safe after the July 14 deadline.

For additional information on Microsoft Server 2003 End of Support, see our blog post from this past January here.

Renew to the Cloud :: Save 20% with Microsoft

Tuesday, May 12, 2015
Now through July 31, 2015 Microsoft has an incentive to move your business to the cloud using Office 365. If you purchase Office 365 through Open Value or Open Value Subscription you will receive 15% off Enterprise E3 licenses or 20% off ProPlus licenses for your entire first year of service. Now you can bring enterprise grade services to your organization using Office 365 at an affordable price.

If you’re still unsure whether you want to move your entire business to the cloud, you can pick and choose the workloads that stay on premise and the ones that you move to the cloud. For example, you can still maintain your annuity agreement for on-premise purchases and continue to enjoy the volume discounts and software assurance while only moving your email workload to the cloud. Whatever makes the most sense for your business, an Office 365 migration can be tailored to your unique and exact business needs. Below is a Microsoft comparison chart of both license offerings:

Important terms and conditions to remember:
  • Must purchase ProPlus or Enterprise E3 licensing agreements before, or on, July 31st, 2015
  • Minimum of 5 seats and a maximum of 250 seats
  • Available on the Open Value and Open Value Subscription price lists
IT Resource has extensive experience, including over 100 successful Office 365 migrations for small to mid-size businesses. Our consistent processes ensure a smooth migration from start to finish - including training and documentation for employees. Contact us today and we’ll have one our sales executives get in touch with you. They can determine the best route for your business and put together an action plan. And remember, this promotion is only good through July 31st and now is the time to begin planning.

Microsoft Azure for Small to Medium Sized Businesses

Monday, February 16, 2015
As a business owner do you hesitate when it comes to moving your business applications to the cloud for fear that its not cost effective? What if there were a system designed just for small to medium sized businesses that would grow with you, and had no up-front costs? It might sound too good to be true, but in fact, Microsoft has come up with a system that does all these things and more. Welcome to Azure.

The Microsoft Azure cloud platform gives Small and Medium Businesses (SMBs) the ability to move critical business applications to the cloud without investing in expensive infrastructure. Azure is an industry leader in Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS) providing options for private, public or hybrid cloud solutions.

With so many different options and applications, Azure can be tailored to your unique business environment and increase productivity by allowing your employees to work from virtually anywhere. Cloud hosting also lets businesses take advantage of industry specific platforms that can minimize in-house IT management and upfront costs.

Designed with SMBs in mind, one of the largest advantages that Azure has over other cloud platform providers is their ZERO upfront costs. Azure accommodates by scaling up or down based on current demand, allowing you to pay for only what you use. This solution is designed to grow with your business, minimizing upfront fees and high maintenance costs.

Azure manages and deploys business applications via a network of Microsoft datacenters – offering top line security and reliable backups. Azure supports scalable web applications and integrated services like storage, data, and event website hosting. Eliminate physical storage costs and avoid the rising costs of maintaining aging infrastructure hardware on-premise. You can feel confident that your data is secure as all applications are backed up in multiple locations. All Microsoft Azure customers receive the same level of protection chosen by enterprise customers. This level of security far exceeds typical on-premise firewall protection.

Get peace of mind, streamline your business processes and keep your business moving forward. Give us a call today at 616.837.6930. We can discuss your cloud options and the current promotions from Microsoft to leverage Azure today!

Microsoft Server 2003/R2 End of Support

Friday, January 16, 2015

The Microsoft Windows Server 2003/R2 Extended Support end date is quickly approaching on July 14, 2015. If your organization is still running applications and workloads on Windows Server 2003 and you’ve been putting your migration project on the back burner, now is the time to start planning your server upgrade. Don’t wait until the last minute as vulnerabilities discovered after July 14 will not be addressed or fixed and your organization will soon fail to meet industry standards and a compliance audit.

What does this mean for you?
Windows Server 2003 Support end date means no more updates or patches leaving your infrastructure volatile. To put the importance of these support updates into perspective, according to Microsoft, there were 37 critical updates released in 2013 for Windows Server 2003 under extended support. Imagine the repercussions of not receiving any of those critical updates. Even if you think you're saving money by not upgrading your systems, it will soon become more costly to maintain aging hardware and performance will steadily decline.

If you’re using Windows Server 2003 – Datacenter, Enterprise or Standard editions -- we encourage you to get in touch with us to discuss and plan a server upgrade and migration. We can discuss your options including Windows Server 2012, Azure, Cloud OS Network and Office 365, all of which will protect your business, enhance performance and remote access, and reduce storage and upkeep costs. Give us a call today and we can determine which option is right for your environment. This is no longer a choice but a necessity as July will be here sooner than you think!

EOL. EOS. SOS?!

Monday, September 15, 2014
Information Technology is notorious for acronyms and abbreviations. What do EOL and EOS stand for and how are these terms relevant to you? EOL stands for End of Life. This is when a manufacturer announces they will stop selling a specific product. EOS stands for End of Support and End of Service. This is when the manufacturer will no longer be supporting and servicing that product through patches, security updates, hotfixes, incident support, and warranty claims. Do you really need to pay attention to EOL and EOS? Does one matter more than the other?

Support and Service Lifecycle Policies vary by Manufacturer. Generally there are several years of support and service available for products that have been announced End of Life. Therefore, just because a product has been announced it is EOL it doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t purchase that particular product.  

It is very important to understand when a product has been announced End of Service and End of Support. In most cases, it is not recommend to keep devices in production on your network past their support date.  

If you have questions on specific products and either their EOL or EOS status, feel free to contact us and together we can determine the value and possible risk to purchasing or continuing to use the product in question.

Now that you have your primer on EOL and EOS we would like to remind you that Microsoft Windows Server 2003 R2 Extended Support End Date is July 14, 2015. If you are still using Windows Server 2003 R2 – Datacenter, Enterprise or Standard editions -- we encourage you to get in touch with us to discuss and plan a server upgrade and migration. This is no longer a choice but a necessity as July will be here sooner than you know it!

Changes to Microsoft Office 365

Monday, September 01, 2014
Changes are around the corner for Microsoft Office 365 plans for Small to Medium Sized Businesses (SMB). The current SMB plan options, Small Business, Small Business Premium and Midsize Business will be replaced with Business, Business Essentials and Business Premium.
For new Office 365 customers, the new plan options will be effective October 1st, 2014. Current customers using the Small Business, Small Business Premium or Midsize Business plans will stay on those plans and starting October 1st, 2015, they will renew to the new versions.

Costs and features of the new plans:
Office 365 Business - $8.25 per user per month: Access to Office applications including Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote and Publisher, and ability to install apps on up to 5 PCs or Macs.
Office 365 Business Essentials - $5.00 per user per month: Access to core cloud services including Office online and standard services: Exchange, Lync, SharePoint and Yammer.
Office 365 Business Premium - $12.50 per user per month: This includes all apps, features, and functionality of both Office 365 Business and Office 365 Business Essentials.

*All plans now have an increased seat cap of 300 and include 1 TB OneDrive Storage for business cloud.
Making it more affordable, Microsoft has lowered the price for Office 365 Business Premium (formerly Midsize Business) from $15 per user per month to $12.50 per user per month.

Over 60 IT Resource customers have already made the transition to Office 365. Give us a call at 616-837-6930 or email us for additional information on Office 365. We can help you determine which plan is best for your organization, design a migration plan and efficiently implement this cost effective cloud solution.

Training for your Microsoft Software Audit

Tuesday, July 22, 2014
We’ve shared the news before: Microsoft Software Audits are on the rise. According to a study conducted by research firm IDC, Microsoft was found to have issued the most audits among software vendors at 58% audit frequency. Nearly double the rate of the next runner up! Just like your health and fitness, it’s best to “train”, plan and be proactive with your software assets. It’s no longer IF you will be audited, it’s WHEN. As a result of these audits, some customers are faced with needing to “true up” by adding licensing. If you are not regularly reviewing your software assets and managing these assets, these costs can be substantial.

IT Resource can help identify what software you are running in your environment. Microsoft has an updated tool called MAP that will assist with the discovery and reporting. No tool is perfect, but if we combine this tool with others we have – like our Software Inventory Report (our Remote Monitoring and Reporting (RMR) customers can receive this free at any time) and a Network Discovery – we will have a much better picture of what's going on.

When you receive a communication from Microsoft, usually via e-mail, stating you are being audited, please do not ignore this. We strongly encourage you to engage IT Resource to assist and even manage the process on your behalf. We have done this for many customers over the years and we have access to all the tools, the knowledge of the licensing requirements and the myriad of agreement types. Our consulting will be most efficient, thorough and save you time, money and headaches down the road.

Windows 8.1 Tips and Tricks

Wednesday, June 18, 2014
One valuable function of Windows 8.1 is the Quick Access Menu. This is just like having your start button and provides easy access to Programs and Features, Command Prompt, Task Manager, Control Panel, Shut Down, etc. This can be accessed by right clicking the windows button in the bottom left corner or hitting the windows key+X.
Remember that in 8.1, the keyboard is your friend. Below are some keyboard shortcuts that can boost your productivity.
Lock computer :: Windows+L
Open windows help :: Windows+F1
Search :: Windows+S
Open settings :: Windows+I
Snap window to right side :: Windows+right arrow
Snap window to left side :: Windows+left arrow
Display charms bar :: Windows+C
Minimize all open windows :: Windows+M
Peek at desktop :: Windows+,

Other nifty tips and tricks:
Want to search for a file or program? Once you hit the windows key, the ‘tile’ page (or Start screen) opens and you can type whatever you need.  The search box automatically opens when you start typing. 

Here, the Windows key is highlighted.

Windows 8.1 file history backup allows you to select folder to be backed up and to which device (thumb drive, external hard drive). It will automatically synchronize back and forth to keep files updated.

An alternate way to minimize or maximize a window: drag the title bar to the top of the desktop screen to maximize. Drag the title bar down to minimize.

To show your desktop, hover your mouse anywhere on the taskbar, right click and click show desktop.

To open programs that are pinned to your taskbar, simply hit the windows key + the number of the icon on your desktop. For example, if Word is the third program that’s pinned, hit Windows+3.

If you want to know more about Windows 8.1 functionality or you have some of your own tips to share with us, give us a call at 616.837.6930 or send us an email.

Microsoft Releases a Patch for their Internet Explorer Security Issues

Friday, May 02, 2014
Microsoft’s IE browser was recently discovered to have a major security vulnerability which allowed hackers remote access to data on your PC. In the interim, users were advised to change browsers until a patch becomes available.

For those who are unaware, Microsoft released a patch on May 1st. If you would like our assistance in updating your systems, please let us know via email or call us at 616.837.6930.

For those customers with our Remote Monitoring and Reporting (RMR) services, we will be able to remotely push the patch out without any interruption. All RMR customers can expect to have the patch applied by the end of the day today. If you are not receiving RMR services we can still assist in updating your systems however it may take longer to implement on your behalf. Please let us know right away so we can get you taken care of in a timely manner.

Don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you have any questions or concerns. A helpful article about the security flaw can be found here.

Save Big with Microsoft Office 365

Tuesday, February 04, 2014
Have you been thinking about purchasing or upgrading to Microsoft's Office 365? If so, now is the time to act. For every qualifying subscription of Microsoft Office 365 purchased between January 1 and February 28, 2014, you can earn partner subsidy funds to use with IT Resource. The subsidy can typically be used for software, hardware, or services. It's like getting paid for something you were already planning to purchase.

This promotion is valid throughout the United States, but one thing to keep in mind is that you must redeem within 30 days of purchase, and this deal expires February 28, 2014, so you'll want to act fast. Contact our sales team to learn more.