Virtual Designer Demo in a Virtual Desktop Environment

Hello everyone, this is Chris France with Advance2000.  I wanted to share this short video with you today so that you can see what you would experience should you request your own Virtual Desktop to test your design applications.

  1. First look at local laptop and see how you will connect into your Design Workstation
  2. In this Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI), we have our “middle of the road” system with 32gb of RAM, 2gb graphics, and 4 CPU’s. We can add computing resources depending on your application needs.
  3. In my local home office, I have broadband from Time Warner Cable, 50×5 mbps service.  This is plenty of bandwidth to run a VDI from our datacenter.   In the datacenter, the VDI is also connected to the internet.  You’ll see my speedtest in the video that shows I have 200mb down and approx. 320mb upload from my VDI.  Your mileage will vary depending on the bandwidth your business has deployed.
  4. Catia – I have an x-wing fighter sample file that I pan/zoom/orbit in real time.
  5. Navisworks – sample file where I pan/zoom/orbit
  6. Revit – You can imagine how a team of Revit designers, each with their own VDI, can work on a project like they are all sitting in the same room. And they can physically be located anywhere in North America and some International locations.  Some of our current clients used the free demo we provide to test this collaboration themselves.  We supplied two demo workstations so they could test collaboration on a single model from two separate locations.If you’d like to try this out yourself, reach out to us and we’ll get you set up with a FREE DEMO.

 

Thanks,

Chris France

Regional President

cfrance@advance2000.com

607.821.7418

Free Virtual Desktop Demo (blog post CTA)

Cloud In-Touch: Cloud Based Hosted Telephony Demo

In this short video, I will demo our Cloud In-Touch Hosted Telephony System.  After the demo, if you are interested in learning more about Cloud In-Touch, I have prepared a few slides that provide more detail.

Topics I will cover:

  1. Cloud In-Touch Demo Video
  2. Cloud In-Touch Intro
  3. Standard Features for Users
  4. Standard Features for Companies
  5. Premiere Features
  6. Communicator (Softphone)
  7. Direct Inward Dialing (DID)
  8. Connectivity

 

Let us know if you have any questions or would like to test it yourself.

Chris France

cfrance@advance2000.com

607.821.7418

The Best Email for Business

No Business Should Be Running Their Own E-mail Server Any Longer.

Are you still dealing with the headaches and expense of owning and operating your own email or Exchange server?  Here are the reasons why we think now is the time to move your email to a hosted solution, specifically Office 365:

  1. Built-in Disaster Recovery – Office 365 has a 99.99% up-time, this statistic is published quarterly here. In addition to hardware disaster recovery, many companies that operate their own email server are also paying for separate SPAM, anti-virus and email continuity services. These features are all built into Exchange Online and Office365.
  2. Low Cost – Office 365 email plans start at $4 per user per month, this is very affordable. You can also purchase an annual contract or work with a CSP (Cloud Service Provider) to get additional discounts and more flexibility with monthly licensing and payment. If you skip one triple, venti, half sweet, non-fat, caramel macchiato you have your email paid for the month.
  3. Outlook Online – is included for mobile phone (tablet) or browser access. If you run your own email server, you need to set up and manage your own web access or Outlook Web Access (OWA).
  4. Infinitely Scalable – like other cloud offerings, if you start with 5 users and grow to 100, there is no problem scaling up or down. You don’t need to buy a large server (and software licenses) upfront to accommodate growth in the future.
  5. Licensing – You do not need to invest in expensive hardware and software licenses. You also don’t need to manage and maintain and eventually replace that hardware. In addition, you’ll always have the latest features and automatic updates. You’ll receive those new features and updates as soon as they are released.
  6. Large Mailbox Size – 50 GB or unlimited mailbox size depending on the Office 365 mail package you purchase.  This is room for 1000s and 1000s of messages, even with attachments.  You’ll never need to clean your inbox again! (IT people cringing)
  7. Spam Filtering and Virus Protection – These services are automatically enabled on all inbound and outbound email messages by Microsoft Exchange Online Protection (EOP), the anti-spam and anti-malware service included with Office 365. The EOP service uses multi-layered filters and scanning engines to protect your organization. And your users can still manage their own SPAM settings, retrieve blocked emails and configure black and white lists. SPAM blocking actually gets better over time and learns from the messages you mark as SPAM.
  8. Integration with Active Directory – Using Azure AD Connect, changes made in local Active Directory are automatically synced to the cloud. User name and password changes are automagically synced to the MS cloud and your email account.
  9. Works with Outlook and Outlook Add-ins – Outlook integrations all work exactly as before. You can use any third-party Outlook application and be certain it will work without problems.
  10. Office Applications – If you purchase the whole Office 365 Suite (for an extra $7.50 / month in addition to email) you get all the MS Office products for 5 PCs or mobile devices.
  11. Easy Migration – using Office 365 built-in tools you can easily migrate your Exchange mailboxes and settings to Office 365.

You outsource your coffee making to Starbucks, why are you still running your own email system?

Advance2000 provides complete migration services to move your email to the cloud. Kick the Exchange habit and get your company’s email into the cloud. Contact Us today and learn how.

February 2017 Newsletter

Back to Basics: Writing a Disaster Recovery Plan

Disaster Recovery is the process or procedures that take place AFTER your business has experienced a technology based problem or other major business interruption. It describes the steps to take to recovery from a disruption in the business due to a disastrous event or technology failure. Disaster Recovery’s goal is restoring your systems and data to the most recent state before the disaster incident occurred.  With Disaster Recovery, in contrast to backups, you do not care about going back in time 30 or 60 or 90 days, you just need to recover the last known and good operational state.  Backups are a part of that process.

Business Continuity is the uninterrupted continuation of business. Your business needs a Disaster Recovery Plan to assure Business Continuity.

What should I include in my Disaster Recovery Plan?

In addition to addressing technology, a comprehensive Disaster Recovery Plan should also address non-technology issues, such as legal or human resource business disruptions. You need to prepare for all types of disasters.  Your Disaster Recovery Plan must answer the Who, What, Where, When, and How questions to get your business operational again.

Who?

Who is responsible for carrying out the plan? Disaster recovery roles should be planned and practiced before a disaster strikes. For example, a technology outage may require a communication plan to inform staff, as well as clients. Responsibilities should be assigned to teams to avoid a single point of failure.  Staff roles and responsibilities should be recorded and communicated to all staff. The disaster team might include the following teams /roles:

  • Firm Leadership
  • Communication
  • HR
  • IT Recovery
  • Public Relations / Client Relations / Internal and External
  • Facilities and Corporate Services
  • Damage Assessment
  • Financial Recovery / Insurance
  • Legal / Risk Management
  • Projects / Project Liability
  • Operations
  • Client
  • Crisis Coordinator
  • Crisis Management team
  • Security / Employee Safety

What?

What are the types of disasters? They are not all technology. What steps do I take in case of a disaster?

  • Technology
  • Human Resources
  • High Profile Attrition
  • Legal
  • Workplace Violence / Terrorism
  • Physical (office is damaged or unavailable)
  • Transportation (weather – no one can get to office)
  • Public Relations
  • Firm Health / Financial / Bankruptcy
  • Project Related (job site accident / building collapse)
  • Reputation (Public perception)

There are also degrees of disasters.

  • Level 1 – 4 depending on duration and severity

Where?

Depending on the type of disaster, you may need to work offsite for a period of time. What if your office is flooded or there is a fire in another part of the building and access to your office is restricted or denied for safety reasons? Factors outside your control might cause you to have a problem even though your systems are not directly affected.  Do you have a DR site chosen?  How fast can it be ready for use?

When?

Your plan should identify a timeline and set recovery goals. It is not enough to know what to do, you should also set the timing and sequence of events in your plan. Part of an effective Disaster Recovery Plan is a recovery timeline. How long will it take to get your business back in business? You need to know.

How?

When developing your plan, understand the options to keep your business safe.

  • Backup and Recovery – Backup can take many forms; tape, disk, optical or online (cloud).
  • Cold Disaster Recovery Site – This is a recovery site that is prepared after a disaster has occurred.
  • Warm Disaster Recovery Site – A combination of a Cold and Hot Disaster Recovery Sites
  • Hot Disaster Recovery Site – This is a recovery site that is prepared before a disaster has occurred and is on standby in case of a disaster.
  • Business Interruption Insurance – Insurance is available to protect your business in the event of a technology disaster.
  • Data Archiving – What should you do with old backups? Legally, how long do you need to keep data?

You need a PRINTED Disaster Recovery Plan – Your plan should be in hardcopy form so it can be accessed with no electricity or network and it should be stored OFFSITE in case the office is inaccessible.

Get your Disaster Recovery Plan in order and sleep easier at night…

CONTACT US if you need help creating your plan.

10 Drivers that Influence IT Strategy

This is the time of year when many companies develop IT budgets and identify IT initiatives for 2017. As you plan for 2017, here are some of the external drivers that can influence your decisions and help shape your Strategic Information Technology Plan.

Rapid Change

Technology is constantly changing and changing quickly. Your response to these changes must be in near real time to be effective.  You can’t ignore change, you must continually respond to changes in technology, to stand still is to lose ground.

Competitive Landscape

The economy and competition forces you to take a closer look at the way you run your IT operations. You must be as efficient as possible to remain competitive. All new technology provides a competitive advantage at first.  Eventually, it becomes a competitive necessity and finally a competitive disadvantage as it ages out and needs to be replaced.  Do you still use older technology that no longer provides a competitive advantage?  Consider replacing it.

Social Media and Networking

Social Media and networking have emerged as a way of providing person to person connections and sharing information. Both are critical, customers are changing the way they research and find solutions to their business problems.  Don’t write off Social Media as “something kids do”, it is much more than that.  Take the time to learn and integrate Social Media into your process.

Smart spending / Cost containment

You need to be smart about technology spending. Some companies use open source hardware and software to cut costs. But it is not enough to simply cut costs, the money saved should be targeted to other revenue generating initiatives. There is a smart way to spend your IT dollars, make sure you’re getting the most for your IT spend.  Stop thinking that IT is just an expense or a commodity, hardware and software might be commodities BUT HOW YOU USE IT defines your strategic advantage.  IT is more than buying stuff.

Green IT

Green IT, using less energy leads to immediate cost savings. Being green uses less resources, enables you to produce more with fewer resources, and saves money. In addition, it demonstrates to your clients that you are committed to running your business in a responsible way.  Additionally, make sure that your vendors participate and are part of your IT Green Team.

Virtualization

The virtualization of servers drives down business costs. It lowers the total cost of ownership, reduces support costs, increases hardware utilization and stretches your IT dollar. Many companies have already taken advantage of server virtualization.  The next logical step is to virtualize your desktops (VDI), you can realize the same benefits for your desktops as you did for your servers.

Mobility

As users become more tech savvy, they are requesting (demanding) the capability to work anywhere anytime. Many employees personally own newer and better technology than you have in your office. Your technology strategy should support employees to be as productive and efficient as possible. In addition to increased mobility, employees are also working flex hours and working from home as well. As an employer, you need to provide the most flexibility without losing control.  This flexibility will also help with staff recruitment and retention.

Cloud

Cloud solutions and web hosted applications make it easier to collaborate and work together virtually. While there are some security concerns, if well managed, the risk is minimal and the benefits excellent. The cloud is also much more scalable.  The cloud is not only scalable up but also scalable down. Your business is not always in a growth mode.  When you need to cut back, the cloud makes that easier as well.

Knowledge Management / Data

Knowledge Management is critical in today’s global economy. Knowledge management leverages your most important assets – your people and your information. Your people take information, add knowledge and create value for your business.  You can support them by implementing the systems and policies to enable knowledge creation and foster innovation. Also, plan how you will capture, store and share institutional knowledge once it is created. Make sure Knowledge Management is integrated into your work processes.

Security

You can spend an infinite amount of money on security. New threats to your company are appearing daily. You need to decide which to guard against and how much to spend to stay safe. Often the biggest security threat is uninformed employees. Educate your people to recognize the basic ways to keep your business safe and guard your intellectual property. It will be the best investment you can make in your business.  Ransomware is the latest security threat. Click for more information on protecting your business from ransomware.

Putting it all together

Your IT Strategy should reflect an understanding of your practice and support the goals and values of your organization. This cannot be an individual effort. You must ENGAGE and ENCOURAGE participation by your entire staff. Clearly communicate your commitments and expectations, carefully manage change and reward excellence and address failure. Take extra time to gain buy-in for your ideas and work with your company leaders to make sure that you have met as many needs as possible.

As an IT leader, you must understand your business, build consensus and synergy among factions, break down the information silos and prioritize IT initiatives to benefit the entire organization. You must align IT Strategy with your business’s core values, guiding principles and goals. To succeed with technology, you must have the support and commitment of company leadership and the financial resources to make these changes.

There is a definite cost to implementing a successful IT Strategy. But the real question you need to ask is “What is the cost to your company if you don’t?”

You must weigh and balance many factors that drive your IT decisions. An IT Assessment is an excellent way to identify and prioritize technology initiatives, Contact Us for more information.