Pitfalls of the Cloud

Posted by on Jul 2, 2016 in Uncategorized | Comments Off

No matter how big or small your business is, the cloud can be a great resource for maximizing your company’s potential. However, alongside advantages such as speed and cross-platform compatibility, cloud computing also entails a number of drawbacks. Before committing your business to adopting the cloud, here are 5 pitfalls that you may need to navigate.

1. Everything is Remote

remote-location-management

The most obvious hazard of working through a cloud is that the server is not physically in your office. If something goes wrong, you need to deal with a third party to address the problem. Many of these companies manage servers for multiple businesses, so you will not get their exclusive attention. For instance, Amazon Web Server, one of the largest cloud providers, supports numerous major companies such as Netflix and Pinterest. While servers offer excellent customer service, you should expect a certain amount of waiting for your turn. The benefit is that they have top notch engineering 24×7 to support you and their clients. Office 365 and Google Apps for Work are cloud based email services that have a excellent reputation for uptime and issue resolution.

2. Be Ready for a Possible Mismatch Between Your Company and the Cloud Service’s Structure

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By incorporating a third-party cloud service, you are also giving them a say in aspects of how your business operates. Your provider will most likely have its own set of rules and regulations for how the information needs to be encrypted, structured, and secured. This can prove problematic if you’re trying to incorporate your current system with a new set of regulations. For instance, if you have a database that is structured differently than current standards, upgrading to the cloud can prove to be a time-consuming incompatibility issue.

3. Cloud Security is a Complicated Issue

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Cloud servers use a variety of security protocols. These may include multiple levels of authorization and different password requirements than what your employees are accustomed to. You also need to keep in mind that the cloud is both more and less secure than having your data stored locally. It’s more secure in the sense that you don’t need to worry about internal theft or environmental hazards wiping out your entire database. It is less secure because these cloud servers are increasingly becoming a target for hackers and viruses. Hackers know that these servers work with major corporations and that there is potential access to valuable personal data. You must think very carefully on what is the safest option for your type of business.

4. Switching to a Cloud Server May be Longer and Harder Than You Expect

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Many companies mistakenly believe that transitioning to the cloud is a quick and easy process. However, the switch is more complicated and expensive than you may think. If you have an IT department, you’ll need to make sure they’re fully up-to-date on how the cloud works. This may require that they receive additional training. Alternatively, you can hire a third party to oversee this transitional process for an additional fee. Data loss is another potentially costly issue. A 2013 survey by tech giant Symantec warns that 43 percent of organizations report having lost data stored on a cloud server. The time spent recovering this data from backup files translates to further money lost.

5. The Cloud is Not a Solution for Everyone

Not every business benefits from cloud computing. According to a recent report, only 80% of businesses saw improvement after transitioning to a cloud server. That means one in five did not see a significant benefit. Some businesses are just a poor fit for using the cloud. One example is if your company does a lot of resource-intensive work such as 3D modeling. You may find that working through the cloud is prohibitively slow. Unless you have an extremely fast internet connection, you’ll inevitably experience bandwidth limitations that will interfere with your workflow. Additionally, if you have a small business or one with limited storage requirements, the benefits of the cloud likely won’t outweigh the costs. In some cases, a company may be better off keeping a traditional setup with on-site storage.

Lenovo Plans to Acquire IBM’s x86 Server Business

Posted by on Jun 14, 2015 in Uncategorized | Comments Off

lenovo-servers-thinkserver-tower-series-family

Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, and Armonk, :  Lenovo (HKSE: 992) (ADR: LNVGY) and IBM (NYSE: IBM)  have entered into a definitive agreement in which Lenovo plans to acquire IBM’s x86 server business. This includes System x, BladeCenter and Flex System blade servers and switches, x86-based Flex integrated systems, NeXtScale and iDataPlex servers and associated software, blade networking and maintenance operations. The purchase price is approximately US$2.3 billion, approximately two billion of which will be paid in cash and the balance in Lenovo stock.

 
IBM will retain its System z mainframes, Power Systems, Storage Systems, Power-based Flex servers, and PureApplication and PureData appliances.
 
The agreement builds upon a longstanding collaboration that began in 2005 when Lenovo acquired IBM’s PC business, which included the ThinkPad line of PCs. In the period since the companies have continued to collaborate in many areas.
 
IBM will continue to develop and evolve its Windows and Linux software portfolio for the x86 platform.  IBM is a leading developer of software products for x86 servers with thousands of products and tens of thousands of software developer and services professionals who build software for x86 systems.
 
 Lenovo and IBM plan to enter into a strategic relationship which will include a global OEM and reseller agreement for sales of IBM’s industry-leading entry and midrange Storwize disk storage systems, tape storage systems, General Parallel File System software, SmartCloud Entry offering, and elements of IBM’s system software portfolio, including Systems Director and Platform Computing solutions.
 
Following the closing of the transaction, Lenovo will assume related customer service and maintenance operations. IBM will continue to provide maintenance delivery on Lenovo’s behalf for an extended period of time, so customers should see little change in their maintenance support.
 
Approximately 7,500 IBM employees around the world, including those based at major locations such as Raleigh, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Taipei, are expected to be offered employment by Lenovo.
 
This agreement follows recent announcements by IBM that it will invest more than $1 billion in the new IBM Watson Group, and $1.2 billion to expand its global cloud computing footprint to 40 data centers worldwide in 15 countries across five continents.
 
“This acquisition demonstrates our willingness to invest in businesses that can help fuel profitable growth and extend our PC Plus strategy,” said Yang Yuanqing, chairman and CEO, Lenovo. “With the right strategy, great execution, continued innovation and a clear commitment to the x86 industry, we are confident that we can grow this business successfully for the long-term, just as we have done with our worldwide PC business.”
 
“This divestiture allows IBM to focus on system and software innovations that bring new kinds of value to strategic areas of our business, such as cognitive computing, Big Data and cloud,” said Steve Mills, Senior Vice President and Group Executive, IBM Software and Systems. “IBM has a proven record of innovation and transformation, which has enabled us to create solutions that are highly valued by our clients.”
 
The transaction is subject to the satisfaction of  regulatory requirements, customary closing conditions and any other needed approvals. Subsequent local closings will occur subject to similar conditions, agreements and the information and consultation process in applicable countries.
 
While the transaction is being completed, both companies expect no change in their independent, existing server operations, including customer service and product availability.

TIME IS RUNNING OUT

Posted by on Jun 4, 2015 in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Time is running out for Windows Server 2003.  Don’t let your server become vulnerable when support stops from Microsoft on July 14, 2015.win2k3endisnear

Call for a free assessment from Convergent Technologies before it is too late.  Beat the rush and prevent any disruptions to your business.  Call (519) 373-7077

Lenovo Set to Close IBM Deal, Eyes Top Spot in Server Business

Posted by on Sep 29, 2014 in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Lenovo Group Ltd. Is setting an ambitious goal of becoming the world’s largest computer-server maker, as it expects to complete its $2.1 billion acquisition of International Business Machines Corp.’s IBM -0.22% low-end server business this week.lenovo

“We want to win more market share from competitors,” Lenovo Chief Executive Yang Yuanqing said in an interview. “We will not be satisfied.”

Lenovo, which bought IBM’s personal-computer business in 2005, is already the world’s largest PC maker after overtaking U.S. rivals Hewlett-PackardCo. HPQ -1.13% and Dell Inc. Now, Lenovo is taking on H-P and Dell in the server market, with the acquisition of IBM’s x86 server unit. The deal turns Lenovo, still a relatively minor player globally, into one of the major players in the roughly $50 billion server market.

The company said Monday it had gained all the necessary approvals for its IBM server acquisition and that the deal is expected to close Wednesday.

Lenovo’s expansion in the server market is also an attempt to find new engines for growth beyond the saturated PC market. While the company generates about 80% of its revenue from desktop and laptop PCs, it is trying to expand to other businesses such as servers and smartphones. Apart from the IBM server acquisition, Lenovo is in the process of completing another deal to buy the Motorola Mobility handset businessfrom Google Inc. for $2.91 billion. The Motorola deal hasn’t closed yet.

“We have a lot of work to do internally,” Mr. Yang said.

As soon as it completes the acquisition, Lenovo plans to start integrating IBM’s workforce. Adalio Sanchez, an IBM executive who heads the x86 server unit, will continue to lead the business after the acquisition, Lenovo said in a statement Monday.

Since Lenovo announced its plans to buy the IBM server unit in January, concerns among IBM customers about the transition have created opportunities for competitors to take market share from IBM.

Mr. Yang said that the deal’s closure will help ease concerns among customers. “No matter how much share competitors have gained from IBM, we will get it back,” he said.

Mr. Yang added that IBM’s x86 server unit is already a profitable business, and Lenovo will try to make it more profitable.

“IBM has very good technology and very strong engineers….but the industry is changing,” Mr. Yang said. As IBM’s current cost structure makes it difficult to compete in the fast-changing market, Lenovo will work on making the business more efficient, he said, without disclosing specific restructuring plans.

Mr. Yang said Lenovo expects higher profit margins from servers than those from PCs. In the first year after the acquisition, Lenovo expects combined revenue of $5 billion from its own server business and that formerly of IBM. Lenovo executives declined to provide the current combined revenue figure, but said $5 billion in revenue would represent substantial growth. Lenovo’s 2013 revenue was $38.7 billion.

Executive Vice President Gerry Smith, who oversees Lenovo’s businesses for corporate clients, said it was still too early to discuss whether Lenovo would reduce the IBM unit’s workforce after the acquisition.

Messrs. Yang and Smith, in their combined interview, said the company’s long-term goal is to become the No. 1 player in the server market. Mr. Smith said Lenovo aims to achieve that goal in five to seven years, following on its ascent in the PC market.

“Our competitors had better be wary because we are coming at them and coming at them hard,” Mr. Smith said.

Lenovo said the IBM server deal has come in at a lower value than the previously announced $2.3 billion in part because of a change in the valuation of the IBM unit’s inventories, but the deal’s terms haven’t changed.

In August, Lenovo said its proposed acquisition of the IBM unit passed the U.S. government panel that screens deals with possible national-security implications.

 

What is ERP? The answer may surprise you

Posted by on Sep 26, 2014 in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Several of my customers have an ERP server in place.  I came across this very interesting article from the Business Development Bank of Canada that explains what an ERP system is.I'm a bit confused

Choosing an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system is a big challenge for many entrepreneurs. Even the most basic question is hard to answer: What is ERP?

Entrepreneurs are faced with a baffling array of ERP systems that are tough to compare, even for IT professionals.

Vendors promote their ERP systems as all-knowing software with modules that cleverly manage your key business functions—everything from accounting to customer relationships, human resources, inventory and operations.

Entrepreneurs often frustrated

An ERP system is supposed to be a way to integrate all your information into one system and avoid having a mix of software applications in various departments that don’t talk to each other.

Sounds great on paper. But the reality is often very different. Many entrepreneurs end up frustrated with ERP implementations because the software doesn’t work as expected, is hard to use or costs more than planned.

“The success of ERP implementations is not very high,” says Thammer El-Ramahi, Director of Technology Integration Services at BDC. “Entrepreneurs often say they didn’t get all the benefits they thought they were getting. Usually the reason is they didn’t know what they were buying.”

Vendors have different definitions of ERP

One of the problems is software vendors have different definitions of ERP. “What is ERP? You could search until you’re blue in the face, and you won’t find one definition that makes sense,” El-Ramahi says.

Some ERP systems may have only basic accounting capabilities or no payroll functionality. For customer relationship management, some systems only offer basic contact management; others may include sophisticated tools such as sales force automation, quote and order automation, marketing campaign management and social media integration.

Systems are different

“Marketers say, ‘My system is great.’ But the devil is in the details,” El-Ramahi says. “You’re never going to see that in the marketing brochures or figure that out by watching a demonstration with a vendor.”

Adding to the confusion, ERP systems come in various forms: cloud-based vs. on-premise; off-the-shelf vs. customized; installed by the manufacturer vs. by a reseller.

As if that isn’t enough, the firm that developed your ERP system may be acquired by a larger company. When that happens, software you spent a lot of time and money implementing can suddenly be discontinued, meaning no more support or upgrades.

Here’s what you need to do.

1. Research your needs thoroughly

As with any major technology purchase, investing in an ERP system should serve a clear business purpose and fit your overall business strategy. To make sure it does, you need to create a detailed list of the requirements you need the system to fulfill.

2. Shop around

Make sure you are not just picking up the first product you saw at a trade show or had demonstrated for you. You want to investigate the offerings of a lot of different vendors.

3. Consider outside help to make an informed decision

El-Ramahi’s team works with business owners to go over a list of thousands of possible requirements for ERP systems. Together they hone in on those that are the most important for that business.

4. Score vendors to choose the best fit for your business

As part of the process, El-Ramahi then sends the requirements to vendors as part of a request for proposals. Each vendor is scored based on how well they satisfy the company’s needs. The total cost of each proposal is also compared, including licensing, hardware, implementation and maintenance.

5. Involve employees in the process

Top picks are invited to present their product in detail. Employees should be involved in the entire process to help ensure buy-in and that everyone’s needs are met.

With the right product and good implementation, an ERP system can be a powerful tool for boosting the productivity and profitability of your company, El-Ramahi says.

“But you have to do your homework.”

 

Sony Quits the PC Business

Posted by on Aug 17, 2014 in Uncategorized | Comments Off

My Sony Vaio laptop was one of the best laptops I have ever owned.  It’s high-end, rugged, dependable and well built.  As described to me by a Sony rep, their expensive, high-end laptops are built so well, users only replace them every five or six years.  Sony finds it hard to compete against low end, cheaper products that break after one or two years, are hundreds of dollars cheaper, and are replaced on a more regular basis.sony-vaio-duo-sell-pc-japan (1)

Sony (NYSE:SNE) has announced a deal to sell its Vaio PC business to Japan Industrial Partners, a company that specializes in manufacturing sector investment and turnaround. Revelations that Sony is closing the kimono on its PC business leaves more than a few bloggers shocked. Earlier in the week, rumors of a Vaio buyout by Lenovo proved false, driving down Lenovo shares by 16% before Sony issued a statement denying such gossip.

More interesting than the sale itself is the way it’s going to happen. Instead of just picking up where Sony left off, a new company formed by Japan Industrial Partners will drastically scale back operations after the deal goes through next month. At first, the company will only offer PCs in Japan as it retools the old business. It’s unclear when sales will expand to other regions, if at all.

Sony’s PC business isn’t some tiny operation. The company sold 7.5 million units last year, and its products are available all around the world. That won’t be the case for much longer. Sony still plans to launch its spring product lineup and support existing customers, but after that the company will stop manufacturing new PCs, discontinue sales and cut off new product design and development.

 

How to set up your small business computer network

Posted by on Aug 16, 2014 in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Setting up a small business computer network has become easier over the years as operating systems and networking technologies have improved, and storage and networking peripherals have evolved to incorporate plug and play features.__2173327

What are the main reasons for having a computer network?

Setting up a network is a good way to get more use out of your computers and peripherals, particularly for small and home business users.

Networks allow you to share a single broadband Internet connection among multiple computers and PC users.

They are able to share files among computers more easily and also share software resources such as diaries.

Networking also allows you to use a printer connected to a different computer, and access media and other resources, such as images and music, which are stored remotely or across the office.

Should I go wired or wireless?

More and more small businesses are using wireless networking equipment, particularly since it has fallen in price and become easier to configure and use.

Wireless networking allows you to have a more attractive and arguably safer office environment with fewer cables around. It gives you more flexibility about where you locate your IT kit, and you can use your laptop from anywhere in your office.

It also allows you to offer visitors wireless internet access or hot-desk facilities.

However, Ethernet-based wired networking can still have the edge over wireless equipment in being more reliable, lower cost and offering faster connection speeds. Wireless signals on the other hand can vary depending on the layout of an office, the thickness of the walls and sometimes even the weather.

What equipment do I need to set up a basic network?

Operating systems like Microsoft Windows Vista, Windows XP and Apple Mac OS X have networking capabilities incorporated into them. This means that if you have a relatively up to date laptop or desktop PC, it should be fairly straightforward to network machines together.

Apart from the computers, you will also need some networking equipment, which may be as basic as having a single cable to connect two computers together.  For larger setups, you may require an additional wireless or wired router plus some Ethernet cables to link the PCs up.

To set up a wireless network, you will need a wireless router linked to your broadband connection, plus a cable that links the router to your main PC or server.  This will then allow other PCs and notebooks, which have wireless networking equipment integrated or attached, to pick up the wireless signals and join the local area network (LAN).

How do I secure the network?

After you set up your network, you should take time to protect it, and you can do this through the security settings in the router, or the operating system.  You can do this through technologies such as wireless encryption protocol (WEP) for a wireless network, which uses passwords to encrypt the network traffic.

You may also want to use Windows and network logins and passwords to limit access to the network to authorized users. You may also choose to use hardware security like fingerprint recognition, security and password keys, and full disk encryption to further protect the network.

When it comes to using the Internet, businesses should also check their browser security and privacy settings to ensure that the network is protected from from viruses, spam and hacking attempts.

You can add additional security packages to protect and maintain the network perimeters, checking for attacks from both the outside and the inside.

What else can I use my network for?

Apart from file and print operations, you can use your network to share other peripherals such as scanners and copiers.  You can also use the network to backup and store information on a network attached storage (NAS) device or through the web.

NAS devices often have their own hard drives and can be accessed via the network through a web browser, allowing you to configure and manage them and the way they backup information from your computers.

Wireless networks will also allow you to use wide variety of devices such as wireless cameras, and wireless digital multi-media receivers.

 

Microsoft slashes IE support, sets ‘huge’ edict for Jan. 2016

Posted by on Aug 8, 2014 in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Microsoft slashes IE support, sets ‘huge’ edict for Jan. 2016

Company makes another move that will complicate the lives of its best customers: enterprisesie-logo

Hard on the heels of a decision to step up the frequency of Windows updates, Microsoft on Thursday announced it would give customers 17 months to stop using older versions of Internet Explorer (IE), including the most popular of them all, IE8.

The decision will further complicate enterprises’ use of Microsoft’s software, analysts said.

“This is huge,” said Michael Silver of Gartner. “IE has been one of the biggest inhibitors if not the biggest inhibitor preventing organizations from moving to Windows 7 and Windows 8. I’ve spoken to organizations that said they’d have deployed Windows 8 if they didn’t have to upgrade IE. This is another way Microsoft is trying to persuade, or force, organizations to keep current. For some organizations, like those in regulated industries, that’s really difficult.”

Windows Server 2003 End of Life is Coming Are You Ready?

Posted by on Aug 3, 2014 in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Windows Server 2003 End of Life is Coming Are You Ready?server

In case you haven’t heard, Microsoft has announced that the end of life for Windows Server 2003 is July 14, 2015.  Let me repeat that: as of July 14, 2015 you can no longer get Extended Support for Windows Server 2003.

If you’re wondering what this means for you, it comes down to this – there will be no patches or security updates, putting your applications and business at risk. New threats won’t be addressed and your WS2003 systems will become a security risk and compliance nightmare.  In a recent blog post, Microsoft warns us to “watch out for performance bottlenecks”.  Industry experts estimate that there are more than 10 million machines still running WS2003 that are soon-to-be stranded.

 

Windows 9 Will Likely Arrive in Q2 or Q3 2015

Posted by on Aug 1, 2014 in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Windows 9 Will Likely Arrive in Q2 or Q3 2015

Just days ago, document leaker FaiKee revealed that the preview version of Windows 9 would arrive either on February 3, 2015 or March 2, 2015. That seemed to coincide with the release schedule of Windows 8, which saw the current OS in a Consumer Preview build back in February 2012.windows-9,K-L-412869-1

MyCE now adds to that report, using the same leaked document, but fewer edits. According to the info, Windows 9 is actually in an alpha state, and a Preview build will be released in Q2 or Q3 2015, not in February or March. The cloud-based Windows 365 is also supposedly in alpha and based on the Windows Core.

Office 2015 is listed as Alpha-TP-CP1 on the document, meaning Technical Preview and Consumer Preview 1, which indicates that the next Office could soon appear as a public preview. Also possibly appearing soon is Office 2013 Gemini, the Modern UI touch-based apps for the Office suite. These are listed as RTM and may launch in Summer 2014.

Also on the leaked document are “update items”. These include changes to the modern UI interface, Windows Defender, Windows Activation, OneDrive and Cortana, the Digital Assistant making her debut on Windows Phone 8.1. Cortana will likely be embedded in Windows 9 as well, as Microsoft is currently looking for a software development engineer to help develop the next generation of Microsoft’s Digital Assistant.

The leak also reveals that Windows 8.1 Update 2 is in the preview stage, meaning that customers could see the update in mid-2014. Previous reports have pegged the window between August and October: it’s anyone’s guess at this point (save for Microsoft). This update may bring back the Start Menu, which will combine the old-school listing with flashy new live tiles.

Finally, the leak shows that Windows Phone 8.1 has gone RTM (Release to Manufacturing). The document also shows that Windows Phone 9 will make an appearance in Q2 to Q3 2015. However, as always, take all this as rumor and speculation.