3 “Gotchas” Most IT Pros Won’t Tell You When Selling You Their Cloud Solution

Are you using any cloud applications to store data?

Then listen up!

There are a few “gotchas” you need to know about 3rd-party cloud apps that most sales reps will NEVER tell you.

  1. They aren’t responsible for keeping a backup of your data. If you read the small print of your contract, you’ll see that in every way possible, your cloud provider is NOT responsible for data loss or backups – even if it’s their fault. In fact, Office365 will only keep 3 days backup of your data; so if you delete or overwrite a file and don’t notice it until 4-5 days later, it’s GONE. If your data is important, you need to implement a backup solution that works with cloud applications.
  2. What you see may NOT be what you get. There’s nothing more frustrating than an incredibly slow application when you’re trying to work; and the salesperson demo’ing the application or platform is going to make sure you only see the BEST-case scenarios for performance. But there are a lot of things that can determine how fast your cloud applications run, such as the file size you’re working on, CPUs and RAM and storage, time of day, day of the week, your Internet connection and the number of users accessing the application. Make sure you get some verification of the speed in YOUR specific environment before spending a lot of money, time and aggravation moving to a new cloud application.
  3. What if they cancel you? Here’s a scary situation: what if your cloud provider decides to shut down your account because they go out of business or simply decide not to service you anymore? Or what if YOU want out? Make sure you have in writing what happens if YOU cancel your contract AND what your cloud provider can and cannot do if they go out of business, cancel your account or have any other issues that would cause service interruption. Moving a network from a cloud platform is NOT a simple task and you need to make sure you can get your data and that you’ll be given sufficient time to make the transition.

Need help interpreting any of these scenarios?

CIO has “gotcha” covered!

Give us a call at 314-414-8400.

We will help you put in place a solid “Plan B” for any of the above issues, so you never have to worry about your 3rd party cloud applications saying “gotcha, too late.”

 

 

Windows Server 2003 Set To Expire July 14th! Is Your Business At Risk?

alertIf your organization is currently running either Microsoft Windows Server 2003 or Exchange 2003 on any servers in your office, you need to know about a dangerous security threat to your organization that must be addressed very soon.

Windows Server 2003 and Exchange 2003 Replacements MUST Be Made By July 14, 2015

Microsoft has officially announced that it will retire all support on the Server 2003 operating system on July 14, 2015. That means any business with this operating system still running will be completely exposed to serious hacker attacks aimed at taking control of your network, stealing data, crashing your system and inflicting a host of other business-crippling problems you do NOT want to have to deal with.

This is such a serious threat that the US Department Of Homeland Security has issued an official warning to all companies still running this operating system because firewalls and antivirus software will NOT be sufficient to completely protect your business from malicious attacks or data exfiltration. Running Server 2003 will also put many organizations out of compliance.

Unless you don’t care about cybercriminals running rampant in your company’s computer network, you MUST upgrade any equipment running this software.

FREE Windows Server 2003 Migration Plan Shows You The Easiest, Most Budget-Friendly Way To Upgrade Your Server

During the month of April, we are offering a FREE customized Windows Server 2003 migration plan to all businesses still running this operating system on any computers in their office.

At no cost, we’ll conduct a full analysis of your network to help you determine what specific servers will be affected by this announcement. Additionally, we will provide a detailed analysis of all upgrade options available to you, along with the pros and cons of each option. While there, we will also assess other security, backup and efficiency factors that could be costing you in productivity and hard dollars. We will then put together a customized Server 2003 Migration Plan specifically for your office.

To schedule your FREE on-site assessment and Windows Server 2003 Migration Plan today, contact us to get started.

Not sure if you need an upgrade or what server you are running?

We can help with that too!

Just contact us today and say:

Help! Is my business at risk?

 

Windows Server 2003: RIP 2015

In 2014, Microsoft ended support for Windows XP. In 2015, Windows Server 2003 is on the chopping block. Are you ready? Support ends July 14, 2015, which means you need to start planning your transition now.

Why It Matters

Your first question may be, “why does this matter?” If you have an old server running, and it’s completely stable, why mess with it, right? Aside from the obvious – no support – a key reason to upgrade is security.

We’ve had wave after wave of major security exploits this year. In many cases these exploits targeted older technology that was seemingly secure – for example, the HeartBleed bug. If new exploits come out that impact Windows Server 2003, there will be no patch. You will be vulnerable, which means you will be scrambling to upgrade on an emergency basis. If you get hit with a virus that exposes customer information, it could be a public relations nightmare.

Even if your own server doesn’t get hit, performing a server upgrade under those circumstances isn’t likely to go well. Bear in mind that software designed to run on Windows Server 2003 isn’t likely to play nicely with Windows Server 2012 (the current version). That means you’ll have to upgrade your software at the same time you upgrade your server.

A related issue is regulatory compliance. Most regulated industries, like medical or financial, require you to run on supported software. After July 14, 2015, you will be out of compliance and could be subject to penalties.

Your Options

The most obvious solution is to upgrade your server to a newer version. 2012 is the latest, although you can still get the 2008 version through Microsoft’s Volume Licensing Program.

However, you shouldn’t automatically assume a new server is the way to go. If you are running a software applications on an old server, check with your vendor to see if they have a hosted “cloud” version. If they do, consider migrating your software there. Then you can retire the server instead of replacing it.

If it’s running email and sharing files, check out cloud services like Office365 (from Microsoft). You’ll need a fast and reliable internet connection, but this is another case where you may be able to migrate to the cloud instead of replacing an old server.

There is one last option: you can pay Microsoft an exorbitant fee for ongoing support, but it is unbelievably expensive and intended only for large corporations.

If You Upgrade

If you decide to replace your Windows 2003 Server, where do you start? How do you plan?

First, inventory all software applications running on your old servers, so you know what you have to move. For each one, contact the vendor. Find out what has to be upgraded and how to handle migration. Renew your support contracts and be prepared to spend extra for upgrades. Don’t forget to check out training. New versions will likely be more intuitive and more efficient, but your team will need help if the latest version of the software looks completely different from what they use today.

Your worst case situation will be if you have old, custom software, or anything that cannot be upgraded to a new version. If you run into this, consider switching to a new software application that does the same function. It is terribly risky and expensive to keep running on old unsupported software versions, especially when it’s critical to business operations.

Next, check your hardware. If your server is more than four years old, you should upgrade to improve performance and reliability. In most cases it makes sense to virtualize your servers. This means that you use a tool like VMWare or Hyper-V that allows you to install multiple “virtual” servers on one physical server. It’s much like buying a building and having several tenants share the space and resources.

Finally, check your Microsoft software licenses. If you already have some newer servers, it’s possible you are already covered. In a virtual environment, there are a few exceptions but generally one Windows Server license can be used for two virtual servers. If not, you will need a Windows Server 2012 license. You will also need the appropriate number of CALs (client access licenses) which are dependent on the number of users or devices on your network. This is a one-time purchase that applies to the environment overall, so if you add more servers in the future you don’t need more CALs. You only add CALs when you add users or devices. If you are running Microsoft SQL Server, you’ll need to upgrade that as well.

At this point you know what you are migrating, but you still need to create a step-by-step plan. You can set up the new server in advance, but any software migrations will need to be carefully coordinated. Bring in the expertise you need to ensure a smooth transition; otherwise you could experience significant disruption to your business.

If You Move to the Cloud

If you are able to migrate your software to cloud applications, enlist your vendor early on to create a migration plan. The cloud version of your software may have different features that need to be configured, and your team may need training. There will be a data conversion step, where they take your data from the current system and move it into the online version. You’ll normally do this first in a test environment, to make sure it all works. Then you’ll pick a date for the actual migration. This could take an hour or a few days – it just depends on the complexity of your software.

Final Steps

Whether you upgrade or move to the cloud, there’s one last step: retiring your old servers. Turn them off, but keep them around for just a few months. Better safe than sorry – you may find something you missed. After that, have the data on the hard drives destroyed and turn them in for recycling. And enjoy your new applications and the efficiency they bring!

YES! I’m Scared About the Security of My Company’s Data!

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PLEASE Schedule a FREE Data Security and Backup Audit in My Name to Make Sure My Data is Protected from Dangerous Gremlins, Ghosts, and Goblins!

I understand that I am not obligated to do or buy anything by signing up for this offer. For free one of your technicians will schedule an appointment and conduct a data security and backup audit. Upon completion, I’ll receive a report that will show any problems, threats, or vulnerable areas that need to be addressed.

If a problem is discovered, I will receive a recommended action plan and fixed-fee quote to resolve it with no hidden fees. Again, I am under no obligation to hire you to do any work.

Need To Speak To Someone Right Away?

Call: 314-414-8400

This Halloween…Who’s Keeping An Eye On Your Computer Network?

Picture3Many business owners and managers we work with wait FAR too long to have us check and update their computer network’s health and security. Unless we are actively performing regular daily/weekly/monthly maintenance, a nasty virus, malicious hacker, unexpected software corruption, hardware failure or dozens of other problems could catch you off guard and result in extensive downtime, data loss and expensive data recovery efforts.

That’s because many businesses do not perform regular maintenance on their network and therefore are overlooking many serious threats that are increasing all the time. At some point, disaster strikes and they find themselves in a real mess, with a network down and employees sitting idle, waiting to get back to work.

By then the damage is done, and it can cost thousands of dollars to get the network back to normal, if that’s even possible. What saddens me even more is the fact that almost every one of these costly disasters could have easily been prevented if someone had checked their network’s security and health to remove these threats on a regular basis.

No More Excuses! Our Free Network Checkup Will “Exorcise”
The Demons Hiding In Your Computer Network

From now until Halloween (October 31st), we’re offering all clients and newsletter recipients a FREE Network Checkup ($497 value) so that you have no excuse for not making sure your computer network is safe and sound.

Schedule your FREE Network Checkup to “see” if you are truly safe from spyware, viruses, hackers and other SPOOKY disasters.

Call our office at 314-414-8400.

Email info@cioservicesllc.com.

OR visit the contact page on our newly redesigned website to ask for your FREE Network Checkup.

http://www.cioservicesllc.com/contact-us/

 

 

How To Ensure The Heat Doesn’t Fry Your Server (And Your Profits!)

error-101409_150Could The Dog Days Of Summer Be A Threat To Your Business?

With the “dog days” of summer upon us, most business owners are looking for ways to keep their company’s sales and profits HOT, while keeping their IT expenses COOL. But if proper attention is not given to your server and network equipment during the summer, all that heat outside can actually bring your company’s growth to a grinding halt and increase your IT expenses significantly.

Excess heat can be a big problem for small to mid-sized business servers, since a server that becomes overheated usually costs more in energy, fails more often and is more likely to crash. For most companies, a server crash can mean hours or days of downtime, unproductive employees, HUGE amounts of stress and thousands of dollars in lost opportunity.

“7 Steps Every Business Owner Must Take To Prevent a Server Crash”

Here are a few simple things you can do to prevent your server and network equipment from overheating and crashing this summer:

  1. Tidy up the server room; a neater room will increase airflow.
  2. Keep the doors to the server room closed and seal off the space.
  3. Make sure cold air reaches all the equipment.
  4. Have a redundant A/C that is specifically designed for computers.
  5. Buy a rack enclosure where the cooling is built into the bottom of the rack.
  6. Keep the temperature at no more than 77 degrees Fahrenheit.
  7. Consider virtualization or cloud computing so that you are generating a lower amount of heat in the first place.

Protect your server and computer equipment from frying with our FREE “Beat The Heat” Network Audit. Schedule your “Beat The Heat” Audit today!

Call our office at 314-414-8400.

Email info@cioservicesllc.com.

OR visit the contact page on our newly redesigned website to ask for your FREE “Beat The Heat” Network Audit.

 www.cioservicesllc.com/contact-us/

 

 

 

 

My Computer Network Doesn’t Need Regular Monitoring And Maintenance, Does IT?

whyThis is probably one of the biggest and most costly misconceptions that many business owners have. Usually this is because they’ve been fortunate enough to never have encountered a major computer-related disaster, but that’s similar to someone thinking they don’t need to wear a seat belt when driving a car because they’ve never had an accident.

Computer networks are complex and dynamic systems that need regular updates and maintenance to stay up, running fast and problem-free. In fact, it’s surprising how fast a brand-new computer will slow down after a few weeks or months of use without proper updates and maintenance. Here are just a FEW of the critical updates that need to be done on a weekly – if not daily – basis:

  • Security patches applied – with NEW viruses and hacker attacks cropping up DAILY, this is a CRITICAL part of maintaining your network
  • Antivirus updates and monitoring
  • Firewall updates and monitoring
  • Backup monitoring and test restores
  • Spam-filter installation and updates
  • Spyware detection and removal
  • Monitoring disk space on workstations and servers
  • Monitoring hardware for signs of failure
  • Optimizing systems for maximum speed

A computer is just like a car: if you don’t change the oil, replace the filter, rotate the tires, flush the transmission and perform other regular maintenance on your car, it will eventually break down and cost you FAR MORE to repair than the cost of the basic maintenance – and cars are far simpler than a computer network!

Many companies, in an effort to win on price, leave out critical support activities like these in their ‘all inclusive’ plans. The fact of the matter is that every IT support company has different ‘all-inclusive’ plans, most of which don’t really cover you for everything. This means you’ll inevitably discover hidden fees that end up costing you more money than you ever originally planned — or find out the hard way you weren’t fully protected.

Want to avoid nasty surprises?

At CIO Services, we have a simple solution: a true comprehensive service plan that covers all your IT maintenance from top to bottom. We offer easy, fixed-price monthly payments and 24/7 round-the-clock tech support so you can rest easy.

Contact us now to find out more about monitoring and maintenance for your computer network at 314.414.8400 or email us at info@cioservicesllc.com.