In February's Newsletter

 
On The Calendar If you're new to our newsletter and you'd like to subscribe, let us know. Hope you had a chance to visit with us at our Open House earlier this month! If you didn't (or even if you did), check out pics from our big night here. Subscribing to our blog and following us on social media is a great way to stay aware of events that pop up, best security practices, new alerts and other information for business owners and IT Managers.    
Top 5 Technology Updates That Should Be On Your Radar Fulcrum Group Top 5 Technologies That Should Be On Your Radar Last month, we talked about some technology trends we see on the business horizon. Also since the new year, we hope we've encouraged you to give some due focus to the critical issue of updating your Windows 2003 servers, as End of Life (ie., end of support) for Microsoft's Windows 2003 Server product quickly approaches. While keeping systems secure and efficient is still on the brain, we thought we'd mention a few other IT updates that are smart to consider at this time:
  • Firewalls – If you have a firewall that is 3 years old or older, there’s a high probability that it does not protect your organization against the latest security threats.  Next Generation Unified Threat Management firewalls from vendors such as SonicWALL and Cisco can protect you against the latest threats.
  • On-Premise Email Servers – If you are still running an Exchange (or other) email server in-house, you are missing out on the opportunity to outsource email to the cloud.  Doing so allows you to spend your time and resources on other business technology needs.
  • Tape Backup – If you’re still writing your backups to tape, you likely are putting your business at significant risk, as industry experts estimate that more than 50% of restores from tape backup fail.  With solutions like SPOT Protect Backup & Disaster Recovery, your backups can be completely automated, and stored not only locally to disk, but also in the Cloud for true disaster recovery.
  • Fax Machines – Sending and receiving documents via fax, especially manual fax machines is a real drain on productivity.  Receiving faxes electronically via fax to email is a major improvement (especially when done through our Digium Switchvox IP PBX phone system).  Other options include scan to email, and electronic document delivery/signing solutions such as Docusign.
  • Desk Phones – This trend is just beginning, but the option to use your smart phone as part of your organization’s phone system is now a legitimate option.  Digium Switchvox Soft Phone for iPhone allows iPhone users to use their iPhone as their extension on the phone system, no matter where they are working (in the office or out of the office).
If you'd like to explore some of these technologies more, email us - or, if you have a few minutes, we'd love for you to feel free to speak with us directly - someone's always here and glad to offer a word of advice.  Give us a call at 817.337.0300.
 
Windows Server 2003 End of Life Fulcrum Group Time To Replace Your Windows 2003 ServersReprinted from our blog, January 26, 2015 We first gave you the heads up when we began discussing End of Life for the Microsoft Windows XP operating system. The sun is now setting on support for Windows 2003 servers as well, with a deadline date of July 14th, 2015. Now in its 11th year of use, Windows Server 2003 has been considered a reliable part of many organizations’ infrastructure —the very reason why it is still in use.However, according to a wealth of good information on Microsoft’s Server 2003 End of Life Resource page, Windows Server 2003 has been succeeded by many newer generations over the past decade and they’ve deemed the time has come for customers to take this conclusion of a lengthy life cycle seriously and make near-term plans to begin a migration plan. Important to note that customers that go beyond the termination of extended support place themselves at potential security risks and potentially in a regulatory noncompliance situation. That said, we realize some companies find themselves in a state of “forced dependency” on Windows Server 2003 due to such issues as:
  • custom-created or heavily customized apps reliant on Server 2003
  • packaged applications not running properly on newer versions of Windows server
  • the need to run a product that is no longer supported (or its support is reaching the end of its life cycle).
In cases such as these, we concur with the message to encourage decision makers to consider the entire software ecosystem that remains on Windows Server 2003 today, and to lean toward choices that benefit the whole application stack and offer the longest return on investment. With that in mind, key concerns of remaining on Windows Server 2003 include:
  • Lack of patches/updates/non-security fixes – No-cost, non-security-related update support terminated on July 13, 2010. However, support for non-security-related updates was available on a for-fee basis to customers that felt it was important to continue to have access to fixes that could help their system run optimally and perform well.
  • Elimination of security fixes – Customers see security fixes as being among the most critical fixes for their installed servers. These fixes will no longer be delivered to customers for their Windows Server 2003 servers, regardless of how severe a given issue may be. This may be less of a problem with many aging Windows Server 2003 applications, mainly because the applications still in use are increasingly likely to be inward facing rather than outward facing.
  • Lack of support - Customers no longer have the ability to contact Microsoft for technical support in the event of a server problem. This becomes particularly important when a system experiences an outage and customers are unable to restore the system and recover data and applications from the stalled machine.
  • Application support challenges – Application ISVs dislike having a complex support matrix and typically support current versions along with a finite number of earlier editions of the product. For most ISVs, an 11-year-old application is probably already past its rational support life cycle, and in most cases, these application ISVs are about to discontinue or have already discontinued support for aging operating system environments such as Windows Server 2003.
  • Compliance issues – Customers in regulated industries or handling regulated data, including healthcare and payment card industry (PCI) data, may find that they are out of compliance, which could mean fines or being cut off from key trading partners that seek to protect their own regulatory compliance status.
  • Inability to leverage modern cloud options from Microsoft and other vendors – Windows Server 2003 can run on virtually every hypervisor in the market, but that does not mean it is an equal player in these modern deployment scenarios. For example, Windows Server 2003 installations cannot be re-hosted in a Microsoft Azure environment, unless it is a 64-bit image, but the vast majority of Windows Server 2003 installations are 32-bit solutions. So even if customers bring the 32-bit image to the Azure cloud, they cannot continue using that operating system instance. When spinning up new infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) instances in Azure, Microsoft provides catalog images only for 64-bit instances of Windows Server 2012 R2. Customers looking to develop a hybrid cloud strategy will find that Windows Server 2003 will not offer the same level of convenience that Windows Server 2012, along with modern companion technologies such as System Center 2012 R2, brings to the table
With the predominance of mobile computing, BYOD, and cloud-based technologies hedging into our day-to-day work environments, this is actually an exciting opportunity to prepare for the next generation in Information Technology! We hope you’ll give us a shout if you have any questions about your server environment.  In fact, while you’re browsing around our website, be sure to look to the right for our latest client testimonial. Don’t hesitate to pop over to YouTube and see what some of our other clients have to say about us. Let us know if we can help determine if your particular organization yields a solid case for migration..
SPOTlight On: Fulcrum Group's Free Telecom Audit Service Not only do old hardware and software systems become obsolete, so do slow Internet connections. With the proliferation of Cloud Services, it is critical that you have enough bandwidth to keep your employees productive and efficient. f you haven’t upgraded your Internet connection in the past 3 years, it could be time to get competitive bids.  With increased competition in the Internet carrier market, you can often get more bandwidth and pay less than you are paying today. Contact us for a Free Telecom Assessment.
Tech TipTech Tips from The Fulcrum Group, Dallas Fort Worth IT Managed Services Providers: Test Your Internet Speed Are you getting what you're paying for?  That's a good question to ask not only once, but on a regular basis. We found a good review of the 6 Best Sites To Test Your Internet Speed. Spend a few minutes with one or more of these and compare against what you currently pay for.
Speedof.me
TestMy.net
Speedtest.net
MySpeed Visualware
Bandwidth Place
Ping Test
If you have any questions or would like further assistance, don't hesitate to reach out.
Did You Know...Have you outgrown your Internet Connection?The Fulcrum Group Dallas Fort Worth IT Experts Check what you're paying for (using the above tips) against what you're actually getting. Need help?  Let us know.