Internal IT security personnel at SMBs may have their work cut out for them when it comes to integrating the newest version of Microsoft Office into existing security procedures. According to Microsoft, Office 2013 represents a significant departure from the traditional IT risk management paradigm. According to the company's recently released security overview of the product, Office 2013 presents companies with "a fundamental change from computer-centered identity and authentication to user-centered identity and authentication. This shift enables content, resources, most recently used lists, settings, links to communities, and personalization to roam seamlessly with users as they move from desktop, to tablet, to smartphone, or to a shared or public computer."
Software giant Microsoft regularly launches new IT solutions that assist small and medium businesses to operate more efficiently. In keeping with that tradition, the Washington-based company has just released a preview of the next generation of their workplace productivity suite: Office 2013. It will continue to have the ‘ribbon’ interface, which displaced the drop-down menu interface used in all Office releases after Office 2003. Although business productivity experts and other experts have only recently begun to analyze the benefits that Office 2013 may offer SMBs, some have already singled out two key features as worthy of note.
Microsoft has introduced the latest versions of Office 365 in their attempt to move people to cloud computing. You might think that a company who has dominated the desktop so completely over the years would be looking to further consolidate that position. Some had even thought that their latest version of the productivity suite would be somehow streamlined and simplified in how it was delivered. This was prompted by the introduction of the Metro interface in Windows 8. Surely, some have said, Office would not be allowed to be presented as a legacy application. Well, the answer is that it seems to be somewhere in the middle, and this raises interesting questions about Microsoft’s strategies for traditional computers and touch-based computing.
The most widely used virtualization software in the world is VMware, but other platforms do exist. One maker of such software, a firm called Parallels, is currently in an unenviable position: looking into claims that its flagship 'Plesk Panel' program lacks sufficient IT security. Plesk Panel is not itself a virtualization platform, but it rather an administrative tool that helps website managers administer Web hosting servers and perform other tasks related to the management of a website.
Any business that conducts part of its operations online must pay careful attention to IT security issues. This is especially true for companies that deal with any form of personally identifiable information, which encompasses both medical records and financial details relating to a specific individual. As New York's Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center has recently learned, however, that data can appear in surprising places. When IT security is not robust enough, some of this ‘stealth data’ can end up being inadvertently released to the public.
Even small businesses are now seriously beginning to consider the benefits of virtualization because of its ability to improve productivity even as it reduces costs. IT solutions that incorporate virtualization can be used in a variety of different ways to achieve these ends.
One of the most important players when it comes to virtualization technologies is VMware. As of lately, the company is attempting something new with an update to its vFabric application. The idea behind vFabric is to allow virtualization customers to make better use of the VMware cloud stack. The prior version of the VMware suite lacked some capabilities, which turned out to be core functionality for some customers; among these was a database system.
Virtualization is a computing term that refers to the creation of a virtual solution to a problem rather than a ‘real’ or physical solution. For all intents and purposes, the virtual idea could have the same look, but not feel, of the physical alternative. A touch screen key pad as compared to a physical QWERTY keyboard is a great example of this.
Microsoft has recently released Virtual Machine Manager (VMM) as part of System Center 2012. This tool, positioned as a single, unified management system for virtualized environments, lacks support for outdated versions of Microsoft's virtualization platform but supports all versions of Hyper-V that coordinate with Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows Server 2008 with Service Pack 2. It also functions in cooperation with systems using Hyper-V Server 2008 R2.
The German anti-virus firm Avira recently issued a new service pack for its main program. Unfortunately, the upgrade to the software caused serious complications on a large number of computers running versions of the Windows Microsoft operating system. The worst cases, some of the computers were rendered almost completely inoperable as they attempted , in seeking to block malicious executable files. Instead, they ended up banning nearly all executable files. After the upgrade was deployed, some machines were not even able to boot up into a normal operating mode.
Whether you run a business, public service, or a not-for-profit organization, it's now near impossible not to use IT systems to help you. In fact, it could be argued that any business or organization that does not have computer-related systems in place could be losing out significantly, making staying in business very difficult.
For years, the general impression in the business community has that business intelligence (BI) software is really only suited for large businesses such as enterprises. This perception was fueled by the high price tag associated with such software and its inherent complexity. Now, however, a new generation of BI software has come on the market, offering interfaces that are more streamlined and easy to understand.
Businesses who wish to maintain robust computer systems capable of accomplishing their business goals, are well acquainted with the importance of software that's able to log various system events. When logging systems are well established as integral parts of a company network, the business will be better able to detect the arrival of malware into the system in order to prevent intrusions and other security incidents. Proper log files also make it possible to conduct a thorough investigation in the event of a breach. In addition, proper log files make it easier for IT staff to track malicious behavior such as the abuse of company resources by internal employees, and access to the system by unauthorized persons.
A relatively new approach to meeting the computing needs of a small or medium-sized business is the phenomenon known as "Software as a Service", most commonly referred to as SaaS. In the SaaS approach, businesses connect with the software they need via cloud computing. This frees them from the necessity to install and maintain their own software. Instead, those responsibilities are handed over to a managed services provider contracted to keep the software updated and maintained.
Ever since the advent of voice recorders and the personal computer, the concept of a secretary ‘taking dictation’ has all but vanished from the business world. Indeed, many preparation programs for personal assistants do not even include a course in shorthand any longer. In the tech-driven computer world that dominates businesses both small and large these days, however, dictation is making a bit of a comeback, but in a new form. Today's businessman or woman is leveraging the power of computer dictation/transcribing programs in order to create new efficiencies in the workplace.
According to a recent survey, nearly one-fifth of companies in the manufacturing sector believe that proper supply chain management is a strategically important part of a successful business plan while a further 40 percent acknowledge the issue as an essential component in an overall plan.
Deciding to purchase a software suite is always a matter that demands careful thought as well as adequate time and attention. When the software in question is intended to back up vital company data, however, the issue of selecting the right product is paramount. A poor choice of backup software can have potentially devastating consequences should the company need to implement its disaster recovery plan with a flawed set of backup data.
Ears have been buzzing over the potential release of Apple's iPad3, said to be coming out this March. Many are curious to see whether or not this release will be as successful as its predecessors. Jeffery Lauria, Director of Technology at iCorps Technologies, weighed in on the matter with CRN's Kristin Bent. Follow the link below to read the article:
According to the old adage, an "ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. Nowhere is this axiom truer than in the world of software purchasing. Companies that become aware that they need to upgrade the software they have in use can save themselves a world of trouble and expense if they conduct their software search in conjunction with an IT consulting firm instead of striking out on their own. Working with an IT consulting firm can help businesses avoid the kinds of pitfalls that cause companies to make costly mistakes.
Moving to a virtualized workspace is one of the most significant trends in today's business world, but companies dipping their toes in these waters need to understand in advance the types of costs that come along with IT solutions that incorporate virtualized servers. There are three main types of costs associated with virtualization: software, hardware, and labor, which often take the form of a managed services approach to IT services.
When a business establishes a relationship with a software vendor, hopes are usually high for both parties that the relationship will work out as planned, with the business receiving a solid product and appropriate levels of support while the IT company providing the software will receive funds that will help it thrive in the future. Like in all relationships, however, the unexpected can occur and things can go awry. When it comes to software vendors, some of the possible scenarios include the launch of a new product, making the old one obsolete or even unsupported. Still more serious can be the advent of a bankruptcy for the vendor company, leaving the business using its software cut adrift.
Like any other software system, VMware does sometimes need to be patched with updates and fixes that can improve security and offer enhanced functionality. Other patches may even remediate bugs that have been recently discovered in the newer versions of the software. One of the best ways to ensure your system stays up to date is to use the VMware Update Manager, which provides automated functions that can streamline the process of upgrading and patching. The Update Manager allows managed services staff to fine-tune the patching process as needed so that organizational workflow is disrupted as little as possible.
Supply chain management used to be something that small and medium-sized businesses had to manage more or less on their own. This could be a true challenge since some businesses lack the personnel that can handle the coordination and integration of materials, finances, and information so that they form a smooth flow from suppliers to consumers, with stops at manufacturers, wholesalers, or retailers along the way. Depending on the point in the chain where a particular business fell, SCM could be quite a daunting task. The result was often that very small businesses felt they lacked resources to fully tackle the problem, leading to a system in which managers might always be “putting out fires.”
An Excel spreadsheet can produce detailed charts, graphs, and pivot tables. While these ways of displaying data are powerful in its own way, they are actually simplistic compared to the advanced business data modeling techniques that now exist. Data modeling in its advanced form has now become a key business tool that helps to identify trends from data that may seem disparate when displayed only in the relatively primitive charts and graphs available through spreadsheet programs.
There is a multiplicity of security software on the market today. Rather than choosing from vendor descriptions of such products, small and medium-sized businesses are better served by working closely with an IT company that can advise them when comparing security suites. Key considerations used when evaluating these programs often go beyond the information one can find online, requiring hands-on experience with the products.
Even with automatic updates, it can be quite complex for a business to keep all of its products completely up to date and in sync with one another. This situation is made even more complex by the fact that in some instances, applying updates without proper care can lead to system conflicts and even crashes. From time to time, an update released for a major software program may itself have a bug or security flaw. These serious considerations are generally not paid attention to at all when an organization's update protocol is simply to let the computer update itself without regard to other considerations.
"But, will it work for us?"
Disaster recovery has been an important topic for IT services staff in business enterprises for as long as firms have leveraged the power of computer technology to streamline operations and manage workflow. As platforms evolve into more complex forms, disaster recovery strategies must also keep pace. One of the exciting recent innovations in this field is the ‘intelligent disaster recovery’ provided by Dell in their PowerVault DL Backup to Disk Appliance platform.
The rise of social media services has raised workers' expectations for how they should be able to collaborate with business colleagues. More and more employees, particularly those that are under 30, are heavily accustomed to accessing data about both themselves and friends online through cloud-based services. It only makes sense that these workers want to bring those techniques and skills into the workplace to enhance their productivity.
VMware's vCenter Server (once called VMware VirtualCenter) is a central management tool for VMware vSphere virtualized computing environments. The use of vCenter will allow IT services personnel to improve their level of control over the virtualized environment and proactively manage resources. Like all robust virtualization IT solutions, vCenter is a fully scalable platform.
As applications grow and improve, it is sometimes necessary for businesses to move to not just an updated version of their existing product, but to a new product altogether, one that may take a radically different approach to format and organization.
A recent study conducted by Symantec has found that server virtualization is spreading to business enterprises around the world, with more than three-quarters of large businesses reporting that they either have implemented the strategy or are in the process of adopting some aspects of it. These findings include hybrid cloud computing as a virtualization strategy.
IT services are now being provided by managed services providers, and most of these providers offer a variety of software choices suitable for the small and medium enterprise market. For starters, customers can often choose between VMware and Microsoft's Hyper-V to supply their virtualization needs. How then can such an enterprise know with confidence which of the available options will best support their IT needs so that their clients' employees can concentrate on workflow related to the firm's core competencies?
Before Exchange 2010 was released, networked users of Microsoft workstations had fewer options for the creation of email archives. The most typical method used was moving email into Microsoft Outlook and creating personal archives using its functionality.
Data centers occupy a key place in most business organizations these days, with their use growing each year among small and medium-sized businesses. IT services in the 21st century can help enterprises take the next step in data center functions, turning them into highly efficient dynamic data centers that optimize all aspects of their operations from the use of applications to network storage capacity. What makes these data centers dynamic as opposed to the previous generation of data centers is their ability to consume resources on an as-needed basis rather than having large amounts of dedicated resources routed to them whether those resources were needed or not.
Citrix, an industry leader in software providing virtualization platforms, has released an upgrade to its popular XenServer program. XenServer 6 has been optimized to work even better with cloud infrastructure and features enhanced scalability and better performance for both networking and virtualized desktop use.
In addition, the new version of XenServer will allow users to link into System Center Virtual Machine Manager's 2012 Console, a feature eagerly awaited from Microsoft.
XenServer 6 is still based on Xen hypervisor version 4.1, but includes new features that should prove of use to enterprise users. One of the most exciting is the use of Open vSwitch as the network stack. Since Open vSwitch now manages the stack by default, virtual networking features can be distributed network-wide. These include programs such as RSpan, NetFlow, and a variety of security ACLs.
A managed programs approach that includes installation and maintenance of XenServer 6 will allow business enterprises to scale out to the cloud. One strong feature of scaling out in this way is that users can continue to maintain close integration with existing Citrix products such as NetScaler, which helps optimize the use of wide area networks or WANs. Another added feature will allow XenServer host computers as well as virtualized machines to be remotely managed by the Microsoft System Center mentioned earlier. This provides users with an alternative to VMware's competing vSphere product. The XenServer 6 system, when used with the System Center, will allow users to create and utilize private clouds.
In many businesses and particularly in small to medium-sized enterprises, IT budgets can be very tight, with departments and on-staff support personnel eager to save money in any way they can. The temptation, therefore, to choose a free data storage solution can be quite strong. Companies now exist that offer free storage server software, but there are several compelling reasons why enterprises are actually better off opting for a managed programs approach to server functions.
Even the smallest of business enterprises can have a complex internal structure, particularly when you consider how the IT solutions in use may have evolved over time. Many small and medium-sized enterprises find themselves in a situation in which they are working with a different vendor for each of their IT needs. Incompatibility among the software systems and hardware installed is a natural consequence of such an arrangement, but there is another important consequence that is potentially even more problematic for an enterprise trying to reduce expenditure.
It is not enough in today's business environment to comply with all of the governmental mandates that apply to your industry. A business enterprise must also be able to demonstrate without question that it has done so. Since it is difficult to pass an audit without sufficient proof of compliance, enterprises are left searching for IT solutions that will help them streamline the processes required by mandate as well as automate the creation of necessary documentation regarding compliance.
Mathew John, one of Microsoft's program managers for Hyper-V has announced on the "Building Windows 8" Blog that Windows 8, the next generation of the company's popular desktop operating system, is slated to include the virtualization tool known as Hyper-V. Previously, Hyper-V was not available for client computers; it only ran on editions of Windows designed to be installed on servers.
In many business enterprises, the IT infrastructure in use has evolved gradually over the course of many years, and sometimes during the tenure of different managers. This mix of old and new systems as well as a variety of operating systems and application platforms can lead to a variety of difficulties, including too much or too little redundancy, performance gaps, and inefficient use of resources. One of the most serious problems that can develop is the existence of "information silos" in which vital company data is being stored in a location or format that is not readily transferable to other company resources.
One reason that IT consulting can be so essential for a business or enterprise is because IT experts are skilled at looking past the minutiae associated with daily workflow in order to see the big picture. A case in point is the improved efficiency that businesses can experience by upgrading from Microsoft Exchange 2003 to Exchange 2010. As companies are increasingly striving to do more with less, they need to upgrade to the tools that will give them the most "bang for the buck," and a consultant familiar with the ins and outs of various configurations is well-placed to offer timely and informative advice in this regard.