Why Upgrade to the Latest Technology

Convincing the financial decision makers (i.e. Owners, CFO, etc.) for either Small or Medium Businesses from your organization to invest on upgrading your outdated network infrastructure into a cutting-edge technology can be challenging. If your company is running a few outdated hardware and software, it is time to make a decision to improve and secure your current network setup. The beginning of the entire process can be costly, frustrating and wearing but it will all play well at the end with a favorable outcome. Planning a strategic and operational concept will be a good start. Reviewing your current IT approach, and recommending new technology opportunities are also important. Educating employees on the latest technology is significant for businesses for its success.

Why upgrade

  • Modern equipment and latest software

Try not to wait too long on the upgrades, you will be missing out on a lot of hardware and software upgrades, some get decommissioned and replaced with better features so that you can get the most of it. It can be a financially burden for your company but less nuisance at the end of each day.

  • Dependability

Obsolete products may cut off technical support, updates and features; therefore outdated hardware and software that will require support will be in jeopardy and there might be a possible downtime in case of a hardware or software issue/failure which will cost some loss for your business. It is important that your computers are running 24/7 with a limited downtime.

  • Modern network infrastructure

Review your current network infrastructure if it has assurance to protect critical information and systems. Learn about best practices for eliminating application downtime and data loss with the newer technology applied in your organization. Outdated hardware will slow-down your work, modern technology will give more stability.

  • Time-sensitive projects

Converting old file format (using a 3rd party utility converter) to a new file format can be time-consuming. If a project is time-sensitive, every single minute counts and that your work will be done on time.

  • Smarter Users/Employees

Moving from an older to newer technology will be difficult to a few employees that are not technically savvy as they’ll have a hard time adapting to the new change. Make them aware that lack of modern technology knowledge is not a good representation for the company that they work for. I have personally dealt with these type of Users and guiding them to understand/learn about the new technology was very difficult for me. I’ve given them plenty of time to learn and at the same time a lot of patience involved while educating them on the current technology.

  • Secured network

If you have outdated software and hardware that provides security protection, your network can be vulnerable to unauthorized activities that can access your network. Security Vendors (Hardware and Software) can cut-off support on outdated technology as well as updates and patches. There might be a significant potential for compromising corporate data and loss may occur. This can be prevented by implementing the highest encryption which the newer technology has and it’s worth every penny that will protect your investments. Cleaning out infected computers may take hours or days and may results to downtime.

  • Enhanced backup system

Worry about your backup system? If you have an old backup system, consider replacing or upgrading this as well. There are a lot of reasonable cloud solutions or hardware devices that are available nowadays in case of any hardware failure caused by any disasters.

A few concerns and suggestions that I have compiled and might be worrisome to some businesses, as I have dealt with different IT projects for Small and Medium Businesses on upgrading the company’s technology devices/hardware and software.

  • Do you have an IT budget?

IT budget is one of the primary concerns for businesses as to why they have to keep on delaying upgrading to the modern technology. The technology implementor will have to come up with a great sales pitch to convince the financial decision maker on a possible technology upgrade. Start off with compiling statistics of the number of employees that are in urgent needs for the upgrades. Find out how many employees that are not the priority for now, this will help your company set aside a fair amount of IT budget. Present a simple IT Proposal to the Owners/Management and make it precise. Inform them that there are a variety of financing options available from different Vendors on new software, hardware and affordable payments – just what you need.

  • Would you need a complete upgrade – hardware/software?

Try not to wait too long on the upgrades, you will be missing out on a lot of hardware and software upgrades, some get decommissioned and replaced with better features so that you can get the most of it. It can be financially burden for your company but it will save a lot of headaches at the end of each day.

  • Worry about the incompatibility issues?

Gathering the data on obsolete products – i.e. hardware and software can be time-consuming. Plan ahead the preparations that will include training and setting up your test lab if needed. If you run into any software compatibility issues, give yourself plenty of time to come up with a resolution.

  • How to deal with non-tech savvy Users?

Make the transition easier for the conservative Users. It will be hard for them to adapt to the new changes. Show them how the new technology will benefit them and the business – from a very time-consuming to a user-friendly day-to-day work routine.

My final thoughts

Consider at least every three years to make the most out of your money spent on technology upgrades. Within three years there will be substantial improvements and you’ll have plenty of time to set up new goals, IT budgets and that Users will be ready for something new to learn and be knowledgeable with the modern technology. As time flies, the benefits of the upgrade will be worthwhile, this will reduce the complexity and simplify your business operations. Modernized technology will make your business successful.

 

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Goodbye SBS and Welcome Windows Server 2012 Essentials

It’s the end of the road for SBS and Microsoft introduces a much better cloud-enabled server platform solution and a more flexible product – Windows Small Business Server Essentials has been renamed Windows Server 2012 Essentials. SBS will disappear in a year after its milestone but will still be sold until June 2013, Dec 2013, and >5 years depending on the licensing models. Essentials 2012 is part of the Windows Server 2012 family which comes in four different versions – Foundation, Essentials, Standard, and Data Center all have major draw to the cloud. Windows Server Essentials will only support up to 25 Users. If you need more licensing Windows Server 2012 Standard is doable. Also, if you are looking to  implement virtualization Essentials 2012 has no virtualization rights.

Don’t be surprised if there will be frustrations among the Small Business Consultants and Consumers when SBS departs,  it might be a tough transition for them to move to Essentials 2012.

The main focus here is the email flexibility on the Essentials 2012, Consultants and Customers will have their option whether they wanted their email on-premises, hosted or cloud.

Download Windows Server 2012 Essentials Beta: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=30327

Windows Server 2012 Essentials FAQ (PDF) – Microsoft

SBS 2011 Migration – Use the Migration Tool or Start from Scratch?

Scenario:  Your network consists of 25 Users and has been using SBS 2003 for a while now.

Questions that you might ask:

Will it be feasible and worth to use the migration tool or start from scratch or new builds?

How many hours will it take to complete this project?

Are you concerned about interruptions and downtime?

What are the Pros and Cons?

In today’s technology more IT Pros are leaning towards what’s the best strategy to use which would work well in their network when doing a complex migration. Be aware of the pros and cons and weigh up the consequences.  If you’re a Network Administrator of the company, chances are you have noted all the configurations made in your SBS 2003 and it’s just a matter of preparing the big migration. Brainstorm your questions and freely document what you can and take your time.  If you tend to be impulsive or procrastinate, try to make a well planned project. Before doing a migration multiple backups are important and a must have,  make sure that you have reliable backups. If the migration goes wrong then it might cause irreversible problems. Preparation and lab practices are also important factors to be considered prior to any network migrations to ensure effective results.

Running different diagnostics tools to check for errors is a must have – SBS Best Practice Analyzer, Netdiag, Microsoft Exchange Best Practice Analyzer, DCdiag and check Event Viewer for any errors.  Microsoft has a few SBS resources that you may utilize and they are free of charge.

Plan well, do this on a weekend or during non-business and not during normal business hours.  Inform all employees in your company about the changes just in case there are issues that will come up after the project has been completed. Be up front with them to negate if there will negative outcomes.

Others have succeeded on doing both options because they were well prepared and planned. Do an extensive research on using the migration tools if you are gearing towards this way. A great link here to read: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sbs/gg981878

You may use a Swing Migration if you do not choose to plan to do it from scratch. This is not free of charge but others have succeeded and might save you plenty of time between 12 hours versus > 24 hours of work. Please have a look:   http://www.sbsmigration.com/

Be aware of the Pros and Cons:

Are there any batch scripts applied on your SBS 2003? How much customization has been made and documented? If Exchange Server is involved things may go wrong and you may not succeed using a migration tool. If you decide to use the migration tool, think of all the fixes that you’ll have to do, this might be very time consuming and considering the time that you’ll spend on the new rebuild may not be this much.

At the end of the day, the question will still remain on what’s best to do and viable – use the migration tool or start from scratch? Goodluck!

SBS 2011 Bare Metal Backup

Small Business Server (SBS) 2011 includes a native backup system called Windows Server Backup (WSB). To open up WSB, type “Windows Server Backup” from the Windows Start button then click on WSB on the top.

This is one of SBS 2011 (also available in SBS 2008 and SBS 2008 R2) cool features since SBS is designed for Small Businesses to help cut the IT costs.
The SBS Backup Wizard is also designed for someone who doesn’t have any previous experienced in Windows Backup or any 3rd party software backup solutions. There’s no need to buy and utilize an expensive backup system such as RAID and/or Backup software (Acronis, Symantec etc.), although they can also be considered for redundancy.  If you have an Exchange Server, SQL or SharePoint data they will be backed up as well because these are vital.

It is important to know that the Bare Metal Backup only supports up to 2TB. If you are planning to buy an External hard drive, make sure not to buy anything over 2TB because it will be a waste of money.

You will need to be aware of the compatibility list for a USB External Drive if you decide to use one:

The integrated backup (WSB) uses a VHD technology which take a snapshot of the system, and this technology is limited to a 2TB and the volume can only contain the base image and changes up to 2TB in total.

What’s going to happen if you get more than 2TB external hard drive?  You will see an “i/o error” as soon as you start the backup.

I hope that this information helps you decide and plan your next bare metal backup by utilizing your SBS 2011 native backup utility.

Note:  You may also utilize the network shares and drives for WSB, but be aware that only one backup can be maintained and it will be overwritten.