Archive for the ‘IT Efficiency’ Category

The Cloud and Microsoft Office 365

February 14, 2012

[tweetmeme source=LANSystems only_single=false]Guest blog by Geoff Rigsby, Microsoft Account Manager at Synnex

On a weekly basis I am asked, “What is Office 365 and how can it help me?”

For instance, if you’re running a small business with 5-10 employees, setting up your own IT infrastructure can be a monumental task.  First, you have to purchase the hardware and software like an HP Server and Windows Server 2008 software.  Second, if you want to have your own email domain, you’ll need to purchase Exchange Server software.  And if you want to share files between employees, you will need SharePoint Server software and you can’t run that without SQL Server software.  It adds up and before you know it, you’ve just spent $50,000!  In addition, you will need someone to configure and maintain.

This is a great deal of expense for just a few employees to communicate, collaborate, and work.  Here is where Office 365 is beneficial.  It eliminates the need for a large infrastructure investment and allows you to take advantage of enterprise IT tools for a fraction of the cost. Office 365 will give you the same productivity and collaboration tools delivered in a subscription based service.  It is licensed on a per-user per-month plan and allows you to scale up or down easily and as-needed.

Depending on the needs of your company, you can obtain every option; Exchange Online, Lync Online, SharePoint Online, and Office Professional Plus in a nice, neatly bundled package or as separate units.  This allows  all of your employees to easily and securely access the same information, from anywhere, anytime – whether it be on a PC, phone, or web browser. User management is made easier by using a single administration access point that allows you to set up new user accounts, control access to features, and receive status updates on all services and tools in real time.  Support is available directly through Microsoft but I recommend working with a Microsoft Partner.  Partners can help you choose the right services, provide added capabilities, and assist with the transition.  They can efficiently manage your network and provide ongoing support for Office 365 giving you more time to run your business.

Paying for Office 365 is easy!  Just work with a Partner. They will send you a quote.  Then you accept the agreement and submit your credit card information in a secure transaction.  Payments are scheduled automatically each month to the card on file.

For more information on Office 365 and how it can help your company, visit www.microsoft.com/office365 and make sure to work with a Microsoft Partner in your area.

Geoff is a Microsoft Partner Account Manager working at Synnex.  You can contact Geoff at: v-grigsb@microsoft.com

Advertisements

Top IT Trends for 2012

January 6, 2012

[tweetmeme source=LANSystems only_single=false]In keeping with our new year’s tradition, we have compiled our list of the top technology trends for 2012. We scanned the available data, reviewed our previous predictions and made some leaps of faith. We are optimistic about the economy and expect many delayed IT expenditures to be completed this year. Advances in business technology continue their steady progression with many smaller businesses adopting leading edge technologies.  This year will be interesting for consumer electronics.  Maybe Steve Jobs left his next great invention in the Apple pensieve.

Local Data Centers – As Cloud Computing gains acceptance and market share, more business will move their equipment and applications to the cloud.  Companies will look for neighborhood data centers that are accessible and provide boutique services. This provides an opportunity for IT service providers and managed service providers (MSPs) because smaller businesses will be looking for help in managing their collocated equipment and cloud applications.  Many small businesses are accustomed to contracting IT services rather than maintaining in-house IT expertise and will look for service providers that can meet their changing IT model.

mCommerce – Mobile commerce is not only for impulsive buyers, but for smart, savvy shoppers looking for the best deal.  The 2011 holiday season broke all records for mCommerce and this will continue as increasing numbers of merchants and consumers embrace mobile applications.  Powerful processors will give handhelds a big boost in acceptance for those that have been reluctant to adopt the technology.  Near field communication (NFC) will take off as applications are developed that use NFC for everything from sharing contact information to reading garment labels to purchasing anything with the swipe of your phone.  In 2012, if you are in the consumer market – become an expert in NFC and mCommerce.

Speech Recognition – This could be a breakout year for speech and voice technologies.  Speech recognition has been used by medical and legal for years and widespread acceptance is just around the corner for all types of businesses.  As mobile device users embrace speech recognition for on-the-go computing, they will bring this technology into the office for a variety of efficiency improvements.

Handhelds Replace Laptops – With more powerful CPUs, handhelds can replace many of the features of laptops.  The keyboard and screen size continue to be obstacle but projection and foldable technology will bridge the gap.  One day we will think and our computer (probably won’t be called a computer) will translate our thoughts into input and output, but in the meantime virtual docking stations will be used to interface with our analog (hands and eyes) systems.

Another Social Media Surge – With Google+ claiming that it will have 400 million members by the end of 2012, we are expecting another surge as social media expands its audience. Online aficionados will continue to be plagued with spam and scams, but new strategies will emerge to catch and isolate the offenders.   The number of users and the average time spent online will increase, but there are too many platforms for the market.  Users will consolidate around the most beneficial and productive sites.  Facebook may take over the world in 2012, but then again it may not.

Disclaimer: Like horoscopes, our predictions for the Top IT Trends of 2012 are general in nature and for entertainment purposes only.

If you have your own 2012 trends, please send to me at mary@lansystems.com.

Weathering Storms in the Cloud

September 12, 2011

[tweetmeme source=LANSystems only_single=false]Twice over the past few weeks Microsoft’s Office 365 suffered interruptions.  The first occurred on August 17th and was reported as a network interruption.  Several blogs reported the cause as faulty Cisco equipment, but that fact was not verified by Microsoft.  The interruption lasted for three hours and Microsoft has offered a 25% discount to Office 365 customers for the trouble. The second interruption was on September 9th and seems to be tied to the widespread Western US power outage.  Any discount has yet to be announced for the second occurrence.

Microsoft is not the only Cloud service to see outages. Clouds, networks, communications and power that make up the Internet have all been down either briefly or for extended periods.  Although it is frustrating, it is part of the risk we all accept in using and being dependent on technology.

Power and phone outages have always been disruptive to business.  If the power and phones are out, often you have not choice except to close the store or the office.  Only in rare cases are backup generators used and then only to keep essential systems like emergency lights and security systems on until the building can be cleared.  Hospitals, data centers and essential services are the exception, but even hospitals have limited backup power.  Our modern power system is extremely reliable, but it is not faultless. That’s why we keep candles and flashlights in the kitchen.

Cloud Computing relies on centralized servers and the Internet to receive and deliver data to the users. If the servers or the Internet are down, the users experience an interruption.  Just like you have a power out kit in your kitchen, you need a Cloud out kit for your office.  Your Cloud power out kit should consist of a computer or mobile device so you can continue to work offline locally and save your work until the system is back on.

When email is down, you just have to wait whether you are using a Cloud service or your own email server.  If the server didn’t confirm receipt of the email message, the sending server will usually try again for a couple of days before giving up.  That means that for short outages, it will be delayed but you’ll get your email.  It is always surprising that people perceive email as more reliable than FedEx and as verifiable as Certified Mail – it is not.  Email is a great tool and 99.44% of our mail gets through but you have to allow for the .56 % that gets lost.  Certainly, the email that you can’t miss will be in the later.  Use delivery and read receipts to make email verifiable.  (The Ivory soap reference to 99.44% is a bit of humor.)

During an interruption, if you still have access to your computer or mobile device, you can compose messages but will have to wait for the system before you can transmit them. With Microsoft Office 365, you can use your Office products offline and transmit to the Cloud when available.  For other Cloud products, you have similar options to work offline and locally.

Using Cloud Computing gives you economy of scale and the benefit of redundant systems that you probably don’t have in your home or business. Most problems with power or communications will still be on the user side so be sure you have the ability to work offline locally to prevent disappointment and loss of productivity.

Talk Like a CIO

August 1, 2011

Talk Like a CIO[tweetmeme source=LANSystems only_single=false]The Chief Information Officer (CIO), sometimes called Chief Technology Officer (CTO), coined in the early 1980s is a rather recent addition to the corporate governance structure. It makes sense that the position coincided with the technology explosion as companies implemented IT to gain competitive advantage. Arguably, what was once IT competitive advantage is now essential for daily operations. Even so someone has to evaluate IT investment to be sure that it serves the organization by providing benefits at an affordable cost. Without that oversight, technology projects would be rapidly become science projects that few, other than the IT department, could understand.

No disrespect to IT folks. As an engineer, I have seen this phenomenon many times. A concept to make the organization more efficient, a product more user-friendly or automate manual tasks spirals into the depths of a techno-black hole with little hope of escape. As an engineering manager, I always put two engineers on a project as a way to get a product suitable for the end-user. Often one engineer working alone would come up with solutions too complicated for the casual user. Technical elegance usually trumps corporate benefit in the technology mind. For the company to realize a return-on-investment from any technology project, someone has to watch the ROI and that’s where the CIO is essential.

The CIO doesn’t have to be a technology expert. In fact, many of today’s top CIOs don’t have a computer science, engineering or programming background, they have a business background and leadership skills. They have learned how to apply technology to solve business problems, foster change and manage the bottom line.

Although definitions will vary, here is a short list of common terms so that you can – Ay oh whey oh, Talk like a CIO.

ROI – Return on Investment is not a uniquely CIO phrase, it is spoken freely by all C-levels and is specific to the investment efficiency required by an organization. Every company defines its payback period and specifics for an acceptable ROI. Often a technology project does not generate revenue so the ROI can be tricky to quantify. Here is where the CIO can be creative and use avoided costs or cost savings to frame the ROI discussion.

Payback Period – The amount of time that it takes to make up or payback the cost of the project. Usually used for revenue projects, but the same rules as in ROI can apply.

Technology Proposal – Whether you are developing a Request for Proposal (RFP) to bid the job or completing the job in-house, you need a proposal that has a statement of need and cost-benefit justification. The CIO is critical in ensuring that the proposal meets the organizational needs and obtains budget approval.

Cost Benefit Analysis – Exactly what the name implies, to determine if the project is worth funding. In any economic analysis, do nothing is always a choice.

Bleeding Edge Technology – Technology so new that the risk and expense is high.

State of the Art, Leading Edge (or Cutting Edge) Technology – Technology that is at the pinnacle of available solutions. It may or may not provide competitive advantage. This term can be synonymous with Bleeding Edge Technology.

Buy In – The commitment of stakeholders to support the decision.

Send me your terms and definitions that help you “Talk like a CIO.”

Top IT Trends for 2011

January 11, 2011

[tweetmeme source=LANSystems only_single=false]Compiling our list of the top technology trends for 2011 was enjoyable. We got to review our 2010 predictions and look ahead with optimism. Unfortunately, economic woes continued through 2010 delaying the expected IT expenditures and slowing growth.  Again, the trends haven’t changed much year-over-year as technology is a quiet revolution. But don’t be disappointed, those same trends are driving new models that will revolutionize the way we do business.  As technology advances, the numbers continue to drive IT investments. Businesses will implement common sense infrastructure improvements and avoid the glitz. The glitz will come from consumer electronics this year as mobile devices become better, cheaper and faster.

Cloud Computing – The Application Server Provider (ASP) and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model is Cloud Computing.  More than ever, this is a technology in search of a moniker that will catch on and become a household name.  We all cloud compute even if we don’t quite grasp the concept. From our social media sites to our online backup to our online applications, each monthly subscription is a testament that cloud computing solutions work. This way of computing through the Internet will continue to grow offering more and improved services at competitive prices. 

Mobile Devices and Applications – SmartPhones are considered one of the hottest items for consumers.  The use of mobile applications has gained such acceptance that an explosion of development, hoping to cash in on commercial success, will bring even more mobile apps to our handhelds.  Context-aware computing which has been around for over a decade may see 2011 as its breakthrough year.

Business Analytics – The amount of electronic data is now over a zettabyte (that’s a one with twenty-one zeroes) and there is no end in sight. But data has a shelf life and it has to be processed before expiration to make sense of or profit from the analysis. With increased computing power, a terabyte of data can be processed, measured and interpreted in real-time allowing for quick business decisions. Computer programs, algorithms and models will take advantage of the processing speed to give timely information. Business strategies and marketing tactics will be altered immediately to reflect patterns revealed by the numbers.  Business acumen is essential as the numbers will continue to be governed by GIGO (Garbage In – Garbage Out).

Work from Anywhere – Fueled by the growth and availability of bandwidth and Cloud Computing, we will be able to conduct real business from anywhere.  Files and documents will be migrated into the cloud so that workers will have anytime, anywhere access. Productivity tools will aid the worker while providing efficiency measures to the employer. Communications from just about anywhere will allow us to buy, sell and converse seamlessly. Tasks considered too complicated to be mobile will be done routinely on-the-go.  Speech recognition will provide the necessary hands free environment.

Social Media – The transformation of the way we communicate, personally and professionally, will continue unabated. Social Media continues to be the darling of marketing. Certainly, the players will change as Fortuna spins her fickle wheel, but online social interaction is the future of human communications. We will find ways to make it more significant and efficient, but there will continue to be spam, scams and information overload, just like it was in the old way of communicating – remember junk mail! Demand for social media consulting will continue and the best opportunities are likely to be for small companies providing services to the Fortune 500.

Absent from the list is Green IT and Smart Grid Computing.  Green IT certainly has its place but economics have taken precedent over stewardship. Smart Grid initiatives are quickly developing but the crystal ball is too cloudy to see if it will take root this year.  We will continue to watch Smart Grid as it is a promising technology trend.

Disclaimer:  Like horoscopes, our predictions for the Top IT Trends of 2011 are general in nature and for entertainment purposes only.

If you have your own trends, send to me at mary@lansystems.com.

For more technical notes and information go to: www.lansystems.com/technotes.html

Large or dual monitors mean happier, more productive employees

September 26, 2010

[tweetmeme source=”LANSystems” only_single=false]The NEC commissioned University of Utah study shows increased productivity, job satisfaction and an incredible return on investment. It is not surprising that a monitor manufacturer would recommend larger and multiple monitor arrangements, but what do users think? There are two trends. The first is for smaller, lighter, mobile devices for on-the-go professionals and the second is for more screen real estate for the stationary worker.

On-the-go professionals need access from anywhere, anytime so they can stay connected.  The screen sizes of mobile devices are definitely trending up, but in general they are still much, much smaller than desktop monitors.  Most mobile users don’t need multiple windows. They can switch between applications or use tools to work more efficiently. Mobile devices are great for staying connected and having information at your fingertips.  They are not efficient for programming that requires in-depth analysis or complicated tasks.  Many types of IT systems do not allow access or control from a mobile device because of the chance of errors and security concerns.

Stationary users benefit from larger or dual monitors depending on the work they do on the computer.  If a user has two or more applications that they cut-and-paste between, dual monitors are a great for increased productivity and error reduction. You don’t have to stop with a dual arrangement.  Triple and quad monitors are used in many situations, like control monitoring, that give the user needed information at a glance without having to switch between windows.  But size does become a diminishing return and if the monitor is too big it can be a productivity drain.  The NEC report shows single 26 inch and dual 20 inch as the upper limit.

Desk space is important.  With flat panel monitors, desk space is not a problem as with CRTs.  Usually you can comfortably place two monitors or a larger monitor on a desk without obscuring view.  If you want to be accessible to your customers, co-workers and employees, don’t sit with your back to the door or with a monitor hiding your face.

There is a good bit of research on monitors and productivity that you can use. Read the NEC Study or do some Internet research for more suggestions on how to be more productive with your computer monitors.  Make a list of what tasks cause you and your staff the most irritation and solve them first. 

If you have suggestions or comments, please contact me at: mary@lansystems.com.

For more technical notes and information go to: www.lansystems.com/technotes.html

Microsoft Office 2010: The best new features in PowerPoint

September 10, 2010

[tweetmeme source=”LANSystems” only_single=false]For anyone that has ever presented to a group, you know it is essential to be well prepared and have the right props.  For many, PowerPoint is the prop of choice. 

Creating your presentation in PowerPoint allows you to gather all your thoughts and ideas in one tool.  You have many slide choices and can move, cut, paste and organize to create a coherent flow of information without leaving the program.  Adding graphics, diagrams, video and sound is easier than ever. With just a little time investment, PowerPoint will make you look like a presentation guru!

When creating the perfect presentation, be sure not make your slides too busy or add too much glitz.  If you want to use sound and video, make sure to add at a place in your presentation where it will complement your message.  Video can be a great introduction or it can be used to clarify your points.  Don’t use sound or video in parts of your presentation where you need the attention of the audience.  Don’t let text dominate your presentation.  Use pictures and graphics liberally as people remember points made through visuals much better than they remember words.

Create interesting presentations

Use built in video power tools – Create extraordinary presentations by embedding video that was created using tools that give a professional multimedia experience.  You can fade, add formatting effects, bookmark scenes, and trim your videos with ease.  Sharing is easy because the embedded video is part of the PowerPoint presentation. You only have to share one file.

Embedded videos can now become part of your PowerPoint presentation

Picture editing made easy – Use new and improved picture editing tools—including versatile artistic effects and advanced correction, color, and cropping tools—to fine-tune every picture in your presentation to look its absolute best.

Built in graphic effects – You don’t have to be a design expert to create professional-looking graphics. Use dozens of additional SmartArt® layouts to create organization charts, lists, and picture diagrams. Transform words into impressive visuals that better illustrate your ideas. Create diagrams as easily as typing a bulleted list or convert text and images to a diagram in just a few clicks. All the tools you need to create stunning graphics are built into PowerPoint.     

PowerPoint 2010 SmartArt Example

3-D transitions and improved animations -PowerPoint 2010 offers new, dynamic slide transitions and animation effects that look similar to graphics you’d see on TV. Easily access, preview, apply, customize, and replace animations. You can also use the new Animation Painter to easily copy animations from one object to another.

Quick and easy presentation management 

Microsoft Office Backstage view – This is the tool palette you see when you select File. This is where you manage your files and the data about them — creating, saving, inspecting for hidden metadata or personal information, and setting options. In short, it is everything that you do to a file that you don’t do in the file.

Compress video and audio – Select File and then Info to compress video and audio in your presentation.  This reduces the file size and can increase playback performance.  Select the quality option from the drop-down choices.

The option to compress media is one of many new features available from the new Backstage view

Customize the Ribbon – Use customizations to personalize the ribbon the way that you want it. For example, you can create custom tabs and custom groups to contain your frequently used commands.  Note:Ribbon customization is specific to the Microsoft Office program you are working in at the time. Ribbon customization does not apply across the Office programs.

Work together from anywhere

Live broadcast – Broadcast your slide show to people in other locations, whether or not they have PowerPoint installed. Create a video of your presentation—including your transitions, animations, narration, and timings—to share with virtually anyone, any time after your live broadcast.

You can broadcast your slide show to people remotely, whether or not they have PowerPoint installed

Microsoft PowerPoint Web App is an online companion to Microsoft PowerPoint which enables you to extend your PowerPoint experience to the browser. View a high fidelity version of your presentations, make light edits, or view your presentation slide show. Use the familiar PowerPoint interface and some of the same formatting and editing tools, from almost any computer with a Web browser.

Microsoft PowerPoint Mobile 2010 enables you to do light editing for your presentations and is especially designed for easy use on your Windows phone. You can even run your slide show right on your phone.

For more technical notes and information go to: www.lansystems.com/technotes.html 

If you have any questions or need help with the instructions, email me at: mary@lansystems.com.

Microsoft Office 2010: The best new features in Excel

August 2, 2010

[tweetmeme source=”LANSystems” only_single=false]Excel is arguably the most under-utilized Microsoft Office product when it comes to advanced features.  Ask people what features they most like in Excel and they usually describe the spreadsheet and graphing tools.  But that is just a very small part of the capabilities built into Excel.  From tools for statistical, engineering and financial functions, to pivot tables, to Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) programming, you can use Excel for simple to complex data analysis and display with easy to read graphs and charts. 

If you haven’t used the advanced tools in Excel, start by trying the new features to get the most from your software investment. Analyze your data to discover patterns or trends, then display with graphs and charts that illuminate the best course of action.  With a little practice, you will improve your ability to study large data sets and make the most informed decisions. 

Make fast, effective comparisons 

Sparklines – Use sparklines to graphically display data in a single cell.  You can display data in line, column or win/loss format to highlight trends. On the Insert tab, choose the type of Sparkline and your data range.  Customize your sparklines for optimum effect by selecting the sparkline and choosing the Design tab. 

 

 

 

 

  

Slicer – Slicers are filtering components that allow you to slice-and-dice your data without having to open drop down lists.  Slicers make it easier to segment and filter data in PivotTables for high powered business intelligence. 

Step up your analysis

  

Search Filter – Use the new Search Filter to quickly and easily narrow your search in tables, PivotTable, and PivotChart views. You can instantly sort through a million or more items.

  

PowerPivot (formerly called Project “Gemini”) Add-In – Groundbreaking technology that allows you streamlined integration of data from multiple sources and lightning-fast manipulation of large data sets with up to millions of rows. Effortlessly publish and share analysis through Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 and have other users enjoy the same Slicer and fast-query capabilities when working on their Excel Services report.

 

 

 

Backstage – The Microsoft Office Backstage view replaces the traditional file menu with an ergonomic approach that uses In and Out features for efficiency.  The improved Ribbon lets you access your favorite commands quickly and create custom tabs to personalize the way you work.

 

Jazz up your data presentations

Conditional Formatting – Excel 2010 adds sophistication to conditional formatting.  Give your document a professional look by adding eye-catching formats.  You have more choices and control over styles and icons, improved data bars, and the ability to highlight specific items in a few clicks. You can also display data bars for negative values and use color for effect.

Work from anywhere

Online – Post your spreadsheets online and work on them from virtually anywhere from the Web or your Windows Mobile-based Smartphone. With Excel 2010, you can take advantage of a best-in-class spreadsheet experience across multiple locations and devices.

Excel Web App – Extend your Office experience to the Web, and view and edit your spreadsheets through the Excel Web App when you’re away.

Excel Mobile 2010 – Stay up-to-the-minute and communicate on-demand by using a mobile version of Excel specifically suited to your Smartphone.

For other interesting features and functions, try Goal Seek to give you a what-if analysis to test your scenarios, experiment with linear regression to understand relationships in your data or just play with the new formatting tools. But once you uncover the “hidden” features in Excel, you will be enthusiastically hooked.

For more technical notes and information go to: www.lansystems.com/technotes.html 

If you have any questions or need help with the instructions, email me at: mary@lansystems.com.

Windows 7 features from our favorites list

May 24, 2010

[tweetmeme source=LANSystems only_single=false]If you’ve been holding on to that old computer because you didn’t want to give up Windows XP, we have good news.  Windows 7 is simpler to use, more responsive, and full of new possibilities. So take the plunge – we did.  At LAN Systems, we are using Windows 7 on our desktops and have some favorite features that we would like to share with you.

Backup and Restore 

Greatly improved for Windows 7, Backup and Restore gives you peace of mind that your critical files are preserved. You can easily select your important files or let Windows choose what to backup. Libraries are an easy way to collect files that may be scattered throughout your PC.  Choose a backup schedule and you can be confident that your data is preserved. 

Be sure that you backup to a drive other than the one that contains Windows.  So if you don’t have more than one hard drive installed, use a DVD or external hard drive.  If you have Windows 7 Professional or Ultimate, you can backup to a network drive so that the network backup will also duplicate a copy of your files.

Windows Search

Quick and efficient describes the new Windows 7 Search. No longer will you search in vain for where you saved that last document.  You’ll be able to find more things in more places—and do it faster. Libraries allow you to organize your documents into a single virtual location.

Start typing into the Start menu search box, and you’ll instantly see a list of documents, pictures, music, and e-mail that meet your criteria.  Narrow the search by date, file type and other categories you select. Highlighted keywords and text snippets show matches that you can easily scan.

Snipping Tool

If you like the Print Screen tools, you are going to love the Snipping Tools.  Use to make a training document, step-by-step instructions or show examples of what you are seeing.  After you capture a snip, you can write or draw on or around the snip image. This allows your own personal notes without bringing the capture into Paint or Word.

It’s easy to send the snip with your notes, just click on Send Snip and choose the email recipient or location to send.

Sticky Notes

These notes will never fall off the monitor and lodge behind the desk. Windows 7 Sticky Notes are one of the most useful and fun desktop enhancements.  Organize your to-do list, tasks, notes and phone messages.  You can always edit the text, change its color and speedily resize, collapse, and flip through notes.

If you use a Tablet PC or a touchscreen, Windows 7 Sticky Notes support pen and touch input, too—you can even switch between different input methods within the space of a single note. Sticky Notes is available in the Home Premium, Professional, and Ultimate editions of Windows 7.

Desktop Themes

Windows 7 has eye-catching themes for every occasion. The graphics are vibrant and new.  You can choose beautiful landscapes and nature backgrounds or modern, surprising themes that every passerby will admire. No matter what taste, there is something for everyone.

Themes and screen savers can display slide shows.  Window border colors and sound schemes are part of your theme.  Choose the theme as it is or add your personal touch.  Need more choices, download free themes from the Personalization Gallery.

Let us know about your favorites and you could be featured in our Windows 7 series. Send your story to mary@lansystems.com.

For more computer support and technology topics visit LAN Systems at:http://www.lansystems.com/technotes.html

Getting the most from your IT budget

May 21, 2010

[tweetmeme source=lansystems only_single=false]Especially during tough times, we look to trim our operating budgets.  Efficient use of our valuable resources is just smart business and there are many ways to manage costs without sacrificing performance.  Below are a few ideas that you can use immediately with a minimum of time and investment. 

  1. Recycle software licenses – It’s worth the effort to record all software purchases so you can easily transfer and upgrade licenses.  Start with an inventory of all existing software and then be sure to update as you add and replace licenses.  Often software licenses can be harvested as hardware is retired.  When purchasing, compare the cost of transferable to non-transferable licenses.  Be sure to keep the necessary documentation with your master list in a file.  To save paper, use electronic files.
  2. Optimize printing – Start with evaluating what you print and eliminate unnecessary or duplicate hardcopy.  In today’s office, most paperwork can be saved electronically eliminating the need for a printed copy.  When using electronic records, be sure that your system includes a common repository for all records and a rigorous backup strategy. Additionally, share network printers in workgroups.  Save on paper costs by using lighter weight paper for internal documents.  You can use paper tray selection through Print Properties.  Multifunction printers that print, copy, scan and fax might be a good investment.  Always evaluate printers that meet your needs by using the total cost per page (TCPP).
  3. Server virtualization – Use existing server hardware and add a “virtual” server to improve performance or add features. Virtualization allows you to house two or more “virtual” servers on the same hardware.  You can also consolidate servers into a virtual configuration.
  4. Application virtualization – Separate the application configuration layer from the OS in a desktop environment, reduce application conflicts, bring patch and upgrade management to a central location and accelerate the deployment of new applications and updates.
  5. Desktop virtualization – Rather than using your desktop PC to run applications, use your server to host all applications and data for the desktops.  This client-server model is advantageous in many ways.  You can deploy desktops quickly on a basic machine and may double the useful life of PCs since they need minimum resources. On existing systems, you may be able upgrade your entire system by adding a server without changing any desktop PCs.

For more IT solutions and computer support tips, visit: http://www.lansystems.com