Archive for the ‘Microsoft Windows’ Category

Clouds in an Azure Sky

January 30, 2011

[tweetmeme source=LANSystems only_single=false]Clouds are made of increased bandwidth and storage blended with the advances in virtualization and remote access. Today’s technology allows us to compute anywhere, anytime. The sky is clear blue for cloud computing, but it hasn’t always been that way. 

Cloud computing grew out of the centralized or mainframe model. For those who remember mainframes, it was the only way to compute. We had remote access, but it was cumbersome, slow and expensive. Programmers got in the habit of coding all night long when rates were the cheapest. Then those long, sleepless nights were replaced by distributed computing, a computer for everyone, but somehow programmers still program all night. 

The distributed computing model was embraced rapidly. With amazing graphics and Internet availability, the computer became a household appliance.  But distributed computing had its drawbacks, it was hard to interface disparate systems and collaborate in real-time. Recently, 100% availability and remote connections at LAN speeds have resurrected the centralized computing model with a new name. You could say that computing has come full circle back to a centralized computing model that we call Cloud Computing.  It is provocative, exciting and revolutionary. 

New technology holds a dilemma as most computer users don’t really care about the technology; they just want it to work easily and reliability.  And business owners are only slightly interested in the merits of a distributed or centralized computer model. They want computer systems that are economical, productive and work without needing a staff of IT gurus. 

The cloud or hosted computer solution (called ASP, SaaS, Cloud Services) has been around for years, but has enjoyed only limited success.  Most of the early adopters had sophisticated IT experience and the trained staff to develop and manage cloud solutions. Today, even popular hosted applications have reduced features online or make it difficult to migrate out of the cloud. Microsoft has addressed these issues with Azure.  It is powerful enough to host your world-class enterprise datacenter with the reliability, efficiency and agility you demand, yet provides simple, scalable, portable services. 

Microsoft Azure supports three roles: Web role, Worker role and a Virtual Machine (VM) role.  Enhancements are planned for the Web and Worker roles that have been used by many companies for programming and development. The new VM role will provide a generic environment that can be used for test or production.  It will also compete with Google and Amazon offerings. Learn more about Microsoft Azure and Cloud Power.

Azure SQL provides high-availability, fault tolerant relational database services in the cloud. You can serve local or cloud-based applications and only pay for what you use. Administration is simplified. You don’t have to install, setup, patch or manage software. Built on SQL Server you can leverage the same development and management tools used locally. Learn more with SQL Azure videos.

Azure has great appeal to programmers and developers as is evidenced in the keynote and sessions at PDC10, but for users the cloud is still a confusing concept. Perhaps the average user will never really understand or be awed by the technology that fuels cloud computing, but it will be widely used because of its economy and availability. 

Cloud computing will enjoy widespread use until the next technology revolution replaces it with another better, faster and less expensive solution. Who knows what that might be, but it might look a little like distributed computing.

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

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Updating your Microsoft Windows System

January 26, 2011

[tweetmeme source=LANSystems only_single=false]Protect your system by investing the time to update Windows. It is quick and easy.  In order to prevent attacks, you have to keep your computer updated.  Most infections are preventable and occur because of unpatched security holes.  Don’t let your system fall victim, spend a little quality-time with your computer today! 

Check your update status – Go to Microsoft Update and choose the Express option.   This works for 99% of the systems.  It will evaluate your operating system status and recommend the necessary updates. Microsoft will identify the high-priority updates needed for your system. If you haven’t updated your system recently, there may be several listed.  Be sure to apply all the recommended critical updates.  From this dashboard, you will be able to review your update history and get support. This is a good time to verify your backup or restore point. 

Turn on automatic updates – If your computer is not set to receive notifications when new updates are available, turn the feature on. You will see a screen message to “Help protect your PC” on the right-hand side of the Welcome to Microsoft Updates screen and can turn on the Automatic Update feature by clicking the box  Choose a time to install automatically or choose when you will manually install updates.  Critical updates may require a reboot so choose a time that your computer will be on but will not interrupt your work. You can also complete these actions from Control Panel. Screen shots are Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7 look a bit different.

For LAN Systems support customers, these tasks and checks are done for you but it never hurts to double-check your settings.  Updates are essential for your home system.  Most attacks are against home systems because they are more often out-of-date. 

For added protection, use Microsoft Security Essentials. Take a few minutes to update your system and if you have questions or need help, please feel free to contact us at 770 662-0312 or HelpDesk@lansystems.com.