Windows Server 2012 – Release to Manufacturing

By the time you read this, Windows Server 2012 will be released to manufacturing. A number of improvements and licensing changes are coming for this release.

The first major change is the elimination of Enterprise Server. Microsoft now only has Windows 2012 Standard and Windows 2012 Datacenter. With Windows 2012 server running on a virtual environment, you can run 2 servers with one license. Datacenter is unlimited but is licensed per processor. You can find out more about the licensing here: http://www.directionsonmicrosoft.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=810

It also has some additional features and enhancements. Below is a partial list

  • SMB 3.0 (The ability to fail file servers over without interruption to users)
  • Ability to clone domain controllers
  • New File system called ReFs (Resilien FileSystem)
  • IIS 8.0

It will be interesting to see how well this release works. Like anything Microsoft, I would wait until at least Service Pack 1 to deploy Windows Server 2012.

Gadget of the Month – Motorola Hands Free Mute

I spend more time than I care to in my car driving to client locations. During that time I usually make phone calls to make that time productive. The bad part of that is holding a phone to the ear and driving.

After a stern warning from a Sheriff, I decided it was time to look for a good hands free device. I am not a fan of Bluetooth ear pieces, I seem to lose them and I generally dislike them.

What I did find is a Motorola Bluetooth Hands free device. It can easily pair with your phone and gives you instant hands free capability. It also supports voice commands and the ability to stream music to your stereo system or use your car speaker system. I have had a few instances where it is hard to understand me, but I believe it is more my wireless phone than the device.

I am glad I purchased this device. I feel I am much safer on the road and I don’t get a sore neck anymore.

I recommend this for anyone who is in the car and needs to make phone calls. It just makes you safe.

Security in the Cloud

One of the main concerns of the cloud is how secure their data is. When a company uses a cloud service they have no choice but to trust the provider with their data. Some recent attacks have shown that some cloud providers are not as secure as they need to be and that puts your data at risk.

This year alone (2012), a majority of the cloud provides have had some issues with their services. It has ranged from hackers to natural disasters; data has been exposed or has been unavailable. This has happened in prior years also.  Consider this, in 2011, Sony Entertainment had nearly 77 million accounts hacked, exposing user’s information, Dropbox had numerous service outages, and Gmail had a 30 hour outage that resulted in 44,000 accounts being lost.

This just shows you that cloud providers and their systems are vulnerable.

Despite numerous attacks and problems, the data centers where cloud providers locate their servers are physically secure. Google has released a  security video that is a good example of how secure the physical locations are.

When you are looking at hosting your data on the cloud, you also need to consider the following elements.

  1. Privacy of banking, social security numbers and other details
  2. How services outages are handled and uptime guarantees.
  3. Confidentiality of your information, what controls are in place and who can access it.
  4. Physical and network security. How are they securing their datacenter and the systems in that datacenter?

By focusing on these four factors cloud providers are able to provide close to 99% security.

A risk still existing and that can come from inside your company and from your employee’s. Just about every cloud service requires a username and password to access the service.  The hackers and scam artists know this and will use this vulnerability to obtain access to the data. They can also use this same information to hit numerous cloud services as people generally use the same username and password for all websites. That is why it is a good idea to use a separate username and password for the various websites you access.

If your company utilizes a cloud service a number of factors that you need to be consider when it comes to security:

  • Liability for sensitive data stored in the cloud rests with your company, not the provider. Make sure you have a good insurance policy, contact your insurance company.
  • Cloud vendors should be able to provide reports written by a neutral third party on the security of their service. These should be taken into account when looking for a provider. This is typically called a SAS 70 certification and the Datacenter should be SAS 70 certified.
  • You should be taking steps to backup data stored in one cloud to either a different cloud or even to a physical location.
  • You should establish a process that makes your employees to change their passwords at least every three months and not allow them to use the same password

Do you have cloud solutions in your company? If so let us know what your concerns are about security?

Upcoming Seminars

Join Meru Networks and TBJ Consulting for a Breakfast on wireless network management

Do you have a BYOD initiative? Find out how TBJ Consulting and Meru networks can provide a secure and affordable solution. Learn about the do’s and the don’ts with BYOD and what you will need for a successful BYOD Project.

  • How to deliver quick, easy and secure network access on any device from tablets to gaming devices for educational initiatives
  • By adding a BYOD solution to your existing wired/wireless infrastructure you can take control along with a complete audit trail
  • Set Policies and Procedures, including multiple user profiles, you will need to ensure a successful BYOD rollout

Register Here

Upcoming Data Connectors

Join  TBJ at Data Connectors Tech Security Conference 2012 
Register at the event here: http://www.dataconnectors.com/registration.asp

Planning in IT

If you are like me, you are very busy and when you get in that mode, you forget to plan.

Winston Churchill said “He who fails to plan is planning to fail.”

This is true in about any aspect of life, but I want to relate it to the Technology Business in general. In my consulting role I walk into emergences from time to time. Some of them cannot be avoided, but most can. For example, I have walked into upgrades that have not gone very well. You ask, do you have a backup and they give you a blank stare. If they would have planned the upgrade, a backup would have been on that list.

Another good example is walking into a place with the email server out of disk space. Besides not monitoring the system a process should have been put in place or a tool purchased to notify someone before the situation lead to down time.

With how busy we are these days, people want to forget about the plan and just do it (Like the famous tag line from Nike). The problem with the just do it, it critical steps are missed and you risk a failure or even downtime that can cost your business money.

What you should do is each year sit down with a master project list that you will be performing each year. You then take that project list and assign it to the various people involved. Have them create an implementation or upgrade plan. They should present this to their team for review. The peer review is important to ensure you are not missing any steps.

You should have some sort of objective and timely of when a project is completed and what a successful project is.

You should also sit down and list out who is responsible for the systems and software that is in place and what procedures you have to monitor them. If it is a manual check, that is ok but make sure someone is assigned to do that check. It is a manual check, you might want to see if an affordable solution exists to automate those checks.

I think in this industry people think they don’t need to plan, but you should at least a quarter to half you time planning. I have found the more time I spend planning, the less failure and down time I have.

TBJ Monthly Word Find

Solve Our Word Find And You Could Win a $25 Dollar Gift Card

We have these simple rules:

  • One entry per person per month
  • One winner each month
  • Contest Closes on October 16th, 2012

All entries with correct answers will be entered into a Random draw that will determine the winner.

You can submit your crossword puzzle:

Correct answers will be featured in the TBJ Newsletter.

Final Thoughts – The Cloud

It seems likes the everyone likes to talk about the cloud and the great benefits these days. The question becomes, how does it apply to you?

In some of the articles I read it seems that some analysts feel that the cloud solves all problems… Well, I hate to tell you that it does not. Don’t get me wrong, the cloud can be very useful and can also save money picking the correct application to move to the cloud.

Email

For most companies, this is something that makes sense to have outsourced in the cloud. For one thing, you don’t need to worry about your email server going down or attempting to secure it. You can also provide easy access to a number of your devices, such as IPAD’s, IPHONES, etc. You can also save on administration time and also downtime. Microsoft offers Live 365 which is a great option.

But some companies have applications that will not work well with Office Live 365. If you have a custom outlook plugin or if you use public folders heavily, the cloud might not be for you.

Line of Business Applications

If you are purchasing a new Line of Business application or looking to migrate to a new application, it might be time to look at the cloud. Instead of having to outlay ten to hundreds of thousands of dollars to upgrade the application, you cloud move it to a provide that will host the application for you. You then need to just worry about entering the data and they can take care of the backend.

The thing to consider before doing that is how much redundancy they have in the backend and the SLA. You do not want to move to someone who does not have a solid backend.

Other Things to Consider

If you are going to move to the cloud you also need to consider the following

  • Redundant Internet Connections –If you are putting items in the Cloud, this will be important.
  • Security – How secure is your provider? How secure is your data? What is your password policy?
  • Employee Termination – If an employee is terminated, how do you disable access?
  • Backup of Data – How is your data in the Cloud being backed up?
  • SLA – What is the providers SLA agreement. What is their uptime?

Need Help?

If you are considering going to the cloud, you might want to hire a cloud consultant. They are like a CIO that makes sure the service you are looking at has the proper SLA’s and will be a good fit for your business.

We at TBJ Consulting can be that cloud consultant. If you are considering the cloud and need help, contact us at info@tbjconsulting.com or 262-373-9070