How the retirement of Microsoft’s Select Plus volume licensing program will affect you

Posted by at 8:41 AM

Microsoft Products and Services Agreement (MPSA)

Broader availability of MPSA is coming this fall.

Since its inception in October 2008, Select Plus has been the recommended transactional volume licensing program for medium-to-large organizations looking to procure Microsoft products and services. But with the introduction of cloud services, such as Office 365, and other new programs, licensing models continued to grow more complex and gain more complicated program terms. For that reason, Microsoft introduced its new volume licensing program vehicle, Microsoft Product and Services Agreement (MPSA).

Now, with a broader release of MPSA — including the availability of Software Assurance (SA) — scheduled for September 2014 and worldwide availability planned for July 2015, Microsoft announced it is retiring Select Plus.

The Select Plus licensing program will be phased out in two stages: Continue Reading…

How to find the perfect storage array

Posted by at 1:10 PM

server rackIf your organization is like most, your storage array is one of your most valuable assets and also one of your biggest headaches to manage. But it doesn’t have to be this way. In a perfect world, there would be an ideal storage array, one that not only solves the most common problems in maintaining storage but also makes it easy and simple to get the best performance out of the system.

Here are five of the most common issues that limit how quickly and how effectively organizations can use their arrays, and how the perfect array might solve them: Continue Reading…

The 5 values that determine your product audit risk

Posted by at 8:30 AM

In my first post in the calculating product audit risk (PAR) series, I discussed how organizations should have two different strategies for managing their overall software estate. For the set of products where the value to the business or the risk of non-compliance is high, we suggest a “manage the product” approach. For the rest of the software portfolio, we suggest a “manage the risk” approach. To help differentiate between these two segments of the overall estate, we introduced the PAR value.

As a reminder, here is the PAR formula:

SHI-Product-Audit-Risk-equation

In general, the PAR value is meant to quantify the relative financial risk a product represents within the overall software portfolio. But before you can complete the math, you need to know where to find the factors that go into the equation. Here’s how: Continue Reading…

What’s new in Backup Exec 2014

Posted by at 8:58 AM

Symantec released Backup Exec 2014 last month, building on Backup Exec 2012′s advances in backup technology. But in a nod to users, the newest version also reinstated some key, long-standing features that were absent, and sorely missed, from Backup Exec 2012. The changes come on the heels of an extensive beta test conducted earlier this year, and demonstrate that Symantec takes customer feedback to heart. As a former backup administrator, I can tell you that backup admins are creatures of habit, and the last thing they want to do when things are working well is to change something. To that end, the removal of Job Monitor from Backup Exec 2012 and the version’s move from policy-focused backups to server-focused backups left some long-time Backup Exec administrators unhappy.

Symantec Backup Exec 2014But now Job Monitor is back in Backup Exec 2014, as is the ability to create multi-server backup policies. The look and feel of Backup Exec 2014 is similar to 2012, but the inclusion of this functionality cannot be understated. Administrators can once again see the status of all backup jobs from a single, convenient dashboard and can create policies containing multiple servers, which simplifies management. Upgrading from previous versions of Backup Exec is also easier than ever, with settings and policies from versions 12.5 and above maintained in Backup Exec 2014. Continue Reading…

Beat the heat: How to keep your data center cool this summer

Posted by at 8:43 AM

thermostat - cool your data centerWe’re entering the heat of summer, and that means we’re all thinking about one thing: cooling down. For data centers in particular, this is a huge concern. Overheated data centers can cause big problems for organizations large and small.

While servers typically shut down when they hit their 99 percent heat limit to prevent serious damage, these shutdowns can corrupt vital information or wreak havoc on revenue. For the typical organization, unplanned downtime costs $7,900 a minute on average. For a larger company like Amazon, it can be as high as $66,240 per minute. Additionally, years of overheated data centers can cut equipment longevity, forcing an organization to replace servers every two years instead of every five. These costs add up. As data continues to grow, both in volume and importance, it’s more vital than ever for organizations to take data center cooling seriously.

Most organizations have some cooling systems in place to keep their servers running, yet few systems are perfect. Many companies settle for good enough, but this can put information and revenue at risk. Instead, organizations should look into ways to ensure data center health that range from the quick and simple to the inexpensive and impactful to the robust and long-term. Continue Reading…

Leasing vs. financing: What’s the difference?

Posted by at 10:06 AM

SHI blog post imagePurchasing new hardware or software can be a costly and burdensome investment for even the most profitable organizations. But purchasing outright isn’t a company’s only option. Organizations can lease hardware and finance software and maintenance to ease upfront costs and increase IT flexibility. So before you sign that check for your next big order of desktops, servers, or software, see if any of these options are right for you.

The two types of hardware leasing

Leasing is the most common way to acquire IT equipment without paying for it up front. There are two main types of leases: the fair market value (FMV) lease and the $1 buyout lease.

FMV lease

The most common type of hardware lease is the FMV. It’s similar to a car lease, in that you don’t own the product at the end of the term, which is typically two to three years. In an industry known for a 36-month product lifecycle, this is a compelling benefit. The greatest part of IT is that the power keeps going up and the price keeps going down. FMV leases offer the lowest payment option since you’re only paying for the use of the product, not the purchase price. Payments are usually referred to as rent. Continue Reading…

What one organization’s migration from Windows XP can teach you about your IT department

Posted by at 8:30 AM

LaptopsWindows XP reigned as one of the most popular Windows operating systems, making the end of support for the beloved system a bitter pill to swallow for large and small organizations. Many feared the potential headache associated with transitioning their infrastructures to Windows 7 or Windows 8, not to mention losing the familiarity of XP, leaving some waiting until the last minute to migrate. However, some companies that have moved on found that the migration process wasn’t as difficult as they expected, and more importantly, the conversion created an opportunity to improve their IT processes as a whole.

Facing the end of Windows XP

With the April 8, 2014 deadline quickly approaching, a state agency with more than 22,000 employees took steps to get ahead of its transition, developing a conversion process that it hoped would simplify Windows 7 adoption throughout the organization.

To ease implementation, the agency turned to long-time partner SHI. Knowing the complexities of the agency’s environment, we assessed the conversion process with an eye toward any potential holes as well as opportunities for general improvements to IT. Continue Reading…