Staff picks for the week of April 25, 2016

Staff Picks GeneralHappy Friday! Wrap up your week by checking out what’s new in technology with our staff picks!

Comcast will let you replace your cable box with an app (Read by Camillia S.)

Comcast looks to be the first TV service provider to switch to an app-based cable platform. In other words, they’re getting rid of the cable box — you know, the one you have to take time off of work to get installed. Now customers will be able to access their channels on their smart TVs, and mobile or streaming devices. The shift is the cable company’s answer to the young demographic that’s cutting the cord in favor of streaming devices and standalone subscription services. I think the switch is genius because as a “young person,” I enjoy the convenience of app-based entertainment on my phone, but I also like the randomness of television and surfing the channels.

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4 of the most frustrating private cloud challenges and how to solve them

Private cloud headachesCloud adoption is now the norm as nearly 9 out of 10 companies prefer cloud solutions, but many IT professionals are still asking, “Which cloud computing environment is best for my organization?” Interestingly enough, many organizations are using the “cloud” now and may not realize it — a private cloud, better known as an on-premises computing environment that’s supplied, deployed, and maintained internally.

Of course, discussions about cloud migration typically revolve around moving to a public cloud environment, in which computing services are offered and maintained by a hosting provider (e.g., Microsoft’s Azure or Amazon Web Services). Many organizations opt for a hybrid cloud environment that gives organizations the best of both private and public clouds.

So there’s a choice to be made: Should you stay in a private cloud or migrate to a public cloud? What about a hybrid cloud? While a private cloud does offer some benefits (a more secure computing environment, increased performance, and direct access to resources), there are disadvantages as well.

Let’s review the common headaches most organizations have with private cloud environments, and how public cloud offerings can give your organization some relief. Continue Reading…

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Everything you think you know about VDI is wrong. Let’s set the record straight.

Dell VDIA virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) is expensive, right? And, of course, it’s way too complex for most organizations. And a VDI user experience surely folds under the weight of power users running intense processes.

Wrong, wrong, and wrong.

VDI has come a long way in the past decade – it supports the most extreme demands of power users and can drive down an organization’s operating costs. But VDI misperceptions still linger, to the detriment of many organizations.

Part of the issue is the lack of exposure to new VDI solutions, which have become much more refined in the last 10 years. It’s 2016, and VDI is a realistic option for organizations of all sizes, including school districts and governments. So let’s pull back the curtain on those misperceptions, and see why VDI in 2016 is different than what you remember from 2006. Continue Reading…

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Staff picks for the week of April 18, 2016

Staff Picks GeneralTechnology plays roles both practical and pleasing, from keeping our skies and our payments safe to making life more enjoyable through headphones that know exactly what sounds you don’t want to hear. Read on for your weekly dose of tech news, including these stories and more!

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Earth Day review: Here’s how much pollution we prevented in 2015 through asset recovery

Earth Day review of asset recoveryIf you read our blog post highlighting the 5 hallmarks of successful asset recovery, you might remember why asset recovery – the proper disposal or recycling of hardware devices – is so important: It’s a versatile, economical solution that protects your organization and simplifies IT asset management.

One of the biggest advantages to asset recovery is the environmental benefits. Adopting an asset recovery program guarantees devices are responsibly disassembled and recycled, and the precious metals, toxic materials, and extra components aren’t dumped in a landfill. If you throw those same devices in a standard garbage can, they end up feeding the growing global environmental issue of e-waste.

E-waste contains various hazardous metals that can harm the human immune, nervous, and reproductive systems, as well as pollute the air, water, and soil. By handing off end-of-life devices to an asset recovery provider, you are not only protecting the environment but the rest of humanity as well. Continue Reading…

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This is why video communication is the new normal for businesses

BlueJeans video conferencingWhere do you dial into conference calls and meetings from? The conference room, a hotel room, a car, your living room? In the age of smartphones, cheap conference bridges, and “always on” capabilities, it doesn’t really matter, does it?

What does matter is that while we’re supposed to be listening intently on these calls, many of us are working on other tasks, reading and sending emails, maybe even cooking. But the technology that enables meetings from anywhere is now powering a better way to keep employees engaged during those meetings: video conferencing.

Studies show that participants’ average attention span rises to 35 minutes for a video call from 23 minutes for an audio call. And as the workforce shifts to non-traditional office environments (including working from home), video communications give employees a way to interact with clients and colleagues from anywhere using the mobile devices they already own as conferencing access points; of businesses that utilize video communication, 94 percent say it increases productivity.

The video conferencing technologies of 2016 are more refined than yesteryear’s bulky and expensive hardware systems that were relegated to dusty boardrooms. The enterprise video market, which includes video conferencing solutions, will reach $35.6 billion in 2018, up from $11.2 billion in 2015, according to MarketsandMarkets.

That’s thanks to a happy confluence of events that has rendered this cloud-enabled technology easy, cheap, and of exceptionally high quality. Here’s why you should be looking at video conferencing if you’re not already. Continue Reading…

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5 ways to strengthen your Office 365 security

Office 365 securityOffice 365 (O365) ups the ante of productivity, giving users the power to work from anywhere. Whether with Word, Exchange, SharePoint, or Skype for Business, Microsoft’s O365 suite allows users to access sensitive data remotely without a VPN. In the era of Bring Your Own Device and vanishing perimeters, that flexibility and ease of use is a big boost to productivity.

But that “always on” mentality can be problematic for IT, as sensitive data can be exposed if IT or users don’t follow the right protocols. Convenience shouldn’t come at the cost of security for your organization.

Luckily, there are some easy steps IT can take to tighten up O365 security without limiting productivity. Here are five ways you can improve your organization’s security posture while giving users the O365 functionality they need.

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The IT superhero that saves money, energy, and time: Here’s hyperconverged infrastructure

Lenovo hyperconverged infrastructureWhy is your morning commute frustrating? Rubbernecking, erratic drivers, and faulty stop lights might contribute to your irritation, but the real reason morning commutes drive us mad is volume – there are a lot of cars on the road at the same time.

Something similar happened when organizations first adopted virtualization. When IT departments moved their computing into virtualized environments, they also moved data into shared storage. All the applications connected to the same storage array at the same time, slowing data retrieval, creating bottlenecks, and missing the target of increased efficiency.

Solving those bottlenecks isn’t always easy – it can be costly to upgrade to the newest technology and the underlying problem of too many applications accessing the same storage arrays doesn’t change. So what can IT do to eliminate these bottlenecks?

The answer might be hyperconverged infrastructure. Though many still see it as a buzzword, hyperconverged infrastructure is helping organizations, including many state and local governments, reduce costs, free up IT resources, and boost employee productivity. There are many advantages to hyperconverged infrastructures, which are significantly simpler to operate, use less energy and space, and offer a quick return on investment. Continue Reading…

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How to keep your company data safe on public Wi-Fi

Wi-Fi securityCoffee shop Wi-Fi is evil. So is every other public Wi-Fi.

That’s because open Wi-Fi has no security. Full stop, period.

We’ve all heard that we should be careful about what we do on public Wi-Fi because there could be someone reading our emails or eyeing up our bank accounts in our neighborhood coffee shop or on an airplane. Some privacy advocates warn against signing into New York City’s public Wi-Fi, too.

Protecting yourself is easy: Don’t use public Wi-Fi. But in the age of mobility and the “always online” mentality, that can seem unrealistic for some. What can your employees do to protect your organization’s data (and their own private data as well) when they’re traveling or out of the office?

Here are five reminders and best practices for working on public Wi-Fi. Continue Reading…

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