4 steps to create a CIPA-compliant network for your school

internet schoolsThis question will be on the final exam, and it’s one you don’t want to get wrong: Are you CIPA compliant?

We’re talking about the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA), the federal legislation that requires schools and libraries to restrict access to obscene or harmful content on the internet.

It’s so important that eligibility for E-Rate funding hinges on schools’ and libraries’ CIPA compliance. They must certify that they’re enforcing a policies relating to internet safety, including blocking or filtering access to material considered obscene, pornographic, and harmful to minors.

Are your students protected? Does your school network fit the letter of the law? Here’s how to make sure you’re CIPA compliant. Continue Reading…

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Here’s how to build a cost-effective network and maximize E-Rate funding

1-1 initiativeArmed with E-Rate funding, schools and libraries are bolstering their wireless networks by upgrading routers and adding access points. Many schools use the funding in preparation for a 1:1 initiative, where each student is paired with a tablet or mobile device. Libraries can enhance their patrons’ experiences by improving wireless access.

However, schools and libraries shouldn’t just measure performance of their network, but also must balance those benchmarks with cost-effectiveness, affordability, and overall return on investment (ROI).

In preparing for a 1:1 rollout and wireless LAN overhaul, maximize your investment by laying a groundwork that optimizes your network’s capabilities while remaining affordable. Pursue improvements that maximize your funding. And in some cases, look into monetizing your Wi-Fi for a greater ROI. Continue Reading…

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4 reasons to quit hanging onto Windows Server 2003

Win2k3Windows Server 2003’s end of life is less than 90 days away, and July 14 (the last day of support) is quickly approaching. Many organizations, seemingly hesitant to undergo a full migration, still haven’t even begun to plan the move from Win2k3.

C-suite executives and IT professionals are asking the same questions about the status of Windows Server 2003 starting July 15: What will happen to my network? What will work – and what won’t? Is there a quick fix, or a cheap one? If I’m running business-critical applications that require Windows Server 2003, will they continue working? Will Microsoft extend support, and how much will it cost?

We’re going to answer all of these questions in an upcoming Win2k3 webinar for enterprises, education institutions, and government agencies that will illustrate what’s at stake and why every organization should begin their migration immediately if they haven’t already. Suffice it to say, Windows Server 2003’s end of life can pose serious problems for organizations of all sizes, and postponing a migration could be extremely expensive.

Before we delve into these issues in the webinar, here are four reasons why all organizations should be planning a migration, and why it’s time move past Windows Server 2003. Continue Reading…

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The 3 most common questions we hear about Office 365 deployment

Office 365 DeploymentYour organization has purchased Office 365 (O365). Now what?

If you’re tasked with deploying O365 and are unsure what to do next, you’re not alone. From uncertainty about which workloads to move, to a lack of technical expertise, many IT professionals we’ve spoken with have run into roadblocks in the way of completing an O365 migration. And pressure from the C-suite to move to the cloud doesn’t help.

Based on our recent conversations, we put together a list of the three most common questions we’re asked about O365 deployments. In addition, we’ll be conducting a free webinar to demystify the process and delve into the core technical components of a deployment. Take a look at the questions below and sign up for one of the webinars to kickstart your O365 deployment.

We bought O365, but how can we deploy it? How do we best consume the service?

It’s common for organizations to have under-deployed O365 assets – they just don’t know the best way to make use of their new services or conduct the deployment. Some companies, because they question the security of the cloud or simply hesitate to enact such a drastic change, simply sit on assets they’ve bought.

An O365 deployment can be accomplished either by an organization’s own IT department or with the help of a Microsoft partner that can help “turn on the lights” for your O365. When you consider your deployment options, investigate Microsoft incentive programs that help offset the costs of deployment.

With Microsoft set to offer new incentives in the coming months – details of the next incentive round will likely be announced in June – organizations that start planning now will be better prepared to qualify for them. These plans will provide a roadmap that can help you or a partner actually conduct the deployment.

What workloads should we move to the cloud?

While executives are pushing their organizations into the cloud, IT departments have to worry about the nuts and bolts: In the cloud, which workloads can be effectively run and which information can be properly stored?

The most common O365 workload we see moved over to the cloud is Exchange, followed by Lync and SharePoint. Lync is actually fairly easy to deploy in the cloud for organizations that run it on premises already. These are the most common workloads, but all Office products – Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Publisher, Access, and OneNote – are available through certain O365 licensing.

What skills and tools do we need to deploy all the necessary workloads?

A full O365 deployment is a daunting task simply because many organizations lack the tools or technical expertise required. Even planning a deployment can be overwhelming, and many IT professionals realize they need help in both the planning and the migration. Deploying from old infrastructure and servers (like soon-to-be-retired Windows Server 2003 components) presents its own set of difficult challenges that can stifle progress.

For some organizations, a lack of manpower in the IT department or the preliminary cost of a deployment are hurdles they cannot overcome. So when organizations rely on a Microsoft partner to help with deployment, they receive a new level of technical knowledge and different processes that help vault them past these common issues.

How to get your O365 cloud deployment off the ground

Once you have the basics down — whether you want to deploy yourself or with a partner, what you plan to deploy, and what resources you need — it’s time to take a closer look at the technical requirements. In our O365 webinar, we’ll look at everything from the core components of O365 to identity management to migrations of Exchange, SharePoint, and Lync.

If you’re a corporation, education institution, Texas education institutiongovernment agency, or Texas government agency that needs help deploying your O365 services or even figuring out how your organization can best take advantage of the service, register today to secure your spot in the webinar, and feel free to leave a comment below with any questions.

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