Server 2012 Licensing Explained

With the recent move to Server 2012 and the change in Microsoft’s traditional licensing model have come a slew of questions.  The change in the licensing model has been driven largely by trends in the industry for data centralization and cloud centric computing.  There are actually some nice benefits that the new licensing model offers to those who are currently using a hypervisor such as VMware or HyperV.  The licensing model is also simplified so that there are now really only 2 versions of Microsoft server OS where there were previously many.  Here’s how it all breaks down.

There are basically 2 version of Microsoft Sever licensing that will be commonly used in businesses.  One is Server 2012 Standard, and the other is Server 2012 Datacenter.  One of the big changes with 2012 is that there is no difference in feature sets between the two versions.  Standard now has all of the great features that were previously only available with a more expensive server OS.

The main difference with these two licenses is the licensing model.  A datacenter license is good for unlimited virtual instances on a single physical piece of hardware with up to two processors.  That makes it ideal for heavily virtualized datacenter environments.  The standard license is good for two virtual instances on a single piece of hardware with up to two processors.  This is a fit for lighter virtualization installments, and for most small businesses that have a few servers and are using a hypervisor.  The new standard licenses cost approximately 30% more than the previous standard license, but with the ability to do 2 installs.  This can reflect significant licensing savings for businesses leveraging the benefits of virtualization.  Both datacenter and standard licenses will still require the use of Server CALS for every user or device that will be accessing a server.

As always, when planning a move to a new server OS it’s important to check your available server resources and compatibility with your main business applications.  Many of the applications that you’re currently using may not be ready for the move just yet.  It’s recommended that you test thoroughly and know compatibility before doing a migration of a live server environment.

For questions or to learn more specifics feel free to call the experts at i.t.NOW who can help you with your licensing questions.  There are also some great resources available online from Microsoft that can help with your licensing questions.

What is Jail Breaking?

Jail breaking is the process of hacking a device (typically a smartphone or tablet) to bypass the digital rights management software usually installed by the hardware’s designer.  This software exists to limit the type and amount of software or apps that can be run on a device.  By jail breaking a device, users can have the ability to “tweak’ their device’s operating system or run unauthorized software.

In technical terms, jail breaking can be defined as installing a modified set of software patches that allow you to run unauthorized code or apps.  While jail breaking can give the user more freedom in customization and usability, it can also create risks.

Is jail breaking safe?
For many, jail breaking a device lets a user travel outside the traditional bounds of an operating system.  But the risks associated with jail breaking can include malicious software attacks, decreased battery life, slower device processing speeds, and increased data plan usage.

Is jail breaking legal?
The correct answer is yes.  The U.S. Government currently says it’s legal to jail break a digital device. But, the debate surrounding the topic is a fierce one.

Hackers and activists claim that jail breaking is a right, using the analogy of car modification. Car modders are not seen as breaking the law when they make changes or additions to their cars. Why should programmers?

Corporations like Apple, on the other hand, continue to lobby for more strict laws regarding jail breaking. But, currently, the most they can do is claim that jail breaking violates their user agreements and voids a device’s warranty. Whether or not this will change remains to be seen.

How to jail break
According to TechHive.com:

“Generally, jailbreaking tools come in the form of OS X or Windows desktop applications. Currently, the only tool to jailbreak the A5 processor-based iPhone 4S and iPad 2 with iOS 5.0.1 is called Absinthe. Other tools, such as PwnageTool and redsn0w, are only able to jailbreak older devices running iOS 5.0.1. The renowned iPhone Dev-Team released the very first jailbreak tool, and the group is still central to the iOS hacker community; its blog is a good place to go to see what’s new in jailbreaking tools.”

Virtualization Solutions from i.t.NOW

In 2011, C.H. Spencer & Co., a supplier of pumps and related equipment to mining, power, industrial and municipal markets, was looking for a way to cut business operating and hardware costs.  Company executives knew they wanted to scale back the number of servers and hardware needed to run the business, but they didn’t have the in-house expertise to handle the transition.

Enter i.t.NOW.

i.t.NOW is a Utah-based provider of I.T. solutions including virtualization, data backup and recovery, cloud computing and more.  The company’s virtualization solution gives small businesses the ability to decrease in-house operating and hardware costs, and reduce the number of needed servers and computers, and hardware and software upgrades.

For C.H. Spencer & Co., the staff at i.t.NOW developed a custom virtualization plan.

First, i.t.NOW decreased the number of in-house servers from four to one, with one server now running four virtual machines. This move saved C.H. Spencer & Co. an estimated $17,000 in hardware costs, upgrades, warranties and maintenance over the life of the machines, which typically last three to five years.

Second, because of the decreased power consumption, C.H. Spencer & Co. will see significant savings. On average, each server that C.H. Spencer & Co. used cost $300 per year in electricity, a total of $1,200 per year for all four servers.  With the new single, virtualized server from i.t.NOW, electrical costs will average less than $300.

Finally, i.t.NOW’s services gave C.H. Spencer & Co. technology that will scale with its growth. With virtualization, tasks like memory addition and data migration become more simple and cost-effective.

“Our transition to a virtualized office was pretty seamless. We compared three different I.T. companies, and ended up choosing i.t.NOW because it had the most comprehensive virtualization services.  We started the switch the Friday after Thanksgiving, and i.t.NOW had us back up and running by Monday.  They were there to help with any additional needs whenever we needed them.  They also helped upgrade two of our core software programs at the same time. We even installed i.t.NOW’s data backup and recovery system, i.t.BDR, and that’s helped us recover lost data at a moment’s notice,” said Randy Burgoyne, controller for C.H. Spencer & Co.

 

“We started looking at a variety of options for expanding our servers.  We wanted good, solid hardware.  We had three dell servers, and an 800 gig array of storage space.  When it came down to it, we wanted to compare prices.  We got bids from three places, and we felt that i.t.NOW had the best total solution.  They mirrored our entire server environment, and cut us back to one machine using VM Ware.  The implementation went very smoothly.  We also upgraded two of our core operating programs at the same time. It was a large undertaking, but i.t.NOW handled it well.

 

Implemented the Friday after Thanksgiving.  i.t.NOW had our server up before the transition, and we were up and running again on Monday, and were ready to handle any additional problems throughout the next few days.  They also expanded our storage, and we also installed an i.t.BDR unit that has been seamless as well.”

 

To learn more about i.t.NOW and its comprehensive I.T. services, call (801) 562-8778 or contact us using our online form.

How to Defragment Your Hard Drive

If your computer is running slower lately, it might be time to defragment your hard drive.   A computer’s hard drive has more moving parts than most of your computer.  And if you haven’t cleaned up your hard drive in a while (or ever), it can take a long time to load programs or data.  If you want a relatively quick way to speed up your computer, a defragmentation of your hard drive might be the best answer.

What is a fragmented hard drive?
A hard drive works by storing data on a spinning disk (unless you have a solid state drive). Your data is stored on the hard drive in rings, making it easier for the hard drive’s arm to read the data.  Over time, however, data can be stored in multiple rings because of updates and deletions, making it harder for your hard drive to access the needed information.  When you defragment your hard drive, you’re helping to repair the fragmented data, which makes your hard drive run faster and reduce wear and tear.

How do I defragment my hard drive?
Luckily, Windows has a hard drive defragmentation tool already installed on your computer.  Whether you have Windows XP, Vista, 7 or 8, it’s a fairly easy process.  Here’s the easiest way to find it in Windows XP:

  1. Click on My Computer
  2. Right click the hard drive you wish to defragment, and click Properties.
  3. Find the Tools tab, and click Defragment Now.
  4. Click Defragment.

On Windows Vista or newer, it’s much easier.  Click on the Windows icon in the lower left.  Enter Defrag in the search box, and it will bring up the program.  Open it, and click Defragment Disk.

That’s it for Windows users.  It should be noted that a hard drive defragmentation consumes a lot of your computer’s processing power, so if possible, do it while the computer is not in use.

For Apple users, there are multiple third-party systems that can help with this process.  Apple claims that its operating system is designed to limit the need for hard drive defragmentation.  It does this by designing the system to download whole programs, instead of adding new pieces like Windows, and by using larger, unused hard drive space for new programs.  If you feel that a hard drive defragmentation is needed, a third party application should be used.

By defragmenting your computer’s hard drive, you’ll help increase your computer’s speed, eliminate unnecessary files, and help prolong the life of your hard drive.

 

CCleaner 101

CCleaner is a computer “cleaning” tool for Windows and Mac created by Piriform. For many, CCleaner is an excellent utility program that allows users to clean out temporary Internet files and history, clean up the registry and remove potentially unwanted files and data.

Don’t know what it is? Here’s a quick CCleaner 101 to get your familiar with the program.

CCleaner Features:

Here’s the definition from Wikipedia:

“CCleaner supports the cleaning of temporary or potentially unwanted files left by certain programs, including Internet Explorer, Firefox, Google Chrome, Opera, Safari, Windows Media Player, eMule, Google Toolbar, Netscape, Microsoft Office, Nero, Adobe Acrobat, McAfee, Adobe Flash Player, Sun Java, WinRAR, WinAce, WinZip, GIMP and other applications, along with browsing history, cookies, Recycle bin, memory dumps, file fragments, log files, system caches, application data, autocomplete form history, and various other data.  The program also includes a registry cleaner to locate and correct problems in the Windows registry, such as missing references to shared DLLs, unused registration entries for file extensions, and missing references application paths.  As of v2.27, CCleaner can wipe the MFT free space of a drive, or the entire drive itself.

“CCleaner can be employed to uninstall programs. In addition, CCleaner allows the alteration of start-up programs, similar to the Microsoft Windows MSConfig utility. Users can disable start-up programs. As of version 2.19.901, CCleaner also allows users to delete system restore points.”

Our personal experience with CCleaner has been excellent, and we use it on a regular basis with our clients. If you’re still in doubt, CNET gives CCleaner a 5/5 rating, calling it a “highly recommended” product, and even awarded it a 2009 Editor’s Choice Award.

For more information on CCleaner, or to download the program, visit piriform.com.

Why You Should Clean Your Computer

Admit it: cleaning your computer isn’t on your regular to do list, if it even makes the list at all.  But, it’s one of the most important things you can do to improve performance and extend the life of your computer.

Whether you have a desktop, laptop or both, here are things you’ll need to get your computer free of grime and dust.

  • Can of compressed air
  • Flat-tip and/or Phillips screwdriver
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Cotton swabs (Don’t use a cotton ball, because they can leave debris)
  • Cloths (Lint-free, paper towels, anti-static cloths)
  • Water

Important notes before you start: Make sure your computer is turned off, and that it’s disconnected from the power source.  Also, check your computer’s warranty before removing any covers or back plates. Doing so may void any existing warranties.

When you’re ready to clean your computer, you’ll want to start on the inside.  For a desktop computer, there are many ways to remove the outside cover.  Most modern desktop computers will use around two fasteners for the rear cover, two push button-style fasteners, or use Phillips screws for the rear or side cover.  When in doubt, refer to your computer’s owner’s manual.

For laptop computers, place the computer upside down on a flat surface.  To avoid scratching the computer, you may want to place a towel or something soft on the table.  Remove the battery first, then look for the vents for the cooling fan.  Remove the screws, and remember where each screw goes.  You may need a smaller Phillips screwdriver to complete this task.

Once you get inside your desktop or laptop, try to touch as little as possible.  Use your compressed air to clean out any dust or debris.  Be careful when using compressed air on the vent fan, and use short air bursts to clean it. For larger dust debris inside the computer, use Tweezers or a cotton swab to safely remove them.   Lastly, blow compressed air into the CD/DVD drives and large ports, aiming the air so it blows the debris out of, not into the computer.  You should also use a lightly damp cloth to wipe down the trays of the drive.

Now move to the outside of the computer.  Use rubbing alcohol and a cotton swab to clean around all the computer’s openings. Flip the swab over and use the dry end to finish.

Now comes the keyboard. Flip the keyboard/laptop over and lightly shake it.  A lot of the crumbs and debris will most likely fall out.  Use compressed air to clean out any remaining debris.  Next, take a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol and clean the tops and sides of the keys. Don’t be afraid to use a lot of swabs.  Once one starts to get dirty, switch to a new one. It should be noted that you shouldn’t use a vacuum to clean your keyboard or laptop, as it can create a static electricity buildup.

Now you’ll clean your monitor.  For a glass screen monitor, use a glass cleaner to clean the screen, unless the manufacturer recommends differently. For an LCD laptop or flat-panel display, use a lightly dampened lint-free cloth.  Spray the cloth, not the screen, and lightly rub the screen to clean it. You could also use a computer monitor cleaner, which can be found at computer retail and supply stores.

Finally, you’ll come the mouse or touch screen. First, we’ll focus on the mouse. Disconnect the mouse from the computer. Rub the top and sides of the mouse with a paper towel dipped in rubbing alcohol.  Remove any grime buildup with a fingernail.  If you have an optical mouse, be sure that the optical lens is clear of dirt and debris.  For a mechanical, ball-style mouse, remove the ball and use compressed air to clean out the area.  To clean the ball, wash it with water and let it dry.

Article adapted from an original post that appeared on the Microsoft at Home website.

An Explanation of the “F” Keys

Along the top of most computer keyboards are a series of function keys. They are numbered from F1 to F12, and go from left to right.  But do you know what they actually do?

Most of the function keys are pre-assigned to perform certain actions when they are pressed.  These are usually called shortcut keys. This holds true primarily for function keys F1 through F7. Other keys, such as F8 through F12, are typically not assigned for regular computer use, but instead have more programming related functions.

While each key typically has a universal function, there may be some variation as to what each key does on a user’s computer. Below are the functions that each of these keys are generally assigned to (on a Windows-based computer).

  • F1 – Opens Windows help.
  • F2 – Opens the title line of folder so it can be renamed.
  • F3 – Search function.
  • F4 – Shows address bar list display for Windows Explorer or My Computer.
  • F5 – Refresh the active program.
  • F6 – Runs through items on desktop or window.
  • F7 – Runs the Spell and Grammar check in the open program.
  • F8 – Runs Windows in Safe Mode.
  • F9 – Break point debugging use when used with the Shift key. On some programs, it has no assigned use.
  • F10 – Opens the File menu for the active program.
  • F11 – Shows full screen view in Internet Explorer.
  • F12 – Bypass debugger – Command prompt access.  On some programs, it has no assigned use.

The source for this article was “What Do the F Keys on a Computer Do?” written by Nina Nixon, originally published on ehow.com.

How the Keyboard Got Its Shape

Ever wondered why a keyboard’s keys are arranged the way they are?  The modern keyboard arrangement can be traced to the late 1800s when Remington & Sons manufactured the first commercial typewriter, called the Remington Number 1. It was similar to our modern keyboard, with the letters Q, W, E, R, T, Y starting the top row, giving it the nickname of “qwerty.” While the first qwerty keyboard and typewriter weren’t perfect, its future development would help shape the keyboard as we know it today.

Another keyboard that challenged the qwerty layout was the Dvorak keyboard. This keyboard design placed the most-used keys in the middle row, making the distance a user’s fingers traveled shorter.  It is also designed to make the hands alternate on consecutive letters.  But, while the keyboard was designed to increase efficiency, it didn’t catch on like the more popular qwerty keyboard.

A study performed in the 1950s showed that while the layout of the Dvorak keyboard was deemed as more efficient, typists maintained the same rate of typing with both systems.  This helps explain why the qwerty keyboard has remained the standard.

While the keyboard on your computer is most likely a qwerty keyboard, you can try out the Dvorak keyboard layout by visiting this website.

News Release: Utah Kids

KARING FOR UTAH KIDS AND I.T.NOW HOST 10th ANNUAL SATURDAY WITH SANTA EVENT

KARING FOR UTAH KIDS AND I.T.NOW HOST 10th ANNUAL SATURDAY WITH SANTA EVENT

Event to raise funds for children and families in need

Cottonwood Heights–Karing for Utah Kids, a local non-profit organization, is
partnering with i.t.NOW, a Utah-based computer services company, to host a Dec.
4 fundraising event for various Utah children’s charities. More than 1,000
handmade blankets and toy bears which will be available for purchase at the
Saturday with Santa event. Proceeds from the event will be donated to various
Utah children’s charity organizations for cancer, diabetes, trauma and more. The
event will run from noon to 4 p.m. at Cottonwood Heights Elementary School at
2415 E. 7600 S.

Karing for Utah Kids is a Utah-based 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that
supplies financial support to various Utah children’s charities. It’s managed by
an all-volunteer board of trustees.

The event, open to the public, will feature free pictures with Santa and free
food. Children’s games, drawings and face painting will also be available.

Entertainment will include Cowboy Ted (a radio personality who promotes healthy
lifestyles for kids), and Munchkin Radio (a children’s radio station). In
addition, the Arts Council of Cottonwood Heights will bring its Winter Songfest,
a collection of local children’s choirs.

One hundred percent of the sales will benefit the Foundation for Children &
Youth with Diabetes, Bikers Against Child Abuse (BAC) and Trauma Awareness and
Treatment. Funds will also support families in need through the Sub for Santa
program.

“This time of year is always very special for children, and we want to be sure
these children have a bright and enjoyable holiday season,” said Butch Jentzsch,
founder of Karing for Utah Kids. “Seeing the joy and the smiles on their faces
is what continues to drive this effort year after year. The addition of
Cottonwood Heights Arts council’s winter songfest and special guests will make
this truly a great holiday event for all.”

In addition to i.t.NOW’s sponsorship, the event is supported by the City of
Cottonwood Heights and the Canyons School District.

For more information about Karing for Utah Kids and its programs, visit
www.utahkids.org. For more information on i.t.NOW, visit www.itnow.net.

ABOUT KARING FOR UTAH KIDS

Karing for Utah Kids is a non-profit 501(c) (3) charitable organization founded
to make a difference in the lives of children in Utah. All donations directly
benefit Utah children’s charities and are fully tax-deductible in accordance
with state and federal law. Karing for Utah’s Kids is governed by an
all-volunteer board of trustees who bring a combined 40+ years of experience in
volunteer work for local and national charitable organizations and more than 20
years of executive management in Fortune 500 companies.

News Release: Best Year

i.t.NOW, A LOCAL INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY COMPANY,
CONCLUDES BEST YEAR EVER

NEWS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
FOR INFORMATION: Spencer Randle, XO Marketing, (801)529-7072,

i.t.NOW, A LOCAL INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY COMPANY, CONCLUDES BEST YEAR EVER
Company increases sales, hires seven employees, and promotes and supports
local charities

Salt Lake City—i.t.NOW, a Utah-based information technology (I.T.) and managed
services company, recently concluded its most successful year since the
company’s creation in 2005.  i.t.NOW hired seven new employees and added 800
machines to its management services, bringing the 2010 total to 2,300
machines, a growth of more than 60 percent since 2009.

“2010 was an excellent year for us.  Even in a down economy, we were able to
continue growing our business, allowing us to hire employees for all aspects
of the business: Sales, operations, technical support and office management,
just to name a few,” said i.t.NOW Founder and CEO Phil Robinson.

Robinson added, “2011 will be even better.  With cloud computing being
integrated into all aspects of I.T., we’re preparing to offer several
cloud-based solutions, which would save our clients money and allow them to
run any application on just about any device.  We also recently upgraded our
partnership with DELL from premier to certified.  This means we can pass
greater savings on to our clients, especially with hardware and storage
solutions.”

i.t.NOW was also awarded a MountainWest Capital Network Utah 100 Award, which
highlights the 100 fastest growing companies in Utah.  The Utah 100 is
determined by the percentage of revenue increases from 2005 through 2009.

“In addition to experiencing growth throughout the year, i.t.NOW also gave
back to the local community.  2010 was such a great year for us that we wanted
to pass on our good fortune to those in need,” said Robinson.

In December 2010, i.t.NOW helped local non-profit Karing for Utah’s Kids raise
money for multiple children’s charities and the Sub for Santa Program with the
Saturday with Santa charity event.  The event, which was free to the public,
sold handmade blankets and bears to raise funds.  One hundred percent of the
sales benefited the Foundation for Children & Youth with Diabetes, Bikers
Against Child Abuse, and Trauma Awareness and Treatment.  Funds also supported
five families in need through the Sub for Santa program.

“The Saturday with Santa event was the best we’ve seen.  We made 175 percent
more in sales than 2009. I had 30 volunteers helping with the event, including
those from i.t.NOW, and I needed all of them,” said Karing for Utah Kids
Founder Butch Jentzsch.

For more information on i.t.NOW and its services, visit www.itnow.net.