Server 2003 Countdown: 7/15/2015 - What is your plan?

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Did you hear about how Microsoft ended support for Windows XP back in April? Know anyone who made a last minute scramble to upgrade (or hasn’t yet)? Or perhaps you heard about how a large percentage of banks still use Windows XP in their ATMs and the risk it poses?

Microsoft has another looming End-of-life (EOL) approaching, this one for Server 2003 — specifically July 15, 2015. This may not affect most users’ day-to-day operations, and you may be thinking, “That is nearly a year away, so why do I have to worry about that now?”

Unlike workstations, a server is central to your operating your business. It holds important (and probably sensitive) data for not only your company but for clients as well. Server replacement is also more complex and requires budgeting and planning to help ensure a smooth upgrade. Or maybe now is the time to move your business into the cloud!

Either way, it’s best to be proactive and start the discussion now with your IT department. Similar to what we are seeing with Windows XP, there are a few key points to be aware of:

  • Increased risk to unauthorized intrusions or virus infection, since Microsoft will be ceasing security patches and updates on July 15, 2015.
  • 3rd party programs will eventually stop supporting Server 2003 in their updates and newer versions.
  • Limitations on performance. The older operating system is not as efficient using multiple CPU cores for multitasking and has RAM limitations that may be holding your company back.
  • Aging Hardware. There is a good chance your server is 5+ years old if it has Server 2003 installed. This is beyond the recommended 3-5 year lifecycle (and slim chance it is still under warranty).

Make sure your company is not scrambling last minute to upgrade!  If you need help with this, give us a call at 888-244-1748. Or email us at [email protected]server 2003

It’s time to throw a retirement party for Office 2008 for Mac!

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Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac was released on January 15th, 2008. It replaced Office 2004 for Mac and was the first version of Office to be released in a universal binary format, meaning it was compiled for both PowerPC (found in older Macs) and Intel (found in all new Macs) processors. It was supposed to be roughly equivalent to Office 2007 for Windows, but was lacking key features like VBA support, the Ribbon interface, and compatibility with Visio documents.

Mainstream support for Office 2008 for Mac is ending on April 9th, 2013. That means that Microsoft will no longer be releasing any updates or security patches after that date. You can read Microsoft’s official support lifecycle page for Office 2008 for Mac here for more information.

If your organization is still using Office 2008 for Mac, it is definitely time to upgrade. Office 2011 for Mac is a significant improvement over the 2008 version. Here are some of the new features:

  • Entourage has been replaced with Outlook, which will seem much more familiar to users comfortable with the Windows version of Outlook
  • Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) is supported
  • Support for Office Web Apps and Windows Live SkyDrive

The mainstream support end date for Office 2011 for Mac is January 12, 2016, so this version is going to be around for a while.

One important consideration is that Outlook 2011 requires Exchange Server 2007 or later, so it may be time to upgrade your server software as well.

Do you have questions about using Office for Mac 2011 or integrating Macs into your workplace? Call our Mac team at Everon!

 

It’s time to throw a retirement party for Exchange 2003!

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Exchange Server 2003 came into this world on September 28, 2003. It brought with it a host of new features, including improved migration tools to ease the transition from older versions of Exchange, enhanced heuristic message filtering to help direct spam into the Junk folder, and, if you had Service Pack 2 installed, a database size limit of 75 gigabytes. This was unimaginably large for the time.

That was eight years and eleven months ago. In that time, we have also seen Exchange Server 2007 and Exchange Server 2010 come into the mix as well. If your organization is still running Exchange Server 2003, here are some reasons why it is time to upgrade.

  1. Microsoft created a handy chart to break down the differences between Exchange Server versions.
  2. Modern desktop mail clients like Outlook 2010, Outlook for Mac 2011, and Apple Mail all require Exchange Server 2007 or later, and they won’t talk to Exchange Server 2003 at all. So if you get a new Windows machine with the latest version of Office or one of those shiny new Macs, those users will be stuck using Outlook Web Access webmail to access email, calendars, and contacts.
  3. Outlook Web Access on Exchange Server 2003 forces browsers other than Internet Explorer to use “Light” mode, which just means that many of the features and options beyond simple sending and receiving email are disabled or invisible to anyone running a different browser (such as Firefox, Chrome, or anyone on a shiny new Mac).
  4. The 75 gigabyte size limit I mentioned before applies only to Exchange Server 2003 Standard, but there is a lot more email being sent today than there was 9 years ago. It does not take very many users with large mailboxes to hit that size limit, and when you do Exchange Server 2003 will shut itself off to prevent database corruption or data loss. That means no more email until the size of the database is reduced. The newer versions of Exchange Server do not have this limitation.
  5. If the software package is nearly 9 years old, chances are that the hardware running it is on its last legs too. While it might be running just fine, it is most likely out of warranty and may even be in End Of Life status, making replacement parts hard to find, making disaster recover more difficult, and increasing costs and downtime.
  6. The prospect of replacing an Exchange server can be a daunting one, costing many thousands of dollars. One way to avoid this expense and to simplify your office network is migrating to a hosted Exchange system in the cloud instead. By getting rid of your old office server, your business can keep running if there is an internet service failure or power outage in your building. Take a look at Everon’s own cloud email and business continuity solutions.
If you are considering retiring your old server hardware running Exchange Server 2003, there has never been a better time. And Everon can help you do it. Call us at 888-244-1748 if you have questions about server migrations or our cloud email solutions.

Why Warranties Matter

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In the 20+ years I’ve been in IT, it never ceases to amaze me how good manufacturers are at predicting the life span of their computers. Manufacturers must hire the same actuary mathematicians as insurance companies. After all, manufacturers are not in business to fix failed equipment (i.e. pay out claims). They are in the business of selling you new stuff.

The warranty you get on that shiny new computer, laptop or server is your insurance policy with the manufacturer.

They set their warranty policies according to how long they statistically believe their equipment will last. Hence when you have a server with a 3 year warranty and it’s about to expire, you should either extend the warranty (if that’s possible) or start planning to replace it.

The value of the machine to your organization should determine what you do when you get to the end of the warranty period.

If the machine is the server your entire company depends upon then the last thing an accounting firm needs it to do is give up the ghost on April 13th. Or if you’re an online retailer, then you certainly want your database server getting back to work on Black Friday.

Conversely, if the machine going out of warranty is one of half a dozen on the shop floor, then maybe you can afford to push your luck, knowing that if one dies, another can be used.

Here’s a simple guide on how often you should look to replace your computing equipment:

  • Laptop - Every 2-3 years. Laptops take a beating. All that moving around shortens their lifespan compared to desktops. If you have a laptop that stays put most of the time then you can expect it to last longer.
  • Desktop - Every 3-4 years. The need to replace desktops this often is minimal. Desktops can be handed “down” to employees performing less vital functions over time and therefore if they fail, the impact to the business reduces as time goes by.
  • Server - Every 3-5 years depending on whether the manufacturer offers to extend the warranty. Even if you can get one covered for 6 years, once you pass the five year mark, start planning on replacing the machine or demoting it to a less important role.

-Jim De Vico

General Manager, Los Angeles
Everon Technology Services