The success of the Windows Server 2008 operating system can’t be denied. It became a mainstay with small- and medium-sized businesses across a variety of industries. Around 85% of companies still run Windows Server 2008 due to the server’s proven reliability.

And that’s part of the problem.

What Companies Risk by Sticking with Windows Server 2008

On January 14, 2020, Microsoft will discontinue support for both Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008 R2. The costs and time investment required for upgrades are why so many companies still cling to the program. With the 2020 stop date rapidly approaching, here are the risks of not upgrading:

  1. Extensive Security Vulnerabilities. Once Microsoft stops making regular updates, there will be no further security patches to Windows Server 2008. Continuing to use the operating system without these fixes exposes your important business and customer data to hackers looking to steal data. You could also end up infected with malware designed to take your systems hostage for ransom.
  2. Limited Cloud Compatibility. Not upgrading to a new version of Windows Server limits your options when it comes to expanding your technology platform via cloud technology. Windows Server 2008 isn’t fully capable of providing support for cloud or hybrid environments, which will limit your options on software that is only cloud-based.
  3. Performance Issues. Without regular updates, you’ll see your hardware performance slow down as Windows Server 2008 becomes more and more incompatible with your current hardware and software. Virtualization becomes harder since bugs and slowdowns would severely hamper your ability to provide a smooth multiuser experience.

Upgrading Benefits to Windows Server 2008

Upgrading to Windows Server 2016 provides companies with access to features allowing them to build an IT Infrastructure capable of meeting the demands of today’s digital business space. Imagine not having to hear the words, “Our system can’t handle it,” when a great idea is proposed involving technology that moves the company forward.

Here are some of the advantages gained once a company commits to installing an updated operating system to replace Windows Server 2008.

  1. More Extensive Security Protection. Windows Server 2016 provides companies with the ability to implement either single sign-on or multifactor authentication, allowing for better account protection. All of your virtualization instances receive more security from breach attempts from in and outside of your company.
  2. Expanded Cloud Capabilities. The operating system also adapts smoothly to running in a full or hybrid cloud environment. Windows Server 2016 provides an excellent on-ramp for customers looking to explore what they can do with cloud computing, including incorporating Office 365 into their workplace. The IT department can make cloud services available to individual virtual machines (VMs), which could be deployed with a lot less overhead. 
  3. Built-in Backup Services. Windows Server 2016 provides administrators with an out-of-the-box backup system. Resilient Change Tracking (RCT) allows you to perform both full and incremental backups of your VMs.

Upgrading to Windows Server 2016 allows businesses the freedom to explore software as a service (SaaS) offerings like Adobe, QuickBooks and JIRA. Your employees will appreciate the responsiveness of the new server which enables them to increase their daily output. 

Simplifying the IT Experience

Partnering with an experienced Microsoft partner to handle your Windows Server 2008 upgrade makes it a stress-free experience for your company. Simpleworks prevents your upgrade from getting bogged down in the details and handles the miscellaneous technical issues while keeping you on schedule. 

Simpleworks believes in making IT simple and effective. Our team of professionals confirms that all your processes and hardware function as they should upon completion of the new server installation. When Simpleworks handles your Windows Server upgrade, here’s a few of the many processes we cover:

  • Outlining what your final environment should look like
  • Assessing your server and cataloging everything on your network
  • Backing up your current server environment for possible rollback if you encounter issues during the transition
  • Communicating system downtimes to all affected parties
  • Installing the physical implementation of the upgrade
  • Testing all systems, applications and hardware affected by the update

Don’t continue falling behind on your Windows Server 2008 upgrade. Contact Simpleworks at (719) 476-0444 or online to get your company on track for a brighter technology outlook.


“My IT person just quit! What should I do now!?”

If you haven’t said these words yet, just wait – it’s a matter of time.

For small businesses and organizations, finding and retaining IT talent is a huge expense and time commitment. The technology industry is a highly competitive career field and talented IT professionals want to be continually challenged and educated. If your business is relying on one or two IT professionals to keep your tech working, you will encounter the loss of a trusted employee.

What’s most important is that you realize this is really an opportunity for your business, not a loss. Yes, it’s true that you’re being forced to reevaluate your IT department. And, most likely, you didn’t put this into the budget. But, in business, unexpectant things happen. As a business owner, now is your chance to survey your company’s current and future IT environment, align it with your business plan and engage the right people to help you plan, deploy and support it.

3 Critical Services to Look for in a New IT Provider

When your IT person leaves or must be replaced, you lose more than just someone who can fix your workstations. You lose the institutional knowledge that person holds of your network. More important, you lose a trusted resource.

If you are using the loss of your IT member as an opportunity to position yourself for growth, what should you look for in a new IT partnership?

  1. An IT person or provider who will be able to map out your IT infrastructure and report to you what’s being done correctly and what needs improvement. Essentially, your new IT provider needs to be able to quickly understand your current technology and what needs to be done with it to position your company for growth.
  2. Someone who can make the transition smooth. Moving from one provider to another can be bumpy. But the right IT provider will make it simple by collaborating with your departing person or provider to seamlessly transfer control and knowledge of your network.
  3. A provider who will lead you to the right solutions for your company – no more and no less. Rather than going without needed technology or encumbering yourself with technology you don’t need, partnering with a managed service provider with knowledge of your industry will give you the resources you need to get your IT investment just right for your business.

These critical services are crucial to be an effective IT provider and should be expected of any managed service provider (MSP) you engage.

How IT Can Grow Your Business

Businesses of all sizes need well-planned and -maintained technology solutions. That’s what we provide our clients.

Upon engaging with a new client, we immediately assess the business’ current IT, note areas of success and improvement, and present leadership with a report on their IT’s standing. During this process, we work with your current IT person or provider to make the transition simple. We then work with company leadership to align IT with their business strategy. Using our knowledge of industry standards and best practices, we offer technology solutions customized to the business’ needs – no more and no less – that position the business for growth.

Simplifying Your IT with Simpleworks

Our mission is to make business technology simple. We simplify your IT. It’s right there in our name. Your technology simply works when you partner with us. We view partnerships as long-term relationships with our clients. We’re invested in their success because it’s our success.

We aim to serve our clients as a trusted partner and resource for all their information technology needs. If you’d like to learn more about how we can become your trusted IT team, contact us online or by phone at 719-476-0444.

We don’t often think of it this way, but our technology providers are rather intimate with our businesses. Indeed, technology touches almost every area of our businesses – from allowing us to check our work email from our phones to securing our most confidential information. Our IT, and, thus, our IT providers, have access to the most important areas of our businesses. That means you need to be able to trust your IT provider and depend on them to be there for you when you need them most. It’s not altogether different from getting married.

However, like most relationships, it can take a while to find the right one before settling down for a future together.

6 Signs Your IT Provider May Be Wrong for You

Your IT provider will send signals about the value and future they place in your business relationship. Some will be subtle and some not so subtle:

  1. Recurrent downtime
  2. Never seeming to be able to solve the root cause of issues
  3. Leaving you on hold for support
  4. Nickel-and-diming you for every service
  5. Not helping you align your IT with your business goals
  6. Never calling to check on your IT and your needs

Don’t let your feelings get hurt. They probably treat all their clients the same way. It’s not you; it’s them.

At the same time, you don’t want to become complacent. If you’re not getting the service and proactive IT planning that your business needs to grow, it’s time to move on.

Finding the Right IT Provider for Your Business

The first thing to realize when searching for a new IT provider is that you get what you pay for. If you aren’t willing to invest in your technology, you’ll keep falling for poorly performing IT providers. Remember: the time you spend struggling with inadequate IT is time you could be spending improving your business and readying it for growth.

Once you’ve committed to investing in your technology to help your business grow, don’t fall for the first managed service provider (MSP) you meet. Do your due diligence first. Here are a few key things to consider as you search for a long-term IT partnership:

  • Talk to your peers about their experiences with IT providers. Industry peers are often great resources for insight into how an MSP performs on a daily basis. They can also help you identify MSPs you might want to begin talking to. Don’t take their word for it, though. Trust, but verify.
  • Identify your business’ needs and goals. The only way to effectively align your technology with your business plan is to review and plan ahead for the technology you’ll need. For instance, if you’re planning to hire new employees, you’ll need to also plan for more laptops, more storage, more licensesand other technical considerations.
  • Communicate your needs to prospective IT providers. Does the provider clearly understand your business goals and explain how their technology solutions will help you achieve them?
  • Look for industry-experienced MSPs. IT providers with experience in your industry, especially if you’re in a regulated industry, gives you a leg-up as they already know the requirements you must meet to comply with laws and regulations.
  • Can the provider secure your network and most confidential data? Whether it’s intellectual property or personally identifiable information, hackers are interested in the data that companies store. Your potential IT provider should be able to clearly explain how their solutions protect your business from cyberattacks.
  • Reliable, tested disaster response and backups. Any MSP you seriously consider should have experience developing disaster response plans and ensuring your backups are tested on a regular basis and working. Your backups are your last resort in the event of a disaster or cyberattack.
  • Experienced and expert staff. Does the IT provider have a strong, talented technical team with industry experience, certifications and quality toolsets for managing, tweaking, adjusting and proactively monitoring your IT environment? It should.
  • Verify. As we noted above, you should verify the information you gather by contacting the provider’s other clients and references to get a better picture of how they work.
  • Reporting and metrics. Make sure the IT provider can provide you with regular reports on their metrics for success in serving your business. An honest self-appraisal indicates an honest provider.

Comparing IT Providers – It’s Not Always Apples to Apples.

By starting your IT provider search with the questions above, the answers will help you narrow the field to those providers that better match your business. At Simpleworks, we’ve simplified managed IT from start to finish.

Our new Simple Technology Solution takes the mystery out of IT contracts:

– No hidden fees.

– What you see is what you get.

– Your IT investment is predictable.

– Our program automatically scales with your business’ needs.

Ready for a Simple Technology Solution?

When you partner with us, we completely handle the transition and employee training. We also coordinate with your former or current IT provider, so you don’t have to do anything.

If you’d like to learn more about simplifying your IT, contact us here or call us at 719-476-0444.

No matter how many times your IT provider, the evening news and fellow business owners warn you of the danger of ransomware attacks, you don’t take it seriously it until it happens to you. “No one would bother attacking a small business in the <insert your industry> industry in Colorado,” you tell yourself. But they would and do.

To say it again: small- and medium-sized businesses (SMB) in all industries are at risk of ransomware attacks.

Including homebuilders.

Ransoming a Homebuilder?

A couple of years ago, Campbell Homes, a Colorado Springs-area builder of semi-custom homes, was successfully attacked by ransomware.

Homebuilders wouldn’t normally be considered big targets for hackers. But you have to remember that cybercriminals are in it for the money; they rely on you paying the ransom. Ransoms can be fairly low – $500 to $2,000 for many companies – to entice the victims to pay to get access to their files rather than expend the resources on properly regaining control of their data and putting effective security solutions and procedures in place. Unfortunately for those businesses, history shows that they are often attacked and ransomed again – in the very same year.

Undoubtedly, that was the expectation of the hackers who sent the fake package-tracking email that one of the homebuilder’s employees unwittingly opened. Upon downloading the seemingly legitimate and important email attachment, the ransomware began encrypting the company’s files – starting from the letter A and working its way towards the end.

The builder was infected with the digital version of termites.

Ransomware Pest Control

Fortunately, an employee noticed that certain files were encrypted before the virus could complete its work. When the employee contacted us to ask why he couldn’t access the files, we immediately identified the problem as a ransomware infection and stopped the attack by identifying, remotely shutting down and disconnecting the workstation from the builder’s network. This prevented the virus from finishing its encryption and spreading.

In this instance, the defense-in-depth security strategy, which consists of layered security solutions and compartmentalized information access, we’d deployed for the builder would have protected other network drives from being infected.

After ensuring the rest of the network was safe, our top engineers began to assess the impact of the attack. Our engineers reviewed with the business owner what was encrypted, the estimated recovery time and what steps they should take next.

Meanwhile, others on our technical team were already remediating the problem by removing leftover ransomware files and recovering 99.9 percent of the company’s data.

That’s right: 99.9 percent. That translated into roughly twelve minutes of lost data. They were able to recover so much data because we’d implemented back-up and disaster recovery solutions for them just in case something like this happened.

“This ransomware attack could have been devasting to our business. Because of the quick response of Simpleworks, their layered security approach and a solid backup strategy, we recovered 99.9 percent of our data.”
– Tom Sauer, Senior Vice President of Campbell Homes

 

A Solid Foundation

Building an effective cybersecurity strategy and executing it is a lot like building a house. Security must be built into the design and infrastructure – into the foundation. If you skimp in one area, it’s likely to negatively affect more than just that piece. The homebuilder didn’t want their cybersecurity to be a house of cards.

Together, we:

  • Designed their network to minimize impact if they should be attacked again
  • Conducted cybersecurity awareness training for the company’s staff
  • Helped the business owner develop a disaster recovery plan
  • Ensured back-up systems were tested, hosted in multiple places and working
  • Implemented email- and spam-filtering on all workstations

Defense, Defense, Defense

Location may dominate in home sales, but effective cybersecurity is built with a defense-in-depth strategy. Your company needs multiple layers of security solutions. In the event one fails, another hopefully will stop the intrusion.

You can no longer rely on just anti-virus. Your cybersecurity needs to evolve as the security landscape evolves – no matter what industry you’re in or what size your business.

We have years of experience working with Colorado Springs businesses to secure them against ransomware and other cyberattacks. If you’d like to learn more about what we can do to protect your business, contact us here or call us at 719-476-0444.

 

At Simpleworks, fall is a time of new beginnings. We have two major announcements to share with you on our new beginnings:

  1. Our new website is now live, check it out!
  2. Your invited to our Open House!

This relaunching of the Simpleworks brand is focused on conveying our message of “Simplicity” to you – our clients, friends and Colorado Springs neighbors.

Our office, located on Garden of the Gods Road, has been redesigned with a client-first focus.

We are so excited about these new changes that we want to invite you to check them out at our Open House on Friday, September 14.

Open House – 5 Reasons to Attend

  1. Our own Chef Josh will be serving fresh homemade street tacos
  2. Cold beers and refreshments on tap!
  3. Check out our client-focused Technical Assistance Center (TAC)
  4. Discover our secret to providing IT rapid response for our clients
  5. Meet the team that keeps IT simply working for so many Colorado Springs businesses.

Going Local: Simply Colorado Springs

Simpleworks’ mission to support our local businesses is in our DNA. We embrace this philosophy in both work and play – including how we cook. Our own, Chef Josh (aka Joshua Brambila, Simpleworks’ General Manager), is prepping and serving homemade street tacos at our Open House event.

We are excited to host you and show off how we make managing your IT simple for you. Come for the food, stay for the tours and get to know the team.

Client-Focused: Rapid Response

Our remodeling project provided an opportunity for us to reinvent how our team supports our clients. For example, each technician has three monitors on their desks. Two monitors are for daily tasks and monitoring of our clients’ network environments. The third monitor is dedicated to each tech’s open tickets and responses. We strive for a 60-minute meaningful response on support tickets. This third monitor provides our team continuous visibility into our client’s needs and keeps client resolution top of mind.

TAC: Where IT Monitoring Happens

Our Technical Assistance Center (affectionately called the TAC) is the where the team performs our continuous, proactive network monitoring. We probe and discover probable IT events that could develop into issues if not addressed. By staying ahead of problems, we offer our clients strategic IT direction while ensuring reliable network performance.

Tours and Meet the Team

An open house would not be complete without friendly guided tours of our new facility, tour highlights are the TAC, our inventory cage and the break-fix area where we rack, test and stage equipment prior to deployment. You’ll have the chance to meet the monitoring techs behind the scenes that keep your network running smoothly.

Simple Managed IT Services

The relaunching of our website and remodeling of our office space is part of our overall goal of providing our Colorado Springs clients worry-free IT management services. We strive to be easy to work with, easy to connect with, and easy to understand. Our proactive IT monitoring services provide you with technology that simply works – so you don’t have to worry about IT. This allows you to do what you do best: growing a business and living life.

You’re Invited – Please RSVP

Please join us for our Open House on September 14. This is our opportunity to thank you for being our client, friend or neighbor, plus it’s a great excuse to have fun and learn more about each other.

Not every company has an IT infrastructure and budget large enough to justify full managed services of their environment. And some companies are only looking for a little help in supporting their environment. Nevertheless, nearly all companies rely on their IT to keep business operations productive and profitable. Simpleworks understands that small businesses require operational IT, but may not have the budget or need for a dedicated IT support staff. The solution is our hybrid managed service package.

Our Hybrid Managed Service

Our Hybrid Managed Service package gives you many of the benefits of having full-time IT support without the overhead. We will provide the following automated services:

  • Patching
  • Identification of old or problematic patches
  • Antivirus protection
  • Proactive monitoring
  • Automatic remediation and repair of common problems

In addition to these services, hybrid managed service clients will have access to our support ticket service, which operates 24 hours a day. Our support staff can diagnose any IT-related issue and give you an estimate for service.

Why Simpleworks?

Simpleworks is southern Colorado’s leading IT and managed services provider. Our IT professionals regularly work with business owners who need customized services based on their needs and budget. Give us a call or email us today to find out more about our managed service packages and how we can help you to remove the stress of unexpected IT issues.

The Internet is certainly faster today than ever before. If you were around during the early days of dial-up, you probably remember waiting minutes for a single web page to load. But today, even our smartphones generally connect to the Internet and download content almost instantaneously. Speed has come to be expected.

Because of this, many business owners feel that they need the fastest Internet speed possible to serve their customers and employees. While fast Internet speed for business is needed generally for some tasks, quality can be just as, if not more, important for others.

Quality vs. Quantity

There are basically two classes of Internet service: “best effort” and “enterprise.” “Best effort” services are what you probably have in your home: Comcast, CenturyLink, or some other cable or DSL provider. These Internet services can be quite fast, but their speed depends on how many users are on a trunkline at a given time. While delivering a faster speed at times, they are not completely reliable.

But speed isn’t everything. “Enterprise” class services are higher quality Internet solutions, meaning they are much more reliable. The low latency guaranteed by enterprise Internet solutions is vital for online phone services like Voice over IP (VoIP), site-to-site tunnels (connections between multiple locations in a given area), and connections to a corporate office. While the fastest Internet connection possible is ideal for web browsing and email, a reliable, low-latency service is much better for a business’s vital communication channels.

Colorado Springs Internet Solutions from Simpleworks

The IT professionals at Simpleworks in Colorado Springs work with each business individually to implement a cost-effective Internet solution to address its specific needs. Our Colorado Springs Internet solutions are usually a hybrid of a regular cable service—like Comcast—and a T1 line for redundancy and quality. This ensures that your day-to-day operations run smoothly and that your essential communication channels and data are never compromised. Give us a call today to see what solution would work best for your needs.

 

If your business is like most, you can’t function without your phones. But it’s not just phone service that you need: voicemail, transferring, eFax, hold queues, and other features may be necessary for you to conduct business efficiently and productively. Then there’s the cost of these features to consider. Thanks to advances in digital technology, you have a range of different business communication solutions to fit your needs, your size, and your budget.

Common Business Phone Problems

Phone problems can be debilitating and costly. But it’s not only the loss of service that’s problematic—unreliable voicemail, malfunctioning hold queues, or connectivity issues could all be trying your customers’ patience and reducing your revenue. In addition, your internal communication could be suffering as more and more employees work remotely or travel for business. Plus, the phone service you have now could be costing you more than it needs to. And the actual hardware you’re using may be failing or out-of-date.

Business Communication Solutions

The technology available today has more features and reliability than ever before. Your communication system begins with the hardware: handsets, headsets, conference phones, mobile devices, etc. Then there are a number of different unified communication solutions to fit your needs and budget:

  • Hosted PBX: A simple, cost-efficient solution for small businesses with less than 50 users. We will install the system on a virtual private server (VPS), which can be managed by your internal IT team or Simpleworks.
  • Magnavoip: Our preferred hosted handset solution. Magnavoip is a feature-rich, cost-effective service for up to 500 users.
  • Voice over IP (VoIP) with Cisco Call Manager Express: A great solution for business with 250 users or less. Cisco’s VoIP system is affordable, customizable, scalable, and simple.
  • Microsoft Lync: The most comprehensive unified communication system on the market. Microsoft Lync is VoIP enabled and also provides instant messaging, video calling, screen sharing, and much more. It is cutting edge, versatile, and dependable.

Simpleworks Has You Covered

Simpleworks, a communication solution company, specializes in fixing communication problems so you can focus on your customers, not troubleshooting technical issues. We sell, install, and manage phone systems as well as unified communications services like VoIP, Magnavoip, and Microsoft Link. Give your local Colorado Springs IT and communication support team a call, and we’ll find a solution that fits your needs and your budget.

 

Nearly every business today relies heavily on information technology. Computers, Internet service, servers, phone systems, email, data storage, and calendars are all necessary for most businesses, large or small. We generally don’t realize how much we rely on our IT, in fact, until something goes wrong. But a disruption to any IT system can mean a serious hit to productivity, and even lost profits. Unfortunately, no matter how many precautions are put into place, IT systems will malfunction from time to time. These disruptions strike without warning at any time, day or night.

Simpleworks understands how vital it is that companies stay up and running, which is why we offer a 24/7 IT support service. Whether you have a system-wide crash on a large network or trouble with an individual computer, we have an IT specialist standing by to assist.

Superior 24/7 IT Support

Simpleworks offers a wide range of troubleshooting and repair services 24 hours a day. We have expertise with both Macs and Windows-based PCs, hardware and software issues, as well as connectivity and communications problems.

Beyond their expertise, our Colorado Springs computer support team is efficient, friendly, and professional. We understand how vital it is to keep our clients’ IT systems fully functional, so we tackle every problem as if it was our own—promptly and efficiently. This dedication to the needs of our customers is why we are the most trusted IT support company in Colorado Springs.

How Our 24/7 IT Support Service Works

All you need to do is submit a ticket to our 24/7 computer support team at support@simpleworksit.com or through our automated phone system. You will then receive a response within one hour. Our technician will diagnose the problem and may be able to assist remotely. If not, we will come to you. If you are a larger company, you may want to set up a contract with us that includes 24/7 computer support. If not, we offer an hourly rate to cover your specific emergency.

Don’t Let Your IT Down!

Don’t spin your wheels trying to troubleshoot a problem yourself or let your IT problems lead to a loss of productivity or profits. Give the pros at Simpleworks a call today so we can get your back up and running!

 

VoIP stands for Voice over Internet Protocol. Essentially what it does is convert audio phone signals that are normally broadcast in analog format to digital data, which can then be sent over the Internet. What this means is that businesses can use their Internet connection to make free phone calls. Since long-distance and international calls can be cripplingly expensive with standard phone service, a VoIP and Voice solution can save a business a lot of money and help them reach out to a larger global market without cutting too deeply into their budget.

Some companies may be skeptical about using VoIP, however, afraid that calls may be unclear or frequently dropped. The truth is, though, you are probably already using VoIP whenever you make long distance phone calls; more and more phone companies are using this protocol to reduce bandwidth and streamline their network. In fact, according to a study done by Juniper Research, one billion people will be using VoIP by 2017 and all the leading VoIP carriers are “becoming increasingly sophisticated in their service offerings.”

Here is how the system works. A business phone provider will install an Internet connection via Ethernet cable, which guarantees fast Internet speeds and better performance. This prevents calls from being dropped or losing sound quality. Next, a voice service is enabled by the business phone provider using routing technology so that calls can be placed cheaply (or free, in some cases)—both across the country and around the world. Most providers can actually use a company’s existing phone connection in order to set up the VoIP system. Any headsets and microphones needed are usually included in the provider’s installation services if the company does not already have them or want to purchase them separately.

Once the system is installed, businesses are able to access a wide range of call solutions including:

  • two- and three-way call waiting
  • direct inward dial
  • call transfers
  • hold music
  • attaching messages to emails
  • listening to voicemails over the Internet.

Despite all of these benefits, VoIP services are viable and reasonably priced, making them an asset to any company, large or small.

VoIP and Voice solutions might sound complicated on the surface, but they are actually incredibly user-friendly resources and provide a wide range of useful services. In today’s competitive market, the ability to communicate effectively with clients—without paying a fortune—can give a business the edge it needs to get ahead. Don’t get left behind. Let Simpleworks help you to set up your VoIP system today.