Enterprise Storage Is Not A Game

Kris Linville – [Senior Systems Consultant]Basic RGB

Winter is coming… have you chosen which house you will ally with?  Challengers will rise and fall but only the one true king will sit upon the throne when the game is won.

Your current storage solution has done an adequate job at fulfilling your needs in the past using the same old traditional methodologies.  Still, you have learned that, all too often, quality of service will vary under the stressful load of a busy day and you realize that a little more struggle will be in order to get what you need when your storage must divide its attention between multiple courtiers.  Maybe you are ready to see how much your highly-virtualized, production server environment can prosper when a worthy solution is allowed to take its place in your data kingdom.

Pass the crown.  It’s time to elect a small but mighty array to rule the bits and bytes in your data center and Keller Schroeder with Nimble Storage can light the way.

nimble-flash-array

In 2015, Sr. Systems Consultant Chris Haynes explained the features of the CS-Series arrays and told you why Nimble Storage is favored by Keller Schroeder as the best next-gen hybrid storage array.  With its groundbreaking simplicity and advanced administrative features, Nimble Storage has been renowned, worldwide, as one of the fastest growing storage vendors in history and has rightfully received numerous industry awards in the process.

Since its first product shipment in 2010, Nimble Storage has attentively listened to its partners and customers to develop innovative solutions that fulfill the ever-growing enterprise data center storage needs.  It is that attention and innovation which has led to the release of the most predictive, most scalable, and most reliable all-flash storage array on the market today.

With the Nimble Storage AF-Series all-flash arrays, you will get all of the NimbleOS feature enhancements at no additional cost, Triple+ Parity RAID to survive 3 simultaneous drive failures, variable block sizes for application performance optimization, predictive analytics monitoring for your storage arrays and virtual machines through the InfoSight portal and VM Vision, and FIPS-certified encryption at rest and on-the-wire when natively replicated… just to highlight a few.

Hold the door!  The illustration below compares the performance and storage capacity based on data center footprint of the Nimble Storage AF-Series with other well-known all-flash offerings.  Obviously, the Nimble Storage AF-Series is no sheep.  This small package has a beast inside and it is not afraid to break through the large shadow cast by other solutions on the market.  How will you choose to arm your data center?

nimble-size-comparison

Other all-flash solutions may offer great performance and latency numbers, but do not scale well as storage demands grow.  Nimble Storage products offer simple and seamless scalability in enterprise storage solutions.  Keller Schroeder has seen, first-hand, the real-world results of the All Flash Array scalability and data reduction technologies that provide over 3x storage savings for highly virtualized environments.  When you need to grow, whether you are looking to scale up, scale deep, or scale out, you can rest easy knowing that performance is decoupled from capacity to allow for scaling only the necessary components.  This uniquely allows for independent and non-disruptive scaling operations that include upgrading storage controllers, adding external storage shelves, and clustering any combination of Adaptive Flash or All Flash arrays in up to four nodes per cluster, to provide guaranteed performance of 1.2 million IOPS at sub-millisecond latency in as much as 8.2PB of storagsmartstacke capacity.

Modern data centers are all about consolidation and integration which makes building specialized infrastructure silos feel like a step in the wrong direction.  There’s no longer a reason to limit your best performance to just a select set of workloads.  Nimble Storage has once again partnered with Cisco and VMware to develop reference architectures; combining Nimble Storage Arrays, Cisco Unified Computing Systems (UCS), and VMware vSphere; known as Cisco Validated Designs (CVD) for all types of production data center workloads.  The SmartStack Integrated Infrastructure increases performance and availability while driving down data center hardware cost and footprint.

Nimble Storage All Flash Array Key Feature Summary:

  • All NimbleOS Software Features Included
  • Consistent Storage Performance
  • Tailored Application Optimization
  • Predictive Analytics with InfoSight and VM Vision
  • Data Reduction with Deduplication and Compression
  • Unified Flash Fabric – any 4 CS-Series or AF-Series arrays
  • Scale-to-fit Architecture
  • Triple+ Parity RAID for Maximum Availability
  • FIPS-certified Encryption at Rest and On-the-wire
  • SmartStack Integrated Infrastructure CVDs

“That’s what I do… I’m fast and I store things.”

                                                                  -Nimble


Winter is coming.  Take up your watch.  Build a true history of great conversation by contacting your Keller Schroeder Account Manager and be the fire that burns against the cold.


How Does Work Flow in your Organization?

workflow-illustrationCarrie Rudolph – [Keller Schroeder Certified Nintex Workflow Professional]

How often do you hear individuals in your organization say, “I haven’t been able to work on that ‘important task’ yet, because of all of these other smaller things needing my attention each day.”?  How often do individuals in your organization answer questions on status with “It’s somewhere in the approval process but I don’t know whose desk it’s on.”?  These phrases are all too common.  When work doesn’t flow smoothly and efficiently throughout your organization it causes backlogs, distractions, and frustration, all of which impact your organization’s ability to function, react, and grow.

According to businessdictionary.com, a workflow is defined as a progression of steps (tasks, events, interactions) that comprise a work process, involve two or more persons, and create or add value to the organization’s activities.  Every department in every organization has workflows.  Some are simple and straightforward, others are more complicated with many people, tasks, and events.  Workflows made up of logical and repeatable steps present an opportunity for automation.

When many organizations begin to explore workflow automation, they focus on the larger, more cumbersome workflows thinking that streamlining these complex processes will yield the most savings of time and resources.  Starting with these larger processes however, many times results in failed attempts at automation or lackluster adoption and savings due to the complexity of these processes.  Instead, I challenge organizations to consider the numerous simpler processes that employees perform every day.

These work items are fundamental processes that are crucial to the operation of your organization, such as document approvals, expense reports, leave requests, and service requests. These are workflows that may distract employees from larger issues/tasks, and because they are performed so frequently and viewed as simple, they are prone to more mistakes, which can add up in rework and lost time.  These processes are perfect candidates for automation because they have a great chance for success, are less complex, and train users to think about workflow solutions.

Automating these solutions takes the burden of managing the processes off of your employees and results in more than ROI.  You can get more done with less effort, focus on what matters most, and expand the impact and scope of your organization. Workflow automation also provides a clear picture of current status and participants’ performance, and this additional data can lead to process improvement. The keys to success, when starting to introduce workflow automation in your organization, are to make an immediate impact by getting started quickly, easily reaching all participants, and connecting to content across your organization.

nintex-logoThe Nintex Workflow Platform is a suite that Keller Schroeder recommends to assist organizations with workflow automation.  Nintex enables organizations to create solutions in days and weeks, instead of months, so you quickly see the benefits from reduced steps.  It allows workflow participants to interact with tasks via mobile devices, emails, or Skype for Business.  The Nintex Platform also facilitates links across your work systems, cloud applications, or social channels to facilitate information sharing.

The Nintex Workflow Platform sits on top of Microsoft SharePoint and doesn’t require additional infrastructure.  Nintex workflows, forms, and connectors are designed using the drag, drop, and configure approach instead of coding, so it’s very easy to learn and use.  If work isn’t flowing within your organization, consider workflow automation as a means to ease the backlog and frustrations and allow your team to focus on what’s most important.

Keller Schroeder is a partner with Nintex and has two employee-owners who are certified Nintex Workflow Professionals.  Please contact us if you would like to learn more about workflow automation with the Nintex Workflow Platform.


It’s OK to Ignore the CEO, When it is NOT the CEO!

ImagineBrad Mathis  – [Senior Consultant – Information Security]

Imagine the following scenario.

You are going through your daily routine and you receive an urgent email from the CEO.  The email is urgent, appears to be time sensitive, and is requiring you to act immediately.  You are aware the CEO is currently out on vacation or away on business, and is therefore unreachable.  However, the email is direct and to the point.  “Get this Done!”  The email is asking for you, a member of the financial team, to process a payment or monetary transfer.  It may even inform you someone from another company will be reaching out to you with further instructions, such as account numbers and routing information. An abbreviated example of such an email may look something like this:

CEO Email
What if you also received an email ahead of this one from someone in finance saying “Keep an eye out for an email from the CEO asking about a funds transfer”, followed by an email from the alleged company the CEO mentioned in their original email?  Transferring large sums of money from one account to another is a normal part of your job.  Although this chain of events is a bit out of the ordinary, it also seems perfectly legitimate.  Would you process the transfer?  Would a co-worker?

Sadly, far too many organizations are falling victim to these type of crimes known as CEO Fraud and Business Email Compromise (BEC).  Some of the email senders’ email accounts are spoofed, meaning the criminal sender is making the recipient think the email is from the actual sender.  Even more concerning is when the actual senders’ email account credentials are compromised and the criminal is able to send emails directly from the account of a CEO, CFO, Attorney, and so on.  This may sound complicated, but it isn’t.  With the advancement of malware laced email attachments and infected links, it is far too easy to install malicious software on a victim’s workstation, thereby allowing the criminal to capture every keystroke the legitimate user types.  Even more concerning, cameras and microphones can be controlled by the criminals.

The FBI estimates the organizational amount lost to Business Email Compromise between October 2013 and February 2016 to be $2.3 Billion.  Since January 2015, the FBI has seen a 270 percent increase in identified victims and exposed loss! Keep in mind, this is only the amount of loss actually reported.  Many businesses remain quiet and never report their losses for fear of public reputation damage.

Know Be 4Luckily, the risk of becoming a victim to this type of crime, as well as other email and web based threats can be reduced.  A modern and evolving layered security infrastructure is extremely important.  It cannot and should not be overlooked.  However, the most effective and most overlooked method to reduce your risk of becoming a cybercrime victim is effective and measurable End User Security Awareness Education.

While we constantly stress the importance of Vulnerability and Patch Management, this does not just apply to your technology.  User vulnerability levels need to be assessed in order to gauge their likelihood of falling prey to a Phishing email and other criminal scams.  This activity is most effective when supplemented with required security awareness training.  This is where it sometimes gets tricky.  The simulated phishing campaigns and security awareness training requirements must apply to ALL employees, up to and including the President and CEO.

Identifying your employee vulnerability baseline is an important and effective step toward lowering your overall risk profile, as well as empowering your workforce to always be on the lookout for malicious and criminal activity that can threaten your business.

So, Yes… It is OK to ignore the CEO’s request when it cannot be verified it is truly the request of the CEO.  When the business is on the line, they will thank you for your due diligence.

How vulnerable are your users?  How likely are they to fall prey to becoming a victim?  How have you taken steps to get data to support your answers to those questions?  When performing these employee vulnerability baseline assessments, we have already seen as high as a 75% failure rate for the initial Phishing test.  Launching an effective awareness solution that allows you to measure risk and track improvements is a critical first step in lowering your employee vulnerability risk, making your organization less likely to become a victim of cybercrimes such as CEO Fraud, Business Email Compromise, and Ransomware.

Contact Keller Schroeder today to find out how we can help you implement solutions that effectively reduce your employee vulnerability risk through ongoing security awareness training and testing.


Microsoft Goes Cross Platform?

Microsoft LogoEric Maurer  – [Consultant – Applications Solutions Group]

Things have been changing recently within the Microsoft ecosystem.  You no longer have to decide to be a Microsoft shop or embrace anything but Microsoft. They are fulfilling their original promise for .NET to be a platform that can be written anywhere and run anywhere. Microsoft has now embraced open source, blurring the lines between the two camps.  At a recent user group meeting, I talked to users who were running Linux Bash on Windows 10, installing Microsoft SQL server on Linux, and developing iOS and Android applications using C#.  You can also now run Linux on Azure, and since the .NET Core has been open sourced, you can now run ASP.NET on Linux or Mac as well.

Being a mobile developer, I was ecstatic to learn of their newest acquisition and open source release: Xamarin.

What is Xamarin?xamarin-logo

No, Xamarin is not the latest drug being pushed on late night commercials. It is a software company that allows you to deliver native iOS, Android, and Windows apps using your existing .NET skills, teams, and code. Xamarin was founded over four years ago with a mission to make native mobile development fast and easy. They wanted to allow C# developers to share their code across platforms to reach billions of devices. Those four years have been highly successful for them, as they boast having over 1.3 million developers and 15,000 companies using their software to develop apps across the Apple, Google, and Microsoft ecosystems.

Rumors have been circulating for years about a Microsoft acquisition of Xamarin. First, they worked together to create tight integration with Visual Studio, and Microsoft undoubtedly helped develop the Mono framework now maintained by Xamarin, if only unofficially.  Next, they worked together to offer a limited Start Edition free with Visual Studio and discounts and training through Xamarin University for MSDN subscribers.  Yet they stayed two separate companies until February 24, 2016, when Microsoft announced it had signed an agreement to acquire Xamarin.

NATIVE, EVERYWHERE, and now OPEN SOURCE

xamarin-joins-microsoft

Why Xamarin?

Keller Schroeder has been using Xamarin for over three years and has employed it to develop apps for iOS, Android, and Window Phone. Xamarin enables us to take advantage of the productivity and power of .NET and to use C# to write to the full set of native APIs and mobile capabilities provided by each device platform. Depending on how you architect your solution, you can realistically obtain 80% or more code reuse between apps. Having one code base reduces the chance for errors and makes same day deployments much more feasible. It also allows for a faster ramp up for new developers and makes maintenance much easier, as changes often only need to be made in one place. Xamarin is also dedicated to providing same day updates with new iOS and Android releases so new features are available at the same time as they are to native developers.

Why Microsoft and Xamarin is Even Better

“Everything you need to run Xamarin apps on any OS, any device, is now open source,” Scott Guthrie, executive vice president of the Cloud and Enterprise Group at Microsoft, declared at the Build conference. What does that mean to us?  Let’s start with the obvious reason: it is now free with Visual Studio!  Though it doesn’t take long to recoup your money, Xamarin wasn’t cheap and licensing was sometimes confusing. What I think is really more important is that Microsoft has already taken steps to tighten Xamarin integration with Visual Studio and Azure. Their goal is to allow Visual Studio to easily connect to your Mac and for your app to communicate seamlessly with Azure. They are also unveiling new Xamarin.Forms enhancements to allow for a shared UI and adding a Test Recorder in Visual Studio to make creating unit tests easier as well. Having Microsoft fully behind Xamarin is going to solidify its position as the best option for cross platform native apps well into the future.


ProofPoint Email Protection – Not Your Average Spam Filter

ProofpointChance Webster  – [Systems Engineer – Network Solutions Group]

In today’s fast paced world, e-mail is the medium that drives business.  Not only do we use email to conduct day to day operations and communicate with employees, customers, and business partners, we also use email to advertise products and services, convey information to a large group, or even send that all-important casserole recipe to a coworker.  With the pervasiveness of email, a common business concern is how to filter out junk mail or messages with malicious content.  There are many good solutions on the market today, however there are sometimes gaps in coverage as vendors try to keep up with ever-evolving tactics used by spammers and other malware techniques.  A complete solution to mitigate both junk mail and mail-based risks and provide solid intelligence on these threats is ProofPoint Email Protection.

ProofPoint Email Protection is a cloud-based platform that grows with your business and can be used to develop a highly reliable, low latency solution to protect your users from malicious or otherwise unwanted messages by use of policies rather than a set of rules that apply to everyone in the organization.  By using policies to define your message filtering rules, administrators can allow for a more targeted audience for messages from a particular source, sender, or classification of messages, if required.  Since ProofPoint Email Protection is cloud-based, it also provides for continuity of incoming email if your email servers go down and will automatically restart delivery when your email services are restored.

Proofpoint DemoProofPoint Email Protection also provides a high level of visibility and reporting for your email administrators while also providing your users with some level of control.  Messages can be searched using the message tracing logs and dozens of search criteria to quickly identify messages and take action as necessary.  There are also a large number of detailed reports that can be used to provide a vast array of information and allow administrators to make informed decisions when approving or denying messages with questionable content.  End users can also be provided some freedom to opt in or out of routine quarantined message notifications, ProofPoint-managed or Administrator-defined Safe and Block lists for known spam or malware sources, or even Bulk Message delivery.

If you are considering more effective ways to manage against mail-based malware risks or the loss of time related to sorting through spammed messages, make contact with your Keller Schroeder Account Manager and let us show you more about the ProofPoint Email Protection solution.


VMware AirWatch – Enterprise Mobility Management

KS Airwatch Logo

Chris Ross  – [Systems Engineer – Network Solutions Group]

Do you have a mobile workforce?  How are you controlling ghost IT and data leakage?  How are you providing corporate resources to help your mobile sales team?  Is that sales team able to leverage up to date data from the internal databases?  If you are struggling to answer any of these questions, AirWatch may be the solution for you.  By utilizing applications such as AirWatch Inbox, AirWatch Browser and AirWatch Container, complete control of data can be obtained while seamlessly providing internal corporate resources to a mobile workforce in a secure and safe manner.

Do you have an intranet website that your sales team is currently having to spend countless minutes laboring through VPN’s and multiple sign-ins just to access?  AirWatch Browser can present that intranet website in a seamless experience as if the user was browsing a normal internet page, no multiple sign-ins, no hassle of a ensuring correct VPN credentials.

Sending the latest monthly sales numbers from a behind the firewall SharePoint site?  AirWatch Container can link to that SharePoint site and give your mobile workforce a secure and controlled method of access.  All the while preventing data leakage on the mobile device by ensuring any controlled information stays inside AirWatch Container.KS Airwatch Container

As a leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant, VMware AirWatch is setting the stage for how Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) should look.  The mobile worker population continues to grow and is forecasted to reach over 1.3 billion in 2016 and with this growth requires new security and management concerns.  VMware AirWatch is positioned to be that solution by leading in both security functionality and features delivered to the mobile worker.  Below you can find a brief summary of the main AirWatch features.

Enterprise Mobility Management Platform

Container
VMware AirWatch Container provides complete separation of corporate and personal data on devices, securing corporate resources and maintaining employee privacy. AirWatch enables organizations to standardize enterprise security and data loss prevention strategies across mobile devices through our flexible approach to containerization.

Devices
VMware AirWatch Mobile Device Management enables you to gain visibility into the devices – including smartphones, tablets and laptops – connecting to your enterprise network, content and resources. Quickly enroll devices in your enterprise environment, update device settings over-the-air, and enforce security policies and compliance across your entire device fleet. Manage any mobile device type, including smartphones, tablets, laptops, desktops, rugged devices, printers and peripherals with support for multiple operating systems including Android, Apple IOS, BlackBerry, Chrome OS, Max OS and Windows across your organization.

Apps
VMware AirWatch Mobile Application Management enables you to manage internal, public and purchased apps across devices enrolled in your organization. Distribute, update, track and recommend apps with VMware AirWatch Catalog. Build custom business apps with the VMware AirWatch Software Development Kit or by following AirWatch-sponsored ACE documentation, or wrap existing internal apps for advanced security with VMware AirWatch App Wrapping.

Content
VMware AirWatch Mobile Content Management secures document distribution and promotes content collaboration anytime, anywhere with VMware AirWatch Content Locker. Access your corporate content in a secure container with advanced data loss prevention policies. Promote collaboration with editing, annotation and commenting capabilities for shared files.

Email
VMware AirWatch Mobile Email Management delivers comprehensive security for your corporate email infrastructure. With AirWatch, you can control which mobile devices access email, prevent data loss, encrypt sensitive data and enforce advanced compliance policies. Containerize email and provide a consistent user experience with VMware AirWatch Inbox, a secure email client.

Browsing
VMware AirWatch Browser is a secure browsing alternative to native browsers and provides organizations with the ability to configure customized settings to meet unique business and end-user needs. Define and enforce secure browsing policies for intranet sites without a device-level VPN. Enable secure browsing with whitelists and blacklists or kiosk mode.

Telecom
VMware AirWatch Telecom Management enables IT to easily monitor data, voice and roaming usage alongside devices from the admin console. With AirWatch, IT has insight into telecom usage to help save time, money and resources. Roaming restrictions, automated compliance enforcement and self-service options for end users simplify telecom management for IT.

These are only a few of the features that AirWatch can offer you.  If you would like to learn or ore to see a demo of AirWatch, please contact your Keller Schroeder Account Manager.

 


“Are You Azure It’s a-Ready?

KS Spaghetti

Rob Wilson[Business Unit Director – Application Solutions]

Hint: You have to say it with an Italian accent, like “That’s one spicy a-meatball!”

In our neck of the woods, folks tend to watch with a curious skepticism as the bleeding-edge early adopters go through the pains of “beta testing” newer technologies. Some call it “reluctant to change” and others call it “conservative”. We level-headed, hard-working mid-westerners simply call it “prudent”. While we have all likely seen an uptick in cloud adoption, many of our clients are still being…prudent…and that’s understandable. Hopefully by now, you know our philosophy that all solutions do not belong in the cloud, and you should choose what is best for your business case. However, some solutions do make the most sense to run in the cloud, and Hybrid Cloud (cloud technologies working in conjunction with on-premises technologies) is what we believe will be the norm.

As a MicrKS Azure Logoosoft Gold Certified Partner, one of our go-to cloud platforms is Microsoft Azure. We have been prudent as well regarding Azure. Even as we adopted Office 365 for Email (Exchange Online) and collaboration (SharePoint Online), we took a more conservative approach with Azure. Our chief concerns were about the stability of the platform and the rapid pace at which the services and administration tools seemed to change. We stayed in close contact with Microsoft and other partners, and the message that seemed to resonate was: “Azure services are mostly being adopted for development and testing environments, but there has not been a significant increase in production adoptions.” Microsoft was working hard to address concerns, and we continued to grow our experience through application development in our lab environments.

Fast forward many months, and now the scale is starting to tip. Microsoft Azure has continued to evolve at a rapid pace, claiming a decent amount of market share and adding to its customer list. We have watched prices drop, services added, and more consistent user experiences. We have used Azure in production environments and it has proven to be a cost-effective, reliable alternative – at least for the use cases where we have employed it. We have used Azure Virtual Machines for several internal and client use cases – including public web sites, web services, extranet applications, and reporting dashboards – and Microsoft has remained true to the up-time promised in their Service Level Agreement. This approach has helped some of our clients avoid incurring the cost of additional hardware and even reduce the project timeline. As one of my clients put it (paraphrased): “I’m in the manufacturing industry, not IT. Put the solution where it is cost-effective, easy to manage, quick to deploy, and reliable. I’ll stick to making what I make.”

Currently, we are working on projects that utilize the SQL Database services and App Services, just two of the many services now offered on Azure. We have clients and partners exploring other services as well. If you are interested in knowing what we have tried and what we have not, please reach out to us and start the conversation. You can “rest Azured” (that was bad) we will be transparent.

 


Aperture Provides a Glimpse into the Cloud

Jeff Starling[Senior Networking Consultant]

KS Aperture ImageThe use of SaaS (Software as a Service) applications continue to gain popularity as a cost-effective way to provide office automation and data-sharing in today’s business environment.  SaaS services are often described to fall into 2 categories:

  • Sanctioned (allowed and supported by the company),
  • Unsanctioned (utilized by the end user with no control by the IT department).

Palo Alto Networks firewalls can control the access of most unsanctioned SaaS applications through the use of the built-in App-ID function.  But SaaS applications use infrastructure and networks that are not owned by the company.  So how does a security-conscious IT department protect their sanctioned SaaS applications from malware and data loss?

They use the Aperture service by Palo Alto Networks.

Aperture is a cloud-based security solution from Palo Alto Networks designed to protect SaaS applications.  It provides full reporting of daily activities of users and data, and supports a granular access control mechanism to eliminate data exposure and risks.  This service integrates with Palo Alto Network’s WildFire Threat Intelligence database to block known malware, as well as, to identify and block unknown malware.  This level of protection can be accomplished with no change to the local user.  There is no agent to install, and since it is a cloud-based solution, there is nothing to install on the network.

Aperture currently supports the following SaaS applications:KS Aperture Process

  • Box
  • Office 365-One Drive/SharePoint
  • Sales Force
  • Google Drive
  • Github
  • Dropbox
  • Yammer

Contact your Keller Schroeder Account Manager for more information on Aperture and other Palo Alto Networks products.

 


Cisco Smart Net Total Care

Channel_Premier_360px_72_RGB

Carissa Montgomery[Marketing & Communications Coordinator]

As we first informed you in July 2015, Cisco recently migrated all SMARTnet clients to their new Smart Net Total Care (SNTC) service. Cisco SNTC is a software service that uses a collector to gather information on your network, validates it against Cisco’s records, and returns it to administrators with any actionable information. If you are currently a Cisco SMARTnet customer, you already have access to this service and the collection device.

It has been reported that on average, IT teams support at around 1,000 devices. One of the challenges network administrators face is keeping track of these devices – including their associated contracts, renewal dates, end-of-sale, end-of-support, and end-of life details. Most often, this information is placed in a spreadsheet, which may be updated only once or twice a year. The SNTC device mitigates this process by quickly collecting all of this information for you, and reports it back through a simple, user-friendly portal.KS Cisco SNTC

SNTC also provides serial numbers, product numbers, and the IOS versions the devices are on as well as the components plugged into those devices (SFP Cards, etc.) This eliminates the need to log into every device periodically and manually record the information. In addition, SNTC provides security advisories based on the hardware and the IOS version your system has.

Key Benefits

SNTC eliminates many issues with the manual device and renewal processes.

  • Time-consuming logging process
  • Human error
  • Equipment overbooking
  • Multiple iterations of contracts, quotes, and spreadsheets which increase the opportunity for inconsistencies

Quickly and Easily Provides:

  • Cisco device inventory
  • Device contracts
  • Renewal
  • End-of-sale
  • End-of support
  • End-of-life

The good news is that your company already has access to the Cisco Smart Net Total Care device. Keller Schroeder’s team of engineers can assist you with its implementation. We will install the device, verify that all of your devices are properly registering, ensure that you are receiving the notifications that are most critical for your environment, and provide the knowledge you need to effectively manage the SNTC portal.

To learn more about the Cisco SNTC service or to schedule a time for us to assist you with implementation, please contact your Keller Schroeder Account Manager.


Windows Licensing Change – Processor to Core-Based

Dezarae Loewen -[Inside Product Manager & Microsoft Licensing Specialist]2015 Partner Logo

Microsoft is looking to release the newest version of Windows Server sometime in the second half of 2016. With this new significant product release, comes a change in not only the product but the licensing structure as well.  This article will take a look at a few of the new changes that Microsoft has made to Windows Server.

Windows Server 2016 will continue to come in both the Standard and Datacenter versions.  However, there now will be more differences between the two than just virtualization rights.  Datacenter will now include additional storage replication capabilities, a new network stack, and a new shielded virtual machines and host guardian service.

The major change with this new release is that the licensing moves to a per core model.  Windows Server 2016 will use a 2 core pack instead of the processor based model in Windows Server 2012. To license a physical server, all physical cores must be licensed with a minimum of 8 core licenses per physical processor.  The minimum cores per physical server is 16 cores.  Microsoft has stated that the price of the 16 core license of Windows Server 2016 will match the price of the 2 processor license of Windows Server 2012.  Those systems with up to 4 processors and up to 8 cores per processor should not see any change in cost from Windows 2012. However, pricing can get more expensive than the previous licensing model the higher the processor core count on each physical server.  This change to a per core license model does not do away with CAL requirements.  Windows CAL’s will still be required for each user and/or device accessing a licensed Windows Server.

2016 Server Licensing

With this expected release coming later this year, now is a great time to purchase Windows Server 2012 with software assurance.  By adding software assurance to your Windows purchase today, you will be guaranteed the right to a free license upgrade to Windows 2016 at its release. Once the software assurance term ends, the processor licenses will then be exchanged for a minimum of 8 two-core pack licenses or the actual number of physical cores in use.

For any additional questions, please contact your Keller Schroeder Account Manager for more information, including what Software Assurance and migration benefits your company is eligible for as well as how to purchase new licenses before these changes take effect.