Baramundi Management Suite

Chance Webster – [Systems Engineer]

There are often tasks in IT departments that tend to create a lot of legwork and require significant time and effort to complete.  Reconciling hardware and software inventories, patching servers and PCs, mitigating security risks or misconfigurations, and deploying software quickly to many PCs or servers in a short amount of time are challenges that every IT department faces.  Baramundi Management Suite helps resolve many time-consuming tasks that you may have in your organization.

Baramundi Logo

With Baramundi Management Suite, hardware and software inventories can be automated, which reduces the manual overhead of collecting inventory information.  Inventories can then be broken out by static groups or groups based on specific attributes such as operating system versions or available disk space.  Inventory information can also be obtained from SNMP capable devices such as switches, routers, firewalls, and printers to reduce the overhead even further.

Security and vulnerabilities are also easier to manage using Baramundi Management Suite.  By providing vulnerability information in a consolidated way, it allows prioritization of these fixes either per machine or per specific vulnerability.  Baramundi Management Suite provides a platform which can be used to replace your WSUS deployment and provide you with a managed, up to date catalog of third party updates to help keep these applications updated.  In addition, a compliance management module is available to allow you to scan for any new vulnerabilities after your patch deployment is complete.

Baramundi Management Suite

Software deployment throughout the organization using Baramundi Management Suite is a snap.  If you are using a pre-packaged Microsoft Installer or other executable package, you can easily create a package to deploy that software with just a few mouse clicks.  If, however, the software requires some customization during the install, you can use the Baramundi Automation Studio to step through the installation as you normally would, recording each step along the way, to create your deployment package.  Once completed, you will be able to deploy even the most difficult applications quickly and easily.

Baramundi Management Suite is one of many systems management platforms.  What makes it stand out among the likes of SCCM, Altiris, and other systems management platform is the ease of use.  You can achieve tasks in minutes that have taken hours, if not days, to accomplish before.  Baramundi Management Suite also allows you to definitively see, in real-time, that action has been taken for a particular task.  Baramundi Management Suite is systems management in real time.

To learn how Baramundi can help resolve many of the time-consuming tasks you may have in your organization, please reach out to your Keller Schroeder Select Account Manager.


Carbon Black Defense Endpoint Security

Paul Miller Keller Schroeder Senior EngineerPaul Miller – [Senior Systems Engineer]

The world of endpoint security is a very crowded market right now, making it difficult to discern what makes one solution better than another. We at Keller Schroeder found ourselves hunting for answers in this market space last summer, and underwent an evaluation of the top ten solutions on the market. After this extensive research, we ended up establishing a new partnership with Carbon Black.

Carbon Black Logo

Carbon Black Defense brings a robust set of features to the table. Their entire technique for endpoint defense relies on detecting malicious software and stopping execution before damage is done.  As a cloud-based solution, Carbon Black monitors all processes running on your endpoint, scores them based on malicious tactics, techniques, and procedures (ram scraping, bad execution methods, self-elevation), and then stops the execution of processes that are found to be up to no good. This happens in real-time, and utilizes a very light agent (0-1% CPU) on the endpoints.

Carbon Black Predictive Security Cloud

The console provides kill chain insight like no other product on the market, and other advanced threat protection options.  From the console it is simple (a couple of clicks… really), to look at a threat’s kill chain, and blacklist the offending process from running again anywhere in your enterprise.  Management overhead for most environments are estimated at around 1-2 hours a week under normal conditions, making it light on administration overhead as well.

If you have a renewal in the future for your endpoint security products, and would like to take a look at CB Defense, please get in touch with your Keller Schroeder Select Account Manager. We would enjoy providing you a demo to show you why this product stands out in this very crowded field.

 


What is Visual Studio Team Services and How Does It Differ From TFS?

Carrie Rudolph Microsoft Business Unit DirectorCarrie Rudolph – [Microsoft Business Unit Director]

Best practices say that any custom development team should use a source control tool for versioning and collaboration.  Microsoft’s historical source control tool has been Team Foundation Server (TFS), released in 2006 and still a leader in source control today.   Visual Studio Team Services (VSTS) is the online version of Team Foundation Server (TFS), and while these two tools have many similarities there are a few differences as well.

Microsoft Visual StudioBoth provide an integrated and collaborative development environment that provides tools for version control, planning, and work tracking. They both offer much more than source control they are application development lifecycle management tools. TFS is an on premise installation with a SQL Server backend.   Previously known as Visual Studio Online, VSTS is a cloud service backed by Microsoft’s cloud platform, Azure.  For TFS, you typically connect to an intranet server and authenticate using Windows Authentication and Active Directory.  This authentication is normally transparent and most users do not realize it’s even occurring.  With VSTS you are connecting over the public internet, and you authenticate with a Microsoft account or using Microsoft Azure Active Directory.

Microsoft Visual Studio Screen ShotThere are several advantages to using VSTS instead of TFS.  Since VSTS is a cloud hosted service there is nothing for you to install or maintain.  You can eliminate cost of servers, time to install, update, and backup the software, patches, and OS. VSTS ensures that you will immediately be able to utilize the latest and greatest features and functionality.    With the online access to VSTS, the need for developers to connect via VPN to access source code is eliminated.  This can be a big benefit for development teams spread out over several locations.  VSTS can also host GIT projects as well as traditional team foundation projects, which allows you to manage all of your source code in one place and eliminate the need for multiple services. Lastly, VSTS also includes a marketplace with hundreds of available plugins, from Slack Integration, to Code Search, and Trello; there is an ever growing list of plugins available for free at the click of a button.

VSTS is free to those individuals with Visual Studio memberships.   A small team (up to five users) can access Basic features free of charge, and for larger teams, there is a per user monthly fee.  An unlimited number of project Stakeholders can also be added for free; they can view and edit work items but not manage code.

Microsoft Visual Studio Screen ShotThere are several options for migrating from TFS to VSTS.  Projects can be added to VSTS one at a time, in which case previous version history will be lost.  Projects and their related history can be migrated directly from TFS 2017 to VSTS using the TFS Database Import Service from Microsoft. . Finally, you can use a public API, but please know that many of these will not move all of your TFS artifacts and their history. If you have added customizations to TFS, these may cause errors that must be resolved prior to migrating to VSTS.  In some cases, customizations may be lost.

If you are looking to reduce time and cost related to hosting TFS and increase your team’s accessibility to source code, you will definitely want to consider Visual Studio Team Services. Contact your Select Account Manager to learn how Keller Schroeder can help.


CLIENT SUCCESS: Improved Experience For Employees And Customers with Cisco

In partnership with  Tech Data, Keller Schroeder was able to obtain a series of case studies depicting recent client experiences with our team and Cisco technologies. Keep reading to learn how Keller Schroeder helped Jasper Chair Company improve their employees’ and customers’ experiences with an upgrade to the company’s IT network and security infrastructure with Cisco network and VOIP technology.

The Challenge

Jasper Chair Company LogoJasper Chair’s IT network and phone systems were outdated and systems were disjointed. In fact, it was starting to affect the workforce and it was slowing down production. Jasper Chair needed to find an IT company to help them build a roadmap to overhaul their existing IT infrastructure and replace it with faster, better performing technology that would enable them to offer an improved experience to their employees and customers.“Offering better technology that works together well is an essential backbone of any successful business. We knew we needed to heavily invest in new technology infrastructure, and we were looking for a trusted provider to help us build a strategy and a roadmap to gain a competitive advantage with the new technology,” explains Chad Barth, Vice President at Jasper Chair Company.

The Solution

Great Strategy and IT Roadmap for the Future  –    Jasper Chair needed to build a cohesive IT network and completely overhaul its existing phone system. Jasper Chair reached out to its IT manager, who then referred the company to Keller Schroeder. When Jasper Chair hired Keller Schroeder, their engineers and account managers were able to hit the ground running. The Keller Schroeder team listened to Jasper Chair’s concerns, they took time to understand the company’s technology wish list, and fully learn the current IT landscape. “We have really put our faith in Keller Schroeder, and they successfully laid out a plan to help us build the IT infrastructure we needed to be successful. We are confident in the technology selected because we chose Cisco,” adds Barth. Keller Schroeder created a roadmap and added in security solutions that would meet the IT needs of Jasper Chair. This new infrastructure included Cisco VoIP phone system, a server, Cisco Adaptive Security Application (ASA), and a new network. “Most importantly, Keller Schroeder helped us choose the best Cisco security products to protect our company from ransomware or cyberattacks.”

Benefits

High-Performing, Driven, and Organized – Throughout the project, Keller Schroeder was organized, attentive, and thoughtful about meeting Jasper Chair’s needs. The Keller Schroeder team led the charge in effectively managing the projects, and the company worked well with the Jasper Chair IT team.

“What most stood out to us with Keller Schroeder was their people. They were great to work with. They are all so effective and driven, and you can definitely tell that they love their job and the work they are doing” – Chad Barth, Vice President at Jasper Chair

Cisco LogoKeller Schroeder’s extensive knowledge about the Cisco products and solutions provided Jasper Chair with a guarantee the final solution would be high functioning and reliable. “They were cohesive with our IT systems, they integrated the projects well, and their engineers worked with the network team to ensure everything was working well together.” Managing the budget efficiently is a large part of successfully seeing the project through. Jasper Chair’s headquarters is located about an hour away from Keller Schroeder’s office, so the company took the time to conduct video conferencing sessions as much as possible to help control the costs. Barth says, “Keller Schroeder really put us first. Once they had the IT infrastructure in place, they really worked with us on the budget by accommodating us remotely.”

Thorough Support

Building and installing a new network and VOIP phone system can be complicated. Throughout the process, Keller Schroeder provided Jasper Chair with end-to-end support. From planning and purchasing and all the way to installation, Keller Schroeder was organized and set expectations for Jasper Chair to ensure the project’s success. “Keller Schroeder brought so many good ideas to the table, and we depend on them for that. They not only helped us build our new network and VOIP phone system, but they also gave us a plan for the future,” says Barth.

Results

Carefully Vetted, Secure Solutions – When building an expansive IT network, it is important to make sure all the products and solutions work together well. It is also important to ensure the best products are used to meet the business needs of the customer. Keller Schroeder carefully vetted the products and provided a cohesive ecosystem to help Jasper Chair’s business thrive. Barth adds, “With Keller Schroeder’s guidance, we decided to go primarily with Cisco products to build our IT network, VOIP phone system, and data center. Their solutions are reliable and secure. Protecting our data is a high priority.” Like many companies, Jasper Chair had been a target of malicious cyber-attacks. Now that they have Keller Schroeder on their side building reliable IT infrastructure with Cisco solutions and security, Jasper Chair has not had any further issues.

Happy Employees, Satisfied Customers – Prior to their engagement with Keller Schroeder, Jasper Chair’s employees had experienced a slow network and other technical issues that were distracting from their day-to-day tasks. Now, with the new system in place, employees are happy and more productive. “Keller Schroeder provided us with incredible service and they helped us find exactly what we were looking for. They have done a fantastic job with our current projects, and now they are already working on taking us through the next phase.”

Throughout the projects, Keller Schroeder worked to exceed Jasper Chair’s expectations and accomplish all their project goals and objectives. “They did everything we asked them to do, while exceeding our expectations on all levels. We don’t get as many complaints from employees anymore because things are working effectively.”

“The team at Keller Schroeder went the distance with us and has taken care of everything. Their commitment to our success was really felt by all of the employees at Jasper Chair.” — Chad Barth, Vice President at Jasper Chair Company

Exceeded Expectations – Keller Schroeder prides itself on going the distance to satisfy its customers. They don’t just meet the customer’s needs, but it exceeds them on all levels. Throughout the projects, Keller Schroeder was attentive to Jasper Chair’s needs and thoughtful about providing them the best customer service in the industry. “We look for consistency and trust and believe that slow and steady wins the race. For me, the most important factor for any business partnership is reliability, consistency, trustworthiness. We want reliable performance on a steady basis. Barth explains, “Keller Schroeder offered us the performance, quality, and expert knowledge we were looking for from an experienced and professional IT service provider. They were able to help us with all of our IT needs and build a roadmap for the future.”

For more information about how Keller Schroeder can assist your organization with Cisco technology, please contact your Select Account Manager.


Office 2007 Retirement Is Coming!

Systems Engineer Chance WebsterChance Webster – [Systems Engineer]

On October 10, 2017, Microsoft will officially retire all editions of Office 2007.  What does this mean for you?  Microsoft will no longer offer updates or provide free or paid support for the Office 2007 family of products.  If you have not upgraded the Office suite for one or more of your PCs, this would be the perfect time to consider a more recent version of Microsoft Office.

Microsoft Office 2007 LogoOne reason to upgrade is that newer versions of Microsoft platforms such as Exchange and SharePoint will not interact with the Office 2007 platform.  Also, newer versions of Office do not interact properly or at all with older, unsupported platforms.  For example, Outlook 2016 does not work with Exchange 2007 – which is 3 versions lower in the Office family.  Likewise, Outlook 2007 does not connect to either Exchange 2016 or Exchange Online.  Both of these concerns could add more unplanned costs when planning for an on-premises Exchange or SharePoint upgrade project.

Microsoft Word 2007 IconAnother reason to upgrade is based on Microsoft’s policy change concerning Office 365 and Microsoft Office in the future.  The good news is this policy change does not fully take effect until October 13, 2020, so there is time to consider your upgrade options related to your on-premises infrastructure or any cloud initiatives.   For more detail, please see this policy change here: https://blogs.office.com/en-us/2017/04/20/office-365-proplus-updates/.

The following are alternatives to consider:

  1. Do nothing. This option is NOT recommended.  There are several exploitable vulnerabilities that rely on unpatched versions of Microsoft Office products.  Due to no additional patches being developed for Office 2007 after October 2017, continuing use of Office 2007 products would create a security risk for your organization.
  2. Purchase new Office licenses. This can be achieved via direct purchase through many resources, however this option provides only the current version of Office.  The Software Assurance option would need to be purchased via a Volume License agreement to provide you with future versions of Office at no charge.
  3. Purchase an Office 365 subscription. Office 365 suites that include Office licensing provide an array of benefits.  Not only would you get Office licensing for users licensed under a supported suite, you would also be able to take advantage of hosted platforms for Exchange, SharePoint, and Skype for Business.  This can provide a significant cost savings for your organization and reduce the technical burden often added when these technologies are deployed.

For more information about how Keller Schroeder can assist your organization with migrating to Office 365, please contact your Select Account Manager.


What Is A Digital Workplace?

Applications Consultant Matt MulherinMatt Mulherin – [Applications Consultant]

Today’s personal technology boom provides instant information at out fingertips to assist with every facet of our lives.  If you have a question, you just “google” for the answer.  If you have a problem, there is an app for that.  With this easy and constant access to information in their personal lives, employees are looking for the same experience in their work life. Many employees have a physical workplace where they report to work every day, but now they are also working more and more away from the office, where they would like to find the same easy and constant access to the information and applications necessary to perform their work at any location at any time.

Powell 365 Digital Workplace DashboardAccording to CMS Wire, “The digital workplace is meant to be a virtual equivalent to the physical workplace, which requires strong planning and management due to its fundamental role in people’s productivity, engagement, and working health.”

A successful digital workplace should incorporate several key features:

  • Centralized and accessible information – employees should have information easily accessible in order to make well-informed, timely decisions
  • Easy collaboration with others – employees should be able to collaborate on projects, documents, presentations
  • Accessibility of business applications – the applications employees need and use frequently should be accessible from one centralized location

The digital workplace should be engaging and easy!  Ideally the digital workplace should bring the ease and availability of information to your employees’ work lives in a way similar to consumer-oriented technology.

Deloitte identifies the following advantages of embracing a digital workplace strategy:

  • Talent attraction: 64% of employees would opt for a lower paying job if they could work away from the office.
  • Employee productivity: organizations with strong online social networks are 7% more productive than those without.
  • Employee satisfaction: organizations that installed social media tools internally found a median of 20% increase in employee satisfaction.
  • Employee retention: when employee engagement increases, there is a corresponding increase in employee retention by up to 87%.
  • Communication tools: information workers prefer newer communication tools, particularly instant messaging, over more traditional ones like e-mail or team workspaces.

Powell 365 LogoYour organization’s digital workplace transformation strategy could begin with your intranet.  Intranets have been around for a long time, but with rapid changes in technology, organizations find themselves with outdated platforms and features.  Keller Schroeder recommends Powell 365, a digital workplace that sits on top of SharePoint Online and the Office 365 platform.  Powell 365 allows you to quickly implement an intranet with optimum user experience to develop communication and collaboration between your teams. It provides your employees a single point of access to all of your digital content that is accessible in the office and on your mobile devices.

Keller Schroeder is a partner with Powell 365.  Please contact us if you would like to learn more about digital workplaces or Powell 365.


Cisco Meraki : Easy to Deploy Cloud-Based & Infrastructure Solutions

Keller Schroeder IT Engineer Mike SanfordMike Sanford – [Wireless Consultant]

Do you need to be able to bring a remote office up quickly without an on-site visit?  Do you want one place to monitor wired and wireless connectivity?  Are you looking for a cloud-based solution that can provide wireless access points, switches, firewalls as well as video cameras?  If you can answer “Yes” to any of those questions, Cisco Meraki has a solution for you.

MCisco Meraki Logoeraki was founded in 2006, gaining interest as a cloud provider of wireless services.  In 2012, it was purchased by Cisco and has since branched out into the other areas of IT infrastructure mentioned above.  Their focus is providing technology that is easy to deploy and manage.  Keller Schroeder has successfully deployed most of these Meraki hardware solutions, with the exception of the video camera solution which was released in the last quarter of 2016.

Cisco Meraki DashboardWhen connected to an internet ready network, Meraki devices “phone home” and are immediately configurable from the web based Meraki Dashboard.  The Dashboard offers a single pane of glass to configure devices as well as monitor devices for up/down time and keep an eye on end user traffic.  The Dashboard provides the ability to adjust allowed bandwidth utilization and whitelist or blacklist web traffic, giving you the ability to maximize your infrastructure and internet performance.  Traffic for each piece of hardware, network and end user device is tracked and displayed in easy to view, drill-down graphs.  Information such as user, total amount and percentage of usage, applications and sites visited are available.  This information can then be used to quickly throttle bandwidth hogs, or to limit internet access by type of site or by specific site.

Meraki also offers an Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) solution called Systems Manager.  With Systems Manager, applications and network policy can be deployed to mobile and desktop devices.  Once the easy on-boarding process is complete, a device can be monitored for location, security posture and software inventory.  The devices can also be protected by enforcing encryption policies, network access control and there is a remote enterprise wipe feature.

To learn more about our cloud solutions including Meraki, or to ask about how Keller Schroeder can perform a wireless assessment of your environment, give us a call at 812-474-6825 or contact your Keller Schroeder Select Account Manager.


Proactively Analyze Your VMware Environment with Runecast

Keller Schroeder IT Engineer Chris HaynesChris Haynes[Senior Systems Consultant]

Is your VMware environment secure?  Has your environment been configured to best practices?  Are there any known VMware or hardware bugs out right now that may affect the hardware and VMware version you are running on?  Wouldn’t it be nice if you didn’t have to chase all that down manually?  Well now you don’t have to.Runecast Logo

Introducing Runecast software. Runecast is a Linux appliance that runs as a virtual machine that proactively analyzes your VMware environment and compares it to current VMware KBs, configuration best practices, and security hardening guidelines, and provides recommended remediation steps for any variances it finds.

It is easy to install & configure and even more intuitive to use.  You’re up and running and scanning your VMware environment in minutes, and the web interface presents simple dashboards to show your current status that you can drill down into for more details…

Runecast Dashboard

In a nutshell, here’s the services that Runecast provides:

  • Security hardening checks, direct from VMware’s vSphere Security Hardening Guide
  • Industry standard configuration best practice checks/validation
  • Log collection and analysis against known issues in VMware KBs

With Runecast software, you can eliminate the manual work involved to perform security hardening and best practice configuration checks.  You can schedule automated checks, get notifications for non-compliance issues, and filter out compliance checks that don’t apply to your company’s policies.  You can easily generate compliance reports and pass security audits.

You can prevent services outages by discovering potential issues in advance and fixing them proactively. Your VMware configurations and logs are continually being analyzed against all VMware Knowledge Base (KB) articles, which Runecast downloads the latest updates on a regular basis. You will receive alerts for known issues and recommendation on how to fix them or mitigate any risks.

You can purchase a permanent version of the Runecast software to run onsite, or you can pay a one-time assessment fee to perform a month long analyze & fix cycle if preferred.  If you want to know more, check out the 30-day trial at https://www.runecast.biz and/or give your Keller Schroeder Account Executive a call at 812-474-6825 and ask for a demo and pricing details.


If These Devices Could Talk

Keller Schroeder Applications Consultant Eric MaurerEric Maurer – [Applications Consultant]

What if your devices could talk? The Internet of Things (IoT) can start to do this! What is the IoT? Putting it simply, an IoT “thing” is nothing more than a physical device connected to the internet. The device can be your phone, your thermostat, a car, or any number of remote monitoring sensors. Experts estimate that by 2020 there will be about 30 billion IoT devices. There are devices that only 15 years ago did not exist for collecting data, or if they did exist, they were so remote getting to the data was difficult.

Internet of Things CollageRecently Keller Schroeder employee-owners Eric Maurer and Ian Welsh participated in an IoT Hackathon sponsored by AT&T. This hackathon provided opportunity to learn about new devices and software from AT&T in the IoT landscape. Devices, becoming smaller than ever, are now capable of running for weeks using batteries or solar power and can transfer data captured by dozens of different sensors over Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or LTE.

Their team quickly realized the difficult part of developing an IoT solution is no longer centered on hardware and software but comes from using industry knowledge to find the right problems for which IoT is the solution. They decided to use AT&T’s LTE enabled IoT starter kit to collect real-time GPS data from commercial vehicles to collect and process their location and mileage information automatically. Their idea was just one of many great ideas that came out of the hackathon. Some of the other projects were:

  • Using drones to take pictures of tomato fields to determine overall ripeness and calculate the perfect time for harvest with image processing algorithms and machine learning
  • A smart tool locker using Bluetooth and NFC sensors to allow users to check equipment in and out
  • A small device with humidity and PH sensors to monitor soil in home gardens

The latest generation of IoT devices now connect securely to the cloud using Microsoft’s Azure or AT&T’s M2X. These solutions allow you to secure your devices and aggregate data from any number of devices and sensors in one central location. They also provide dashboards, event notifications, alerts, and two-way communication between devices. Sifting through the large amounts of data one can collect can be daunting. Companies are making it easier and easier to collect, process, and make sense of this data using cloud-based software, such as Azure Stream Analytics.

What would you do with IoT data? Have ideas and want to explore them further? Contact your Keller Schroeder Select Account Manager or call us at 812-474-6825 today!


Veeam + Azure: Cost Effective & Flexible Cloud Backup

Matt Barton – [Senior Consultant]

Ok… 3 Questions, 30 Seconds, 300 Words…. about your backup solution.  This shouldn’t take long.

 


Question 1 :   Do you have an off-site backup? 

Yes?  Great!

No?  Why Not?  Using Veeam & Azure, quickly and easily create a cloud off-site backup, that is cost efficient & scalable based on your needs. Configure Veeam to backup the most critical data for DR, or provide long-term retention using cost-effective cloud storage. Azure charges are based on actual used capacity.  Unlike other cloud offerings or on-premises equipment, this solution provides a true consumption model, allowing you to shrink or grow the amount of data being backed up to more effectively manage costs.


Question 2 :  Does it meet the 3-2-1 rule?

The “Golden Rule” of backup.  The 3-2-1 rule states having three copies of your data – 2 on different media, and 1 copy offsite. We highly recommend Veeam integrated snapshots on Nimble Storage, copied to a Cisco UCS backup appliance, & then copied off-site to Azure.


Question 3 :  Are you able to backup Office 365 data?

You need to securely backup Office 365 email data back to your environment for a variety of reasons; to follow the 3-2-1 Rule of backup, to facilitate eDiscovery, and to meet internal policies and compliance requirements. The most important reason being the peace-of-mind that comes from knowing you will be able to restore your users’ data when needed!

With Veeam Backup for Microsoft Office 365, you can retrieve Office 365 Exchange Online mailbox items (email, calendar, and contacts) from a cloud-based instance of Office 365 and uniquely back up this mailbox data into the same format that Microsoft Exchange uses natively — an archive database based on Extensible Storage Engine (ESE), also known as the Jet Blue database.


Interested in hearing more or want to schedule a Veeam & Azure Demo?  Reach out to your Keller Schroeder Account Manager today!