TechStop


April 27, 2011  8:00 PM

Price Increase for Microsoft Certs



Posted by: Joshua Wood
certification, Microsoft, Windows

Hi all,
Microsoft has increased the price of their certs in order to “reflect the significant value that our certifications provide to our customers”. While I believe that Microsoft certification has value I don’t know if I believe that they are increasing the price because of the value to the market. If the certs are truly valuable and they help create Microsoft evangelists out of new IT people then you would think that they would want to keep the prices the same or lower them. The price increase isn’t steep though so this won’t likely change anything for anyone looking to get a Microsoft certification.

Until next time,
TechStop

Source: http://www.microsoft.com/learning/en/us/certification/cert-pricing-FAQ.aspx

April 27, 2011  2:05 AM

Amazon’s Cloud Outage



Posted by: Joshua Wood
Amazon, cloud, EC2

Hi all, so Amazon had an outage in their EC2 cloud. The sites and services affected included Quora and Reddit and many many other sites and services. At this point in time people feel like IT shouldn’t have outages. Business managers look at their IT departments like they are power or water services and wonder why after investing almost nothing into them they fail. Thus the “cloud” is a great way to offload the cost and responsibility of management.

While the cloud is a great idea the evolution of it is ongoing, just like IT as a whole. Occasionally there are power outages and water shortages even in the most well-managed of cities in North America and the cloud will have down times as well. Basically, while I would still advise a UPS power bumps I wouldn’t only use a generator for power and those basics apply to the cloud as well.

Until next time,
TechStop


April 19, 2011  6:00 PM

Adobe Products Goes Subscription Based



Posted by: Joshua Wood
Adobe, after effects, cloud, photoshop, subscription

Hello all,

In a world where the “cloud” is all the rage and subscriptions mean an almost unlimited pipeline of cash for companies (I am looking at your NetFlix) there is still a need to download and install software. But how do you adapt something like Adobe After Effects to a cloud based model when the files could be hundreds of gigs to upload/download and that doesn’t include the processing power.

Well, for now at least, you can’t. And that is where Adobe has latched onto the idea that people would want to rent their products. It is great idea for the hobbyist or the small business person who only needs the product for a couple of months in the year. The plans are really reasonably priced and the model seems like it should work very well. Have a look and tell me what you think.

Until next time,
TechStop (aka Josh Wood)

Source: http://www.adobe.com/products/creativesuite/cssubscription.html?trackingid=IJZSU


April 5, 2011  1:00 AM

New Cisco SMB Switches



Posted by: Joshua Wood
3560-c, Cisco, SMB, Switch

Hello all, Cisco comes out with products almost continually it seems. They are big company with an even bigger base of users and companies to service. The landscape of the networking field doesn’t change like some of the other facets of IT does but it does move along a good pace. Cisco recently, and I mean a few months ago, announced a new line of switches for the SMB market space.

The switches aren’t on sale yet so price is a bit of mystery but the feature set and marketing material is up on their website already. According to the site the “C” in the model name means compact. As for the features the site says “provide all the capabilities and benefits of the enterprise-class Cisco Catalyst 2960-S and 3560-X Series Switches, including enhanced limited lifetime warranty.” For such a small size the feature set is pretty extensive. Now if the price is truly SMB then these little switches could be useful beyond the 5 person office.

Cisco 2960-C and 3560-C Series Swtiches: http://www.cisco.com/en/US/products/ps11527/Products_Sub_Category_Home.html

Until next time,
TechStop


April 3, 2011  1:00 AM

Exchange Server Deplyment Help



Posted by: Joshua Wood
Exchange, Microsoft

Hello all, let’s say you have an Exchange environment and you want to migrate it to Exchange 2010. You know what you should do but there is that nagging feeling like you are forgetting something. Or maybe you just want someone to double check the steps you have laid out. This tool is easy to use and quite thorough.

You start off with three options. From there you tell it where you are upgrading from, and finally a few questions to tweak the details. Unless you have an overly complex environment the system should spit out solid check list of each step with detailed information on how to do each step. You can print, email or download the list for future use.

Microsoft’s documentation department, or whichever department it was, has done an awesome job on this tool. I can only hope that they do more checklists like this one.

Microsoft Exchange Server Deployment Assisatant: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-ca/exdeploy2010/default.aspx#Index

Until next time,
TechStop


April 1, 2011  1:00 AM

Hosted Exchange for Everyone … and BES too



Posted by: Joshua Wood
BES, Exchange

Hello all, so it looks like you can now get Hosted Exchange services directly from Microsoft. With your subscription you get a huge amount of space for an email box which looks like it maxes out at 25 GB. There are of course some caveats like needing to sign up a minimum of 5 seats. Even with some of the conditions the price is unbeatable and with Microsoft providing the service you would hope that the service is at least comparable to other services.

Just when you thought that was all well and good RIM has announced recently that they will be adding in hosted BES to the service for FREE. So for the low price of a 25.00/mth you get 5 mailboxes with a 25 GB limit and hosted BES. Who can complete with that? Even RackSpace one of the largest hosted Exchange providers out there doesn’t look like they can beat that, at least at the moment.

This is all really good for consumers at the moment but the problem is going to come in when Microsoft has pushed all of the competing hosted Exchange providers out of business because Microsoft offers the same service at half the price with twice the features. With no competition the long term forecast for the consumer doesn’t look as good as the present climate.

Until next time,
TechStop

Sources:
Microsoft – http://www.microsoft.com/online/exchange-online.aspx
BES News – http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9214683/Al_Sacco_Microsoft_RIM_to_announce_free_hosted_BES_product_
RackSpace – http://www.rackspace.com/apps/email_hosting/exchange_hosting/


March 24, 2011  1:00 AM

OS Reliability – 2011



Posted by: Joshua Wood
Linux, Microsoft

Hello all, every year we the reports come out about OS reliability. These are important so that we, as an industry, know where the trend is going for server OS support. If an OS can’t run properly that means support for it will drop if the reliability isn’t improved year over year.

Of note in the report, the Microsoft OS made solid gains with the Server 2008 and Serer 2008 R2 product lines. So much of a gain that it places Server 2008 in the top 3 of the most reliable server OS’s.

Links to Reviews of Report

http://www.iaps.com/2010-2011-server-reliability-survey.html

http://www.prlog.org/11252241-ibm-microsoft-stratus-fujitsu-top-iticgfi-2011-global-server-hardware-and-os-reliability-survey.html

Until next time,
TechStop


March 22, 2011  1:00 AM

Double Internet Usage for Canadians



Posted by: Joshua Wood

Hello all, recently a study has been release by comScore that says that Canadians are using twice the world-wide average for Internet. Some of the stats in the study are pretty awesome! The fact that the usage is so high is not really the exciting part although that does have some benefits. The part that is really exciting is that 95% of Canadians have access to the Internet. The Internet is a wealth of knowledge and communication that is waiting to be used by whoever needs it. It is amazing that is such a physically spread out country pretty much everyone can have access to the wealth of knowledge that is the Internet.

Some of the Interesting Points:
- 95 per cent of Canadian households can access broadband
- By far the fastest-growing demographic when it comes to Web usage in Canada is the 55-and-over crowd
- The split among male and female Web users in Canada is almost exactly 50-50

Sources:
Globe and Mail: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/technology/canadians-internet-usage-nearly-double-the-worldwide-average/article1934508/
Benton Foundation: http://benton.org/node/52340

Until next time,
TechStop


March 18, 2011  1:00 AM

Mozilla Web-O-Wonder



Posted by: Joshua Wood
Firefox

Hello all, Mozilla is getting ready to launch version 4 of its browser FireFox. What does that mean to everyone who isn’t coding for FireFox. Well, maybe more than you think. There is a ton of cool little features that have potential for big changes to the interactive web as we know it.

In order to showcase some of these awesome little bits is Mozilla has put together their Web O’ Wonder page. It is succinctly puts together all of the features that are going int version 4 of FireFox. Some of my favorites are in the performance section, namely Retained Layers and Hardware Acceleration. Have a look it is going to be good when it gets out of beta.

Mozilla’s Web O’ Wonder for FireFox: https://demos.mozilla.org/en-US/#dashboard

Until next time,
TechStop


March 16, 2011  1:00 AM

MPLS Pseudo-Wire Basics – Part 5



Posted by: Joshua Wood
Cisco, MPLS

Hello all, this is the last post in the series that deals with a very basic MPLS pseudo-wire setup. I am sure that this or a related topic will be worth reviewing the future but for now let’s wrap up what we have so far.

Well, we have the basic design that I used for our examples and our configs. You can view that here  MPLS Pseudo-wire Basics Part 1: http://itknowledgeexchange.techtarget.com/techstop/mpls-pseudo-wire-basics/

From there we looked at the CE or customer edge devices. These would be the devices that would attach directly or perhaps indirectly to the PE devices. You can view that here  http://itknowledgeexchange.techtarget.com/techstop/mpls-pseudo-wire-basics-part-2/

After we had the CE devices outlined we looked at one of the more active pieces which is the PE or provider edge devices. These are the devices that take the MPLS traffic and encapsulate it with the MPLS tags. You can view that here  http://itknowledgeexchange.techtarget.com/techstop/pls-pseudo-wire-basics-part-3pls-pseudo-wire-basics-part-3

And finally there was the P routers. These are the core routers that only swap the tags and manage the routing for the network.You can view that here  http://itknowledgeexchange.techtarget.com/techstop/mpls-pseudo-wire-basics-part-4mpls-pseudo-wire-basics-part-4

There is a lot more to say about MPLS. From my perspective it seems like networking 2.0 because of the massive amount of flexibility that you have with the technology. I am sure that there will be more posts that clarify and expand on this topic but hopefully this was a quick taste of MPLS to wet your appetite.

Until next time,
TechStop


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