There’s a Lot to an Exchange Server Upgrade

One of our employees is off to Meteghan River this weekend in the beautiful (full disclosure: I’m from there) Acadian district of Nova Scotia. He is doing an Exchange Server upgrade for a client who is moving from Exchange Server 2003 to Exchange Server 2013. Simple, n’est-ce pas? Copy files from A to B and Bob’s your N’Oncle.

Well as it turns out, you can’t get to there from here quite that easily. There is no direct route from 2003 to 2013, and you must go via an interim install of Exchange 2010 running on a Windows Server 2008, which you do in a virtualized environment. Then you have to migrate all the user mailboxes, then decommission the old Exchange 2003 server, then install the new Exchange 2013 server (which needs a new version of Windows Server, by the way), then migrate the files again from 2010 to 2013, then decommission the Exchange 2010 server.

Then test everything. Oh, and there can be no downtime for email while all this is going on.

I know Orin’s up to the task. And he’ll get well fed while he’s down there.

 

Customized Mobile Business Apps Gaining Popularity

When we think of mobile apps, applications that work on a smartphone or tablet, we think primarily of games or downloadable versions of social media programs. The few mobile business applications we see are generic programs for such things as tracking the stock market or sales force automation.

But that has started to change, and there is a huge shift in building customized mobile applications that connect to your specific business data. When you think about it, it is the natural evolution for business IT systems.

Over the years, we’ve moved from monolithic mainframe programs to networked computer applications to web-based systems, and with each move came a wellspring of new capabilities and functionality. In each of these cases, it took a while for “simple” apps to prove the concept, and then more complex enterprise applications took advantage of the new technology.

That is what is happening with mobile. If you can get the weather on your mobile device, why not your corporate data? Well you can, and you can do so in a secure, real-time environment. Moreover, if done correctly, these applications will run on any mobile device via its web browser, meaning only one version of the application needs to be maintained that will work on any mobile device. It also means that you don’t need to use the “app store”, you don’t need to download anything, and you don’t need to worry about having to reinstall updates whenever changes are made to the application.

What we are finding is that only parts of an overall application need to be mobile-enabled, typically those used by the workforce in the field. Examples of ones we’ve written at Nicom include an automated sales tool for sales consultants, electronic forms used by marine pilots when they are on assignment, and applications used by seaport representatives when they are travelling the world.

That latter one is a good example to demonstrate, as it is publicly usable. To see it, simply use your mobile browser to go to www.halifaxgetsitthere.com/m.
Think about all the ways you could use your corporate data when you are out of the office, and wouldn’t it be nice if you could do so without even having to use a laptop or having to find a WIFI network.

Well you can. It is here, now. I’d be happy to discuss this with anyone who is interested. Call me at (902) 454-5656, or email me at pat.dentremont@nicomit.com.

Does Your Business Have a Plan in the Event of a Pandemic?

Imagine what your company would be like if fifty percent of your employees – or more – fell ill at the same time. Would you be able to continue operating?

What about after the symptoms have passed and they are capable of working, only they are instructed to stay home as is often the case with the H1N1 virus – would they then be able to be productive?

With today’s technology, the effects of a pandemic or other threat to the continuity of your business can be mitigated by putting into practice such things as alternate workplaces, work from home abilities, and notification callouts. But it all takes planning so that if a threat were to become a reality, your business is prepared.

That type of planning is what Ian McLaws does. He is the consultant who was brought in by Jazz Air LP (doing business throughout North America as Air Canada Jazz) to help implement their Business Continuity Plan. On June 16, Jazz did a thorough 24-hour test of their plan using their Alternate Systems Operations Control Centre in Burnside, and it went without a hitch.

McLaws explains that a Business Continuity Plan, or BCP, is designed to enable a business to continue operating while recovering from a disaster and to resume normal operations. It involves planning for the eventuality of a disaster event so that essential business functions such as Information Technology can continue operating.

McLaws’ main role at Jazz was to manage the disaster recovery plan part of it, or DRP, which outlines the steps necessary to restore the Information Technology environment to its normal state.

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For Free Long Distance Calling, Skype’s the Limit

We were working on an important proposal just at the time when my business partner, Dave Nicholson, and his wife Judy were scheduled to travel to Mexico on vacation. Since Dave’s job is to keep me from giving away the farm, it was important for us to collaborate on this proposal no matter where in the world he happened to be at the time. So we decided it was a good time to try out some long distance Internet telephone usage.

We agreed ahead of time when Dave would be available for a call, and when I contacted him I found him (naturally) in a bar. Judy was using his laptop at the time, so she informed Dave that his computer was “ringing”.

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Save Time and Money with a Content Management System

If a website is going to be successful, fresh up-to-date content is the key but updating your website can quickly become a hassle if you don’t have a content management system (CMS) in place. You could rely on your web design firm but that can become costly, and cutting out the middle man is always faster.

A simple content management system allows you to easily update your website’s copy, add news releases and update images. More advanced CMS will allow you to manage files, events and send e-mail newsletters.

Finding the right solution to suit your needs is a challenge in itself. Time and care should be taken in selecting your CMS. For more information on things to consider when choosing your CMS:

10 Things To Consider When Choosing The Perfect CMS

and for more technical considerations:

Too many content management systems

Have any good or bad experiences with a content management system you’d like to share?