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Discover, Assess, Target, Migrate: Windows Server

10 hours 19 min ago

July 14, 2015 is the date to remember. Windows Server 2003 is going end of support, and like thousands of others, your organization must consider the best path to upgrade. For most, the greatest benefit can be derived by examining the entire server infrastructure (including hardware, operating systems, and application modernization) all at once. For the four key steps to this critical process, read on.

Upgrading your data center OS can be summed up like this:

1. Discover—Get a better understanding of the Windows Server 2003 environment. This is the time to identify workloads that are currently running on the server.

2. Assess—Your comprehensive understanding of your current workloads will present an opportunity to retire under-utilized applications, consolidate licenses across the company, and update older applications to access the benefits and new features to their full potential.

3. Target—Consider and lock your sights on the deployment options for each workload. Some applications might be moved to new hardware running Windows Server 2012 R2 while others may benefit from a hybrid cloud solution or even Microsoft Azure.

4. Migrate—Use the previous phases in the process to prioritize critical applications and workloads so that they are moved in a timely fashion. This will eliminate disruptions and risks.

Most companies will find that they have instances of Windows Server 2003 powering old applications that they do not even know about. A recent study found that 61 percent of businesses are still running at least one instance of Windows Server 2003 somewhere in their organization.

Part of this process includes migrating foundation services such as DNS, active directory, file/print, and DHCP associated with an operating system upgrade to Windows Server 2012 R2. It is always helpful to reach out to a trusted technology partner when taking on efforts such as these. PC Connection, Inc. offers resources, migration expertise, and solutions to get you through the process.

To get started, check out our Windows Server 2003 End of Support page. This will give you the basic information from Microsoft that you will need to begin your migration process. Our server assessment tool can be found here. By answering a few questions about your current workloads, the tool will help create a migration strategy that optimizes performance and maximizes value for your business.

With about a couple months left, if you haven’t started thinking about your Windows Server Migration, the time to do so is now. Windows Server updates are undoubtedly a complex project that will require lots of upfront planning. Luckily, Microsoft helped make this process slightly more manageable by outlining a four-step process. The Microsoft Practice Team, within PC Connection Inc., is also here to help!

Is Your Network Ready for Video?

Tue, 05/26/2015 - 12:22

Over the past decade, many organizations have scaled their networks to meet the demands of emerging, data-intensive technologies. Whether it's tracking geolocation data, analyzing customer feedback, or supporting increasing video traffic, many of these new technologies converge on a singular goal: to better serve customers and vendors with real time communication and information.

They often have the same demand, as well: a thoroughly reliable network that can handle an increasingly heavy workload. One huge bandwidth hog on any network is video. Video streaming is particularly important, as the network’s role has evolved from simply providing content (which isn’t always work-related, yet still consumes network resources) to being an essential platform for employees to communicate with colleagues, customers, and business partners. This is one of the driving forces behind the trend toward unified communications.

Network World’s 2014 State of the Network survey shows that 23% of organizations had introduced desktop video conferencing by 2014, while 33% were considering or researching it. Though it’s increasingly a mobile world, only 11% of survey respondents had implemented mobile video conferencing as of 2014. However, nearly one-third (32%) are actively considering it.

To fully leverage the benefits of video for education, training, surveillance, and communication, organizations must ensure that their networks can handle video’s bandwidth-intensive demands. Otherwise, buffering delays and dropouts can seriously diminish the effectiveness of video and make real-time videoconferencing virtually impossible. Even the best unified communications tools can’t work if they aren’t properly supported by a competent network infrastructure.

One way to determine the enterprise’s ability to handle video is to just give videoconferencing a shot on the existing network. However, if a large organization with offices in multiple locations wants to use videoconferencing strategically, trial and error really isn’t advisable.

Better to use a comprehensive video traffic assessment tool that can send simulated video traffic from one switch or router to another switch or router elsewhere on the network. Deploying a video traffic assessment tool allows global organizations to test their networks’ support of video applications in a fraction of the time it would take to test actual video traffic to multiple locations.

By automating the process, video traffic assessment tools allow IT to gauge network performance under numerous conditions. Further, a good traffic assessment management console lets IT quickly assess the quality of the user experience through data analyzed during the simulations. This valuable reality check can save serious time and money, in addition to ensuring that your staff and customers have a full understanding of the competency of your network.

Disaster Recovery

Fri, 05/22/2015 - 10:53

When a disaster, whether natural or man-made, threatens to affect your organization, you need to be fully prepared to rebuild your operations and continue providing service and support to your customers. While most organizations understand the importance of planning for disaster recovery (DR), they are not always confident with the plan they have in place. Once their procedures go into place, they can quickly become outdated as applications change. I can tell you that testing the effectiveness of a disaster recovery plan—or whether a plan works at all—is crucial to its success. 

Do you have a fully tested DR plan in place? The team I work with can help. Our experts have built disaster preparedness and business continuity plans for organizations of all sizes. Wherever your organization is in the disaster recovery lifecycle—from initial policy to periodic testing—we can help you make sure your plan is well designed, test it, and then measure the results from that test to instill confidence in your DR strategy. 

Watch our video, The Importance of Testing Your Disaster Recovery Plan, and learn why the benchmark of any good DR plan is testing. Whether you have a simple or complex plan in place, discover why testing is one of the most important steps you can take to ensure success in the event of a real disaster.

If you are in the preparing or updating stages of your plan, watch our video, Preparing for Disaster Recovery, learn more about how the disasters you don’t think about can destroy your data as easily as the disasters you do. And discover the different types of disaster recovery technology available to you today to map out a solid DR plan.


About the Author

Aaron Russo is a Senior Manager of Technical Sales, PC Connection, Inc. with more than 16 years of experience in the areas of enterprise storage, server virtualization, and the cloud. In his free time, Aaron enjoys playing multiple instruments and woodturning.


Are You Prepared To Weather A Disaster?

Mon, 05/18/2015 - 13:24

I’ve been doing this for a long time now, so when I hear someone say that disaster recovery and business continuity(DR/BC) are related to major natural disasters—like blizzards, hurricanes, or floods—that’s true, but don’t forget about the other threats to your business. When you think about disaster recovery, make sure you consider computer failure, data and connectivity loss, and long-term power outages too. No matter what your line of business, keeping your IT systems up and running is at the core of your success. I know that it’s tough to plan for every possible threat to your organization, but it’s important to remember there’s more to disaster recovery than just planning for the weather. 

Are you prepared if your IT systems fail or get attacked? The reality is—and we see this all the time—that businesses get distracted and oftentimes overlook developing a viable disaster recovery plan. I’m sure I’m not telling you anything new when I say that downtime can be costly. My team can help you understand the different options available to you to recover your operations and data as quickly as possible. 


Evaluating Disaster Recovery Options

We know that recovery planning is not a one-size-fits-all process. It’s vital that your backed-up data is 100 percent reliable and easily administered at multiple locations, but there are many different types of technology to consider.

Traditional disaster planning includes on-site storage where you can use media like a backup tape or a disk-to-disk backup target to store data files. Today, many businesses are looking to back up their data without worrying about expanding their data center.

Another big trend in disaster recovery today is cloud storage. Building cloud storage into your disaster recovery plan can help redistribute the upfront expense of deploying on premise technology. From internal data centers to cloud infrastructure, we can help you understand your environment, goals, and budget to determine the best solution for your needs.


Disaster Recovery Best Suited for You

What technologies are right for you? My team can help you with a disaster recovery and business continuity plan that is customized to your organization and gives you the peace of mind you need when the unknown happens.

In our video, Preparing for Disaster Recovery, learn more about how the disasters you don’t think about can destroy your data as easily as the disasters you do. And discover the different types of disaster recovery technology available to you today to map out a solid DR plan.


About the Author

Aaron Russo is a Senior Manager of Technical Sales, PC Connection, Inc. with more than 16 years of experience in the areas of enterprise storage, server virtualization, and the cloud. In his free time, Aaron enjoys playing multiple instruments and woodturning.


Flash Storage: Focusing on Your Needs

Fri, 05/15/2015 - 08:59

Storage has evolved from devices the size of kitchen appliances that held less than 4MB to solid state drives smaller than a wallet. But, along with it, the decisions and potential consequences of those decisions have evolved as well. There’s really no bad decision to be made in the terms of storage—well, other than not buying enough—but there are decisions that can drain your budget while offering little or no ROI.

Traditional, hybrid, and all flash. That’s what it all seems to boil down to. And capacity is an easy thing to figure out. But what about everything else? There’s a lot to take into consideration. And terms like NAND, RAISE, and SMART are just scratching the surface. But there is an easier way.

Storage for an organization of any size can be complex and something only touched upon once in a blue moon. They might put a SAN in place and then five years later do it again. But, after five years, their needs have changed—and along with it the technology they used. Proper research takes time and not every business has that time to spare. But that’s where PC Connection, Inc. comes in.

As a top-tier IT provider, our Account Managers are backed by a team of technical solutions specialists who hold some of the best certifications available. When we work with customers, one of the things they appreciate the most is our vendor-neutral position. We take a look at the industry as a whole with an agnostic approach to help our customers find a solution that fits their needs precisely and perfectly.

Speaking of needs, PC Connection also offers a host of services to help identify where infrastructure bottlenecks might be occurring, so that you're able to reap the full benefits of your upgrades. Our goal is to make sure that you have all the information you need to make the right decisions. We’ll be right there next to you from the start to the end.

The relationship we develop through partnering will not only help us understand your current project, but ultimately where you’re trying to take your overall business. In the end, we strive for you to see us as an extension of your IT department—not as someone just making a sale.

If you are not sure about your storage situation or you’d like more insight, watch this video that I was part of. Afterwards, if you have more questions, you can always call on us for a more in-depth conversation. We offer no-obligation assessments that help discover the right path for your storage infrastructure. 


Introducing the Surface Pro 3

Tue, 05/12/2015 - 11:19

Can a tablet really replace your laptop? Microsoft thinks so. And so do we, now that we’ve met the Surface Pro 3. How can the latest Surface provide the convenience of a tablet and the processing power and full computing experience of a laptop? Read on to find out.

When it comes to mobile devices, there are several different form factors available. There’s the traditional notebook, the modern tablet, and then there are the devices that try to bridge the gap, offering combinations of touchscreens and physical keyboards. Now with some of these devices, you get trade-offs. To get something that’s thin and light for mobile computing, you often have to give up powerful processing or accessories like a physical keyboard. Sometimes, you can’t get that truly full computing experience.

Microsoft Surface Pro 3 has everything you need. It can be a tablet that’s perfect for working on the go, and then when you get to your desk, it can transform into a powerful laptop, thanks to the type cover and kickstand. Instead of taking a tablet with you on the go, but coming back to a laptop or desktop to complete complex tasks, you can now have one device that does it all.

If it sounds too good to be true, well, we’ve produced a webinar where we really dive deep into the Surface Pro 3. Check it out to learn the ins and outs of the device and how its latest features really make it the tablet that can replace your laptop.

Is Flash A Good Fit for You?

Tue, 05/12/2015 - 11:12

Recently I wrote a blog on a basic breakdown of flash technology. For this round, I’m going to delve a little deeper into the subject of storage and your organization. 

As you probably know, flash storage offers a lot of benefits. No moving parts, requires less power, read/writes very quickly. It’s a perfect upgrade in certain respects, and it's finding a place within the IT infrastructure more and more often. That’s right, it’s for more than just notebooks and desktops. It can be used right in the heart of your organization’s data center. But is this always the case?

You’ve heard the good, but what about the bad? Well, flash can’t be everything to everybody. There are certain situations that require flash and others that don't. A storage array is a perfect example of where flash is a very good idea. It can handle the load faster than typical hard drives can—even those rated for enterprise storage.

To discover if it’s right for you, all you really have to do is examine your situation and ask yourself:
• What kinds of applications are you running?
• What is the performance expectation of the end users?
• Are your storage servers actively used or are they for deep archiving?

If your users need lightning-fast access or you’re running an application server, then flash storage is the way to go. However, if you have a data server that’s rarely accessed, then stick with a run-of-the-mill hard drive or hybrid flash.

Hybrid storage—a traditional hard drive with built-in flash memory— allows a business to take advantage of flash storage at a lower cost.  It lets you access commonly used files quickly, while keeping seldom-used files on a slower partition. 

At PC Connection, Inc. we're finding that hybrid or a mix of hybrid and full-flash storage works best for most of our customers. We suggest you stick to flash when you need pure performance and stick to the spinning disk when you need capacity. Between the two, you’ll end up with a very cost-effective solution.

If you have questions about your storage situation, you can always call on

PC Connection, or view this video for more information. We offer no-obligation assessments that help discover the right path for your storage infrastructure.


More Than a Flash in the Pan

Mon, 05/11/2015 - 08:21

Pop quiz! How old is hard drive technology? Did it take off in the ‘80s? How about 1970s? 1960s, even? Try 1956. Nearing its 60th birthday, today’s hard drive is far flung from its original form factor. Originally the size of two refrigerators with a max storage of 3.75MB, the hard drive has changed a lot in the last six decades—sometimes by leaps and bounds. Take solid state—or flash—storage as an example of advancement.

What Is Flash?
Have you ever seen the inside of a hard drive? Imagine the opposite of that. No moving parts to power. Almost no generated heat. Zero noise. Significantly accelerated file access and OS booting. And all of this in a device that fits in the palm of your hand and is half as thick as a deck of cards. This is the face of the future of storage.

Picture, if you will, a common thumb drive on a mass scale. Small, light, fast, and able to store everything you need—but from INSIDE of your desktop, notebook, and server.  Your mobile phone uses flash. Your tablet, MP3 player—they all use flash. And you should be too.

Why Flash?
As I mentioned above, there’s a number of reasons to consider flash. Lower heat and its solid-state status—e.g. no moving parts—means it will use a lot less power. That could be a considerable savings per storage array alone. Also, because of its architecture, it’s worlds above a standard hard drive in terms of speed. In a notebook, upgrading to flash gives you more battery life. In a desktop, it increases productivity. In a server, it speeds access, and a host of other items.

Hybrid: The Best of Both Worlds

Another new type of technology has recently broken onto the scene: Hybrid Hard Drives. Just as it sounds, hybrid incorporates a classic setup with a modern touch. The spinning disks retain a large portion of your data while built-in flash keeps your commonly accessed system files, documents—you name it. It’s not as fast as all-flash storage, but it’s perfect for those not quite ready to make the transition.

 
Is Flash Right For You?

One of the best IT decisions a business can make is switching to SSDs in the data center. You’ll immediately see a lower utility costs while obtaining faster speeds. And with their low heat, that means less cooling—and that’s a huge step forward for any data center. On the user level, flash storage is great for notebooks whose data needs an extra layer of protection (from drops) and security—when purchasing a drive with integrated AES encryption. Desktop users will see an aforementioned increase in file-access speed, application start up, and boot time. And that’s always worth its weight in gold.

If all of this is something of interest, then yes, flash is for you. Want more information? Watch this video for more insight on what my fellow co-workers and I have to say on flash. Or, for a more in-depth conversation, you can always call. We offer no-obligation assessments that help discover the right path for your storage infrastructure.



Windows Server 2003 EOS

Thu, 05/07/2015 - 09:59

For months now, it seems IT professionals have been barraged with horror stories and scare tactics (from both Partners and Microsoft) about what will happen after Microsoft cuts support for Windows Server 2003 (as of July 14, 2015). If you look at the common talk track of a sales cycle, it is certainly understandable they be skeptical. After all, IT pros are told nearly every day that disaster awaits if they don’t buy this product or that service.

Now it isn’t as if business’ running on Server 2003 will grind to a halt on July 15. Quite the opposite: Employees will be able to access all the files, apps, and network services running on Server 2003. It should be business as usual.

Further, a few bothersome bugs here and there can be patched in-house—or even ignored—for a lot less than a costly migration and server upgrade. Why suffer the headache associated with a complicated server OS migration, especially if it can wait indefinitely? Read more…

It's Time to Face the Facts

While this sort of reasoning often serves business’ well, in the case of Server 2003, the reality of the danger cannot be ignored.

Let’s start with the end of support. No matter how well your server OS performs after mid-July, sooner or later there will be glitches and bugs that delete files, prevent access, and introduce security vulnerabilities.

Over time these flaws will mount, and although they may start by being seemingly insignificant, eventually you will be hit with one that cannot be fixed. Immediately it should be aware; running Windows Server 2003 past July 14th opens your business to threats greater than those ever posed by running XP.

Being unable to fix server OS security flaws has an often overlooked implication: It will cause your business to fall out of compliance with financial regulations and other certification requirements. This can leave your enterprise open to fines and other penalties. Perhaps leaving you unable to conduct business as usual.

At the end of the day, it is 2015 and may no longer be wise to run your infrastructure on a 12- year old server OS. Stay ahead of the curve and don’t wait for the trouble to catch up. Your business may depend on it.

With the end of support date for Windows Server 2003 fast approaching, there's never been a better time to plan your data center transformation. Our experts have designed this helpful tool to get you started on the right upgrade path for your unique environment, applications, and workloads.

It’s More than a Necessity; It’s an Opportunity

Wed, 05/06/2015 - 16:31

You’ve probably read enough dire warnings about the terrible things that will affect your business if you keep using Windows Server 2003 past Microsoft’s announced End of Support deadline in July. It’s springtime, so let’s put aside the negatives and focus on the good things in store when you migrate to a new and better server platform. Read on for our top four benefits to making the move to Windows Server 2012 R2

1. You’ll enjoy an instant boost in performance and productivity—This alone is worth the effort, especially as data demands are accelerating at a staggering pace from more users and more devices. Servers based on the Intel® Xeon® processor E5 v3 product family running Windows Server 2012 R2 deliver up to 6x faster performance than comparable previous-generation systems. And if your existing servers are four or more years old, the performance bump will be all the more dramatic. The benefits of a data center refresh extend to storage media as well: new Intel® solid-state drives are up to 1,300 times faster than four-year-old hard drives.

2. You’ll save money by reducing data center cost and complexity—A single new Intel-based server can do the work of three older servers, which means fewer servers occupying less space; what’s more, intelligent built-in power capabilities are designed to reduce energy consumption. And remote management features reduce the number of costly desk-side visits, freeing IT staff from time-consuming maintenance issues to concentrate on high-level initiatives.

3. You’re well-positioned for the cloud—A data center refresh with the built-in virtualization capabilities of the Intel Xeon processor E5 product family enables you to tap the full advantages of a cloud-based environment that can make you much more competitive. These capabilities are fully complemented by the advanced features of Windows Server 2012 R2.  

4. You’ll have your security bases covered—The combined security capabilities of the Intel Xeon processor E5 product family and Windows Server 2012 R2 help enable your customers to continue doing business with you, maintaining compliance with HIPAA, Sarbanes-Oxley, PCI and other regulatory standards. Intel-based servers are designed with foundational, hardware-assisted security capabilities that safeguard data through encryption and protect against malware and other attacks. And you’ll continue to receive ongoing support through Microsoft, Intel, and PC Connection, Inc.  

Yes, you need to migrate your data center away from Windows Server 2003, and soon. But the good news—and there’s lots of it—is that you’ll be glad you did.

Building on Success

Tue, 05/05/2015 - 09:07

When the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) wanted to “get out of the business of managing IT” and move their company’s information systems to the cloud, they turned to our experts at PC Connection, Inc.  Recently, we helped CHIME migrate to Office 365 to enable anytime, anywhere collaboration among all their local and virtual staff.  But to truly optimize their environment, we also needed to help them address aging hardware, and even more importantly, security concerns

After evaluating CHIME’s hardware environment, policies, and procedures, the team at PC Connection, Inc., worked with our partners, HP and AMD, to refresh CHIME’s entire fleet of systems.  After a review of available options, CHIME chose HP ‘s Elite family, powered by AMD. These systems met CHIME’s mobility requirements perfectly and provided the easy-to-manage security they needed.

As one would expect from a trusted partner, we took the time listen to CHIME and understand what they wanted to accomplish.  Russ Branzell, CEO and President of CHIME, said it best when he stated that our team was “helpful and provided…invaluable guidance and technical support.”  Russ was verifying what we know to be true—collaborating with us can help organizations solve IT.

To learn more about how PC Connection, Inc. helped CHIME support their IT goals by delivering the right technology with the right infrastructure, read our case study

Master the Modern Application Lifecycle

Fri, 05/01/2015 - 14:10

Want to defeat the rising cost of PC management, solve application management problems, and allow your customers to easily create a stateless desktop that equates to a great end-user experience? VMware’s App Volumes and ThinApp are the perfect applications to help you do all this and more.

PC Connection and VMware have been working together to solve your challenges. Read on to discover how VMware App Volumes, ThinApp, and RDS (remote desktop services) hosted apps can:
  • Eliminate application conflict
  • Improve enterprise entitlement
  • Diminish time to deployment
  • Deliver a great user experience

Let me explain how these great VMware products let you quickly deliver a user-friendly desktop.

Application Isolation and Operating System Compatibility Issues Solved

Applications and data are traditionally tightly coupled with the operating system (OS). This sometimes causes application compatibility issues, and leads to a loss of user productivity. Enter VMware ThinApp. ThinApp uses an agentless approach to virtualizing applications. The virtualized applications do not make any changes to the underlying operating system and execute across different configurations to remain compatible across the virtual workspace. This means a more consistent end-user experiences, and easier provisioning, patching, and updating for applications and images.

Easy Provisioning of RDS hosted Apps

VMware Horizon provides for integrated delivery of applications and full desktops running on Microsoft Windows remote desktop services hosts, for applications that work well in with that technology. It provides seamless access to Windows app from mobile devices as well as standard thin or zero clients. Improve the functionality of RDSH by using the standard Horizon Client with the robust PC-over-IP (PCoIP) transport for a great user experience.

Real-Time App Delivery and Lifecycle Management to Virtual and Physical Environments

A traditional virtual machine (VM) contains an OS, applications, and data/files. All these components rely on one another and are tightly coupled together, necessarily extending app delivery. The great news is that App Volumes can deliver applications to desktop environments in seconds. App Volumes helps provide a just-in-time application model where it attaches a virtual machine disk (VMDK) file that contains applications to the VM. These applications perform like natively installed applications for end users, providing a seamless desktop experience.  Create different app stacks for different user groups with the right set of apps just for them. You can also concur the user installed app dilemma with writeable app stacks. If you give the user rights to install their own applications, they will go into a personal writeable app stack that is also attached when the user logs into their desktop.

Pick the Application Method(s) that are Best for Your Environment

Customers want a consistent, connected, personalized, and efficient experience throughout all phases of the customer lifecycle. App Volumes, ThinApp, and RDSH apps are terrific products that can help you easily deliver applications to users within seconds. We’ve seen numerous successes of organizations using these VMware products to eliminate application conflict and decrease application deployment time, enabling an exceptional virtual end user experience. Let PC Connection and VMware help you master the modern application lifecycle and enable a consistently great user experience across devices.

The ROI of Windows Server 2012 Upgrade

Thu, 04/30/2015 - 09:18

There’s been a lot of discussion about the 270% ROI Windows Server 2012 offers –and that’s significant. But let’s go beyond the numbers to see what else R2 has to offer. 

The Windows Server 2012 R2 upgrade is exactly what you need right now for best business practices—and to ensure you’re as prepared for the next big thing as your competitors. The R2 upgrade means you have access to smarter cloud optimization, security enhancements, and business agility. 

Cloud Optimization: With built-in virtualization, R2 was born to partner with the cloud. It’s flexible, and it’s portable. You can decide who has what access and ensure that everyone’s workloads are balanced, while maintaining constant flow of data in and out of the cloud, whether private, public, or hybrid.

Security Enhancements: Data is secure, and the server automatically follows service-level agreements (SLAs) to the letter. All of your employees are connected to one another, to the server, and to you at all times, with the power to do what needs to be done. It even provides you with the ability to give employees access to internal corporate websites, with individual access capabilities. With the Workplace Join feature of R2, employees can even register personal devices with the server, which means they’re happy to work wherever they are.

Business Agility: Windows Server 2012’s upgrade includes software-defined networking, or SDN functionality, which means you can take advantage of increased mobility while handling large-scale workloads. With SDN, you have more control over traffic than ever before, in a very granular way, and that means you can ensure business moves forward consistently.

According to a Forrester’s Total Economic Impact (“TEI”) study on Microsoft Windows Server 2012 R2 upgrade, business leaders who utilized R2 said it helped them “reduce and avoid software and hardware costs, reduce management costs, streamline and reduce storage costs, and deliver better services to customers and employees.”

I’ve focused on benefits beyond cost savings and ROI percentages in this post, but that’s not to say that cost savings aren’t fantastic—helping your bottom line is always a plus. But the part about “deliver[ing] better services to customers and employees” stands out to me as most important—because if your customers are happy, so is your bottom line, and if your employees are happy, well—so are your customers, your bottom line, and you.

With the end of support date for Windows Server 2003 fast approaching, there's never been a better time to plan your data center transformation. Our experts have designed this helpful tool to get you started on the right upgrade path for your unique environment, applications, and workloads.

Shorten the Time to Hire for Your IT Positions

Wed, 04/22/2015 - 10:42

The IT job market has been so strong now for over 15 months, and it looks like it will continue to be strong in 2015/2016. Organizations across the country are expected to continue to increase their staff, from help desk to desktop support and especially in areas such as system administrators, network engineers, DBAs, and developers. The demand has been enormous, so the candidate pool for skilled labor is shrinking—as organizations expand the IT departments. How, then, can your organization attract the right candidates for your open positions? Read on for our five tips to meeting your growing IT requirements in a competitive hiring environment. 

There is a world of truth when someone says, “All the good people are working.” Simply having a job opening is no longer sufficient for attracting top talent. For example, for every network engineer position posted in a city, there is an average of 80 or more positions just like it. Your organization needs strong employee branding and attractive reasons why candidates should choose you over the other 80. Here’s how you can stand out.    

  

1. Offer competitive benefits, including non-tangible extras. Salary and traditional benefits (health insurance, 401k, etc.) can be top motivators, but they’re not the only draw. A good place to start is to offer a competitive salary upfront and budget for relocation packages and/or sign-on bonuses if needed. But other factors such as strong leadership, flexible work schedules, and exposure to new/advanced technologies are also at the top of the list. Organizations need to be smarter than ever when competing for IT talent.

2. Ensure your company branding has a strong story. Prospective employees will investigate and research an organization just as much as employers research an employee during the on-boarding process. How aware are you of your organization’s hiring reputation? We recommend monitoring your online reputation, perusing employee reviews, and taking a proactive role in responding to any negative postings. Make sure your organization stands out.

3. Don’t procrastinate! The time to hire for skilled IT talent is a small window. Candidates who are actively interviewing will have offers within 1–2 weeks of their interview schedules. To be considered, it is important that your company accelerate the hiring process and extend offers quickly.

4. Consider training a candidate to be your perfect fit. As the market tightens, it becomes more and more difficult to attract a candidate with every single skill the position requires. If you find someone with 90% of the skills you need, who fits with your organization’s culture, consider it a success. I’ve seen companies have great success in hiring that type of candidate. In the same amount of time you might spend to find the 100% perfect candidate, your 90% find can be brought up to speed, not only saving you time, but also costs and productivity losses. Think of what you’ll lose the longer the position remains empty. What is the true cost of lost time and unfilled obligations?

5. Hire a consultant while you search for the right senior level candidate. For high level positions in the technology sector, it can take a company an average of 90–120 days to find the right fit. That’s a long gap, and the question looms of, “How will the work continue to get done?” Not only that, but any full-time candidates might wonder why the position was left open for a significant period of time. During the search for a permanent hire, it’s smart to backfill the position with a consultant. A consultant satisfies the position until you find the right permanent fit, ensuring your permanent hire can step seamlessly into the new role without. What you get from a contract candidate is someone who enjoys working in different environments, new technologies, and cultures for a period of time to assist and bridge the gap. The benefits for this vast and diverse amount of experience are numerous, and your entire organization will be able to function efficiently—while the search continues for a permanent fit.

It’s not easy out there, but we can help provide the skillset expertise to get you back up and running—with a shorter time to hire gap.

Contract IT Resources

Wed, 04/22/2015 - 10:41

2014 has already proved to be a stellar year for IT Hiring, making it more difficult than ever to find qualified IT talent that isn’t currently working. Cloud, security, mobile, and big data talent, as well as Sr. Engineers and Developers, are currently sparse. Companies need flexible schedules, competitive salaries, bonuses, and a strong benefit plan to attract the type of talent and knowledge that is needed to take their IT departments to the next level.

While looking for long-term talent, which on average can take 12+ weeks to fill a permanent opening, companies struggle to fill their skill gaps and projects while driving their business results. Everyone still has their own work to get done and then some!

Technology leaders need immediate relief and confidence, knowing their IT projects and initiatives will be completed on time. The growing workload is exceedingly difficult to manage without capable personnel on hand, so hiring a contractor just might be your answer.

Hiring the addition of a contract employee to your team for 30, 60, or 90+ days is a great solution. And hiring a contractor with the technical skills you need to meet your deadlines makes sound business sense too. Think how valuable a contract employee could be in these situations:

  • You need an extra pair of hands on-site, to catch up with your workload.
  • You have a deployment or upgrade project to be completed within a certain timeframe.
  • You need to relieve your internal staff for a special project.
  • You need extra help until you fill a permanent need.
  • You need someone to fill in for an extended employee leave.

It’s clear with today’s talent pool, it could take a considerable amount of time to fill that permanent opening. It’s also clear that temporary employees afford companies the flexibility and resources they need to ensure schedules stay on track. So how do you attract, hire, and retain those resources? That is yet another challenge that chips away at productivity. We can help. It’s challenging to find and hire skilled technology resources. We have years of experience providing IT consultants on a nationwide basis, for short- and long-term contract needs. We fill technical positions throughout the US, ranging from help-desk, desktop, infrastructure, engineers, DBAs, QAs, Project Managers, and Developers—all the way to the CIO level. Let’s get the job done together.


Direct Hire Help for your Senior Level and Complex Openings

Wed, 04/22/2015 - 10:41

There’s no doubt about it, it’s encouraging to see the great uptick in technology hiring.   As technology becomes more and more complex and diverse, companies nationwide are feeling the pressure to find the expertise they need—and quick. Companies can no longer afford to put critical IT initiatives on the back burner, due to a knowledge gap on their IT team.

    

Technical managers, directors, and CIO’s are challenged each day to find the senior talent to take their IT departments and organizations to the next step, and level in their growth plan. Senior and leadership roles in IT become very tricky to source in our current high-competition landscape. Senior Engineers, Senior Developers, Project Managers, Cloud Engineers, VMware Architects, IT Managers, Directors, and CIO recruitment efforts can feel overwhelming, as organizations struggle to attract this level of genius to their businesses.

 

HR Departments are currently overworked and, many times, understaffed.  Most companies can’t afford experienced technical recruiters on their talent acquisition teams.  Although very skilled, many HR generalists simply don’t have the IT training to recruit for high-level positions. Managers get frustrated from the unqualified, high-volume resume submittals they receive from their internal team. Positions can go unfilled for upwards of 60, 90, 120+ days.   

 

PC Connection’s staffing division understands these challenges, and that time is of the essence. That’s why we have a strong, and financially competitive Direct Hire program.  We can act as a strategic partner to your HR department, helping to quickly find the senior level employees you need.  Our team of experienced technical recruiters can drill down, and screen-IN the high-end technical skills and personality fit needed, within the budgeted salary range. We have access to thousands and thousands of technical resources throughout the US. We’ll work closely with the hiring manager and HR department to closely understand your hiring needs, fine tune job descriptions, and offer competitive salary information, if necessary. We act as a true partner in every sense of the word. When you succeed, we succeed!

 

Traditional direct hire placement companies can charge a 20-30% conversion fee for the final permanent salary accepted. This common approach, when placing an IT Director at a salary of 150K or more, can be costly! Other organizations charge a non-contingent fee, where you have to pay a percentage of money upfront, for them to even start looking for a resource….and there’s still no guarantee for placement.

 

Because of our full service offerings, we can suggest flexible and affordable direct hire placement options. We’re based on a contingent fee, where no fee is charged until we deliver. We have 2 pricing models —16% with a 30-day guarantee, or 18% with a 90-day guarantee. This savings, alone, can help justify using an experienced partner like PC Connection to help with your senior level, or leadership recruiting efforts. We work with companies on a weekly basis that have had positions open for 3/5/6 months with no success. Yet once we’re involved, we can have a senior candidate identified, interviewed, and placed with your company in an average of 3-4 weeks. Imagine what that time savings can mean to you. We’re just a phone call away to get you back on track.