State of IT 2017

As we start the New Year it’s appropriate to look at the state of I.T. and give you the JustWorks perspective on where the best path forward will take us.

First we need to remember that the basic structure of a computer has not changed: a computer uses a processor to process data that is kept on storage. The proximity of the processor to the storage is still absolutely key, and that affects how “cloud services” work, or don’t work. The larger the data being processed, the more important it is that the processor and the data it is working on are joined by a fast connection, so applications like CAD and accounting cannot tolerate a situation where the processor and the storage are separated by the typical Internet link available to most businesses today. Either the data needs to be local (in the same place, like the office) to the computer, or the processing needs to be done remotely, close to where the data is.

Using this model we can more easily understand the different cloud services that are available.

  • “True cloud” services are where both the processing and the storage are provided by the vendor, so all the user needs is a window into their systems — a good example is QuickBooks Online, where the data and the processing are done on Intuit’s servers and all you need is a web browser to see the results.
  • “Hybrid cloud” services are where the processing and the storage are not always colocated. A good example of these type of services are the cloud file services, where the files exist in the cloud but are also replicated locally so that they can be used by your (local) computer. Hybrid solutions typically require both some local systems and some remote (cloud) systems to deliver the solution effectively.

For the majority of businesses the world of cloud services has not advanced to the point where they can replace their local applications, and it may well be many years before that is true. So most businesses are stuck in between the old world of local networks and servers, and some combination of the true and hybrid cloud services.

The way forward is to be ready to move applications to the cloud when that becomes feasible, and in the meantime get as much advantage as possible from hybrid cloud services without breaking what works on the local, office-based network. This is what we have designed JustWorks 7 to deliver.

jw7JustWorks 7 is our seventh major design revision in our 21 year history, and just happens to neatly coincide with 2017 as the launch year. In designing JustWorks 7 we have preserved the ability of our customers to continue to run the applications they need on their office network, while also providing the benefits of a distributed cloud file system that is available from anywhere on any device. Customers can share their data securely with partners and vendors, enable remote working, and still have lightening fast access in the office.

JustWorks 7 provides a platform that supports local applications today, and is ready for those applications to move to a cloud service provider as soon as our customers are ready to do that. Our design is a “hybrid cloud” that prepares our customers to move to “true cloud” when the time is right.

Our new design moves the core collaboration tools of email, calendaring and file sharing so that they are cloud based, but easily accessible from the office too. The reference design for JustWorks 7 is based on using Microsoft’s Office 365 services for email, but can also accommodate anyone who would prefer to use Google, Amazon or another vendor for email. The JustWorks 7 cloud file service works equally well irrespective of which vendor is providing the email services.

JustWorks 7: designed for the future, and today.
We make IT simple.

New Email security from Reflexion

2fbc1856f1480bb04c0449b8eb78109dAll JustWorks customers will be moved to new email spam security services before April 30th 2016.

The old provider of these services (McAfee/MXlogic) have decided to cease providing this service, and so we are switching to Reflexion to provide the same SPAM filtering and email continuity services.

What will it cost me?

Nothing. Services remain as is, and any additional costs are carried by JustWorks, so long as you subscribe at the MANAGE service level or higher.

When will it happen?

We will let you know your exact cut-over date, which will be a weekend.

You will receive a Welcome email, and starting on the Monday the notices you receive regarding SPAM messages in your Quarantine will look a little different.

What do I have to do?

Nothing. JustWorks will handle all of the migration and transition as part of your contract services, so long as you subscribe at the MANAGE service level or higher.

You should familiarise yourself with the new web site features of the new service.

New “cloud” services for 2016

JustWorks has added some key new services to our full service managed systems portfolio. All of these services are available as extensions of your existing services, and they have all been tested by JustWorks in production.

To provide advanced services for the new “cloud” era we are offering new services to meet the following needs:

  • Messaging, fax, conferencing & phone in single unified service
  • File sharing accessible from any device, any where at any time
  • Security enhancements for your Internet connection

Messaging, fax, conferencing & phone

We are happy to announce that we have partnered with RingCentral to bring you fully unified communications in the cloud.
RingCentral can completely replace your phone system, or just add additional functionality to what you already have. The service includes “follow me” phone numbers so that you only ever need to provide a single phone number for your business contacts to reach you, no matter whether you are sitting at your desk or on the road (even where you have WiFi but no cell phone signal!). The service also includes unlimited calls and SMS messaging in the continental USA, fax and voicemail to email integration, and last but not least online conferencing for phone, screen sharing and HD video.
You can find out more at www.ringcentral.com or just call us and we can walk you through how it might fit with your needs.
Pricing ranges from $40/month for your whole company, to $40/user/month for full phone functionality including a desk handset.

File sharing accessible from any device, any where at any time

JustWorks has partnered with Egnyte to enable the extension of your in-office file sharing out into the rest of the world, all while maintaining the high levels of security you have come to expect from JustWorks solutions.
Once we have setup your cloud file server, you will be able to access all your files from any web browser, smartphone, tablet or remote computer, with ease. You can also create connections for your vendors and subcontractors to share specific files/folders securely with them.
You can find out more at www.egnyte.com or just call us and we can walk you through how it might fit with your needs. The first 2 users and 1Tb is included in our Manage service level, and pricing is $20 or $40 per user/month after that, depending on what version you choose.

Security enhancements for your Internet connection

We have migrated all JustWorks installations to the Sophos security platform – there’s nothing you need to do, this is part of our service.
Now that the Sophos security system is in place at your offices we will be able to enhance your Internet and network security with better WiFi security, email encryption, and load balancing over multiple Internet connections.

We will also offer Sophos Reflexion email security as an alternative for email SPAM filtering, as McAfee are discontinuing their service.
We will be in touch with you when we roll this out to your site.

We are excited to be able to offer these new services, and look forward to making them simple for you take advantage of.

The Future of Work + Phone

As more and more people have smarter and smarter phones in their pockets, the challenge of integrating those devices in a way that allows us to manage our life and our work without having to carry multiple devices is key to making IT work.

The answer is going to be the kind of solution that VMware demonstrated today at VMworld 2012.

A “firewall” for your phone

The new Horizon for iOS app allows your business to create an isolated environment on a smartphone that your employee also uses for their personal matters. It’s like having an Internet firewall, only in this case the separation is between corporate data and personal data.

This short video shows how this kind of app is going to work:

This is just a sneak peek into the future, Horizon for iOS will be available later this year or early 2013, so don’t hold your breath just yet.

The cloud is the future

The future of IT is cloud services: accessed from anywhere, using the best device for the user in the place and at the time they find themselves… and much of the time that device is going to be a smartphone.

The key is going to be creating this kind of secure micro-environment, in which the business can set the policies it needs to protect its data, without affecting the usefulness of the device for the user.

 

Why View is better than Xen

JustWorks Central is built on VMware technologies and now you can check out the new website from VMware End User Computing that has easy to digest explanations of why we made that choice! The site is all about View’s key advantages over Citrix XenDesktop, Microsoft RDS and VDI, and the status quo.

Have you asked “Why did JustWorks deploy VMware View over other solutions?”

This site provides the answers. The top technical reasons as well as the top business reasons are provided in a compelling and easy to digest format.

What makes View better?

Loads of reasons. We could write a book. Instead, we suggest having a look at WhyChooseView.com for six of the most compelling reasons organizations continually choose View. Six entertaining animation videos describe the benefits of View compared to competitive offerings:

  1. Real Desktop Security: VMware View—More Secure and Easier to Manage
  2. Real Device Diversity: End User Mobility, Future-proofed, with a Clear Roadmap to the Cloud
  3. Greater Business Efficiencies Generate a Shorter Payback Period
  4. Leverage Deep vSphere Integration
  5. Superior End User Experience. Extended IT Control
  6. Enhance Citrix XenApp with VMware View & ThinApp

All backed up with customer testimonials and case examples of View’s winning ways.

Windows 2003 in the cloud? Yes!

The JustWorks Central cloud can host servers running a wide range of operating systems, including Windows Server 2003.

Thousands of businesses and organizations have applications that still require Windows 2003 to run. For some the cost of upgrading the application to a version that supports newer operating systems is prohibitive, for others the time and effort required to rewrite their applications to run on a newer operating system is taking longer than planned. Whatever the reason, the fact is that these are often core, critical applications and they need to be kept running.

Stuck on old hardware

The situation is complicated by the difficulty of getting old operating systems to install onto new hardware; often there are no drivers to support the more modern chipsets and peripherals built into new computers. So old operating systems tend to be left running on old hardware, further compounding the problem and increasing the chance of a disastrous failure.

Custom clouds for unique businesses

JustWorks Central provides a boutique cloud platform that allows our customers to define their needs very precisely, and get just the right cloud, built just for them. We can support any operating system that runs on VMware, and that means any of the following, to name just a few:

  • Windows Vista, XP, 7
  • Windows 2003
  • Windows 2008, R2
  • Windows 2012, R2
  • Red Hat
  • Ubuntu/CentOS
  • Apple OSX

So if you have an old Windows server that needs a new home, JustWorks Central is the 5 star hotel it deserves at the budget price you want.

From your old hardware to our new cloud

JustWorks services include the ability to ‘scrape’ your old Windows server off the old hardware it is running on now, and convert it into a virtual machine that will run happily on our cloud infrastructure. And because we use VMware standards, your new old server is fully transportable – take it to any vCloud you like, or even bring it back in house next year!

Your cloud, built just for you

Find out more about how a JustWorks Central cloud built just for you can improve your business’ return on IT and deliver the most reliable, hassle-free platform for your applications, old and new! Call us today.

 

The Everywhere Desktop

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Mobility & Flexibility

Nowadays being mobile and flexible are keys to business success. Being productive at home as well as in the office, on your iPad at the coffee shop as well as on your PC at your desk – these are not fanciful marketing pitches to get you to buy the latest gadget, they are real advantages that can serve the interests of your customers, your employees and you.

The reason why your “desktop” is important is because that is the “space” within which you have arranged all the tools that you need to do your job. Your email is there, the shared files you access regularly and the applications you use to manage the information on which your business depends. They are all there on that “desktop”, and in that space they are well integrated and proven to run reliably. And for pretty much every business today that “desktop” is on Microsoft Windows.

This is the challenge of this time: how do you take your Windows-based “desktop” with you everywhere you need to go? How do you maintain that super-efficient working space, in which everything just works and you have all the applications you need? When all you’re holding is an iPad, or when your computer at home is a Mac, or when your PC at home couldn’t possible support that integrated “desktop” you use for work, how do you remain productive? What you need is one desktop, always on, and accessible from everywhere, irrespective of what device you happen to be using at that time. What you need is an “everywhere desktop”.

Web apps don’t work everywhere

Even when you start using web applications instead of Windows apps (at JustWorks we are 90% on web apps) you find out that business-level web apps have at least one of these special requirements:

  • a particular brand of web browser (commonly Internet Explorer is required for full functionality)
  • security settings in the browser that allow the application to run properly, like pop-up blockers turned off and Trusted sites turned on
  • plugins for the browser, so the application can interact with other applications or files on your desktop

These special requirements for web applications mean that being able to sit down and be productive at any old computer with a web browser is simply not a reality. You still need your specially configured and integrated “desktop”, on which all of the browsers you need (we use Chrome, IE and FireFox for different web apps) are all correctly configured and reliably integrated.

Everywhere Desktops from JustWorks Central

Making the idea of a desktop that follows you everywhere a reality is what we built JustWorks Central to do. At JustWorks Central (JWC) we build virtual “desktops”, running Windows, that are configured as business desktops. Your virtual desktop at JWC is not a “session” on Terminal Server or a Citrix server. A JWC “everywhere desktop” it is a fully-fledged, dedicated, isolated and managed virtual machine, running on high-performance, massively-redundant infrastructure, in a secure, carrier-grade datacenter with direct, very-high-speed connectivity to the Internet. This is the desktop of your dreams! Fast, reliable and always available from anywhere.

Your “everywhere desktop” at JustWorks Central sits in a highly secure environment, better protected than a PC under your desk ever could be, and yet still accessible by you from anywhere with Internet connectivity. You can use any PC, your cousin’s Mac or an iPad – you can even use your AppleTV to display your ‘everywhere desktop’ on an HDTV while you use your iPad as keyboard!

Using rock-solid technology to deliver business advantage is what we do at JustWorks – and we Make IT look Simple. If you and your company could benefit from having “everywhere desktops”, get a quote by emailing info@justworks.net now.

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Samsung Zero Clients

Security-and-ProtectionWhen your “desktop” is virtual and in the cloud, replacing your expensive-to-maintain PCs with low-cost, zero-maintenance devices lowers your costs and enhances the security of your I.T. systems.

We have been using and recommending the Samsung devices for some time now, and there’s been a new addition to the Samsung PCoIP “zero” client lineup, so we though this would be a good time to review the options. Samsung calls these devices “PCoIP Cloud Displays” and you can get full details at their web site.

NC220

Samsung NC220This new model has a 22″ LED display which uses less power, 0W when sleeping and 35W+ when in use. It uses innovative LED Back Light Unit (BLU) technology which saves energy—up to 40% compared to conventional CCFL screens. What’s even better is this LED panel is halogen- and mercury-free, so you’ll help conserve our planet’s natural resources and reduce carbon emissions

The NC220 has an external power supply, so that means having a brick lying around somewhere between the power socket and the device.

General pricing on the NC220 is around $500. Given that this is not much more than the pricing for NC190, we expect the NC190 to be phased out soon.

 

NC190 and NC240

These are the two original models from Samsumg and both use LCD displays. The NC190 has a 19″ display and sells for about $450 new (retail $509), and the NC240 is a 24″ model that sells for about $550 new (retail $599).

These older models have internal power supplies, which keeps things neat and tidy. But they consume more power (2W+ at sleep and 35/67W when being used) than their newer LED BLU companion.

 

All Models

All of these zero clients can only be used to connect to virtual desktops in a VMware View environment, like JustWorks Central. They have no operating system, no local storage and use a hardware PCoIP chip to control the remote display of your virtual desktop – that’s why we call them “zero” clients. This means that they are very secure (no data left on the device, ever) and performance is excellent over a wide variety of bandwidth conditions.

When you buy one of these “zero” clients you need to supply your own keyboard and mouse. Logitech_USB_stubWe have tested the Logitech Bluetooth keyboard/mouse packages that come with one of those little USB stubs, and they work just as well as standard USB-cabled keyboards and mice. All models have 4 USB ports and full USB device support, so users can access a wide range of USB peripheral devices directly through the client, enhancing connectivity whilst maintaining the security of the system.

Our experience is that microphones and USB connections to smart phones (iPhones, Blackberrys etc.) work fine, but video cameras do not work well yet – so no Skype video from one of these devices, but you can still do Skype voice calls.

Additional ports allow for attaching external speakers and second monitors for multi-display setups.

A 130mm height adjustable stand, with tilt and swivel, allow for optimal ergonomic placement on your work surface.

A 3 year warranty is standard on all models.

 

New VIEW clients out from VMware

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

Just before the holidays VMware released “Tech Preview” versions of their Apple Mac OSX and Android clients for VMware View virtual desktop environments.

You can get them from this link if you have a VMware login, otherwise contact us and we can help you.

Native OSX with PCoIP

The new Mac client for View is a native OSX application, and no longer requires the Microsoft Remote Desktop client to be installed as well. It’s very simple, free of clutter, and runs really well in our tests so far. Importantly, this new client supports the PCoIP protocol to deliver the best possible end user experience even when the bandwidth available is variable.

Updated iPad app

Also a few days before the holidays VMware updated their iPad app for View. The app is free from Apple’s AppStore and now allows you to send your video output to a high resolution screen (using iPad “mirroring”), while the iPad screen becomes a large keyboard complete with trackpad and right/left-click mouse buttons. As a possible alternative to a zero client (like the ones from Samsung that we use and recommend), you could have an HD TV and an Apple TV on your desk instead!

To find out more about these new clients or how using virtual desktops can greatly simply your IT contact us and we will happily give you a login to our demo View environment.

 

Executive Seminar – Cloud Computing

What does “cloud computing” mean for your business?

Join us at one of our regular Executive Seminars to find out more about “cloud computing” and how it applies to your business.

What does “cloud computing” really mean?

  • How does “cloud computing” change the way I run my business?
  • What do I need to start preparing for, if I want to move to the “cloud”?
  • What are the challenges I can expect to face?
  • When will the “cloud” be ready for me?

JustWorks hosts our exclusive lunch & learn seminars in San Jose and around the Bay area. The event is free of charge, no obligations, just education; and is open to business leaders and managers in the Bay Area.

Call us today and reserve your space at this event, while space lasts.
Lunch & parking is included.