Windows Server 2012: The breakdown

Many may consider Microsoft Windows Server 2012 as the enemy because SBS was axed in the process of releasing it. But, the different editions of Server 2012 (Foundation, Essentials, Standard and Datacentre) will cater for the small, medium and large organisations, it just might be a little more costly in some scenarios.

Simplified Licensing Model

The Foundation version (which is OEM only) is limited to 1 processor and 15 users and once purchase additional processors cannot be added. It will provide a basic infrastructure with active directory, remote access and file and print sharing, ideal for a small businesses.

Essentials would suit SMEs up to 25 users and unlike SBS, it does not include on-premise versions of Exchange, Sharepoint, SQL Server and WSUS – but, they can be purchase separately (which can be costly). A more cost-effective option would be to integrate it with Microsoft online hosted services like Office365, hosted Exchange etc.

When buying the Essentials or Foundation edition CALs (Client Access Licenses) are not required to go with the processor licenses. If the business is looking to grow or virtualise in the future it may be better to go for the other editions because, they both have no virtualisation rights.

The Standard and Datacentre editions both have the same product features and need to be purchased with CALs, for each user or device that connects to the server – the only difference between them is usage rights.

For Standard, each processor license will only allow 2 virtual instances whereas, the Datacentre edition allows unlimited virtual instances. Extra CALs will be needed if you wish to use certain features such as Remote Desktop Services and Active Directory Rights Management.

So before deciding on which to buy, it is the case of working out how many virtual machines you are looking to run in the current environment (if any), whether this will increase in the near future and whether you require the use of the additional features.

Some of the Features of Windows Server 2012

  • Server Manager – the ability to create and manage server groups within the network
  • Hyper-V Replication – the features allow administrators to replicate a virtual machine from one location to another with Hyper-V and a network connection
  • Increased PowerShell Capabilities – remote sessions are resilient, helps to simplify management of workloads and you can also program the secure multi-machine workflow engine.
  • Dynamic Access Control improvements – the ability now to restrict access to sensitive files by enforcing file security policy at domain level i.e. allow users to view but not edit, print or copy protected files.

For more advice on moving away from end of support products and Microsoft licensing contact us today.


Private, Public & Hybrid Cloud Computing explained

Cloud Computing is a type of computing that offers agility, scalability and cost-efficiency to the users. Although the word on the streets is ‘Cloud’ the theory/concept behind it is not new… as cloud computing in a nutshell is Virtualisation technology. A cloud environment would effectively provide a pool of computing resources that businesses can utilise when they require. But, there are different types of Cloud Computing – Private, Public and Hybrid.

Private Cloud – This is when a private network(s) or a dedicated hosted infrastructure is only accessible by a single company. Everything within this network is private the hardware, virtual technology and software licenses are all owned by the company the private cloud was built for. Therefore this will give the company total control of the IT environment and the cloud resources available to end users.

Public Cloud – The opposite is the ‘Public Cloud’, which offers IT resources to businesses through a shared infrastructure where all storage and applications are accessed over the internet. A cloud service provider would use virtualisation technology to section or dedicate virtual resources to each business and providing clients with as much or as little as they require. With a CSP cloud infrastructure platform businesses can also deploy their own applications, files, folders, desktops etc for their employees use.

Hybrid Cloud – This is a combination of a private and public cloud and is becoming one of the popular cloud model to go for. For example, a business may have a dedicated infrastructure for business critical applications where all data is stored locally on servers but, they utilise a shared infrastructure for emails. This model allow businesses to take advantage of the scalability and cost-effectiveness of the public cloud but, without the risk of critical applications and data being exposed due to third-parties vulnerabilities.

If you’re looking to move to the Cloud or would like to know more about Netshield’s Cloud Services please contact one of our consultants today.

News: Managed IT Services Provider awarded Gold status by Veeam

May 22nd 2013 – Specialist Managed IT Services provider Netshield are recognised for their technical skills and managed hosting services, by becoming a Veeam Gold Cloud provider.

Managed IT awarded Veeam Gold

Netshield Awarded Gold, Veeam Cloud Provider Status

To be accredited with this status the Managed IT Service provider required a range of Veeam technical and commercial certifications, skill sets, experience and training. The ability to implement and maintain VMware and Microsoft cloud environment products was also required for the Gold partner status.  This reflects Netshield’s ability to be able to deploy, maintain and monitor Veeam products efficiently and effectively within a virtual environment for their customers.

‘We have always used VMware and Microsoft products in our datacentres, which allow us to provide a state-of-the-art virtual environment and Veeam is one of the best agentless Virtual Data Backup and Protection product on the market. So, it was integral for Netshield technicians to be trained, certified and be Veeam technical experts’ commented Tony Sterling, Technical Director at Netshield.

For information on Netshield IT services please contact us

Benefits of Server Virtualization

Virtualization comes in different forms where each one would offer businesses a range of benefits. By far ‘Server Virtualization’ amongst SME’s is the most popular because it allows companies to consolidate existing physical servers using virtualization products such as VMWare and Windows Virtual Server.

Some of the Benefits of Server Virtualization includes:-

  • Reduce capital expenses – by decreasing the number of physical servers, you will reduce hardware maintenance costs, energy consumption and save space.
  • Maximizing use of existing resources – Virtualization makes server administration more efficient, agile and less time consuming.
  • By segregating applications into their own ‘virtual server’ it can prevent the applications from affecting another application when upgrades or changes needed to be made.
  • Faster data backup and recovery as image-based backup and recovery will be faster than tradition methods.

By just virtualizing your IT network servers if can offer a more robust and flexible IT network environment compared to a physical infrastructure. For consultation on virtualizing your IT environment please feel free to contact us

Implementing Virtual Desktop Infrastructure: Steps You Might Consider

Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) is simply a different way users can access their desktop – remotely. By transforming tradition desktops into a cloud-like service it offers flexibility and scalability allowing employees to remote-in anywhere and on any device.

If you are thinking of implementing VDI at your workplace we have put together a few steps that you may want to consider.

  1. Choose the Right Virtualization Approach – A company can virtualize in different ways so, a decision needs to be made between whether to virtualize the entire desktop environment on a server. Or create remote access terminals where applications are hosted on a central server.
  2. Assess the Network before Development – Conduct an assessment of the network to check whether there will be adequate bandwidth to support the peak load of each virtual desktop user.
  3. Evaluate the Different Thin Clients – To implement VDI you will need to decide on a ‘Thin Client Terminal Management Software System’. It is advisable for businesses to look at how each department uses different applications in order to choose the most suitable option and to test which will provide the best interface and usability for the business needs.
  4. Develop a Desktop Virtualization Strategy – Servers are the heart of desktop virtualization so, check whether the current infrastructure has the sufficient capacity to deploy VDI. You will need to check whether the Critical CPU, memory, I/O resources are available to support the peak processing demands of users and make sure the datacentre SAN has enough storage to host all the virtual desktops you are planning to implement.
  5. Security – It is fundamental to have strong security measures controlled by IT administrators, they should implement access control and configure each user with the right access level and policies. When deploying VDI it is also important to have endpoint security in place to secure each endpoint.
  6. Choose a Data Backup solution – In order to backup your new Virtual Desktop Infrastructure a virtual or cloud backup solution will be required.  You can use products such as Veeam and Doubletake; each will offer great benefits but, you need to choose the one that is most suited to the business disaster recovery planning requirements.
  7. Plan, Communicate and Deploy – The length of time it takes to deploy VDI in a corporation depends on the size of the company. But, once a plan is in place it should be communicated to the employees stating the benefits of this change, the timescales and any expected downtime that may occur. This will help eliminate confusion, doubts and gain employees buy-in.
  8. Finally, Test your Backups – Always conduct backups regularly, consistently and check whether they were successful to ensure you will always have an up-to-date copy of your data in case of a disaster.

For more information on VDI and how you could benefit contact us today.