Why Linux is Not Going To Replace Windows for Business Users

I would imagine that the title of this article will offend many. That being the case, I shall start by saying that I have been, and continue to be, a dedicated protagonist of Linux ever since the mid-90’s when I got a free Red Hat distro at the Computer Expo in New York City. I was hooked. Today, my personal machines are mostly various flavors of Linux. The ease of customization has made the OS perfectly suited to just about any project I had in mind.

And therein lies one of the big problems….

Customization equals expense in the business world

In order for IT, whether insourced or outsourced, to support a population of desktop or laptop computers efficiently, it is imperative that there be a ‘standard image’. Every computer must have the same OS, the same UI, and a substantially similar suite of applications. Exceptions must be made for specific cases, such as engineering or production control computers, but every deviation from the standard equals an increase in support expense.

A deskside support technician may need some time to familiarize him/herself with a non-standard machine. In large machine populations, the cumulative time required for familiarization with customized machines becomes a large, yet undocumented, expense. For remote support staff, the problem is even greater. Instructions that would remedy a situation on a standardized machine may worsen a situation on a customized machine. Now the cost of lost productivity starts to add up.

Microsoft has provided the tools to ‘lock down’ a Windows installation in a domain to ensure that the OS stays standard and supportable. With Linux, there are no such mechanisms.

This is a prime example of short-term vs. long-term gains. Any immediate savings in licensing costs realized by using open source operating systems and application suites are generally exceeded by the support costs.

Ah, there’s another point. Application suites. We’ll have to cover that in another article.


The First REAL Review of the Microsoft Surface

After reading literally hundreds of blog posts and reviews of the Microsoft Surface (not the Surface Pro), I decided that it was time to review it fairly. All the reviews I have seen seem to be judging the Surface on its ability to BE a laptop.

Examples of its alleged shortcomings:

  • It won’t run Microsoft Outlook!
  • It cannot join a Microsoft domain!
  • It’s not a full-blown desktop that I can carry around with me!

OK, I made up this last one… But still, you can see that the Surface is being judged unfairly. Judging a tablet by its ability to run Microsoft Outlook is a lot like judging a fish by its ability to climb a tree*.

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

― Albert Einstein

So, I went out and purchased one. (A Surface, not a fish) Here is what I found…

The Surface was never meant to BE a laptop… it was meant to be a fully functional mobility platform. Microsoft Office documents? No problem; edit, create, print in native format. The folks you forward documents to never suspect they were not edited on a laptop or desktop.

And, would you really WANT to run a full version of Outlook on something that was designed to be a mobility platform? (Translation: Do you really want to have PST files on a device that you may forget in an airport?)

Were the early Android devices criticized for not having Microsoft Outlook? No. How about the Apple iPads? Again, no. Both families of devices have attracted a sizable following and have found their way into the New Mobile Workforce.

Why, then, do so many reviews grade the Surface as if it were the latest sub-notebook or NetBook? Blame Microsoft for that one, if blame we must. The device ACTS very laptop-like. The visual similarity to laptops running Microsoft Windows 8 makes one set loftier goals than one aught for a tablet.

So, how should we judge such a device? Here’s an idea… let’s judge it against what it was meant to be: A TABLET! Here’s what reviews SHOULD be talking about:

  • Indecently long battery life. How can I bail out of long seminars claiming ‘low battery’ if the thing lasts all day? (Mine typically runs 11 hours of ordinary use.)
  • Ability to connect to Microsoft Exchange servers, as well as most other mail services
  • Ability to create/edit Microsoft Office files. I didn’t even need to purchase this separately!
  • Present your documents! Relatively inexpensive attachments exist for output to monitor, TV or projector.
  • Limited storage… OK, I’ll give you that… unless you plug in a MicroSD card or external hard drive! You can carry around (and lose in an airport) terabytes of your personal documents if you so desire!

So there you have it. We can either judge the Surface for its shortcomings as a laptop, which it isn’t, or by its myriad of superior feature as a tablet, which it actually IS.

Top 5 Reasons IT Service Engagements Fail for Manufacturing

In the manufacturing industry, CIOs have come to the awareness that cost reduction alone is simply no longer enough. Outsourcers and managed service providers almost always provide for cost reduction, but often fall short in the area of operational efficiency and overall contribution to company productivity.

In this article we will review the reasons most frequently associated with failed outsourcing engagements.

So, what is it that causes IT service engagements for manufacturing organizations to fail? Read more

Emergency Laptop Power on a Budget!

Have you lost commercial power, can’t get to the office and your laptop’s battery is fading fast?
What can be done to prevent being put in such a position? Good question! We assembled our own emergency power supply from readily available items.  If you want to try it yourself, here’s what we did (and it was easy!) Read more

Sample Disaster Protocol and Checklist: Follow-Up to 3 Part ‘What we learned from Sandy’ Series

To view the original 3 part series, click HERE

In the event that we are lucky enough to have foreknowledge of an impending disaster, there are a number of things that can be done to increase the probability of continuing business during the event. Please use the following text to aid in creating a plan that suits your organization. Read more

What We Learned from Hurricane Sandy about Disaster Preparedness – Part 3 of 3: Looking Forward

Parts 1 and 2 of this series detailed the disastrous events experienced and the subsequent return to normalcy. Now we get to the meat of it: What have we learned? Is it possible to deal with such adverse conditions differently in the future? If we start by looking forward, preparing for the event, and not for the aftermath, the answer is ‘yes’.

First, traditional Disaster Recovery/Business Continuity measures cannot be discounted. They must work flawlessly. Datacenters, primary or backup, must be functional and accessible. Server and database reloads must occur smoothly and by the numbers. Nothing new here…

However, a combination of just a few basic elements can make any business much more resilient. Read more

Dynamic Strategies President quoted in InfoWorld Article

Dynamic Strategies President Joe Infante was interviewed for an InfoWorld article written by Bob Violino on November 19, 2012 entitled 7 outsourcing nightmares — and how to avoid them.

The article, through a series of interviews, provides detailed accounts of cases in which outsourcing engagements failed to yield expected results and how to avoid such pitfalls. Read the full article HERE.

What We Learned from Hurricane Sandy about Disaster Preparedness – Part 2 of 3: What Went Wrong

Most responsible corporations have well thought out Disaster Recovery/Business Continuity plans. Unfortunately DR/BC plans rely heavily on availability of transportation and power being available somewhere…, not to mention food and fuel.

With Sandy, multiple interdependent failure vectors completely foiled or at least drastically delayed plans to return to even the most basic level of business functionality.

I’m not going to rehash the stories of loss of life, property and basic necessities of life in New Jersey, New York and surrounding areas. The destruction saddens us all. Instead, let’s try to move forward and take a hard look at how we can do things differently next time.

In my previous post, we explored the loss of “the big three” – power, communications and transportation Let’s take a closer look at how those events made some Disaster Recovery/Business Continuity plans utterly unusable, from a cause-and effect perspective.

 Widespread and Long-duration Power Outage

o  With internal corporate phone systems and data systems down Customer Service, the most basic necessity in order for a company to continue to do business, was unreachable. Customers wishing to place orders may have had no choice but to seek other providers.
o Hosted datacenters were, for the most part, operational throughout the event, but the data systems were inaccessible because the endpoints (corporate offices) were down.

 Transportation Issues

o  Curfews and blocked or washed out roads hampered individual travel. Public transportation was basically nonexistent. Workers were unable to travel to temporary work sites.

o  Repair crews were, and continue to be, delayed in their efforts by impassable roads and hazardous conditions; outages continue.

 Worker Issues

o  Power and heat were unavailable in many areas. Fuel was in short supply. Food stocked at home was consumed and there was no way to restock. Few expected to be unable to buy food for such an extended period. These became the primary concerns of workers so affected, and quite rightly so.

So, what did we learn so far? Disaster Recovery is not sufficient. What is sorely needed is a Disaster Preparedness plan. Recovery Plans are, by nature and strict definition, reactive plans. Without proactive planning, corporations will find themselves at a significant disadvantage, again, when another event of this magnitude occurs. And chances are very good that it will.

In Part III of this series we’ll get to real-world steps that can be taken right now to at least partially mitigate a full-blown disaster before it strikes.

On to Part 3…


Terminal server has exceeded the maximum number of allowed connections

Have you ever gotten this error?

“The terminal server has exceeded the maximum number of allowed connections. The system can not log you on. The system has reached its licensed logon limit. Please try again later.” Read more

What We Learned from Hurricane Sandy about Disaster Preparedness – Part 1 of 3: The Problem

In this three part series, I will be reviewing some of the more significant lessons we learned from this particularly devastating event.

In the days leading up to landfall, several factors worked together to disrupt both large and small businesses. Most significant of these was human nature – our natural tendency toward optimistic expectations; ‘The storm may not turn west’, ‘We’ve lived through hurricanes before’ and ‘We have a business continuity plan, so we should be fine’.

Then reality set in. The sheer scope of destruction caused by hurricane Sandy had not been seen before by most people in our area.

First, Sandy caused much more damage than most people were expecting. Damage was both widespread and long-duration. Published power restoration estimates were fuzzy and difficult to read. Actual time-to-repair was difficult to predict.

Second, we lost the Big Three… power, communications and transportation. Losing all three of these concurrently was completely unexpected to most and caused an infrastructure cascade effect. Loss of each hampered the remediation of the other two. Power and communications could not be quickly restored due to transportation issues such as blocked roads and fuel shortages. Road-clearing efforts were hampered by communications issues due to downed lines and failing backup batteries in some cell towers.

Business continuity plans, for the most part, were designed around predictable scenarios of single-system failure, such as power, or strongly focused on things like server recovery, alternate telco providers and datacenters.

Failure to integrate the possibility of multiple interrelated and mutually interdependent failure points into business continuity plans left many mid-sized businesses unable to operate at even a minimal level.

In my next post, we’ll explore the business impact and what went wrong.

On to Part 2…

This article is by VelocIT, a fully managed service provider offering outstanding IT support and managed services to growing businesses.