Category : Ease of Use

Dropbox’s New features for the Workplace

 

Dropbox is now taking steps to advance in the market as a leading means of storing files and communication. Nedropbox2w features have been launched, including its new “team” tab and account simplification in its effort to further progress into a tool that will be better for the workplace.  The new “team” tab allows users to organize into group and share files with each other, while their file separation feature distinguishes work files from personal, simplifying user accounts.  Rather than signing into separate personal and work accounts tied to different emails, you can have all your files in one place and toggle between the two.

The competition Dropbox has from tech giants such as Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Amazon Race has made it difficult to stick to their original business model of selling cloud storage.  Dropbox’s new goal is to forgo finding revenue from its Pro accounts and become a service that companies will pay $15 per user each month. Dropbox wants to be more than a place to store files. They ultimately want to simplify the means with which people communicate and work with each other.

Advantages of Voice Over IP and Unified Communication For Small Business – Should Small Biz Use VoIP | BVA IT Consulting Blog

Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP, is the delivery of voice communication or multimedia sessions through your internet network rather than a phone landline and the term Unified communications refers to a mixture of multiple types of communications such as video conferencing, email, and instant messaging.  Generally these two terms are used fittingly together, but how are they related together and in accordance to your small business?HostedVOIP

VoIP is essentially a type of Unified Communication and small businesses can greatly benefit from the use of such UC. With full integration of UC, you have the harmonious ability to switch from email to phone. Customer data from a phone representative will be consistent with that of an employee providing email support; therefore, information regarding a customer’s name, what has been purchased, or even problems they may have encountered will entirely be available and shared amongst your representatives for a seamless communicating infrastructure.  Another benefit from UC is a potential in improving productivity by condensing training. You can train your employees on learning one unified platform rather than multiple applications.  Customers will benefit from the utilization of UC in your small business because of the simplicity it will provide your employees to assist them. UC is useful for consolidating data, skipping any disarray that may come with multiple unconnected lines of communication, making it easy for your customers to contact and communicate with your representatives in the most convenient way possible. Whether it is email, phone call, or chat, your customers will have the option to do so and your employees will have to the tools to easily make it possible.

Single sign-on for to the Cloud

Single sign-on for to the Cloud

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Have the ability of signing in once for all web-based applications is valuable.  All we have is passwords for everything, email, personal and business applications, document shares…. The number of Web services will only increase, and keeping them all straight and secure things s only going to get worse. Trying to manage all these individual passwords is a major problem for security. Many end users cope by re-using their passwords, which exposes all sorts of security holes. One solution is a single sign-on (SSO) tool to automate the logins of enterprise applications and also beef up password complexity, without taxing end users to try to remember dozens of different logins. What is exciting is that there are several products now combine both cloud-based software as a service logins with local desktop Windows logins, and add improved two-factor authentication and smoother federated identity integration.

Microsoft iSCSI Software Target available – Free Download

There is finally some productive news coming out of the Microsoft camp via making storage a little easier for virtualization with Hyper v.  Microsoft has made this software publicly available to all users of Windows Server 2008 R2.  The Microsoft iSCSI Software Target has been available for production use as part of Windows Storage Server since early 2007. It has also been available for development and test use by MSDN and TechNet subscribers starting in May 2009. However, until now, there was no way to use the Microsoft iSCSI Software Target in production on a regular server running Windows Server 2008 R2. This new download offers exactly that.

Now available as a public download, the software is essentially the same software that ships with Windows Storage Server 2008 R2. Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 and the public download package will be refreshed (kept in sync) with any software fixes and updates. Those updates are described at http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/gg232597.aspx.

This release was preceded by intense testing by the Microsoft iSCSI Target team, especially in scenarios where the iSCSI Target is used with Hyper-V and with Windows Server Failover Clusters. We do imagine these to be amongst the most commons deployment scenarios.  Testing included running the Microsoft iSCSI Software Target in a two-node Failover Cluster and configuring 92 individual Hyper-V VMs, each running a data intensive application and storing data on a single node of that iSCSI Target cluster. The exciting part of the test was to force an unplanned failure of the iSCSI Target node being used by all the VMs and verify that we had a successful failover to the other node with all 92 VMs continuing to run the application without any interruption.

How to download and install

To download the Microsoft iSCSI Software Target 3.3 for Windows Server 2008 R2, go to http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/en/details.aspx?FamilyID=45105d7f-8c6c-4666-a305-c8189062a0d0 and download a single file called “iSCSITargetDLC.EXE”. (Note: This was just released at 10AM PST on 04/04/2011, so the download might still be replicating to your closest download server. If the link does not work, try again later). This is a self-extracting archive that will show this screen when run:

Shared Storage

To use both LM and HA, these require shared storage. This shared storage can be in the forms of SAS, iSCSI or Fiber Channel SAN. For many environments this isn’t an issue, but there are some specific scenarios where customers need LM and HA and the cost of a dedicated SAN is a blocker. For example,

  • A branch office environment. It’s one thing to setup a dedicated SAN in a datacenter, but what happens when you have 100/500/5000 branch offices? That’s a huge multiplier to provide SANs in every one of those branch offices.
  • A small business. Small businesses are especially cost conscious and still want to deploy Hyper-V clustered for the benefits of LM and HA.
  • A test/dev staging environment. Perhaps you want to test your application with LM & HA, but don’t have the budget to pay for a SAN.

Wouldn’t it be great to have another option? bva think so too.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
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Q: The Microsoft iSCSI Software Target is now free. Is it supported in a production environment?

A: Yes. The Microsoft iSCSI Software Target is supported in a production environment. The Hyper-V team regularly tests with the MS iSCSI Software Target and it works great with Hyper-V.

Q: What operating systems is the Microsoft iSCSI Software Target supported?

A: The Microsoft iSCSI Software Target is supported for Windows Server 2008 R2 Standard, Enterprise and Datacenter Editions.
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Q: Can the free Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 use the free Microsoft iSCSI Software Target?

A: Yes and No. Yes, Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 can act as a client to access virtual machines via iSCSI. The way to do that is to type iscsicpl.exe at the command prompt to bring up the Microsoft iSCSI Initiator (client) and configure it to access an iSCSI Target (server). However, you can’t install the Microsoft iSCSI Software Target on a Microsoft Hyper-V Server. The Microsoft iSCSI Software Target requires Windows Server 2008 R2.

Q: Can I install the Microsoft iSCSI Software Target 3.3 on Windows Server 2008 or Windows Server 2003?
A: No. The Microsoft iSCSI Software Target 3.3 can only be installed on Windows Server 2008 R2.

Q: Can I install the Microsoft iSCSI Software Target on Windows Server 2008 R2 with Service Pack 1 (SP1)?
A: Yes. In fact, that’s what is recommended.

Q: Can I install the Microsoft iSCSI Software Target on a Core install of Windows Server 2008 R2?
A: No. The Microsoft iSCSI Software Target 3.3 is only supported in a Full install.

Q: I don’t have a copy of Windows Server 2008 R2. Where can I get an evaluation copy?
A: You download an evaluation version of Windows Server 2008 R2 with Service Pack 1 from http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/evalcenter/dd459137.aspx

Q: Where is the x86 (32-bit) version of the Microsoft iSCSI Software Target 3.3?
A: The Microsoft iSCSI Software Target 3.3, is provided in only in an x64 (64-bit) version, as is Windows Server 2008 R2,

Q: What are these “iSCSITargetClient” MSI files included in the download?
A: Those are the optional VSS and VDS providers for the Microsoft iSCSI Software Target 3.3. You should install them in the same computer that runs the iSCSI Initiator if you intend to use VSS or VDS. For details on VSS, see http://blogs.technet.com/b/josebda/archive/2007/10/10/the-basics-of-the-volume-shadow-copy-service-vss.aspx. For details on VDS, see http://blogs.technet.com/b/josebda/archive/2007/10/25/the-basics-of-the-virtual-disk-services-vds.aspx.

Q: Where is the Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 documentation?
A: There is some documentation inside the package. Additional documentation is available on the web at http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/gg232606.aspx

Q: Can I use the Microsoft iSCSI Software Target 3.3 as shared storage for a Windows Server Failover Cluster?
A: Yes. That is one of its most common uses.

Q: Can I install the Microsoft iSCSI Software Target 3.3 in a Hyper-V virtual machine?
A: Yes. We do it all the time.

Q: Can I use the downloaded Microsoft iSCSI Software Target 3.3 in my production environment?
A: Yes. Make sure to perform the proper evaluation and testing before deploying any software in a production environment. But you knew that already…

Q: What are the support policies for the Microsoft iSCSI Software Target 3.3 on Windows Server 2008 R2?
A: The support policies are listed at http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/gg983493.aspx

 

The Microsoft iSCSI Software Target Download:

http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/en/details.aspx?FamilyID=45105d7f-8c6c-4666-a305-c8189062a0d0