ITCS News

Windows Server 2008 R2 End of Life Support is nearing: January 14 2020

Only 6 Weeks until Microsoft ends the life of some of its most popular products.

These products include: Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2008 R2, Office 2010, Windows 7, and selected business server software.

What does that mean for your business?

1. You’ll lag behind your competitors:

There are no patches or updates for old software, leaving businesses
still using it lagging behind competitors.

2. Outdated servers like Windows Server 2008 R2 costs more to run:

Old software costs more to run. Companies that upgrade to smarter,
faster, more secure systems and migrate to the cloud, save a fortune over time with drastically reduced capital costs.

3. You will be vulnerable with Windows Server 2008 R2:

Hackers love end of life operating systems, because it’s far easier to exploit.
The combination of no more security updates and lots of unpatched
holes makes it a prime target for cyber criminals.

4. Windows Server 2008 R2 will not be GDPR compliant:

Organisations that fail to protect their customers’ data are not compliant with GDPR. One of the main criteria of the new regulation is that
you have to use up-to-date, secure operating software, so if yours is falling short then all the hard work you did in 2016 will have been for nothing.

What if I don’t upgrade or replace Windows Server 2008 R2 by January 14th, 2020?

Imagine using a product that a company doesn’t want to take responsibility for anymore. You’ll be using the product at your own risk. This means that Microsoft will not take responsibility for loss of data due to security breaches.

What shall I do?

If you haven’t upgraded yet, it’s best to seek the help of an IT professional. This is a good way to ensure that everything is upgraded correctly and that all firewalls and antivirus are in place and working optimally. Depending on what type of hardware and software you’re using, you may need to take specific steps to make sure everything is fully compatible.

To meet with a member of our team or discuss your needs, please contact the ITCS support desk on 08456 400200 or email support@itcs.co.uk and we will be happy to help.

WebWindows Server 2008 R2 End of Life Support is nearing: January 14 2020

ITCS Apprentice Awarded Permanent Job Role After Completing Qualification

ITCS’s latest apprentice, Conlan Davies, has completed his training and accepted a permanent position at their Bridgend based offices as a Level 2 IT Support engineer.

Conlan, 22, was offered the apprenticeship after a week’s work experience, and has excelled in his role.

As part of his apprenticeship, Conlan was involved in a number of different projects as he developed his capabilities and gained practical experience. He began in the workshop repairing hardware faults, and due to his knowledge and excellent manner with clients, quickly became situated on the support desk.

“It allowed me to better my knowledge within a Windows server and networking environment” says Conlan, “My apprenticeship has allowed me to become confident helping clients, and I’m now very familiar with many technical domains” Conlan is comfortable resolving issues within areas around Active Directory, Group Policy, Network Security (firewalls/spam filters), Mail Hosting Platforms (Microsoft Exchange/Office 365), VPN (ipsec, L2TP, PPTP, SSL), Proactive Maintenance (Backup Solutions/Compliancy Reporting), Virtual Environments, Switches and Servers, as well as your general DNS, DHCP and Router Management.

He has also recently been involved with mail migrations to an Office 365 solution from a POP/IMAP or Microsoft Onsite Exchange platforms. “I’d really like to master these migrations in the next few months”, says Conlan.

ITCS is committed to supporting the development of talented young people with apprenticeships, student placements and graduate opportunities; the Directors believe that nurturing new talent is a key component of the company’s long-term workforce development.

ITCS are working closely with Bridgend College to develop specialist modules and to encourage apprenticeships within the technology sector. We recognise the importance of investing in the next generation of IT engineers and work closely with the college to tailor modules that will allow our current employees to train our apprentices to the highest standard.

Conlan said: “My colleagues have supported me since my first day and ITCS has really helped me during my apprenticeship. I felt comfortable and part of the team very quickly, even though I was still learning on the job, because the directors ensure that everyone’s opinion is valued, regardless of their job role or seniority. I’m really happy to have been offered a permanent role at ITCS; I’m looking forward to working on bigger projects and taking on more responsibility”.

Matthew Mutlow, Operations Director, said: “Conlan integrated into the business very quickly and is a valued member of our team. He has worked hard during his apprenticeship and we are delighted to be able to reward his efforts by offering him a permanent job at ITCS.

“Apprenticeships are an important part of our workforce development. We strive to offer people opportunities to develop their skills, but also to develop themselves, as people. I’m sure Conlan will continue to thrive as a permanent ITCS employee, and we look forward to welcoming more apprentices into the fold to develop more budding engineers.”

WebITCS Apprentice Awarded Permanent Job Role After Completing Qualification

Vacancy: Senior IT Support Engineer Wanted

Who We Are:

ITCS (UK) Ltd is a specialist IT and Telecoms company servicing businesses throughout England and Wales. The company is growing at a rapid pace and looking to recruit fresh talent. The company delivers a wide range of IT solutions including Consultancy, Support, Procurement, Web & Software Development and Training. ITCS specialise in flexible IT computer solutions, providing anything from the support of small networks, through to the development and installation of multi-site operations.

We are seeking an innovative Senior IT Support engineer to join our expanding web department in Bridgend.

Do you think you could fit into our Web team? This is what we are looking for:

Responsibilities and Duties:

  • Dealing with support requests from the 1st and 2nd line team
  • Establishing networking environment by designing system configuration, directing system installation, defining, documenting, and enforcing system standards
  • The design and implementation of new solutions and improving resilience of the current environment
  • Maximizing network performance by monitoring performance, troubleshooting network problems and outages, scheduling upgrades and collaborating with network architects on network optimisation
  • Undertaking data network fault investigations in local and wide area environments, using information from multiple sources
  • Securing network system by establishing and enforcing policies, and defining and monitoring access
  • The support and administration of firewall environments in line with IT security policy
  • Updating job knowledge by participating in educational opportunities, reading professional publications, maintaining personal networks and participating in professional organisations
  • Reporting network operational status by gathering, prioritising information and managing projects
  • Upgrading data network equipment to latest stable firmware releases
  • Configuration of routing and switching equipment
  • Configuration of hosted IP voice services
  • Configuration of firewalls
  • Remote support of on-site engineers and end users/customers during installation
  • Remote troubleshooting and fault finding if issues occur upon initial installation
  • Capacity management and audit of IP addressing and hosted devices within data centres
  • Liaising with project management team and service desk engineers on a regular basis
  • Speaking with customers via email and phone for initial requirement capture

The Ideal Candidate:

Candidates must be able to demonstrate an excellent knowledge and understanding of the following areas:

  • Networking Knowledge (DHCP, DNS, TCPIP)
  • Windows Server Administration 2008 through to 2019
  • Microsoft Exchange Administration
  • Wireless Networking
  • VPN Technologies
  • Cloud Solutions
  • Cisco/CCNA (Advantageous)

If you think you’d fit into this role, please contact Matt Mutlow, Operations Director, with a CV and covering letter by following the link below:

WebVacancy: Senior IT Support Engineer Wanted

Signs It’s Time to Review Your IT Service Provider

Having a good relationship with an IT provider is integral to your business success.

As an SME, the quality of service you get from your suppliers affects everything from your internal operations, to the quality of your customer service.

Lost data, recurring downtime, IT security glitches, poor response times – these can all damage your business reputation.

According to CompTIA, a world leading tech association, reasons for leaving IT Providers usually fall into the following categories:

  •     Poor response times 
  •     Feeling neglected
  •     Too high cost
  •     Lack of innovative solutions
  •     Lack of expertise
  •     Difficult to work with

Here are some of the main tell-tale signs that you need to be considering your IT Provider options:

1. Lack-Lustre Pro-activeness:

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Poor response times are one of the most popular reasons that SMEs search for a new IT Provider. Besides responding to requests quickly, your IT partner should be proactively informing you, and preventing problems before they occur. Routine monitoring and maintenance is imperative, and you have a right to expect this of your IT partner.

With digital innovation continuing to drive business growth, and with ever-evolving cyber-security changes, your need for a proactive approach to your business IT support will be increasing. If you don’t feel that your current provider is providing you with proactive IT Support, you should really think about changing providers.

 

2. Cost:

Image result for business cost

Any business owner worth their salt understands that lowest isn’t always the best value for money. With that being said, high costs alone shouldn’t be a reason to change supplier. However, you pay your current provider to keep your network up, running, and problem free.

If you are doubting whether you are getting real value for your money, you can arrange a free site audit with us. One of our engineers will call out and examine your current systems, then provide a report completely free, and with no obligations.

 

3. Recurring Issues:

Image result for phone frustrated business

Let’s face it; IT will never work like a Swiss watch. There are simply too many variables in business that are beyond your IT provider’s control. However, the entire reason you invest in an IT Partner / IT Department is to avoid day to day business disruption. You trust that your provider will keep downtime to a minimum and keep your data safe. If you feel a bit like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, facing the same issues repeatedly – despite being told that the problem has been fixed – it’s quite clear that your IT provider is not doing everything within their knowledge to discover the cause of the problem and address it properly.

 

4. No Understanding of your Industry:

Image result for one size fits all business

Yes, perhaps it’s a lofty expectation for your IT provider to have a full understanding of every product / service you sell, but your IT provider should certainly have a sound understanding of the function of your business. A good IT Partner will be able to provide its’ services on a general business level, and be able to tailor its’ services to the specific needs and goals of your own operation. They should have a solid knowledge of how the technology and digital processes you use impact productivity and efficiency.

 

5. Can they Protect you from disaster?

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When disaster strikes, downtime can be expensive, and your hard earned reputation can be damaged. Disaster Recovery as a Service is designed to prevent this. Your IT partner should be able to clearly spell out how they fit into your business continuity plan and if they can’t it is a sure sign that it is time to look for a new provider.

 

Here at ITCS, we believe in building open, lasting, trusted relationships with all of our clients. If that’s what you need and you’re ready to change IT provider – or if you identify with any of the concerns in this article, call us for a chat. We’d love to see if we can help.

 

WebSigns It’s Time to Review Your IT Service Provider

World Password Day should Be Every Day!

It’s World Password Day: when you look back – even as little as ten years – cyber security has never been as important as it is today. Businesses and Consumers both store some of their most sensitive details live behind online password protection. Financial information, confidential files, official documentation, personal photos, the list goes on. With intimidating statistics coming out about hackers and business all the time (Did you know there is a hacker attack every 39 seconds?), it seems that keeping sensitive online data safe needs to be at the top of everyone’s priorities.

With this in mind, World Password Day seems to present the perfect opportunity to be diligent about ensuring our passwords are secure. A few tips to keep in mind include:

1. Make your passwords 9-10 characters long:

Most websites recommend an 8 character minimum, but we would recommend using a minimum of 9 or 10 characters on all passwords.

2. Check your password vulnerability:

Go to a site such as haveibeenpwned.com – this is a completely free site built by one of Microsoft’s Regional Directors. Type in one of your passwords and see if your chosen code-word have been compromised in a breach and are generally available to hackers. If they are, change them wherever they are used.

3. The No-Name Rule – but expanded:

Do not use common passwords, and do not use basic personal details within your passwords. Info such as your birthday, family members’ names or pets’ names is easily guessable. According to security company SplashData the two most commonly used passwords are “123456”, and “password” – a dream for hackers and fraudsters.

4. Complex is Best:

Strong passwords normally incorporate a mixture of the following:

  • Uppercase characters
  • Lowercase characters
  • Base 10 digits (0 through 9)
  • Nonalphanumeric characters: ~!@#$%^&*_-+=`|\(){}[]:;”‘<>,.?/

5. Lather, Rinse… but DO NOT REPEAT:

Do Not Re-Use Passwords! Password reuse is extremely common. It’s extremely risky, but it’s a regular occurrence, because it’s easier to remember one or two passwords, and people aren’t aware of the potential impact. But, repeating the same password across several sites means if a hacker discovers just one password, all personal info is suddenly at risk. Therefore, it is crucial to diversify your passcodes to ensure hackers cannot obtain access to all of your accounts at once, should one password be somehow compromised.

Overall, it is absolutely crucial to ensure that your passwords are as secure as possible, every day – not just on World Password Day. CyberCrime is only escalating, and neglecting the defence of your network is simply allowing your data to be hacked. Secure your passwords now, and make sure you keep vigilant to the risks that we all face.

If you have any questions or concerns around computer security, please don’t hesitate to contact the ITCS support desk on 08456 444 200, we are always happy to help.

WebWorld Password Day should Be Every Day!

Conquering Kilimanjaro

Conquering Kilimanjaro:

7 Life Lessons Learned by climbing the World’s Highest Free-Standing Mountain

Managing Director of ITCS, Brian Stokes, has returned from scaling the World’s Highest Free-Standing Mountain. Originally from the Afan Valley, and always looking for ways to give back to the community, Brian pushed himself to the extreme, with a core team of 11 people, to raise money for LATCH: Welsh Children’s Cancer Charity. Here are some of his thoughts upon his safe return:

 

I just wanted to say a massive thank you, for all the support and well wishes I received to climb Kilimanjaro. I’m back in one piece, and conquered the mountain. Not all our group made it, and some had to be practically carried to the summit, so it was no easy task.

It was a tough challenge, but a very memorable and rewarding one. Watching the sunrise over Africa from nearly 20,000ft was like nothing else, but I believe setting challenges however big or small, is a good thing to do. Pushing boundaries, and striving towards our goals is important in life. Our work, personal and family life, can all be effected in a good way with a positive mind-set.

Thoughts from the mountain….

 

1. I can do this.

The way we talk to ourselves impacts what we actually achieve. If you tell yourself that you can do something, chances are that you will, even if you don’t accomplish it straightaway.

Kilimanjaro climbing

2. Challenge accepted.

Next time someone throws an unfamiliar or tricky task your way, don’t throw it back at them – embrace it. Even if you mess up along the way, you can be sure that you’ll do better the next time.

3. Work hard for it.

You’re unlikely to reach any goals without the effort to match. Work hard, even a small bit at a time, and you’ll be able to enjoy the rewards.

4. No such thing as perfect.

Don’t let the idea of perfection get in the way of getting things done. Perfection can sometimes be an illusion; what matters most is your effort.

5. Be open to new ways of doing things.

You can never be sure of how something is going to pan out if you’ve never tried it before. Before assuming that something will never work, ask yourself: ‘What do I have to do to make this work?’

 

Kilimanjaro selfie

6. Don’t let setbacks get you down. 

Setbacks don’t mean you’ve failed, just that you need to try a different approach. Take feedback from the experience on board, and make changes accordingly. You can learn just as much from a mistake as you can from success.

7. Positivity is everything.

By staying positive, you not only live a happier life, you become a good person to be around. When things get tough, it is the positive people that we all look to in order to get passed the situation. Be an influencer with a positive attitude, and watch the effect it has on everyone around you.

If we want to learn new things in life, we have to embrace challenges head-on and to treat any setbacks as a learning experience, never a failure. Climbing Kilimanjaro was similar in a lot of ways to running a business, it’s only possible by surrounding yourself with like-minded people and having a positive can do attitude, a growth mind-set and self-belief that you can make it work.

There’s still time to donate to Brian’s very worthy cause: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/brian-stokes-kilimanjaro 

You can see some more images from his amazing trek below:

  • beginning of climb
  • view Kilimanjaro Brian Stokes
  • Kilimanjaro selfie
  • Kilimanjaro tent
  • surveying Kilimanjaro
WebConquering Kilimanjaro

Managing Director Takes on World’s Highest Free-Standing Mountain in aid of LATCH

Standing at 5,895 metres high – Kilimanjaro remains one of the world’s great challenges. Brian Stokes will be taking on the gruelling charity trek this April in aid of LATCH. On April 5th 2019 he will push himself to the extreme, with a core team of 11 people, to raise money for LATCH Welsh Children’s Cancer Charity.

Who Are LATCH?

LATCH  is currently supporting an amazingly brave little girl from Maesteg, Amira Barry. Amira was diagnosed with Leukaemia last year, and is currently receiving support from LATCH. The fantastic help and support provided by LATCH has driven Brian and ITCS to raise money to help the charity continue its excellent work.

The Kilimanjaro trek is set to take 7 days, where on average 44% of people fail, mainly due to altitude sickness. This is no mean feat, and a real challenge.

“The idea is to raise awareness around this vital support for Amira’s family,” says Brian, “LATCH Welsh Children’s Cancer Charity needs to raise, on average, £800,000 a year to cover the costs of supporting families like Amira’s. So, we wanted to test ourselves to the limit, and see what we are capable of, whilst raising money for a really worthy cause.”

The trip has been entirely self-funded by each individual, so donations are well received and go entirely towards the charity, not paying for any part of the expedition. The training has been well underway for many months, along with numerous trips to the doctors for a huge list of jabs. The malaria tablets and altitude pills are all ready to go – now they need as much support and encouragement as possible.

You can donate to Brian’s cause by visiting his JustGiving page – every donation, no matter how large or small, is gratefully received.

WebManaging Director Takes on World’s Highest Free-Standing Mountain in aid of LATCH

ISDN Phaseout 2020: Threat Or Opportunity?

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It is common knowledge amongst telecommunications experts that ISDN is a dying technology, and is planning an ISDN phaseout beginning next year.

BT will begin with a cease in supply in 2020. They intend on moving to a full migration by 2025, permanently switching off ISDN networks. The BT ISDN switch off could affect many businesses – especially if you’re unaware of the phaseout, and are looking to invest in or upgrade your current business telephone system.

ISDN’s days are numbered. Is your business ready?

What is ISDN?

ISDN (Integrated Service Digital Network) is a telecommunications technology that enables the transmission of digital data over standard phone lines. Known as the original high-speed internet service, it can be used for voice calls as well as data transfers. It sparked high-speed internet development between service providers in the 1990’s and revolutionised internet use.

ISDN is a communications network that relies heavily on physical infrastructure; specifically, copper wiring. It came to prominence because it provided the opportunity to transmit voice and data over the same lines. However, because of its reliance on physical infrastructure to manage calls and additional functionality via a PBX (or multiple), this takes up space within business premises and requires resources to administer and maintain them. Similarly, it is hard to add and remove new lines to an ISDN network because it requires the physical addition and removal.

Why the ISDN phaseout is important for my business:

The BT ISDN phaseout marks the next evolution of telecommunications technology. Despite being continually updated, ISDN phone lines are still cost far too much to maintain and run. Although the BT ISDN end of life of 2025 has not been set in stone, businesses will be unable to buy systems that use ISDN after 2020. If you currently have a traditional ISDN/PSTN based system, now is a great time to look into alternatives – and what many businesses don’t realise is just how beneficial the new systems are.

Hosted Telephony – what is it?

There are two future-ready solutions storming the market right now; the one we will focus on is Hosted Telephony.

Hosted telephony is a complete business phone system, delivered over the internet and provided by a host and/or telephony company.

ISDN phaseout VOIP ITCS

IP Technology:

IP (internet protocol) technology is incredible advantageous for business, and many are beginning to realise the endless benefits. When it comes to facilitating communications, organisations are able to use IP technology build a single infrastructure that supports both their voice and data communications needs.

After the ISDN phaseout, all phone lines will be superseded by IP technology, which is vastly superior to what we have used in the past.

What is VoIP? We’ll tell you: 

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is a telecommunications technology that allows users to make calls using the internet, rather than using traditional systems. VoIP works by converting sound into digital voice communication, and then transferring it through Internet broadband. Using a VoIP system has several benefits for many businesses:

1. It’s Cost Effective

Most importantly, the cost of using a VoIP telephone is much cheaper than using a conventional phone. Making long distance phone calls are also cheaper when using a VoIP provider. There’s no need for masses of on-site equipment either; only pay for as many users as you need.

2. Easy setup & maintenance

Besides the cost savings, setting up and maintaining a VoIP system is a much simpler job than with traditional telephone systems.

This is because there is so little on site equipment compared to traditional ISDN networks.

3. Greater Control

Furthermore, take complete control of your phone system with an extensive range of call handling and management features. These are all operated through an easy-to-use web interface. Ideal for home workers or multiple sites.

4. Freedom & Portability

VoIP technology is completely adaptable and flexible. This means you can easily add and remove users as you need. More importantly, physical location doesn’t matter either. Regardless of where you are, if you have Internet access, there should not be any problems in terms of costs and connections. In addition, VoIP systems are accessible via email or while you are travelling. Simply take your headset or IP phone, and you can contact staff or clients with a low cost call.

5. Provide better customer service to your clients

Enhance the service you can provide to your customers at all times. VoIP systems include dynamic call handling, pre-recorded messages and seamless transfers at the touch of a button.

6. Reliable and Secure

We provide full support including: training, number porting, provisioning and assistance. This will give you complete peace of mind.

Summing Up:

As you can see, the great BT ISDN switch off is as much an opportunity as it is a problem. The one thing we know for certain is that BT ISDN end of life is around the corner. Make sure you’re prepared for it. Make the ISDN Phaseout an opportunity for your business to cut costs and thrive.

Ready to find out what the advantages of VoIP for your company are? To discuss your particular requirements, or to discover more about the systems we offer, contact us by filling out our enquiry form or call us on 08456 444 200 for advice today. You can also email info@itcs.co.uk.

                                       

WebISDN Phaseout 2020: Threat Or Opportunity?

7 Time-Saving Outlook Tricks to Get you to Work Smarter

Outlook is renowned for being one of the best email providers for business: the platform helps millions of people manage their email correspondence every day. The snag? It assumes you already know how to organise your office correspondence for optimal productivity. But what if you don’t?

We all know that time is invaluable, especially when it comes to running a business. Improve your Microsoft Outlook productivity and you’ll find yourself working more efficiently. Whether you want to be an Outlook expert or just save time, you’ll appreciate the 7 time-saving Outlook tips in this tutorial.

Web7 Time-Saving Outlook Tricks to Get you to Work Smarter

ITCS Team Stranded in Storm Callum – but still get project completed on time for ATV company

Dalton’s ATVs is one of the largest authorised dealers of new and quality used Honda, Yamaha and Can-Am ATV’s along with Polaris UTV & ATV, in the whole of the UK. John Dalton owns and runs the family business that is Dalton’s ATVs whilst also managing his own family farm. When Camilleri Construction asked for ITCS’s co operation with this project, little did they know that they’d end up battling some of the worst flooding that Wales has seen in 30 years…

WebITCS Team Stranded in Storm Callum – but still get project completed on time for ATV company