Coretek Services Reboot Manager, Pt. 2

2017-07-27T00:00:59+00:00 July 15th, 2015|Uncategorized|

Please see this link for Part 1. 

For Part 2, let’s examine the Coretek Virtual Desktop Enhancement Suite (VDES) Reboot Manager Console in more detail. 

The VDES Management Console, shown in the screenshot below, is a simple interface which is broken down into 3 core areas: License Manager, VDES Farm, and Reboot Manager. 

  • The License Manager is simply where the license code for the components is managed.
  • The VDES Farm section allows the servers to be broken down into functional server types, which is useful to manage one of the other core functionalities of VDES, called XAppNow.  This is a feature which speeds up the reconnect times by 4-5 seconds for double hop published applications running inside a Virtual Desktop.
  • The Reboot manager section allows us to define multiple reboot schedules for the target servers.

Figure 3 - VDES Management Console

Under the VDES Farm node, a server can be configured with the appropriate settings to allow reboot manager to function correctly and enable logging.  The Drain Mode Command(s) can be customized, but are predefined for XenApp workloads.  Logging can be enabled via the Logging Enabled and Log File command for debug logging.  The SMTP configurations can be defined to enable mail notifications to administrators to notify when the servers state changes (for example, drain mode enabled, server reboot started).

Figure 4- VDES Server Settings

When right-clicking on the Reboot Manager node, it is possible to add Reboot Schedules.

Figure 5 - Right Click on Reboot Manager Node

The Reboot Schedule window allows the selection of the day(s) on which to reboot the server, the time at which we would like to start the drain mode, the time of day to force a reboot of the server, and the customized Warning Message to be displayed to the users.

Figure 6 - New Reboot Schedule Window

On the Notifications tab, Email and Event Log notifications can be enabled to give the administrator peace of mind that the server(s) have been properly rebooted.

Figure 7 - Reboot Manager Notifications Tab

After the schedule and notification have been defined, the highlighted schedule under Reboot Manager allows servers to be included or excluded from the selected schedules.  Servers can be added to multiple reboot schedules without issues.

Figure 8 - Reboot Manager Adding Servers

And that’s all there is to it.  Powerful control with simplicity and peace of mind! 

Drop us a line if you are interested in a trial of our Reboot Manager or other compnents of the VDES toolset – we look forward to hearing from you!

Server 2003 EOS, Part 6…

2017-07-27T00:01:00+00:00 July 9th, 2015|Uncategorized|

For previous parts of this blog series, see Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.

In just a few days it will be July 14th.  And that means End Of Support (EOS) for Windows Server 2003 after more than ten years!  Mind you, I won’t be celebrating; but I might just pause a moment to think of all the critical applications and services that I’ve experienced on Server 2003 throughout the years.  And my, how times have changed since then…

Now, we know there are still some of you out there that have Server 2003 running somwhere in your datacenters, or under a desk, or on a server plastered behind a wall.  It happens.  And we are here to help you. 

So start by checking out our 4-part webinar series on how you might approach different aspects of your migration away from Server 2003, which you can finnd at these links:

If all that’s not good enough, check out Microsoft’s dedicated Server 2003 EOS site for even more detail. 

…and then send us a message from our Contact Page, and let us help you with your critical Server 2003 workloads.  We can’t wait to help you solve your Server 2003 problem and get you back into a fully-supported, modern compute and workload environment.  Talk to you soon!

MICROSOFT LICENSING FEES: THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM

2017-07-27T00:01:00+00:00 July 7th, 2015|News|

July 7, 2015 – A surprise cost is never a good one. Ever. Not on a grocery receipt, or a home repair, or in your IT support costs – especially when it has the potential to really blow your budget. So, what is the most common surprise cost that we see when it comes to IT support? Here are a few hints: You’re probably paying for it right now. CIO’s and VP’s of IT report it across the healthcare industry. It’s truly the elephant in the room – if the elephant was made of dollar signs.

That elephant is Microsoft licensing fees.

IT leaders and managers often tell us versions of the same story: It’s the end of the year, time for the annual true-up on the Microsoft bill. As you review the bill, you see that licensing costs have changed dramatically from the prior year, or the fees are so convoluted that you can’t keep track of them. You thought you were in compliance but you’re not. It’s unpredictable and you never saw it coming: a huge bill.

We’ve also seen clients face bills in the hundreds of thousands of dollars at the end of the year for licenses that aren’t being utilized. This piece is absolutely controllable – and for that reason, tragic.

So how do you avoid this? The answer is simpler than you think.

Here are two potential solutions that will allow you to avoid this Microsoft cost crisis:

1. Move to Office 365.  Microsoft’s cloud-based solution is much more flexible than their traditional software licensing. You can adjust plans as needed and you’re only paying for licenses that are being used. This helps with cost containment and predictability – no more ghastly true up bills. Not only that, but you can add encryption and secure your PHI, which makes Office 365 a perfect fit for healthcare facilities.

2. Use AppSense to track your licenses. This allows you to assign and monitor software usage so you only pay for licenses that are being used, which means no more over-provisioning licenses and not knowing whether you made the right estimate. And most importantly – no more totally avoidable bills.

We have helped clients utilize both of these solutions – and no matter the size of the company or your budget, we do an upfront cost analysis to make sure you will actually save money.

Don’t get caught in a cost crisis with Microsoft licensing fees – because now you don’t have to.

FINANCIAL JENGA: HOW TO GET IT COSTS UNDER CONTROL DURING TIMES OF GROWTH

2017-07-27T00:01:00+00:00 July 1st, 2015|News|

July 1, 2015 – As the IT leader of your business, you’re intimate with the details of IT expenditures, and your budget matches accordingly (in our perfect world, right?). While a built in buffer for managing growth is ideal, it’s much more common for companies to cut their IT expenditures very close. There’s near constant pressure to only spend what’s required, allowing those desired “growth buffer” funds to be invested in other places. Financially speaking, all companies function like a meticulous game of Jenga – take this block from here to prop up another block over there. While your CFO is managing the “blocks”, it’s IT’s job to keep the whole tower from falling over. Especially when you’re building the tower even higher.

So what are all the “blocks” that you, as the IT leader, are responsible for during times of business growth? While it may seem straightforward to the rest of the C-Suite – a line item to address – the costs for IT can be layered and interconnected.

Onboarding a New User:

If you include all the soft costs (see “Other” below), adding just one new employee can cost as much as $3500. This includes the purchase of a new computer system, imaging, and the setup of both physical and virtual work space.

Hardware & Software Investments:

When you tally up a new computer system, printer, phone system, new wiring (especially expensive in a brand new facility), back end storage servers, new software applications, permissions, support fees, etc., plus the actual physical work space (not an IT cost, but IT needs somewhere to get set up), the cost for hardware and software investments quickly add up.

Expanding Capacity:

Capacity upgrades are not bought in small increments. So, even if you’re only onboarding a handful of new users, you’re required to buy SAN space in bulk – 100 new users at a time – costing as much as $250,000. Additional network capacity is purchased on a monthly basis and can cost as much as an additional $3000, per location. If you’re expanding multiple locations, you’re looking at many thousands of dollars added to your monthly budget.

Other: (AKA the soft costs that don’t find their way onto a line item)

  • Productivity delays for the IT department and slow time to start for new employees, because without built in growth preparation, all of the above expansions takes time
  • Backup costs as you add new employees
  • Training costs to familiarize new employees with your IT applications
  • Support costs – especially the newbies who still have to learn the IT ropes and need a little more hand holding
  • And hidden costs – such as a missed licensing requirement that could get turned into the The Software Alliance (BSA piracy association) by a disgruntled employee (or former employee) exposing your organization to major fines

Managing growth doesn’t have to be such a drain – to your budget, your operational ease, or your strategic input towards these same growth objectives. Developing a roadmap to Cloud technology (whether it’s a Private Cloud, Public Cloud or Hybrid Cloud) allows for an almost infinitely expandable environment, with built-in megastores of infrastructure to handle all your growth needs on an as-needed basis. And instead of 10 days to start, you’re look at more like 24 hours to get a new employee up and running. Everything is already built in.

Jenga: it’s great played over a couple beers with good friends. It’s fun when a tumbling pile of blocks is funny, instead of terrifying. As the IT leader of your company, you’re responsible for keeping the proverbial “lights on”, which means that when you’re company is growing, you’re expected to make sure that growth can occur, smoothly and without delay. Moving to the cloud can provide built-in support beams to your own Jenga tower. Build it up as high as you want. The sky’s the limit.

INEFFICIENT IT: CAUSING PATIENTS AND REVENUE TO WALK OUT THE DOOR

2017-07-27T00:01:00+00:00 July 1st, 2015|News|

July 1, 2015 – Imagine this: it’s a patient’s first visit to your hospital or clinic. They’re greeted by name at the front desk, and the nurse shows them to an exam room within five minutes of their arrival. The nurse walks in the room, is instantly presented with the all relevant health data on her tablet, smiles warmly as she looks up and starts asking a few questions. There aren’t any errant beeps, noises or clicks to navigate to a health record. Right on cue, the doctor comes into the room with her device and the scenario is the same: she is focused on the patient, and spends just a few seconds to access the patient’s record. No repetitive processes, delays, or evident frustration. The patient feels cared for and connected.

Does this ideal experience describe your clinicians and patients?

If not, then chances are, your IT systems are making the above scenario complicated or impossible. And this can cause a cascading effect on both your patient care and your revenue. Here are the real costs, for you and your patients, of inefficient IT infrastructure. Fix these, and you’ll be more profitable and productive.

COST #1: FEWER PATIENTS MEANS LESS REVENUE

Delays in long application connect times, slow desktop log-ins and repetitive processes – all of these increase the amount of time that your clinicians spend per patient and decrease the number of patients seen in a given day. Which has a direct impact on your revenue. It’s as simple as it gets: Fewer patients = less revenue.

COST #2: LOST PATIENTS, LOST REVENUE

Let’s say our patient above has the opposite experience: he sits in the waiting room for 30 minutes, waits another 20 in the exam room for the nurse to show up, and waits even longer while she clicks through the EMR to find information that has already been asked and answered. The patient is frustrated and he hasn’t even seen the doctor yet. So on the way home, he looks up another doctor with the hope that someone else will be faster and more efficient and won’t make him late for work. Instead of visiting your doctor twice a year for the next ten years, he is going somewhere else. You lose that patient, and the revenue, forever. You’ve also lost his good reference, and hopefully haven’t gained a bad one. Poor community perception can cause you to lose patients you’ve never even seen.

COST #3: TECH SUPPORT COSTS

The last place you want your clinicians to spend their time is on the phone with tech support. This probably seems inevitable if you are supporting physical Windows endpoints because they require an actual person to intervene when there is an issue. That’s a lot of time spent on the phone or waiting for help when your clinicians could and should be seeing patients. And if you have an in-house Helpdesk, you’re paying twice for a poor end user experience: in the human costs to staff the support desk, and the lost patient revenue when clinicians are delayed in providing care.

COST #4: HARDWARE SERVICE COSTS

If you don’t have the staff to provide in-house field services or support, you’re paying service providers for the maintenance of your hardware. At $35-$40 per month per device, this adds up fast. But shifting to a different device option like Zero-Clients, significantly reduces monthly maintenance costs by as much as 50 – 70 %. . We’ve worked with several clients who, just by making this change, have made a huge impact on their bottom line. They’ve found that it’s really a no-brainer.

So beyond the obvious clinician and patient frustration, inefficient IT workflows and systems hit your bottom line in a very serious way.  Can you afford to have all of these costs add up? The alternative is so much better. By addressing these costly issues, you will see more patients daily, have more repeat patients, and minimize your tech support and hardware service costs. Whether it’s a cloud strategy or a move to a new Virtual Desktop Infrastructure, you can avoid paying these costs now and in the future. Remember that patient we described at the beginning? He’s yours.