Mr. Butler has over 20 years of experience in IT infrastructure support, most recently as a Systems-Network Engineer for Baesis, Inc. of Northborough, MA. He holds a MSMgt (Applied Management) from Lesley University, Cambridge, MA and a BSBA from Nathaniel Hawthorne College, Antrim, NH.
Melissa J. Perenson of ComputerWorld recently updated her review of seven apps in the article: “Tired of losing business cards? With these apps, your smartphone can do the heavy lifting.”
Business-card apps scan a business card via your smartphone’s camera; once scanned, the image is converted into text and then placed into the appropriate fields within a contact manager. These apps are generally available for both Google Android-based and Apple iOS-based smartphones.
Of the seven tested, these were preferred:
- ABBYY Business Card Reader – Free version and $9.99 full version
- CamCard – Free version and full version from $2.99 to $11.99
- WorldCard Mobile – Free version and $6.99 full version
CamCard’s free version worked well, but all others required the paid, full version to offer meaningful capability; it was also Ms. Perenson’s top choice.
Honorable mentions were given to ABBYY (easiest to navigate with most-accurate scans) and WorldCard (which provides International support with seven on-board languages). Both were considered good, but not quite as good asCamCard.
Cloud computing is the grouping of Internet-based computing resources to provide efficient, effective, agile access at a pre-defined price; it has been compared to a utility, where costs are metered against usage. (Visit Wikipedia’s definition.)
Organizations turning to the Cloud can select from these deployment options:
- Public Cloud – Available to all paying users (public)
- Private Cloud – Restricted to a single organization
- Hybrid Cloud – A combination of Public and Private
A Public Cloud deployment is based on a publicly-available infrastructure like Microsoft Azure or Amazon Web Services (AWS); it could include a pre-configured service, like Microsoft Office 365 or Google Apps for Business, which are deployed on publicly-rendered networks at Microsoft and Google data centers respectively. Being public, they are also somewhat more vulnerable to outside intrusion.
A Private Cloud deployment can be internal or external, but is typically setup on separate infrastructure that is dedicated to one organization. For example; 911 providers (Verizon, AT&T, etc.) usually locate this service in dedicated, company-owned data centers. Private Cloud deployments require significant, upfront investment and lack some of the expandability of a Public Cloud.
A Hybrid Cloud contains characteristics of both Public Cloud and Private Cloudstructures; it is a binding of both environments to provide the best of both worlds.
For example; Bryley Systems’ Hosted Cloud Server is a Hybrid Cloud offering that is deployed on equipment owned and managed by Bryley Systems, but is located in a secure, professional, data-center environment with significant fail-over capabilities: The primary equipment is separate and secure, but the location provides the connectivity advantages of a Public Cloud facility.
Dennis McCafferty of CIO Insight, in his 9/30/2014 article “Pros and Cons of the Private Cloud”, states that many large organizations have deployed a Private Cloud, but even more have tried a Public Cloud deployment.
Advantages of Hybrid Cloud and Private Cloud include:
- Greater security
- Customized control
- Resource provisioning
Monthly, we select a winner from all respondents to our service-ticket surveys. Congratulations to RL of EAG, our survey-response winner from last month.
Our winner received a $10 gift certificate, compliments of Bryley Systems.
This is a multi-part series on recommended IT practices for organizations and their end-users. Additional parts will be included in upcoming newsletters.
Active Directory is an integral component of Microsoft Windows Server; it is a powerful utility to manage both end-users and shared resources on a network.
It can scale to match the needs of any organization, from small to Enterprise size.
User management via Active Directory was discussed in January 2015 Bryley Tips and Information at http://www.Bryley.com/Bryley-Tips-Information-January-2015/. Resource management is reviewed below.
Resources (servers, computers, folders, printers, scanners, etc.) should be located strategically to provide capabilities where needed. They can be setup to support either groups of computers (IE: all counter-based PCs in a retail store) or groups of users (IE: all tellers at a specific branch office of a bank).
Resources are published within Active Directory to assign access. For example, these are the basic steps to publish a new printer for a group of computers:
- Create a new Group Policy within the appropriate Container*
- Select the desired Computer Configuration settings
- Setup Location Tracking (as needed)
*Active Directory uses Containers to provide segmentation and organizational structure; Containers are usually Forest, Tree, Sites, Organizational Units, orDomains.
If you prefer to setup access for a group of users rather than a group of computers, you would select User Configuration rather than Computer Configuration when publishing a resource.
Once published, resources within Active Directory need periodic attention to adjust access as needs change and to remove decommissioned resources.
Active Directory has a well-established set of best practices; these can be enforced through the Active Directory Best Practices Analyzer, which identifies and reports deviations from best practices.
William R. Stanek provides an overview on Active Directory features and capabilities in his article Using Active Directory Service from Chapter 5 of theMicrosoft Windows 2000 Administrator’s Pocket Consultant.
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