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Thursday, September 24, 2015
Alicia Klemola, Account Manager

Alicia KlemolaYour city deals in documents. That’s the way you capture, retain, and share much of your information. You may still use a lot of paper documents or store your documents somewhat chaotically on servers and computers. And you know that situation makes it tough to store, access, and track documents.

With open records laws and higher importance placed on electronic information, you may consider upgrading to a modern document management system. But will it immensely help you compared to what you have now? Most likely. Here’s how.

  1. Store documents in a central, accessible location. At cities, one of the toughest challenges is simply finding documents. If you’re trying to figure out what servers, desktops, or laptops are storing the information (or which folder holds the correct document), you’re working too hard. A document management system will ensure that documents are uploaded, stored, and accessed in the same location. It’s no longer a mystery where a document may reside.
  2. Access documents from any device through the cloud. A modern document management system will store documents in the cloud, meaning that you can access those documents from any device—including desktop computers, laptops, tablets, or smartphones. This is especially beneficial when people work from home, from another remote location, or while traveling—and especially in the event that there is no longer a building because of a disaster!
  3. Restrict documents to only authorized users. The great thing about easy access from anywhere is that modern document management systems also supply excellent security that restricts access. From a dashboard that you control, you can designate which users have access to particular documents. For example, you might designate that only your finance staff has access to financial and accounting documents.
  4. Check in and check out documents to avoid editing conflicts. Documents are often collaborative, and many people will help edit a document over a period of weeks or months. Don’t you hate it when you’ve edited a document and you find out someone copied over the document—losing all of the changes you made? With modern document management systems, people can maintain the history of their document changes in order to return to previous versions so that changes are not lost. And because of check in / check out features, you can lock documents so that only one person edits them at a time.
  5. Establish final versions of documents to help with documentation and open records. Without a document management system, it’s sometimes hard to find the final, official version of a document. The document names might confuse you or it might be difficult to figure out the date when a document was last modified. Document management systems use document versioning to clearly show you the final version. This versioning feature helps cities clearly know which documents are the latest, and it also helps cities more quickly find official documents for open records requests.

Modern document management systems are often quite an advance versus what cities currently use. The basic theme of the advantages listed above are speed and efficiency. The faster you can find, access, edit, and finalize documents, the more time you save—and that gives you margin to tackle the many other items on your busy plate. Added security also helps not only with protection against hackers but also by ensuring that city employees access only the documents for which they have permission.

Thinking about upgrading the way you manage documents? Send us a note and we’ll talk to you in more detail.

Thursday, September 17, 2015
Brian Ocfemia, Technical Account Manager

Brian OcfemiaData breaches have become a regular part of the news. It seems that every day we hear about a new attempt by hackers to steal sensitive information from large companies and government agencies. These big cases hide the fact that many hackers attack smaller cities because they are easy targets.

How can smaller cities especially focus on preventing hackers from stealing sensitive information like social security numbers, credit card information, and other personal identifying information? After making an effort to classify data based on sensitivity and identifying where it resides in your city, you’ll want to do the following.

  1. Encrypt your data. Take steps to encrypt all of your sensitive data onsite, in transit, and offsite. Encryption is one of the most important preventative security actions you can take because it makes data worthless to hackers—even if they do steal it. You’ll want to make sure your data is encrypted on your servers and workstations, your data backup hardware and software, your wireless access points, and your mobile devices. Many of the biggest government data breaches in recent years were made worse by unencrypted data.
  2. Provide information on a “need to use” basis. Known as the “principle of least privilege,” your city needs to consider giving employee access to only the information that people need to use for their job.
  3. Raise the standards of your physical security. Often overlooked, physical security lapses are an easy way for sensitive information to get stolen and exposed. All a thief needs is an unlocked room of servers or computers, a USB drive that downloads the desired information, and a quick exit. Laptops and mobile devices are also incredibly easy to steal, and they’re often jam-packed with sensitive information or access to sensitive information. Revisit your physical security—especially how you lock down rooms and restrict access.
  4. Use complex passwords that change every few months. Passwords are still one of the weakest links in a city’s security chain. Because of ease, many passwords are often simple (like “superman” or “123456”), used by multiple people, and visible on desks (such as sticky notes on a computer screen). Your passwords need length and complexity such as a combination of letters, numbers, and special characters. Your IT staff and vendor can enforce the use of complex passwords and require that they change every three months or so. If employees grumble about it, remind them why this is important for data security at your city.
  5. Keep software upgraded and antivirus software current. We left software for last because the other four tips are very important but many times overlooked. However, keeping all of your software patched, upgraded, and current makes sure you sew up any security holes. We still see too many cities that haven’t patched and upgraded software for many many months. That means also keeping your antivirus software up-to-date, as viruses are another way for hackers to steal data from your city.

Even the best information security will not prevent the most sophisticated hackers from stealing data. However, there’s a difference between being an open target and significantly lessening the risk. Think about an unlocked house with open doors and windows. By starting with the tips above, you’re taking steps to lock down your house. Threats will still exist, but you are decreasing the likelihood of something happening.

Need to start assessing the state of your data security? Reach out to us and we’ll be happy to answer your questions.

Thursday, September 10, 2015
Victoria Boyko, Software Development Consultant

Victoria BoykoImagine going to a restaurant where you look at the menu and it’s just a list of 100 items. There are no sections of the menu for “Appetizers,” “Entrees,” or “Desserts.” Or maybe the menu is organized around themes that relate to things important to the restaurant like “Fresh from the Farmer’s Market,” “For Vegans,” or “Chef’s Favorites.” That’s nice, but...where are the entrees?

That’s how your citizens may feel about your city’s website. Often, it’s easier to just put information “wherever” on your website or organize it in a way that benefits you rather than the people looking for it. In today’s Internet age, people are scanners, not readers. They’re scanning websites quickly to find the information they want—and they grow impatient when websites don’t intuitively deliver up the information they want.

So how can you make sure your city’s website content connects better with your audience? Here are five questions you should ask about the information you put on your website.

  1. How do your citizens and website users look for information? The way that people look for information might differ from how you organize information on your city’s website. For example, you may think of organizing information by department. But people may not think that way. Instead, think of people’s needs when they come to your website. For example, you might organize your website information by indicating what’s for residents, businesses, visitors, and job seekers.
  2. How can you organize a lot of topics to make them easier to navigate? In many cases, city websites often list too many unorganized topics on a webpage that make it hard to find anything. Imagine you’re a business owner needing information and you go to a city’s website. What would they need most? How can you make finding that information easy on the user? It helps when you organize topics into incredibly user-friendly chunks that make it easy for people to know where to go next.
  3. How can you get people to do something? Encourage people to do something on your website. These encouragements are known as “calls to action.” They may include things like:
    • Get started
    • Learn more
    • Pay your ticket
    • Sign up for our newsletter
    • Follow us on Twitter
  4. How can you highlight important information while hiding excessive detail? Be careful about providing too much detail, too soon. Think of your city’s website like you’re helping someone at City Hall. Start off with general questions on the high-level pages of your website and then provide detailed specifics as people click deeper.
  5. How can you better organize information on each page? In the introduction, we mentioned that people scan more instead of read. To make your information more scannable, add headings, subheadings, bulleted lists, numbered lists, and links. For example, you might offer an easy to scan list of things people need to start a business. Then, each step can offer a link for people to access more information. Otherwise, people will have to work hard to figure out how to find things on your website—which will frustrate them and makes it more likely they will call you.

When you take extra care in organizing your website, it’s the difference between piles of books on the floor versus going to a public library. At a public library, books are organized by an overall system that’s easy for people to navigate. They can search by author, topic, title, and many other labels, and it’s easy to move around and find what they want. The same needs to be true of your website.

Even if you’re a small city and you don’t have that much information on your website, still take the time to organize the information you do have. You will help your citizens more and appear better organized to potential residents or business owners wishing to relocate to your city.

To talk about these tips in more detail, reach out to us.

Thursday, September 3, 2015
Dave Mims, CEO

Dave MimsIn discussions about transitioning existing onsite hardware into the cloud, non-technical city administrators and employees understandably sometimes wonder what IT staff or a vendor will do once there is nothing or very little onsite hardware to manage. If nothing is there, what’s there to do? If a city just accesses cloud services over the Internet, then it seems like the IT staff or vendor’s role disappears.

Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on your point of view!), there is still plenty for IT staff or a vendor to do. Cloud technology has certainly shaken up the world of technology, and it constantly requires new skill sets and ways of managing IT.

Here are a few critical areas where your IT staff or vendor will spend much of their time.

  1. Consulting and planning. It’s more critical than ever that your IT staff or vendor has business experience (preferably municipal experience) to help you analyze your needs and goals on an ongoing basis. Cloud services make a lot of sense for cities, but you need the right combination of services to make sure you can run your applications, store and back up all of your data, and scale quickly up or down as needed.
  2. Managing and communicating with cloud vendors. Cloud vendors provide you services but they don’t know your particular day-to-day needs, problems, and issues. For example, instead of spending hours and days on the phone figuring out the source of a software issue, your IT staff or vendor would quickly understand the issue and work with the cloud vendor to resolve it.
  3. Ongoing management and maintenance of your cloud applications, tools, and data. You will still need someone to keep watch over your cloud application performance, security, patching, and upgrades. Some of these services are more automated at the cloud data centers, but you will still need personalized monitoring of day-to-day cloud services performance particular to your city.
  4. Ongoing management and support of your remaining onsite hardware and technology assets. You will still need to manage and support some onsite hardware and technology assets, especially in making sure they interact well with the cloud. That may include your desktop computers, laptops, tablets, phones, firewalls, routers, printers, and other hardware. You need reliable onsite hardware to receive the full benefits of cloud services and you will still need help with onsite cybersecurity, software support, and vendor communications.
  5. Storage needs. This area of cloud services is extremely particular and nuanced for your city, especially because more or less storage affects your budget. Only your IT staff or vendor will have the know-how to work out your storage needs—not only for your current situation but also for your future situation. The good news is that the cloud easily scales up and down to accommodate any of your storage needs, but that kind of scaling requires planning and knowledge from your IT staff or vendor.
  6. Data backup and disaster recovery. Your IT staff or vendor will need to monitor and maintain your offsite data backups in the cloud with rigor and thoroughness. That means making sure that all your critical data is backed up, that your backups are tested at least quarterly, and that all issues with backups are resolved as soon as possible.

Obviously, there are more technical, complex, and lesser priority IT activities still required to manage the cloud. But you can see that there is plenty to keep your IT staff or vendor busy. It’s worth noting that skill sets have changed so fast that you will occasionally find people who distrust the cloud. Often, they are not equipped with the knowledge and know-how to manage your technology through the cloud. Your IT staff or vendor needs to:

  • Understand both traditional and modern technology, including the cloud.
  • Approach your technology with a business mindset.
  • Have experience working with municipalities and their particular challenges.

Questions about transitioning to the cloud? Give us a shout and we’ll help answer them.

Thursday, August 27, 2015
Nathan Eisner, COO

Nathan EisnerIn Part 1, we talked about the capital expenses of hardware and software such as purchasing, licenses, procurement, asset management, maintenance, and repair. In this post, we look more at some of the ongoing operational expenses related to aging technology.

Operational expenses can sneak up on cities because they are less apparent and often involve reactive, unplanned expenses. Like a leech, aging technology operationally eats away at your city’s money and time in a few areas.

  1. Building space and utilities. Maintaining a lot of hardware first requires a lot of building space. Freeing that space up can be a small boon, giving your employees more room without having to buy or rent additional space. Also, hardware maintenance requires a lot of electricity, heating, and cooling. Those utility costs add up over a year, so reducing those expenses by using less hardware can lower your energy bills.
  2. Reactive IT support. Aging technology is often accompanied by reactive IT support. We often encounter cities that think it’s cheaper to call a vendor who serves more like a repairperson, repairing old hardware similar to maintaining an old car. Not only does aging technology break down more often but reactive IT support also merely puts out fires without addressing the root cause. Because you never know when or how many fires will crop up again, this situation leads to unpredictable IT support costs that gets expensive quickly.
  3. Cybersecurity. When you haven’t modernized your technology, you drastically increase your city’s risk of a data breach or a hacker stealing information. Older hardware and software often lacks modern security features that help prevent viruses and hacker exploits. And we find that some cities fail to regularly patch and upgrade software to keep up with increasing security threats. Cloud software often builds in security upgrades in a seamless, automatic fashion, taking that activity off your plate while keeping you more secure.
  4. Data backup and disaster recovery. Lack of effective data backup often accompanies aging technology. Sometimes, the data backup process is manual and untested, meaning that data backup either doesn’t happen or it fails to actually work when a city attempts to restore data. Modern data backup and disaster recovery ensures you have a combination of onsite and offsite data backup, with the offline component making sure that you can recover your data in case of severe disasters like a tornado or flood.
  5. IT staff and employee training. Do you have IT staff (or non-technical city staff) who simply put out technology fires every day? Or are they more strategic about using IT to help your city complete important projects? Do your employees need training to help them learn or keep up with complicated software? Modernizing your technology can both reduce city staff time spent battling fires (similar to reactive IT support) and reduce the learning curve that your city employees have with new software.

As part of lowering your operational costs, it helps to consider using an IT vendor that costs less than adding a full time employee and has an experienced team of engineers who can quickly and efficiently handle your ongoing technology needs. By investing in proactive IT support, you take care of many operational technology needs in one fell swoop from data backup to security. Staying on top of these operational technology areas helps keep your costs low and predictable.

Interested in addressing your operational IT costs and risks? Give us a shout to talk in more detail.

Thursday, August 20, 2015
Nathan Eisner, COO

Nathan EisnerAfter many cities modernize their technology, they end up asking, “Why did we wait so long?” The financial and productivity ripple effects are often so immediate and startling that it's like getting a positive boost of energy and morale. In addition, real financial impact results from both a reduction in capital expenses and operational expenses.

This post focuses on the cost savings that accompany a reduction in capital expenses for hardware and software. As you will see, there are many parts and pieces that affect your budget simply by focusing on the hardware and software you own or lease.

  1. Hardware. Your servers. Your workstations. Even your networking hardware like routers, switches, and firewalls. The more hardware you own and maintain onsite, the more costs you accrue. Not only do you need to purchase hardware but you also pay for installation, warranties, and licenses. Cloud services often reduce the amount of servers that cities own (and, as a result, the amount of networking hardware you own). If your workstations are more than five years old, you may also suffer from productivity issues that can be solved more cheaply by upgrading to brand new workstations. Computer hardware continues to get better and, at the same time, lower in cost.
  2. Software. Software often creates large expenses in a city budget. Purchasing software and user licenses, installation, data migration or integration with other software, and ongoing upgrades add up to a lot of money. Many advancements in software delivery, especially through the cloud, have lowered software’s overall costs—including lessening the hands on expenses of onsite maintenance. Assess if your aging software might be better served by a cloud solution to potentially decrease your overall costs by a significant margin.
  3. Procurement. With less hardware and software to manage, you will find yourself purchasing less hardware and software. Whether it’s your procurement office, your city manager, your city clerk, another member of your city staff, or your IT vendor helping you buy hardware and software, purchasing takes a long time. You write up requirements, post an RFP or RFQ, receive responses, assess them, interview vendors, and make a final selection. Even if you’ve streamlined parts of the purchasing process, it still takes up a lot of time.
  4. Asset management. The more you have, the more you need to track. As part of your asset management, you need to keep tabs on all hardware, software, networking equipment, warranties, and licenses. This activity requires dedicated attention to make sure all inventory is accounted for, all licenses are up to date, and that assets are replaced or upgraded in an appropriate timeframe.
  5. Managing the hardware and software lifecycle. Obviously, the upfront costs of hardware and software are significant, but there is also occasional maintenance, upgrades, repairs, and (eventually) decommission. The more hardware and software you manage onsite, the more of these costs pop up along the way. Especially for older machines, repairs and maintenance become more frequent, essential, and costly. That’s why the more hardware and software you can move into the cloud, the less costly your onsite maintenance.

Aging hardware and software suffers from two major disadvantages. First, it’s simply old, expensive to maintain, and unable to perform at a sufficient capacity. Second, it doesn’t make financial sense compared to modern and emerging technologies that save organizations money by simply eliminating the need to manage hardware and software onsite. Examine the costs of the areas above with your IT staff or vendor and explore if there are ways that you can save money.

Part 2 of this post will address operational expenses related to IT. If you have questions about your IT capital expenses, give us a holler.

Thursday, August 13, 2015
John Miller, Senior Consultant

As cybersecurity concerns continue to grow and grow, you will often hear that many data breaches occur because of employees clicking on suspicious emails. It’s obviously frustrating that an organization can implement the strongest firewalls, antivirus software, and antispam software and yet still get a crippling virus from a simple email.

While it’s smart to make sure you have as many preventative methods in place that block or warn people about suspicious threats before they even happen, even the best of us can still click on suspicious emails. Here are a few tips that will help employees keep from clicking.

1. Look at the email address of the sender.

Hackers have become good at creating sender names that at first glance seem legitimate, such as “GoogleNotify” in the example below. But take a look at the sender’s email address. It’s clearly not from a Google email account. Sophisticated hackers may use a name that looks more legitimate, but email addresses are often an area where most hackers fall short—making it easier to know it’s a fraud.


2. Ask yourself if the email is normal or typical?

Suspicious email attachments usually ask you to do something that you’ve never done before. If you feel immediate suspicion or you immediately wonder why an organization would send you this email, then that feeling is a red flag. For example, if the email says your bank suspended your account and you need to download a zip file attachment to restore it, ask yourself if that sounds right. If you’re in doubt, go to the organization’s website or call the organization to ask if the email is legitimate.

3. Is the email asking you to click a strange link or an attachment?

If the email seems unusually desperate to get you to click on a link or an attachment, that’s a red flag. Especially be careful about attachments. Any legitimate organization does not typically conduct business through having customers download zip files as a part of a transaction. And while many legitimate emails provide links, you need to assess your trust and past interactions with the organization sending the email. If it’s an email newsletter from a trusted organization with clear identifying information, you’re probably fine. But if the sender is asking you to do something odd such as accessing your email messages through a link (when you normally just go to your email account), then be extremely wary.

4. Is the email crystal clear?

If it is a vague communication, such as “Undeliverable messages. Get more information” be wary. Any professional organization would provide more information and context about a particular issue. A professional email provides a full description of what the organization asks of you and will provide contact information to not only handle any of your questions but also in case you want to verify that the email is not a scam if you have doubts.

5. Are you asked for sensitive information?

This is where the rubber meets the road for data breaches. Once you give out sensitive information like a password or social security number, your organization may be exploited. This is an area where your employees absolutely must err on the side of caution. No matter who asks for sensitive information, always confirm that request with someone in authority. When in doubt, confirm.

If a theme emerges with these questions, it’s that employees need a certain “street smart” mentality applied to email. And sometimes emails skirt the line. Recently, Facebook sent one of our employees a legitimate message that looked like a phishing attempt. That employee instead went to Facebook directly to handle the problem instead of clicking through any link in the email—just to be sure. In another instance, a similar looking email supposedly from Apple turned out to be a phishing attempt. Erring on the side of caution should be your employees’ rule of thumb, and it’s something to constantly communicate to them to help avoid viruses and data breaches.

Concerned about data breaches through email? Contact us to talk in more detail about this problem.

Thursday, August 6, 2015
Alicia Klemola, Account Manager

Alicia KlemolaWhile document management systems seem logical for much larger cities, they often at first seem like overkill for smaller cities. We even admit there is a tangibility and reassurance about paper that electronic files still don’t give us. You can touch them, hold them, and know those paper documents are there.

However, paper documents involve many risks that are dangerous if you rely on them. That’s true even if you make copies of those paper documents. While you may always need some paper documents in certain cases, here are five reasons why you need to switch over to a document management system that digitizes as many of your files as possible.

  1. Paper files are more difficult to access. What would you rather do? Spend time (minutes, hours, or even days) down the hall going thru file cabinets looking for a specific set of documents? Or at your computer pulling up those same documents in seconds from a document management system? Accessing a lot of specific information contained in paper documents can take a long, long time. That’s staff time wasted doing something tedious and inefficient. With a document management system, you search and find information just like you would search on Google.
  2. Paper is too easily damaged or misplaced. Whether it’s wear and tear from handling documents over a long period of time or immediate damage from flooding or fire, paper documents are too easily ruined. Also, they can be misplaced—accidentally thrown away, misfiled, or lost. Electronic files that are backed up live on without damage. If someone deletes or corrupts a file, you can usually restore it through a backup copy.
  3. Paper is it. There is no backup. Sure, you can make additional paper copies of a document and even store them in a different place. But that really makes the problem worse. With electronic documents, you can back them up in a variety of ways—onsite and offsite. That way, even a disaster like a tornado or fire will not destroy your files.
  4. Paper takes up too much space. Your city buildings offer you limited space, and that space is expensive. If you can get rid of most of your paper, you can free up entire rooms instead of having to acquire more space or cram too many people into limited offices. You can also get rid of clunky, large file cabinets.
  5. Eliminating paper reduces your costs. Think of how much paper and toner you use each year. That’s a lot of money, especially to smaller cities. By getting rid of that cost, you can have a positive impact on your city budget. That also means you use printers less, giving them a longer shelf life.

Despite paper’s reassuring qualities, you can see that paper makes less and less sense from a business perspective each year. Time saved, freed up space, and the reduced costs of paper and ink save you money. Furthermore, your liability goes down. If your paper documents are destroyed, the financial repercussions are much higher than if you use a backed up electronic document management system.

Interested in discussing the benefits of document management versus paper in more detail? Reach out to us with your questions.

Friday, July 31, 2015
Victoria Boyko, Software Development Consultant

Victoria BoykoFor many cities, it’s challenging enough to modernize their websites. It creates a big visual shift for your city, it takes an investment of time and money, and it opens you up to new website features that you need to learn. But we see many great new city websites suddenly go dead due to one culprit: content.

Content is information. Text, images, audio, video. It’s what you create to communicate important information to citizens. But content creation is hard, time-consuming, and sometimes expensive. It’s easier to write up some copy and leave it on your website for as long as possible.

However, today’s Internet-savvy citizens expect more from city websites than ever before. Much more. Websites are no longer a novelty or secondary source of information. Today, your website is often the first source of information about your city that people discover and research.

Here are seven reasons why you need to invest the time, either with someone on your city staff or a freelance writer, to keep supplying your city with fresh information.

  1. Report news, events, and public meetings. Some of the freshest, most regularly updated information on your website should be your city news, events, and public meetings. This kind of information is incredibly useful and convenient for citizens, and it also helps with government transparency. It’s a pain for citizens to travel to the city council meeting location to get information, so reporting all news and information about city business helps them stay informed.
  2. Supply content for social media. You do communicate to your citizens on social media, right? If so, what do you share? You don’t have to worry if you’re regularly creating new information every day and week. Share information about city news, events, public meetings, school closings, road closures, emergency notices, and other items of interest on social media. Create the information first on your website, and then share it on social media.
  3. Provide high-quality citizen services. When citizens need deeper information about city departments, laws, fines, taxes, utilities, and other services, they need to easily find useful information on your website. Too many cities still have poorly written, incomplete information that only helps to increase call volume at city hall with people asking obvious questions. Those questions can be handled on your website. Think of what people need to know about your services, and then supply that information on your website.
  4. Look good to businesses to help with economic development. When businesses and economic developers consider growing business in new cities, they research online. If they see that most of your city website was last updated three years ago, and the last news item is from 2013, they will look elsewhere. Fresh content is like a fresh coat of paint. It keeps your city looking vital.
  5. Avoid confusion and liability issues because of inaccurate content. When you don’t update your website content and just leave it up there for a long time, you risk presenting inaccurate content to the world. Even just reviewing and updating your website content every year can help avoid serious issues. In some cases, your city may even be liable for posting inaccurate information.
  6. Fresh information helps people find your city on search engines. Google and other search engines now “reward” websites that keep their content fresh and up-to-date. If you’re not regularly updating your website, other less valuable and inaccurate websites have more of a chance of popping up for your citizens if they’re using Google to get information about your city.
  7. Foster a feeling of civic pride. Last but not least, do you really want your website to look and feel like an abandoned house? Especially when so many people are going to get their first impression of your city through your website? If anything, keep your website information fresh and timely to simply reflect the pride you have in your city.

Because content takes such constant, ongoing hard work, you may want to designate someone who primarily takes on the role (or roles) of creating, uploading, and maintaining your online presence. They don’t need to originate all of the information, but they can help collect it from busy members of your city staff, help write it up, and post it.

Needing to freshen up your city website content? Reach out to us for more tips and advice.

Thursday, July 23, 2015
Brian Ocfemia, Technical Account Manager

Brian OcfemiaIf you still use Windows 2003 servers, you’re not alone. Millions of servers around the world in many organizations still operate using this popular server platform to run software, databases, and other tools.

However, Microsoft ended its extended support for Windows 2003 servers on July 14, 2015. What does that mean for you?

Well, you might think things are fine. After all, you’ve run your software on these servers for many years. Your IT staff or vendor may even know these servers like the back of their hand. Even if Microsoft ended support, you’ll be fine, right?

Wrong. Here are several important, critical reasons why you need to move off of your Windows 2003 servers as soon as possible.

  1. Significantly increased security risks. Microsoft is no longer providing security patches for Windows 2003 servers. That means your servers are at a higher risk of experiencing viruses, hacking attempts, and data breaches. Because access to your servers means access to your most important software, databases, and applications, you cannot risk keeping your Windows 2003 servers without opening up your most sensitive information to the outside world.
  2. No more support from Microsoft. Microsoft will not provide any more patches or updates to fix bugs, security holes, and other issues for Windows 2003 servers. Even if your IT staff or a vendor helps you, they will struggle to fix any server problems because they will not have access to Microsoft for support or a patch to resolve the issue.
  3. Increased risk of liability. Does your city handle online payments, financial data, or sensitive citizen information to provide services? Using unsupported Windows 2003 servers may expose you to legal situations because of negligence around how you handle sensitive data.
  4. Increased costs. Old servers already show their age, and you may already struggle with server failures and downtime. Repairing and maintaining these servers costs money, and the downtime also costs money. That problem will now grow even worse.
  5. Greatly diminished employee productivity. If your employees rely on old, now unsupported Windows 2003 servers to do work in the world of 2015, then it’s likely their productivity is hurting. Not only will downtime and interruptions affect productivity but also the lack of modern software and databases they can use to do work.
  6. Inability to scale your technology and use modern software to meet citizen and employee needs. Your Windows 2003 servers create a ripple effect that affects software, applications, databases, and other tools throughout your city. There is simply so much you can’t do when using such out-of-date servers. And taking advantage of the amazing cost benefits of the cloud? Forget about it. Not with Windows 2003 servers.

Okay, but what do you need to do next? The important first step is to recognize that you need to transition from your Windows 2003 servers to something secure and modernized. While we recommend talking to us in more detail about your particular situation, generally you will probably consider:

  1. Setting up a meeting with your IT staff or vendor to discuss your current technology situation and where you need to be.
  2. Conducting an inventory and assessment of all your servers and software, including your Windows 2003 servers, to see what you have.
  3. Set priorities on what you need to transition from Windows 2003 servers to a modern server environment, such as the cloud.
  4. Start transitioning!

If you’ve run software, applications, and databases on Windows 2003 servers for a long time, this situation can be a lot to digest financially and operationally. To ease your concerns and get a game plan going, please reach out to us.

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