Clients First USA
Clients First knows their software, but they are also astute business people, and they really understand manufacturing and distribution in particular.
Jimmy Witcher, COO, Merrick
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‘Petya’ Ransomware Outbreak Goes Global

Wednesday, June 28th, 2017

As you are may be aware, ‘Petya’ is the latest global Ransomware outbreak.  Just a month ago it was WannaCry.  Petya does WannaCry one better.  Instead of merely encrypting all your data files on all vulnerable servers and computers on your network, it makes them unbootable without paying the ransom and even then the odds of a successful unlock are less than 50%.

If you run the latest Windows operating systems and have automatic updating turned on you should be protected from this variant.  If you don’t you may be exposed to severe risk. Regardless, Ransomware is hands down the #1 source of unexpected IT data loss and downtime and is a much more likely risk than fire or natural disaster.

How to permanently protect yourself against this and future Ransomware as well as other IT disasters such as crashed drives, human error, fire, flood etc.

This week it’s Petya but you never know what is going to happen to your IT systems or when.  We’ve seen a $2 part in a sprinkler head break and flood a server room on a Friday night leading to IT disaster.

Clients First’s EverSafe solution is a hardware, software and services solution that actively protects you against all unexpected IT downtime.  Even if some of your key applications are in the cloud, it’s likely you still have some data and systems on-premise.

EverSafe continually backs up or ‘snapshots’ your entire IT infrastructure, including your ERP software as frequently as every 5 minutes.  It actively looks at the backed up data and will send out immediate alerts to you as well as us if it detects the latest snapshot has files being affected by RansomWare.  In the event this occurs, we can track down the source machine, address the infection, while simultaneously restoring all the affected files quickly from the last unaffected backup.

If one or more of your servers suffers a failure like a crashed hard drive, the EverSafe device can boot up a 5 minute old ‘clone’ of the affected server(s) and be online servicing your users again literally in minutes.

If you had a site disaster like a fire or flood, we can boot up the backups we are continually sending to our cloud data centers.  They will run on the EverSafe enterprise hardware in the cloud and your users can work from home or alternate locations until your facility is moved or repaired.

To learn more or see a demo, check out www.eversafe-backup.com  If you have any questions about this or any other IT related issues or needs, please contact me at mchinsky@clientsfirst-us.com

So You Want to Build Your Own PC? Tips for the Beginner

Friday, May 26th, 2017

In this post, we invited a guest blogger, Jackie Edwards to write about the idea of building your own PC.  This is a surprisingly popular past time.  It’s a great way for you or your children to learn much more about what makes that PC on their desk actually tick and is a way to build a much more powerful ‘rig’ at lower cost than the pre-built machines often sold by Dell, or at retail stores which have alot of the purchase price in marketing and shelf space versus premium components.

There is nothing quite like the feeling of powering up your new PC after you assembled it with your very own two hands. Building a home PC will not only give you an extreme sense of pride and a can-do attitude towards technology, but it is also a great way to save money on buying an expensive pre-built model.

Whether you are building your PC for business or pleasure, there are a number of techy tips that can prevent you from committing common mistakes and costing yourself money, time, and stress. Whether you are a first-time builder or an experienced computer maker, you can always learn more about your budding machine to make the process unfold evermore seamlessly.

Foolproof Tips As You Begin

Sometimes, we trust too much in the power of Google and our devices and forget that you should return to the basics as you begin the build. Though this might seem trivial, it is crucial that you have cleared a large enough space to actually build the PC. If your space is cramped and wires from other speakers or lamps are getting in the way, you are more likely to mess up the PC’s cables and cause yourself a lot of confusion.

Also, if you have purchased a variety of new components for your PC, you will probably have a mass of those ancient-seeming white manuals lying around your construction site. Tip: read them. Oftentimes, manuals will include simple tips that you might miss on your own, such as listening for a ‘click’ when you connect your RAM. It is also helpful to keep a list of all of your steps in the building process, so you can easily retrace each action you took along the way if you run into problems down the line.

Now That You’re Ready…Pay Attention

Again, something that might seem basic, but you should be extremely aware of every step you take in your entire PC-building undertaking. Buying incompatible components is a common mistake, as you may have purchased all of the cheapest options to save money. Compatibility is obviously essential to your PC running correctly, so you should consult an online compatibility check before you go ahead and confirm an order.

Once all of your components are in order, you are well on your way to success if you manage to bypass the ambiguities of installation. Jamming cables into parts that seem to fit will most likely lead to you damaging needed wires. Consult your manuals, or Google, before you go on forcing things into places at random. Many of your cables and components are equipped with a nice clicking sound if you have plugged something in correctly, so be aware of that as you build.

It is also important that you treat each installation as its own project. Though it may seem simple to install RAM, your motherboard’s standoffs, memory, and even the outside fans, these are steps that can go terribly wrong. As stated, pay careful attention to the task at hand and make note of it on your step-by-step list before continuing onto the next phase.

Once you have your PC built and start using it, make sure you have a premium disaster recovery solution to address the disasters that can happen like fire, flood, or even Ransomware.  One such solution, EverSafe will ensure you can fail over to an almost identical clone of your server or desktop within 5 minutes.

Keeping in mind all of these pointers as you tackle the nitty-gritty process of PC-building will ensure that your machine functions like it was assembled by a pro. Before you know it, you’ll be your very own tech-support with your working PC and new best friend.

RansomWare Attacks Up 50% in Last Year

Monday, May 1st, 2017

goldeneye-ransomware-skull.jpg

According to ZDNet, in THIS article, Ransomware attacks are up a whopping 50% over the last year.  They are now the #1 source of data loss and business downtime exceeding all other reasons.

This article gives you the details and even history of RansomWare which actually dates all the way back to 1989.

Ransomware creators are now working with criminal enterprises where instead of selling the Ransomware to the criminals, they take a 50% cut on all proceeds.
On average, Ransomware takes a victim offline for at least a week.  That alone could shutter many small businesses.

The rise of BitCoin has helped Ransomware.  In the earlier days, credit cards were used for payments but most major credit card processing companies banned the use of credit cards for this purpose leaving no way for the creators of Ransomware to get paid for the unlocking keys.  With BitCoin, they have a completely untraceable way of getting paid, although its orders of magnitude harder for the victim to figure out how to buy and transfer BitCoin versus using a credit card.
The best way to avoid Ransomware is via vigilence around your users Internet activities.  The usual warnings of never clicking unknown links in email or web pages.   However, its almost inevitable that someone may not be careful, or may be in a rush and it only takes one person in your office to unleash Ransomware on every computer.

Using our EverSafe! solution, you will get an immediate notification if Ransomware is detected on your network.  At that point, you can remove the Ransomware. Without EverSafe!, removing Ransomware usually leaves your data that has been encrypted, now forever destroyed.
With EverSafe!, you can just restore all of your data how it appeared only minutes before the infection, and you are back up and running with virtually no downtime or data loss.

Upgrading from Microsoft Dynamics GP or SL to NAV

Wednesday, April 26th, 2017

Microsoft currently offers four on-premise ERP solutions as well as two SaaS based solutions.

The four on-premise (Which can also be hosted in the cloud) are: Dynamics Gl, Dynamics SL, Dynamics AX and Dynamix NAV.  The two SaaS solutions are Dynamics 365 for Financials and Dynamics 365 for Operations.

In THIS article we go into significant detail on the history of the various Microsoft Dynamics solutions, where they are targeted and what the future may hold for them.

If you are on Dynamics SL or Dynamics GP, products and want to move to a solution that has a long term development future or the distribution and manufacturing functionality Dynamics AX or NAV provides,  we recommend you take advantage of Microsoft’s “Product Line Transition” promotions.

Customers who are current on product maintenance get full investment credit for the cost of the original ERP purchase.  If you spent $40,000 on Dynamics GP 10 years ago and want to move to say a $55,000 Dynamics NAV solution, you would only have to pay $15,000 to Microsoft for the switch.  Of course some data conversion, implementation and training are involved, but Clients First can help you minimize that effort required.

Besides having a clear charted course for the future of your ERP solution you’ll gain many new advantages.

Some advantages of moving from Dynamics GP or SL to NAV
  • More powerful and flexible multi-dimensional chart of accounts.
    • Imagine being able to ‘slice and dice’ all of your business entities, department, even companies without growing your chart of accounts.  Traditional solutions like GP require thousands of accounts as you add ways to measure you business.  NAV does not.
  • Latest technology to make mobile computing easier including a 100% Web Client option
  • Broad and deep functionality in areas like advanced distribution, replenishment, warehousing etc.
  • The ability to rapidly customize the solution to your unique business including drag and drop workflow and enterprise content management
  • Native integration to Dynamics CRM (Now Dynamics 365 for Sales)
  • Simple powerful reporting via Excel using Jet Reports for NAV.

There are literally hundreds of reasons to switch.  Hit the chat button below to find out more.  We also have extensive free online training and demonstrations at dynamics-nav-training.com

The History of Microsoft Dynamics ERP Systems – SL, GP, AX & NAV

Wednesday, April 26th, 2017

Microsoft has multiple ERP solutions that were acquired at different points in the past.  They had somewhat different target markets and capabilities and there still exists some market confusion, especially with the  similar names.

Microsoft Dynamics SL

Dynamics SL was originally known as Solomon Software and was acquired by Great Plains who was later acquired by Microsoft.  SL is focused on small and midsized companies with a heavy emphasis on Project Accounting.  However, SL’s technology platform has gotten dated and Microsoft outsourced all development on the product years ago.

Microsoft Dynamics GP

Dynamics GP was originally known as Great Plains Dynamics.  At one point, Dynamics was one of the top selling small and mid-market accounting systems and typically was ‘neck and neck’ with State of the Art’s MAS90 (Later to become Sage 100).  It was a very competent general accounting system with basic distribution and manufacturing functionality.  It was based on a language that was built for the solution known as Dexterity.  It’s still sold today, but given that it’s not localized to run outside of the US, it’s not a strategic solution for Microsoft as it moves to the cloud.

Microsoft Dynamics AX

Dynamics AX, originally called Axapta, was a solution that was created by a group of executives who left Navision.  It was later acquired by Navision before Navision was acquired by Microsoft.  Axapta historically focused on complex customization, global implementations and later a strong focus on manufacturing.  Over the years Microsoft has pushed AX upmarket to compete head to head with the likes of Oracle and SAP at large multi-national corporations.  Although it can fit a variety of industries and business sizes, its deep functionality and thus longer implementation times leaves it best in complex multi-plant manufacturing environments and those that need to run one system instance across multiple geographies with multiple localization requirements.

Microsoft Dynamics NAV

Dynamics NAV, formally Navision Financials, was developed by Navision.  It was a solution that introduced many capabilities that have been copied by others since including a multi-dimensional chart of accounts, built in real time summation and analytics for fast summaries and instant drill down anywhere and a rapid development environment designed to be mold-able to a client’s needs rather than a solution that assumes you will change to it’s ‘best practices.’  Over the years, the distribution functionality of NAV was heavily enhanced along with a mid-level range of manufacturing functionality and is ideal for financials only, distribution and light manufacturing companies.

The Future:

Microsoft has known for sometime it needs to streamline its offerings while still not leaving existing clients abandoned.  It’s opportunity to do so became clear while it simultaneously is retooling its solutions to be offered in the cloud.  The fact that Microsoft get’s the majority of its revenues from international sales spells trouble for Dynamics GP & SL because neither solution can be used outside of the US in most cases and are among the only solutions of the hundreds of products Microsoft offers to be in this position.

With Microsoft’s introduction of Dynamics 365 for Financials and Dynamics 365 for Operations, Microsoft has retooled NAV for the small and mid-market cloud ERP market and retooled AX for the upper mid-market and upper market cloud world.

Microsoft has rebuilt the core architectures of NAV & AX to run smoothly in the cloud and to be run completely in a browser.  If you are a mid-size distribution or light manufacturing company, NAV & Dynamics 365 for Financials are the Microsoft solutions to look at today and Dynamics AX and Dynamics 365 for Operations for those with complex manufacturing requirements.

Did you know if you are on Dynamics GP or SL (Great Plains or Solomon), you can get 100% of your license investment applied toward upgrading to NAV or AX?  Read more about it HERE.