FY2016 Support Agreements

November is Support Agreement renewal month. As of 16 November, we’ve received about 65% of signed agreements. This is an important 4th Quarter item as we need to update the Accounting program as well as our Managed Services console.

Network stability is a critical element of your business operational capability. Site uptime for 2015 has remained very high with only two major Server issues out of 28 Servers, both of which were fixed within two days. Workstation count is still over 450 and they have remained stable especially since we have pretty much completed most required upgrades this past year. This takes considerable effort and teamwork between us and our client base but that relationship continues to be a win-win for everyone.

If your site has decided not to renew for 2016, please let me know by this coming Friday, 20 November, so we can begin the Agent removal process. If you have chosen another IT Support vendor, it takes a while to clear out support tools and transition you to that vendor so coordinated planning is critical.

Any site not renewing will be supported through 31 December. After that date, all support will cease.

Network Performance Issues

We have seen network performance problems this past month and after some digging we think we have figured it out.

Microsoft is pushing the Windows 10 Upgrade like a fat kid on a ham sandwich. Even though systems may not choose to reserve an automatic upgrade, it turns out they are forcing the downloads to the network anyway. On top of that, they are also pushing a November update to Windows 10 to the tune of an additional 20 Gigabytes and that update is also clogging up the pipes.

Most of our networks are running Small Business Server 2011 which still uses a function called Windows Software Update Server (WSUS). In its day, it was the most efficient method of handling updates but times have changed. Updates in general have gotten bigger and more numerous. This recent Windows 10 push by Microsoft has really highlighted this weakness as the WSUS function is chewing up available resources beyond an acceptable level.

New features in our upgraded AssuredOps software will allow us to disable the WSUS function on the site Servers and offload update management to our Console. That will cut resource and backup volume use which should result in major performance increases (and stop Microsoft from wrecking network operations). Additionally, we’ll be sending out no-cost 128GB Flash drives over a period of time which will hold the approved updates and further reduce the load on the Servers.

As with any issue like these Windows 10 upgrades/updates, the tech world always comes up with a method of getting around the problem. After some considerable research, we have found a tool called GWX Control Panel which will flat out stop Windows 10 downloads in its tracks. As of now, it has to be run on a system by system basis but the application author is working on a method of command line deployment of this software. As soon as we have it in hand and get it properly tested, we’ll roll it out on all client networks.