The top ten technology concerns for the SMB:

1.    Data

2.    Digital Transformation

3.    Cybersecurity

4.    Compliance

5.    Integration

6.    Cost

7.    Talent Scarcity

8.    Scalability

9.    Choice

10. Adoption

========================================================

1.    Data: Management, Analysis, Utilization, & Storage

Where do I put it all? How? What is it doing for me? How do we find it? Do I have capacity to store it all?

OneDrive, SharePoint and Azure Storage are the three storage technologies from Microsoft that can respectively provide personal, team, and organizational data repositories. Power BI can provide greater insight into your data. And connect to a wealth of resources with Microsoft Graph. Use Microsoft Teams as a ‘filing system’ and Azure Information Protection to classify and then share documents without worry for where any company data might be stored or located.

2.    Digital Transformation: Paperless Office | Remote Workforce | Keeping Up with Moore’s Law | Recognizing the Value of New Technologies (IoT, AI, AR, VR)

Everything is happening online. Can I avoid it? How can I determine the best investment?

Scan your paper documents with OneDrive right from your mobile device. Leverage the power of the cloud to speed up processes. AI is built into Windows 10, Microsoft Teams, and every other Microsoft application. Add LTE or 5G redundancy to your current internet access. And include WiFi probes to diagnose network performance and receive alerts to significant events or intrusions.

3.    Cybersecurity: Reducing the Attack Surface | Recognizing the Human Element

Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection helps with Safe Links and Safe Attachments. Multifactor Authentication reduces the risk of infection by a whopping 99%. Windows Defender AV is now a world-class antivirus solution, competing with the rest for the top spot in recent reviews, and now coming the MacOS. The best solution is a holistic one – don’t break up your security defenses into disparate services, but instead use the entire synergistic Microsoft ecosystem of security tools with industry best practices.

4.    Compliance: Abiding by Laws and Regulations | No GDPR in the USA – Not Yet | Govt. and Industry Regs

If you engage in business with any other business under the mandate of GDPR, then your business must comply, as well. And it’s only a matter of time before GDPR (in some form) comes to the US. Already we have HIPAA and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, so we must take measures to comply. If not, then the business can be fined heavily to the extent that it can possibly affect the longevity and integrity of the business.

5.    Integration: Will It Work with Existing Tech? | Connecting Widgets

The biggest mistake is to buy software the old-fashioned way – to supposedly ‘own it’. But these conventional and static versions of Office 2016/2019 do not keep current with continuous upgrades as they do with the Business and Pro Plus versions that come with Office 365 licenses. Keeping within a holistic ecosystem can avoid integration pitfalls. Use Intune and Windows AutoPilot Service to deploy new or existing devices to remote workers.

6.    Cost: Technology Is Not an Option | Average Tech Budget is 40 Percent

In today’s world, a business without technology is not in business. The average spending budget for SMB’s is 40% of overall operating costs. Using the cloud and subscription-based technologies such as Office/Microsoft365 reduce high capital expenses by leveraging lower monthly operating expenses instead.

7.    Talent Scarcity: Finding the Right Provider | Is Your IT Provider Skilled with the New Ways of the Modern Workplace?

This is a topic that confounds me. Too few of my peers are proficient with Office/Microsoft 365 as a single cohesive platform – most only see it as a perpetual expense for the MS Office software suite alone. But an IT provider must understand how to harmonize the entire Office/Microsoft 365 platform.

8.    Scalability: Ability to Grow Up or Down | Seasonal Peaks or Growing Pains

A CPA firm might need more resources during tax time and less afterward, or a new business might experience unexpected and exponential growth. Office/Microsoft 365 licenses can be added or removed, as needed.

9.    Choice: Which Tech to Choose? | So Many Vendors of Similar Tech

Again, it is my best recommendation to stay within the ecosystem of Office/Microsoft 365. In most cases, you will find an integrated solution that works with the rest of your Office applications. For example, build your own PowerApps application to enable your unique mobile force.

10. Adoption: Will My Employees Embrace New Ways? | If I Build It, Will They Come?

It’s got to be fun. It has to become part of your business culture. You can produce a thousand videos or online courses, but if they don’t watch them, then they don’t learn. There has to be a human element of enthusiasm when an engaged champion brings their excitement for apps such as Microsoft Teams to their peers. Who’s the next hero in your firm?

About 15 years ago, I had another Managed Services Provider (MSP) practice in another state. Our primary offering was Small Business Server 2003. This might sound familiar to you if you were in business then because almost everybody got on that ‘SBS train’.

The server would provide email services, as well as it would act as the file server. It did a lot more, but these two were the most common uses. The client would buy hardware, software, and client-access licenses, and we would be hired as the MSP to maintain all of that on a proactive basis, including an on-premises backup system set up to back up the on-premises data.

All that has changed. The 2019 version of that on-premises server scenario is now a bundle of cloud-based services, mostly consisting of Office 365 or some other version of it, such as Microsoft 365 Business. The email services are still Microsoft Exchange, but the Exchange server sits in a data center somewhere. The company documents still sit on a server, but that also sits in the data center. Backup still happens, but it’s a cloud-based service.

Microsoft is still the big vendor that it was then, but they’ve turned the small business technology paradigm on its head. For example:

  • As mentioned, Exchange is still the king of email services. Just like in the old days, the server synchronizes your email from server to devices. Whatever is deleted on the server gets removed from your devices and vice versa. The same goes for contacts, calendar items and tasks within Outlook.
  • In some cases, you were provided a space on the server for personal documents – those that were ‘works in progress’ before sharing them to the company repository. Now we have OneDrive for Business as our personal document storage and SharePoint as the common library for published documents.
  • Identity and security services were another function of the on-premises solution in the form of Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS). Your password was verified on the local server, which determined your access to specified files or folders.
  • Now it’s Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) that authenticates your identity, but there’s a new kid on the block for data protection, and that is Azure Information Protection (AIP).
  • AIP secures your documents at the document level; each document is unique to its creator and abides by the way that it’s been classified or labeled. It doesn’t matter where your document is stored (OneDrive, SharePoint, DropBox, or thumb drive) because the permissions of the document travel with the document. Whenever there’s an attempt to open a document, it ‘calls home’ to find out who has the rights that have been specified. But ‘calling home’ now means the Azure AD server and the integrated AIP services, not a local AD server.
  • Backup still happens from one disk to another, but now those disks sit in separate data centers. And as much as Office 365 inherently backs itself up, there is purging that happens on a regular basis at Microsoft, so if the version of a document is needed from 11 months ago, then our third-party cloud-backup service can be there for restoration functionality from archives.

In most cases and depending upon your unique needs, we provide a bundle of monthly services that includes your Office 365 licensing, as well as the backup seats. Of course, there is 24/7 helpdesk available and we will manage your devices, too. But ongoing training is also part of the deal.

At Resolute IT, we are resolute – we are not just there for you in the times of emergency, but we are on your side and acting on your behalf to ensure that you’re leveraging your technology most effectively.

 

microsoft 365 businessThe Microsoft 365 Business subscription is a bundle of three core technologies: Windows 10 Pro upgrade licenses; Office 365 Business Premium features; and the Enterprise Mobility + Security suite.

  • The first part mentioned includes upgrades to Windows 10 Pro from earlier Pro versions of Windows 7, 8, and 8.1. With the approach of Windows 7’s end-of-life, this is now critical.
  • A key component of Microsoft 365 Business is the inclusion of Office 365 Business Premium features, such as: desktop, web, and mobile versions of Office software; document storage; business-class email; and Microsoft Teams chat-based workspace.
  • And it includes Enterprise Mobility + Security, including: remote device deployment and remote wipe of devices; message encryption; multi-factor authentication; Safe Links and Safe Attachments; data loss prevention policies; document and message archiving; and controls like “Do not forward” and “Do not copy”, as well as the ability to classify documents as confidential.

Beyond Microsoft 365 Business are the Enterprise and Education bundles. Enterprise plans, for example, allow for Phone System and Calling Plans to enable public calling within Microsoft Teams on the desktop, from the mobile app, or from IP phones and other devices designed for Teams.

 

OneDrive for BusinessProperly known in this context as OneDrive for Business (just plain OneDrive usually means the consumer product), it serves as the file repository for end-users when storing their files that are ‘works in progress’ or files that only pertain to them personally as an individual member within the organization.

These files can be shared with people inside and outside of your organization, either specifically with certain users or with anyone that has a link to the file. Encryption keeps your files safe when at rest and while in transit.

The capacity of each person’s  OneDrive  is normally 1TB, but some  Office365  plans offer unlimited storage. Files kept in this cloud location can be synced to the user’s device with various options to keep the files fully downloaded and available at all times (cached) or merely as placeholders for the occasional download to save space on the local drive  FilesOnDemand. If files are deleted by accident, they can be restored within 30 days of deletion.

OneDrive is included in every Office 365 and Microsoft 365 subscription plan. OneDrive is also a feature-rich app for iOS and Android.

Microsoft 365 Business is the new way to get Office 365. It’s all the features of the Office 365 Business Premium plan, plus Advanced Security (including Windows 10 Pro upgrade) with Safe Links and Safe Attachments, plus Device Management using Intune to manage remote computers and devices (think remote wipe of a company-owned device).

The graphic above shows the left-hand, blue-highlighted column as a stack of 3rd-party services that a company might combine to create a desktop productivity solution, a comprehensive security solution, and a device management solution. As a sum of the whole 3rd-party stack, the company might very well spend over $100 per month per end-user.

If we were to consider all the various Microsoft offerings individually to accomplish the same, then the company would pay $33.50 per month per end-user.

But as a bundle of services called Microsoft 365 Business, the company can opt for the $20 plan per month per end-user.

I use Microsoft 365 Business myself. Prior to this, I paid the same amount for the Office 365 Enterprise E3 plan. But now I get all the added features for the same price. To switch from Office 365 E3 was a wash.

For those currently on the Office 365 Premium Business plan, you can realize a considerable improvement to your company’s security, data integrity and overall productivity for only $7.50 additional per month per end-user. From my point of view, just the addition of Safe Links and Safe Attachments as integral parts of Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection would make the investment worthwhile.

If we have communicated and agreed upon the best Office 365 services plan for you going forward and the option is available below, then please choose the respective PURCHASE button. Otherwise, a customized invoice will be sent to you as it’s considered appropriate for the given scope of services to be provided. If we haven’t spoken yet, then please schedule a free 15-30 minute meeting to initiate a preliminary plan.

Professional Services – $120 Per Hour Pre-Paid

  • Hourly Remediation and Professional Consulting Services:
    • Per request and approved proposal.
    • Minimum one hour required to initiate Monthly HelpDesk.
    • Same rate for remote and onsite.
      • Minimum 1 hour for remote control.
      • Minimum 4 hours for on-site visit.

 

Complete Cloud Backup – $10 Per End-User Per Month ($100 Per Year)

  • One User License:
    • 1 year of cloud-to-cloud, unlimited backup with lightning-fast search and one-click restore of Office 365 data:
      • SharePoint, OneDrive, Exchange, Office 365 Groups, and Microsoft Teams.
        • Microsoft Teams conversations, calendar, files, and notebook.
    • Six daily snapshots.

Managed IT Services – $120 Per End-User Per Month

  • All-inclusive and proactive IT services (per user per month):
    • 24/7 remote included.
    • Vendor liaison and purchasing agent roles.
    • Network documentation.
    • Network health reporting.
    • Customer support ticketing portal and knowledge base.
    • Security hardening with best practices.
    • Microsoft 365 Business subscription included!
    • Complete Cloud Backup included.
    • One license for one user and *all* of their devices to enjoy on-demand support throughout the year.
    • Unlimited support incidents (tickets) per month.
    • Covers Windows 10 Pro, MacOS, iOS, Android, all Office 365 plans (software and services), and cloud-to-cloud backup offered by RIT.
    • Support of Line of Business (LOB) applications included.
      • Must have current maintenance or service plan
      • Must have proper & complete licensing for every user
    • Infrastructure ramp-up project required prior to start of agreement.
      • Computers and servers fully updated and running optimally
      • Printers under service plan
      • Mobile devices (phones and tablets) updated to recent model and current OS
        • Only iOS and Android
      • Internet service(s)
        • Two for failover and load-balancing
      • Local Area Network (wired and secured wireless)
        • Gigabit certification
        • Clean and orderly communications closet
        • Separate guest WiFi network
      • Billed as an hourly project under Professional Services
    • Ongoing training & coaching.
    • Servers and network-attached devices not included.

Documents and Mailbox Migration – $250 Per End-User One-Time Fee

  • One Seat – covers all of the following:
    • Automatically discover email environment and configure a migration plan that’s right for you.
    • Identify the impact of migrating your file server to SharePoint Online with Office 365.
    • Perform identity mapping by scanning SharePoint, Active Directory, and Azure Active Directory.
    • Monitor progress and output files into the Logs directory showing the summary and more detailed insights into the scenarios that could be impacted by migration.
    • Data automatically synced before, during and after migration cutover.
    • Full fidelity sync technology ensures no data loss on final data sync post-cutover.
    • Account provisioning and DNS updates take place during Migration Sync.
    • Desktop readiness and remediation:
      • Outlook configured to work with Office 365.
      • Local data moved as required.
      • User’s previous Outlook experience recreated as closely as possible post-migration.
    • Seat defined:
      • For billing purposes, any migrating top-level Public Folder or Mailbox (Individual, Shared, or Resource Room/Equipment) is considered a seat.

 

I used to recommend Office 365 Enterprise E3 as the best bang for the 20 bucks within the realm of Microsoft’s Office 365 offerings. But when Microsoft 365 Business was launched for the same $20 mark, then there was a new kid on the block – and this one had Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection.

 

Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) adds important layers to the security stack, such as ATP Safe Links and ATP Safe Attachments. And to round out the trilogy, there’s ATP for SharePoint, OneDrive, and Microsoft Teams.

 

Just to test drive this latter member of the trio, I downloaded a sample virus file and then uploaded that test malware to my OneDrive file repository. I opened the Office portal and navigated to the supposedly-infected file to give it a click. Because I’ve configured an alert for just such a problem, I instantly received an urgent notification:

 

office 365 advanced threat protection

 

Fortunately, this was a harmless test file. But if it were the real thing, then we would take immediate measures.

 

And the file is locked down:

 

So as much as we have Exchange Online Protection for email scanning and filtering, I’m more than pleased to know that we have built-in security when it comes to Microsoft Teams, SharePoint and OneDrive for Business.

 

 

One of the loudest buzzwords heard these days within the business computing environment is SECURITY. And the number one method to prevent a security breach is the use of multi-factor (MFA) or two-step authentication.

 

The most common practice in the MFA arena is to use SMS texting to receive an authentication code. When prompted, you enter the code into the field provided and voilà! The problem with this is that hackers are now SIM swapping or hijacking your mobile phone. When they’re successful, the hackers can request and receive a security code to access your account, lock you out of your own account, and wreak havoc with your life.

 

The best way around this is to use an authenticator app. Google has one, Microsoft has one, and there are popular third-party authenticator apps, such as Authy. They all work with any of your online accounts, but you should find one and use it!

 

As a Microsoft-centric technician, my preference is to use Microsoft Authenticator. It provides security codes for all Microsoft accounts either free and business, Google/Gmail, Reddit, Facebook, and so on. The easiest account to access with Authenticator is your Office 365 account – a balloon pops up on your mobile device and you simply tap it to authenticate.

 

When your devices are managed through Intune and Enterprise, Mobility + Security (EMS), then you have to have permission to use the app first. In my case, the Touch ID biometric thumb reader on my iPhone provides quick access to the Authenticator app itself, as well as access to any other Microsoft apps on the device.

 

It takes some getting used to, however getting hacked is not an option.

 

Scott Abbotts | https://resolute-it.com | https://office365techguy.com

“On August 17, 1908, the new Bank of Italy (now Bank of America) Headquarters at 552 Montgomery Street (San Francisco) was opened to the public. Here, on the first floor in an open area, A.P. Giannini had his office where all comers were invited to stop and chat about not only financial but family matters as well.” – US Dept. of the Interior, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places.

In this same spirit, I kept my desk near the door when I had an office on Cape Cod. I can’t tell you how rewarding it was to have a steady stream of people dropping in to sit down and chat with me.

And now that I work solely as a remote consultant, I am opening a client-facing portal on an always-open basis in Microsoft Teams.

As Microsoft announced the free offering of Microsoft Teams yesterday, I feel that people are now unencumbered for the lack of this tool – Teams is free to download for desktop and mobile, and very simple to create an account in a matter of seconds.

To become a member of the Resolute IT Client Portal, sign up here.

A recent study predicts that 42% of the global workforce will be mobile by 2020. I wonder if we aren’t already there.. Another finding says that the number will be 75% by 2025.

Who really wants to get up, get ready, and walk into an office by 9am or earlier? We can easily attend a 10am office meeting using Microsoft Teams, so we can remain at home or in a coffee shop using a laptop, tablet or even a phone to share our presence, our Office documents, and our enthusiasm with colleagues. And of course, we don’t even have to be in the same country as the other attendees. 

While in the meeting, we can easily share the document that we’d been creating over the weekend. Teams allows you to present your original document for others to view within the Teams interface and co-author or co-edit it there. While collaborating on this document, team members can exchange chat messages alongside the open document. Or better yet, collaborating members can start an impromptu video meeting, while other members of the team can join the meeting and participate by co-authoring the document. You can even record the meeting for later review.

So the future is here. Where you are is irrelevant. But how you’re able to interact is key.