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Google for Nonprofits is Global

Google for Nonprofits LogoDid you know?

Google’s programs and products for non-profits are available to non-profits and non-governmental organizations across the globe.

This Google for Nonprofits support article lists and provides links to all programs for available for non-profits by category and by country.


If your nonprofit would benefit from guidance or assistance moving to Google Apps for Nonprofits, please let us know.


 

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Define the Role of Your Cloud File Service

Experts Exchange.Standard.200

This blog post is a reprint of an article first published on Experts Exchange as part of a series on cloud strategies and issues for small and mid-size businesses.

 


Cloud file services can fill many different roles for your business. Often, the use of cloud file services begins with employees using consumer products, like Dropbox, to share files with customers and each other. While sync-and-share can be an effective way to manage files, you should always rely on the business editions to ensure that the business is in possession of, and is managing, your data.

That said, this use of sync-and-share tends to be transient in nature. At the other end of the spectrum, many businesses are replacing on-premise servers, NAS, and SANs with cloud file services, which become the primary file service.
To help you plan how to create the best file service for your business, consider these working definitions and considerations with respect to data protection and management.

Transient File Service

  • Transient file services are used occasionally for storage and sharing of files.
  • Often a sync-and-share service (Dropbox, box.net, etc) or a peer-to-peer service (Drive, etc.), files are copied to the file service and shared.
  • In most cases, files sync back, or are manually copied, to their primary location. As the primary location for files is protected by backups and permissions management, transient file service generally don’t need or have backup protection.
  • Permissions management is often the responsibility of the individual users. As such, transient file services should not be used for sensitive or protected (PHI, PCI, etc) information.

Secondary File Service

  • A Secondary File Service will fill the role that the Transient File Service provides, but will also be the home — the system of record — for some information.
  • Companies create Secondary File Services to handle information that is used collaboratively, but wants to keep internally-used data and critical business information in-house. An architecture firm, for example, might have active projects residing in a cloud file service while keeping past project data and internal operations (HR, finance, accounting, strategy) on in-house systems.
  • While sync-and-share can serve the needs of secondary file server, peer-to-peer and managed file services provide better control over your data.
  • As a Secondary File Service will be the system-of-record for important information (i.e., the data is not synced or copied to other storage), these file services should be protected by Backups.
  • Secondary File Services may or may not be used for sensitive or protected information. If they are, then active permissions monitoring and management is advised to prevent inappropriate disclosures, leaks, or breaches.​

Primary File Service

  • A Primary File Service becomes the system of record for most, if not all, of your company’s files and data. As such, the cloud file service will hold sensitive and protected data.  Access, permissions, and protection are as critical in the cloud as they are on-premise.
  • Backup/recovery and active permissions management become critical components for ensuring data reliability, security, and privacy, and may be required for regulatory or industry compliance.
  • While smaller businesses can use the peer-to-peer, larger businesses or those with larger numbers of files find that a managed and structured file service works better.
  • Centralized ownership and control over permissions improves security and efficiency.
  • Sync-and-share services may still be used to support off-line work, but should be managed closely to ensure sensitive and protected data remains secure.
 Hybrid File Service
  • A Hybrid File Service exists when the Primary File Service is split between on-premise servers and cloud-based file services.  A Hybrid File Service differs from the use of a Secondary File Service in that the Hybrid File Service sees both on-premise and in-cloud as equal components of the ecosystem. Data location is based on access needs and usage rather than on the type of data.
  • For some organizations, Hybrid File Services represent a transition period from on-site to cloud file services. For others, Hybrid File Services reflect a broader hybrid cloud strategy that mixes SaaS and IaaS services with on-premise systems.
  • As Hybrid File Services create a cloud-based extension of on-premise servers, a managed file service with central ownership and permissions control is most often the best structure.
  • With a Hybrid File Service, the cloud component requires backup/recovery and permissions protection on-par with your in-house servers.

By understanding and defining the role of your cloud file services, you have a better understanding of the type of service to use — sync-and-share, peer-to-peer, or managed file services. You can also best determined the level of backup/recovery, access, permissions, and encryption you want and need to meet your business’ needs and any regulatory or industry requirements.


To learn more watch our 3T@3 Webcast from May 2015, Designing a Cloud File Service, or contact us with your questions or interest.


 

Sunset

Still on Windows Server 2003? Don’t Migrate, Modernize!

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If something works, why fix it?

We understand why you may still be running Windows Server 2003. For businesses with relatively simple IT needs, the benefits of moving off Windows Server 2003 has never quite justified the cost. After all, migrating means more than new hardware and a new version of Windows Server. Migrating triggers a major round of updates to other systems, such as backups, virus protection, databases, and business software.

Let’s face reality: Migrating is expensive and probably adds little or no value to your business.

Modernization Adds Value

When people remodel kitchens and baths, they do more than replacing aging appliances and cabinets with new versions of the same old stuff. People improve their space utilization, make traffic flows more efficient, add features that make life easier and more convenient, and improve aesthetics.

The same is true for IT. When you modernize your infrastructure, you have the opportunity to update how your IT supports the way you and your team work on a day to day basis.

Companies that modernize their IT, they …

  • Improve the ways in which employees communicate with each other and with customers
  • Enhance and enable collaboration and the sharing if information
  • Make work more efficient with better access to information and applications
  • Empower people to work remotely and from mobile devices
  • Reinforce efficient and improved processes

Modernization 101: Server to Service

One of the most effective ways to modernize is to replace aging servers with cloud-based services.

Replacing Exchange servers with Google Apps or other cloud email services is a long-proven to reduce costs, outages, and frustration. This modernization can enhance data privacy while enabling new communication capabilities, ranging from secure instant messaging and voice calling to video conferencing and integrated mobile services.

When you move from a physical file server to a managed cloud file service, your modernization still leaves you with shared file space, control over access and permissions, data backup and recovery, and malware protection. More than lowering the cost of file storage, file service modernization  ….

  • Enables more efficient and effective sharing of files and information
  • Improves version control for files and documents
  • Delivers easy and secure access from mobile devices and remote users (without the cost and headaches of VPNs)
  • Lets users work together, in real time or not, as part of a team
  • Provides a slew of additional capabilities proven to enhance productivity

Getting Started

Just like your kitchen, your first steps in your IT Modernization are to think about what …

  • currently works,
  • could work better, and
  • new features and ideas you need or want to incorporate.

For your IT modernization, you need to look around and window-shop … get ideas and a sense of the market. As you learn about your options, think in terms of services, not things, and how you want your employees to work with one another, with your customers, and with others. From there, you can start thinking about features, design, and how you can best use new, cloud-based solutions.


 

If you are worried about the end of Windows Server 2003 in July, or if you are dreading a migration from aging systems to new versions of the same old solution, contact us to discuss your needs and priorities. Give us a chance to design a solution to modernize your technology, and your business.


 

 

Mobius TPD Icon

Don’t Lose It, Use It (for PD)

Mobius TPD Icon
June has arrived and the 2014-2015 school year is almost at a close. Now it is time to turn our attention on the summer and beyond. As the next academic year approaches, it’s important to consider how to continue improving the classroom experience and incorporate techniques that appeal to a wide range of learning styles.

As always, here at Cumulus Global we are ready and excited to help with any technology needs you might have, but we are sensitive to the fact that budget can be an issue. So, to celebrate the end of this school year and to welcome in the next, we are offering special pricing on our Professional Development and Training services.

For a limited time, you can save money with prepaid professional development services.

20% off on-site or live web training sessions

  • Full Day On Site Training – $1995 now $1,596
  • One Web-Based Session – $695 now $556
  • Series of Three Web-Based Sessions – $1925 now $1,540
  • Series of Six Web-Based Sessions – $3,500 now $2,800

10% off our Professional Development planning services

  • Basic Professional Development Plan – $995 now $895
  • Full Professional Development Plan – $1,995 now $1,795

A great opportunity for surplus funds, you can use your prepaid services anytime during the 2015/2016 fiscal year (subject to availability of a Certified Google Apps for Education Instructor).

For more information or to discuss your options, please contact us or fill in the form, below.


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A Better Cloud Admin Solution

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With over 200 new features add yearly, the capability of Google Apps is growing in features and capabilities. Across our customer base, we see adoption and use of these features by individuals and teams growing as well.

You want and need to understand how Google Apps is being used, and working, for your business. With more collaboration and data in the cloud, you want to ensure that documents are properly shared, with appropriate privacy and protections. At the same time, we want to keep administration simple and efficient.

We have a solution:

BetterCloud recently release a new tiered service designed to solve each of these issues, and you can try it for free.

BetterCloud Basic is a Domain Health Center for your Google Apps domain, letting you monitor activity, define alerts, and analyze usage.

BetterCloud Pro is a robust suite of administration and management tools for Google Apps that simply admin tasks with an expanded set of controls that save you time and effort.

BetterCloud Enterprise adds auditing, discovery, compliance, and data loss prevention features, giving you the ability to monitor, manage, and mitigate data permissions and exposures in real time.

 

You can try BetterCloud for free, and without obligation.  Here’s our offer:

We will …

  • Install BetterCloud Basic for free in your Google Apps domain
  • Activate a no-obligation, 30 day trial of the BetterCloud Enterprise and Pro Features
  • Over the course of the free trial, we will highlight and demonstrate key features, including running a basic data security audit report for your review

At the end of the the trial, you decide if the cost/benefit of BetterCloud Pro or Enterprise is appropriate for your domain, and we will keep you subscribed. If not, you can keep using BetterCloud Basic for free.

To keep it simple, you can request the trial with two clicks.  Click here* to open a request email, then click Send.  Our team will promptly respond and activate your free trial.


*If you purchased Google Apps directly from Google, or another partner, we can still provide the trial. We also offer license discounts and other incentives for moving your account over to us. Contact us if you are interested in the savings and/or our services.


 

Postcard

Email (is still) Like a Postcard

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With all of the advancement in email servers, services, and cloud solutions, fundamentally, email is still like a postcard.

When you mail a postcard, the postal service will make its best attempt to get it delivered in a reasonable period of time.  While most postcards make it, occasionally a few get lost in the mail.

And while your message from vacation, your short message to a friend, or a quick thank you makes its travels, everybody that touches the postcard along the way can read it. Not that everybody, or even anybody will, but they can.

For the type of messages we send on postcards, we do not really care about privacy. Our email messages, however, often contain personal, sensitive, or corporate data that we want or need to keep private.

It is relatively easy for hackers to capture corporate data from emails as it travels across the public Internet. It is also easy for the staff at your MSP or IT service firm to read or intercept messages.

Yes, when we deploy Google Apps and other services, we put technology in place such as policy-based TLS encryption that helps mitigate risks and forced SLL encryption.  Many on-premise email servers have these features active as well.

But for many businesses, this is not enough. Government and industry regulatory requirements, including HIPAA, PCI, and PII, affect nearly every business with employees, that accepts credit cards, or keeps a customer file. Financial firms and publicly traded firms also face regulatory requirements from the SEC, FINRA, and Sarbanes/Oxley.

To meet increasing demands for data privacy and protection, you need message level encryption for at least those employees that deal with sensitive or protected information. If your solution is difficult to use, or inconvenient for recipients, employees will look to circumvent the system or opt not to encrypt messages, customers and partners will complain, and your business will suffer.

When looking at email encryption solutions, evaluate solutions that require little or no user involvement, make it easy for recipients to read encrypted messages, and work well on mobile devices. The good news, is that these solutions are affordable and can be deployed based on need.


For more information, contact us about selecting the right email encryption solution for you and your business.


 

Windows 2003 End of Life: You DO Have Options

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On July 14, 2015, Microsoft officially halts support for Windows Server 2003 and will no longer provide security updates or other patches.

While Microsoft wants and expects you to jump forward to Windows Server 2012, this is not your only option.

“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” – Albert Einstein 

Upgrading from Windows Server 2003 to 2012 R2 is more than just upgrading your operating system, it is a wholesale replacement of your infrastructure. Industry insiders call it a “fork lift upgrade”, as you need new server hardware, your new edition of Windows Server, and new Client Access Licenses (CALs) — all of which must be 64-bit. And with the new OS version, you will need to upgrade or replace anti-virus, backup/recovery, and other software and systems tied to old environment.

And for what? A new version file server that gives you the same capabilities as your current file server. Granted, Windows 2012 has new capabilities, but if you needed or wanted them, you would have already made the move.

“If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.”  ― Henry Ford

You DO Have Options

We are the first to acknowledge that cloud-based solutions are the right choice for every business in every situation. Cloud computing, however, has matured to the point that you should always give it serious consideration.

Imagine an environment for your employees where:

  • Email is fast, efficient, and reliable; protected from spam; and easily accessible from phones and tablets
  • Users can manage their calendars and appointments on their computers, phones, and laptops, and can share calendars with project teams
  • Files are stored in a central, secure location, but are securely accessible from desktops, laptops, phones, and tablets with out burdensome and slow VPN or remote desktop tools
  • Data is protected by multiple daily backups
  • User can share files and work together without endless streams of emails and attachments
  • Users can communicate and share ideas within documents, via text, by voice, or by video conferencing with screen sharing — for no additional cost
  • Legacy desktop and server applications are accessible through a web browser
  • Desktops, laptops, phones, and tablets are protected from viruses and malware with a known-risk database up to 500 times greater than your current anti-virus solution
  • Users can work on laptops costing less than $400 that if lost, damaged, or stolen, will not allow access to your sensitive data

If a some (or all) of these sound interesting to you, if you want your team to work more productively, or if you simply want to grow your business instead of your business’ IT, let us know.

Maybe the cloud is right for you.

Other Reasons to use Drive for Work

apps_for_work_256-colorWhen most of our clients compare Google Apps for Work with Drive for Work, they focus on the two most visible differences:

  • Drive for Work gives you unlimited Drive storage, instead of the 30GB per user for Gmail and Drive in Google Apps for Work.
  • Drive for Work includes Google Apps Vault for email (and, in the future, document) archiving and e-discovery services.

While these differences are enough for many companies to step up to Drive for Work, some of the less visible differences may prove more valuable in the long term.

Expanded Reporting

Google Apps for Work offers a limited number of audit and admin reports that cover basic statistics about user accounts and activities.  Drive for Work, already has an extended suite of admin and audit reports, giving you greater visibility into how various services are being used, including configurable audit reports for Drive.

Expanded APIs

Most companies will never program to the Google Apps Application Program Interfaces (APIs). Third party administration, security, and productivity applications, however, rely on these APIs to access and manage data in Google Apps. With Google’s commitment to expand the API suite for Drive for Work, third party applications, including BetterCloud, CloudLock, Backupify and others, will offer additional features and services with Drive for Work than they can with Apps for Work. As a customer, you get a more robust computing environment.

Granted, these additional capabilities alone may not, today, warrant the additional cost of Drive for Work. Yet, these features are indicative of a trend for broader features and investment in Drive for Work. If you need or want archiving and/or additional storage and are considering a la carte upgrades, consider the strategic impact of expanded reporting and APIs. They may just tip the scales in favor of Drive for Work.

 

For Students, 1:1 is not about devices, 1:1 is about teacher/student connection

When most schools talk about 1:1 programs, the focus immediately turns to the device or devices. We tend to direct schools to focus on educational outcomes, curricula integration, and other goals and objectives that will lead to the best device decisions and program structure. Maybe, however, we are all missing the point.

1 to 1 programs are really about teacher/student connection and interaction.

We know by informally surveying teachers when we speak at conferences, that Google Apps for Education, its collaboration tools, and Classroom enable teachers to provided 2 to 3 times more individual feedback in about 1/2 the time.

What we may be missing is that the platform can enable a broader teacher/student connection that goes beyond academics.

This video from the EDU team at Google shows us how.

Chrome Extensions, from Google, for the Google Apps User

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We are often asked which Chrome extensions we like and recommend for use with Google Apps. While extensions often relate to third party applications and services, here are several extensions from Google we install for most implementations:

  • Application Launcher for Drive
  • Chrome Remote Desktop
  • Docs PDF/PowerPoint Viewer
  • Google Calendar Checker (for some)
  • Google Docs
  • Google Docs Viewer
  • Google Keep (if the user uses Keep)
  • Google+ Notifications
  • Hangouts
  • Office Editing for Docs, Sheets & Slides
  • Save to Google Drive
  • Send from Gmail

These can be added by users or configured and pushed out using the Chrome Management service within the Google Apps Admin Console.


If you want assistance managing chrome extensions and other applications through the admin console, please contact our Service Team.