Businesses Should Consider Chromebooks — Gartner

ASUS Chromebook
In a May 21, 2015 release looking at the global Chromebook market, Isabelle Durand of Gartner sees Chromebooks as a viable option for SMBs and startups.

Noting that in less than 4 years, Chromebooks have garnered just over 60% of the US Education market and close to 39% of the consumer market. Business adoption of Chromebooks in the US remains low at just over 1% market share.

Durand, sees Chromebooks a cost-effective solution for SMBs and Startups, as well as larger enterprises. for SMBs, she states, “Chromebook is a device that can be considered by SMBs or new startup companies that do not have the resources to invest too much in IT infrastructure.”

The opportunity for larger enterprises is different, as users need access to new web-based applications as well as legacy systems.  Durand notes that unless specific applications force a Windows decision, “Chromebooks will become a valid device choice for employees as enterprises seek to provide simple, secure, low-cost and easy-to-manage access to new web applications and legacy systems.”

This may already be proving true in other parts of the world, as Chromebooks hold 16.5% of market share in the Asia/Pacific region as defined by Gartner.

Across our customer base, we note that Windows-specific application needs are often limited to specific, small groups of users. Most users are willing and able to move fully to Google Apps.

In these instances, we move most users fully to Google Apps for Work and provide virtual MS Windows desktop to those users with Windows-specific applications.  This solution creates an affordable environment that allows all users to work efficiently without overbuilding infrastructure. It also creates an opportunity to replace aging desktops and laptops with Chromeboxes and Chromebooks, dramatically reducing the total cost of ownership for end user devices.


If you would like an analysis of your environment to see how Chromebooks may benefit your users and your bottom line, please contact us.



Why Google Changed the Mobile Search Game

Guest Post: Matt Ward
President/CEO of inConcert Web Solutions

In case you are not aware, Google changed the game on April 21st as it pertains to search results on mobile devices.  Having announced the changes in February, mobile search results give preference to sites that are mobile friendly.

To be frank, Google rarely ever tells the public that there will be an update.  They are very secretive about their algorithm, keeping their secret sauce a secret to prevent anybody from “gaming” the algorithm. With these changes, Google clearly wants businesses to use best practices.  Google stated that they made these changes to improve the overall user experience on mobile devices, as mobile is becoming increasingly the method by which users access the internet and search for goods and services.

Fact and Fiction

With all the hype about “mobilegeddon”, let’s separate fact from fiction.

  • Fact:
    • They set the date, and rolled out the new algorithm on April 21st
    • They created a huge buzz
  • Fiction:
    • Your site will be banned from Google
    • This change also affects the desktop search
    • Google will call you to sell you and upgrade

Best Practices

Needing to make sure your site is mobile-friendly, let’s talk about a few best practices:

  • Contact your current web developer and ask questions about your site and any changes that have been, or should be made.
  • Don’t rely on cold calls from strangers to guide you on this change.  There are a lot of self-proclaimed “experts” calling into companies with no knowledge of their websites. These are typically automated robo-calls that imply that Google is calling. Google is not going to call you about updating your web site.
  • Test your website to be sure its mobile-friendly.
    • If it passes, great!
      • Test your site again every quarter.
      • Things change in mobile devices and technology; don’t assume if you test it once, it’s not going to ever change.
    • If not, focus your web efforts on getting your site converted.
      • It may cost less to produce a new, mobile-friendly website than to convert your existing site.
      • There are many paths to a mobile friendly site.  The cheapest path is not always the most cost-effective.
    • Focus your mobile-friendly version on driving calls to action, either clicks or calls.
      • Most site visitors on cell phones want to click and call a business, which is often easier then web surfing on a small screen.
      • Make sure you menu structure is clean and easy to follow.
      • Your most important information and calls to action should show up first

With some testing and updating, you can ensure that not only will your site be found by Google’s mobile search, but that visitors will enjoy visiting your site.

If you want to speak with an expert, please contact Matt and his team at inConcert Web Solutions. Specializing in web design & development, maintenance & marketing plans, and print & promotional services, the team at inConcert will gladly help you choose the best approach for your site and your business. 




Navigating Cloud App Customer Issues: Common Concerns

Cloud SharingThe cloud is a great way to securely share information with customers, vendors, and business partners. Most productivity tools are relatively inexpensive, easy to set up, seem easy for your customers to use, and adequately secure. For many of these services, your customers access the data you are sharing by creating a free account on that service. This seemingly harmless step, however, can be the source of problems. Make sure you understand the top cloud app customer issues and address them before they cause problems for your business.

How Cloud App Sharing Solution May be Punishing Your Customers

Using a cloud solution that requires customers (or others) to create a free account will, in many instances, cause problems for your customers.

  • Free Accounts are Never Really Free. When your customer sets up their free accounts, your vendor has gained a new “customer.”  Expect the vendor to start marketing to your customers in order to sell them upgrades to paid versions.  Your vendor will likely add your customers to their newsletter and update notice lists.

Sharing a file should not create an email headache for your customers.

  • Your Customer May Need to Help.  Many cloud-sharing services require, or encourage via default prompts, the installation of browser and desktop extensions, applications, or services. If your customer uses a managed computer, she may not have the rights to install the necessary widget to access the shared data.

Your customer should not need help from
IT to open a shared file or a secure email from you.

  • You Can Break Your Customers’ Computers. Even if the necessary extension, application, or service can be installed, your cloud app may break their computers. If the extension, application, or service conflicts with other software or services on your customer’s computer, you have created a problem that can be time-consuming to figure out and resolve.

Reading a shared file and secure email should not cause system problems.

  • Not Everybody Wants More Software.  A customer of ours once asked if he would need to install anything to view a file we were about to share. He pointed out that he currently had 4 apps for accessing shared file services, 1 app and 2 browser extensions for reading secure emails, and 3 web meeting clients installed on his system — non of which his company uses. Once every few weeks, he spends time uninstalling these “helpful tools” to keep his system free of clutter.

A shared file or secure email should not require a system cleanup.

The biggest issue with all of the above scenarios is that they disrespect your customers’ time by creating inconveniences or problems. Doing business with you should be easy.

When picking cloud solutions, such as file sharing and secure email services, look for systems that do not require (or prefer by default) your customers to setup accounts or install software of any type. Unless your customer agrees to that type of solution (such as accessing a project management system), you are potentially creating problems and annoyances that can change your customer’s perception of you and your business.

FAQs About Cloud App Customer Issues

Feel free to contact us if we can help you evaluate your options and solutions.


Atmosphere | The Anatomy of Innovation

Chrome Live
Join us on June 2 for Google’s
biggest digital work event

Atmosphere | The Anatomy of Innovation


What do innovators all have in common? A drive to disrupt the ordinary. At Atmosphere, Google and IT industry experts will reveal what sparks innovation, what kinds of tools truly support it, and how you, your team, and your entire organization can bring a greater level of innovation to your work. Discover how to make it happen.

Register today to take part in our digital event on June 2 at Noon ET.

First, we’ll dissect the current state of work to understand motivations and driving factors of innovation, then we’ll pinpoint ways you, your team and your business can truly become innovators.

After, we’ll let you can choose between 2 instructional tracks:

  • How to collaborate better and build and inspire innovative teams
  • How to give employees the tools to innovate while keeping your company safe

Know anyone else who would be interested in tuning in? Let them know about Atmosphere.

Changing the Focus on Backup Protection

As we’ve stated before, “Backup is easy; Recovery is hard”.  Every business should, at this point, understand the risks of poor data backup and protection. The risks come from the types and amount of data that is lost and, if it can be recovered, how long that recovery takes. And remember, recovery often takes more effort than simply restoring files from a backup set.

Perspective = Priority

When looking at how well your backup system is protecting your business, two factors should be top of mind:

RTO: Recovery Time Objectives — How long will it take to return to normal operations. RTO is not just the time it takes to load your data back onto your systems, RTO includes the time it takes to repair and recreate damaged information and data created or modified since the last backup.

RPO: Restore Point Objectives — Your RPO determines how much data you are willing to lose, or can afford to lose. Most small and mid-size businesses backup daily. On average, a system failure will result in half a day of lost data. For an office worker editing a report, this is traumatic and inconvenient. For a manufacturer or retail business, half a day can represent hundreds or even thousands of orders and financial transactions.

As always, quicker RTOs and smaller RPOs come with trade-offs.  Recovery methods like image snapshots, for example, can provide rapid RTOs and small RPOs. In exchange, you are likely losing granularity — the ability to recovery individual files.

Understand the reasons  you are protecting your data.  Protection from system failure, in which you need to recovery a full server, lends itself to imaging and other snapshot methods.  Recovery of files or data lost to program error, malware, or user activity, needs a solution with granularity.

Start with an understanding of the type of protection you need and your RPOs and RTOs.  From there, you can pick the solutions (yes, you may want or need more than one method) for recovering data and your business.

We offer  a range data protection solutions, with a range of products, for on-premise and cloud-based data. Contact us for a free assessment of which type of solution is best for you.



Cumulus Global Named as Pacesetter for Second Consecutive Year

BBJ Pacesetter 2015

Boston Business Journal Ranks Cumulus Global as the 8th Fastest Growing Private Company in Massachusetts.

For the second consecutive year, the Boston Business Journal recognized Cumulus Global as a BBJ Pacesetter.  Ranked as the 8th fastest growing private company in Massachusetts, the Pacesetter Award places among some of the region’s most innovative companies.The Pacesetter Award recognizes businesses with exceptional cumulative revenue growth over a four-year period, highlighting businesses and entrepreneurs that create the dynamic and innovative economy in Massachusetts.

In accepting the award, Allen Falcon, CEO of Cumulus Global, thanked the partners, vendors, and advisors that have helped the company grow. He gave special thanks to customers, stating “We would not be here today, if not for customers that understand the value of trusted relationships.”

Based in Westborough, Massachusetts, Cumulus Global serves small and mid-size businesses, schools, and local governments in Massachusetts, throughout New England, and across North America. The company has offices in New York and Atlanta, with plans for continued growth and expansion.

“We continue to see shifts if how business want to use cloud and hosted solutions,” noted Falcon following the awards ceremony. “We continue to remain nimble, creating solutions that use technology to solve business problems in ways that help businesses thrive and grow.”

Cumulus Global’s recognition as a 2015 Pacesetter follows other recent industry accolades, including being ranked at #349 on the Inc. 500 list of fastest growing private businesses in America.

Security Alert: New Malware Wipes Hard Drives to Prevent Detection

As first published on ZDnet’s Zero Day Blog, Cisco System’s Talos Group has identified a new strain of malware that will render systems useless to avoid detection and analysis.

Named as the Rombertick strain, the spyware collects data on everything a victim does online, indiscriminately, without focusing on specific areas such as online banking or social media.

Most concerning, however, is the Rombertick’s built in defenses. If the virus detects that it is being analyzed it will attempt to overwrite the Master Boot Record, rendering the PC inoperable. If that fails, the virus will destroy all files in a user’s home folder by encrypting each file with random keys.

In short, once infected, it is nearly impossible to remove without rendering you PC useless.

As Rombertick infection rates are still low, the best protection is good security practices:

  • Make sure you anti-virus software is up to date and switch to (or add) a cloud-based AV solution with continuous updates.
  • Do not click on attachments from unknown senders
  • Block email attachments that include executable scripts or code

While these steps are helpful, a defense-in-depth approach is best at identifying and preventing malware, particularly for viruses that are designed to evade detection.

If you would like to verify the robustness of your anti-virus protection, we can add a cloud-based layer of protection at no cost for a month and help you analyze your results. Contact us for additional information.

Click these links to learn more about our Webroot solutions and additional data protection and security solutions.


Share Your Selfie in #MyClassContest by Edutopia

National Teacher Day
In honor of National Teacher Day, Edutopia launched a contest in which you can win a new tablet.

Upload a selfie of you, in a scene from your education world, and tag it with “#MyClassContest”. The click here and claim your photo to enter the contest.

A Better Cloud Admin Solution

BetterCloud Logo
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.


Reconsider Your File Sync-and-Share Services

File sync share
It is no wonder why file sync-and-share services are so popular. They are easy to setup and use, particularly with people outside your company or organization. And, most people you want to share with have, or are willing to create, a free account to see your shared files.

As a business, government, school, or non-profit, however, you may want to reconsider how you let your team use file sync-and-share services.  Here’s why:

Who “Controls” the Data?
  • Do you know if individuals are sharing information inappropriately?
  • Could you recover files deleted by a user from their account?

File sync-and-share services create de facto peer-to-peer networks. Files are “owned” by the person that created or uploaded them. Permissions are controlled by each user, not by any central policy. As such, you have little ability to monitor or manage access to your data, which puts your business at risk for data breaches, as well as policy and regulatory violations.

Can You “Find” the File?
  • Are you comfortable with a peer-to-peer file service with little central control?
  • Are folks wasting time figuring out in which folder files are stored?

With each user creating folders and files to meet their own organizational needs, finding files shared with you can be challenging. As users create similarly named folders, locating files can be a challenge. You should never need to call a person for help locating a shared file.

Where, “Exactly”, is the File?
  • Would a lost or stolen laptop or phone give somebody easy access locally saved files?
  • Is locally saved data as secure as data on your server?

Chances are, your team is syncing files to/from laptops and mobile devices. So even if you are using a secure file sync-and-share service, your data is likely at risk. File sync-and-share services create local directories for storage and most services rely on your local security to protect those files. In other words, your data may be on a laptop or mobile device with no (or trivial) password protection. Adding drive-level encryption is an option, but adds money, complexity, and support costs to your environment.


Fortunately, solutions exist.

Secure, enterprise file sync-and-share solutions provide centralized control of what data can be synced to local devices, and by whom. These solutions also require login verification before accessing information on the local devices. Managed cloud file services let employees use locally installed apps with cloud-stored data, while providing centralized ownership and permissions management. Each solution has its limitations and benefits; understanding how your users need and prefer to work is key to making the picking the best solution.

Contact us for more information about available cloud file service options.