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G Suite

G Suite Business Upgrade Incentives

G SuiteThrough June 30, 2018, you can upgrade from G Suite Basic to G Suite Business and save up to 33%.

To qualify, you must:

  • Running G Suite Basic with at least 1 user (no minimum user limit)
  • Upgrade before June 3o, 2018
  • If you are on an annual commitment plan, you can upgrade during your renewal
  • If you are on the monthly flex plan, you can upgrade at anytime
  • Contact us and let us know you want the savings

Why G Suite Business?

  • Unlimited Gmail and Drive Storage
  • Team Drives for central ownership and management of files
  • Email Archiving, eDiscovery, DLP for simple legal compliance
  • Advanced reports and admin alerts for better usage visibility
  • “Org” unit controls to adjust access and sharing rights by department
  • THE platform for new features, such as AppMaker and AI/machine learning enabled services

For more information, contact us, or see what our clients say about G Suite Business.


 

G Suite

Driving G Suite Upgrades

G SuiteG Suite Business is the recommended G Suite subscription for most small and midsize businesses. Many of our clients have upgraded already, so we asked them what is driving them to make the move. In no particular order, our clients tell us that with G Suite Business, you get:

Better File Services

  • Team Drives gives you central ownership and management of files.
  • Combined with Drive File Stream, you can create a file service that looks and feels more like a file server and benefit from easier integration with desktop applications. (We blogged about this in Oct ’17)
  • Unlimited storage gives you the ability to move files from servers and workstations without worry.
  • You can offload inactive files from past projects, prior years, etc., into online, secure, searchable archives. This can save you from upgrading or replacing on-premise servers and storage.

Help with Compliance

  • The Vault service included with G Suite Business is a critical component for your information security and compliance requirements, including HIPAA, PCI, Sarbanes/Oxley, SEC, and FINRA.
  • Vault archives and provides compliant e-discovery for email, files in Drive, and Hangout chats.

Cost Savings

  • You can retire servers in remote offices with Drive and Team Drive, eliminating the need for on-premise server upgrades and replacements, backup, and support.
  • You can reduce or eliminate NAS, SAN, file servers, and local storage, all of which require local/offsite backup, maintenance, and support.
  • If you have multiple sites, you can replace point-to-point networks, MPLS, and VPNs with direct Internet access service, at considerable savings.
  • You can replace Active Directory with a cloud-based identity manager or SSO solution; you can retire your AD domain controllers.

New Features

  • With G Suite Business, you get new features, like Team Drives and AppMaker, that are not available in G Suite Basic.

If you are interested in how G Suite Business can help you and your team, please let us know.  We have special incentives in place through June 30, 2017.


 

Enterprise Grade Managed File Services


Go Beyond Sharing and Permissions

When many look at the collaboration and sharing within Google Drive, they see history repeating itself as they remember the early days of peer-to-peer networking.

After all, how do you create a folder in Drive and have it appear the same for each user?

You need to create the folder, share it, and ask everyone to drag it under “My Drive”. Even then, users can create and share folders with identical names, creating confusion as to which is the central folder.

Until we adapt to new ways or thinking about information location, ownership, and sharing, most businesses want a centralized, managed file service.  The ability to ensure all authorized users have access to a folder in the same way, with appropriate permissions is key.

Until now, this has been nearly impossible to accomplish.

Partnering with Altirnao, we are launching AODocs, an  enterprise grade system for creating a managed file service over, and using, Google Drive. AODocs lets you create and assign folders across your user base (just like your old-school file servers), add and search custom meta data, and, optionally, create work flows.

AODocs leverages the Drive infrastructure and the Google Drive sync client, helping keep the system affordable for smaller organizations.

If we have peaked your interest, contact us and we can schedule a demonstration, or catch this month’s 3T@3 Webcast (on July 22nd, the 4th Tuesday this month).

Case Study: Google Apps Supports Strategic Growth at Merrimack Mortgage Company

 

The Company

Founded in 1983, Merrimack Mortgage Company (MMC) continues to be a leader in residential mortgage lending throughout the Northeast and is one of the region’s largest independent mortgage bankers.

MMC prides itself for being the company that delivers the same products as the big lenders but with the high quality service levels inherent in a small lender. This winning combination of finesse and strength has led Merrimack Mortgage Company to its exceptional growth during the past three decades. The company’s success is attributed to its core strategy of providing a high level of customer satisfaction at a competitive price.

The Challenge

Merrimack Mortgage Company relies on extending its operations by expanding the size of the company’s geographic market area with new satellite branches. The IT department is challenged with bringing these loan officers located in satellite branches into the company’s processes effectively and quickly to allow them to be up and running as fast as possible.

The Solution

With integrated communications and file services, the transition to Google Apps was part of a strategic initiative to put the company in a competitive position to enable it to expand its operations effectively, from a primarily New England-based operation to cover their expansion outside of New England. This expansion included enabling a homogenous environment to all of the company’s loan officers while still complying with SOX, GLBA, ISO and other internal governance and audit requirements.

“The business side of me saw Google Apps as a slam dunk from a ROI and TCO perspective, and the technologist in me also couldn’t argue against introducing variable costs, scalability, availability, and OS and hardware independence. Cumulus Global recommended and helped us deploy CloudLock and Backupify for compliance, policy enforcement, risk mitigation, and data protection. This allowed us to fully embrace Google Apps and made both my Chief Compliance Officer and CFO very happy.”
— Matthew Seaton, CIO Merrimack Mortgage Company

Integrating Google Apps and CloudLock, Merrimack Mortgage Company extends its security perimeter to the cloud. MMC ensures its use of email, calendars, contacts, and files stored and shared via Google Drive comply with regulations like SOX, GLBA, ISO and other internal Acceptable Use Policies.  Backupify protection data across Google Apps accounts against data damage or deletion due to user error.

“I am not sure if I would have felt confident with my decision to move our company’s communication and collaboration needs to Google Apps for Business without the solutions and assistance from Cumulus Global. The integrated solution has relieved my anxiety over having our company data hosted by a third party,” said Seaton.  “Our management team was relieved by the value proposition.  We pay as we grow rather than making large up-front capital investments.”

Since MMC’s initial Google Apps for Business implementation in June of 2011, MMC has increased sales staff by 15% and the number of physical locations by 26%. Operations staff increases have been minimal in comparison. The greatest benefit, in regards to increased sales staffing and locations, is the ability turn-up new team members literally in minutes. In more recent months, MMC has seen back-to-back monthly company record breaking sales numbers.

To learn more about Merrimack Mortgage Company, visit: www.merrimackmortgage.com.

 

 

Cumulus Global offers Emergency Email and File Services to Businesses

Hurricane SandyCumulus Global (www.cumulusglobal.com) announced an emergency assistance program for small and mid-size businesses impacted by Hurricane Sandy.  Cumulus Global will provision replacement email and file services to help get businesses up and running.  As part of the program, companies will paid reduced activation fees and will contract for services on a month-to-month basis.  Businesses can be up and running, back in business, in a matter of hours.

“Small and mid-size businesses are the backbone of our economy and are often the hardest hit by natural disasters,” stated Allen Falcon, CEO of Cumulus Global.  “This program is not about making money, it is about saving businesses and jobs.”

Leveraging Google Apps, Cumulus Global can have businesses up and running with email, voice/video conferencing, file services, and more in a matter of hours.

Companies in any of the states impacted by Hurricane Sandy or its aftermath are eligible for 30% discounts on activation and service fees.  Services start at $10 per month and run on a month-to-month basis with no long term contract.

Businesses interested in the program should contact sales@cumulusglobal.com immediately.

 

File Sharing vs File Service: The Difference Matters

 

It is time to set the record straight — File Sharing and File Services are NOT the same thing.

  • File Sharing is the ability to share a file with somebody else.
  • A File Service is a structured service to secure, organize, and manage access to files.

File Sharing is a subset of File Services, if not a separate offering.  File Sharing is a feature, while a File Service should provide an integrated means of storing, security, sharing, and managing information.

In Google Apps, both Sites, Drive, Video can be used for File Sharing.  In both services, you can create and/or upload files in all three services and manage permissions that allow others to view and/or edit the files. Google Drive, however, can also be configured to provide a File Service.  With desktop and device agents, you can use the folder and permissions structure in Google Drive to provide users direct, integrated access to files and the access will appear ‘native’ to their computer or mobile device.

In other words, Google Drive can look and feel like a file server, even though it runs as a cloud-base service and offers additional capabilities.

DropBox, Box, and Egnyte are cloud services that can also be configured as File Services.  They run separately, however, so if you want these file services to integrate with other cloud applications, you will be investing in Single Sign On and, possibly, integration services.

With Sharepoint as a major component, Office 365 offers File Sharing along the lines of Google Sites.  SkyDrive, Microsoft’s File Service, is not an integrated part of the Office 365 suite.  Users must run SkyDrive in personal Windows Live accounts.  In effect, this creates a collection of personal file services, not part of the managed domain environment, through which uses may share files.  This is a very different service than an integrated, domain managed file service.

Conclusion

By understanding the differences between File Sharing and File Services, you can better assess the user experience of each service and best match the service to the needs of your business and your end users.

Google Drive or Overdrive?

As more organizations expand their use of Google Apps beyond email into file services, the question of how to best use Google Drive becomes important.  In a previous post, we compared centralized versus distributed use of additional storage.

For many organizations, the question remains as to how best to integrate Google Drive andGoogle Drive Additional Storage with existing, legacy apps on servers and client systems.  Beyond whether or not MS Office stays around, companies often have other systems that run locally using local disk or network drives.

The Google Drive client provides and easy, free, means to sync local data storage with Google Drive and Storage.  The utility, however, has a few limitations:

  • Synchronization of files happens between the My Drive hierarchy in the Google Apps Cloud and a local “Google Drive” folder.  While you can select where the “Google Drive” folder lives, you cannot map existing folders.
  • Users must know where to find and save documents they want synchronized between local disk space and Google Drive.
  • You cannot select specific folders in Google Drive to synchronize down to the client.
  • If a folder is “shared with” a user in Google Drive, the user needs to “move” it under “My Drive” for it to sync to their local disk.

While not a reason to avoid using Google Apps as a file service, using the Google Drive client limits how you deploy your solution and creates some training elements.

Our recommendation is to create a file service using Google Drive that keeps the look and feel of a traditional file service for the end users.   Doing so mitigates training and migration issues and avoids a range of technical issues related to supporting legacy applications.

Look for a solution that offers:

  • A server-specific synchronization tool that does not interfere with existing drive mappings and/or shared network folders.
  • The ability to specify specific folders in Google Drive and/or locally for synchronization.
  • The ability to provide gateway access to cloud-only storage that looks and feels like traditional network disk space.
  • Client applications that run on Windows, Mac, and popular smart phone platforms.
  • That can connect to multiple cloud storage solutions, giving you flexibility in how you configure primary, secondary, and/or archive storage.

While you may spend a few dollars per user per year to get the environment you want, you will see returns.  You should be able to extend the life or retire existing server hardware. With direct access to files, you should be able to reduce (or eliminate) your remote access solutions and/or VPN services, thereby reducing administration, licensing, and support costs.  And best of all, improved collaboration and secure access to information means better productivity for your team and better business results.

 

 

Friday Thought: Building a Cloud File Service

For many of the companies, non-profits, school systems, and local governments we work with, the desire to use the cloud is expanding beyond email and calendar.  These organizations are looking to move some or all of their file services into the cloud as well.

Motivation:

While the initial motivation is often to improve access to and sharing of information on projects, or in general, the planning process often reveals a greater value proposition. These secondary benefits derive from giving users direct access to data, and include, but are not limited to:

  • Reduced need for SSL VPN services and/or remote access, desktop, or virtual desktop solutions, resulting in lower hardware, software, networking, and support costs.
  • Reduced need for site-to-site links, enabling organizations to replace expensive point-to-point WAN links and MPLS networks with much less costly direct Internet access links.
  • Improved access to information from tablets and smart phones.
  • Reduced backup/restore costs, as physical infrastructure and in-house administration is replaced by cloud-to-cloud data protection services.

In short, cloud file services provide better user access to information, a simpler IT infrastructure, and lower costs.

Ecosystem

Many services exist to provide cloud-based file services and organizations are best off if they  review their needs before making a selection.  Beyond methods of accessing the service, be sure to review your permissions/security requirements with the features and function of the service.

Building a file service also means having the necessary components to ensure a robust ecosystem.

  • Affordable storage purchased as used or in flexible blocks
  • Drive letter access (DLA) or Network Place access from Windows desktops
  • Drive type access from Mac desktops, if needed
  • Access from mobile devices, including smart phones and tablets
  • Ability to integrate user identity with your LDAP, Active Directory, or SSO service
  • Availability of cloud-to-cloud backup/restore services
  • Encryption of data at rest and in transit
  • Ability to set permissions in accordance with your business needs, policies, and procedures

Execution

Moving to a cloud file service starts with understanding your requirements and the impact of the change on your computing environment and your end users.  Which aspects of the ecosystem do you need/want?  How will the change effect the user experience?  How will a new file service fit in with your other cloud solutions?  With an understanding of requirements, you can better match your needs to the available solutions and map out a migration that minimizes risk and enhances the benefits of the move.

 

File Server or File Service?

Most organizations store and share files by setting up one or more file servers.  They used to be referred to as “File and Print Servers”, but as most printers include direct network connectivity, spooling, and job management features, the need to have print spooling and drivers running on a server has nearly disappeared.

File servers seem to be heading in the same direction.

Disk space no longer needs a physical connection to a server with a full operating system. Disk drive control, security, access rights, and I/O management can be delivered directly by storage area networks (SANs), network attached storage (NAS), and cloud storage solutions.

What happens when storage is further abstracted?

Gladinet (http://www.gladinet.com) has a series of tools that lets you attaché multiple, independent cloud storage systems and accounts and presents them as top level folders on a mapped drive. OffiSync gives you access to Google Docs and Google Sites storage from toolbars/ribbons in the MS Office applications (avoiding mapped drives and windows explorer altogether). While Gladinet extends the model of OS-based storage management, OffiSync moves storage management directly into the application.

In its infancy, cloud storage services are giving us the opportunity to rethink the positioning and role of storage within operational architectures – in the cloud and in our data centers. File servers feel nearly obsolete as storage becomes a commodity and access control migrates from the operating system to the applications themselves.