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Google Vault – What, How, and Why

Google VaultGoogle Vault is a compliant archive and e-discovery service.  Historically, Vault is an add-on for G Suite Basic and is included with G Suite Business and Enterprise.

As Google transitions to the new Google Workspace, Google includes Vault in Google all Workspace Enterprise subscriptions and Google Workspace Business Plus.  Vault is not available as an add-on for the Google Workspace Business Starter and  Standard subscriptions at this time.

To decide if you need, or want, Vault, understand the What, How, and Why.

What Google Vault Does

Vault is a compliant archive/e-discovery service for Google Workspace.  The service captures all email, documents, and chats, even if they have been deleted by the user.  As such, Vault meets federal and state regulations for legal discovery.  Vault features include:

  • Archive:
    • Inbound, outbound, and internal email messages
    • Documents
    • Internal and external chat messages
  • “Matters”:
    • Search and gather all relevant materials
    • Save searches and results
  • Legal Holds:
    • Retain relevant data regardless of retention period
    • Prevent removal of data until a “Matter” is resolved
  • Audit Trails:
    • Capture activities
    • Document searches and exports
  • Reports:
    • Export data related to a “Matter” for delivery
    • Documentation that validates data integrity

How Vault differs from Backup

While Vault and backup systems both preserve and protect data, they serve very different purposes and functions.

Vault is intended to keep, find, export, and deliver data in a way that complies with Federal and State laws for legal discovery.

Backup systems are designed to preserve and restore information that has been lost or damaged.

In Vault, you can retrieve individual items and small batches of data. Doing so, however, does not restore the data to its prior location. Nor does Vault preserve meta data, such as date last modified and permissions.

Backup systems cannot guarantee that you have preserved all of your data.  Most backups are configured to remove deleted items from backup files after set periods of time.  Backup systems also prune data into weekly and monthly snapshots, resulting in a potential loss of versions.

Why You May Need or Want Vault

The driving factor for most businesses and organizations is regulatory compliance.  A range of laws and industry regulations require businesses to maintain records, including but not limited to:

  • Sarbanes/Oxley
  • Freedom of Information / Public Records
  • SEC-17
  • FINRA
  • PCI-DSS
  • HIPAA

If you are not subject to these regulations, you may want Vault in order to maintain data for:

  • Policy enforcement
  • Contact and legal negotiations
  • Personnel matters
  • Quality control

We recommend that your Google Workspace (G Suite) subscription is protected  by a backup/recovery solution.  You may not need or want Vault.  If you do not have a regulatory need, assess the value proposition of the added business protection and cost.

Learn more about Cumulus Global’s data protection and security solutions, contact us with any questions, or schedule a complimentary Cloud Advisor appointment.

Google Workspace: Key Transition Dates

Google workspaceWith the restructuring of G Suite into Google Workspace, Google is providing more service tiers and subscription options and you will need to decide which subscription best meets your needs and budget.

Here are some key dates to keep in mind as you plan your transition.

Your Renewal Date

Cumulus Global

  • If your G Suite subscription is an annual, promotional, or multi-year commitment, whether you pay annually or monthly, your renewal date determines when you need to transition from G Suite to Google Workspace.

December 31, 2020

  • Incentive discounts for early moves to Google Workspace expire. We must complete the change by this date for discounts to apply.  Discounts are available for 1, 2, and 3 year commitments. (Learn more …)
  • Vault Former Employee (VFE) licenses for non-Postini customers expire.  Licenses will convert to paid Archive User (AU) licenses. (see our blog post on this topic)

January 15, 2020

  • If your renewal date is before January 15, 2020, you have the option of renewing your G Suite subscription for one more year or transitioning to Google Workspace.
  • If your renewal date is after January 15, 2020, you must switch to a Google Workspace subscription at renewal if you have not already done so.

March 31. 2020

  • This is the last date G Suite Customers on monthly flex plans can continue with their G Suite subscription. If your G Suite subscription is a monthly flex and you have not yet switched to a Google Workspace subscription, the transition will happen automatically on April 1, 2020.

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  • Vault Former Employee (VFE) licenses for past-Postini customers will deprecate. While the date is not yet set, Google will provide at least 60 days notice prior to moving VFE licenses to paid Archive User licenses.  We strongly recommend that you start planning for this transition. (see our blog post on this topic)

To discuss Google Workspace subscription is best for your business, explore the incentive discounts, or get answers to your questions, please email us or submit this form. We will arrange a call with one of our Cloud Advisors.

Google Workspace: Vault Former Employee Licensing

Google VaultCoinciding with the announcement of the move to Google Workspace, Google also announced that Vault Former Employee, or VFE, licensing will deprecate and no longer be available.  While Google is offering Archive User, or AU, licensing, the licenses will no longer be free.

What are VFE licenses?

VFEIn G Suite, in order to preserve data in Vault for former employees, you needed to keep the user’s account active. As this could be expensive for many businesses, Google provided relief with free VFE licenses that maintain the archive without having to pay for the user account.

For customers that came to G Suite as former Postini customers, VFE licenses are a separate, free subscription.  For other customers, VFE licenses were provided as additional, free G Suite Basic, Business, or Standard Licenses.

Note that the vast majority of customers with VFE licensing, particularly small and midsize businesses, are former Postini customers.

What are AU licenses?

In Google Workspace, Archive User licenses allow you to maintain your vault archive for past users without paying for a full Google Workspace license.  Depending on your subscription, AU licenses will cost between $4 and $7 per user per month ($48-$84 per year).  This is significantly less than the $18 to $30 per user per year to keep an active license.

As of this blog post AU licenses are only available with the Google Workspace Enterprise Plus subscription. We expect AU licensing to be added to Enterprise Standard and Business Plus subscriptions some time in 2020 Q1.

When do VFE licenses go away?

For Former Postini Customers:

The end date for VFE licensing for former Postini Customers has not been set.  Google will provide these customers with at least 60 days notice before the licenses expire.  By default these VFE licenses will automatically transition to paid AU licenses.

At this time, we do not expect these VFE licenses to end prior the addition of AU licenses to other Enterprise and Business subscriptions. As such, our best estimate is that this change will happen no earlier than 2020 Q3.

For non-Postini Customers:

The end date for non-Postini customers is December 31, 2020.  At this time, VFE licenses will convert to paid AU licenses. Customers will need to move to the Google Workspace Enterprise Plus subscription for this to occur.

What are YOUR Options:

Non-Postini Customers

Non-Postini customers have until the end of the year to migrate data out of the VFE accounts to another location or service, or to prepare for the transition to Google Workspace Enterprise Plus and AU licensing.  Both options involve cost, either labor and tools to move the data or new subscription fees.  If you want to migrate your data out of VFEs, you have multiple options. The best option will depend on the number of users and amount of data.

Former Postini Customers

We recommend former Postini customers with VFE licensing begin their planning process now.

Since VFE licenses are a separate “product”, you can take advantage of our incentive discounts for moving from G Suite to Google Workspace before the end of the year.

Looking forward, you want to decide what VFE data you need or want to keep, and whether it is worthwhile to move the data or pay for the AU licensing when the transition happens.

Your Next Step:

The best way to move forward is to contact us and speak with one of our Cloud Advisors. We can help you assess your situation, discuss options, and pick the solution that best meets your requirements and budget.

 

 

Google Workspace: The Marvelous, the Meh, and the Money

Last week, Google made one of the biggest announcements in the 12 year history of its business productivity suite history.  G Suite is now Google Workspace. More than a name and branding change, Google Workspace represents a wholesale realignment of the productivity suite. Offering Business and Enterprise product tiers, each with multiple licensing and package options, Google Workspace is structured to match the way businesses are running today, and expect to run in the future.

With any major change, the opportunity and the impact of Google Workspace varies by business.  As we focus on small and mid-size enterprises, in this post we take a look at the Marvelous, the Meh, and the Money of Google Workspace Business editions.

The Marvelous

Google Workspace Business editions align well with the features and capabilities used by businesses with 300 or fewer employees.

  • Business Starter: This edition is a continuation of the former G Suite Basic service.   Users have 30GB of email, document, and photo storage, up to 100 participants per meeting in Google Meet, support for single sign-on, and basic device management, reports, and audit logs.
  • Business StandardThis edition increases storage to 2TB per user, allows up to 150 participants in Google Meets, and adds Shared Drives with advanced permissions, approvals, and metadata.  Business Standard also includes internal Cloud Search, advanced Drive auditing and reports, and the ability to record meetings and save them to Drive.
  • Business PremiumThe Business Premium edition is the most similar to the current G Suite Business subscription with 5TB of email, file, and photo storage per user, Shared Drives, and Vault for email and IM eDiscovery and Archiving. Users can include up to 250 participants in Google Meets. This edition also includes secure LDAP services and a set of advanced endpoint management services.

With this realignment, you can now mix licenses within your domain.  Doing so lets you optimize capabilities and costs to the needs of individual users and teams.

Google is focusing on the collaboration and work environment support most businesses need. The ability to manage document approvals and create custom metadata labels and fields in the Standard and Premium subscriptions are the types of features we expect businesses to use to improve collaboration, work flows, and efficiencies.

The Meh

For organizations currently on G Suite Business, moving to Workplace Business Standard and Premium Editions means losing unlimited storage.  While the vast majority of small and midsize businesses do not need more than 2TB or 5TB of storage, respectively, some businesses may need to move up to the Enterprise tier.

Most of our customers on G Suite Business need Vault archiving for regulatory compliance or to comply with and manage internal policies.  These organizations will need to move to Business Premium or will need Business Standard with Vault as an add-on.

As with most changes, customers will have decisions to make about when to move to the new subscriptions. While you can choose to move to a Google Workspace subscription at any time, the current G Suite subscriptions will only remain available through March 2021.

  • If you are on the monthly flex plan, you can continue to use your current G Suite service until the end of March 2021.  You will need to select and move to a Google Workspace subscription before March 31, 2021.
  • If you are on an annual plan and your renewal date is before March 31, 2021, you can either renew your current service for 1 year or switch to a Google Workspace subscription.
  • If you are on an annual plan and your renewal date is after March 31, 2021, you will need to move to a Google Workspace subscription upon renewal.

The Money

While moving from G Suite Basic to Workspace Business Starter does not impact your costs, moving from G Suite Business to Workspace Business Starter and Premium Editions will increase costs for most G Suite Business subscribers.

For G Suite Basic subscribers, your cost of $6/user per month ($72/year) remains the same with Workspace Business Starter.

For G Suite Business subscribers, your cost of $12/user per month ($144/year) may change as follows:

    • Change to Workspace Business Standard at $12/user per month ($144/year) PLUS the cost of Vault for users requiring Archive/eDiscovery coverage
    • Change to Workspace Business Premium at $18/user per month ($216/year) for complete Vault coverage and the additional features
    • Remain at $12/user per month ($144/year) if you no longer need or want Vault coverage

In April 2019, Google changed and increased pricing for G Suite Basic and Business editions.  To mitigate the financial impact, Google authorized promotional discounts for upgrades and for renewals extended term commitments. For many businesses that took advantage of these upgrades, you saw a modest price increase in 2019, an expected step to standard G Suite pricing in 2020, and may not face another increase in 2021. We are sensitive to the budget impact and are offering options to avoid or mitigate the additional costs.

Your Next Step:

Your best next step is to contact us and schedule a Cloud Advsior session. We will review your current subscription and usage, discuss your options and costs, and recommend a preferred solution that best fits your business’ needs, priorities, and budgets.  For most, the choice will be which Google Workspace subscription is best. For some, particularly those still using MS Office desktop applications, switching platforms to Microsoft 365 may provide a better alternative.  Our team is here to listen, understand, guide, and execute. Let our expertise inform your decisions and support your actions and goals.

Customer Notice Update: Email Advanced Threat Protection

Data ProtectionGiven the demand and need to improve your protection from the devastating impact of ransomware, crypto attacks, and other forms of cyber attacks we are extending the Advanced Threat Protection Priority Opt-in discount period through March, 2020. We understand that adding a service, even a critical service, impacts your budget and costs. Our Priority Opt-In discounts, and other measures (see below), intend to minimize the impact.

Email Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) and Multi-factor authentication (MFA) are necessary, baseline services for protecting your business

Beginning April 1, 2020, we require Advanced Threat Protection for all of our customers’ email service, unless you specifically opt out. Opting out is appropriate if you already have an advanced threat protection service in place.

If you opt out, the cost of our data recovery efforts will not be covered under our unlimited support plans (See our Support Services SLA). When we add ATP to your service, we will discuss with you when we can add MFA.

We will mitigate the cost.

We are sensitive to your budget.

  • ATP requires a technical setup and typically incurs a setup fee along with the monthly or annual subscription.
  • We are discounting both the setup and subscription fees for all customers. For customers requesting Priority Opt-In, we will waive the ATP related setup fees completely.
  • MFA implementation is covered by our support plans as an administrative change.  If you do not have on of our support plans, we will provide an affordable, discounted quote for the project.
  • For customers without an unlimited support plan and/or those that choose to Opt-Out, we will discount our hourly fees for recovery work.

For more information on specific discounts and pricing, and to let us know if you want to Opt-In, to have Priority Opt-In, or to Opt-Out, please visit this web page and complete the form.

We realize that this is a significant change for most of our customers.  We also understand the importance of these protections.  Please contact us with questions or concerns

Thank you for being part of our community,
Allen Falcon
CEO & Pragmatic Evangelist

Customer Notice: Email Advanced Threat Protection

Data Protection

(Updated January 20, 2020)

We continue to witness the devastating impact of ransomware, crypto attacks, and other forms of cyber attacks on our customers.  The recovery cost and frequency of attacks are increasing at alarming rates. The average cost for a small or midsize business (SMB) to fully recovery from a cyber attack has increased to between $145,000 and $180,000. This includes loss of direct business, remediation costs, damage to reputation, and employee downtime.  At the same time, the number of ransomware attacks so far in 2019 has doubled when compared with the same period in 2018.

As a managed cloud service provider, you have heard from us that you “should” have more protections in place. Our position is changing: these protections are a “must”.

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) and email Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) are necessary, baseline services for protecting your business. 

Beginning April 1, 2020, we will require and will begin adding Advanced Threat Protection to all of our customers’ email service unless you specifically opt out. If you opt out, the cost of our data recovery efforts will not be covered under our unlimited support plans (See our Support Services SLA). When we add ATP to your service, we will discuss with you when we can add MFA.

We will mitigate the cost.

We are sensitive to your budget.

  • ATP requires a technical setup and typically incurs a setup fee along with the monthly or annual subscription.  We are discounting both the setup and subscription fees for all customers. For customers requesting Priority Opt-In, we will waive the ATP related setup fees completely.
  • MFA implementation is covered by our support plans as an administrative change.  If you do not have on of our support plans, we will provide an affordable, discounted quote for the project.
  • For customers without an unlimited support plan and/or those that choose to Opt-Out, we will discount our hourly fees for recovery work.

For more information on specific discounts and pricing, and to let us know if you want to Opt-In, to have Priority Opt-In, or to Opt-Out, please visit this web page and complete the form.

We realize that this is a significant change for most of our customers.  We also understand the importance of these protections.  Please contact us with questions or concerns

Thank you for being part of our community,
Allen Falcon
CEO & Pragmatic Evangelist

G Suite: Modern Security for Modern Threats

Google CloudIn multiple blog posts over the past 2+ years, we have covered the changing and growing nature of threats to your organization, systems, and people.  For us the answer is CPR

Communicate and Educate;

Prevent & Protect;

Recover & Review. 

Once you have these basics in place, the challenge becomes keeping up with the times.  As the nature of threats change, the protective capabilities of our key systems should evolve as well.

For those of us running G Suite, we may understand that Google has expanded the security footprint and capabilities, but have we altered our configuration to properly protect ourselves?

The first step in assessing your protections is to understand the risks.

  • 91% of attacks start with a phishing email
  • 66% of malware was installed via malicious emails or attachments
  • 90% of all reported breaches caused by employee negligence, extortion, and external threats

These statistics, while not unfamiliar, point to the change in risk from physical devices to data and human interactions.

As people can be your greatest risk, the best protections compensate for human behavior.

Step two is mapping your security needs to the right version of G Suite. Each version adds additional protections, allowing you to move up to the version that best meets your needs and priorities. Understand what each version offers and map them back to your regulatory and business requirements.

G Suite Basic

  • Encryption in transit and at rest, including policy-based TLS enforcement
  • 2-Step Verification via prompt, SMS, Security Key,or Authenticator app
  • Single Sign-on (SAML 2.0)
  • OAuth 2.0 and OpenID Connect
  • Restrict emails to authorized recipients
  • Drive audit logs

G Suite Business

  • Vault for compliant archiving and e-discovery for Gmail, Drive, and Hangouts Chat
  • Team Drives for centralized access controls and permissions management
  • Domain white-listing for Drive with alerts
  • Basic Information Rights Management (IRM) to manage scope of sharing by Organizational Units

G Suite Enterprise

  • G Suite Security Center with a unified security dashboard
  • Advanced Data Loss Prevention for Gmail and Drive files
  • Email content compliance and objectional content filters, with OCR
  • Security key enforcement
  • User S/MIME Certificates for Gmail encryption
  • App white-listing to control 3rd party data access
  • Sandboxing (pre-delivery deep scanning) or email attachments

Moving the right version of G Suite has never been easier.

While no one product or service will meet all of your security, privacy, and data management needs, moving to the right version of G Suite improves your security footprint and can mitigate the need for 3rd party solutions. To help you move, we are partnering with Google to offer pricing incentives.

Your next step is to contact us to schedule a complimentary Cloud Advisory Session to assess your needs, priorities, and options.


 

 

 

Google+ Changes: What you need to know

In December 2018, Google announced that the consumer version of Google+ is shutting down in April 2019.  As the usage lines between the consumer and business versions of Google+ have often been blurry, we want to clear up some of the confusion following the notices you may be getting from Google.

What is happening?
  • The consumer version of Google+ is going away.
    • If employees have setup Google+ accounts or communities not using their G Suite account, this content will be deleted.
    • If you have a Google+ circles or communities with “consumer” members, these users will be removed along with their content
  • You will no longer be able to create public communities outside of your G Suite domain.
  • The business version of Google+ is changing. You will no longer have pages, events, or the “tagline” profile field within the Google+ service.
  • If you cancel your G Suite service, all content in Google+ will be removed
What should you do?

The first step is to ask your users if they are using Google+ and, if so, how they are using the service.  If Google+ is not in use, no action is required.  If Google+ is in use, your next steps are determined by how you are using the service.

Google is updating the download tools for Google+ in March to include author, body, and photos for every post.  Once this is available, plan to download and save content you want to keep …

  • Posts from Google+ communities outside your G Suite Domain owned or managed by your users
  • Google+ Pages and Events of any type
  • Your Google+ tagline (download your profile)

In addition, you will want to:

  • Upgrade the Google+ Android app between Feb 22nd and March 7th.  After March 7, 2019, the current versions of the app will be unsupported.
  • Remove any Google+ gadgets from any classic Google Sites you may have
  • Have users opt out of the Google Play Services Public Beta Program to avoid issues with other Google apps, such as Email and Hangouts

As always, feel free to contact us with any questions.

 

G Suite Price Hike: Your Next Steps

G SuiteAnytime a vendor critical to your business changes their product and pricing, it is tempting to reassess. We may see the world differently than other IT providers, but we, the team at Cumulus Global, strongly agree.  Now is a good time to examine your cloud services, as part of your full IT ecosystem, and determine if it is the right time to make a change for the better.

Step 1: Look Inward: Utilization

The first step is to look at your current service, and evaluate how well you are using its capabilities to operate and improve your business. By looking at your utilization today and what features and capabilities you expect to use in the future, you can decide if your current subscription is best or if you should consider an upgrade.

If you are running G Suite Basic or G Suite Business:

  • Are you using it solely for email, calendars, or contacts or are your using the collaboration features?  
  • Does Drive, or can Drive and Team Drives, serve as your primary file service?  
  • Are you paying for separate services, such as teleconferencing and web/video conferencing, that are included within G Suite at no additional cost?

Understanding the capabilities of each G Suite subscription and asking the right questions, you assess how you will use G Suite going forward.  Contact us, we are here to help.

Step 2: Look Outward

Currently, about 30% of our client migrations to G Suite and Office 365 are from another cloud service, not from on-premise or hosted email servers.  While this number may be surprising to some, for us it makes sense. Companies that moved to G Suite or Office 365 several years ago are looking at how the cloud has advanced how their businesses have changed, and how their overall IT needs and services have evolved.  

Is now the time to switch?

The decision to switch from G Suite to Office 365, or vice versa, makes solid business sense for for some of our current and prospective clients. For some, they remain reliant on the desktop MS Office suite and want better integration. For others, they have business apps running on MS SQL Server and want the integrated business intelligence and analytic capabilities of Office 365. For still others, a unified security infrastructure covering desktops, laptops, and mobile devices is the driving need.

If you think switching is a worthwhile consideration, we are offering our Productivity Cloud Assessment and Recommendations at no cost through March 31, 2019.  Complete our Cloud Productivity Questionnaire and we will schedule a Cloud Advisor Session and present you with our assessment and recommendations. The service, normally $895, will help you jump start the process for considering a change in platform.

Additionally, check out this blog post for ways to mitigate the price increase.

Step 3: Talk to Us

Whether you expect to stay the course or change directions, we are here to help. Because we partner Google, Microsoft, and dozens of other cloud providers, you get our objective assessment and recommendations. Because we understand small and midsize businesses, you will get pragmatic advice and solutions focused on your needs and desired outcomes.

Please take advantage of our experience and expertise.

Managing the Impact of the G Suite Price Increase

G SuiteTo help manage the impact of the pricing increase, we are able to offer renewal and upgrade discounts based on your current licensing. Converting from Monthly/Flex to Annual locks in the current pricing for a year. Upgrading your G Suite Version provides you a discount off the current upgrade pricing for 12 to 24 months.

Convert Monthly/Flex to Annual

  • For clients using G Suite Basic or G Suite Business on the Monthly/Flex plan, we can mitigate the increase by switching you to the annual prepaid plan before the end of March.  
  • Doing so secures the current $50 per user or $120 per user annual cost until your renewal in 2020.

G Suite Basic to Business Upgrade

  • For clients using G Suite Basic, you can take advantage of upgrade discounts to G Suite Business.
  • The discounts up to 33% off current prices based on the commitments of 12, 15, or 18 months.
  • At the end of this promotional term, your subscription resets to the new pricing.

G Suite Business to Enterprise Upgrade

  • For clients using G Suite Business, you can upgrade to G Suite Business with discounts up to 38% off current pricing, based on the term commitment of up to 24 months.  
  • At the end of this promotional term, your subscription resets to the new pricing.

While we expect additional upgrade incentives after the price increase takes effect, the above offers expire at the end of March.

To assess your G Suite service and determine if any of these options are right for you, please contact us for a Cloud Advisor Session.