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Google workspace

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

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  • 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.

Yahoo Mistreats Customers

Yahoo Attempts to Keep Users by Violating Their Trust

Yahoo! Mistreats Customers
Some of the questions we frequently answer when exploring cloud options for small and midsize businesses are about how we will be able to get the data out of the service and/or move to a different service if necessary. Our answer is that reputable cloud providers understand these concerns and provide the means to export, remove, and transfer data and accounts.

According to a report this week by ZDNet, Yahoo has decided to violate Yahoo Mail users’ trust and block users from automatically forwarded emails to other accounts and services. While Yahoo claims this feature was shut off because a better version is “in development”, the feature remains active for those already using the service. And since when does a cloud service turn off a popular feature before the upgraded replacement is ready?

Hey, Yahoo!, We Call “BULLSHIT!”

This is not a feature upgrade in the making, this is a blatant attempt to make it difficult for users to abandon ship following Yahoo’s delayed disclosure that 500 million accounts were breached in 2014. Verizon is already asking for $1 Billion dollars back on the purchase price given that Yahoo! failed to disclose the breach and associated liabilities during due diligence for the acquisition. A rapid loss of business customers will only further cripple Yahoo!.

Instead of keeping customers by earning back their trust, Yahoo! is clearly manipulating their services. By giving the appearance that moving to a new provider is more difficult, Yahoo! hopes to raise the “barrier to exit” enough to keep its customers.

Still Easy to Move

While automated forwarding is nice to have when changing email providers, the feature is not a requirement.  We can still capture and move all of your existing data to G Suite or Office 365. Without forwarding, we change the timing of events to avoid any data loss.

Your Next Move

Maybe it is time to reconsider Yahoo! as your email provider. With the Verizon-Yahoo! merger focused on other services, and the outcome now uncertain, may now is the time to switch to a provider focused on helping you and your business, not just protecting their own.

If the time is now, or soon, we have special incentives to lessen the cost of moving from Yahoo! Mail to G Suite or Office 365. Learn more or contact us for a free consultation.

Yahoo Mistreats Customers

Verizon Acquires Yahoo! — Trouble for Business Subscribers?

Yahoo SignWith Verizon’s acquisition of the Yahoo! core business services underway, subscribers to Aabaco Small Business — the business email solution from Yahoo! — face uncertain times. While there is no indication of what Verizon may do with the Aabaco Small Business services, the focus of the Verizon acquisition is clearly Yahoo! services that Verizon can roll into its upstart digital media business.  As reported by The Wall Street Journal and others, Verizon is acquiring Yahoo! for the content and audience.  Business email and ecommerce services are clearly not top of mind.

Priced from $34.95 to $119.40 per year, Aabaco’s email service is as a basic webmail solution. The service includes spam/virus protection, filtering, and forwarding, although the web interface is simple and the service only supports POP email clients (no IMAP service). The service does not include calendar, IM/Chat, video calling services, file storage, and other services typically found in more robust email and communication suites.

Many Aabaco customers may choose to wait and see how the acquisition plays out and, therefore, how long they can continue to get support and service on an aging platform that lacks competitive features.

For many others, the acquisition is a great time to explore other solutions for cloud-based services. Both Google for Work and Microsoft Office 365 expand upon basic email services with robust communication and collaboration features and tools, and both integrate with a variety of marketing and ecommerce platforms.

For those with Aabaco websites and ecommerce service subscriptions, exploring Shopify, ProStores, and others may offer more robust, modern, and cost-effective solutions. The migration, however, is more complex as it involves multiple services.

We recommend that Aabaco subscribers begin looking at alternatives.  Whether or not you make a change now or in the future, understanding your options along with the relevant merits and costs, empowers you to make better decisions. You can also be ready to make your move if/when the time is right.


Are you an Aabaco customer interested in exploring alternatives?  Offering both Google for Work and Microsoft Cloud solutions, our Cloud Advisors can provide you with an unbiased assessment of your options. Contact us for a free consultation.


 

 

Keeping Cloud Migrations Affordable

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A silent trend in cloud computing for small and mid-size enterprises (SMEs) is the rising cost of migrations and data integration.  While many cloud computing costs have dropped, the cost to get data into the cloud continues to rise at a steady trend.

The reason for the increase is complexity. 

SMEs are moving more workloads and more data into cloud solutions. These systems and data must co-exist and work together as well as they do on-premise. Where 12 to 18 months ago, SMEs were moving email, calendaring, and contacts into the cloud, today SMEs are also moving complex file systems and, in some cases, key line of business applications. It makes sense that moving a user’s full environment is more costly than moving just email.

Is Value Increasing?

Even though costs may continue to rise, the value of moving should rise even faster.  Moving multiple workloads and data sets to cloud should support key business objectives and should lower total cost of ownership (TCO) over time. The value proposition is unique to each SME and should be considered when looking at broad cloud adoption.

Mitigating the Cost of Migration

Structuring your cloud migration to maximize near-term and long-term value delivers an ROI on the change that should cover your migration costs.  Even so, there are steps and you can take to mitigate migration costs.

  • Bundle migration efforts into a single project, even it requires multiple phases
    • You will benefit from an economy of scale.
  • Work with a service provider than can handle or manage all aspects of your project
    • Ask the service provider about the range of migration tools it will use for the various aspects of the project.
    • A good partner will prevent you from having to learn multiple migration tools, particularly for a “one time use”.
    • You will benefit from a more efficient project with more predictable results.
  • Look for migration costs on a per user or per system basis, not on a per GB basis
    • For most migrations, the cost to move the data is not the major factor.
    • Tool licensing and expertise are the cost-critical factors.
    • A migration structured on the value of expertise and tools will be more cost-effective

With some up-front analysis, a focus on value, and a properly structured engagement, you can get the most value while holding the line on cloud migration costs.


Let’s discuss your cloud migration plans. Contact us for a free, no obligation consultation.


 

 

 

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.


 

 

Moving to the Cloud: Lock-In

 

Green_GaugeThis post is the fifth in a series addressing concerns organizations may have that prevent them from moving the cloud-based solutions.

When looking at cloud solutions, most organizations spend a great deal of time, appropriately so, investigating how they will move data and processes into the cloud.  At the same time, organizations should understand how they will get data out of the cloud should they decide to switch solutions in the future.

While this seems like a new issue or concern, the reality remains that organizations switch systems and data migration and integration issues exist — cloud or not.  The same analysis and decision making process that organizations follow for in-house systems should be followed for cloud solutions.

Platform as a Service (PaaS) solutions provide environments that, in general, enable data and application movement.  Moving to a Windows Server image in the cloud is not much different from moving to an in-house Windows server.  Key considerations focus on the amount of data and the time/efficiency of moving the data on or off the cloud server.

Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions can prove more challenging.  Migrating to or from a cloud-based application provides the same challenges as migrating data to a new in-house application.  Record matching, data scrubbing, and data translation are all issues to be considered.  In addition to the strength of the import utilities, understand the strength and cost of the export utilities.  Some SaaS applications only provide comprehensive export capabilities at their most expensive licensing options.

Fear of “Lock-In” should not prevent organizations from moving into cloud solutions.  Rather, a small amount of due diligence will ensure that the “how” and “how much” of a future migration is understood.

Next Post in the Series:  Integration with Legacy Systems

Previous Post in the Series:  Privacy

TrueSwitch and Other Email Migration Options

If you are moving from a hosted email service (other than gmail.com) to Google Apps, Google is releasing a new migration tool.  Partnering with TrueSwitch, Google is giving users the ability to migrate email from more than 50 different hosted email providers, automatically notify contacts of the new address, and forward email from the current provider to Google Apps.   As a third party tool, Google is only providing “best effort” support.

While has proven effective for users of the free Gmail service, businesses may elect to follow other migration paths for the following reasons: (1) TrueSwitch requires end user action or access to every end user account through the interface; (2) while the tool runs in the background, you need to be logged into the user account to check status; and (3) the tool is designed around personal email accounts.

Businesses may prefer to use other methods and services designed to migrate domains, rather than personal accounts.

 

Upgrade In-House or Migrate to the Cloud?

Over the weekend, I received an invitation to a webinar about upgrading Microsoft’s Small Business Server (SBS) 2003 to the current SBS 2011 version.  Aimed at technology providers, the agenda is fairly straight forward … but troubling in how it exemplifies the problem with so many in-house solutions.

  • How to prepare clients and manage their expectations for a migration
  • What can go wrong and what to expect
  • Tools that will help you prepare for the migration
  • How to install Small Business Server 2011
  • The migration process
  • Using the Call Stack Window
  • How to remove Small Business Server 2003

While I agree with all of the topics and considerations, upgrading technology, particularly from one version of a product to a newer version, should not be this difficult.  And, in reality, migrating to new solutions need not be this difficult for most businesses.

For most small businesses, moving from Small Business Server to Google Apps for Business will be easier than upgrading Small Business Server in-house. Here is why:

  1. No need to add, replace, or upgrade hardware
  2. No need to upgrade Client Access Licenses (CALs) on every computer
  3. Dual delivery ensures zero data loss and little or no downtime
  4. Data migrates directly from server to cloud without complex data preparation procedures
  5. No need to also upgrade your email spam/virus protection — Postini is part of Google Apps
  6. No need to upgrade your email server backup solution — Message Archive & Discovery and/or enhanced backup services can be added instantly to your Google Apps domain
  7. No need to upgrade your mobile connections — Android, Blackberry, and iPhones integrate directly with Google Apps
  8. Easier remote access — your data is in the cloud, so you may no longer need your VPN, Citrix, or remote desktop service

While Google Apps for Business may not be the solution for every small business, it is a solution worthy of serious consideration.

Cumulus Global offers bundles that integrate Google Apps with value-add services to provide small businesses with a more complete and custom solution.  Click the links to learn more about Google Apps and the CumuluSuite for SoHo bundles.

 

How Do You Know if You Are Cloud Ready?

We understand the Google Apps may not be the best fit for all companies, but the solution is certainly worthy of serious consideration.   For most businesses, however, the question is really “Are YOU Cloud Ready?”

Being Cloud Ready is more than a willingness or desire to move IT infrastructure services, such as email, into cloud-based services.  You need to assess how the cloud solution will work for you.  Beyond the basics of email, calendar, and contacts, this means you should understand the following …

  • Does the cloud solution fit with your business processes and usage patterns?  Or, will users need to change how they use these applications?
  • Can you estimate how many users should see productivity gains by moving to the cloud solution?
  • Can you calculate and compare accurate Total Cost of Ownership estimates for your current systems and your cloud solutions?
  • Do you understand how many of your users rely on basic features versus your power users?
  • Do you have usage patterns that add could complexity to your migration if not identified in the planning phase?

Fortunately, answering these and other questions is getting easier as new tools come to market.

We have partnered with Exoprise to offer CloudReady RAPID and CloudReady PRO assessment services for MS Exchange environments.  With a non-intrusive analysis tool and expert analysis, we can provide you with the data and information you need to understand if you are ready to move from MS Exchange to Google Apps.

If you want to know more, please email me directly.

Businesses Go from Ground to Cloud in 30 Days

Nationally recognized cloud solutions provider Horizon Info Services announced a new program for helping small and mid-size business move into cloud computing with less risk and at lower costs. Horizon’s FasTrack Services provide rapid deployment of Google Apps for Business for companies with up to 250 employees, giving companies quick access to the integrated suite of email, calendar, and collaboration tools. Depending on each customer’s needs, Horizon helps customers through setup, migration, and user education, completing deployments in 1 to 5 weeks.

“For businesses with IT staff looking to move to the cloud, we offer the expertise needed for a quick, successful migration,” stated Allen Falcon, CEO of Horizon. “We nearly eliminate the learning curve, transferring knowledge and minimizing risk.”

FasTrack services provide customers with a project kick-off meeting and a customized, best-practice project plan, technical guidance and assistance throughout the project, status calls and updates, and template user communications. Core FasTrack Services are fixed-price, offering savings over most per-user and full service options.

“We also offer a many value add services and technologies,” notes Falcon. “These solutions facilitate data migrations, improve integration between Google Apps and existing technologies, and, most importantly, enhance the end users’ experience using Google Apps”

Businesses can learn more about Horizon’s FasTrack Services at a dedicated web site, http://fastrack.horizoninfoservices.com. Companies that complete the 12 minute assessment will receive a free analysis of their potential migration to Google Apps.