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Myth Busting

Myth-Busting Monday: On-Premise is Safer Than Cloud

Office365-Logo-and-textJust because you can see it and touch it, does not mean it is safe and secure. With the number of successful ransomware attacks up more than 400% in the past year, it is increasingly clear that on-premise systems are not inherently more secure than they would be in the cloud. Many companies are hacked and remain unaware for weeks or months, as the use by cyber criminals of advanced persistent threats continues to rise.

Microsoft Office is secured with technologies and resources beyond the reach of nearly every small and mid-market business.

Large enterprises know that security is a full-time job, requiring a team of expensive experts and advanced technologies. And while large enterprise can afford to make this investment, most small and mid-size businesses do not have the resources to prevent, detect, and mitigate security issues.

Moving to Office 365, you enter an environment designed for security, backed by a team of security experts, industry leaders in regulatory compliance, and the latest security technologies and methods. Office 365 complies with the latest rules and regulations, including but not limited to:

  • HIPAA
  • Sarbanes-Oxley
  • Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA)
  • ISO 27001
  • European Union (EU) Model Clauses and U.S.–EU Safe Harbor framework
  • Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)
  • Canadian Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA)

And, with this security, you get a 99.9% uptime guarantee.

Thinking of going cloud — or expanding your cloud use — and remain concerned about security and data privacy, give us a chance to assess your needs and map out a solution.


This is the third of a multi-part series designed to help companies better asses the opportunity and value of cloud-based solutions.  Contact Us for more information or a free Cloud Advisor session.


Myth Busting

Myth-Busting Monday: Cloud Means Less Control

Office 365 CloudCloud adoption continues to grow. Many business and IT leaders still have the misconception that moving data into the cloud means giving up control of your data or your technology.

In fact, when you move into Office 365 and other cloud services, you still have control over your IT environment. You have the admin tools to control the who, what, where, when, and how of your information and systems.

The role of your IS team shifts from technical issues to business issues.

When you move to the cloud, you give up most of the time spent maintaining hardware and upgrading software.  You no longer need to focus on maintenance, repairs, daily admin tasks, and upgrades. You free up the time you need to focus on improving business operations, developing new analytics and insights, and launching new and agile initiatives.

When you move to the cloud, you stop spending ever-increasing capital dollars on servers and storage while trying to match capacity with need.  Cloud solutions let you focus your IT spend on specific capabilities for specific roles and needs within your organization.

Moving to the cloud lets you think strategically and select solutions that support and respond to the needs of your managers and staff.

Think about how you want to improve your business, and contact us; we will help you select and deploy the cloud solution that can make it happen.


This is the second of a multi-part series designed to help companies better asses the opportunity and value of cloud-based solutions.  Contact Us for more information or a free Cloud Advisor session.


Myth Busting

Myth-Busting Monday: Office 365 is not just Office “Online”

Office 365Even with the growing adoption, many still see Microsoft Office 365 as “Office in the Cloud”.

In fact, Office 365 is an entirely different suite of services.  Yes, Office 365 Business Premium and Enterprise licenses include the MS Office apps we know and use — Outlook, Work, Excel, Powerpoint, and more.  But Office 365 is not just a suite of productivity tools.

Microsoft Office 365 is a business communication, collaboration, and information management ecosystem.

Office 365 licenses can include:

  • OneNote – Multimedia note taking from any platform
  • SharePoint – Collaboration platform for file sharing, intranets, document management, workflows, and information management
  • OneDrive – Personal and shared file storage
  • Skype for Business – Voice, secure IM, video meetings, and presence management
  • Yammer – Social collaboration for business
  • Power BI – Wizard driven business analytics
  • Sway – Web 2.0 publishing to tell your story
  • Planner – Project and task management

As important as the suite of tools, Office 365 can change the way your team works together.  With your data secure and in the cloud, you share information rather than attaching files to endless chains of emails. Your team has the ability to work anytime, from anywhere, from nearly any device. Your people are connected because the data and information they use is connected.

So if you haven’t moved into the cloud, stop thinking of Office 365 as hosted email and some apps. Start thinking about how you want to improve your business. Then use Office 365 to make it happen.

Already on Office 365 and feel like you’re not using it to its fullest potential? Ask us about our adoption and engagement programs.


This is the first of a multi-part series designed to help companies better asses the opportunity and value of cloud-based solutions.  Contact Us for more information or a free Cloud Advisor session.


 

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.


 

 

Email Encryption is Not Compliance

Security Key
While providing a reasonable level of protection from inappropriate access to your data, the built-in encryption is not sufficient to meet information privacy regulations. Laws such as the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (“HIPAA”), and industry regulations including the Personal Card Information (“PCI”) standards require more than data encryption.

Privacy laws and regulations typically include three components:

  1. Policies and procedures that, when followed, provide appropriate data protections
  2. A means to monitor compliance, with the ability to detect and mitigate potential violations of the policies and procedures
  3. A defined response and resolution procedure in the event of a breach

As explained in our eBook, Email Encryption in Google Apps, Technology can support the implementation of these three components, but does not offer a full solution on its own.


Contact us to assess your email encryption needs and to define an affordable solution.


 

Don’t Let Outdated Technology Slow Your Business Down

Old Tech
This is the first in a multi-part series providing ideas and guidance for companies looking to modernize their business with cloud and mobile solutions.


For many small business owners, it is easy to put off technology decisions for more pressing day to day matters. Sometimes, however, “If it ain’t broke; don’t fix it!” can do more harm than good. Outdated IT slows you down and costs you money in lost productivity and missed opportunities. Your technology also sends a message to your customers about how well your business can serve theirs. In today’s cloud and mobile world, your small business has affordable access to the same caliber tools and services as large enterprises. If your business is not taking advantage of the close and mobility, your competition is and you are falling behind.

Go Big or Go Home?

Moving to the cloud does not need to be an “all or nothing” proposition. Most small businesses start with email and move on to file sharing/collaboration. Business apps, like Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Accounting can also be good places to start, delivering a high return and value for the migration effort and spend.

For some, going cloud and mobile is easiest to accomplish with the latest version of tools and software that you already use. For others, moving to the cloud and mobile is an opportunity to change the way your team works, so moving your team to new tools is best.

Google Apps or Microsoft Office 365?

This is the question we are asked most often by fellow small business owners and IT leaders. Google Apps or Office 365?

Our answer is: YES.

We are not saying your choice doesn’t matter. We are saying that Google Apps and Microsoft Office 365 fit different businesses differently. Microsoft Office 365 extends the Microsoft Office ecosystem with collaboration, communication, and data/information tools that will never exist in your desktop version of Office.  Google Apps integrates broadly with most of the newer, cloud and mobile first tools preferred by small business. And, we have five ways to integrate your MS Office desktop software with Google Apps, so you don’t need to abandon the tools you already know.

Both ecosystems help you get stuff done faster, communicate more efficiently, and make mobility easier. Which solution is best for you depends on a factors ranging from where your team works and how you want to improve communications and collaboration to which line of business systems are critical to your success. By looking at your full IT environment, you can pick the cloud productivity platform and other cloud services that make the most sense, and delivery the greatest return.

Footprints, Workloads, and Clouds

Beyond your basic productivity suite (email, documents, spreadsheets, files, etc) and collaboration tools (voice, chat, conferencing, document sharing), more small businesses are moving other workloads from their on premise footprint into the cloud. Do not get flustered by the jargon! Workloads are simply applications or data processing; your footprint is the physical IT systems you use; and the cloud is, well, any cloud or hosted service where you can run your workloads.

For small businesses like yours, moving other applications into the cloud will improve security and reliability, offer better business continuity, and mitigate or lower costs. And while some applications don’t have a cloud version you can use (i.e., Quickbooks Online lacks features and reports most of our costomers want or need), you can move those systems onto cloud server with remote desktop access.

We All Have Our Job to Do

Your job is your business and serving your customers. Our job is to make sure your IT helps you do your job better and more efficiently.

Talk to us about your business, your goals, objectives, and priorities. Challenge us to find ways to help you reach your goals. We will bring our vision, enthusiasm, expertise, experience, and pragmatism, along with our commitment to either add value, or get out of the way.

Complete the form; let’s start the conversation!


Changing the Way You Buy Office

0365 across devices
At Microsoft’s 2015 Worldwide Partner Conference, Microsoft openly discussed plans to replace Enterprise Agreements and most Open Value licensing with subscription based models. Going away are the per-device, traditional “box” software.  For Microsoft, this is more than a change in method, it represents a change for the better in how the company will distribute, update, and enhance MS Office and other products. Forget major releases every 2 years, a subscription model enables continuous incremental improvements and will make Microsoft even more responsive to customers’ needs.

This Change is Good for You, the Microsoft User

In addition to better access to innovation, the new Office 365 Business and Office 365 ProPlus licenses are the best fit for most small and mid-size businesses.

  • Each license covers 5 PCs or Macs, 5 tablets, & 5 phones per user
    Your team can install MS Office on any device they use, giving them the ability to work on nearly any device, from anywhere, at anytime.
  • Local and/or Web Versions of MS Office
    Depending on your license choice, you can have both the local and web versions of MS Office.  Your team has added flexibility and features, and the ability to work securely from anywhere at anytime.
  • 1TB of Cloud Storage
    Keep documents secure, usable, and sharable without messy sync-and-share apps, email attachments, or thumbdrives.
  • License Flexibility
    Adjust your license count, as needed, on a monthly or annual basis, avoiding sunken costs on unused licenses and features.
  • Lower Cost
    Licenses with local and cloud Office licensing are as low as $99 per user per year, about 1/3 less than purchasing Office with Software Assurance or paying for upgrades every 3 to 4 years.

If you are thinking about, or ready to upgrade to your MS Office licensing, contact us for a free license consultation and Office 365 Business or Office 365 ProPlus quote.  We will match you the best license option.

And, through January 31, 2016, you can save at 5% or more on annual prepay Office 365 Business licensing.

You Win in Microsoft’s $129 Billion Give-Away

Windows 10 Logo
At this summer’s Worldwide Partner Conference, several Microsoft executives mentioned that they expect 1 billion users to download the Windows 10 for free.  With a “street price” of about $129, this equates to $129 billion give-away. The cynics among us might argue that this is a great strategic play for Microsoft as a way to maintain its customers base amid increasing competition from other operating platforms, including Chrome, Linux, Android, and iOS.

You, however, are the real winner in this give-away. And here is why …

  • Windows 10 is the first Microsoft operating system that is truly a single environment across all hardware platforms, from servers to smartphones. For software developers, it means that apps written for Windows 10 easily run across mobile and traditional (desktop and server) platforms.
    • You win: Expect better functional and operational equivalence for applications; no more waiting for phone and tablet versions to catch up to the desktop version.

  • Windows 10 is the first Microsoft operating system that is truly network-first. Microsoft has made a huge shift to a cloud-first, mobile-first strategy, and Windows 10 is part of this shift. Network services now launch with the core operating system, not as a service later in the boot cycle.
    • You win: Expect faster boot times as your networked and cloud apps will no longer ‘sit and spin’ while waiting for the network to come online.

  • Windows 10 is the first Microsoft operating system designed to evolve. The age of the monthly updated and periodic service packs is coming to an end. Microsoft will update, patch, and enhance Windows 10 as part of a continuous process. While domain system managers can still control when different types of updates propagate, updates will now happen “when ready and when needed”.
    • You win: Expect more feature and capability enhancements and a more secure/robust environment, as Windows 10 will more nimbly adapt to changing needs.

  • Windows 10 is the first Microsoft operating system with a user interface that matches user preferences. Let’s face it, Windows 8.x was a great experiment in a mobile-friendly user interface that was welcomed with mixed results. Windows 10, however, gives users the option of creating the environment that is most effective from them. Yes, you still have live tiles. But you also have desktops (yes, more than one if you want).
    • You win: Expect to create efficient workspaces for your different roles and tasks.  Separate desktop environments (including settings and apps) for personal versus work activity on your laptop. Customize desktops for different roles you may fill — manager, finance, marketing, operations — throughout your workday. In short, create environments that make life easier for you, and switch between them as y0u see fit.

With these firsts, and others, Microsoft is demonstrating that it “gets” the new cloud and mobile centric world order and  that Microsoft is ready to be a significant player. Microsoft’s Office 365 and Azure services, and many others from many vendors, are already moving to leverage the new capabilities of Windows 10. Regardless of your overall strategy, you should be prepping to move your Windows ecosystem to Windows 10.


Interested in discussing you go to strategy for Windows 10 and the cloud? Drop us a note; we are happy to listen, learn, and share.


 

Tuesday Take Away: Sanebox

Sanebox.300x250

Sanebox and Sanebox for Business

In an ideal world, our inboxes would hold only those items we expect to be working on now. Unfortunately, it is easy to be overwhelmed by the volume of email that comes in each day.

What if you could eliminate email clutter?  If you could …

  • Train your inbox to hold non-important emails for later?
  • Snooze non-urgent emails and have them return to your inbox later, at a time you choose?
  • Track responses and get notified when your email is not replied to by a certain date and time?

Now you can!

Sanebox and Sanebox for Business give you the power to manage the clutter in your inbox and create a more productive environment, across all of your devices.

Sanebox integrates with Gmail, Google Apps, Microsoft Exchange, and Microsoft Office 365.  Sanebox for Business gives users the power to manage their inboxes and gives businesses administrative control and a trackable ROI.

Learn more!

Click here for a 14-day Free Trial. Use Sanebox and see for yourself how it helps improve your productivity.

Read the Amazon best seller ebook, Outsmart Your Inbox: 25 Email Tricks for Busy Professionals

Watch the Sanebox video: “How it Works


Interested in Sanebox for your business? Contact us to discuss plans and options.