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Deadline 3/1/22: Microsoft 365 Price Increase

Microsoft 365

On March 1, 2022, the pricing for Microsoft 365 will increase.  Depending on your current subscription and licensing, you will see a Microsoft 365 price increase ranging between 10% and 25%. You can, however, minimize or avoid the increase.

Details

Monthly per user pricing with an annual commitment* will increase as follows:

  • Subscription
  • M365 Business Basic
  • M365 Business Standard
  • M365 Business Premium
  • O365 E1
  • O365 E3
  • M365 E3
  • Current Fee / User / Month
  • $5
  • $12.50
  • $20
  • $8
  • $20
  • $32
  • New Fee / User / Month
  • $6
  • $12.50
  • $22
  • $10
  • $23
  • $36

*Pricing for monthly commitment (no annual commitment) will include a 20% surcharge.

What is the Impact?

Historically, Microsoft 365 and Office 365 subscriptions were sold with an annual commitment.  Within the annual commitment, you could adjust the number of licenses up or down on a monthly basis. Microsoft now classifies these types of subscriptions as “Monthly Subscriptions”.

Going forward, you can choose an “Annual Subscription”. With an “Annual Subscription”, your current license count becomes your minimum purchase commitment for the next 12 months. You may add licenses during the year, but you cannot remove any licenses until your annual renewal.

A “Monthly Subscription” allows you to increase or decrease you licenses monthly.

Annual Subscription pricing will increase as noted in the table, above.  If you are a monthly subscription, you will pay an additional 20% per license.

Minimize the Impact

You can minimize, or completely avoid, the Microsoft 365 Price Increase by assessing your subscription licenses and usage, and:

  • Transition to an Annual Commitment before February 28, 2022.
    • Continue with monthly or annual invoicing
  • Remove past employee accounts by either:
    • Exporting and deleting

Act Now!

Schedule time with one of our Cloud Advisors.  We will assess your current subscription, the impact of your transition, discuss subscription and licensing options, and determine if you qualify for incentive discounts.

 


Deadline 1/31/22: Google Workspace Transition

Google Workspace

The deadline for managing your Google Workspace transition:
Jan. 31, 2022.

As we have noted in past posts and communications, the transition to Google Workspace may significantly impact your subscription fees, with increases that can double or triple your cost.

Limited incentive discounts are available; you must act now!

What Does the Jan. 31, 2022 Deadline Mean?

If you do not manage your transition from G Suite to Google Workspace, Google will automatically change your subscription as early as February 1, 2022.

  • For customers on a month-to-month (“Flex”) subscription, Google will automatically change your subscription from G Suite to Google Workspace beginning February 1, 2022.
  • For customers on a subscription with an annual or multi-year commitment, Google will automatically transition your subscription at your next renewal date.

What is the Impact?

Your G Suite subscription will transition to the Google Workspace subscription that matches your features and utilization.  Google will move all of your licenses to the subscription level that ensures no loss of features or functionality.

Examples:

  • G Suite Basic with one or more users with Additional Storage
    • You will transition to Workspace Business Standard or Business Plus
    • Your fees will go from $6/user/month plus the added storage to $12/user/month or $18/user/month.
  • G Suite Basic and have users with Vault
    • You will transition to Workspace Business Plus
    • Your fees will go from $11/user/month to $18/user/month.
  • G Suite Business users
    • You will transition to Workspace Business Plus to maintain your Vault service
    • Your fees will go from $12 to $18 per user per month.

Minimize the Impact

You can minimize the financial impact by assessing your subscription licenses and usage, and:

  • Mix and match licenses:
    • Within the Business or Enterprise tiers
    • Avoid paying for capabilities not needed or used by everyone.
  • Take advantage of incentive discounts by managing your transition to Google Workspace before the January 31, 2022 deadline:
    • Transition from monthly flex to an annual commitment
    • Transition your existing annual or promotional commitment early
    • Consider a multi-year commitment for greater savings
  • Remove past employee accounts by either:
    • Transitioning them to Archived User Accounts
    • Exporting and deleting

Act Now!

Schedule time with one of our Cloud Advisors.  We will assess your current subscription, the impact of your transition, discuss subscription and licensing options, and determine if you qualify for incentive discounts.

 


Technology Solutions for Solopreneurs and VSBs

Entrepreneurs are a unique breed.  Solo entrepreneurs, solopreneurs, even more so.

If you are a solopreneur, or lead a very small business, you face some unique business and IT challenges. One of these challenges is balancing your business and your personal lives.  To do this, you want and need your technology to save you time and energy.

If you are link most solopreneurs and very small business owners, you are probably

  • Paying for duplicate services
  • Unware of features that can improve your productivity
  • Not taking time to explore ways to work more efficiently
  • Missing security and data protections
  • Not getting the guidance and support you need

At the same time, you most likely lack the time, energy, or expertise to research, select, deploy, and learn the right IT services.

Managed Services is an Answer

Often used by larger businesses, managed services provide your information technologies, support, and services as a comprehensive bundle for a set monthly or annual fee. By definition, managed services are designed to offload your IT responsibilities and place them in the hands of experts. These managed service providers should start with guidance, get your systems up and running, administer your services, and provide you with support.  If they are performing their services well, they should also help you identify features and functions that improve your work processes — make you more efficient.

Moving Towards Managed Services

Before moving forward with managed services, we recommend taking a step back and assessing how you want your IT services to help you and your business.

Start with A Goal and Objectives

  • Your technology and services need to empower you and enable your business.  Regardless of the devices, applications, and tools they use, your IT should:
    • Be easy to use
    • Save you time
    • Secure your data, and that of your customers
    • Keep your business data private
    • Support any compliance requirements you may have
    • Fit within your budget.

Focus on the Benefits

  • Discuss which capabilities will help you work more efficiently, more productively
  • Avoid the technology trap. Instead of thinking, for example, about email, calendars, and file sharing, think about automating appointment scheduling, protections for confidential information, and one-click video conferencing.

Define Your Baseline Services

  • Map your benefits to technologies
  • Base your IT decisions on your prioritized needs and wants
  • Define the minimum set communications, collaboration, and security tools to run your business
  • Explore and leverage ways to work more efficiently

Add / Enhance as Needed

  • If your business must be compliant with legal or industry regulation, add the technologies and services you need to meet these requirements.
  • If you find ways that technology can improve productivity, determine if the gains are worth the investment.

Managed Cloud Services

As the name implies, Managed Cloud Services are managed service that, whenever practical, leverage cloud services and solutions. Cumulus Global has the expertise and experience to move your business to managed cloud services. By leveraging cloud solutions, baseline services and foundational security are affordable and can easily be tailored to meet specific business needs.

Learn More

To learn more:


Google Workspace Transition Update

Google WorkspaceWhen Google announced the transition from G Suite to Google Workspace in October 2020, the deadline for transitioning was left open. This is no longer the case.

The deadline for transitioning to Google Workspace from G Suite is January 31, 2022.

As we have noted in past posts and communications, the transition to Google Workspace may significantly impact your subscription fees, with increases that can double or triple your cost. You may qualify for incentive discounts by transitioning before the end of the year.

What Does the Jan. 31, 2022 Deadline Mean?

If you do not manage your transition from G Suite to Google Workspace, Google will automatically change your subscription as early as February 1, 2022.

  • For customers on a month-to-month (“Flex”) subscription, Google will automatically change your subscription from G Suite to Google Workspace beginning February 1, 2022.
  • For customers on a subscription with an annual or multi-year commitment, Google will automatically transition your subscription at your next renewal date.

What is the Financial Impact?

Your G Suite subscription will transition to the Google Workspace subscription that matches your features and utilization.  Here are some examples:

  • G Suite Basic subscribers that also have Google Vault will change to Google Workspace Business Plus; subscription fees will increase from $11/user/month ($6 + $5) to $18/per/user/month.
  • G Suite Basic subscribers that use extra storage will change to Google Workspace Business Standard or Business Plus, based on their storage requirements; fees will increase from $6/user/month to $12 or $18 per user per month.
  • G Suite Business subscribers will change to Google Workspace Business Plus in order to maintain their Vault service; fees will increase from $12 to $18 per user per month.
  • G Suite Business subscribers using advanced security and mobile device management features included in the Google Workspace Enterprise tier licenses will most likely transition to Google Workspace Enterprise Standard; fees will increase form $12 to $20 per user per month.
  • Any G Suite Basic or Business subscription with more than 300 users will change to Google Workspace Enterprise Standard or Plus; fees will increase from $6 or $12 per user per month to $20 or $30 per user per month.
  • G Suite Enterprise subscriptions using certain security, mobile device management, and data loss prevention features will change to Google Workspace Enterprise Plus; fees will increase from $25 to $30 per user per month.

While you can mix and match licenses as needed within the Business and Enterprise tiers, our understanding is that automatic change to Google Workspace will place all users on the same license.

Next Step?

Your next step is to schedule time with one of our Cloud Advisors.  We will assess your current subscription, the impact of your transition, discuss subscription and licensing options, and determine if you qualify for incentive discounts.

 


Coronavirus: Prep Instead of Panic

Updated Mar. 23, 2020. (new content in italics)

Coronavirus is in the news with broad localized impact.  The Centers for Disease Control is urging everyone to prepare for a major public outbreak of COVID-19 will strike the United States. Here is a high level update:

  • Extensive “Community Outbreaks” have been identified by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), with confirmed cases rising at a sharp rate in several areas of the country.
  • Several states, counties, and local governments are issuing lock-down or “shelter-in-place” orders, severely restricting business and personal activities.
  • Many states and local governments restricting meetings and services.
  • School are closing for extended periods of time. Government facilities are closing to the public
  • Employers are restricting travel and meetings
  • Employers are telling employees to work from home
  • Restaurants and bars are restricted to carry-out and delivery only
  • Mandatory quarantines are in place in some areas

What does this mean for us and our businesses?

Experts currently agree that potential for wide-spread outbreaks exists and there is an urgent and critical need to minimize the spread of the virus.  That said, we should expect, and be prepared, to address localized issues.  These can include:

  • Employees being quarantined at home, or while traveling, due to possible exposure or systems.
  • Closing offices to facilitate social distancing
  • School closings, requiring employees to remain home with children.
  • Localized building shutdowns, including government offices, courts, etc.
  • Impact on, or hesitancy to use, public transportation; reduced public transportation schedules
  • Cancellation of conferences, meetings, and events.
  • Hesitancy to travel, or restrictions on travel destinations.

Each of these feels manageable if the inconvenience is only for a limited time. But with quarantines running 14 days (or more) and concerns that the virus might live on surfaces for as long as nine days, these disruptions may create serious challenges.

Question to Ask and Consider

  • Have we communicated a policy to employees that “Safe is better than Sorry”
    • Do employees know to stay home and avoid meetings if they are not feeling well?
    • Should your business alter or halt normal operations?
    • Should you close your facilities to some or all employees?
  • Can your employees easily and efficiently work remotely?
    • Does this include employees who normally work at the office?
    • What materials, documents, or services might they need?
    • Will functions, such as customer service, function properly with remote users?
    • For employees that don’t normally work at home:
      • Do they have sufficient Internet bandwidth?
      • Do they have the software needed to use your VoIP phone service?
      • Do they have an appropriate device (personal or company-provided)?
      • If using personal devices, do they have the necessary software and versions?
    • Can you extend business phone service to workers at home? If so, are you comfortable
      getting this setup?
  • Do you have the ability to replace travel and on-site meetings with video conferencing?
    • Are enough of your conference rooms equipped for conferencing?
    • Is your team comfortable using the equipment and services?
    • For employees who do not normally work remotely or use audio/video conferencing:
      • Do they have access to audio/video conferencing services from their devices?
      • Do they understand how to use the services from their computers or phones?
      • Are they comfortable with using these services?
  • What functions can be scaled back or delayed with minimal impact to operations, cash flow, customer service, etc.?
  • Which functions are critical to your business continuity?
  • Will supply chain issues disrupt your business?
  • How might the evolving economic fallout impact your business?

Steps to Take

As you consider and answer the above questions, and others, you can better understand how to prepare.  For some, enabling more remote work may be as simple as a temporary cloud file service or migrating files from on-premise file servers to cloud file services.  Other businesses might consider ensuring team members have suitable computers at home or company laptops available if needed. Now might be the time to add Teams Meeting or Hangout Meet hardware and services to your conference rooms and huddle areas. And some businesses may want to expand remote access to business systems or relocate applications to cloud servers.

The good news is that you are not alone.  As you monitor events, assess your risks, and plan, we are here to help.

Please:

  • Join our Open Office Hours on Wednesday March 18, 2020 at 2:00 pm ET.
  • Contact us and take advantage of our expertise and, if appropriate, our services.

We are in this together.

Thank you,

 

 

Allen Falcon, CEO and Pragmatic Evangelist

The Curse and Blessing of Office 365 Licensing

Office 365If you ask IT pros about Office 365 licensing, they are likely to roll their eyes.

If you ask which license is right for you, the conversation will likely start with a heavy sigh. Microsoft has 6 primary Office 365 license options for business, several add-ons, a number of special-purpose licenses, and over a dozen stand-alone and value-add products.

The Curse is Confusion

Between the number of options and the frantic rate of new features and updates, we are not surprised when companies complain that picking the “right license” is confusing. You end up bouncing between tabs and browsers, comparing feature lists that never seem to have enough detail. You struggle to find which add-ons work with each license type. You may not even know where to look for specialty licenses that can save you money. And with the rapid growth of features and functions, you wonder if the web pages you scour for information reflect the latest updates and options.

The Blessing is Customization

You can escape the confusion. And, in doing so, you can customize your Office 365 licensing plan to best meet your needs. With “too many options”, you can mix and match licenses to the needs of your users. You can tailor the feature sets for groups of users and lower your average cost per user at the same time. You can decide when to rely on built-in features or third party solutions to meet specific business requirements. You can decide which users get add-ons and which do not.

The Key is Understanding

The good news: with guidance and understanding of the Office 365 and Microsoft 365 licensing structures, you can plan and implement subscriptions that meet your organization’s needs at the most affordable cost. By looking beyond Microsoft-only options to select third party tools, you can mix in lower cost licenses without sacrificing compliance, threat protection, telephony, and needed features. You can map out a strategy that enables hybrid computing and services and capabilities move to the cloud over time. You can integrate your cloud an on-premise environments into a seamless service.

The better news: you do not need to gbecome an expert.  Our Cloud Advisors, backed by experts from Microsoft, are ready to assess your needs, explore alternatives, and design solutions options. You gain understanding and select the option that best fits with your needs, priorities, and budget.

Your Next Step is ….

If you haven’t settled on a Office 365 or G Suite as your cloud suite, or if you think you should change from one to the other, your next step is our Which Cloud Analysis.  You complete a comprehensive survey and we provide a formal report that assesses your needs and environment and provides specific recommendations. We will also schedule a Cloud Advisor Session to review and discuss our findings and recommendations.

If you have decided, or currently use, Office 365, contact us to schedule a Cloud Advisor Session to review your environment and needs.  We will help you assess, plan, and implement a solution that delivers the value you want and need.


 

Myth Busting Monday: Cloud Migration is Too Much to Manage

Office365-Logo-and-textMany SMBs, when considering a move to the cloud, feel overwhelmed by the prospect of migrating.  Considering the amount of data and the capabilities of platforms like Microsoft Office 365, we understand your apprehension.

You Can Be Up and Running Quickly with Your Data in Place.

You do not need to go it alone. Our job is to help you every step of the way with information, expertise, experience, and tools.  We map out your migration, mitigate downtime and disruption, and provided the level of assistance you want and need.

For many organizations, we manage the entire migration project. For others, we assist with the planning and provide tools, training, and support as your team moves the data and on-boards your users.

We can also help with adoption, ensuring your team will be working effectively on day-one. Our live and self-paced learning tools get your team up and running and highlights the potential that comes with new and connected apps and services.

With the right level of expertise and support, your cloud migration will not be an overwhelming exercise. Your users will learn, adapt, and excel as you simplify your IT and expand your horizons.


This is the fifth of a multi-part series designed to help companies better assess the opportunity and value of cloud-based solutions. Contact us to schedule a free, no-obligation Cloud Advisor session to discuss your priorities and plans.


What is Your Workload?

cloud workload icon
As any new technology takes hold, our vocabulary inevitably changes. New terms and phrases, or new meanings, take hold and our vernacular grows and changes.

When you talk to technologists about cloud, the term du jour is Workload.

Talking cloud, workload refers to any measurable utilization of cloud services. The more technical use refers to processor, memory, storage, or network loads. Workload often refers to a “package” of cloud use. The package may be part of an application, a full application, or a set of integrated applications.

Email is a workload; a file sync-and-share service is a workload; a back-end database is a workload; website analytics is a workload. The challenge, of course, is that your business does not think or run on technology components. You have people, processes, systems, and services.

When planning your cloud presence, think of workloads in terms of business functions and systems. Yes, email may be a workload. But so may be your “communication services”, or your “customer service” function, or you “analytics services”.  By looking at workload in terms of your business, you will be less likely to fragment your cloud and on-premise systems. Building and managing the hybrid environment will be simpler and more effective over time.


To discuss your workloads and which may be best in the cloud, contact us for a free and no obligation consultation.


 

 

 

Moving to the Cloud: Integration with Legacy Systems

 

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

Very few businesses go “all-in” when moving into the cloud.  Most businesses start their move into the cloud with specific applications and services.  For small and mid-size businesses, the trend is to go cloud with critical core services, such as email and calendaring, and/or applications, such as CRM.  Over time, businesses add additional applications and services, such as file services, and hosting of legacy applications and servers.

The result:  Most businesses have a hybrid environment of on-premise and cloud solutions.

For many businesses, this creates a new need to integrate existing systems with new cloud-based applications and services.

While this may seem overwhelming, the scope of the integration depends, in large part, how well your in-house systems integrate today.   For most small and mid-size businesses (SMBs), legacy application integration focuses on a few key features:

  • Email / Messaging:  Legacy applications and systems should be able to send notifications, alerts, and other messages.
  • Shared Storage:  Legacy applications may need to use cloud-based storage for data storing and sharing.  Depending on the need, direct access may be preferred to a sync solution.  Also, business applications often need locations in which to deliver reports and other automated output.  Still others may need to be able to link to documents saved in the file service.
  • Contacts:  Legacy applications, particularly those responsible for customer relationship management (CRM) functions (sales, support, service, marketing) will need to synchronize contact information in a way that does not result in duplicate data or data loss.  The same holds true for Enterprise Resource Process (ERP) and Professional Service Automation (PSA) systems.
  • Calendars / Events:  CRM, ERP, and PSA systems may also look to sync or manage calendars and events.  As with contacts, avoiding duplication and lost data is critical.
  • Data Import/Export:  Legacy systems may have the ability to import/export data from/to other systems.  In some instances, the import/export is manual or scripted to occur at specific intervals.  Some systems support automated synchronization or provide an interface for real-time data exchange.

When looking at cloud solutions, take a moment to research your current environment and needs:

  • What integration exists today?  Does it help or hinder?
  • What integration capabilities do legacy applications support that are not currently in use?  Would these be useful/helpful/meaningful?
  • What integration do you need, or want, to make your business more efficient?
  • What capabilities does the proposed cloud solution have for integration?  Can you leverage these to your advantage?  Is the cost of integration worth the potential benefits?

With a short assessment, organizations can determine if, when, and how to best integrate new, cloud-based solutions with legacy applications and systems.  As with any IT project, the focus should be on resulting business value.

Next Post in the Series:  Regulatory Compliance

Previous Post in the Series:  Lock-In