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XChange of Ideas – Trends with Benefits

XChange Events

This XChange of Ideas shares trends that can boost your business’ productivity.

We recently spent three packed days at the XChange 2022 Conference. While we attend to improve our service offerings and business, many of the insights will benefit your business as well.

1 Industry Consolidation Awareness 

As with most maturing, dynamic industries, consolidation of vendors is not unusual in technology. Bringing together complimentary technologies and solutions can create synergy and economies of scale.  Currently, we are seeing something a bit different.  Companies that provide the systems we use to run our business are acquiring products and services that we offer to our customers.  By offering solutions we sell, and the solutions we use, our vendors are hoping to provide us with better integration and efficiencies.

The risk, however, is that service providers will focus, or limit, their options to match the “single vendor” efficiency. While you, as the customer, may benefit from the efficiency, these benefits will be fleeting if the solutions do not meet your needs.

We, at Cumulus Global, will continue to offer multiple solutions for nearly all of the services we offer. We commit to this strategy because efficient mediocrity serves nobody well.

2 VDI is Better than O.K.

Acceptance and use of virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) and remote desktop services is on the rise. Beyond an interim solution, VDI services prove to offer many businesses long term value. We see several reasons for considering a move to VDI, including:

  • Support for hybrid work environments. With employees working in office and remote, a VDI environment provides a single computing environment for your entire business.  Accessing files and applications is the same, regardless of location and end user device.
  • Strategic Savings. VDI services extend the useful life of your existing laptops and desktops.  Since VDI clients are not processing data locally, the demand on processors, memory, and disk space are minimal.  Aging equipment can remain in service without impacting performance.
  • Improved Security.  VDI services run in secure, professionally run data centers. We use Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform for VDI services. VDI provides private, secure networks, with multiple access options to meet your business needs.
  • Business Continuity and Resiliency. The faster you can recover from a disaster or technology failure, the better your business will survive and grow. VDI services remove most of the risks from local disasters and system failures.  As you can access your services from anywhere you are Internet-connected, and from most any end user device, teams can easily relocate and work around localized disruptions.

As disruption of technology supply chains continues, VDI allows you to upgrade your environment without investing in new desktop and laptop devices. You can move forward with your business without worrying about system availability.

To explore if VDI services can help your business, contact us about our security assessments, or schedule an intro call with one of our Cloud Advisors.

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.

 


Chrome Education Upgrade – Price Increase

ChromeOn March 9, 2021, the list price for Chrome Education Upgrade (aka Chrome Management License/Service) will increase from $30 per device to $38 per device. As key component of your Google for Education services, this price increase may significantly impact your budget.

If you are planning on purchasing Chrome devices this spring, or for the 2021/2022 school year, you can:

  1. Purchase your Chrome Education Upgrade licenses now:
    • Take advantage of Cumulus Global savings
    • 10%, or more, off the current $30/device price
  2. Add the licenses to our G Suite for Education or G Suite Enterprise for Education subscription
  3. Apply the licenses to your Chrome devices as you purchase, receive, and deploy them

Contact us for more information or to request quote.

 

G Suite EDU Savings and Meet Enhancements

G Suite Enterprise for EducationG Suite Enterprise for Education Savings

As schools and districts continue to rely heavily on Google Meets, Classroom, and other services that facilitate remote and hybrid learning, Google is extending its 50% discount for full domain upgrades to G Suite Enterprise for Education through October 31, 2020.  Student licenses will remain free provided the ratio of student to faculty/staff licensing is 10:1 or less.

Click here for more information and to request a quote.

Rapid Enhancement of Google Meets

Responding to feedback from educators and competitive pressures, Google is accelerating the rollout of features for Google Meet. As announced at Google’s recent The Anywhere School 2020 event, Google Meets will see the addition of the following features, some of which (as noted) will only be available in G Suite Enterprise for Education.

September
  • Moderator Controls: Teachers will be able to end meetings for all participants once class ends, better manage join requests, disable in-meeting chats, require the teacher to join before students can enter the meeting, and prohibit participants from joining after being ejected or denied entry twice.
  • Larger Title Views: Support for up to a 7×7 grid will let up to 49 students be seen at once
October
  • Breakout Rooms: G Suite Enterprise for Education teacher accounts will be able to split classes into smaller group discussions.
  • Custom Background Support: Students and teachers will be able to blur or replace backgrounds to prevent distractions and keep things consistent for all students.
  • Attendance Tracking: G Suite Enterprise for Education teacher accounts will be able to see and track which students attended virtual class.
“Later this year”
  • Temporary Recordings: This will be available to all Education customers as opposed to the premium recordings only available to G Suite Enterprise for Education, allows teachers to record meetings and share the recording within their district for up to 30 days before the recording expires and is deleted.
  • Hand-Raising System
  • Q&A Features (limited to G Suite Enterprise for Education)
  • Polling : To Engage students (limited to G Suite Enterprise for Education)

 

Managing Chrome the Education Upgrade Price Increase

On January 22, 2020, Google is informing all Chrome Education Upgrade (aka Chrome Management Service) users that that perpetual per-device license price is increasing from $30 to $38 dollars, effective March 9, 2020.

While Google is not unreasonable in raising prices to ensure continued innovation and feature expansion, the timing of the increase is problematic for many schools.  With fiscal years starting July 1, schools and districts have drafted or completed their budgets for the upcoming year.  The timing of the increase impacts purchases planned for the end of this fiscal/school year as well.

Cumulus Global will help you manage the price increase.

You can order your Chrome Education Upgrade / Management licenses now, before the price increase.  Based on your quantity, we are offering discounts up to 10% or more off the current $30 price.  If you are unable to purchase the licenses now, you can also request a binding quote and receive similar discounts off the $38 price through August 31, 2020.

Please complete the form, below, and request your quote.


Request your quote …

5 Ways We Can Lower Your Chrome Device Costs

As part of our ChromeCycle Program, we help you manage the total cost of ownership of your Chrome devices. Here are five (5) ways we can lower the purchase cost for your next round of Chrome devices.

  1. Preregister Your Purchase: We can often secure preferred pricing when we preregister your intended purchase with your preferred Chrome device manufacturer. Letting your manufacturer know now how many units you plan to buy later helps them plan production and distribution. Some of those savings come back to you.
     
  2. Competitive Bidding: If you do not have a preferred Chrome device manufacturer, we can bid your intended purchased out across manufacturers and distributors to obtain the best purchase price possible.
  3. Trade-In: Trading in devices at the end of their life cycle can lower the cost of refreshing your devices by as much as 20%. We can estimate trade-in value now, to help with your budgets for purchases later in the year.
     
  4. Buy-Back: Even if you are not buying your refresh fleet from us, we can buy back devices you are retiring. The international market for used devices and parts can save you money.
  5. Financing Services: We work with multiple finance partners to offer both finance and fair market value leasing options. We can put your purchase financing out to bid to help get the best rate and terms possible.

Click here to learn more about our ChromeCycle services, or contact us for a no-obligation Cloud Advisor consultation.


 

G Suite Business Upgrade Incentives

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

To qualify, you must:

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

Why G Suite Business?

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

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