When is Your Business Ready for the Cloud?
Simply put: Now!
Like we’ve been doing in recent weeks, we are taking another look-back at some recent white papers we have written that we believe are important enough to again bring to your attention. This blog refers to the white paper: Is Your Business Big Enough for the Cloud?
First, what exactly is the Cloud? The cloud (and the term is not something we would have chosen) is simply a cluster of servers that serve many businesses. These servers are usually located in a highly secure facility that offers protections that no small to mid-sized company could afford. The cloud is not some bizarre technology that only the most sophisticated businesses should consider. In fact, you are using the cloud right now: smartphone apps, mobile banking, Google Docs, Gmail, and lots more.
While the White Paper mentioned above goes into more detail, let’s just quickly take a look at some of the advantages of using a cloud (like the DynaSis Business Cloud):
Data Backup: there are few things in today’s technology world more important than good backups. There is so much that can go wrong, although proper IT support and planning can prevent much of this, that you need to be prepared. Sure, you can back up in your office, but the cloud is much safer. (Hybrid systems are also good options, where some backup work is done in your office and other is done in the cloud. Ask us.)
Mobility: Your people are on the road, working from home, in hotels, customers’ offices, etc. Your cloud service is much less likely to go down than is your in-office service. The last thing you want is your sales team that’s visiting a customer on the west coast to be unable to open important documents.
File Synching and Sharing: Actually part of Mobility, the cloud allows quick and seamless ability to share documents and synchronize them so everyone is on the “same page”.
Storage: As your needs expand or shrink, you can cost effectively increase or decrease storage capacity without buying new server equipment. If your business changes, you can download archive document to tape and decrease storage costs.
Always Up-To-Date: For apps like Microsoft Office 365 and others, online versions (which are in the cloud) are always updated, including fixes. Your people are always working on the latest versions with the most useful features.
There is a lot more to understand about the cloud, so download the White Paper mentioned above. Even better, give us a call. After more than 25 years as an Atlanta managed IT support provider, and having worked with the cloud since its inception, we have a lot of good information we are happy to share. Call us at 678-373-0716, or visit us at www.DynaSis.com.
Mobility is the key to making your company run smoothly. Without mobility, you’re left with a giant bottleneck that makes your company dependent on both physical locations and connections.
Synchronizing your data and making it readily available to your company can open up new business possibilities. With it, you can become more productive, more flexible, and more scalable than ever before.
With these 3 ways, you can attain data mobility and unlock all the benefits that come with it.
The first step to attaining data mobility is to interconnect your physical hardware on your network.
When we talk about hardware, we’re talking about:
Connecting these devices allows them to facilitate information sharing. It also gives you more overall control over your network infrastructure, meaning you can better monitor security and overall data throughout.
You’ll need to ensure that the devices within your network support connection technologies, likely through wireless transmission methods (such as bluetooth and WiFi connectivity).
Once connected, you can remotely log into a controller device and monitor your entire network of connected hardware.
One of the most important aspects of data mobility is file connection. Utilizing cloud services reduces bandwidth usage on your network. It can also greatly cut costs.
Migrating some applications to the cloud makes them easily accessible by employees, giving them the flexibility to keep work going from anywhere. Take Microsoft Office as an example.
You can run an Exchange server on-premise to host all your Microsoft Office needs. However, there are exorbitant costs related its maintenance, hardware upkeep, and resource allocation.
On the other hand, migrating to cloud-based Office 365 removes the burden of your on-premise dilemmas. You eliminate costly server upkeep completely while freeing up physical space. Server updates are handled for you, and Microsoft takes care of keeping your data safe.
In addition to cost reduction, your employees attain fluid data mobility to connect to their files and folders from anywhere in the world.
Accessing files remotely is important, but the highest quality work happens through collaboration. For that, it’s vital to invest in a business-grade file sharing solution that can keep up with your workflows.
File sharing allows people to collaborate in real-time on files. The best file sharing platforms will take your interconnected devices and your cloud services and merge them together. Once your data is synced completely, you can easily manage it from a centralized console rather than through multiple complex methods.
It’s important to note that not all file sharing platforms are equal. You must consider your security, too. The right file sharing platform will encrypt data and prevent it from data theft, data corruption, and data leakage.
Related: Avoiding Cyberattacks: A Brief Guide
Once you establish a proper file sharing platform, your business will have the tools it needs to unlock the full potential of data mobility.
Once you attain data mobility, your business becomes primed for growth and scalability. Data mobility gives you the power to add and remove users easily, while keeping up with your company as it evolves.
It also unlocks unlimited productivity and collaboration, as your organization can work from anytime, anywhere, and from any device.
While extremely important, mobility is just one of the critical aspects of ensuring your IT infrastructure is propelling you towards business success.
Take a step back and look at the sum of everything that’s IT-related in your organization. You’ll quickly notice that each and every part of your IT is interrelated.
In other words, when one thing doesn’t work, it causes other things to not work too.
Here’s an example.
You’ve been travelling all week and you’re about to play some much needed catch-up on some work emails at the airport. You reach for your old work laptop and you try and turn it on, but it’s not working.
Since your computer is broken and you’re out travelling, you can’t check up on your work for a while. You’ll miss out on an email that came from an important client asking for a file that was stored only on your laptop.
With that skipped email, you’ll miss out on a big deal that could have been particularly lucrative to your company. Your business directly suffered because of your outdated equipment.
Let’s run the example again, but with ASM in mind.
Before you start traveling, you notice that your laptop isn’t performing like it used to. It turns off randomly, it goes slow, and it generally isn’t ideal to work from. Though it’ll cost you now, you decide that it’s time to upgrade it because you know you need it to work around the clock.
You then go on your business trip with your new laptop and you answer emails from around the world without fail.
You’ve just used the “availability” part of ASM. You kept in mind the importance of uptime and accessibility and your business directly improved from it.
But that’s just a small example.
For the entire company, that may involve ensuring the availability of the servers at all times or setting up a business continuity plan.
Data flows exist between multiple devices at any point and time. When building an IT strategy, it’s always important to consider services and solutions that safeguard data at all times.
After all, hacking isn’t a headache reserved only for large businesses. Many small business owners may think they can fly under the radar of cyber hackers, but they’re wrong. Cyber attacks targeting small businesses have risen from 18 percent in late 2011 to 36 percent today.
In daily operations, that includes having thorough mobile device management (MDM) policies and encrypted email security features.
You can’t discuss modern IT strategy without mentioning mobility. Cybersecurity Ventures predicts that smartphones will account for more than 55% of total IP traffic in 2025.
Mobility allows us to work from anywhere – everywhere – without losing momentum, productivity, and collaboration.
Everything in your IT should contribute to making your office more mobile. That might include introducing modern portable VoIP phone systems, chat applications, and file sharing solutions to your office workflow.
Combining all three parts of ASM will put you on track for a forward-thinking IT strategy. When you miss out on even one of the three key components of ASM, your business suffers.
They each work in consistent symbiosis with one another. If you’d like to discuss how ASM can apply to your business, or to get a better idea of ASM in general, reach out to us.
It’s been 25 rewarding years since DynaSis started helping businesses succeed through their technology. In all that time, we’ve searched diligently for a way to simplify and improve how companies look at their IT as a whole.
While most business owners don’t actually care about how the behind-the-scenes technology works, they do care about knowing why it’s helping them succeed.
Naturally, any business that is hindered by their IT will suffer massively. Modern businesses must consolidate and focus their IT as a whole to attain boosted business performance, enhanced productivity, and improved collaboration.
But that’s all jargon. Here’s the simple truth.
To reap those benefits, you must put forth effort. Transforming your IT as a driver of success relies on focusing your efforts on four key categories, including:
IT Infrastructure and the ASM Framework
While the four key categories are all equally important, IT infrastructure is the best place to start putting forth effort.
It’s the easiest step to understand from those that are not tech-savvy. It’s also where we apply our secret to success – which frankly isn’t a secret at all. It boils down to three key components:
Availability, Security, and Mobility. We refer to it simply as “ASM”.
Of course, all businesses rely on constant availability to conduct business operations. Without uptime, businesses suffer tremendously. Downtime costs small businesses up to $8,600 per hour.
To keep your applications and productivity tools running through anything, you must invest in your hardware and software. That may mean choosing a more robust brand-name piece of equipment rather than going with a no-name that lasts significantly less.
You must also take proactive maintenance into consideration. Without adequate upkeep and optimization of your existing IT resources, you’re gambling on it working properly.
Security is a chief concern among companies around the world. Global spending on cybersecurity products and services are predicted to exceed $1 trillion over the next five years, from 2017 to 2021.
With so much data flowing freely in the digital realm, it’s important to prevent malicious actors from accessing and exploiting security weaknesses. Many organizations must also adhere to stringent regulatory compliance laws, which can bring unique challenges of their own.
When we say mobility, we’re talking about the ability to work anywhere, at any time. For example, voice over IP (VoIP) has quickly garnered a reputation as a reliable and scalable voice service option. It keeps you connected to your work via physical phones, mobile applications, and web services.
VoIP works in unison with messaging applications, such as Skype for Business and Microsoft Teams. They both keep communication channels open and direct and allow people to reach out from anywhere, as long as they’re connected to the internet.
Using ASM for Success
When all of the facets of your IT infrastructure meet the ASM philosophy, you’ll achieve IT nirvana. Together, everything functions as a unit to propel you towards success in your business goals and beyond.
As more and more companies look to convert from cable to wireless connectivity, it is important to understand the difference between consumer grade and business grade wireless installations. Going wireless in your office should not be accomplished by going to your neighborhood electronics store and latching on to the latest router and modem.
The process should start with qualified technicians, and they can best be found through a managed IT support provider. Unless your in-house IT people have real world experience in determining the correct placement of wireless access points (WAPs), they will likely run into trouble if they try and do this on their own. If they attempt “overkill coverage”, placing too many WAPs can actually cause more problems than it solves, and existing wiring and metal studs inside your office walls can have a seriously negative impact on the installation.
One way to check is to create a heat map that shows the strength of wireless signals. Although not always necessary, this can be important at times, because it is not uncommon for the actual signals emitted to either be stronger or weaker than what is promised on the box. A heat map can help determine where to locate/relocate WAPs to get better results. One question that comes up is, why be concerned about signals that are too strong? The answer: when your signal is strong enough to spill out into the street, you are more exposed and that means more risk. People in your organization may run the same risks as those using public WAPs, like at Starbucks, and while requiring a password to get onto your wireless network is good, it will protect you just so far.
Making sure you have the right signal power can also mean the difference between downloading a file in a few seconds rather than a few minutes. For some of your employees, this may not be important, but for others, this may be a critical element in their productivity, not to mention frustration levels.
Of course, there is a cost involved, but it need not be overly expensive and the initial evaluation can usually be accomplished in a single day. You will likely need to have new cables run to the spots where new WAPs will be installed, and of course there will be some new equipment, but we believe that the final result, when done properly, will be well worth the cost and effort. One more suggestion: set up separate internet signals for guests, and have your own employees use this guest connection for their own mobile phones and other personal devices. This can keep malware that may be on their devices from infecting your business network. This is just part of the common-sense security precautions we would suggest for any business.
If you would like to discuss a complimentary assessment for wireless, or for a network and cyber security assessment, give us a call at 678-373-0716. DynaSis has been a Managed IT Service provider serving the needs of Atlanta’s small to mid-sized businesses since 1992.
Business has changed a great deal over the past decade with more and more emphasis being given to mobility and efficiency. Technology has made tremendous advances possible, which enable employees to remain connected while out of the office, whether they are working from home or on the road. If you are the owner or an executive of a small to mid-sized company, while you may be aware of some of the technology available to you, you may not be aware of how using the cloud can help your business become fully mobile.
We suspect you already know that cloud backup is an important tool in fighting cyber-crime and in virtually eliminating the risk of data loss, data theft or data corruption, but we also see it as a valuable tool for employees who spend time working away from the office.
With technology like the DynaSis Business Cloud, for example, you know that employees always have access to their important files. A sales person from Atlanta who is visiting a client in California (or London, or Beijing) has the comfort of knowing that he/she can access any file, anywhere at anytime. Those of us who have spent time on the road know how it feels to believe you are fully prepared, that you have all the documents you need on your laptop or flash drive, only to discover that the client or prospect has unexpected questions that would best be answered by documents on your office desktop. How impressive would it be to have everything you need available with just a click? It not only shows that you are “business prepared”, it also shows that your company is technologically up-to-date. Today, that’s important.
There is also the matter of efficiency. CSpace, a multinational company dealing with a variety of business issues for their clients, uses the slogan “Moving at the speed of business.” The speed of today’s business is fast…very fast…and instant access helps you keep it moving that way. An annoying airport layover can turn into productive conversations with clients and prospects, or other team members. You have likely seen images of people sitting on the beach using their laptops from chaise lounges. While this may not be the ideal way to spend your vacation, it certainly beats coming back to the office to discover you lost “the big one.”
It put it succinctly, the cloud enables your mobile devices improved functionality which gives your employees improved productivity, which can only be positive for your bottom line.
There will be some who say that using the cloud in this manner opens the company up to security risks. Not so. Not when all mobile devices, both company owned and employee owned, that have access to your files are managed through a mobile device management system.
There is a lot of great technology out there and properly using it can help give you a competitive advantage. We have been working with small to mid-sized companies in Atlanta since 1992. If you have any questions, give us a call at 678-373-0716, or visit www.DynaSis.com.
Developing Your Company’s BYOD (Bring Your Own Device to Work) Policy
There was a time not that long ago, when every human being around you wasn’t carrying a cell phone, when a child of 12 didn’t assume that he/she was entitled to the latest and greatest device, or when, if given a cell phone (or a beeper) by an employer, employees understood that they had to follow certain rules. Of course, as personal cell phone use grew, it meant that, more and more, people were carrying around multiple devices, and given the size of many smartphones these days, that would be rather burdensome.
Today most employers realize that allowing employees to use their own phones and other devices for business is a benefit for both sides, but it can also be problematic. If the employer chooses to pay for a portion of the monthly cellphone bill, does this make the device a “company” asset? Does the company have any control over it at all? Some companies have taken that approach and demand the right to use the GPS application in a privately owned phone to track employees’ whereabouts, especially if these people spend time on the road.
Perhaps more importantly, personal privacy as well as corporate security issues can arise when these devices are synched to the employer’s network. Larger firms often have BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) to work policies, but smaller companies, as often as not, will leave it to chance. Surveys of this size business prove the point: 88% of employees are doing at least some business on their own devices, indicating the potential for disastrous consequences, yet only 17% of these companies have a BYOD policies to deal with the situation. Another 29% have plans to implement BYOD security protocols in the future, but experience tells us that, ultimately, many of these plans will never be executed.
We believe this is important enough to share with you some guidelines for establishing your company’s own policy. Smartphones can be hacked and they can provide cyber crime entry into your IT infrastructure. We encourage you to do it now, not after your first cyber security attack or data loss. These are our suggestions:
1: First of all, your company’s BYOD policies should be in writing. In smaller companies, it is not unusual for policies like this to be verbal and never be committed to “paper”. In today’s work-world, with telecommuting and the use of home office equipment becoming commonplace, clearing defining employee responsibilities and employer rights is critical.
2: Allowed Devices: Clearly define what devices you will allow employees to use for work.
3: Data Deletion: You must be able to delete any and all company data on a remote basis without the owner’s permission. With the right mobile device management application, this is not at all difficult to accomplish, and you can do so while leaving the device’s owner’s contacts, personal photos, music, etc., untouched.
4: Employee privacy: People who use their devices for work must understand that while you have no desire to intrude on their personal lives, your access to these devices might also give you access to their images, email, texts and other information residing in these devices. As an employer, you have an obligation to protect the privacy of your employees, as well as protecting your company.
5: Tracking: As we stated above, some organizations use the GPS tracking applications within their employees’ smartphones to track their daily progress. When this fits into your business plans, this must be fully understood by the employee and, again, you have a duty to protect privacy.
We strongly encourage you to start the process of creating your own company BYOD to Work policy. If you need some assistance, please give us a call.
DynaSis has been providing managed IT service in Atlanta to the small to mid-sized business community for more than 25 years. Whether your company is looking for total managed IT support, ranging from 24 x 7 x 365 helpdesk, to the monitoring, managing and maintaining of IT networks, or designing and installation of IT infrastructure, or if you are looking for one or more specific services to assist your in-house IT team, we are here to help. Give us a call today at 678-373-0716, or visit us at www.DynaSis.com.
Switching to a modern, feature-rich VoIP business telephone system can be a big plus for your business, adding significantly to your bottom line. But this only happens if your people understand the benefits of the system and are willing to learn how to use it. VoIP telephone systems do not require any technical expertise, but they do require VoIP telephone training and practice. The best systems offer features that can speed operations, add sales power, and assist with customer service, but this takes training and employee buy-in, so it’s important to involve your people at all levels of selection, as well as at deployment, to get them excited about the switch-over, rather than fearful and resistant.
Involving Your End-Users in the Selection Process
When management makes decisions that affect the entire company, they often forget to involve those people who are going to be most affected by those decisions on a day-to-day basis: the employees. Executives tend to mull over costs vs. savings, features that can improve the company’s functionality and solve current operational problems, etc., etc., while leaving out this important step. Your staff will be living with your decision every day, hands-on, and while the decision will ultimately be yours, you will actually be better equipped to make the best decision if you do bring your people into the discussion and listen to their concerns and suggestions.
Arrange Meaningful Training Sessions
Suddenly and unexpectedly changing a telephone system can be disconcerting even to the most level-headed and stable employee, making VoIP Telephone training important. Pre-installation overview sessions that explain general features is a good idea. Post-installation sessions that cover features in detail are critical, especially for non-technical types who tend to freak out when asked to learn anything of a technical nature. You know, the ones still using flip-phones.
If you are in the Atlanta Metro area and are looking for a new business telephone system that can be a huge business benefit, give us a call. In addition to custom VoIP systems and plans, as a managed IT support company, we set up well-defined training sessions that are based on specific goals and objectives that you set.
Sell the “Sizzle”: Focus on the Benefits Each End-User Will Experience
Each employee, particularly those that are neither technologically adept, nor bottom-line focused, will buy-in much more quickly if they can get their arms around those features that will benefit them by making their jobs easier. While you may understand the cost benefits and the positive sales and service implications the VoIP phone system brings to your business, not everyone who works for your company has the insight to see things that way. “How will affect me?” This should be a major goal of both pre and post-installation VoIP telephone training.
If you want to learn more about how modern VoIP business telephones can have a positive impact on your business, read our white paper “Your Telephone System as a Business Building Asset”. For a no-obligation discussion on VoIP cost vs benefit, call Chas Arnold, DynaSis CIO and Principal, at 678-373-0716.
People sometimes wonder, why bother switching from the “old” Microsoft Office productivity suite to Microsoft Office 365. After all, with the old way, you still have Word, Excel and PowerPoint. As we have come to discover ourselves, there are lots of reasons to make the change, but one of the best is team collaboration. What does that mean? Team collaboration: the ability of a group of people (a “team”) to work closely together no matter where they are. So, let’s say your company is working on a project that includes a Word document to discuss the project’s parameters, an Excel spreadsheet to analyze costs and potential revenue, and a PowerPoint to explain the project to your client(s), the media, financiers, etc.
With Microsoft Office 365, during the preparation phase, team members can work on and share all their files in real-time, with each making changes with notations, until the work is complete. They can communicate through Skype for Business, which features the ability to not only show a document on the screen, but for each team member to actually work on that document in front of his/her team members. Instead of everyone emailing files back and forth, making corrections, then making corrections to the corrections, and corrections to those corrections, ad infinitum, in a single Skype meeting, all the finishing touches can be added.
When it comes time for the presentation, again, it’s Skype for business, which can pull your completed Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents up on the shared screen for all to see. If changes need to be made to satisfy a client, you can make them then and there.
Collaboration works in other ways, as well. Do you have multiple offices with people of varying skill sets in different locations? This type of high-level, yet easy to use collaboration allows growing companies to take advantage of highly skilled people who are located in one office, but whose talents are immediately needed in another.
Here’s an example: a construction company has offices and projects in different states. The nature of their business is cyclical, depending on weather, project bids won, local economy, etc. By using the tools available in Office 365, this company can share the talents and skills of employees between locations, not only reducing the need for highly paid employees at multiple offices, but also decreasing seasonal layoffs. Effectively, this enables a company like this to move from a “divisional” model to an integrated operation, forming teams that include individuals who may be located at remote distances from each other. And depending on a given project, the teams can change at a moment’s notice.
It also gives the company the ability to unify business practices and processes, where in the past, each division might set its own parameters, methodologies and workflows. By integrating seemingly simple processes such as calendars and email, less time is spent figuring out how to deal with fellow employees, and stress levels are greatly reduced.
We at DynaSis have been Microsoft partners since 1993 and we believe that Office 365 is not just the latest Office upgrade, but a giant leap forward and would love to share this knowledge with you. Give us a call or email us and we’ll take you on a “tour” of Office 365.
These days everyone is concerned about data security, and with good cause. Not surprisingly, Microsoft has been a leading player in security, along with reliability and user productivity. When they took the Office productivity suite to the cloud with Office 365, they also took a giant leap forward in terms of being able to secure your most important and confidential information.
But let’s make one thing perfectly clear: your data is yours and it belongs to you alone. Office 365 gives you extensive control over privacy and visibility in terms of who has access. You manage these controls and you can customize them to fit the needs of your company. In the unlikely event that you choose to leave Office 365, you take you data with you and it is completely removed from the Microsoft cloud. Let’s look at some other features:
Secure Identity Controls
Office 365 allows you to manage users through access control, identity management and password authentication, which fully supports 3rd party identity providers. Through the use of multi-factor authentication, you can choose the level of ID control that works best for your organization:
In other words, Office 365 gives you options from fairly basic to extremely advanced and you are free to choose what works best for you.
Microsoft spans the globe and their sheer size allows the use of techniques and strategies for defense against attacks on their network that few service providers can offer…certainly far above the ability of the typical small to mid-sized business.
Microsoft uses threat management controls that identify intent, determine capability of achieving that intent, and the likelihood of that threat successfully exploiting a vulnerability. This protection includes email spam, malware, viruses, and protection of Exchange.
Your people are on the move. They work from home, in airports, hotels, clients’ offices…in town and around the world, and they take their devices, both self-owned and company provided, wherever they go. Whether they use Apple, Android or Windows platforms, the Office 365 mobile device management system identifies, monitors and protects your company’s sensitive information.
Stuff happens. Microsoft has a highly-advanced incident response program that includes multiple dedicated teams to prevent security incidents from happening, but when they do occur, they are immediately detected and immediately responded to.
This is a fancy way of saying that multiple clients share the same infrastructure, which sometimes leads to a concern about keeping one client’s date secure from another client. Microsoft works under the assumption that any single client may have bad intentions and has created an enterprise level of security that insures privacy, confidentiality and integrity of files. It would be next to impossible for any single company to achieve this level of security on their own. By the way, it is this multi-tenant structure that enable small companies (although large companies do this as well) to have enterprise level infrastructure at affordable costs.
All Office 365 clients’ data is stored in data centers located around the world, using multi-layer “defense-in-depth” security protection. These centers are constructed to withstand natural disasters, or unauthorized access and have extensive power and internet backup systems. Geo-redundancy (co-locating in multiple centers) with automatic failover provides still further protection.
So as you can see, Microsoft Office 365 provides extensive security controls. We hope this information will give you a strong level of comfort, but if you have any questions, please give us a call.
DynaSis has been a Microsoft Partner since 1993 and specializes in Office 365 installation. You can find us online at 678.373.3716 or www.DynaSis.com.