Archive for the ‘Outsource IT’ Category:

Secure Business Mobility with Office 365

Securely Work Anywhere with Office 365
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Mobile and Remote Employees can put business data at risk.

Most businesses have employees that often work away from the office desk. Employees work from home, on the road or even roam the office/retail floor with mobile devices. Businesses also implement BYOD (Bring Your Own Devices) to give employees flexibility to work from anywhere. Unfortunately most businesses do not have a security strategy for their business mobility.

Without a secure business mobility strategy, business data and devices are at risk of theft. Businesses also need to provide a consistent work experience for employees in and out of the office. Employee productivity can be impacted when employees have to work with different applications outside the office.

Securely Enable Business Mobility with Office 365

Office 365 provides employees maximum flexibility to work anywhere, while business can maintain control of business activities. It also helps businesses manage and protect company’s devices, data and budget while simultaneously giving companies a competitive advantage.

Employees can use a mix of business and personal devices to access business applications such as Word, PowerPoint, Excel and Outlook. It also provides consistent experience across Windows, iOS and Android desktops, laptops, phones and tablets

Office 365 Business Premium has built-in security features and fully installed versions of Office apps on employee’s choice of desktop, tablet, or phone. This provides improved collaboration across devices so teams in different locations can work together more efficiently. Employees can also hold “face-to-face” meetings from any location through Skype for Business, improving teamwork and boosting productivity.

Businesses can have more control of their data and devices by using Office 365 E3 and Enterprise Mobility Suite plans.

Office 365 Enterprise E3 includes everything in Business Premium and advanced capabilities for data protection and compliance tools. This helps businesses maintain regulatory compliance while employees work away from the office.

The Enterprise Mobility Suite (EMS) can protect company assets while enabling workers to stay productive from practically anywhere. It provides capabilities for securely managing mobile devices and applications.

Contact us to find out how we can help your business securely implement business mobility.

What is Microsoft Office 365 for Businesses.

Office 365

Office 365 is a subscription based version of the popular Microsoft Office Software and other productivity tools. It has the added benefit of being cloud based and can be accessed via an internet browser.

Office 365 has a variety of subscription plans from as little as $2/user/month to $35/user/month. The plans are designed to cater to different business productivity needs and different sizes.

Most of the Office 365 plans provide a desktop and cloud based version of the Office applications. The Office applications can be installed on up to five devices (Desktop, Laptops & Phones) per each subscribed user, this makes it possible for users to work from a variety of devices.

Some of the applications included in Office 365 are:

  • Microsoft Word
  • Microsoft Excel
  • Microsoft Access
  • Microsoft PowerPoint
  • Microsoft Outlook
  • Exchange Online
  • SharePoint Online
  • Microsoft Teams
  • Microsoft Groups
  • Microsoft Yammer
  • Microsoft Delve
  • Power BI


How to Purchase Office 365

Office 365 can be purchased directly from Microsoft website or from a Microsoft Partner. We are a Microsoft Partner and assist businesses in selecting, purchase, installation and support of all Office 365 plans.

How to Access and Download Office 365

You can login to Office by going to the Office 365 Portal. Once you are in you can download Office 365 software like Word, Excel, Outlook and PowerPoint. You can also access the online version of all the available software.

Some Benefits of Office 365 for Businesses:

  • Pay-AS-You-Go: Office 365 is a software as a service (SAAS), this means you pay for it like an utility bill. This frees up cash for other business expense. You can pay on a monthly or yearly basis. Paying yearly is a cheaper than monthly.
  • Up-to-date Softwares: Office 365 is delivered via the cloud so you will have always have the latest features and most up-to-date versions. This is one less IT support service to pay for.
  • Access Data from Anywhere: You have the option of storing your data in cloud via Office 365 and accessing from anywhere via an internet browser. This provides the ability for employees to work from anywhere
  • Advanced Data Security: Microsoft has better data security than any small business could ever implement. Data is stored in secure data centers and encrypted in transit.
  • No Servers to Maintain: You do not need a server to host Microsoft Office, SharePoint or even a file server for data storage. This also saves on server maintenance and electricity cost.

Office 365 Plans

There are different Office 365 plans to suit almost all business needs. Some plans and the scenarios for usage are:
Exchange Online for hosted Business Class Email.
SharePoint Online for Online file storage, Internal Team Site and Project Collaboration.
Kiosk Plans for communication and email access for Desk-less and Shift Workers.
Office 365 Business Premium for Small Business that need online and desktop versions of Office products.
Office 365 Enterprise E3 for businesses that need data security and compliance requirements.
Office 365 Enterprise E5 for businesses that need advanced data security, regulatory compliance, seamless communication in and out of the office.

Contact Us If you are thinking of moving to Office 365 or would like a free Demo to find out how it can benefit your business.

Do I Need A Server For My Small Business?


I get asked this questions quite a bit, especially by new business owners. A lot of current businesses also want to get rid of their office existing server and move to the cloud.

Moving an office server to the cloud is always an option with the right internet bandwidth and large enough budget but this post is about exploring the need for onsite server in a small business.

Before deciding on whether a server is needed or not, below are some of the uses/benefits of a server in a small business are:

  • Line of Business Application Requirement.
  • User authentication for computers (Active Directory)
  • File server for business data.
  • Backup location for computers.

A few factors need to be considered before this question can be accurately answered. I will list the factors below and later explain how it impacts the sever or no server decision.

1) Regulatory Compliance
2) Employee Assigned Computers.
3) Employee Size
4) Line of Business Application.

1) Regulatory Compliance: Compliance requirements like HIPAA § 164.308(a)(4)Information Access Management requires each employee have a unique user ID for all Information Systems, so employee activities can be logged and audited on each system. This can be done without a server (Active Directory) but a server makes the management of user IDs and password a lot easier than managing each user on each computer.

2) Employee Assigned Computers: If your employer have permanent assigned computers then you will only need to manage one or maybe two logins on each computer. This becomes more complicated if employees roam between available computers like a Doctor’s office. Imagine managing different credentials for 10 employees on 10 computers, this quickly becomes an avalanche of IDs (100) to manage. An active directory server makes this easier to manage, by  managing all 10 IDs from one server.

3) Employee Size: User authentication is a little easier to managed for a business with five or less employees. Even with regulatory compliance and non-assigned computers, you will be managing at most 25 IDs on five computers for a five person company.

4) Line Of Business Application: If your primary line of business (LOB) requires a Server to function, then you will need a server. There is no away around, you might be able to go with a cloud server but it still depends on the LOB and your internet bandwidth.

After considering all the factors listed above, my answer to question varies from business to business. If your business is not affected by any of the criteria above, then you can do away with an on-site server or at least move to the cloud with a cloud server.

Computer Security and Protection

I spent the better part of last week removing viruses and spyware from a local business’s computers. Half of the computers in the office were infected with a virus. The only reason the others were not infected was because the users were either on vacation or the computers had not been used recently.

Unlike some businesses I have come across, the business owner had antivirus software installed on the computers but nobody was responsible for keeping the computers secure and protected. You can have the best antivirus software but if you are not monitoring the antivirus software, running regular scans and making sure the virus definitions are updated then new and unknown viruses are bound to infect your computers.

Regular antivirus scans should be done at least twice a week or preferably everyday if you can. This makes sure viruses are removed from your computers before they cause any damage. The most important thing is to make sure the virus definitions of your antivirus software are up to date. If your antivirus software virus definitions are not up to date then your antivirus software does not have any information about the virus and its unable to protect your computers against it. An updated virus definition gives you the maximum protection against computer viruses out there.

The total cost to remove the viruses and save most of his business data  cost more than two year’s worth of our managed security service.

Antivirus and anti-malware software are just one step in protecting your computer network. Employee training is another important aspect. Your employees should be trained not to open emails and/or attachments from email addresses they do not recognize. This is the number one way viruses bypass antivirus software and enter your network.

Our managed security services not only protects your computers but we regularly assess your computer network for security vulnerabilities. We recommend/implement ways that make your network secured and protected.

Contact Us today for a free security assessment and how we can protect your computer network.

Data Backup For Your Business

As a small business owner, your most important asset is your business data. It is literally the life blood of your business especially if you have been in business for a while. Hardware failures and natural disasters happen more often than you realize and you have to be able to recover from them as fast as possible.

Backing up your business data gives you the ability to recover from disaster and keeps you in business. I usually tell my clients to think of data backup like their home or rental insurance. You might never have to use but you will be happy you have it if the situation ever arises. There are different forms of data backup you can implement for your business.

Local Data Backup
This is the simplest and oldest form of data backup. It could be as simple as backing up to an external hard drive or USB stick or implementing a full tape backup system. This is also the fastest form of data backup; you can backup as much data and as often as you want. You are only limited by the size of your backup device. Every business should at least implement something as simple as this. The major downside of a local backup is the safety of the local device in the event of theft, disaster or failure.

Online/Cloud Data Backup
With cloud backup another company handles the transmission and storage of your data. Your data is backed up to the hard drives of the company providing the service. The data is transmitted to the company over the internet and it is encrypted during transmission and at rest. Your data is always secure in the cloud no matter what happens at your place of business. The major disadvantage of cloud backup is the speed of data backup and recovery. This is usually not a problem when you are backing up your data but restoring your data can take days depending on the size of your data and speed of your internet connection.

Hybrid Data Backup
Hybrid data backup gives you the best features of the other two forms of backup and also stores your data in multiple places so you are more protected. It gives you the speed of a local backup and the safety of a cloud backup. You get a storage device that data is constantly backed up locally and later uploaded to the cloud. This is currently the form of backup we recommend to our client. We can even bring up a copy of your server in cloud within minutes so you be back in business in the event of a disaster.

Whatever form of backup you employ, it is only as good as the data recovery. The only way you can guarantee your data recovery is through testing. We schedule monthly data recovery test for our clients. This guarantees we can readily restore the data if needed. The worst thing that can happen is to find out your backup has not been working when you need it.


Why Every Small Business Should Invest In Technology

As a small business one of your main priorities is staying ahead of your competitions or at least keeping up with them.

One of the best ways to do this is by investing in the right technology for your business. I am firm believer that excellent customer service gives you the best competitive advantage in any business. Investing in the right technology is a close second.

Technology Gives You Better ROI.
72% of respondents to the Fifth Annual Brother Small Business Survey indicated new technology is a better return on investment than new employees. When you compare the cost (Training, Salary & Benefits) of new employees against investing in your small business specific software/technology; you realize how much money you save. Your industry specific technology also makes your current employees more efficient and productive. This also cuts your cost which gets passed on to your customers.

Invest In The Right Technology.
You have to make sure you invest in the right technology for your business and market. You might be hesitant to invest in Technology because you don’t know what product to invest in or when to make the investment.
There are three main factors to consider when choosing the right technology for your small business.
1) Will it make my employees more Productive and Efficient?
2) Will it improve my customer service and customer experience?
3) Is it secure, will my business and customer data remain secure?

A simple example is an orthopedic surgeon that does not have an in-house X-Ray machine. He/She sends his patients to other clinics to get the x-ray done. The x-ray images are saved to disc and given to the patient.
Investing in an in-house x-ray machines satisfies the three factors above:
1) Employees no longer have to rely on patients to get the x-ray done and bring it along.
2) Patients’ don’t have to drive to another facility to get the x-ray done.
3) Patients’ information is safe from loss or theft.

It is also very important to have a technology partner that will help in deciding which technology to invest in and when. An ideal partner will help in the decision, integration and support of such technology

Windows XP and HIPAA Compliance.

It is no longer news that Microsoft will be ending support for Windows XP on April 8th 2014. If this is news to you, you can read up on it on my previous blog or at Microsoft.

As noted in my blog post, you are potentially exposing yourself to security and compliance risks if you are still running Windows XP after April 8th. Healthcare providers need to be aware of potential HIPAA/HITECH violation that could result from this.

HIPAA has not explicitly stated Windows XP systems will not be compliant after April 8th. However after April 8th Microsoft will no longer provide security patches and other updates to Windows XP operating system. Any Windows XP systems on your network will be in violation of HIPAA Security Rule Section 164.308(5)(ii)(B)

Protection from malicious software (Addressable). Procedures for guarding against, detecting, and reporting malicious software.”

It is possible to still use a Windows XP system in your practice after April 8th and be HIPAA compliance but I do not recommend this. The Windows XP systems should be stand alone systems and not connected to any network. You also have to make sure patient’s PHI (Protected Health Information) are not stored on the system. This is only recommended if you have an old software/program that will not run on newer operating systems.

HIPAA violations is not the only thing to worry about with Windows XP end of support. You also need to think about potential hackers and viruses that will exploit vulnerabilities in the operating system once support ends. Windows XP has been around for more than 12 years, that’s more than enough time to find all the vulnerabilities in it.

To Do List:

  • Start by performing an IT audit of your organization to find out how many Windows XP systems you have.
  • Perform a software audit on these systems and find out if they are compatible with a newer operating system (Windows 7/8/8.1).
  • Decide on which operating system (Windows 7/8/8.1 or Linux) to upgrade to. Windows 7 has the look and feel of Windows XP and most software/programs are compatible with it.

Contact us to assist in migrating your systems.

Why You Should Outsource Your IT Services

Are you on the fence about outsourcing your technology service to an IT service provider? Businesses small and large are taking this step because of the benefits listed below:

Cost Savings: You pay the IT service company a fraction of the cost of an in-house IT employee or department. The annual salary of a full-time IT employee is between ($50,000 and $65,000), add in the cost of benefits and training,  factor in that the IT employee may not be 100% utilized and the cost of bringing in a contractor when he/she goes on vacation. The cost of an in-house IT employee can easily add up $100,000. You can outsource your IT department for less than 10% of the overall cost of  hiring an IT employee. You eventually pass on this cost savings to your customers which makes you more competitive in your market.

Focus on Core Business: Having someone else focus on your technology service and needs frees you up to focus on your core business and grow your business. You started your business to provide a service to your customers and not to spend time worrying and fixing your technology. The IT service company do what they do best so your can do what you do best.

Enterprise Scale IT: As a small business, you may not have the technological resources of larger companies. The technology of an IT service provider can rival or surpass that of larger organization. This is because they support a variety companies and use the latest and best technology for their clients. This brings your technology to the same level as larger companies and only pass on a fraction of the cost to you.

Experienced and knowledgeable Technology Adviser: Your IT service provider is already aware of the ins and outs of your IT infrastructure. They understand your needs and are aware of the right solutions that will benefit your business. They manage your other technology vendors and speak “geek” to them so you don’t have to. They are always a phone call away and can provide consulting services at a discounted rate when compared to other companies.

Contact us today when you want to outsource your IT service, we look forward to being your business partner.