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Moving Offices? IT Authorities Professional Services

Next Generation Networks Pay Off When Resizing and Relocating Offices

Next Generation Networks by IT Authorities
Moving Offices? IT Authorities Professional Services

Next Generation Networks Pay Off When Resizing and Relocating Offices

IT Authorities Professional Services: Creating and Moving a Next Generation (5 9’s) Network

Industry: Banking and Financial Services

Overview: IT Authorities built a true next generation (5 9’s) network for a long-term customer who realized that they needed a network refresh. Six months later, due to an issue with the location of the headquarters, the customer had to move the entire network as soon as possible. The network supported hundreds of employees at several locations. We responded and completed the move on time without impacting operations or employees.

Network Information: IT Authorities Professional Services designed and implemented a new network for a Georgia-based company with several locations and hundreds of employees. The implementation included full HA redundant firewalls, dual ISP circuits, Cisco Meraki switches, and a full mesh architecture. The IT Authorities’ implementation resulted in a complete 5 9’s network with no single points of failure – critical for reliable network operations.

Customer Results: Due to the comprehensive implementation, the IT Authorities’ service desk received zero calls for network support.

Critical Customer Issue: Due to an issue with the building, the company had to move the entire network as soon as possible without impacting locations or employees. The ITA Professional team architected and mapped a custom moving strategy.

Prior to moving day, we created a custom network mapping, removed the spare firewall and placed it at the new location so we could completely test and build out the ISP and data center VPN. Due to our recommendation of Cisco Meraki, we were able to move, test and implement the network in a matter of hours.

Once we could validate the network viability, we had our on-site contact remove the Meraki network gear from the rack, place it in a car, drive it to the new location and install it at the new location. After installation, our remote support team was able to make the adjustments for the new location in real time. The entire network was up and running within one hour from the time it was powered up.

IT Authorities tested all aspects including the failover capability and everything worked as expected – the first time. The customer was thrilled and able to refocus their efforts on moving their office-related items instead of spending hours on network connectivity.

Financial impacts: The IT Authorities Professional Services team saved the customer tens of thousands of dollars on a corporate move because they chose us to implement their IT solutions. In addition, they utilized our team of experts and trusted us to deliver the best-in-class service to support their entire organization.  

Contact us to learn more.

#ITAuthorities #ProfessionalServices #NetworkConfiguration #NextGenerationNetworks

Make the Most of Your Microsoft 365 Subscription

Microsoft 365

Make the Most of Your Microsoft 365 Subscription

Microsoft 365 popularity keeps growing. This accelerated growth can be attributed to its wide range of products available to commercial users. Microsoft reports that over 120 million active business users are subscribed to the business plan, with more users subscribed to at least a  single Office product.

However, not everyone is using their subscription plans as best as possible. You may have a whole suite of Microsoft 365 products but only use Outlook, Word, and Excel. If this is the case, it’s about time you discovered new ways to maximize your Microsoft 365 subscription. Read on.

Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams is one of the most popular and widely used business apps offered by Microsoft Office.  It’s one of the leading communication software suitable for teams of more than 10,000 users. Microsoft Teams is often confused with similar collaboration tools such as Skype and Yammer.

However, according to testimonials from users plus multiple reviews, Teams comes across as the most collaborative and productive of the three. Also included in the Microsoft Teams subscription is the Kaizala app, a basic messaging app like WhatsApp and Signal. However, Kaizala doesn’t have the same benefits of sharing files and integration that Teams provide.

Microsoft Teams is a chat-based collaboration platform with document sharing, online meetings, and many other extremely useful features for business communications. It is ideal for any business with a large team as it helps improve staff collaboration and productivity. Microsoft Teams is included in Microsoft 365 Business Standard and Premium.

Notable competitor apps which you can replace with Teams include:

  • Slack: Slack is a newcomer, but it has gained considerable adoption and popularity among users.  It’s also a free online app for businesses with a large file storage capacity and an unlimited number of teams. However, it does not have a robust support system, guest access, channel meetings, and integration features found in  Microsoft Teams.
  • Zoom: Like slack, Zoom is a new industry player, a group video conferencing platform. However, it doesn’t offer the benefits of internal collaboration between teams, something that Microsoft Teams provides.

 

SharePoint

SharePoint is a document and data management platform on a web browser. It’s a cloud-based service that allows users to store, organize and share business data on any device. To mean that with Microsoft SharePoint, you can securely and conveniently share data across multiple devices, be it mobile or desktop. And you only need a web browser to access this effective Microsoft 365 software. SharePoint is included in Microsoft 365 Business Standard and Premium.

With SharePoint, you can manage unlimited amounts of data efficiently and effectively and control who can access the data. SharePoint also enables you to automate workflows to ensure efficient team collaboration and integration with similar Microsoft 365 tools. Due to its effectiveness, SharePoint performs much better than other known competitors, including:

  • Google Workspace
  • Huddle
  • Box for Business
  • Basecamp

OneDrive

OneDrive is Microsoft’s safe and scalable cloud-based storage platform. It comes as part of your Microsoft 365 subscription package. You can utilize OneDrive to store your files in the clouds using multiple devices safely. You can also use a mobile or desktop device to access the files. OneDrive syncs your documents, images, and similar files so that any changes you make to them can be reflected on other devices. OneDrive is also included in Microsoft 365 Business Standard and Premium.

With OneDrive, you can choose any location on your computer as a backup for the cloud. For instance, you can back up your data in the Documents folder to the OneDrive the same way you can back up photos in your Pictures folder to the cloud. This way, you get to retain a copy of each critical data. And you can choose to scale up or down the size of your cloud storage to meet your business needs. When you start using OneDrive, you’ll find that it makes for a better alternative to:

Power Automate

As the name suggests, Power Automate is a Microsoft 365 software that allows you to automate your workflows either on your favorite apps or other Microsoft 366 apps. This automation tool also helps you synchronize files, receive notifications, gather data, etc. Power Automate is included in Microsoft 365 Business Standard and Premium.

You can utilize Power Automate to boost productivity by automating data entry and similar repetitive tasks, synchronization, scheduling, etc. And you can still create automatic workflows between Power Automate and other third-party apps such as Salesforce, Oracle, and SAP, not necessarily Microsoft products. Notable competitor apps that Power Automate would give a good run for their money include:

  • Zapier: Zapier is one of the top-ranking and widely used automation tools. It’s also more popular than Power Automate, yet they are designed to serve the same purpose with similar benefits and functions. However,  since Power Automate comes as part of your Microsoft 365 subscription package, you can also use it to save on the extra subscription fees you’d make for Zapier.
  • Integromat: Integromat is yet another software similar to Power Automate with impressive reviews from its users, thanks to its inbuilt APIs and integrations with most Google apps. However, just like Zapier, it’s not cost-effective and is online software, meaning you cannot access it as an app.
  • Workato: Waikato is not as popular as Zapier or Power Automate. It’s also a low-cost automation app, and this may make users opt for it, especially users that don’t have Microsoft 365.

Microsoft Bookings

Bookings are by far the most straightforward app in the Microsoft 365 ecosystem. It enables businesses of any size to schedule appointments or meetings and comes with additional features. These features enable you to share your availability for a meeting or appointment and send each appointment with personalized questions. Microsoft Bookings is included in Microsoft 365 Business Standard and Premium.

You can also integrate Bookings with the calendar and email support in the Microsoft Outlook app. Calendly is Microsoft Bookings’ closest rival. However, Bookings is specifically ideal for small businesses, while Calendly can work well with any business of any size and even freelancers.

As a result, Calendly is more popular but may not be suitable for you if yours is a small business. Other similar competitor apps that you can forego and use Bookings include:

  • GoToMeeting: One of the leading call bookings apps available. It comes with a wide range of features. Although GoToMeeting is quite pricey, it can work for larger companies than MS Bookings would.
  • Setmore: This is an online platform that users can access for free. It’s more suitable for freelancers or small businesses and has considerable features and functionalities. However, its benefits are limited compared to Bookings.
  • ScheduleOnce: This software is good if the online reviews are anything to go by. However, it comes in two separate versions, and you’ll need to pay extra to access the full version that comes with a few advantages over Bookings.

Yammer

Yammer provides better engagement within the company’s social community. Social media has given human interactions a whole new meaning. You can use Facebook and Twitter to connect with friends, family, and the rest of the world. Similarly, you can use Yammer to connect with your colleagues and staff.

Microsoft acquired Yammer in 2012 and re-designed it to give a familiar social media look: something that would resemble Facebook and Twitter. Today,  companies can utilize Yammer to connect with staff and colleagues, facilitate sharing industry knowledge, and encourage staff to create communities.

However, most people often confuse Yammer with Microsoft Teams. These two apps are completely different in that Yammer can accommodate large groups of users, unlike Microsoft Teams which can only accommodate up to 10,000 users. Yammer also offers unlimited access to many people, making it suitable for bigger companies.

Microsoft Teams has a certain limit on the number of members who can be part of a single channel or access content within a specific channel. However, Yammer allows users to create public groups, making accessibility and discovery more straightforward. Employees can share anything on the platform, from hobbies to social groups to marketing posts. Yammer is included in Microsoft 365 Business Standard and Premium.

Yammer helps promote the corporate culture due to its public nature and the many users who can access it. You can use Yammer to share company news, make announcements, share feedback, and company initiatives.

For example, when onboarding a new employee, you can introduce them to the entire company on Yammer. But with Microsoft, you can only introduce an employee to their respective team or department. Given these many advantages that Yammer can bring to your business, you might want to ditch these competitors in the app’s favor:

  • Google Workspace
  • Private Facebook group with a Company Message Board
  • Workplace from Facebook
  • Zoho Connect

Microsoft Forms

Microsoft 365 subscription package also comes with software that you can use to create online tests and surveys. This software is called Microsoft Forms. It’s a straightforward and intuitive way to create and distribute surveys on customer satisfaction, questionnaires,  and even feedback from staff.

You can use Microsoft Forms for business and integrate it with other Microsoft 365 tools like Outlook and Excel. It’s also compatible with multiple devices, including  Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS.

Google Forms is another similar tool to Microsoft Forms since they both function the same way.  However, Google Forms is free and supports multiple question formats within a single form, while Microsoft has better features like graphic themes and excellent QR code support. You can use Microsoft Forms instead of Typeform and Zoho Forms, similar tools with lesser functionalities than Microsoft Forms. Microsoft Forms is included in Microsoft 365 Business Standard and Premium.

How IT Authorities Can help

Most Microsoft 365 users do not know that their subscriptions include other useful applications. This has seen many underutilize their packages and miss out on the benefits of these extra tools. If working with these multiple tools is quite an effort, we can make things less complex for you by rolling out these applications strategically to create a simplified Microsoft 365 implementation process. Our approach includes staff training through detailed Q&A webinars.

We can identify redundant apps in your Microsoft 365 ecosystem and consolidate all projects from different departments into a single common platform to increase productivity. Our IT solution will ensure that your staff makes the most of all Microsoft 365 tools productively, securely, and cost-effectively. Contact us to learn more.

Questions to Ask Your IT Leader

We have all learned a considerable amount, both personally...

Questions to Ask Your IT Leader

Questions to Ask Your IT Leader

Keeping your company cyber-secure entails knowing what questions to ask technology leaders in the organization. With the ever-growing threat of cyber-attacks, questions about your security posture shouldn’t remain unasked. The questions you ask about technology create awareness about your risks and the actions that should be taken to protect your organization’s servers, sensitive data, and services from breaches and attacks.

Indeed, most C-suite executives and other decision-makers aren’t trained in technical IT security or risk management. However, since they are the heartbeat of any organization, they need to know about the right IT manager questions to ask. If you’re a decision-maker in your company, you need a checklist of cybersecurity-related questions you may want to bring up during your meetings with the business technology team:

The Role of IT Leaders in an Organization

IT leaders are high-ranking individuals responsible for managing a company’s IT infrastructure, resources, software, and applications. IT manager questions are often directed to these individuals. Your organization’s business technology and IT security strategies depend on their decisions and expertise. They ensure operational stability and the execution of your business strategy, besides spurring innovation.

IT leaders keep abreast of new trends and technologies that give your organization a competitive advantage in the market. While at it, they look out for vulnerabilities and risks that can disrupt the organization’s IT strategy and overall profitability. In today’s business world, IT-related decisions must be made all the time. These could be related to vendor selection, cybersecurity strategies, and data securities.

Your organization’s IT leadership plays a vital role in these decisions. The team helps to strike a balance between meeting the organization’s IT demands and incompatible business priorities. IT leaders also help to negotiate decisions relating to budgets and expenditure. Therefore, when figuring out questions to ask leaders in your company, IT leaders should also be in the mix.

Questions to Ask Technology Leaders

It’s clear to see that the IT department is an indispensable component of your organization. As a decision-maker, you’ll know you’re getting the best out of the team if you have the right questions to ask technology leaders during your engagements. Here are the critical questions to ask the IT manager, whether you have an in-house IT department or receive managed services from a partner provider:

How Responsive Are We to Downtime?

One of the critical questions to ask technology leaders during your board meetings is whether your organization has an incident response plan. When faced with a breach or an attack, normal business operations may grind to a halt. There should be a recovery plan during downtimes to help you resume normal operations while mitigating damage.

Your IT team’s ability to answer this question demonstrates preparedness. For instance, if there’s a multi-resource recovery plan to help the company recover from a breached IT system, business processes will stay intact. The breach response and recovery plan should also be swift and available for deployment.

How Are You Keeping Our Business Secure?

IT leaders should be asked to provide information on the company’s cybersecurity strategy. As recently as the mid-1990s, the only IT-related threat that companies worried about was someone finding their way into buildings housing critical IT hardware and stealing the equipment. Today, cybercriminals are smarter and don’t even target your company’s hardware. Instead, they’re more concerned with your data.

Threat actors can monetize your company’s data in dozens of ways. Whatever their motivation, your IT team needs to ensure you’re fully protected at all times. When formulating questions to ask CTO, inquire about the cybersecurity strategies in place. These may range from firewall protection and strong encryption to hardened IT resources. Implementing these measures goes a long way in protecting you against attacks.

One of the critical questions to ask technology leaders pertains to data encryption. Most companies store their data in the cloud or use cloud-based vendors and service providers. Securing your cloud data is of the utmost significance, and it starts with encrypting your cloud data. Although cloud data is typically stored in an encrypted form, it’s best to secure it further.

The encryption built into the cloud storage systems you use may not be sufficient because experienced hackers know how to unlock certain algorithms. One of the most crucial IT manager questions to ask is whether additional encryption measures are in place. The security of your cloud environment is guaranteed if military-grade encryption standards such as Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) and Rivest-Shamir-Adleman (RSA) are in place.

Does Our IT Strategy Align with Our Overall Business Plan?

IT teams should focus on cybersecurity and business performance. For this reason, they should utilize an IT-business alignment model. Key among the questions to ask CTO is how they plan to streamline IT business processes to ensure faster response times and a more efficient supply chain.

The IT team should work towards common business goals and also be aware of and support what other departments are doing to attain those goals. Remember there’s no competitive advantage in simply using technology in today’s dynamic business world. Using technology strategically in alignment with your organization’s business goals gives you a competitive advantage.

Does Our Technology Track Benefit or Impede Productivity?

Technology is meant to improve productivity. On the flip side, it could also be a stumbling block to attaining your business goals. With the right technology, supply chains, businesses processes, employee recruitment, and other essential aspects of the business will get streamlined.

In a business that leverages technology, the dependence could also impede productivity. For instance, with inevitable glitches such as power failures and bugs, it will be challenging to perform simple tasks such as credit card processing. In this case, one of the questions to ask technology leaders is whether there’s a strategy for ensuring technology doesn’t impede business productivity.

Do You Have the Right Resources for What You’re Doing?

During your meetings with IT leaders, one of the questions to ask about tech is whether you have adequate resources for what they’re undertaking. The question touches on the budget you have and the human resources and expertise at hand. By asking this question, you’ll also want to know about the ROI of different technologies.

With the right resources, your IT team will have everything needed to implement the necessary technologies while mitigating risk. An IT team that can produce a balanced scorecard for the resources it needs knows its goals and how they align with the organization’s overall objectives.

Should We Consider Outsourcing Anything?

Sometimes, you need the expertise of an outside team to manage your IT infrastructure. Outsourcing IT services isn’t an admission of failure. It shows you recognize the expertise an outside team brings to the table. A good in-house IT team recognizes that sometimes, it needs to get complemented by an outside team.

IT professionals know too well that managed service providers bring in new skills, technologies, and expertise that could be useful to your organization. During your engagements with the IT department, you need to ask whether an outside team should be brought in.

Are We Staying Compliant?

Businesses need to comply with various regulations, from the California Consumer Privacy Act to the GDPR privacy policy. Key among the questions to ask tech leaders in your company is whether you’re compliant with these regulations. Generally, the compliance standards that apply to you depend on your industry.

Your IT department should outline the standards relevant to your industry and determine whether your data practices are compliant. Maintaining compliance proves you’ve implemented the best data security practices and helps you avoid hefty fines if a breach occurs.

Where Will Technology Be in Five Years and How Will We Adapt?

Technology keeps changing, and companies can only survive if they stay abreast of these changes. As drivers of tech innovation in your company, the IT department should forecast how current technology trends will pan out in the future.

The IT department should advise your organization’s decision-making team on the technologies to invest in to boost productivity. Indeed, you don’t want to invest in a technology that will be obsolete in five years. For this reason, the CIO and other IT leaders should be able to forecast where the current technology will be in the coming years and recommend how to adapt to the changes.

Conclusion

Decisions made by IT leaders don’t apply to your organization’s technology alone. It also affects other aspects of the organization, including business efficiency, growth, and innovation. As a decision-maker within your organization, make sure you get the answers to these IT manager questions whenever you engage with the IT department.

Since IT is a mission-critical resource for your organization, you shouldn’t miss the opportunity to ask the right questions. If your organization appreciates the expertise of a managed IT and cybersecurity service provider, you need partners like IT Authorities. We’re here to improve how you do business by helping you become more secure, agile, and productive. Contact us today to book a free consultation.

How to switch IT providers: A proven 3-stage process

We have all learned a considerable amount, both personally...

How to switch IT providers: A proven 3-stage process

How to switch IT providers: A proven 3-stage process

Change can be tough. But as a business owner, you know that transitions and difficult decisions are part of the growth process. And that’s where you find yourself now. You’re seriously thinking about switching IT providers because doing so could unlock your business’s potential.
But the whole switch seems overwhelming. Where do you start? How do you go about it? What should you look for in a new provider? You have so many questions and feel stuck. Not to worry. The whole process can be broken down into three stages: recognizing the warning signs, finding a new provider, and making the transition. Here’s how to change service providers.

Stage 1: Recognize the warning signs of a lousy provider

Do you really have a problem with your IT? Is it really necessary to switch services providers? Look for these red flags with your current MSP:
“Keep the lights on” mentality: If you feel like your provider does nothing more than keep the lights on or is simply taking your money, take this as a red flag. Telltale signs of this destructive mentality include slow response times, poor communication, and a lack of expertise and resources to resolve issues. Generally, if you feel like your business isn’t getting enough attention, you might want to switch IT support providers.
Low first-time fix rate: A high first-time fix rate means more efficiency, productivity, and lower operational costs. If you call your provider multiple times to fix the same problem or submit several support tickets for the same issue, your bottom line is paying the price. Start looking for a new provider.
Reactive support: Great IT providers are invisible. And when you have one, you’ll know it because you’ll rarely think about technology — it is out of sight, out of mind, running smoothly in the background. Hassle-free IT like this is a result of proactive support and preventative measures and maintenance. If your provider only responds to issues after they’ve occurred, you are not reaping the full benefits of having an effective IT provider.
Growth has flatlined: This red flag circles back to the first one on this list. Your IT provider should do far more than simply keep the lights on. Smooth IT and advanced technology should give your business a competitive advantage and serve as a launch pad for growth. If your provider isn’t offering advice to help you grow, you’re missing out on a key benefit that many MSPs offer.
Erratic budget: Does your budget fluctuate from month to month? Does it seem like you’re regularly slammed with a surprise bill? When you’re uncertain how much you’ll spend each month, frustration levels can rise fast — but it doesn’t have to be this way. Many MSPs offer a predictable, fixed monthly fee for their service.
Questionable security: Do you constantly see reminders to update your antivirus and operating systems? Are staff unaware of cyberthreats and how hackers infiltrate businesses? If you answered “yes” to either or both of these questions, your provider probably isn’t taking your business’s security seriously. A reputable IT provider will help protect your business with routine security updates, cybersecurity awareness training, a BCDR plan, and an incident response plan.
Lack of transparency: A good provider will talk straight with you. So if they’re reluctant to share documentation on your IT processes or how they manage your network, this is a big red flag because they could make leaving very difficult. If you’re in a situation like this, it’s better to switch IT providers sooner than later.

Stage 2: Find a new provider — 6 questions to ask potential new partners

Your first question shouldn’t be directed at potential providers, but rather yourself. In other words, you need to know what you want before you can find it. Which services do you need? Do you require help with compliance? Is it important that the provider can scale their support as you grow?
Once you’ve identified your needs, you should ask your potential providers the following questions:
1. What is your experience? This general question will evaluate potential providers’ competence, ability, and expertise, and should be followed up with the following:
2. How will you improve my business? This involves first telling providers about issues with your current MSP, the reasons you’re looking for a new one, and your business goals. Listen to how each potential provider would do things different than your present one and how they’d help you achieve your objectives.
3. What are your support response and resolution times? Do they offer 24/7 support? How quickly do they resolve tickets? A good IT provider should offer round-the-clock support and resolve your issues fast. However they answer this question, they should validate their words with guaranteed response times outlined in their contract and service level agreements.
4. What proactive measures do you take? This question helps you avoid providers who’d rather perform the bare minimum of maintenance than optimize your technology. So listen for the specific proactive measures they take. These should include routinely applying patches, regularly updating your technology, and consistently monitoring and maintaining your networks, systems, devices, and apps.
5. How will you protect my business from cyberthreats, disasters, and legal liabilities? Proactivity is more than just routine monitoring and maintenance. It should also include implementing cybersecurity precautions to protect your business, testing data backups, developing a BCDR plan, and ensuring your organization is in compliance with the latest industry regulations. An MSP that can implement these measures for your business will provide you with stability and help you avoid issues that could cause massive downtime, data loss, and fines.
6. What is your onboarding and offboarding process like? A good provider will have a process in place to create a smooth, headache-free transition. Part of this process means you should have minimum involvement so you can run your business with few disruptions. The new provider should also be transparent with their offboarding process — explaining exactly how it works and clarifying the terms. This prevents you from getting trapped in a bad contract.

Stage 3: Transition and switch service providers

The final stage of your information technology transition plan includes both offboarding with your old provider and onboarding with your new one. The below checklist and plan can help make the switch as seamless as possible:

Offboarding checklist

Review your contract’s cancellation clause: This is important because it may include a required notice period. Regardless, notifying your current provider of the switch 90 days in advance gives them enough time to coordinate a smooth transition with your new provider.
Document all facets of your network: For your new provider to do a good job, they must be aware of all the technology your current provider has been managing for you. This includes:
Coordinate the transition: Agree on a time when your old and new IT provider can simultaneously offboard and onboard you. Ensure it’s outside of your normal working hours so that downtime is minimal. Your old provider needs to be responsible for:

Onboarding plan

Now that you know what to do for your offboarding process, it’s time to onboard. Here, you also need a plan. As mentioned, your new provider should already have a managed services onboarding process in place to make the transition easy. However, you should take the following actions with them or your internal staff:
Get an IT audit: From answering the questions in Stage 2, you already know what you’re looking for from an MSP. But that doesn’t mean your new provider shouldn’t audit your IT. By doing so, they could identify some critical problems and make recommendations to save you money. An audit will also enable them to accurately price their service and help you uncover issues you may want to add to your transition services agreement checklist.
Set expectations: While the audit is being conducted, take some time to get on the same page with your new provider. Tell them your expectations for response times, downtime, goals, timeline for the onboarding process, etc. Get specific. If you expect your help desk calls to be returned in 10 minutes, let them know. The same goes for downtime. How much do you anticipate in your first six months? Talk with your provider about this so you can identify common goals to put in your service level agreements.
Also, don’t forget to mention the technology problems you’d like addressed. If your new provider understands your needs, they’ll be much more likely to fulfill them.
Communicate with your staff: Don’t leave your employees in the dark. Tell them who the new provider is, why you’ve made the switch, and how their daily work life will be affected. Also, get their feedback on your current IT environment. What do they think can be improved? What technology frustrations do they have?
The goal is to involve your employees in the transition process. Have them test new equipment, share their thoughts, and let them feel heard. If you do that, they’ll buy into the provider switch, which will help encourage a smooth transition process for your entire company.
Lastly, set your staff’s expectations, too. Explain the process for contacting the new provider for service and support. Tell them the agreed-upon response times and what they can expect from the new IT provider.

Are you ready to make the switch?

If you’ve read this far, you probably now realize that you need a new IT provider. You also see that getting one is not as scary as it seems. There is a proven IT transition plan process. Follow the stages above and take it one step at a time.
Just imagine how much better your life will be with a new provider! You’ll have faster technology, less downtime and IT frustrations, and more focus. Best of all, technology will no longer be a problem for your organization, but instead a unique advantage that promotes business growth. So what are you waiting for? Implement your IT transition plan today.
If you’re looking for a new provider, don’t hesitate to give us a call. We’re here to listen, understand your unique situation, and share how we can help. Contact us today.

What does the Microsoft Exchange Vulnerability mean for your Business?

Microsoft released an urgent security patch this week after...

What does the Microsoft Exchange Vulnerability mean for your Business?

Microsoft released an urgent security patch this week after detecting an exploit targeting on-prem Exchange Servers in a limited and strategic attack.

In a blog, Microsoft detailed that the vulnerability allowed for the installation of malware to facilitate long-term access to email and victim environments. Technical in nature, Microsoft is encouraging anyone running Exchange on-premise to patch and update their systems, but what does that mean for your business?

For anyone that is running their own email server, this is a large risk for the continuity of your business.

This exploit is so dangerous, that the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, (CISA), issued a rare emergency directive that requires all government networks to make these updates. These vulnerabilities give these hackers the ability to access and harm the entirety of your network, in addition to access to all email and calendar files.

So how do we stop it?

Please work with your IT Team, either internal or external to your organization, to determine if your security patches have been applied to limit exposure to this attack. For continued security, migrations to Office 365, Microsoft’s hosted email and application platform, can facilitate additional levels of security to harden your systems. These services were neither targeted or impacted by these 0-day exploits.

Need peace of mind around your IT environment? Talk with one of our consultants today and learn about how you can increase your security posture with Microsoft!

Need peace of mind around your IT environment?

Talk with one of our consultants today and learn about how you can increase your security posture with Microsoft!

FBI Urges Companies to Review Internal Networks

The idea of hacking into a water treatment plant to poison...

FBI Urges Companies to Review Internal Networks

The idea of hacking into a water treatment plant to poison the water supply for a whole city sounds like something out of a James Bond movie.

Unfortunately, that kind of nefarious tech scheme isn’t as sophisticated as it may sound.

In early February the FBI released a Private Industry Notification urging private companies, federal and government organizations to review their internal networks and access policies. The warning came after a hacker breached the network for the Oldsmar, Florida water treatment plant. Investigators identified the following weak links:

TEAMVIEWER 

Using TeamViewer, the hacker connected to the oldsmar network, took control of the operator’s computer desktop, and changed the amounts of sodium hydroxide (lye) being added to the water. Though the action was immediately reversed, it sparked heated backlash from security professionals, many of whom deem TeamViewer a security nightmare. This may not be the platform to use if you’re managing critical or sensitive infrastructure- especially remote. 

WINDOWS 7

Officials also discovered that the water treatment plant was running on Windows 7 which announced its official end-of-life in January of 2020. This means that their Windows 7 OS was unsupported and had not received security updates for over a year. The FBI strongly states that continuing to use this outdated OS is extremely dangerous. We couldn’t agree more.

Ready To Consider Partnering With A Managed Services Provider?

We Welcome The Opportunity To Lock Arms With You.

At IT Authorities the digital safety of your business is our top priority.

You can expect proactive cybersecurity updates to your digital infrastructure from us. Additionally, we provide support for robust security systems by offering:

End-User Training

Your employees are your first line of defense and yet the most vulnerable to a cyber attack. We train your team to identify threats and attacks ahead of time. 

Penetration Testing

We proactively perform penetration tests to validate security configurations, identify unknown vulnerabilities and provide recommended corrective actions. 

24/7/365 IT Monitoring

Our monthly security subscription provides you 24/7/365 monitoring by industry leading experts, as well as support and patching so that you’re never unprotected.  

Don’t become the victim in another Bond-like scenario.

Reach out to our friendly team of IT experts and let’s make sure you are protected for many years of success to come!

TechTalk: Co-Managed IT Arrangements

No matter what level of “co-managed” you’re looking...

TechTalk: Co-Managed IT Arrangements

Welcome to our new video series, TechTalk!

This week the CEO of IT Authorities, Jason Caras, breaks down the pro’s and con’s of co-managed IT arrangements. Some of our clients chose co-managed services because their internal IT departments need the assistance. Others are simply looking to fill a couple of gaps in skillsets. No matter what level of “co-managed” you’re looking for, IT Authorities can help.

Talk to one of our friendly IT experts today to learn more about our co-managed services. 

In the coming weeks we will be releasing more videos on various tech topics! Stay tuned. 

The Benefits of Co-Managed IT Services

As businesses scale in employee size and revenue, a need for...

The Benefits of Co-Managed IT Services

As businesses scale in employee size and revenue, a need for more inclusive IT solutions often arise. While there is always the option to completely outsource all IT operations, many organizations choose to keep dedicated in-house IT employees for strategic reasons. We understand that it’s not always as simple as “just outsource it”, which is why we focus on creating successful and supportive partnerships with internal IT departments.

 

To ensure that our co-managed IT services partnerships are successful, we emphasize:

  • Collaboration on clear expectations
  • Building trust through transparency
  • Working together toward a common goal
  • Earning your trust through our performance, month-over-month
 
Ready to consider partnering with a Managed Services Provider?
We welcome the opportunity to lock arms with you.

Your IT department can depend on IT Authorities’ vast toolbox of resources:

 

Support with Resources

  • Senior Network Engineers (CCIE)
  • Senior Systems Engineers
  • Level 1, 2, or 3 Support Engineers
  • Project Managers (PMP)

Support with Projects

  • Modern Workforce Digital Transformation
  • Cloud Feasibility Studies & Migration
  • Data Center Relocations
  • IT & Security Audits

 

IT Authorities is the perfect partner for your internal IT department. Let us prove it to you, one month at a time.

Why Microsoft 365?

As of 2020, there was no general precedent for how a business...

Why Microsoft 365?

As of 2020, there was no general precedent for how a business should handle a global pandemic. Today, it’s clear that technology has played a vital role in helping the world collaboratively learn, adapt and react to this phenomenon. As businesses reevaluate their modus operandis in a post-pandemic market – one thing is certain – flexibility is no longer a luxury, it’s essential. 

As a SaaS industry leader, Microsoft has provided flexibility to the world’s workforce for nearly 3 decades. In the last year, they have maintained that leadership through updating and implementing several key solutions to help businesses adapt quickly. When it comes to running agile operations in 2021, we have the Microsoft 365 tools you need: 

Teams

Whether onsite or remote, keep your teams connected and organized! All internal communications, virtual meetings, shared files, tasks, and a vast array of 3rd party apps are all integrated into Teams. Enjoy increased transparency! 

Azure

With our ability to build, manage, and deploy infrastructure to safely support your business needs, you can rest assured that your mission-critical applications are always available. Check out our Cloud Migration Guide as well as our Cloud Readiness Assessment to get started today!

Security

Did you know in 2020 the average cost of a data breach was $150 million? Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection uses advanced learning and intelligence to automatically shut down new threats. By using Windows Defender, recently ranked best in class antivirus software, you’ll be able to protect your Windows 10 devices and files from malware and ransomware- 24/7/365.

These few features, while significant in their impact, are only the tip of the iceberg! Our team of highly curated business consultants specialize in creating digital utopias. Our purpose is simple- to understand your business so that you don’t have to understand ours.

Talk with one of our friendly consultants today and learn how Microsoft 365 might just be the solution you’ve been searching for!

Say Goodbye to Yearly Contracts in 2021

The name of the game for business success in 2021 is...

Say Goodbye to Yearly Contracts in 2021

The name of the game for business success in 2021 is flexibility. 

Almost every industry experienced a multitude of changes in tech in 2020 and some business’s are suffering in their efforts to catch up. The benefits of outsourcing your businesses core IT functions are clear and simple: 

  1. All costs considered, managed service providers (MSP’s) cost less than an onsite employee.
  2. Flexibility to scale your services up or down based on your needs. 
  3. Proactive implementation of updates, improved security, and latest tech.

Consider this- Many MSPs require long term commitments to a predetermined set of services. This means you can add the additional services you need, if you’re willing to resign your contract and adopt a new and higher price. Partnering with a managed service provider should be easy and built on continual trust and performance – not long term contracts.  

IT Authorities chooses to take a more transparent and cost effective approach to meeting your needs. Working with us means – on top of the above guarantees – you’ll also benefit from

  1. Month-to-Month service agreements and no cancellation fees.  
  2. Single price per person/month. It doesn’t matter if one person has a tablet and the other has four devices; each person costs the same. (starting at $99/user/month)   
  3. Support, monitoring & patching 24/7/365 so that you’re never unprotected.

Our team of highly curated business consultants specialize in creating digital utopias. Our purpose is simple – to understand your business so that you don’t have to understand ours. With transparency and trust being the foundation of our services, we promise to deliver world-class service to you everyday. Your freedom is our promise! 

Schedule a consultation with one of our friendly IT experts today and see how IT Authorities can bring you peace of mind and flexibility, in 2021.

Overcoming COVID Challenges

We have all learned a considerable amount, both personally...

Overcoming COVID Challenges

Dec_1 Blog Header

We have all learned a considerable amount, both personally and professionally, in the last 9 months, wouldn’t you agree? 

Since the onset of COVID-19, companies have been forced to adapt their entire infrastructure in order to continue providing timely and accurate service to their clients, while also ensuring safety for their workforce both physically and digitally. For some this is a time of rapid company growth and for others this a time to strategically scale back. Unfortunately for both, the circumstances have exposed many inadequacies and shortcomings of current IT solutions that have left many companies scrambling for stability. 

This pandemic has expedited and exacerbated the need to fortify the digital company space through technological support, safety, and advancement. That is why there has been an increased interest in outsourcing IT solutions to managed service providers. 

Have you considered the benefits of outsourcing your IT solutions to a managed service provider?

  • Maximized ROI on IT investments
  • Increased efficiency 
  • Advanced cybersecurity solutions 
  • Reduced technical inefficiencies
  • Reduced downtime
  • Month-to-Month contracts 

At IT Authorities, our team of friendly experts work with you to devise a custom strategy that allows you to focus on YOUR business, not ours. 

Don’t you think it’s time to bridge the gap between peace of mind and technology? We are excited to meet you via the form below and we look forward to solving your IT headaches. 


 

Let’s Start The Conversation

Start leveraging our innovative approaches to your mission-critical applications.

866-587-5211

Why Your Company Needs Microsoft Teams

Recently, it’s become clear how important it is to have...

Why Your Company Needs Microsoft Teams

Recently, it’s become clear how important it is to have the right business collaboration tools. Business collaboration has long been recognized as a way to increase employee productivity and satisfaction. Now, business collaboration tools have become a necessity as companies have been forced to transition to remote workplaces. 

One of the leading business collaboration tools for chat and file sharing is Microsoft Teams. Teams is a feature-rich and customizable chat platform that enables employees to communicate and work together on projects from anywhere at any time. 

A Communications and Collaboration Hub

Microsoft Teams Chat provides a great way to communicate with co-workers in real time and collaborate on projects. Chat allows project members to send instant messages, notifications, and documents. Chats can be enhanced with fun gifs and emojis to lighten up the workday. Chat Histories can be maintained and searched through conversation threads. 

Teams Chat can also be used to share files and work together on documents while maintaining version control. Documents can be uploaded, linked, and stored in Teams or Channels. 

Employees can conduct meetings from anywhere. There’s no need to reserve a conference room or go into the office. Chat integrates with the calendar, making conference calls a snap to schedule and send invitations for. 

Teams has all the desirable meeting features. Meetings can be conducted using video. Meeting leaders and participants can share screens to give everyone access to documents and other important information. There are also meeting notes and whiteboard features.

The Versatility of Microsoft Teams

Co-workers can easily move from Chat into Teams Calling by clicking on an icon for dial-free calling. Clicking another icon turns your call into a Video Chat, and Teams Group Chats turn your calls into conference calls. 

Collaboration and file sharing occurs in real time. File sharing is compatible with a wide variety of formats, including:

  • Word docs
  • PowerPoint
  • Excel
  • SharePoint
  • OneNote
  • Power BI 

Teams Channels allow project managers to organize Chat, file sharing, and file storage according to individual projects and tasks. Access control can be maintained by inviting relevant team members to a Team or Channel. 

Teams Group Chats can easily be created to allow project group members to communicate and receive notifications about project progress. 

Microsoft Teams Flexibility

Microsoft Teams is flexible enough to work on any device. Teams is available on Mac and Windows desktops for the office or remote workplace. The platform is also available as a mobile app. This allows Android, iPhone, and tablet users to take advantage of Teams collaboration tools. 

Microsoft Teams is also customizable. Teams can be enhanced with both third-party and Microsoft Office 365 applications, such as OneDrive, SharePoint, and OneNote. 

Chatbots can easily be added to a Team. These bots allow users to interact with software or a website so you can find information. Chatbots respond conversationally to requests, freeing you from conducting manual searches. They can also send notifications when a report is ready or an action needs to take place. 

Get Your Remote Workplace Up and Running

Rapid deployment is crucial when transitioning to a remote workplace. Working with the right technology partner can help your company put together all the resources needed to support your remote workforce, including Microsoft Teams. 

IT Authorities offers Immediate Remote Working Services. We can get your employees set up within 48 hours with access to Microsoft Windows and Office 365 applications, including Teams. 

IT Authorities can help you find out if your company’s Office 365 licensing includes Microsoft Teams for collaboration and assist you in the purchase if it does not. 

Get your company on board with Microsoft Teams. IT Authorities can get you started.

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