MSP – Are you getting more than a helpdesk?

When a business is looking for assistance in managing their IT infrastructure, many times they realize it’s more cost effective to partner with a managed IT service provider. There are key aspects for a business to look for when selecting an IT provider, which goes well beyond simply a helpdesk to call when something breaks.

Basic Requirements

There are basic services that every business should receive from an IT provider:

  • Access to a remote helpdesk: Ability to call, email, or log a ticket via a web portal to receive assistance with basic issues for your workstation, along with access to key applications
  • 24×7 Network Monitoring: Ensuring your network is up and running, along with support for as-needed firmware updates, device security and VPN administration, and firewall rules provisioning.
  • 24×7 Server Monitoring: Includes systems administration, security and critical patch management for operating systems, and proper anti-virus.

Why businesses need to go beyond the basics

Too often businesses feel that the above services meet their IT needs, but a true IT partner should go well beyond the basic services.  Why do businesses need more than just the basics? Because of the following:

  • 99% of malware is deployed using email and the web1
  • 81% of breaches leverage stolen and/or weak passwords1
  • 74% of security professionals rank Data Back-up & Recovery is the most effective solution to respond to a successful attack2
  • 66% of malware is via email attachments1

Security and Back-up Solutions for your Business

Don’t think your business isn’t vulnerable, and you won’t be targeted by hackers. Businesses that think that way are the targets. Why? Because they are an easy target.

An experienced IT provider will proactively advise and provide solutions to help mitigate risk factors due to these potential threats. When you research an IT provider, ask about their cyber security services. For example:

  • Advanced Phishing & Spam Protection: A suite of services inspecting inbound, outbound and internal emails to help detect and fight phishing and ransomware via malicious URLs, attachments, and impersonation attempts.
  • Web Protection (DNS filtering): Add a layer of protection between an employee & the internet by blacklisting dangerous sites & filtering out unwanted content.
  • Office 365/GSuite Multi-Factor Authentication: Establishing multi-factor authentication (MFA) by sending a second randomly generated pass code to your phone for your O365 and/or GSuite account will further protect your company from malicious attackers.
  • Security Awareness Training: More than ever, employees are the weak link in an organization’s network security. They are frequently exposed to sophisticated phishing and ransomware attacks. Employees need to be trained and remain on their toes with security top of mind.
  • Network Security: Go beyond just monitoring, perform proactive network scans for vulnerabilities, ensure proper firewalls are installed and configured, or even establish a Managed Detection and Response solution.
  • Office 365/GSuite Back-up & Recovery: Having your O365 and/or GSuite backed-up provides a multi-layered approach to security against ransomware, compliance needs such as HIPAA, & advanced recovery features.  From human error to phishing emails or malware can cause data loss. SaaS/Cloud providers protect your data from hardware failure, software failure, natural disaster, and power outages, but who is protecting your data from human error and malicious acts from internal or external sources.
  • Cloud Backups: A secure, easy-to-use cloud backup service to protect your important data on your server. A perfect cost-effective solution for those focused on protecting key information, but flexible on business continuity.
  • Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery: Go beyond just a cloud backup, and make sure your business has little to no downtime. A disaster recovery solution provides an appliance onsite for quick and easy recovery, along with a cloud backup in case of a disaster. A key solution for those focused on continuous uptime, regardless if a server goes down or a natural disaster occurs.

Advisory Services

Too often IT providers market that they provide Virtual CIO (vCIO) services, but those services are being provided by an engineer who is also responsible for resolving tickets or installing hardware. When you ask about advisory services, ask if this service is delivered by dedicated individuals, or is it part of the responsibility of the engineering team.

A dedicated technology advisory team focuses on providing proactive, unbiased, and thorough support and advise. Part of that advise is understanding your IT infrastructure, your business processes, and assists in coordinating your IT roadmap that compliments and supports your business goals.

Is your IT provider protected?

Most times small and medium size businesses focus on the IT needs of their respective business. They are forgetting a key question to ask the IT provider. What security does the IT provider have implemented? Also, how is the IT provider protecting your data? Do they use a password vault? Before an IT provider sells you a security solution, are they using it themselves? We just learned why businesses should go beyond the basics of IT support, so shouldn’t the IT provider be doing the same thing?

In Summary

You might not need or can afford some of these solutions today, but don’t you want to partner with an IT provider that can provide IT support not only for today, but for tomorrow (future). As your needs expand, and your business allows you to invest more in your IT infrastructure, you should choose an IT Partner, not just a vendor.

 

1 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report 10th Edition
2 Cybersecurity Insiders & Bitdefender 2017 Ransomware Report

Microsoft Teams: Overview

Microsoft Teams combines meetings, calls, chat, and collaboration in one place, in addition it integrates with other popular apps (Jira, Trello, Evernote, GitHub etc.) and the rest of the Office 365 suite.

What is Microsoft Teams?

Teams is a collaboration tool designed to enable people to communicate with each other, share documents, add discussions, and carry out various tasks.

As of April 30th, Microsoft Teams has reached 75 million daily active users.

Launch Teams.

Teams can be used on a computer from any browser, on mobile devices (Android and iOS) and via desktop applications for PC and Mac. If your organization already uses Office 365, you should see Teams as one of the standard applications in the Office workspace.

Once you enter the Microsoft account you wish to use, you will be instructed to choose between: for school, for friends and family or for work to customize the application. After that, you will type the password, confirm your name, and the organization name.

Create Your First Team.

Create Team

To create a team, you just need to click on the Teams section of the sidebar, and at the bottom left of the app, click Join or create a team. If public teams already exist, you will see those listed, or you can enter a code to join a private team.

 

Create Join Team

 

There are many ways to add people to Teams. You can add their email address directly into Teams, or you can send them a clickable link via email, allowing them to enroll simply by clicking that link. You can also import names and email addresses from other applications such as People or Outlook.

Once a team has members, then it will appear on the Teams list. Any team will have only one discussion named General. The subsections to a Team are called Channels.

Add A Channel.

A Channel, exactly like a Team will have a name, a description and you can make it Standard or Private. The latter will allow you to make the channel accessible to a specific group of people.

Once a channel is created, you can load files, start discussions, and interact with other team members. Any member with access to that channel can be alerted if new content is posted and can also notify other people in posts by placing an @ in front of their names.

 

Create Channel

Teams Conversations

Microsoft Teams enables you to host internal and external conference calls with their desktop, mobile, and browser applications. Teams can be an efficient, cloud-based replacement for your phone system, providing a better experience than Skype for Business.

Chatting in a Channel isn’t like a chat between two parties, it is more like a loud discussion had in an open space office where you can reply even if you aren’t mentioned.

If you join a channel and after some time, for whatever reason, you decide it’s not relevant to you anymore, you can delete that channel. However, all the records of meetings, discussions, and almost anything related to that channel will be deleted. The only exception is that all attached files will be retained on SharePoint, so even after the channel is removed.

Of course, if you delete a channel created for a meeting that didn’t happen or for a project that never started, then there’s nothing to lose. But be careful when removing channels that you might need at some point.

With Microsoft Teams you can plan meetings, share your screen, chat, and see real-time presence throughout your organization. When scheduling meetings, you can automatically access coworkers’ schedules to check their availability. Users no longer have to share calendars or send/receive emails for checking that. Users can also invite people to join an in-progress meeting just by clicking a button.

 
New Teams Meeting

Targeted Use Cases

Microsoft Teams enables you to create focused use cases. These can include anything from building a department specific team to projects, activities, client engagement, and corporate communications. It can be customized to suit the overall business needs. For example, you can create a dedicated communication channel that’s reserved for a specific location or integrate Teams into your intranet for more flexibility.

Security

Security is yet another area in which Microsoft Teams stands apart from its competitors ensuring users peace of mind. You are provided with state-of-the-art security and compliance capabilities when using any of the O365 apps.

Teams and all the other Office 365 applications meet compliance standards such as ISO 27001, SOC 2, HIPPA, and the EU Model Clauses.

Conclusion

Microsoft Teams’ potential to transform organizational communications, information sharing, project tracking, and overall collaboration is undeniable. It can be integrated with many software applications, enabling users to seamlessly share business information for improved organizational transparency.