Tag Archives: Microsoft

Navigating The Cloud: Gold Mine…Or Minefield?

24 Aug 16
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Is the cloud a good fit for your company or not? On the one hand, taking full advantage of today’s cloud capabilities could be key to becoming a top player in your market. On the other, without proper oversight, just one cyber-break-in could bankrupt your organization…

Feeling a little confused, or perhaps even overwhelmed, about your company’s cloud options?

Don’t worry, you’re not alone. In this article we’ll help you unravel your choices so you can make the most out of this game-changing technology.

To really take full advantage of the cloud, there are (at least) three things to consider:

  1. Whether to use a public or private cloud network – or both.
  2. Which cloud-based apps deliver the best value for your organization.
  3. How shared servers can help you save time and cut costs.

So just what is a “public” versus “private” network, or cloud? Simply put, a public cloud serves many organizations, while a private cloud is proprietary to just one. We’ll cover each so you can more easily navigate the pitfalls and possibilities each one presents.
Which Is Best For Your Network: Public, Private…Or Both?
One advantage to using a public cloud is that you can start using it in just minutes. It allows you to easily scale up or down, as your business needs change. And, with pay-per-use pricing, you only pay for what you need.

However, compliance with government regulations often can’t be achieved in a public cloud. Also, public networks don’t offer the same degree of control that a locally based private network can provide. And in a public cloud, you never know who you’re sharing a server with.

All that being said, a hybrid cloud may be your best model. For instance, compliance-controlled work can be handled in a private network, while less restricted tasks can be done over a public one.

Cloud-Based Apps: Microsoft Office 365 vs. Google Apps For Work

You’ll find countless cloud-based apps for business. However, Office 365 and Google Apps For Work are two of the most popular cloud-based productivity suites in the market today. Both allow you to create documents, spreadsheets and presentations on your own, as well as in real time with team members. They also provide video conferencing and cloud storage. Here’s a quick rundown:

Storage – At a paltry 30GB, the storage you get with the basic version of Google Apps For Work pales in comparison to the 1TB you get with the Office 365 Business Essentials plan. Yet, moving up a notch to the Google Apps “Unlimited” plan gets you unlimited storage, beating Office 365 hands-down.

Collaboration – Both Google Apps For Work and Microsoft Office 365 make real-time collaboration with team members in different locations easier than ever. Due to its simplified features and web-based origins, Google Apps may be easier to work with. However, users accustomed to Microsoft Office may prefer the more familiar feature set of Office 365.

Then There’s Amazon…

Amazon-shared servers allow you to grow and shrink your web presence with demand, easily store and retrieve data from a super-reliable network of worldwide data hubs and deliver content at blazing speed – all at minimal cost.

While Amazon has led the field in this new type of service, companies like Microsoft, Google and IBM, as well as niche players like Rackspace, SalesForce and Oracle, have all jumped into the fray.

Each offers a varying range of toolsets that can make your network more productive and reduce overall operating cost.

Navigating your computing choices in today’s cloud-driven world can be complex. And it isn’t getting any simpler as the field rapidly evolves. Not sure what to do? We can help!

Warn your people about this “Microsoft” phone scam!

11 Nov 15
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The call sounds very official. A representative from Microsoft’s technical support team is on the line and they have found an error in your computer system. But don’t worry—they can fix it for you. They just need access to your machine; if you can provide the login credentials they can get to work.

At this point, you may or may not be aware that this is a scam. If, like many people, you provide your login password, the “Microsoft rep”—with your help—will establish a connection into your computer. Next, they may tell you they have found a virus on your system that can cause your data to be destroyed unless you pay a “one-time charge” to have the virus removed. You can send the money via MoneyPak, a prepaid card. At that point, you’d be too afraid to NOT do it. Because who wants to risk losing their data? That kind of loss can be devastating.

What can you do to guard against these kinds of scams?

  1. Be alert and avoid them in the first place. This is your best defense. Fact is, Microsoft or other companies like them will NEVER call you out of the blue to report a problem with your computer. Most major companies just don’t do business that way. You’d have to initiate the service request, create a case, and follow their support plan.
  2. Red flag! A Money-Pak card for payment is just not legit. Most companies will only use major credit cards for service transactions. At the very least they’d have an account number attached to your service plan. MoneyPak is untraceable; these criminals know what they’re doing.
  3. Do not give anyone access to your machine who you do not know and have an established, trusted business or personal relationship with. Again, be sure you verify you are speaking with a member of a verifiable support team with a company you are already doing business with. If you haven’t initiated the service call, then you should hang up.

If you should get in a situation where in your gut you feel you may have been duped, take action immediately.  Power off your computer and cut off the connection between your machine and this scammer as quickly as possible. If you gave them credit card info, then you need to call your credit card provider, and report it as stolen immediately.  They will start running up bills as soon as they get the numbers. Call an IT service provider you trust—if TechnoAdvantage is that provider, we would be honored to help.

Visit Microsoft’s Safety & Security center for information on avoiding scams and how to report them when they do occur.

Let’s keep each other safe out there.

Crazy Beautiful Innovative New Microsoft Devices Unveiled

14 Oct 15
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As an IT service provider it’s our mission to give your business the advantage over your competition –after all it is part of our name. One way we do that is sharing our best finds in technology, and with Microsoft’s latest unveilings, there’s a lot of good stuff teetering on that cutting edge.

We’re avid followers of Microsoft here at Techno Advantage, in case you couldn’t tell by the headline. We can’t help but notice that under the tutelage of CEO Satya Nadella, Microsoft has steered its ship into new and uncharted waters, bringing the stale ideas of the old regime to a new and brighter place. Not only with the purchase of several companies, but several new products that lift the Microsoft brand to not only work on Windows products, but reaching across the aisle to Apple and Android devices so that customers will have the same familiar Microsoft experience no matter what device you are on.

Following the recent Windows 10 release now comes what MS calls a “new era of Windows 10 devices.”  The company has stepped up the game with its beautiful sleek new Surface touchscreen tablets—the Surface Pro 4, and Surface Book. These incredibly versatile tablets double as laptops. The thinnest. Fastest. Most powerful. Visually stunning. Subtle thoughtful improvements. If you are like me you will be completely enthralled by their elegant video. Surface Book’s fulcrum hinge alone is enough to make me drool.

Microsoft didn’t stop there but has also come out with three new phones that harness the Windows 10 environment in the high-end Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL as well as the Lumia 550, its affordable 4G offering.

Our collective heads took a spin when we laid eyes on the Microsoft Band 2 and HoloLens devices rounding out the new Microsoft lineup. This new band is hard to put into words all it can do, or lets you do, from your wrist. And the HoloLens device is three-dimensionally genius, a holographic computer you wear that’s Matrix and Mission Impossible 3 and every future-is-here thought you’ve ever had, where you can create holograms and “visualize things in real space.” Mind = blown.

We love new ideas and finding new ways to help you run your business better. Contact Techno Advantage for help with the best ideas in technology and productivity.

 

 

 

The Legal (And Smart) Way to Spy on your Competitors: Business Intelligence

04 Aug 15
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It used to be that Business Intelligence (BI) was reserved only for large corporations with IT budgets to match. But with the advent of the cloud, the growth of software-as-a-service and more competition overall, BI is now within reach for small businesses too, and they’re reaping the benefits.

One 2013 study done by Oxford Economics reported that more than half of firms having sales under $100,000 planned to use BI within three years—representing an increase of 43%. While that offers optimism, you should be careful before embarking on a BI plan. In an article published by Computer World, Gartner research stated that between 70% and 80% of business intelligence projects fail.

So take your time to find out some key indicators of its advantages for your business. Understand, first, what it means, second, what it can do for your business, and third how you can execute it successfully.

What is Business Intelligence? Sounds very James Bond, but a little less thrilling. BI is a software technology that focuses on finding trends in varied sets of data to deliver intelligence you can use to make smart business decisions. It’s facts, figures, data analysis generating reports and charts and other helpful insights you can put to work for you.

Some larger software giants like Microsoft and Intuit have developed solutions for small businesses, giving you the opportunity to leverage this market without a huge investment—and without employing a full-time data expert to use it.

Three top solutions you’ll want to explore and compare are Tableau, Birst, and QlikView. All have user-friendly platforms and each has nuances you’ll want to discover for yourself. But know that BI is an involved process no matter what software you use. So before you step into it, it’s best to define the business need you’re trying to solve, and then determine if you have the operational data required to pull from.

Ready to gather more intelligence on taking advantage of IT in your business? Contact TechnoAdvantage today!

We’re Windows Watchers

22 Jul 15
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We all recall the giant leap we took when Windows 8 launched. Its new interface was a bit traumatic for many, and definitely took some getting used to. For better or worse, it’s the new direction of Windows, and now with Window 10, they’re settling in and building on that, encouraging us along with more empowering features that play off the familiarity we’ve grown into with the past two Windows releases.

Windows 10 is like a new friend you’ve started to get comfortable around but still has a few more tricks up their sleeve. A recent Windows Blog post had this to say:

“It’s the best combination of the Windows you already know, plus lots of great improvements you’ll love having. The familiar Start menu is back in a more robust and expanded format that provides one-click access to the functions and files you use most. You can quickly reach your most frequently used apps, PC settings, and there is plenty of space to add your favorite Live Tiles.”

We think the redesigned Start menu is going to bring smiles to both the confused Windows 8 crowd and the Windows 7 die-hards. Here are some of its nicer features:

  • Your most used apps are right there in your face, easy to get at
  • Microsoft will place in front of you new suggested/recently added apps for you, based on what you like and own already, so you don’t have to go searching. It knows you. Plus the new apps you’ve downloaded are right there to easily access or pin to Start.
  • All Apps is every app you’ve got, neatly ordered alphabetically, to let you browse like a champ.
  • Places gives you a quick portal to tap into File Explorer, Settings and Power.

As we approach the July 29 launch date, we’re seeing more and more efforts by Microsoft to educate the public on the newest features and how to get the most out of them. Here’s hoping that’s enough for the average Windows user. We’ll try to bring you more helpful information and keep you informed.  Have questions?  Contact Techno Advantage today!

The New Windows 10 Cometh! Are You Ready?

09 Jun 15
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As operating systems go, Windows 7: a sturdy workhorse. Windows 8: not so great. Windows 9: no you’re not crazy, there isn’t one (don’t ask). Now comes Windows 10, and all eyes are on Microsoft to make it work and make it good in order for them to remain a major player and help us forget our sadness from Windows 8. From all reports, this may just be the ticket.

Windows 10 is coming July 29, 2015. So you need to plan.

 Should I upgrade? When?

If you’re a Windows 7 platform, you’ve got a good thing going but you should still plan on taking advantage of the free upgrade sometime within the first year.  You don’t want to miss out on it.

If you’re a Windows 8 or 8.1 user, upgrading to 10 will be like satisfying that itch that never got scratched when you upgraded to 8.  Upgrade within twelve months, for free. After that you’ll have to pay to upgrade, but then you’ll receive free updates beyond that. Why not right away? Bugs, that’s why. Wait a bit and let those pesky critters get discovered and worked out before you take the plunge.

What’s are some great things about it?

Unlike its predecessors, Windows 10 will be standardized to work across-platform, which means the same code will work on all your company’s devices–computers, tablets, phones, and even Xbox when everything is said and done. This is huge in terms of simplifying the user experience, allowing employees to sync up and manage all their communications. And making everything smoother for programmers—no separate PC version, mobile version, etc.

This standardized platform means it’s going to be easier to get all the benefits from its new features. And the truth is that most people probably only use about 20 to 30% of any business applications’ capabilities. You could likely be taking advantage of some pretty cool features that can make your people more productive. One of these features is the enhanced, voice-drive Cortana tool. Or the new Edge browser, designed to let you search right from the address bar. Or the Hub where you can keep all the things you collect on the web. And Web Notes, that lets you write, doodle, take notes and highlighting directly on webpages.

We’ve got a good feeling about Windows 10 and will be reporting more on it as we go. This upgrade goes hand in hand with the new CEO at Microsoft, Satya Nadella—I don’t think it’s coincidence. He’s making big changes at Microsoft; some cool innovative things are happening and he’s putting Microsoft back on the map as a company that helps customers work and play better. Let’s keep our eyes on this.

We’d love to hear your thoughts.  Connect with us on social media using the icons below!

 

Are You Ready to Migrate Away from Windows Server 2003?

21 Apr 15
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Last fall we wrote a post about planning for Windows Server 2003 end of life.  In that post, we recommended migrating to new server hardware and upgrading to the current version of Windows Server which is Server 2012 R2.  Well, now just a few months remain until Windows Server 2003 reaches the end and we thought it was worth another mention.  As of July 14th, 2015, security updates will no longer be released, new applications and programs will no longer support the OS, and systems will fall out of compliance.

You may be asking…”What steps can I take to prepare?”  Well, you can start with these 3 actions:

Step 1: Make an Applications List

The first thing you’ll want to do is assess the installed applications. For instance, do you have programs that currently run on a 32-bit Windows Server 2003 installation? Some of those programs may have issues when moving to a 64-bit environment such as Server 2012.  Identify items that will be affected and document them. Now is the time to think about updating legacy applications and solutions.  It may also be useful to create a list of users for each application.  Finding applications that no longer have active users potentially simplifies the migration plan.

Some applications such as an exchange server may be easily moved to a cloud solution such as Office 365.

Step 2: Determine Risks

Many things can go wrong during a server migration.  Consider the costs if a critical system would become unavailable.  During this phase of planning, get to know your backups and determine what could go wrong.  You don’t want to find out that one key application no longer works post-migration and have no backup in place.

Step 3: Make a Rollback Plan

As its name implies, a rollback plan lets you roll back or revert any changes you made so everything goes back to the original state—before you made any changes. It is important to have a rollback plan just in case something does go wrong. If downtime during the migration becomes unacceptably long, you should have a plan to revert back to Server 2003 and get everything back to normal.

An execution plan is the final step in the process and you need a strong team of IT professionals by your side to make sure your plan is solid.   Techno Advantage stands ready to guide you through the whole migration process from purchasing the equipment to implementation.  Don’t wait!  If you haven’t started thinking about this…you need a plan.

Read more about Windows Server 2003 End of Life on our blog.  CLICK HERE

The New Look of Techno Advantage

24 Mar 15
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Have you heard the saying “If you’re not growing, you’re dying.”? Well, we’re growing and we want to share the latest news with you in today’s post.

Like many businesses, our previous website was little more than an outdated placeholder on the World Wide Web.  It wasn’t “working” for us at all.  We knew that the Techno Advantage website needed a makeover if we we’re going to keep pace with our competitors, be found online and continue to provide excellent service to our existing clients.  An informative, optimized and mobile responsive website was a critical next step. This winter, we located a talented design partner and began the planning process.

Since spring has officially arrived in Indianawe’re very excited to announce that the Techno Advantage website has a fresh new look. Everything from the navigation and images to the behind the scenes SEO infrastructure has been updated and improved.  What is SEO you ask….great question, follow this link to read the Wikipedia definition.  One of the main goals of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is to improve your ranking, which was one of the driving factors behind our website remodel. We wanted to ensure that those businesses that need us could find us.  Consider this…there are, on average, ten positions on a typical search results page. The pages that fill those positions are ordered by rank. The higher your page is on the search results page, the better your click-through rate and ability to attract searchers.  Results in positions 1, 2, and 3 receive much more traffic than results down the page, and considerably more than results on deeper pages.

On the new Techno Advantage site, you’ll find well organized and helpful content, as well as blog posts right at your fingertips on a variety of topics, such as: data backup and disaster recovery, cloud computing, VoIP phone systems, and all things Microsoft.  Our blog has a new name – we’re calling it the Techno Forecast.  Get it…?  Lightning bolt logo, weather, technology…forecast.  Genius right?

We hope that you enjoy the new features of the website and promise to continue to provide useful information to help you stay on top of your technology.  You can expect to see new blogs from Techno Advantage twice per month on a variety of IT related topics.

Be sure to friend, follow, circle and link up with Techno Advantage on your favorite social media platforms!

Accomplish More On Your Mobile Device

01 Dec 14
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Microsoft announced today that they have acquired Acompli, an email app available on iOS and Android. Acompli is designed to help you work faster and smarter with emails and calendars on your mobile device. The service works with a variety of messaging services including Microsoft Exchange, Office 365, Google and Yahoo. Unlike most systems that split email and calendar management into separate apps Accompli allows for both in a single app, all with keeping your most important email at the top.

Without an Outlook app available for iOS, this would seem to help close a gap in Microsoft’s mobile offerings.

“This acquisition is part of our company-wide effort to help people accomplish more with their mobile devices.” Rajesh Jha, Microsoft’s Corporate Vice President, said in a blog post.

This is not a new direction for Microsoft. Earlier this year the company released mobile versions of their office suite for iOS and Android. They quickly rose to the top of the app charts.

With email being so central to most people’s work lives, having a single, simple location to handle all of the various inboxes most users have, similarly to the role of Outlook on the PC, would make life easier for many.

Techno Advantage wants to help make your life easier by being your trusted IT consultant.  We are a Microsoft Certified Partner and can help you explore all the options available to you and your business.  Contact us today!

New Video Portal – Office 365

19 Nov 14
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It’s no secret that we are huge fans of Office 365 here at Techno Advantage, so when we heard this “breaking news” from Microsoft, we had to share it right away.

Yesterday, Microsoft announced new tools for using SharePoint.  They are calling these tools NextGen Portals.

The first NextGen Portal being released is Office 365 Video. The premise is that this new tool will provide users with a simple and elegant interface that simplifies the sharing and discovering of videos. Office 365 Video will be powered by Azure Media Services, the same service used during the Olympics (6,000 plus hours of video in 18 days).  The roll-out will begin with first release customers after which Microsoft expects to be fully deployed worldwide by early 2015.

For more information on this new tool please follow the link below.

http://blogs.office.com/2014/11/18/introducing-office-365-video/

Techno Advantage can help you understand all the wonderful tools that Office 365 has to offer.  Contact us now!