fbpx

What is a BYOD Policy?

In the new normal, switching between working in the office and remotely from home is common. This makes it important for businesses to make the transition between working from home and the office a seamless experience.

As such, it’s crucial to devise a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy that allows you to do that safely. By implementing a solution that ensures privacy, security, and regulatory compliance, your organisation is well-placed to reap the benefits of BYOD while mitigating risk.

What is BYOD?

A BYOD policy allows employees to bring their own personal devices to work. This approach enables staff to access enterprise infrastructure with sensitive company or client information on their own devices to complete their work from home or at the office.

This approach eliminates the frustration one might have trying to juggle multiple devices (including one issued by the company) to work on a project. In this scenario, the most pressing concern is the level of security deployed on personal devices. Most often, they fall short when compared to enterprise-issued desktops, laptops, and mobile devices.

However, with a BYOD policy and robust business IT support, employers can maintain privacy and compliance while making it easier for their staff to work in multiple settings.

What Are the Advantages of Adopting a BYOD Policy?

Boost productivity: In a highly digitised world, employees (especially millennials) prefer to work at any time from anywhere. Most often, they’ll have their own devices and not company-issued hardware. This approach helps boost morale and, in turn, productivity.

Builds loyalty: Having the convenience of working from just about anywhere helps build loyalty. Happy staff will think twice before jumping ship because of the additional benefits provided by your business.

Lower costs: When your employees are working on their own computers (that they have paid for), you don’t have to absorb the overheads that go with company-issued machines. As people like to work with the latest technologies, you can bet that your employees will use the latest applications without expecting you to pay for them.

What Are the Disadvantages of Adopting a BYOD Policy?

Higher security risk: When staff are allowed to use their own devices, your risk exposure grows exponentially. While individuals are keen to have the latest apps and hardware, they’re not as diligent when it comes to security protocols.

Employee separation: If an employee leaves the company suddenly, you won’t be able to retrieve all the company and client information stored on their device. This could leave your organisation vulnerable to a data breach or (even) sabotage.

Misplaced devices: People lose things. It’s a fact of life, and it happens to the best of us. But a lost or stolen device with access to your infrastructure can have far-reaching consequences. This makes strong passwords, multi-factor authentication, and more critical to BYOD policies.

Unsecured Wi-Fi: The Wi-Fi networks at homes or at coffee shops aren’t as secure as enterprise networks. As a result, hackers can easily breach enterprise infrastructure through a compromised public network.

So, how do you reap the benefits of BYOD while mitigating risk? The best approach here is to engage a managed services provider who can provide adequate security and reliable IT support.

How Can a Managed Services Provider Help?

An established managed IT services provider can help implement a BYOD policy but securely through virtualization. In this scenario, regardless of the device your staff use, they will only access your network through virtualized desktops.

This approach helps organisations leverage more control over their data and software used on the network. By insisting on connecting through a Virtual Private Network (VPN), you can mitigate the risk of working on a compromised Wi-Fi network.

By moving your IT environment up to the cloud, your managed services provider is better placed from an administrative perspective to manage your BYOD environment. It’s better than trying to partition individual devices to support user privacy and security.

By enabling secure client access to the cloud, issues with hardware glitches and more are resolved quickly through IT support services. Furthermore, your business IT support partner will implement all the patches and updates as they are released to keep your enterprise environment secure.

If you’re looking to implement a BYOD policy, we can help. Schedule a commitment-free consultation with one of our in-house experts.


What Is Multi-Factor Authentication and Why Is It Important?

Everyone is a live target in the current threat landscape, and data breaches make the headlines almost daily. Whether it’s a company or an individual, the risk is higher than ever before. For example, hackers now have access to approximately 15 billion stolen login credentials sourced from over 100,000 data breaches.

That’s just about everyone on the planet!

In this scenario, if one of your accounts was compromised, the potential for an attacker to exploit it is high. If it’s your email account, they might send emails to your contacts, attempt to gain access to enterprise infrastructure or share dodgy phishing links (that compromise their accounts).

Suppose you reused your username or password on another platform. Now that is also vulnerable to a cyberattack. It could potentially lead to identity theft, fraud, and other nightmare situations.

For companies, the fallout from a security incident can be significant. So, never reuse your login credentials and use multi-factor authentication (MFA) wherever possible.

What Is Multi-Factor Authentication?

MFA is an additional security layer that demands users to present two pieces of credential evidence when logging into an account. These credentials take the form of a second password, an SMS with a PIN, or a code from an app like Google Authenticator.

Why Is Multi-Factor Authentication Important?

Whether it’s your bank, email, mobile app, or even your social media account, adding an additional layer of security makes it difficult for threat actors to steal your sensitive data or impersonate you. For example, if you use your phone for MFA, criminals must steal both your password and your phone to log in.

MFA also remembers your device and uses it as another form of authentication. It’s excellent because threat actors continue to use multi-pronged attacks, and you can never have too much security. This activity is often further supported by geological and behavioural analytics.

MFA Secures Cloud and Enterprise Infrastructure

As remote working quickly becomes the norm, enterprises must enforce MFA to ensure data privacy and security. If the company doesn’t, its cloud and related infrastructure are vulnerable to a credential stuffing attack.

MFA Helps Negate a Data Breach

MFA is a critical step that businesses can take to avoid a potential data breach. According to Microsoft, using a second factor for authentication can block as much as 99.9% of attacks.

MFA Helps Companies Avoid Regulatory Fines

If you’re collecting and storing sensitive customer (or patient) data, your business will likely suffer significantly more in the event of a security incident. For example, you’ll potentially face regulatory fines, lawsuits, and damage to brand value.

MFA Protects Users from Social Engineering Attacks

Social engineering attacks like phishing attacks attempt to fool the user into giving up their passwords and personally identifiable information. However, with MFA, these types of attacks are rendered useless because the MFA code that’s generated each time will be different.

However, no security protocol is infallible, and MFA alone won’t be enough to protect your organisation. Instead, it should be used in concert with other security technologies and strategies to enhance your security posture.

As such, you should use MFA whenever possible, even if it doesn’t concern sensitive data. Businesses with an online customer-facing website benefit from adding MFA to help protect their infrastructure and (of course) their customers. It also goes a long way in ensuring that your customers feel secure.

To learn more about how you can protect your business from cyberattacks, schedule a commitment-free consultation with one of our in-house security experts.


Top 5 Things You Need in Email Security

For most companies, email is still the leading communication channel. While communication tools like Slack and VoIP solutions have made an impact on modern business, email still plays a vital role in enterprise communications.

According to cybersecurity firm Fortinet, online scams increased by more than 400% during the pandemic. Google also blocked more than 18 million malware and phishing emails about COVID-19 every day in March 2020.

This makes it vital to take steps to ensure email security. After all, business email accounts are prime targets for threat actors. Whether it’s social engineering attacks or ransomware attacks, email is often the chosen mode of exploitation.

So how do you prevent malicious actors from breach your enterprise email system?

In this blog post, we’ll explore the top 5 things you need in email security.

1. Leverage Encryption Technologies

Encryption is like an insurance policy. Even if you don’t prevent a data breach, the data stolen by hackers is rendered meaningless with the right decryption keys.

As corporate email often includes highly sensitive information, email encryption is key to keeping all communication confidential. Email encryption also ensures that your communications aren’t altered during transit.

Google’s Gmail and Microsoft Exchange have TLS encryption. However, this isn’t enough to secure your communications. To better secure your emails, use tools like CTemplar, which is open-source and leverages both OpenPGP and TLS to protect emails in transit and at rest.

Such tools also protect users from JS injections used to deliver malicious codes. It’ll also help your company become more resistant to Man-in-the-Middle attacks.

Managed services providers often have a number of encryption solutions for you to choose from. So, make sure to discuss this with your managed services provider before committing.

2. Enforce Password Security

While it isn’t always the best, passwords remain your primary line of defence against unauthorised access. However, passwords are only as good as you make them.

By enforcing an enterprise password policy, you can ensure that employees follow best practices and create strong passwords. This approach ensures that staff don’t inadvertently create unnecessary vulnerabilities in the network that lead to major security incidents.

However, don’t stop there. Add another layer of security in the form of multifactor authentication (MFA).

3. Implement MFA

Having a strong password helps, but it’s not enough. To take email security to the next level, ensure that all employees use MFA. In this scenario, MFA adds another layer between your enterprise data and cybercriminals.

Whenever you have deployed MFA in your email systems, users must verify their password with another piece of information like a code from Google Authenticator.

This code or PIN is sent to another connected device like a smartphone. As a result, this makes it nearly impossible for hackers to breach the email system without having the device in their possession.

4. Integrate Robust Antivirus, Anti-Ransomware, and Anti-Phishing Solutions

Even though antivirus software might seem old school and obsolete, it’s still a good idea to install it on your corporate computers. Security software like these scans all emails before a single bit of data is downloaded.

You should also install a robust anti-phishing solution to complement your antivirus and anti-ransomware software. Whenever in doubt, it’s best to discuss your email security options with your managed services provider.

5. Create a Security Culture within the Organisation

Regardless of all the security tools deployed in your enterprise infrastructure, humans remain the weakest link. The best way to mitigate risk is to train your staff regularly. When you do this frequently, staff are alert to potential threats.

Email security training must cover topics like:

  • Always using strong passwords
  • Avoiding public WIFI
  • Not opening suspicious attachments
  • Not sharing personal details and passwords (even with colleagues)
  • Not using business emails for private communications
  • Social engineering (including phishing attacks)
  • Using MFA

At AU.IT, we’re highly experienced in ensuring email security. To learn more, reach out to one of our in-house security experts.


Basic Authentication Considerations for Office 365

If you’re using Office 365, you would already know about the benefits like Workplace Analytics that come with the package. You should also be aware of Microsoft’s intention to end Basic Authentication support for five Exchange Online protocols this year. The primary objective is to address security concerns effectively—for example, issues like password spray attacks.

As such, Microsoft already blocked the following protocols last October:

  • ActiveSync
  • EWS
  • IMAP
  • POP
  • Remote PowerShell.

So, if you haven’t already, you should immediately shift your Microsoft 365 protocols to “modern authentication.” This approach ensures that you enable the Active Directory Authentication Library (ADAL)-based login for your Office 365 client (including apps and support features).

While the tech giant was set to disable more Basic Authentication protocols in April, there has been a considerable change of plans due to the long-reaching effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

While the goal to disable Basic Authentication in Exchange Online is still (very much) on, the date for a complete shutdown has been postponed (indefinitely). The good news is that this gives us more time to prepare and get tenants ready for the inevitable.

What Should Enterprises Using Office 365 Do to Get Ready?

If you engaged in this activity last year, you would already know that blocking legacy protocols isn’t straightforward. However, you have to do it as the consequences can potentially lead to a disastrous security event.

Microsoft 365 users must be aware that there are several unnecessary legacy protocols that remain switched on in their tenant. However, if you activated security defaults, then these will be blocked in newly created tenants. By blocking these unused protocols (and preventing any potential misuse), you can better secure your enterprise infrastructure.

Each application or service that connects to Office 365 must authenticate itself. When basic authentication is disabled in the near future, all programs that leverage legacy application protocols to connect to Exchange Online will stop working.

To avoid disruption, data loss and ensure business continuity, you have to take some action!

If you’re using Outlook 2010 (or an older version), your email clients won’t be able to connect to Office 365 once basic authentication is disabled. Those using Outlook 2011 for Mac should be aware that it won’t support Modern Authentication.

Companies still using Outlook 2013 have to make some changes to the registry to enable OAuth 2.0 and keep using it. As Remote PowerShell is on its way out, make sure to switch to the modern Exchange Online PowerShell V2 module.

If some tenants have already been qualified for disabling Basic Authentication, IT departments will have to get to work updating or upgrading the software on multiple workstations. In other words, IT administrators across Australia must (if they haven’t already) start preparing for what will eventually come.

As Outlook relies on Exchange Web Services (EWS) to run its core features, tenants still using Basic Authentication must enable modern authentication before it’s disabled.

Basic Authentication vs. Modern Authentication

While this forced switch might feel overwhelming or just plain frustrating, you have to remember that it’s for your own good.  ADAL-based modern authentication and OAuth 2.0 are far more secure than Basic Authentication protocols.

Why?

Basic Authentication demands that each app or software pass your credentials such as your login and password with each and every request. Whenever this is the case, the program stores your user credentials within its settings. This increases your exposure to risk as threat actors can potentially exploit this vulnerability and gain access to your IT infrastructure.

This legacy approach also fails to support grading or scoping permissions. This means that any app connecting to Microsoft 365 using Basic Authentication protocols can access all user data. In the current threat landscape, it’s best to only enable access to data and application resources needed to work seamlessly and not one bit more.

Once you make the switch to modern authentication protocols, you’ll add another layer of security. This approach will go a long way to support your established security and privacy policies.

To learn more, go to Microsoft’s blog HERE or contact IT support.


Top 5 Reasons to Use Managed Services in 2021

When it comes to managed services, the primary benefit is significant cost savings. For example, it helps small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) digitally transform their operation and reduce their overall technology investment.

That’s why the global managed services market is forecasted to be worth USD 417.1 billion by 2024. As such, you can expect managed IT services providers to help even the playing field by enabling access to top tech talent and the latest cutting-edge technologies.

In this scenario, this translates into robust IT support and a competitive advantage. But what are the other benefits to using managed IT services?

Here are the top 5 reasons to use managed services in 2021.

1. Boost Productivity

Managed IT and support services help SMBs increase productivity and improve the way they do business. With robust business IT support, enterprises minimise downtime and ensure seamless collaboration, communication, and more in a secure environment.

As managed IT support handles all potential malfunctions and helpdesk services, in-house IT staff can focus more on their core responsibilities. This approach also has the potential to improve your bottom line.

2. Security for Remote Workers

In the “new normal,” most companies still have a significant number of employees working remotely. This transition will continue due to benefits like flexibility and more.

However, cybersecurity remains a significant concern for both enterprises and remote employees. With managed support services, businesses can rest assured that their cloud infrastructure is adequately protected in the current threat landscape.

Managed network support also helps identify and rectify potential vulnerabilities and takes away the responsibility of patching and keeping your software and security up to date.

3. Maintain Compliance

Beyond cybersecurity, managed IT services help ensure compliance. For example, if you’re operating a medical clinic, managed services will secure sensitive patient data and implement strategies that ensure regulatory compliance.

When your patients or customers see that you take security seriously, it’ll also help build brand value and loyalty.

4. Supports Small Business Goals

SMBs have limited resources. So, it doesn’t make much sense to spend considerable time and resources making decisions on complex IT systems.

After all, spending time researching and understanding new technologies takes your focus away from your business goals. With managed IT support, you can focus on scaling your business and achieving your objectives and leave the IT part to your support services provider.

5. Predictable Monthly Costs

When you partner with a managed support services provider, your business pays the same amount every month, regardless of how much support you received over a four-week period. This approach helps you budget and plan exactly how much you’ll spend each month.

Managed IT services are highly adaptable. So, you can scale your business up or down based on your present needs. This approach helps negate any potential unnecessary expenses.

As your business grows, the support structure around will grow with it. This could be especially critical for business just starting out.

Regardless of whether it’s a small or large business, managed IT services positively impact both daily productivity and your bottom line. All the dollars saved by leveraging managed business IT support can also be reinvested back into your business.

With a low initial investment, predictable monthly technology expenses, and access to expert support services, your company is well-placed to compete in a crowded marketplace. The best part is that you don’t have to spend a significant amount of time and resources setting up and maintaining enterprise infrastructure.

At AU.IT, we have significant experience digitally transforming businesses. If you’re ready to take your company to the next level, reach out to one of our in-house experts


5 Compelling Reasons to Outsource IT Support

There’s no doubt that the world has changed. In a post-pandemic world, businesses are required to be more flexible and resilient than ever before. One way to achieve this is to partner with an established managed services provider who offers reliable IT support.

However, this doesn’t mean that you have to get rid of your in-house IT department. Instead, you can augment your IT team with external IT support. This approach ensures that your in-house tech teams focus on more important tasks while your business IT support partner handles the rest.

What are the benefits of outsourcing helpdesk services? Here are the top 5 benefits of outsourcing business IT support.

1. Reduce IT Costs

The primary benefit of outsourcing any business process is the opportunity to cut costs. It’s the same when it comes to outsourcing support services. When you partner with a managed IT services provider, you don’t have to blow your budget to building and maintaining your IT infrastructure.

Top tech talent is in high demand. With outsourcing, you also get access to the best minds in the business without the overheads, recruitment costs, employee benefits, and high wages that come with in-house hires.

Over time, you can reinvest these saving back into the business. You also have the option of exploring new opportunities or scale your current operation.

2. Increased Productivity

Enhanced productivity is an indirect benefit of outsourcing business IT support that doesn’t get much attention. Before managed services, small and medium-sized enterprises didn’t have the resources to access value-added services on their own.

Today, small businesses can get the latest cutting-edge technology and additional services to boost the company’s overall productivity cost-effectively. For example, enterprises were able to ensure business continuity with significant productivity during the pandemic because of the option of remote working (made possible by cloud computing).

When your staff are not engaging in mundane tasks like updating and patching your desktops and laptops, they can focus on your core business.

3. Improved Security

Cybersecurity is now a business priority. If you can’t properly secure your enterprise infrastructure, you’re probably not going to be around for long. However, this isn’t always easy without the necessary resources and domain expertise.

IT support services help businesses improve their security posture with the latest technologies and best practices. Furthermore, in the event of a cyberattack, your IT outsourcing partner can also ensure business continuity through their backup and retention protocols and disaster recovery planning.

This approach also helps mitigate risk as your managed IT services provider will update and patch your software as its released.

4. Improved Agility

We learned from the pandemic that businesses that are most agile survive. Companies today have to be able to adapt quickly and respond to market changes and global events. The key here is to ensure that your operations never come to a standstill.

Through periods of uncertainty and economic recession, your managed services provider can help you ensure business continuity cost-effectively. It’s also the best way for struggling businesses to get back on their feet.

5. IT Support On-Demand

While in-house IT teams only work business hours, your support services partner is available around the clock. This means that employees logging in from home at odd hours or over the weekend can count on reliable network support and helpdesk services whenever it’s needed.

It’s vital because an emergency can occur at any moment, not just during business hours. Your ability to respond immediately will be key to minimising potential downtime.

At AU.IT, our customers benefit from local Australian IT support. You can count on our technical expertise, reliability, and familiar accents at any time, day or night.

To learn more, schedule a commitment-free consultation with one of hour in-house experts.


Why Businesses Hire Managed Services Providers

Small and medium-sized business (SMB) owners know that technology is at the heart of many business processes. Suppose there is a minor problem with the hardware, software, or internal databases. In that case, there’s always the potential for significant downtime (which costs a lot of money in lost opportunities and more).

While some companies can afford to hire and accommodate their own IT support staff in-house, this can quickly get expensive in a highly competitive labour market. In this scenario, SMBs are often better served to adopt IT managed services.

Another reason why organisations choose business IT support is to efficiently and securely manage remote working. It’s also the best way to free up your staff and focus on what’s important—your business goals.

Managed IT services is a comprehensive approach to outsource the daily management of enterprise technology needs. They can either augment your in-house IT team or even become your IT department, depending on your resources and specific business objectives.

What Are Managed IT Services?

Managed services or managed support services are like an in-house IT department. They perform tasks like hardware and software installation, helpdesk services, systems administration, network support, and troubleshooting technical issues.

For SMBs, these tasks are often performed by the owner or employees juggling multiple roles. With business IT support, they will not only take over this process (that often feels overwhelming) but also offer so much more.

Immediate Access to Expert Support

If you have been calling your colleague several times a day to resolve a technical issue and they still haven’t shown up, it’s time to get some professional support. Managed business IT support includes helpdesk services. This means that you can get expert help, and it’s just an email or call away.

As they work remotely, they are also accessible from anywhere at any time of the day. This translates into (24/7) round-the-clock management and IT support.

Access to Cutting-Edge Technology and Robust Infrastructure

Most managed services providers have strong relationships with software and hardware vendors. As a customer, you’ll benefit from significant discounts and access to the latest technologies for an affordable monthly fee.

Building and maintaining enterprise infrastructure also demands a significant investment of resources. However, by sharing this responsibility with an IT support provider, you can offload some of the expenses and all of the responsibility.

This approach also helps SMBs become more agile and diversified. Whenever businesses can adapt quickly to a rapidly changing environment, they are also better placed to innovate and improve their bottom line.

Managed IT services also include automatic updates and upgrades. So, you don’t have to worry about security as your managed services partner will deploy patches as they are released.

Disaster and Recovery

If you’re hosting IT infrastructure on-premise, a backup retention and disaster recovery plan are critical to ensure business continuity. For example, a server failure can quickly bring all operations to a standstill. There’s also the risk of losing all enterprise data if the right processes aren’t in place before the incident.

However, if you’re working with a managed services provider, it’s all in their hands. They will use the latest backup retention and recovery tools, ensure minimal to zero downtime, and secure your data. This approach helps ensure business value and build customer loyalty.

Other benefits of partnering with a managed IT support services provider include:

  • Lower costs, higher reliability
  • Real-time monitoring
  • Simplification of complex IT processes

Are managed services suitable for your business? Reach out for a commitment-free consultation.


How to Boost Productivity with Office 365 Workplace Analytics

Do you wish your staff could get more done during the working day? Do you wish they spent more time on meaningful tasks than simple admin work?

If you answered “yes” to any of the questions above, you’re not alone. In fact, it’s precisely the reason why Microsoft came out with Office 365 Workplace Analytics.

It makes perfect sense as much of the work we do today is completed by leveraging Microsoft Office software. For example, whether it’s a presentation, email, or generating reports, it’s all done with Microsoft 365.  

With all these different functions and features connected together on the same platform, the stage is set to engage in seamless workplace analytics. We can now work more efficiently based on available insights, cost-effectively.

What is Workplace Analytics?

Workplace analytics collects and analyses data from everyday work in an enterprise environment. It looks at collaboration patterns, workforce effectiveness, employee engagement, and overall productivity.

This means that whenever staff answers emails, schedule meetings, use any Microsoft software, the data is collected, analysed, and shared with relevant managers to get an idea about how the team performed.

Workplace data is collected through Microsoft Graph and is generalised and not attributed to any specific employee. The company even blocked usernames from being collected to ensure staff privacy. After all, the primary focus here is the team’s overall performance and engagement.

The Office 365 Workplace Analytics overview dashboard provides the following information:

  • External Collaboration delivers insights into how employees connect with third-party organisations.
  • Internal Networks to see how people within the company connect with each other.
  • Management and Coaching to analyse one-on-one meetings between employees and their managers.
  • Meetings Overview to see how much time staff spent in meetings.
  • Teams Collaboration to ascertain how managers and staff communicate with their colleagues.
  • Week in the Life for an overall view of the entire organization and how everyone spends their time collaborating on projects.

By establishing data collection standards, managers can reassure staff that the data is truly anonymous and won’t impact their individual annual performance reviews.

Office 365 Workplace Analytics helps fill the gaps by providing managers insights into their team’s productivity. This means that it creates an opportunity to discuss how to do things differently and do things better.

It also brings company policies into focus, creating opportunities to make real changes that positively impact corporate culture.

How Does It Boost Efficiency and Overall Productivity?

Looking at the dashboard’s insights, managers can formulate productivity strategies while monitoring meeting fatigue. For example, you can take steps to find balance whenever there are too many scheduled meetings.

Managers also focus on staff engagement, find out what time of day they’re most productive, and make sure no meetings happen simultaneously. Workplace Analytics also provides opportunities to redistribute workloads. For example, if one department carries a larger share of the workload, managers can redistribute tasks and even things out.

Is Workplace Analytics Suitable for Small and Medium-Sized Businesses?

The analysis of workplace performance levels is nothing new. Large corporations have been doing it for years. Microsoft Workplace Analytics just evened the playing field and made this robust technology accessible to just about everyone.

Anyone who wants to use the data generated by users to improve overall productivity levels can use this software. This approach has the potential to boost revenue streams and, of course, your bottom line. As Microsoft goes the extra mile to secure data and ensure security in the cloud, you also maintain compliance without much effort.

If you want to find out if Workplace Analytics or any other Office 365 tool is right for you, give us a call, and we’ll explore the possibilities together.


How Do Managed Services Accelerate Digital Transformation?

Over the last few years, enterprises across industries started digitally transforming their businesses to leverage automation, boost productivity, enhance efficiencies, and optimise processes.

However, with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, companies also had to digitally transform their infrastructure to enable remote working, seamless collaboration, and business continuity.

This is expected to continue in 2021 and beyond. According to IDC, digital transformation spending will grow to over 55% of total ICT investments this year (up from 45% in 2020).

However, not all IT teams have the bandwidth to support such initiatives. They are already overwhelmed with day-to-day tasks and don’t have time to take on sizeable company-wide transformation projects.

As it no longer makes sense to rely solely on in-house IT teams, many businesses are now turning to the cloud and managed services to accelerate their digital transformation initiatives.

What’s Managed IT Services?

When companies sign up for managed services, they outsource their daily IT management responsibilities to a managed IT services provider. This approach helps accelerate digital transformation initiatives, improve operations, and fast-track your technology investment return.

The business IT support categories are made of groups of service elements designed to help organisations achieve their present and long-term goals. It’s a robust strategy to access automation, maintenance support, optimisation of critical services, and more.

When organisations partner with an established managed IT services provider, they unburden in-house IT teams and enable access to cutting-edge technologies. When your IT team is free to focus on more meaningful work, they’ll be up for the challenge of digitally transforming internal processes to gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace.

What Are the Key Challenges?

While deploying new technologies presents exciting opportunities for enterprises, it also introduces some challenges. For example, it might take a bit of time to standardise all systems and computer models across departments. Furthermore, mobile devices connected to the cloud also introduce a level of complexity.

For many organisations, these challenges lead to significant expenses:

  • Cost of hiring and training qualified professionals
  • Purchasing and integrating infrastructure to support new technologies
  • Real-time monitoring and security

The good news is that an established managed services provider can also help you overcome these challenges cost-effectively. They’ll ensure that all your systems are patched and up to date and engage in real-time monitoring, manage cloud deployments, enable close collaboration, and more.

A business IT support services provider will also offer network support, Office 365 migration, systems administration, helpdesk services, disaster and recovery, IT asset management, IT project management, and IT support.

One of the key benefits here is that the ongoing tech talent shortage in Australia won’t impact your organisation. Your managed services provider will enable immediate access to the best minds in the country, so you won’t have to deal with hiring and retaining top tech talent (or the overhead expenses that follow new hires).

When companies are digitally transformed and adequately supported, they can invest in innovation. They can hire more qualified professionals in other areas and scale without resource-related bottlenecks.

Are you looking for a managed IT services provider to accelerate your digital transformation initiatives? We can help, schedule a commitment-free consultation now.


Transition to Outsourcing Business IT Support and Management

Technology is quickly and continuously evolving, transforming how companies operate. Keeping pace is critical to maintaining a competitive advantage, but not all enterprises, including small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), can afford it. That’s where Business IT support comes in.

By working closely with an established managed services provider, enterprises of all sizes can quickly adapt and compete in a rapidly changing technological landscape. This approach also frees up staff to concentrate on core business outcomes.

In this post, we’ll dive into what outsourcing IT support really is and how to figure out if you need it.

What Is IT Support?

Outsourcing business IT support describes the process of hiring a third-party provider to manage your technology infrastructure, devices, users, and services, including systems administration, network support, and helpdesk services.

A professional managed IT services provider will handle all the IT protocols integral to enterprise operations and ensure seamless processes across departments and hierarchies (with little to no downtime).

While every managed support services provider offers different services, most provide the following:

  • Authentication
  • Data centre, storehouse, and warehouse management
  • Data backup and retention
  • General management and support services
  • IT security
  • Helpdesk services
  • Network management, monitoring, and security
  • Process execution and enforcement
  • Systems administration

The primary advantages of outsourcing your IT support function are immediate access to cutting-edge technology and top tech talent access. Companies also access significant cost savings, mitigate risk, and ensure uninterrupted uptime by outsourcing their IT operations.

Do you need to outsource your business IT support function? The answer to this question depends on the following:

You Need Access to the Latest Technologies

If you need access to the latest technologies but can’t afford the capital expenses that go with it, managed services enable access to cutting-edge technology cost-effectively. What’s more, you won’t have to bother with the setup, deployment, management, or maintenance (as it’ll all be outsourced).

Your support services provider will also ensure that you have the latest hardware and software. They will also help you manage the hardware end of life scenarios safely and resourcefully.

You Need Access to Top Tech Talent

If you can’t afford to compete in a highly competitive labour market, again, an IT support services provider can help fill the skills gap. This approach can help augment or extend in-house teams, or you can outsource all your IT support requirements.

This approach helps businesses plan, strategize, and scale their operations efficiently. Outsourcing models have historically helped businesses tackle existing labour constraints cost-effectively. Going forward, expect this process to become critical in a highly digitised world.

You Need Enhanced IT Security

Maintaining security and compliance is a monumental task that demands specialised skills and automation. In the current threat landscape, bad actors are relentlessly attacking enterprise systems. To stay a step ahead of threat actors, you have to identify and rectify potential vulnerabilities in real-time (with 24/7 monitoring, blocking, patching, updates, and more).

As everyone is now a live target, SMBs and corporations alike can access expert cybersecurity services through managed IT services. This approach ensures peace of mind as your outsourcing partner will work to keep your brand out of the headlines.

You Need to Increase Efficiency

Let’s face it. We can’t do it all by ourselves without the necessary resources. If you do, you’ll end up losing time, money, and (in a worst-case scenario) a data breach. Every company has heaps of stuff going on at any given moment, so managed IT services providers make it all manageable and help boost operational efficiency.

Even better, your managed services partner will accelerate the research, development, and implementation to make the transition to outsourcing business IT support painless.

To find out if your business can benefit from outsourcing IT support, schedule a commitment-free consultation.

META: Outsourcing business IT support helps Australian businesses ensure efficiency and business continuity. But do you need to make the transition? Learn more.


Can Managed Services Reduce Total IT Cost?

Enterprises of all sizes have to contend with capital and cyclical expenses. These expenses relate to accounting, business processes, business IT support, development, helpdesk services, and much more. In this scenario, managed services providers help fill the skills gaps, enhance efficiencies, and reduce costs.

What started in the manufacturing sector has grown exponentially across the technology vertical. Today, companies can take advantage of asset and resource allocation management, IT support, and even software as a service (SaaS) models specifically designed to minimise capital expenditure.

Cutting IT costs through managed services depends on the organisation and business model. Sometimes companies are equipped to handle IT operations internally, efficiently, and cost-effectively. But most often, small and medium-sized businesses find that they can’t keep up with the rapid evolution of technology.

Whenever this is the case, enterprises benefit from outsourcing some or all IT operations to a managed IT services provider.

Let’s take a quick look at how managed services help reduce total IT costs:

1. Reduce IT infrastructure Costs

Setting up your own enterprise IT infrastructure demands massive investment in both hardware and software (and let’s not forget personnel). For example, when businesses leverage managed IT services and move to the cloud, they immediately access substantial savings.

They don’t have to invest in an in-house data centre, and they don’t have to pay for prohibitive expenses like power, cooling, software, storage, security, and more. What’s more, the cloud services provider will provide network support, systems administration and will keep track of hardware and software updates.

The best part of managed infrastructure services is the fact that you’ll never have to worry about updating your hardware and software ever again. Your business IT support services provider will ensure that you’re always working with the latest technologies. Sometimes they will also offer software like Office 365 at a discounted rate.

2. Reduce Operational Costs

Deploying IT infrastructure is one thing. Maintaining it is another. The maintenance of robust enterprise infrastructure requires a dedicated team of experts to oversee it daily. Maintenance costs are also unpredictable. You never know how much time and money it’s going to cost to resolve a problem.

Managed IT services help eliminate surprises down the road and provide maintenance and security services at a fixed cost (monthly or yearly). With the help of cutting-edge tools and experienced professionals, your outsourcing partner will monitor the infrastructure 24/7, engage in regular backup and retention, and minimise the risk of downtime by resolving potential problems in real-time (saving you thousands of dollars).

3. Reduce Human Resources Costs

Software engineers and technology professionals are in high demand and don’t come cheap. This makes hiring and retaining a full-scale IT support team will be expensive.

The ongoing tech talent shortage in Australia also makes attracting IT professionals much more challenging. If you manage to hire some engineers, you also have to consider training costs, benefits, and overhead expenses (to keep them on-premises).

Often, IT departments are overwhelmed with mundane and manual work like maintenance or fixing minor issues. When managed IT support services take on this responsibility, your staff is free to focus on what’s important, your business, and your customers.

This approach goes a long way to streamline processes, improve operational efficiency, and boost productivity. Happy employees are also easier to retain in a highly competitive labour market.

When companies are supported effectively by business IT support services, they can invest more in core business teams. This means that you’ll be able to add more qualified personnel, allowing you to scale without resource-related bottlenecks.

Managed services help reduce total IT costs. It’s just like renting or leasing an office space for a few years rather than buying the whole building. You also don’t have to deal with expenses related to infrastructure depreciation, hiring costs, or worry about creating additional space for new employees.

Are you looking for a managed IT services provider to enhance operational efficiencies, improve productivity, and cut total IT costs? We can help, schedule a commitment-free consultation now.


What Is the Real Value of IT Managed Services?

In an age where data is just as good as gold, robust IT support is critical to enhance operational efficiencies and avert potential data breaches and disruptions. But in a highly competitive marketplace, enterprises find it both difficult and costly to manage on their own, so it makes sense that many turn to managed IT services.

Today, IT managed services are at the heart of digitally transformed businesses. When companies partner with an established managed IT services provider, they get immediate access to cutting-edge technology and professional expertise (that’s often out of reach), cost-effectively.

What Is IT Managed Services?

IT managed services describes the practice of outsourcing secondary IT functions and processes to a third-party provider. This approach helps organisations concentrate on their primary tasks while drastically improving efficiencies and cutting costs.

For example, a Systems Administrator in Canberra commands an average salary of $85,000 per year (not including the costs of benefits like healthcare, paid time off, and more). But with IT managed services, companies can refocus their capital and other resources and concentrate on their core businesses.

Based on service level agreements, companies can focus on their customers without worrying about systems administration, helpdesk services, maintenance, network support, updates, upgrades, and security.

What Are the Key Benefits of Managed Support Services?

There are several direct, and indirect benefits to signing up with a managed IT services provider. In this post, we’ll explore the top four advantages of partnering with a managed IT services provider:

1. Access to Cutting-Edge Technology

When you sign up for business IT support, you avoid expenses related to hardware and software upgrades. With enterprise infrastructure deployed in a state-of-the-art data centre, you can rest assured that your data is safe, secure, and always available.

You won’t have to hire a team to assemble technology products, pay for training, and so on.  A managed support services provider will be equipped with the right infrastructure to start the project immediately.

It’s the most effortless and cost-effective approach to staying up to date with the latest technology. IT support services also ensure that small and medium-sized businesses compete on par with corporate giants.

2. Enhanced Efficiency and Improved Proficiency

When your staff is free to focus on core business tasks, there’s an opportunity to boost productivity with lower downtimes and reduced lead times. Employees are also better placed to identify new opportunities and create new revenue streams.

With highly experienced IT professionals just a click or call away, you’ll avoid significant disruptions and ensure compliance and business continuity.

3. Lower Risks and Robust Security

Ensuring regulatory compliance, privacy, and IT security is getting more complicated by the second. In the current threat landscape, expertise and experience mean everything.

For example, your support services provider will boast significant knowledge and expertise to deploy robust security protocols and secure your infrastructure in real-time. You’ll also benefit from their wealth of experience securing similar enterprise IT infrastructure.

Your business IT support services provider will also secure your business with the latest security tools. For example, if you have a payment gateway operating on your system, they will help ensure compliance with Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI/DSS). They can also help with training exercises to mitigate the risk of human error.

4. Save Time and Money

When you partner with an established IT support services provider, you’ll have a clear idea about your IT spend (whether it’s on a monthly or yearly basis). This amount will be significantly lower than hiring an in-house support team, which comes with additional overheads like benefits, office space, training, and more.

With managed support services, you decide your contract terms and pay for only what you need. Furthermore, you avoid situations like the sudden need for capital expenditure to update and upgrade your technology infrastructure.

Your business IT support services partner will breakdown these expenses into fixed, manageable monthly, quarterly, or yearly payments and ensure seamless upgrades with little to no downtime.

As you’re always getting immediate access to the brightest minds in the business, you’ll also save time (with fewer breakdowns and troubleshooting exercises).

There are plenty more advantages to outsourcing your enterprise IT function. To learn more about IT managed services, schedule commitment-free consultation.


What Are Managed Services in the IT Industry?

Managed Services Providers (MSPs) offer a wide range of technology services following a subscription model. This approach eliminates initial capital expenses and ensures immediate access to cutting-edge technology, cost-effectively.

Originally designed to help corporations outsource some of their operations to boost efficiency and cut costs, managed services are now accessible to small and medium-sized businesses.

But before we go any further, let’s first define it.

What are Managed Services?

Managed services describe the process of outsourcing certain functions (like back-office processes) to enable efficiency and optimise costs. As it gets harder for small businesses to access the expertise they need, things like managed helpdesk services and support services are quickly becoming the norm.

Whenever enterprises adopt this approach, they get an external dedicated team of experts assigned to handle specific tasks and a team leader who is accountable for the services rendered.

When you partner with an MSP, you essentially free up your staff and resources to focus on your primary operations and what’s really important–your business.

As this industry vertical evolves, Managed IT services have grown to offer services like cloud hosting, real-time monitoring, maintenance, and more. This approach helps organisations fill the skills and technology gaps while ensuring business continuity and regulatory compliance.

In this scenario, managed services don’t just help enhance operational efficiency through technology adoption but also control expenditure and mitigate risk.

What Kind of Services Does an MSP Provide?

MSPs today offer a wide array of services. However, it’s important to note that all service providers won’t provide the same kinds of services. Some might provide all the services listed below, while others might just offer a handful of services. Some might only offer business IT support.

Managed Data Analytics

Data is the underlying force that drives digitally transformed companies forward. Managed data analytics services help companies access business intelligence technologies, data management and analytics tools, and real-time monitoring services.

Managed Cloud Infrastructure

Cloud infrastructure management is widespread, especially in a post-pandemic world. Managed cloud infrastructure services providers help manage cloud computing protocols, operating systems, data storage, software, and more. Some even provide virtualisation services for apps.

Managed Communication Services

Managed communication services or managed unified communication services provide extensive communication capabilities for a monthly (or annual) fee. For example, a managed communication services provider may deploy communications infrastructure to enable instant messaging, VoIP (voice over internet protocol), and video. Some MSPs also provide third-party call centre services.

Managed Network Support

MSPs that provide managed network support usually manage the entire enterprise network. In this scenario, they’ll handle your LAN, WAPS (and other connections) and manage backup and storage options.

Managed Print Services

Managed print services blend both business and managed IT services. For example, the MSP will provide the technology, remotely assist with data and file infrastructure, and (sometimes) connect to external printing services. This type of service is suitable for companies with highly complex file management and printing needs.

Managed Cybersecurity

As data breaches become the norm, it’s now critical for companies to fortify their infrastructure. But not many boast the necessary resources and personnel to achieve it. Managed cybersecurity services help even the playing field by deploying robust security technologies that are supported by real-time monitoring, 

Managed Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)

While you can directly access SaaS options from a company, for example, Office 365 from Microsoft, it’s often cheaper to subscribe to through an MSP. This is because managed IT services providers often have special agreements with tech giants that enable cost savings (that trickle down to the customer).

Managed Support Services

As alluded to above, the most common service offered by MSPs is IT support services, which usually takes the form of helpdesk services. This approach provides businesses with real-time IT support without any of the HR or overhead expenses.

If your company has been digitally transformed, you’ll benefit from support services. It can also have a positive impact on your bottom line by boosting productivity and keeping costs down.

To learn more about managed services and how it can help your business, schedule a commitment-free consultation.


Microsoft 365 vs. Perpetual Licensing: What’s the Best Option for Your Business?

Last year, Microsoft announced that it would no longer sell perpetual licenses for their products like Office Home and Business 2019 and Office Professional Plus 2019. This deeply discounted option to use Office 365 on PCs and Macs seemed destined for a subscription-only licensing model.

However, a year later, the tech giant quietly announced that they would release a new perpetual licensing version of Microsoft Office during the second half of 2021.

The company also announced they would release new versions of Exchange Server, Project Server, SharePoint Server, and Skype for Business Server (although these will follow a subscription model).

So what’s the best approach for your business? Let’s take a look.

Microsoft 365

Microsoft 365, formally known as Office 365, is the only option for anyone who needs unlimited access to a wide range of Office 365 apps. Furthermore, it’s the best option if you need to use it across multiple devices.

At its most basic, a single subscription can be shared by up to six people who access the account simultaneously, or you can pay $9 per month for a single user. Finally, this subscription-based solution offers an endless stream of upgrades and updates with a low cost of ownership for apps like Access, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint, Publisher, and Word.

Microsoft 365 also comes with artificial intelligence and cloud features that enable real-time collaboration and automation. This approach helps staff maintain productivity across devices.

The Microsoft bundle also offers one terabyte (TB) of OneDrive storage (which can be expanded for a small monthly fee), Skype minutes, and real-time customer support.

While perpetual licensing comes with a one-time fee and limited options, Microsoft 365 allows access to all its applications for a monthly or yearly subscription. However, you might also end up paying for functions and features you’ll never use during your day to day operations.

Pros and Cons of Microsoft 365

ProsCons
Unlimited access to all office appsLimited functionality and potential service issues
$9 a month per userOngoing monthly or yearly payments
Free real-time upgradesPaying for features, you don’t use
Windows 10 and macOS supportSome changing can be overwhelming
24/7 customer support 

Perpetual Licensing

Perpetual licensing is ideal for home-based users. In this scenario, you can obtain immediate access to popular software like Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint, and Word with necessary functionalities for a one-time fee.

If you don’t need access to extensive features and you’re happy to use it on a single device, then the perpetual licensing model makes the most sense. You make a one-time payment (that’s on the higher end of the spectrum), and you never have to pay again.

This software pricing model doesn’t provide regular upgrades or updates. But you’ll get all the necessary security updates.

One of the drawbacks here is that you risk using an obsolete version of the software in a year or two. However, the software usually has a life-cycle of five years, so you can still get a lot out of it.

Pros and Cons of Perpetual Licensing

ProsCons
Access to core appsLimited features
One time feeOne PC per license
Traditional computing experienceNo customer support
Regular security updatesNo upgrades
Windows 10 and macOS supportOnly provides support for Windows 10 and macOS
 No 1 TB OneDrive storage or Skype minutes

So what’s the best option for your business?

The answer to the question depends on your specific needs. If you’re working in teams and plan to use office apps for an extended period of time, Microsoft 365 makes perfect sense. This approach ensures seamless access to their entire catalogue at a low cost of ownership.

To learn more about Microsoft 365, schedule a commitment-free consultation.


Office 365

Office 365 for Email – Migrations and Downtime

Office 365 for email – Migrations and Downtime.

Some of the questions we get asked all the time when switching clients to Office 365 for email is: ‘How long does it take?’ or ‘Will there be any downtime?’

I thought I would write a post about these two questions specifically, in the hope that it can at least put you the reader at ease when deciding if Office 365 for email is for your business.

‘How long does it take?’

This is not a simple question, but has a simple answer – it depends. The time it takes to perform an Office 365 mail migration depends on a number of factors, factors you should consider when planning to move your mail services.

How many mail boxes? Obviously if you have 5 mailboxes, it will take less time than if you have 50 mailboxes, and 50 mailboxes will take less time than 500 mailboxes and so on and so forth. The more users the more support and admin will be required for the transition.

What type of migration? There are 3 types of standard migrations that can be performed to migrate email to Office 365 email, Cutover Migration, Staged Migration and Hybrid Migration. This is of course assuming you are coming from some type of Exchange based solution whether it is On Premise or Hosted. We also perform what we like to refer to as a custom migration, which is where we might move you from POP, IMAP email from a different source like Gmail or Mac Mail Server etc etc. The type of migration required will affect the required time to perform the migration.

How much data? The amount of data to import into Office 365 email is generally the biggest factor in determining the amount of time required to perform a migration. If there are 10 mailboxes with 2Gb of email, this will be 20Gb of data that has to be uploaded to the Office 365 servers. Now I am not sure if you have ever tried to upload 20Gb of data on a poor ADSL2+ connection but it’s not great fun. Now imagine if you have 100 users with 10+Gb mail boxes.

Internet Speed? If you are importing your existing email into Office 365, and why wouldn’t you. The data has to be uploaded to the Office 365 servers, and depending on the migration type re-downloaded to sync your new mailbox. For example, if you are moving to Office 365 from a hosted IMAP solution like Gmail, then the email generally will be uploaded from those servers which you would assume would have a decent internet connection, but then you have to have Outlook connect to the Office 365 Exchange Servers and download all of your email, calendars and contacts, which depending on your Internet connection speed will vary.

Aftercare support? So you have migrated all of the data, users are connecting with Outlook and everything is going well. Until your phone starts ringing and a user no longer has their email address autocomplete from before the migration, or they are missing Calendar items or maybe they can’t connect their iPhone to Office 365 for email. Allow time to provide support for these types of requests. There will always be things that can get missed, the most common ones are Scan to Email for on premise scanners, signatures, and email address auto complete.

The time it takes is generally not an issue as generally there is no interruption to services while the migration is being performed – if planned correctly. We recently performed a staged migration of a Hosted Exchange 2010 server with over 1000 mailboxes and 3TB of mailbox store, this migration took weeks of planning and preparation and was seamless to the end users with very little impact to the hundreds of tenants hosted in that environment.

‘Will there be any downtime?’

If everything has been done correctly, there will be very little interruption to business email services. The majority of the work is done during the planning, preparation and migration phases, again, if planned and prepared correctly. At most the interruption should be while a mail client is re-configured to connect to Office 365 and the mailbox is synced, during this time if there are any urgent emails that are waiting to be sent or received, keep in mind the user can always use Outlook Web Access or the webmail client.

So if you are thinking of migrating to Office 365 for email, which is an awesome tool for any business ensure you plan thoroughly, stay informed and communicate with your users, this will ensure a smooth migration and everyone will be happy, and of course if you need help or would like someone to do the migration for you get in touch with us here at AUIT and we will certainly be able to help.