Surface 3 – Carry with You on Premise or Anywhere with Freedom

It’s remarkable to see how technology devices are changing and improving for the better, whether for business or private use, it gives us more flexibility in our daily activities and at the same time it enables us to conveniently, remotely work anywhere and stay productive.

When you travel, it is troublesome to carry bulky or multiple devices (i.e. tablet, laptop).  If you’re allowed to use your own computing device for work and private it makes your life easier. Business and pleasure can be combined, if permitted. With the Surface 3’s integration with other Smart devices, Programs and Apps are excellent added features to be utilized.

Surface 3 is a light-weight and captivating device to carry with you everywhere. You may multitask with your Surface 3 and it can serve many purposes without distressing about the deadlines while being productive with less complexity.

Stay connected with your co-workers, friends and family thru emails, Instant Messaging, Video Conferencing, work and share your files while traveling with the Surface 3. Roaming around the globe while trying to stay in touch with friends and family while working to meet the deadlines can be a little infuriating…… why not give yourself the flexibility and freedom.

Having instant access to your documents and engaging with your co-workers and not missing appointments is vital.  All it takes is a connection to the internet where you can explore, be productive and meet your deadlines.

Whether you are working in the office or having a lunch/coffee break with a co-worker, bring your Surface 3 with you and use it for a presentation or video conferencing and collaborate with your Team. You may also plug in a USB device in the Surface 3 particularly a hard drive to store more files to watch your favorite movie or video and listen to music while traveling and staying in your destination.

The Surface 3 is affordable, bundled with a year of Office 365 Personal and has all the great features and Apps that are pre-installed. This device is a lot more reasonable than a typical laptop if budget is an issue with you or your employer.

To summarize and as previously stated, whether you are on premise, traveling for work, having a lunch break with a client or sitting in your home’s back yard – Surface 3 is the all-in-one device if you need to multi-task, work on the files securely in the cloud and also meet the deadlines.

Share and Collaborate with Your Team Using Office 365

If you are Small or Medium size businesses and have busy field employees that travel and will need a secured access to their files and at the same time collaborate with his Team, here’s a good read for you. I have been given an opportunity to publish this Article in the http://blogs.msdn.com site.

http://blogs.msdn.com/b/mvpawardprogram/archive/2014/12/22/share-and-collaborate-with-office-365-and-your-team.aspx

 

Why Upgrade to the Latest Technology

Convincing the financial decision makers (i.e. Owners, CFO, etc.) for either Small or Medium Businesses from your organization to invest on upgrading your outdated network infrastructure into a cutting-edge technology can be challenging. If your company is running a few outdated hardware and software, it is time to make a decision to improve and secure your current network setup. The beginning of the entire process can be costly, frustrating and wearing but it will all play well at the end with a favorable outcome. Planning a strategic and operational concept will be a good start. Reviewing your current IT approach, and recommending new technology opportunities are also important. Educating employees on the latest technology is significant for businesses for its success.

Why upgrade

  • Modern equipment and latest software

Try not to wait too long on the upgrades, you will be missing out on a lot of hardware and software upgrades, some get decommissioned and replaced with better features so that you can get the most of it. It can be a financially burden for your company but less nuisance at the end of each day.

  • Dependability

Obsolete products may cut off technical support, updates and features; therefore outdated hardware and software that will require support will be in jeopardy and there might be a possible downtime in case of a hardware or software issue/failure which will cost some loss for your business. It is important that your computers are running 24/7 with a limited downtime.

  • Modern network infrastructure

Review your current network infrastructure if it has assurance to protect critical information and systems. Learn about best practices for eliminating application downtime and data loss with the newer technology applied in your organization. Outdated hardware will slow-down your work, modern technology will give more stability.

  • Time-sensitive projects

Converting old file format (using a 3rd party utility converter) to a new file format can be time-consuming. If a project is time-sensitive, every single minute counts and that your work will be done on time.

  • Smarter Users/Employees

Moving from an older to newer technology will be difficult to a few employees that are not technically savvy as they’ll have a hard time adapting to the new change. Make them aware that lack of modern technology knowledge is not a good representation for the company that they work for. I have personally dealt with these type of Users and guiding them to understand/learn about the new technology was very difficult for me. I’ve given them plenty of time to learn and at the same time a lot of patience involved while educating them on the current technology.

  • Secured network

If you have outdated software and hardware that provides security protection, your network can be vulnerable to unauthorized activities that can access your network. Security Vendors (Hardware and Software) can cut-off support on outdated technology as well as updates and patches. There might be a significant potential for compromising corporate data and loss may occur. This can be prevented by implementing the highest encryption which the newer technology has and it’s worth every penny that will protect your investments. Cleaning out infected computers may take hours or days and may results to downtime.

  • Enhanced backup system

Worry about your backup system? If you have an old backup system, consider replacing or upgrading this as well. There are a lot of reasonable cloud solutions or hardware devices that are available nowadays in case of any hardware failure caused by any disasters.

A few concerns and suggestions that I have compiled and might be worrisome to some businesses, as I have dealt with different IT projects for Small and Medium Businesses on upgrading the company’s technology devices/hardware and software.

  • Do you have an IT budget?

IT budget is one of the primary concerns for businesses as to why they have to keep on delaying upgrading to the modern technology. The technology implementor will have to come up with a great sales pitch to convince the financial decision maker on a possible technology upgrade. Start off with compiling statistics of the number of employees that are in urgent needs for the upgrades. Find out how many employees that are not the priority for now, this will help your company set aside a fair amount of IT budget. Present a simple IT Proposal to the Owners/Management and make it precise. Inform them that there are a variety of financing options available from different Vendors on new software, hardware and affordable payments – just what you need.

  • Would you need a complete upgrade – hardware/software?

Try not to wait too long on the upgrades, you will be missing out on a lot of hardware and software upgrades, some get decommissioned and replaced with better features so that you can get the most of it. It can be financially burden for your company but it will save a lot of headaches at the end of each day.

  • Worry about the incompatibility issues?

Gathering the data on obsolete products – i.e. hardware and software can be time-consuming. Plan ahead the preparations that will include training and setting up your test lab if needed. If you run into any software compatibility issues, give yourself plenty of time to come up with a resolution.

  • How to deal with non-tech savvy Users?

Make the transition easier for the conservative Users. It will be hard for them to adapt to the new changes. Show them how the new technology will benefit them and the business – from a very time-consuming to a user-friendly day-to-day work routine.

My final thoughts

Consider at least every three years to make the most out of your money spent on technology upgrades. Within three years there will be substantial improvements and you’ll have plenty of time to set up new goals, IT budgets and that Users will be ready for something new to learn and be knowledgeable with the modern technology. As time flies, the benefits of the upgrade will be worthwhile, this will reduce the complexity and simplify your business operations. Modernized technology will make your business successful.

 

Why Consider Microsoft Office 365 for Business Use

Office 365 logo

Whether you are a small or medium business, complex environment or perhaps requires project management and looking for a solution that’s not complicated to use in a daily basis and needs integration with multi-device, multi-platform and companion apps, Microsoft Office 365 will be best suited. This is the same Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Access and Publisher) as if it was installed in your computer but has more useful programs, apps and features – i.e. online conferencing, public website, cloud storage and you can access Office 365 from any devices (PC, Laptop, Mac and Smart) virtually as long as you have internet connection.

Microsoft Office 365 is a cloud solution and comes together with powerful capabilities all in a single package. The best part, you don’t have to worry about updating the software; you’ll get the Office 365 automatic updates, maintenance and 24/7 technical support as long as you keep your subscription from Microsoft up-to-date.

Productivity – You can get a lot more done and able to access your work files virtually anywhere and whatever device you are using. You may use Office 365 to share and edit files at the same time with anyone in your office or team so that everybody can be productive.

Collaboration – Is Teamwork vital in your business environment? Are you a traveler or a remote employee that requires retrieving your work files in real-time and doing collaboration with your co-workers? The All-in-One package has everything you’ll need – email, files sharing, calendars sharing, IM and web conferencing for you and your team.

Compatibility – You don’t have to worry on what devices or Operating Systems you’ll have to use or implement in a near future, it will run in all Windows Operating Systems-Clients (except XP and older versions) and Servers (except 2003 and older versions) . Mac Users will also benefit from Office 365 as there are Apps available.

Integration – Office 365 integrates well with a variety of devices by simply installing the Apps for Mac, Windows and other Smart Devices with full access to your corporate files.

Convenient – Install the Office 365 Apps and carry the device in your pocket or purse whether it’s a smart phone or a Tablet. Dealing with daily work tasks and conveniently accessible for an employee is vital for business.

Security – If you are concerned about privacy and security, Office 365 is highly encrypted and rest assured that your email and documents will be virtually protected.

Cloud Storage – Afraid to lose your files? It’s safe to store confidential files using cloud storage and not to worry that next day or anytime that your computer would crash. If in the event that this happened, since your files are stored in the cloud, simply use another computer, log on to your business profile and continue to work on your files stress-free.

Easy Migration and Implementation – Office 365 can be effectively implemented without complications. Easy transition from a traditional Microsoft Office to the modern and sophisticated Microsoft Office with limited downtime.

Cost Effective – There’s no need to hire an IT person to manage the File Servers and purchasing costly hardware File Servers, it’s all taken care of in a single administration, cost-effective and will give you a Return on Investment (ROI).

Other great features – Having your own mail server can be daunting and expensive, Office 365 comes with Exchange Online and SharePoint Online if you’ll need collaboration with your team.

I use Office 365 and I really like the integration with all my devices – Windows 8 desktop, Windows 8.1 laptop, Windows 8 Phone and Surface 2 and also with other Microsoft Products that I’m currently using as I can manage all my work files anytime and virtually anywhere across the globe and you can’t go wrong with that. Although we host our Exchange Server, there’s no interruption neither any conflicts running Office 365 from my own experience. Find out if Office 365 is the right solution for your business, see the different options here.

Unprotected Mobile Devices and Mobile Theft Epidemic

It is astonishing to know how many people do not password-protect their mobile devices for both business and personal use. There are more than 40% of mobile device users that are not using any passwords or security applications. If your mobile device is lost or stolen and it’s not password protected, your accounts and personal information is 100% accessible.  I wonder if users realize how vulnerable they are if their mobile devices  (Smart Phones or Tablets) are stolen or misplaced.  Cyber criminals are looking for weaknesses especially on Android platforms. My device is a Windows 8 business mobile phone pre-loaded with Microsoft Office, Banking, Public and Work Email Accounts, Cloud Storage (SkyDrive), Banking, Credit Card and Payment Apps requiring a log on. The thought of this information getting into the wrong hands is bothersome and the impact would be devastating.

Mobile theft is a growing issue that also affects businesses and consumers equally. Cell-phone theft in major cities (i.e. San Francisco, New York) has become a national crime epidemic. It will only take a few minutes for someone to steal all sensitive data stored in your mobile device which will be unfortunate and upsetting. Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) or it is now referred to Bring Your Own Disaster or/and Bring Your Own Apps Smartphones and Tablets are growing, make sure that security protocols are enforced to protect corporate data on all devices. Please read my BYOD Article here for best practices.

 

To prevent potentially embarrassing information falling into the wrong hands, don’t keep private information stored directly on your personal or business phone but store private information, photos or documents remotely or via cloud. Sometimes, storing data via cloud is neither viable option but it is convenient to most of us. It is still a good practice to store files locally and have them on hand in the event you can’t connect to the cloud for any reasons. If that’s the case, the precautionary step you might want to consider is enabling a password lock. Every mobile OS has a password lock feature such as iOS, BlackBerry OS, Windows, Android platforms that will allow you to set a PIN password or a more complex alphanumeric pass-code for the lock screen.

Best Practices to Protect/Secure Your Mobile Devices and Control Theft Epidemic:

  • Password protect all your mobile devices and do not use easy to remember passwords.
  • Never use the “remember me” function on your apps or mobile web browser, and make sure to log out of your accounts.
  • Do not share your PIN/Passwords with anyone, even with a family or close friends.
  • Reading online resources to keep you educated on the latest techniques/means to protect your mobile device is vital.
  • Implement best practices to protect corporate networks and allow consumers to download music, store digital files, bank, shop, surf and search safely.

 

Securing Mobile Devices on Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)

With a myriad of mobile devices being used on a variety of new platforms (Android, Windows 8, iOS 6, etc.) – IT Professionals are beginning to raise concerns on how to manage and secure these devices. With more of the device processing occurring outside the company, these concerns are critical. What if an employee handed their company phone to another employee? In today’s environment, this second employee could take advantage of the situation and use the phone for non-approved activities. This could create significant employment issues for the first employee. On another level, there’s the potential threat from mobile malware that’s becoming more prevalent.

owndevice

Some businesses are seeing Employees bringing their own Droids, iPhones, iPads, and other Tablets to work and using them for personal and business purposes. While this may generate the perception that it’s e great for productivity, the invasion of personal smartphones and tablets in the workplace can cause a significant risk to your organization’s security. Without having a proper strategy you could be at risk.

When employees are given carte blanche on the corporate network with their mobile devices (installing Apps and use of Cloud storage), there is a significant potential for corporate data loss. Any time a phone is lost, stolen, or even simply sold or exchanged, the potential for compromising of data may occur. This can be prevented by implementing encryption, password restriction, and remote wipe and lock thru a Mail Server.

byod1

It’s vital for IT Professional to secure access to corporate data. Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) or personal and corporate use can be managed by using third-party software (listed below) to secure data in your wireless phone and company. Investing in a Mobile Device Management (MDM) solution that controls which devices can access specific applications on your network is a smart decision. By taking precautionary steps, files are secured with the highest encryption for file sharing.

On July 10, 2013, I was given an opportunity to attend an IT Security Seminar and have met some of these top MDM Vendors.

AirWatch
BoxTone
Eset Mobile Security
Exitor
FancyFon
McAfee Enterprise Mobility Management
Mobile Active Defense
Symantec Mobile Management
Trend Micro Mobile Security

Why secure BYOD’s? It’s not the devices that are causing lots of the problems. The challenge is employees wanting to use their own device for both personal and professional business. This creates a host of security issues, as mentioned earlier, and the reason to implement controls and security measures.

Which Is The Right Virtualization Solution For You – VMware or Hyper-V

You have a new project – to update a couple of outdated Servers. These servers are running Windows Server 2003 and they have database server role configured on each one and the company budget is very limited.   Why not consider Virtualization for your new project? Compressing the most value and reducing the costs of software, hardware and applications is a great idea.

What is Virtualization? Virtualization is a matter of consolidating workloads on one physical server. You can safely run several Operating Systems (Servers and Clients) and applications at the same time in a single computer with each having access to the resources when needed.  Start eliminating old servers and run multiple virtual machines on each physical machine. The main purpose of virtualization is to provide solution to organizations to improve the server utilization and reduce costs by using one computer.

Two of the most popular virtualization technologies in the market are VMware and Hyper-V, they are both Hypervisor based virtualization that allows and is capable of running multiple Operating Systems which are also known as guests, and they run synchronously in a host computer.  Hyper-V is one of the Server Roles of Microsoft Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2012, whereas VMware can be installed in a bare metal hardware as long as it meets all hardware specifications.  With the release of Microsoft Hyper-V 2012 which is a bare metal or dedicated stand-alone Hyper-V only version, is a cost effective virtualization solution and has improved scalability and performance.

vmware-vsphere4-LogoWhat is Hypervisor? A Hypervisor is commonly installed on a server hardware, with the functionality of running guest operating system.  There are 2 types of Hypervisors, Type 1 and Type2. Type 1 Hypervisor is considered a bare-metal hypervisor and runs directly on top of hardware. Type 2 Hypervisor operates as an application on top of an existing operating system. VMware vSphere or ESXi and Citrix XenServer are Type 1 Hypervisors. VirtualBox, VMware Workstation and Microsoft Virtual PC are all Type 2 hypervisors.  As for Hyper-V, it  is unclear where it is suited.

A question that you may askWhat if you are an administrator in a small business or medium size Local Area Network (LAN)?  Hyper-V is in-built and part of Server Roles of Windows 2008 and Windows 2012 Server, a simple configuration is all it takes, whereas VMware is not free and the licensing is pricey. If the IT budget is not an issue in your company you may choose and implement VMware. Do some research and evaluation on what type of Applications and Databases will you be running in your VMWare prior to implementation. Professional knowledge on setting up VMware is also needed, therefore proper training is necessary,  but it can be costly.

So, which is the right Virtualization solution for you – VMware or Hyper-V?

Here’s my suggestion and might be feasible for your project:
Buy two or three low end hardware servers with identical technical specifications and install Windows 2008 R2 Enterprise (to run multiple Operating Systems simultaneously) and configure them with Hyper-V or consider Hyper-V Server 2012. It is best to have at least RAID 5 configured for a database server role; even a good computer or self-built might work for a company with a low IT budget. In case one of the virtual machines fails, utilize the other server by moving the Virtual Hard Disc (VHD) this process will only takes a few minutes with a minimal down time. There’s no need for you to invest on expensive backup software. Also, get at least two or more Terabytes NAS’es or USB external hard drives to backup the VHDs. Well…that’s a heck of a lot of savings, don’t you think?

Note:  Before implementing virtualization in your network it is always a good practice to experiment and setup a lab. I have experimented Hyper-V Role from Windows Server 2008 Enterprise and Windows 2012 Server prior to implementation a couple of times and it works great for me. You will need to be aware of potential benefits and drawbacks of whether Hyper-V or VMware is suited in your project. There might be possible performance overhead, and management burdens for configuring and maintaining the host Operating System.

Helpful Virtualization resources:

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/gg610658.aspx

http://www.virtualizationadmin.com/articles-tutorials/microsoft-hyper-v-articles/installation-and-deployment/performing-bare-metal-installation-hyper-v-using-system-center-virtual-machine-manager-2012.html