Microsoft Teams: Optimize the Cloud User Experience

Microsoft Teams: Optimize the Cloud User Experience

The pandemic has forced all of us to manage a remote workforce, but many of these transitions were rushed and without a plan. Take time now to evaluate how you can optimize the cloud user experience – for everyone in your organization.

The good news – If your company uses Microsoft (and who doesn’t?) you already have so many tools within that suite that you don’t need to be spending additional funds and training time on external programs and apps. (Check out our recent article about how optimizing Microsoft lowers your total cost of ownership of IT.)

Plus, Microsoft Teams is the ultimate collaboration hub – bringing groups of people around ideas and projects, no matter where they’re located.

We’re seeing that many companies are using Teams, but not to its fullest potential. Your Microsoft Teams environment has a wealth of benefits…

…all included with your license:

  1. Virtually brings people around ideas. The ability to assemble the right people to brainstorm, plan, collaborate, and document, with no geographic constraints – this is optimizing the cloud user experience. Teams has built-in organic efficiencies so a project lead can assemble his/her private group where only these individuals have access to the work in progress.
  2. Video and audio conferencing and recording. There are other platforms providing these services, but wouldn’t you rather hold these meetings within your own secure environment? Using Teams, you can optimize the cloud user experience for everyone – record the meeting, download transcripts, easily review sections of the video, memorialize the session.
  3. Fully secured business platform with private hostingTeams is a secure, cloud-based infrastructure, fully HIPAA compliant for Healthcare companies. Your organization’s meetings and conversations are private – why have them anywhere else but within your secured environment?
  4. Memorialization of instant messages. Wonder what happens to those casual chats where ideas are hatched? Teams provides a chat channel within each specific team for those project-related spontaneous conversations. Nothing gets lost – chats, ideas, comments are all saved within the project.
  5. Shift of control – into the right hands. Before the cloud, data storage was in the hands of the IT department. Using Teams, the project leaders have control of all the proprietary information related to a specific project.
  6. Quarterly compliance documentation. Your projects need to follow compliance standards. With Teams, you easily store, submit, review critical reports, securely.

And many more benefits!

Say good-bye to the yellow folder

Let’s look at an example of Teams in action: Microsoft Teams Meeting

Your company has a new challenge that needs a solution, fast. Yet the challenge is complex and requires innovation. You select two of your most creative-minded individuals as project leads and ask each of them to come up with a solution.

They each create their Team, and give it a name. They invite individuals of their choice to be part of the team. They schedule meetings, open a chat conversation, start brainstorming. The team devises a strategy, their goals, their timeline, project specs, documents – all stored within their team. Totally private and secure. All the project work, memorialized, in one place. When it’s time to present their solution, they can invite others into their private environment, even if those individuals are external to the organization.

This is oversimplified, of course, for demonstration of optimizing the cloud user experience. As the business owner, you set the parameters for starting a team, such as “one member of the C-suite must be included in each team”. Ultimately, each user within a team shines – their collaboration efforts memorialized, with no lost documents, no forgotten casual chats.

As a Microsoft Partner, Prone 2 Dream’s goal is to help our clients fully optimize the tools they already have within their Office 365 suite. (You’re already paying for it – utilize it to lower your total cost of ownership!)

Start the new year off right by optimizing Microsoft Teams and create a better cloud experience for your organization. Contact us today for a complimentary assessment.

 

 

Cloud Compliance and Security   What’s the difference? (And why you need both)

Cloud Compliance and Security  What’s the difference? (And why you need both)

Cloud Compliance and Cloud Security – these are heavy, but important, topics when considering a transition. In this article, we aim to explain the difference and why you need to be covered in both areas. As a Microsoft Partner, Prone 2 Dream Technologies can assist in setting you up for success right from the start.

Big Benefit

 No matter what size your business is, from solopreneur to enterprise level, transitioning into the Microsoft cloud provides a wealth of benefits. When it comes to cloud compliance and security, there is no better ally than Microsoft. Their layers of protection, the tracking mechanisms, the investigative abilities, AND an assurance of risk mitigation in the event of data breach is a guarantee like no other.

If you are in Healthcare for instance, Microsoft will sign a BAA (Business Associate Agreement) with you. It is their brand promise of security infrastructure. It is their guarantee that should your company come under legal scrutiny, that they will produce the documentation and the forensic evidence to show how the breach happened, when and with whom. This legal guarantee is an insurance policy that saves organizations millions of dollars.

The Microsoft Compliance Manager   Fully HIPAA Compliant

Most businesses fall into some governmental regulatory area where they must comply with industry-specific federal laws. Healthcare must comply with HIPAA laws to protect patient data. PCI laws protect credit card data. FedRamp governs financial markets. And many more.

A cloud compliance management program needs to attest that you are compliant with applicable laws so you can gain the trust of your clients and industry colleagues. At any given time, your company must be able to download an audit or assessment that is documentation of your compliance, should any questions arise.

The Microsoft compliance manager is a very robust system. While it can look overwhelming at first, it is a user-friendly, collaborative effort. Microsoft asks for the needed input, essentially walking the user step by step through the set up. The system tells you your progress each step of the way. As the data is transferred into the cloud compliance manager, the responsibility is shifting to the shoulders of Microsoft. This is the trust center – your data under the layers of protection promised by Microsoft, to which you have access at your fingertips.

Microsoft also offers hybrid situations, as some migrations simply need to be stretched over time. For example, you may be running a client server software using Windows Operating Systems. The transition to the cloud would need to run simultaneously with the on-premise server. Using virtual machines (VMs), we can bring a client server dependent architecture into the cloud. Putting the client server on the VM frees it from the on-premise IT closet. This is a very seamless way to run client server software in the cloud, while reducing your total cost of ownership. You don’t need to purchase new hardware when it’s time for an update.

The Trend Toward BYOD – Doesn’t that increase risk?

BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) is a strategy being deployed more and more often as technology advances. This strategy, too, benefits your company by reducing the total cost of ownership – in this case the expense of desktop computers, laptops, and mobile devices. The old way – companies use their purchased devices until they finally die. Have you ever onboarded to a new company, only to be offered a 10-year-old laptop? Think about your brand – this is not the Day 1 “first impression” you want to make on a new hire!

Consider instead: The new hire is offered a cash bonus at signing, about half the cost of a new device, to be used to purchase the new device of their choosing. The employee pays the balance of the purchase and the ownership is theirs for the tenure of their employ and afterward. With Microsoft cloud technology, all company data on that device is being tagged and tracked. If any company data is downloaded off the device, your business will be alerted when that is happening. However, if you’re using an on-premise server, and your employees are using their personal devices for work, data leaks may be going on now with no audit trail.

If you are in the Microsoft cloud and the employee leaves the company, it is no problem at all. Microsoft simply wipes the company’s partition off the device (“Selective Wipe”) all of the company data is eliminated or rendered “unusable”. Not so simple if you’re using an on-premise server.

The Security Center (Admin Center)    protection from cyber attack

The cloud Security Center is completely different than the cloud compliance manager. This is the area that watches over threat management.

> Who’s attacking my company?

> What are they phishing?

> Who are they phishing?

> Where is this coming from?

> What do I need to do to keep from being attacked?

Your Microsoft Security Center is on high alert for this type of threat, fending it off, and tracking it for you to see at any time.

How Prone 2 Dream Technologies helps

As a Microsoft Partner, Prone 2 Dream is your bridge to Microsoft cloud compliance and security. Our role is to demonstrate that Microsoft is taking care of everything – securing your data and making it available only to your company constituents, as you direct. We want you and your team to feel the confidence and trust in Microsoft.

We can explain Microsoft’s complex infrastructure and how your company has its own private, yet powerful, space within. Contact us today for a complimentary assessment of your current system and how to transition smoothly to the cloud.

Cloud Technology – Who controls my data in the cloud?

Cloud Technology – Who controls my data in the cloud?

The short answer to that question is – YOU  

The real question may be “Do I have full control of my data with on-premise servers?”  

 

If you are still in the IT closet, managed by an expert IT team, trust me when I say that at every security patch, they are praying that on the restart, the system doesn’t fail. If it fails, your dependent client/server software stops cold, your intangible assets vaporize, and your handy disaster recovery plan kicks into high gear (where technology meets religion)Tick Tock….  

Cloud technology lays those risks to rest. In our last article, we talked about several benefits of transitioning your company to the cloud.   

Here’s a significant benefit to add to that list: Redundancy. 

What that means is that throughout multiple data centers, in different geospheres, Microsoft is hosting your company’s environment in a redundant architecture. This involves deploying multiple instances of a service on geographically and physically separate hardware.  The “Microsoft Cloud” delivers high availabilitywith built in resiliency and redundancy.  Their engineers start with the assumption that the underlying infrastructure will fail at some point. 

 

Built in resiliency and redundancy

 

Here’s an example: Microsoft is storing your digital assets (data) in a primary data center in California, and during a natural disaster such as a major wildfire, that data center burns down. As that center goes offline, the secondary center, perhaps in Utah, continues running. You, the client, have lost no communication or data at all. This switch is so seamless, you may not even realize that it happened. This is resiliency. Your subscription, along with thousands of others, pays for these expert teams to protect your data.  

Imagine the peace of mind of walking out of your office and knowing your intangible assets are safe and that all your work will continue on time tomorrow, even if your IT closet catches on fire. Not only for you, but for your thousands of employees.  

 

Coming out of the (IT) closet 

 

During the past few years, transitioning to the cloud has gained considerable momentum – more and more companies are realizing that the sheer size of their operation dictates the need for better control over their enterprise. With hundreds or thousands of employees logging in to do their work in today’s world, downtime is simply not an option.   

In the last article, we talked about how transitioning to the cloud lowers the total cost of ownership (TCO) of IT. The cyclical money pit: Keeping an onpremise server means capital allocations for required upgrades, new servers, faster switching…this investment runs in the  $10s of thousands per server.  Additionallyfirewalls, switches, routers, and other security appliances that manage your security face a similar 5yr life expectancy. So, what now? Youre 2.5yrs into the term on your latest upgrade….  

Time to consider the cloud approach – a monthly subscription, pay as you go. Start with a hybrid architecture and step out your adoption strategy with your team.  Allow Microsoft to bear the expense of all the hardware and extras. When you understand how the cloud works, it makes more sense to migrate than to hold onto your in-house IT closet. 

 

Safer than storing your data on-premise

 

Secure data means you control your own data  

 

What Microsoft has created throughout its complex cloud is a trust center. Layers of security, redundancy, synchronicity. They’re in the business of providing security assurances, so that you don’t have to worry about your data. It’s available to you on-demand, memorialized, catalogued, tracked. 

How does a “data leak” happen? The truth is – data leaks are primarily inside jobs”, where someone from inside your company decides to take proprietary intellectual property from your networkThis may happen whether or not you’re in the cloud. However, in the cloud, all that activity can be tracked. Yourcovered if risk incident occurs – background AI auditing is not only able to notify you of the incident, but also able to figure out what, how, when, and by whom. Risk mitigation is built-in to your cloud environment, and when properly setup, incident tracking is easy

 

Fully HIPAA Compliant  

 

Is the cloud HIPAA compliant?  

 

Microsoft is heavily invested in insuring trust for your regulatory complianceWhether it is HIPAAFedRAMP, PCI or other compliance standard, you can trust that Microsoft has assembled an expert team around the environment to ensure your data is protected on their side

Settings for your corporate policies for information governance, archive, and data retention are available in the compliance center – all these regulatory policies are detailed with implementation dates, test dates and notes. This is an important testament to your compliance incentives in the case of an audit. The compliance manager is interactive and user-friendly with targeted guidance while scoring your setup effectiveness, with resolution recommendations, assisting you with closing the compliance loop for your organization  Again, you have full control as you build your compliance on top of Microsoft’s impeccable compliance measures.  

 

Your Microsoft Partner 

 

Where does Prone 2 Dream Technologies fit in?  

 

As a Microsoft partner, we provide cloud migration services including compliance manager set up. Whether you are looking to move into the cloud for the first time or would like an assessment of your current tenant, we have the experience to guide your team. Contact us today for your complimentary consultation.  

 

Office 365 in the Cloud –  5 Reasons Your C-Suite will Love 

Office 365 in the Cloud –  5 Reasons Your C-Suite will Love 

It’s a common misconception that having your Office 365 in the cloud means your productivity tools can only be used online. This is a myth – you can still use MSOffice365 in the traditional, offline manner that you are accustomed to, and the benefits of moving to the cloud are mounting. 

Cloud communications became invaluable when the pandemic hit, reinforcing the prevailing notion that the cloud is a future aspiration—it’s an urgent mandate at the core of every business. 

 

5 Benefits of Office 365 in the Cloud 

 

Bring IT expense $$ Back to the Bottom Line 

 

#1 Lower the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) 

Without a doubt, the most significant benefit of moving MS Office 365 to the cloud is in reducing TCO. Not having to buysupport, upgrade, and replace hardware is a huge savings. The cloud “pay as you go” cuts capital expense cost for server replacement. 

And when taking this responsibility off the plate of your IT team, you’re giving those individuals the ability to focus on new innovations.  

Additionally, many companies have already made the leap to the Microsoft cloud, and become perplexed at the expense because they don’t understand their tenant licensing.  

Consider this scenario – one of our clients had made the move to the cloud. During our cost savings audit we noticed that all users were lumped into the same license, which is unnecessary. The C-Suite needed the downloadable productivity license, but many of the other constituents would be served very well with the online only license. This audit and later license change shifted $96,000 back to our client’s bottom line in the first year! 

 

Layers of Protection 

 

 #2 Security 

With Office 365 in the cloud, Active Directory credentials control access, and from the portal, users can access email, contacts, and calendars, and create and edit documents online—anytime and from anywhere, on any device.   

O365 has built-in, award-winning security, backed by Microsoft’s experts, and built with extra layers, such as data loss prevention, multi-factor authentication, advanced threat protection, Safe Links, and log-in auditing to name a fewSo, now imagine cutting all the security software you are running to keep your onpremise servers compliant.   

Installation is also extremely easy. To install Office 365 PC’s, the user simply logs into the Office.com portal, clicks “Install Office Apps,” and selects Office from the list. This supplies instant access to all the organization’s shared content and files. From the same portal and tab, the user can also send an installation link to phones and tablets as an email or text message. One click, and all Office applications download and allow access to all emails, shared content, and files from work. It’s that easy. 

 

Everything Under One Umbrella 

 

 #3 Improved Office Productivity and Collaboration   

Perhaps the most valuable benefit Office 365 in the cloud offers to everyone on your team is real time collaboration. Microsoft productivity applications make it easy to share documents internally and externally. Co-Collaboration ROCKS! Multiple users can work simultaneously on documents live while viewing their colleague’s edits – sharing comments, offering feedback, and having real time Q&A discussions.  

Colleagues can conduct productive meetings regardless of their locations – through MS Teams, a feature of the O365 suite. Teams holds a plethora of benefits for working in the cloud – video conferencing, project management, data storage, contained VOIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) phone system and more. Read more about Microsoft Teams here.  

OneDrive offers secure data storage of all your files in the cloud and you can keep the same organization system you used on your physical servers. Microsoft’s layers of security keep your files safe.  

SharePoint gives you the ability to host you own company intranet site. Companies find this feature invaluable to share resources amongst their divisions, while privatelsharing sensitive projects. SharePoint offers infinite possibilities for connecting groups within your organization. 

Microsoft Partner

Smart Seamless Updates 

 

#4 Automatic Updates 

With O365, pushing out software updates is a thing of the past. Updates no longer need to be installed in each machineAll Office 365 updates are automatically downloaded and installed, just like Windows updates. All applications stay current without intervention.  

 

An evaluation of your tenant environment will reveal any gaps 

 

#5 Microsoft Partner Assessment 

Contact Prone2Dream Technologies, a Microsoft Partner, for a complimentary audit of your systems. Whether you are looking to move into the cloud for the first time or would like an assessment of your tenant, we have the experience to guide your team to savings. O365 is an essential force in today’s world. Contact us today for your complimentary consultation. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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