Category: Tech Insight

04 Jul 2016

IT as a Services

IT as a service

The widespread adoption and rising internet speeds has allowed for a new way to purchase to go into widespread use, this is as a service, often abbreviated to aaS when the type of service which is being purchased has its initial put before it. There is an endless list of goods which can be purchased as a service for example: backup as a service (baas), software as a service (saas), platform as a service (paas), infrastructure as a service (iaas), disaster recovery as a service (drass), hardware as a service (has) and so on. The service provider hosts the equipment, software or whatever is being used themselves and lets their clients use it. In most cases services which are used are delivered over the internet. Even mobile phone contracts are a type of as a service, you pay a monthly bill which gives you x amount of minutes, texts and data for you to use however you want. The price you pay also includes technical support and a service guarantee which the service provided would have stated in their terms and conditions. All of the other as a service models in information technology work in much the same way as this.

There are some distinct advantages to using the as a service IT model which has led to it becoming so successful. The main one is that you do not have to spend a large sum of money to get the capabilities that you need, let us take infrastructure as a service for example, you may need to a few servers to put some applications on for a few months and then after that reduce the load on them which would reduce your need for the amount of processing power, RAM, storage space etc. if you were to physically purchase this equipment it would be expensive to begin with, you would need space to house it and you would be left with unused hardware and software at the end of it as your requirement goes away, with the as a service model you do not have this problem as the service provider owns it. Your business just pays to use it and you pay for the amount you require, as the need decreases or increases you can purchase a lower usage amount.

Ease of use is another major benefit as the service is provided by the service provider you often require less technical knowledge by using the as a service model as opposed to doing it in house. For example if a client is using our backup as a service package our management portal will alert us of the amount of data being backed up, if new storage space is needed it is automatically provisioned, you do not need to do anything as it is all managed by us and you have the tools to log into the management portal and see exactly how much data has been backed up, data growth etc.

Having access to more powerful computing systems is another big benefit which the as a service model lets you enjoy as it is a shared service your using  (the service provider owns the equipment and provides it as a services to other businesses), these services all have an on demand nature, you can use it when you need it and purchase an amount in line with your needs (it is based on usage). It is an inexpensive way to use high end technology. For example our Hosted Email package gives you a Microsoft Exchange mailbox which is always kept up to date, the mailbox is kept in a ISO certified UK based data center on high end email servers, they are then replicated to a secondary site for added resiliency and you also have a 125GB mailbox with antivirus and spam features. This service starts from just £5 per month and it is managed by us. These services can all be trailed for free.

Having access to a big knowledge base on tap is another key driver here, services such as technical support as a service lets your business have its own IT support department at a fraction of the cost of having internal IT support staff as it is a pay per user model. We spoke about the different aspects of technical support in a previous post. These services give flexibility which is at the core of all of services that we offer, it is completely based around your businesses requirements and lets you use IT as a business enabler.

Overall the as a service is growing day by day and has a lot of buzz around it as technology capabilities continue to increase. This gives small businesses access to higher level technologies which in turn increases their innovation and competitive levels enabling them to do more in a shorter amount of time for a lower overall cost. These services are designed to be easy to use with no technical knowledge required and will let you use technology in a more meaningful way in your business.

If you would like to receive more information about our as a service IT packages then feel free to email us or click here. Likewise if you enjoyed this post then make sure you comment down below and share it!

22 Jun 2016

The Benefits Of Outsourcing IT Support

                                                 IT outsourcing

IT brings your staff together as a team and enables them to work efficiently without boundaries, it connects you to your suppliers and to your customers and is the main engine in your business. You are the driver and you are in control but you must admit that IT has become the engine that almost all businesses are now running on.

IT systems the same as any other type of engine need support and maintenance, the type of support and response times depends on your business and the outcomes that you want to facilitate. Depending on your requirements and budget you could hire your own internal IT staff, do it yourself or outsource the IT support work to a IT support company.

If you have the requirements and the budget then hiring internal staff would be a good option, however do your requirements justify this? If you answered no then this post is for you. Often times the IT issues are palmed off onto one of the members of staff who has some IT knowledge, the problem with this is that that person has a day job too and sorting out other issues takes them away this. This person normally here’s questions like, my PC is slow, I can’t connect to the internet, my emails aren’t working and so on this person is often contacted to sort the problem. If this sounds like what you are doing at the moment would you send that member of your staff off to different IT courses to learn new skills and to get certified, would you supply the required tools for them to provide a high level of support to your staff? If you answered yes then well done, if you answered know then you see where this is going. It forces people to become specialists in too many areas and in the end something has got to give. Googling your problems doesn’t work either……..

Outsourcing is not only budget friendly it also gives you access to a bigger pool of resources, one that can support your business in it’s day to day activities.  Through automated tools and IT support desks your business can enjoy a full support system at a fraction of the cost of hiring internal staff and purchasing the tools to create a full IT support desk. By having this your IT systems can be managed proactively instead of in a break fix way that causes headaches and down time. Overall it’s your choice and your business but constant firefighting, or sorting problems only when they are stopping people from working (and even then only getting rid of it on the surface and not addressing the root cause) are problems that hold your business back and cost more money than the amount that it saves.

In a lot of cases fear of losing control is often the case for not outsourcing, if you find a service provider who can work in partnership with and can facilitate the outcomes that you with your business it becomes clear that this worry had been misplaced. We outsource all the time in our day to day lives: eating in restaurants, haircuts, coffee shops these all bring some benefits (at least it is better and easier than doing these things yourself). Outsourcing IT support can bring new business benefits as mentioned in this post that you would not of realised had you of been doing it yourself. Below are the benefits of outsoutcing IT Support listed as bullet points in no particular order:

  • Access to larger knowledge base
  • Access to better IT resources
  • Quicker problem resolution
  • Lower staffing costs
  • Low administration costs

If you are interested in learning more about the IT support services that we offer then feel free to get in contact with us by clicking here, and if you liked this post then make sure you share it and get in the comment box below.

16 Jun 2016

Data Is The New Oil

                                          oildrilling

IT continues to play a vital role in businesses today and it has become the backbone of businesses in the UK, and if IT is the backbone of businesses then data is the oil that they run on, thus making data the most important asset to businesses and making data the new oil as it is the fuel that businesses today are running on. Data also flows and grows and should be treated as something that does. Think of emails, you receive and send your inbox and sent box continue to grow (these are the oil reserves) the emails you send to people both inside and outside of your business are the streams of data (oil) flowing. This is the same for everything else that produces data were it all aggregates is the reserves and were it flows in and out are the streams which lead it to different places.

To avoid spoilage, leaks and theft this data must be kept secure, similar to oil large reserves of data are valuable and other people may attempt to steal it, it can leak and it can decay. All of these are issues which businesses should address. Think of it this way, if your business lost half of its customer purchase history data and was unable to receive it what impact would this have? Data is great, it is the most important asset a business has and it has allowed many organisations to do great things, but all of these great stories ignore data’s negative side and the real problems it has caused for businesses across the world. The victim of identity theft is just as trapped and unable to fly as the bird caught in the oil slick and for businesses data security issues can have a greenhouse effect i.e. hot glare comes in from public scrutiny, bad press etc. very easily but does not go away as easily and as quickly as it came in.

As the data sets get bigger so too do the threats the data becomes similar to an oil tanker navigating through cyber criminals and human error.

How to proceed? Keep your data protected whilst it is onsite and have a secure backup solution in place, we talked about cloud backups and it benefits in a previous post (for more information on that click here). Data can be recovered, if you have taken regular backups this can be done with minimum disruption to the business, how long it takes depends on the quality of the backups, the size of the backups and your internet speed (internet speed is normally the main determining factor). This is fine but we see it all too often that many businesses do not backup their data (some estimates put this number at nearly 36%), or it is backed up in such a way that restoring lost data in a time friendly manner is near impossible.

Our hosted backup solution enables you to back up your data securely to an external site where it is replicated to a secondary site to eliminate the single point of failure, the data is kept encrypted the entire time and after the full initial backup of your system is taken only the changes will be backed up, this keeps both backup sizes and restoration times to a minimum.

14 Jun 2016

 Keyboard shortcuts to make your life easier

Everybody wants to save time and in the days of shortcuts what better way to save time then to use keyboard short cuts, below is a list some keyboard shortcuts which could make your life easier whilst using a keyboard at work or at home and help boost your productivity especially if you are spending a lot of time in a Windows environment. Using shortcuts wont just save time in getting the job done it will also in improving efficiency as less mistakes will be made:

  • F1: Help
  • CTRL+ESC: Open Startmenu
  • ALT+TAB: Switch between open programs
  • ALT+F4: Quit program
  • SHIFT+DELETE: Delete item permanently
  • Windows Logo+L: Lock the computer (without using CTRL+ALT+DELETE)

Windows program key combinations

  • CTRL+C: Copy
  • CTRL+X: Cut
  • CTRL+V: Paste
  • CTRL+Z: Undo
  • CTRL+B: Bold
  • CTRL+U: Underline
  • CTRL+I: Italic

Mouse click/keyboard modifier combinations for shell objects

  • SHIFT+right click: Displays a shortcut menu containing alternative commands
  • SHIFT+double click: Runs the alternate default command (the second item on the menu)
  • ALT+double click: Displays properties
  • SHIFT+DELETE: Deletes an item immediately without placing it in the Recycle Bin

General keyboard-only commands

  • F1: Starts Windows Help
  • F10: Activates menu bar options
  • SHIFT+F10 Opens a shortcut menu for the selected item (this is the same as right-clicking an object
  • CTRL+ESC: Opens the Startmenu (use the ARROW keys to select an item)
  • CTRL+ESC or ESC: Selects the Startbutton (press TAB to select the taskbar, or press SHIFT+F10 for a context menu)
  • CTRL+SHIFT+ESC: Opens Windows Task Manager
  • ALT+DOWN ARROW: Opens a drop-down list box
  • ALT+TAB: Switch to another running program (hold down the ALT key and then press the TAB key to view the task-switching window)
  • SHIFT: Press and hold down the SHIFT key while you insert a CD-ROM to bypass the automatic-run feature
  • ALT+SPACE: Displays the main window’s Systemmenu (from the System menu, you can restore, move, resize, minimize, maximize, or close the window)
  • ALT+- (ALT+hyphen): Displays the Multiple Document Interface (MDI) child window’s Systemmenu (from the MDI child window’sSystem menu, you can restore, move, resize, minimize, maximize, or close the child window)
  • CTRL+TAB: Switch to the next child window of a Multiple Document Interface (MDI) program
  • ALT+underlined letter in menu: Opens the menu
  • ALT+F4: Closes the current window
  • CTRL+F4: Closes the current Multiple Document Interface (MDI) window
  • ALT+F6: Switch between multiple windows in the same program (for example, when the Notepad Finddialog box is displayed, ALT+F6 switches between the Find dialog box and the main Notepad window)

Shell objects and general folder/Windows Explorer shortcuts

For a selected object:

  • F2: Rename object
  • F3: Find all files
  • CTRL+X: Cut
  • CTRL+C: Copy
  • CTRL+V: Paste
  • SHIFT+DELETE: Delete selection immediately, without moving the item to the Recycle Bin
  • ALT+ENTER: Open the properties for the selected object

To copy a file

Press and hold down the CTRL key while you drag the file to another folder.

To create a shortcut

Press and hold down CTRL+SHIFT while you drag a file to the desktop or a folder.

General folder/shortcut control

  • F4: Selects the Go To A Different Folderbox and moves down the entries in the box (if the toolbar is active in Windows Explorer)
  • F5: Refreshes the current window.
  • F6: Moves among panes in Windows Explorer
  • CTRL+G: Opens the Go To Folder tool (in Windows 95 Windows Explorer only)
  • CTRL+Z: Undo the last command
  • CTRL+A: Select all the items in the current window
  • BACKSPACE: Switch to the parent folder
  • SHIFT+click+Closebutton: For folders, close the current folder plus all parent folders

Windows Explorer tree control

  • Numeric Keypad *: Expands everything under the current selection
  • Numeric Keypad +: Expands the current selection
  • Numeric Keypad -: Collapses the current selection.
  • RIGHT ARROW: Expands the current selection if it is not expanded, otherwise goes to the first child
  • LEFT ARROW: Collapses the current selection if it is expanded, otherwise goes to the parent

Properties control

  • CTRL+TAB/CTRL+SHIFT+TAB: Move through the property tabs

Accessibility shortcuts

  • Press SHIFT five times: Toggles StickyKeys on and off
  • Press down and hold the right SHIFT key for eight seconds: Toggles FilterKeys on and off
  • Press down and hold the NUM LOCK key for five seconds: Toggles ToggleKeys on and off
  • Left ALT+left SHIFT+NUM LOCK: Toggles MouseKeys on and off
  • Left ALT+left SHIFT+PRINT SCREEN: Toggles high contrast on and off
08 Jun 2016

Is your business mobile ready?

Everybody has mobile devices (some people even have more than one) and we use them during our everyday lives for both work and pleasure. Smartphones in particular have become incredibly popular since their invention some years back. Sources say that currently around 33.4% of all global website traffic was generated from mobile phones alone in 2015

 

mobile usage graph

This coupled with the continues growth of smartphone adoption and that tablet sales have already surpassed desktop and laptop sales shows that mobile internet traffic will continue to grow in the coming years until the market matures. This is great for users, you can surf the internet and work, take selfies, go on YouTube etc. at any time from almost any location and with good internet speed. But this does however create one problem for IT and this is security. Most threats (viruses, hacks, malware etc.) come from the internet and this is where most infections happen thus making security an issue, especially if you use your mobile devices for both business and pleasure and as the number of devices multiplies like rabbits so do the number of threats.

In an ideal world we would have separate devices for business and non-business use, but that normally isn’t feasible so the next best thing to do is to keep everything secure. IT support staff often have to work hard not to lose control. As members of staff bring their own devices to work on a daily basis and expect the same level of access as with corporate-owned devices.

The best way to cope with this whilst keeping everything running smoothly is to find a solution which can manage all devices and be easy to manage. Through our own testing we’ve found that Sophos Mobile Control is an easy to use product that lets you manage all of your staffs mobile devices (IOS, Android and Windows Phone devices). By having this you can have a uniform company and security policy in place that protects you against mobile threats both for company and privately owned devices. Users can easily be

Keeping data safe is also an issue which is addressed in Sophos Mobile Control 6.1, through it’s features you can configure powerful encrypted containers for documents, emails, calendars across different devices running different operating system. If a device goes missing it can easily be locked and wiped within a few clicks. Data can then be reinstalled onto a device if you have backups in place. Even if an employee leaves a company they can simply be removed from the containers so no need to wipe their entire device.

The management of mobile devices can be done by us as we offer this service to our customers or your own IT support staff can do it if you have the internal resources.

Overall mobile device usage has grown exponentially over recent years and will continue to do so into the future and they are used in almost every business across the country and their sales continue to go upwards year after year, in order to keep data and IT systems safe it would be wise to have a security policy in place to manage the users. By having this you can protect yourself against risks related to mobile devices and you can increase the productivity of your staff.

 

Want to see for yourself? Click here

 

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