Category: IT SUPPORT BLOG

Adhoc IT Service versus Managed Service Provider (MSP) – Which Is the Right Option?

Adhoc IT Service versus Managed Service Provider (MSP) – Which Is the Right Option?

Business owners with limited in-house IT service capabilities generally have two options to ensure their IT infrastructure is up and running.

The first is to employ a service provider on an ad hoc basis and the second is to partner with a Managed IT services provider (MSP).

Here we examine which option is the most suitable one, depending on your business.

Ad Hoc Service Providers

Rather than investing in an MSP, you may choose to call upon an IT services provider every time a problem occurs and your internal IT team is unable to find a solution. 

The provider will investigate the issue and charge you for the amount of time it takes to fix the problem.

An evolution of this is the proactive model where you ask the IT company to spend a set amount of time per month to perform routine tasks on your network. This could involve investigating backups or known issues. 

With this model, you are paying for time and it is hard for you to evaluate whether the company is doing a good job and the time utilised for fixing the problem is reasonable. If the problem is a major one, your staff will be unproductive and you could face a barrage of complaints from customers who are unable to buy or communicate with you online.

In these situations, you lose money because your system is down and face a staggering bill from the IT company for fixing the problem.

The problem begins to get more perverse when you realise that your IT company only makes money when you have problems therefore they have a natural conflict of interest to get to the bottom and fix the problem permanently.

However, there may be situations where a business is looking to cut costs or does not have the financial ability to make recurring monthly payments associated with managed services.

If the company is very small or has an onsite IT staff member who can manage most IT related requests, opting for Ad-hoc IT services may be more cost-effective.

Managed Service Providers

When partnering with a Managed Services Provider (MSP) instead of paying for the time it takes to fix a problem, you are paying for results.

It is in an MSP’s best interest to make sure your server runs smoothly and there are no major problems to be fixed as it takes up valuable time which could be allocated for productive tasks.

For the same reason, resolving support requests quickly in the unfortunate situation where you have a major IT problem is also a priority as the MSP is highly motivated to fix it and fix it once and for all.

When your operations are running trouble-free and smooth and your staff are productive your business will be profitable. You have at your disposal a true business partner.

If you have a budget for IT Infrastructure management, partnering with a MSP is worthwhile as you don’t need to pay more for a problem that takes longer to fix. Also, if they need to get Microsoft or other providers involved and spend more hours troubleshooting, the onus is on them.

Another reason is that a professional MSP will have a proactive approach in ensuring that your IT infrastructure is always in great shape.

There are several instances where IT environments are completely unpatched, the firmware is out of date, server configurations have not been updated in months or years which lends itself to all kinds of problems.

Patching and firmware updating is critical in today’s IT landscape and with technology becoming more and more important to your business it is essential to stay safe and secure.

A flat rate contract with an MSP includes all the services required for firmware updating and patching, so you can go about your work without worrying about the safety of your IT infrastructure.

Other Important Criteria for Choosing an IT Services Provider

Whether you opt for ad-hoc IT services or choose a MSP, look for a company that will work closely with you to meet your requirements. They should be willing to work closely with your management team to understand the business goals and how their technology solutions can help in meeting them.

The IT services provider should have a team of experts with the knowledge to support the software packages used in your business. They must be knowledgeable about practice management software and privacy compliance.

A key factor you should look for in an IT solutions provider is their ability to respond quickly. Find out how long they normally take to respond to support tickets as well as the time they take to resolve issues.

If you are looking for world-class IT support from a company that prides itself on its reputation, we are here to help. Feel free to browse through our website to understand the services we offer and call us on 1800 538 488 or contact us to discuss your requirements.

What to Consider When You Are Choosing an MSP (Managed Service Provider)

What to Consider When You Are Choosing an MSP (Managed Service Provider)

A Managed Service Provider (MSP) can be an invaluable asset to businesses seeking professional help with cloud, IT projects and support. MSPs leverage their technology, expertise and process solutions to help them efficiently scale their IT services.

Once your systems are up and running with the help of your MSP, your IT infrastructure will run smoothly and you will have the support required to fix any issues straight away. Aside from this an MSP can design an IT infrastructure that supports your business growth, increases efficiency and reduces costs.

There are several factors to consider when choosing an MSP. While there’s no one-size-fits-all solution it is important to consider your immediate business needs and the services you will require.

Here are some of the important aspects consider when choosing an MSP:

Auditing Your IT Resources

Take an inventory of your IT resources such as the number and type of computers, servers and networks. Make a list of essential software applications such as Office 365, SalesForce, Zoom and others.

Make sure to include your IT security in the audit process including an assessment of how many employees access your systems remotely and which applications they connect to.

An MSP should be able to provide you with a document that covers all areas of your IT infrastructure, but it is handy to have an idea of your requirements in advance. 

List the Services You Require From an MSP

Once you have audited your IT infrastructure, make a list of the requirements you need from your MSP.

The most common services include network management, data backup, secure data storage, disaster recovery and helpdesk support. 

When choosing an MSP ensure they include these services and others which you may need in the future to scale your business. 

Remote Management and Monitoring Services

A top quality MSP should have the infrastructure and staff capabilities to automatically manage and monitor your IT infrastructure. This includes your servers, network devices, workstations, routers and firewalls. 

They should also be able to automatically schedule updates and send alerts to your IT team or helpdesk to engage an appropriate response action.

On-Site Support

While most MSPs provide tier one and remote monitoring support, they should also provide on-site support to your IT team. 

On-site visits are important for the proper maintenance of IT equipment and hardware. Even if your IT team manages these in-house, your MSP needs to be familiar with your IT infrastructure in the event of a failure.

Cybersecurity Services

With cybercrime becoming rampant, it is increasingly important to defend your business against cyber-attacks.

Consider choosing an MSP who can provide a comprehensive cybersecurity solution and implements best practices to minimise risk.

Ensure they explain how they will handle your information and their security procedures. These should include IP scanning, penetration testing, intrusion detection and compliance.

Cloud Solutions

With many businesses moving to the cloud, an MSP that offers scalable cloud solutions should be a primary consideration when making your choice.

Find out if they will be able to customise cloud solutions to run with your business.

Ask if they provide multi-cloud or hybrid-cloud solutions to get an understanding of their capability with providing cloud solutions.

Industry Experience and Reputation

When choosing an MSP, look for someone who will be a long-term fit. Their experience and reputation should be an important factor in your choice.

Look for testimonials and case studies on their website and also ask for references.

Do some research to see if they have been mentioned in industry publications and what IT experts have said about them.

Comprehensive service level agreement (SLA)?

A reputable MSP should provide a contract that details the services provided and offer an SLA to all clients.

An SLA protects your organisation and ensures you will have a harmonious relationship with your MSP provider. It lays down a mutual understanding of performance standards and expectations for both parties. 

It all provides the peace-of-mind that If agreed requirements are not met, some of the impact can be mitigated by monetary compensation. 

Even if you have an SLA in place, review the contract every few months. As your business grows and changes, it should reflect your evolving needs.

If you are in the process of choosing an MSP, we understand it is a big decision and we are here to help. We provide clients with a growth plan, the highest level of security, and efficiencies in a rapidly advancing IT environment. To speak to one of our IT experts, call us on 1800 538 488 or click here to contact us.

How Managed Office 365 Services Can Help In Improving the Productivity of Your Team

How Managed Office 365 Services Can Help In Improving the Productivity of Your Team

Office 365 is a Microsoft toolkit that allows team members to access and use Office applications on their device at any time.

The web-based toolkit is regularly updated and allows users to share documents and connect with team members. This enables multiple users to view and edit items in real time.

Time is a precious commodity when working to a deadline, so it is important to make the best use of the features

available in Office 365 to boost team productivity.

 

What is Managed Office 365 Service?

Microsoft’s Office 365 version is designed to increase the productivity of businesses in many ways. The features which make this possible are SharePoint Online, Exchange Online, Skype for business, and others designed to meet the needs of busy corporate executives.

However, there may be times when specific services may not be required and discontinuing them can deliver significant time and cost savings. Uncovering all the features of Microsoft Office 365 is a mammoth task and few businesses have the time or resources to invest in learning about each component.

A Managed Office 355 provider can help a business get the most out of the tool by unlocking its full potential and assist with employing or deploying services to meet the requirements of the business. This saves time and keeps team members productive.

Here are some ways in which Managed Office 365 Services can help in improving the productivity of a team:

Faster Implementation

The time invested by team members in learning how to plan and deploy Office 365 in the business can be put to better use in more relevant business initiatives.

Microsoft’s Cloud Service Provider (CSP) program makes it possible to streamlines the design, planning, and deployment components. If the business were to use the services of a consulting firm to assist with these components, there could be a significant delay between purchase and deployment because consultants can only be engaged after a purchase has been made.

On the other hand, leveraging the knowledge and expertise of a Managed Office 365 provider, makes using Office 365 seamless and the agreement lifecycle is automated. The deployment process is also managed by the service provider, which makes the entire operation fast and easy.

Deployment and Administration Support

By assisting with the deployment and administration of the Office 365 product suite, a Managed Office 365 Services Provider can ensure that any incident is proactively and swiftly managed and resolved. This ensures a business can manage the use of Office 365 services without any additional investment in resources.

Detailed analytics relating to the deployment of Office 365 are provided by the service provider. This allows businesses to track how effectively the tools are being used.

If an IT team has never managed an Office 365 deployment, a managed service provider can handle the deployment so they don’t spend time learning the process.

 

Retains Control in the Business

At all times, a business will retain full access to their Administration Portal and observe everything within their Office 365 environment.

When partnering with a Managed Office 365 Services provider, the business can decide what they want to administer and what their managed services provider needs to do.

Tasking backend processes and protocols that aren’t growth-focused, allows the internal IT staff to remain strategic, productive and efficient as they can focus on core business activities.

 

Faster Response Time

Managed Office 365 Service Providers who are backed by Microsoft Premier Support contracts have access to escalation procedures that are not included in Standard Office 365 support.

Businesses can access priority support from Microsoft without purchasing a contract for their cloud services by contracting with a Managed Office 365 provider. Aside from this, the managed service providers will manage any escalations on behalf of the business.

Why Partner With Levit8 Levit8 helps businesses extend the value of Microsoft Office 365 by ensuring all the tools are properly configured and deployed so it runs at its full potential.
We can help with everything from Office 365 migration to consulting and critical mobility. If you would like to learn more, please call 1800 538 488 or click here to contact us.

5 Reasons Why You Must Back Up Data In Your Business

5 Reasons Why You Must Back Up Data In Your Business

In a digital-first environment, no business is immune to the risk of losing data and applications. Businesses need to be proactive in taking steps to prevent data loss because no one can predict when the data loss can occur, but there is always a chance of it occurring.

Service downtime, privacy concerns and other issues resulting from data loss can wreak havoc on a business and its reputation. If a business cannot bounce back quickly, customers will no longer trust the business with their data and will leave for a competitor.

Here are the five most important reasons why all businesses need a comprehensive data backup strategy:

1. Protection From Natural Disasters

Natural disasters can occur at any place and at any time. Even with the best hardware, a natural disaster such as an earthquake or hurricane can still strike at any time, causing a system outage.

Other occurrences such as flooding caused by burst water pipes, electrical fires or theft of equipment can also cause a data disaster.

While businesses purchase insurance as a protection against financial loss, insurance cannot replace valuable data and web applications required for a business to operate online. To protect these items, it is important to plan ahead and create a backup plan to restore your data if it is lost.

 

2. Recovery From Ransomware

According to a report by Crowstrike released in November 2020, 67% of Australian organisations fell victim to a ransomware attack within the last 12 months. The figure is 10% above the global ransomware average of 57%.

The impact of a ransomware attack can be crippling and businesses need to back up data to prevent a cascading effect in case a few encrypted files destroy months or years of productivity.

Some small businesses may not have the resources or may not have taken adequate steps to protect themselves against a ransomware attack. In such instances, backing up data in your business enables you to get systems up and running quickly.

 

3. Hardware Failure

Power surges are often the cause for hardware failure which can compromise data. While protecting hardware with surge protectors, cooling systems and other measures is essential, what is also important is to back up data.

A cloud-based or offsite data storage solution provides additional protection as it is unlikely that both locations could suffer from a power surge at the same time.

Backing up data this way will help in quickly restoring systems in case a data loss occurs.

 

4. Endpoint Protection

Storage of data is considerably less centralised in businesses as more work is performed outside offices using laptops and mobile devices.

If these devices are lost, stolen or hacked, all the data which they contain can be compromised.

This is another reason why it is essential to have a comprehensive data backup strategy. Having a system that allows uploading data held on a laptop or mobile device to a central repository reduces the risk of losing essential data if the device is lost or stolen.

It allows team members to stay productive as they can recover the data and perform their tasks on a different computing device.

 

5. Human Errors

Even the best and most careful people are prone to causing an error. Accidentally deleting important documents, forgetting to save a document when working on it or flipping a wrong switch can lead to significant data disruptions.

For instance, an important folder that has been deleted by accident can go unnoticed as missing until weeks or months after being deleted, at which time it may be too late to salvage.

While regular training can help in reducing errors, the only way to keep data truly safe from being lost due to a human error is to regularly back-up data.

 

6. Preventing Total Data Loss With a Data Back-Up Strategy

A foolproof data backup strategy is necessary for a business to counter the threat of data loss. While natural disasters, human error or some of the other reasons mentioned cannot be predicted or entirely eliminated, a backup strategy comprising a secure, offsite backup location can help in protecting businesses against data disasters of all kinds.

If you can assure customers that you have a comprehensive data backup and recovery plan, it helps your business gain an advantage over other businesses that don’t.

Setting up a comprehensive backup system is best left to experts. At Levit8 we provide reliable and cost-effective data backup solutions. If you would like help in setting up a secure backup solution that is best suited to your company, call us on 1800 538 488 or Click Here to contact us.

7 Important Questions to Ask Your IT Service Provider

7 Important Questions to Ask Your IT Service Provider

Choosing the right IT service provider is an important decision which impacts the growth and profitability of your company.

The relationship you develop with an IT service provider is a very intimate one, similar to what you have with an Accountant and you need to make sure that you ask the right questions before entering into an agreement.

 The following are 7 important questions you should consider asking :

How stable is the business?

How long an IT service provider has been in business and whether they have the capability to service your business in the long-term is an important consideration.

If your business is expanding and you are planning to grow from 10 people to 25 people in the space of a few months, will the IT service provider be able to support your business as you scale up? Do they have the experience and expertise to accommodate the growth or will they play around and hope for the best outcome?

What procedures are used to keep employees in the loop?

What procedures and policies does the IT service provider have in place to make sure that if Joe comes into your office to fix something, Amy the next IT person who comes in will not have to relearn everything that’s been done.

This is a really important question, because if you’re paying an hourly rate, a new employee could take three hours to complete a task which should take just minutes which would also affect your team’s productivity. 

Is the technology on offer suitable for your business?

The IT service provider should have the right technology and systems in place otherwise your business will have problems competing with other businesses.

The right technology is important for your business to stay competitive. What technology stack your IT service provider uses may sound like a really geeky question but it’s really about finding out important issues such as whether they’re following best practices, using a quality antivirus product and remote monitoring tools.

What is the level of after-hours support included?

If you need emergency support at eight o’clock in the night will someone answer your call?

Very often, IT service providers will offer a solution at a price that appears very attractive, but this may come at the cost of priority support.

When comparing costs, make sure to find out about the level of support being offered. In the event your website or online store crashes, you need the support required to be able to get your business up and running quickly. 

What is the duration of product licencing?

Very often businesses get into an agreement with an IT service provider without a clear idea about the duration of included product licences.

What can happen in this case is that you may sign up for a three-year contract with an IT service provider and a year later, the provider will indicate that the antivirus is due to expire and that you need to pay a fee to renew it.

Renewal of licences for software and other products can add significantly to costs, and finding out about these before signing a contract can help you keep technology costs in check.

How will data be backed up?

Your IT service provider should have systems in place to back-up data so it can be recovered at any time in case it is lost for any reason.

Find out who will have access to your data and where it will be stored, whether locally on computers and servers or in the cloud.

Which compliance frameworks are supported?

Compliance mistakes can prove to be extremely costly. There are several legislations, specifications, industry standards and regulations – both which are already in place and the ones which can crop up in the future.

The importance of compliance varies depending on the business and as verticals it serves. Before asking the question, it is important to find out about compliance issues related to your business.

The IT service provider you choose should be able to guarantee meeting compliance requirements as part of their service level agreement. This should include regulations which are expected to arise over the next 6 to 12 months.

If you are looking to partner with an IT service provider with the expertise and ability to provide a hassle-free service, contact us on 1800 538 488 or click here to schedule a confidential call to answer your questions and find out how we can help you meet your technology requirements.

Benefits and risks of outsourcing your IT services

Benefits and risks of outsourcing your IT services

Rapid changes and the growing complexity of technology is making it harder for businesses to manage their IT infrastructure in-house. With a growing pressure to contain costs, it has become common for staff members to take on multiple roles, leaving little time to keep up with technology changes.

Outsourcing IT services to a managed service provider is an option many businesses are looking at to help them meet the challenge of maintaining a robust and safe IT infrastructure required to operate efficiently and grow their businesses.

Here are some benefits of outsourcing IT services:

Improving the Focus of the Organisation

A managed IT services provider can take on the responsibility of managing part of or the entire IT operations to help a business run efficiently. This may involve upgrading equipment, moving to cloud computing or redesigning workflows.

When businesses spend time and energy on complex IT decisions, their focus is drawn away from business goals. IT outsourcing allows businesses to focus on growth, while managed services providers provide the IT support needed to support growth targets.

Leverage Expertise and Experience

Obsolescence is a challenge businesses have to constantly grapple with when negotiating the IT infrastructure landscape.

Most in-house IT staff do not have the tools or the resources to provide a proactive approach to meeting challenges and are essentially firefighters. They go around fixing problems as they come up.

By outsourcing IT services, businesses leverage the knowledge and experience of experts accustomed to a variety of IT challenges every day. When they are faced with a problem, they are most likely to have faced it before and can fix it quickly and at a lower cost.

IT professionals working with managed services providers constantly undergo the latest training required to quickly resolve any challenges a business may encounter.

Improved Security

With cybercrime costing businesses millions of dollars in revenue and loss of reputation, security is one of the most important topics of discussion around IT systems.

Networks have vulnerabilities which must be protected against. IT outsourcing allows businesses to tap into the vast knowledge of experts who are trained in all aspects of online security. This enables them to provide security solutions tailored to a specific business. A managed services provider can help in keeping software up to date which is an important factor in cybersecurity.

Business Compliance

Data privacy and other compliance requirements are important considerations for businesses in all industries and any breach can cost a business its reputation and possible litigation.

Businesses in most industries have IT related compliance standards that have to be met. Without the right support, there is a likelihood of compliance breaches. IT outsourcing relieves businesses from the burden of compliance issues.

Managed service providers can help in implementing strategies for meeting compliance requirements in all industries.

Competitive Advantage

Small and medium sized businesses generally lack the resources enjoyed by larger companies.

IT outsourcing gives small businesses access to technology, expertise and support enjoyed by larger companies. This allows smaller businesses to be technologically on par with their larger competitors while providing personalised customer experiences expected by customers.

Risks of Outsourcing

While there are some risks of IT outsourcing, being aware of them and taking preventative steps can help a business easily avoid them.

Compromising Intellectual Property

Outsourcing IT services leads to databases and business processes being shared with third-party companies. Unscrupulous companies may intentionally use the data inappropriately, such as selling data to a competitor.

If remote workers do not have the right data protection software in place, their customer data can be easily stolen and sold to other companies before release.

To prevent this from happening businesses can include a non-disclosure clause in the contract and also ask for feedback from other customers.

Difficulty in Synchronising Time

Offshore IT services providers working in a different time zone may not be able to respond to requests in time.

Businesses relying on offshore IT services providers often find it difficult to get accustomed to different time zones and work style. A lack of synchronisation can lead to a waste of time and prove costly.

Outsourcing IT services to providers operating in the same time zone and making specific agreements about the hours of availability in the contract will help in creating a harmonious working relationship.

Unexpected Costs

While working with a trusted IT services provider can result in significant cost savings, sometimes a change in requirements may incur additional costs from the IT services provider as this would be beyond the scope of the initial agreement.

To overcome this risk, businesses should choose an experienced IT services provider and set clear parameters.

If you are looking to outsource your IT services, as one of Australia’s most reputed managed services providers, we have the knowledge, skills and expertise to support your needs. To explore whether we are the right IT partners for your business, call us on 1800 538 488 to discuss your requirements or or click here to contact us.

How Microsoft Office 365 reduces risks, improves security and provides seamless team collaboration

How Microsoft Office 365 reduces risks, improves security and provides seamless team collaboration

Microsoft Office 365 has made collaboration and communication simpler, efficient and safer with a spectrum of services built-in which makes it a popular tool for businesses worldwide.

Here are some features which makes it a versatile tool for businesses:

Reducing Risk

In the face of increased mobility, security breaches through cyber-attacks and new data protection regulations like GDPR, the protection of information, users, apps, and devices is a huge challenge.

Microsoft Office 365 gives users a spectrum of built-in security defences to protect users, information and devices. The capability includes identity and access management of users, their permissions to access services and content.

An important feature is the real-time detection of anomalies, such as risk related location and device, continuous protection against threats, starting with protection against internet-based threats that block unsafe links and attachments.

It also circumvents application-based threats, such as browser-based exploits, malicious macros or other processes. 

This is achieved by isolating and maintaining the integrity of processes running on the device, and the use of tools to detect, investigate and respond to attacks in order to be able to analyse and contain them allowing for quick recovery from threats.

In addition, controls are also built in for safeguarding information as it flows between devices, people and apps.

At the core of these is the Microsoft Intelligent Security Graph which gives the most up to date protection against the latest attack vectors.

This collects billions of security related signals from consumer and commercial services, email and device endpoints. Authentication from Azure AD and Microsoft accounts, URLs and IPs are scanned by search engines, as well as signals from third party sources.

Machine learning and analytics identify threat signals, for example, DDoS attacks or phishing, spam and suspicious logins. Businesses can quickly adapt and deploy new defences and orchestrate remediation across Microsoft 365 when new vulnerabilities are discovered.

Improves Security

Businesses however big or small are affected by security threats. Knowingly or unknowingly, businesses are targeted by hackers every day.Microsoft Office 365 has security features that help users to stay productive and minimise security risks.

In a cloud computing environment, security is a partnership between the cloud service provider and the organisation. Both entities have responsibilities which enhance the security posture of an organisation. 

In Microsoft Office 365, as the cloud service provider, Microsoft assumes the responsibility of the physical security of its data centres where all of the customers’ data is stored.

On the customer side, certain tasks need to be done. These include implementing steps to enhance security such as multi-factor authentication and email encryption.

To address the growing concern around email security, in Microsoft Office 365, Exchange Online, the technology which drives email, allows for encrypting email so that only intended recipients of a message can read it.

Protection to a confidential email can be applied so that it can be read only by people within the organisation. If an email marked confidential is accidentally forwarded to someone outside of the organisation, the recipient will receive the email but will not be able to read it.

Security features such as these to protect emails are available through Microsoft Office 365’s Message Encryption (OME) service included in most Office 365 subscriptions. It can also be purchased as an add-on service.

Team Collaboration

In any business environment organisation is key and in a fast-paced world, instantaneous information, as well as responses, are a necessity.

Microsoft Teams has recognised this by providing information from colleagues through the extension of a computer and a smartphone.

Syncing with Outlook – Microsoft Teams has revolutionised the Windows experience particularly through scheduling by giving users a view of their scheduled meetings, timings, subjects and a list of people that are attending.

There are a large variety of apps that can be synced with Microsoft Teams. For instance, Microsoft planner can be synced in Asana and MailChimp.

For example, the planner app can be added to a chosen team or group which will allow access to functions from within teams. These are all synced within the planner version available in the Office 365 subscription. This way, everything done within teams is available everywhere else. 

The App Store can also be accessed from within Microsoft Teams and external apps such as Adobe Creative Cloud and Survey Monkey can be added.

Microsoft Teams is clearly a powerful communication and collaboration tool which is reshaping the way team members perform their daily tasks.

If you are looking to explore how you can get the most value from Microsoft Office 365 by using its full potential, our experts are ready to help. To book a consultation, please please call 1800 538 488 or click here to contact us.

Why Cloud Computing Is Important For Your Local Business

Why Cloud Computing Is Important For Your Local Business

Imagine if it was possible to simplify your office technology in a way that could eliminate the need to purchase, install and maintain the technology infrastructure required to run your business and instead only pay for the technology you used every month. Cloud computing makes this possible.

Cloud computing is suitable for both new organisations who have no IT infrastructure on their premises or businesses who might want to move their IT infrastructure to the cloud and get all the benefits of cloud computing.

Cost-Effective IT Solutions

Cloud computing is a cost-effective solution primarily because it is a consumption-based pricing model and a business does not have to pay for IT infrastructure hardware or resources.

It is more like renting the IT infrastructure from a cloud provider and only pay for the amount of time it has been used.

Additional resources need to be purchased only when they are needed and you can stop paying for resources when they are no longer needed. This also allows for better cost control as businesses can easily forecast how much will be spent in a given billing period based on the expected usage.

As a result, it is easier to perform an analysis based on future growth using historical usage data tracked by the cloud provider.

Horizontal and Vertical Scaling

When the IT infrastructure is on the business premises, the cost of replacing ageing or obsolete technology makes scaling a business expensive. Add to this the time and cost of training employees to become familiar with the new IT system.

Moving the IT infrastructure to the cloud gives businesses the ability to increase or decrease the resources of services based on demand.

In horizontal scaling, more resources and servers can be added to function together as one single business unit.

For example, if an e-commerce business has a sale which leads to a spike in traffic overnight, cloud computing allows the allocation of more resources to handle the increased traffic. When the traffic begins to normalise, cloud computing providers can automatically take away the additional resources to minimise the costs.

Vertical scaling on the other side is about adding resources to the existing set of servers. If a business has a server has like 4TB of memory then the memory can be spiked to 6TB, giving more power to the existing server.

Easy to Update and Maintain

Cloud based IT infrastructure is always up-to-date, allowing businesses to focus more on important aspects such as building and deploying applications.

It eliminates all the burdens of having to patch and maintain the software, hardware, upgrades and team management tasks. All of this is automatically done to ensure that the business is equipped w are using the latest tools required to operate smoothly.

Maintenance and upgrading of cloud hardware is also the responsibility of the cloud provider. If the hardware component on a rack fails then the cloud provider is the one who fixes it.

If a new hardware or firmware update becomes available the business does not have to go through the hassle of updating the firmware as it gets taken care of by the cloud provider.

Improved Reliability and Increased Security

Businesses need to be confident that their data is always available and secure. Cloud hosting provides data backups, disaster recovery and replication services to make sure data is always safe.

Also, redundancy is often built into the cloud services architecture so if one component fails a backup component takes its place. This ensures customers are not impacted when a disaster occurs.

Providing security for IT infrastructure stored at physical locations adds to overhead costs and constant monitoring of who is accessing the premises and who operates the server racks.

There’s also a concern about digital security, multi-factor authentication and how the data application infrastructure is being protected from potential threats.

Cloud providers take care of the infrastructure with heavily guarded wall cameras, gates and security personnel to protect the physical assets. They also have strict procedures in place to ensure employees have access only to those resources they have been authorised to manage.

Cloud computing gives local businesses the capabilities of large companies. Relying on state-of-the-art data centres with highly trained staff keeps your business up and running and ready to scale. The advantages of cloud computing, such as the ease of moving applications and data makes it an opportunity that is hard to ignore.

If you are looking to explore how your local business can benefit from moving to the cloud, we can help you choose a solution to help your business break free from the limitations of technology.

To schedule a free consultation, call 1800 538 488 or click here to contact us.

Why Microsoft Azure Cloud benefits your company from scalability, security and stability standpoint

Why Microsoft Azure Cloud benefits your company from scalability, security and stability standpoint

Cloud computing is a global phenomenon and more businesses than ever are moving their workloads, servers and storage into the cloud.

Most cloud services fall under three main categories: Infrastructure as a service, platform as a service and software as a service.

Microsoft Azure is widely considered both a platform and infrastructure as a service offering. Microsoft Azure has 22 categories of cloud services, including Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning, blockchain networking, containers, analytics, security, storage, databases, management, and more.

Scaling With Microsoft Azure

Some businesses use Microsoft Azure for data backup and disaster recovery purposes. Others use it as an alternative to their data centre. Instead of investing in their own storage and local servers.

As a cloud-based platform, Microsoft Azure’s web app capability allows businesses to easily connect applications to business data. The data can be on the business premises or in the cloud so businesses can quickly scale up or down.

Microsoft Azure has an auto-scale support feature so businesses need to set up their infrastructure only once. If customer demand fluctuates, if the business wants to expand to new geographical areas or if more functionality needs to be added, Web Apps is able to easily meet these needs without having to add additional resources. The service tier plans permit this flexibility, without any need for coding to make changes.

Overcoming Security Challenges

IT security is a constant challenge for businesses which need to ensure their cloud environments are protected.

While this is a complex task, Microsoft Azure security centre now makes it easier by providing comprehensive visibility into the security state of resources running in Azure enterprises.

This ensures a better response to security threats but also allows for the quick deployment of recommended security controls to help prevent them.

The threat detection and Microsoft Azure security centre are powered by Microsoft global threat intelligence security expertise and advanced analysis of signals from across a business’ Azure deployment. This helps in detecting actual threats early with fewer false alarms.

The Azure security centre enables users to manage and monitor cloud protections according to the security and compliance needs of the business.

The policy driven recommendations guide is a resource which guides users through the process of implementing needed controls and security solutions from Microsoft.

An ecosystem of integrated security partners can be quickly set up when incidents occur as the security centre provides prioritised alerts that include insights into the attack dynamics along with suggestions on how to stop current attacks and prevent future ones.

Building Business Stability and Resilience

Moving key applications and workloads to Microsoft Azure provides increased stability and resiliency. This can become an important component of a business’ disaster recovery and data backup plans. According to Microsoft, among the most common reasons why organisations embrace cloud solutions are to increase IT stability, mitigate downtime and access remote work capabilities of the Windows Virtual Desktop on Microsoft Azure.

Microsoft Azure has been built to keep critical applications of a business online, even when faced with a disaster. Microsoft Azure’s Site Recovery service enables businesses to easily replicate workloads and applications to a second location.

In an unforeseen event such as a hurricane occurring, it takes one region offline, while the secondary location continues to operate.

Replication, fallback and failover can be managed from a single location. Microsoft Azure’s backup capabilities permit businesses to offload their on-premises back-up to the cloud. It simplifies the process for backing up virtual machines and offers secure storage to redundant locations. As a result, multiple copies of data is available in the unforeseen event of a natural disaster in one location.

At Levit8, we take the overwhelm out of transitioning to Microsoft Azure for businesses looking to move to the cloud.

To find out if your business would benefit by moving to Microsoft Azure and how to make the process seamless, call us on 1800 538 488 to discuss your requirements or or click here to contact us.

Why Your Employees Remain Your Greatest IT Risk

Why Your Employees Remain Your Greatest IT Risk

Companies worldwide are investing millions into their cybersecurity initiatives. Yet many companies remain blind to the fact that their greatest threats are within. SMBs are particularly vulnerable to internal threats, and all companies need to take action to protect themselves.

When handling company-related data, employees aren’t always following the best security practices. Employees check their email from their phone, download random attachments, and generally interact with potentially dangerous materials.

And a malicious employee can easily cut a swathe through your confidential data.

To protect your company from cybersecurity threat, you need to understand your greatest IT risk: your employees. Here’s what to know and what you should be doing about it.

Why Your Employees Remain Your Greatest IT Risk

Since 2003, we’ve been helping our clients develop proactive IT strategies to protect, maintain, and extend their infrastructure. We provide support for small businesses, accounting firms, manufacturing firms, and construction. And though these are very different industries, one thing remains the same: employee training is critical for the purposes of security.

Employees are responsible for the vast majority of cyber attacks and data breaches. Employees will share passwords with each other, download malware, and respond to requests for personal or confidential information. In an accounting firm, employees will deal with personal and financial information. In a construction company, employees may deal with intellectual property and highly confidential plans.

Even the best employees will occasionally have an off day, and may forward confidential or personal information to someone who shouldn’t have it. In order to properly manage your security, you need to manage your employees — and that can be a challenge.

47% of businesses have experienced a data breach due to negligent employees.:

Nearly half of all businesses will experience a data breach due to the negligence of their employees. In fact, 81% of data breaches are due to bad password management. Businesses need to manage their employees to manage their security, and that’s easier said than done.

Employees are often negligent with their access to data. They save data on personal devices, allow their personal devices to be compromised, share passwords, and choose passwords that are easily guessed.

Today’s employee often has a wealth of information just on their phone, and that information is easily shared and breached. From company email addresses to document management, employees are responsible for protecting and interacting with tremendously important resources.

A business can invest in an extremely advanced security system, but it still needs to offer its employees access to this confidential data. Employees are the weakest link simply because they are the most common link.

Employers are finding it more difficult to control their employee security.

Soon, 50% of the workforce will be working remotely. Employees are working on their own desktops, laptops, and tablets. They are working on outdated systems and systems that are often poorly secured. Thus, the security landscape is becoming far more challenging for employers: employers are finding it difficult to control their employee’s environments.

An employer can’t ensure that an employee isn’t using their computer for both personal and business things. It can’t ensure that an employee isn’t vulnerable to viruses or malware, or that the employee has locked their device at all times. An employer can’t even ensure that employees aren’t letting their children on their computers.

That doesn’t mean it’s impossible to secure corporate data: it just means that employers need to change the way that they think about security. Rather than securing systems, they need to secure the access and transmission of their data. And they cannot assume that their employees are going to be willing or able to maintain the security of their system on their own.

Employers are increasingly moving towards cloud-based platforms, through which employees access data but do not directly download that data. These cloud-based platforms can keep data secure from external sharing, but they can still be breached if the right authentication practices aren’t used.

Better training and rigid security controls provide some risk management.

Why are employees so uneducated when it comes to security? It may simply be because companies aren’t investing in training. 45% of employees receive no security-related training from their employer. Not only do they not understand why security is so critical, but they also don’t understand what makes a system less secure.

Employee training and access-based controls can improve security for many businesses. Employees will naturally choose better passwords once they learn more about proper password hygiene. They will understand why securing their personal devices is important, and they will have better habits overall.

Rigid security controls go a step further, by disallowing access to content on a role-based or per employee basis. When there is no need for an employee to have access to content, they won’t; this prevents more significant data breaches. By authenticating employees through multi-factor authentication, employers can greatly reduce the chances of data breach.

Technology cannot protect against most social engineering attempts.

Even the most advanced technology today has difficulty identifying phishing and social engineering attempts. If someone calls an employee on the phone and requests their password, there’s no amount of technology that can prevent this from happening.

What modern technology can do is react to unusual access points and the potential for threat. Next-generation solutions can notice that a login is occurring from outside of the country, and can react accordingly to lock an account. Next-generation solutions can identify passwords being sent in an email, and prompt the user to further inquire about the need for this information.

But this isn’t foolproof. None of this can prevent an employee from letting a social engineer into a server room “for maintenance,” or verbally offering their social security number or other personally identifiable information through the phone.

True security solutions cannot rely upon employee competency.

As well-trained as an employee may be, an employee can still make mistakes. Any security method that requires employees to be competent and in control at all times will fail. Systems need to be developed to protect employees against security breaches.

New solutions, such as Microsoft’s new Information Protection suites, are geared around identifying potentially confidential and personally identifiable information. Next generation security solutions are able to flag confidential information before it is shared, thereby protecting employees from accidents and negligence.

Multi-factor authentication services insist that an employee must have both a password as well as a device in order to log in — this means that employers no longer need to rely upon employees using the right passwords.

Thee solutions don’t rely upon the employees conducting their work perfectly. Instead, the solutions react to the possibility that employees will likely make mistakes. These solutions make those mistakes impossible.

Well-trained employees can be a company’s first defense against intrusion.

For the most part, companies find themselves vulnerable because their employees aren’t properly trained or empowered. When employees are well-trained and empowered to act, they are more likely to notice potentially malicious programs and stop intrusion in its tracks. Employees are a vulnerability to companies because they regularly interact with a company’s internal systems and data. They can be a company’s most reporting vehicle, for the very same reason.

If employees know how to identify the signs of an attack and know how to escalate reports of this attack, they can take action. Companies that are able to provide thorough employee training will be able to create informed, rational actors who are able to proactively react to threats.

Are you ready to convert your employees from liability to asset?

At Levit8, we provide advanced network security and support services — designed to offer your business the training and technology needed to protect against the most pervasive of threats. Your employees handle your most sensitive of data, and any of that data could currently be vulnerable.