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Building Your Plan for BYOD!

Building Your Plan for BYOD!

As the line between working in-office and working from home becomes more and more blurred, a new trend in employee technology has begun to emerge – BYOD, or bring your own device. Many companies are offering their employees the option to bring their own devices into the office environment as it can improve both employee satisfaction and office productivity.  But CIOs still must consider three different basic set ups/options before taking the plunge:

  1. Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) – In this set up an employee has complete control over choosing and supporting the device they use at work since it is fully owned by the employee. This is a very popular method with smaller companies or those who utilize independent contractors.
  2. Choose Your Own Device (CYOD) – In this set up employees are offered a choice of devices that have been approved by the company for their security, reliability, and durability. The approved devices work within the company’s IT environment, however the device itself is owned by the employee; either they have paid for it themselves or it was paid for through a company stipend and the employee can keep it for the length of their employment.
  3. Company-issued, Personally-Enabled (COPE) device – Here an employee is supplied a phone or other device, paid for by the company, that they can use for personal activities. The employer can decide how much access and freedom employees get when using these devices.  This is the closest option to the traditional Corporate Owned Business Only (COBO) model of old.

While CYOD and COPE are often employed in larger organizations, BYOD is by far the most popular option with SMB’s.  There are many benefits to the new BYOD office set up.  When employees are totally familiar and comfortable with their own devices they are likely to be more productive since they do not require any time or training to get up to speed on optimal usage.  Additionally, personal devices, as opposed to business owned, oftentimes are the latest model with all the latest updates and features.  Early adopters love having the latest version of their preferred device and companies can leverage that desire to their advantage.

A further advantage to adopting BYOD is cost savings to the employer.  By having people responsible for part or, in some cases, all of the cost of their mobile devices, businesses can potentially reduce the impact of mobile device costs on their bottom line.

If and when your company adopts a BYOD policy, the best way to ensure that you do not encounter an excessive surge in calls for help to your IT team is to have strong and comprehensive BYOD guidelines in place.  Here at Midwest IT Solutions we have worked hard to research and develop guidelines for our clients to follow. Any policy should encompass seven key areas:

  1. Specify what devices are allowed. You will be getting into the business of saying, yes iPhone, no Android, yes iPad no any other tablet. Once you have decided what devices are allowed it is key to make clear what level of support (if any) you will offer owners of these devices.
  2. Establish strict security protocols for those devices.
  3. Define a clear support policy i.e. what level of IT support will you (the employer) provide?
  4. Decide which Apps will be allowed, which will be banned.
  5. Make clear who owns the apps and data used on the employee’s devices.
  6. Be sure that your BYOD policy is aligned and fully integrated with your current Acceptable Use policy.
  7. Be sure to come up with an employee off-boarding plan.

There are many factors to consider before any manager or executive rolls out a new BYOD policy.  A successful BYOD policy can aid in productivity and employee satisfaction, a less detailed BYOD policy can lead to security breaches and numerous IT headaches.

At Midwest IT Solutions we can help you navigate through the complex new world of BYOD.  With Midwest IT Solutions’ guidance, you will be able to leverage the wonderful benefits of BYOD without facing the many pitfalls.  Do not try to chart your own course through this exciting world, contact us today!

Microsoft Windows 10: We’re Here To Help

As of July 29, 2015, Microsoft launched Windows 10 for PCs and tablets, which is a free upgrade to Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 users.  According to Microsoft, Windows 10’s features include:

 

  • Cortana: A personal digital assistant tool that learns individual preferences to provide users with recommendations and access to information. In addition to voice commands, you can use Cortana to set reminders and add calendar events.

 

  • Microsoft Edge: A new, customized browser that offers content and results based on individual interests and preferences. It features a text-only reader mode, annotation tool, and Cortana integration.

 

  • Windows Hello, Microsoft Passport, and Windows Defender for anti-malware and spyware protection.

 

So how can we help with all of this?  Partnering with an MSP can maximize usage, and smooth out your transition to Windows 10.  The most important benefit is to make sure the network and operating system is ready for Windows 10.  The personal touch and customer service of a Managed Service Provider can facilitate that transition and give you peace of mind when it comes to not only transitioning your operating systems, but also your employees.

 

What We Can Do:

 

  • MSPs can help you stay organized and ahead of the game by letting us, the experts, control the computer and network aspects of your business.

 

  • System compatibility. Are the PCs in your office ready for Windows 10? Having an MSP proactively monitor and maintain the network will aid in making sure your system is ready to be upgraded.  Regular network assessments will also prepare you for not only Windows 10, but other technological transitions you may have.

 

  • Questions or Concerns. MSPs can showcase their Windows expertise, and customer service, by answering customers’ questions and concerns about Windows 10.

 

In conclusion, having an MSP on your side during this transition is beneficial for your business as it allows you to focus on your business critical functions that help you grow.  Let us, the experts, help you get organized and prepared to prevent downtime and confusion for you or your fellow employees.

Cloud Computing: The MSP Advantage

It’s no secret that cloud computing is the future of computer and network care for businesses worldwide.  “The cloud” eliminates the need to have physical servers and hardware in your office. Cloud computing focuses on maximizing the effectiveness of the company’s shared resources, as well as being effective in heightening companies’ day to day tasks with multiple users.  It is a highly efficient way to store your company’s data in one place at a flat monthly cost, as opposed to worrying about the large capital investment of new network equipment on a regular basis.

Cloud adoption and cloud-based file sharing are becoming increasingly popular among the general public, but can cause concern among CIOs. Unfortunately, IT organizations are having a hard time keeping up with large, public cloud providers.  According to an article from Business Cloud News, a recent survey conducted by Fruition Partners of 100 CIOs found that 84 percent believe cloud adoption reduces their organization’s control over IT.

About nine in ten believe unsanctioned use of public cloud services has created long-term security risks. This is troubling to CIOs because it can lead to possible information leaks or other data security breaches. In addition, 79 percent of CIOs believe that there are cloud services in use that their IT department is not aware of.  This reiterates the danger of losing grasp of the company’s technology while using a large cloud provider.

Partnering with a Managed Service Provider (MSP) can help prevent these worries from arising.  A proactive relationship with an MSP gives you the ability to aid in, or fully move, to a private cloud option.  It ensures that your company will be working with a partner that has experience with many cloud networks, therefore providing the highest level of support possible.  This is crucial when it comes to the transition of moving your company’s data and file sharing for all users within your company at an affordable cost, while at the same time, preventing downtime on the network.

In conclusion, the value of having an MSP on your side to aid in cloud based technologies for your business is second to none.  Small to midsize companies can focus on the core competencies of their business that make them money, while letting the experts control all business technology in the cloud.

Internet Surfing Best Practices

  • Use Google Search

Before you start to type the name of a website you have never been to before, try googling it first. Google actively scans just about every website and looks for malicious (harmful) code. If it finds something, it will warn you in the search. Google will also ensure that you end up at the page you are looking for. After googling, be sure to read the information provided below the link in order to learn about the website.

  • Don’t click ANY advertisements

First of all, there is no such thing as a coupon printer. Plain and simple; they do not exist. Secondly, there is no such thing as a good advertisement. Sure, some will take you to the place you want to go to see some golf club or purse, but it is safest to assume that all ads are bad. If you find that ads are starting to market directly to you that means you have been clicking on them and they are tracking what you are interested in.  It may seem easier to click a well-targeted add to see the new fall lineup or a new car, but the more you click ads the more likely you will run into malware. Just google the new fall lineup or car and view it directly on their site.

  • The “YOUR COMPUTER IS INFECTED” banners

No website can tell you what is on your computer. You have to allow a program access to scan your computer before it can tell you what is there. Completely ignore any banner or website that tries to tell you how many things are wrong with your computer. These banners are the birthplace of most adware and malware. More often than not they will infect and slow down your computer and never fix any real issues.

  • Check the address of the site you are on

Does it look like the site you should be on? “Phishing” or “Spoof” websites are designed to look exactly like another website. Here is an example:

phising

This site is setup to look as much like Citibank as possible in an attempt to get credit card information. A foolproof way to ensure you are on the correct website before entering secure information is to review the address bar where the webpage link is located. As you will see in the example, the address is https://web.da-us.citibank.com/… Does this look familiar?  Try to google Citibank and see what google reports as their webpage.  After googling, you will notice that Citibank’s website looks like this: https://online.citibank.com/US/JPS/portal/Index.do. Also, take a hard look at the website itself, does it look official? If you are in question at all, close the window and try Google searching to find the correct location for a website.

  • Check for a SSL Cert

Without getting too technical, SSL certs provide a secure (protected) connection from your computer to the website you are on. That is to say, any data or communication passed from your computer or the website cannot be read by anyone else along the line of communication. You will want to check for these certs on every site that you are entering any confidential information. Below you will see examples of where to check for SSL certs on the common browsers:

Chrome– Chrome

IEHTTPS – Internet Explorer 11

firefox– Firefox

opra – Opera

safari– Safari

Essentially what you are looking for is the ‘s’ at the end of http’s’://www.google.com. Some browsers represent the secure connection as a green lock. If you don’t see the ‘s’ or the green lock, do not enter in any confidential or even personal information.

  • Password use

This can be covered in a topic all by itself but I will touch on it slightly. If you are someone who does not like to keep different passwords for every site, I urge you not to use the same password for everything. Something you can try is to keep a few different passwords and use them for varying levels of security. For example, there will be some sites that ask you to create an account just to view their items for sale. Do not use the same password as your online bank account. Use a password you would not mind if it got stolen and continue to use that password for all sites you could care less about. Another note, if you save your passwords in your browser to ‘Auto-Fill’ realize that someone with access to your computer can now log into every place that has a stored password. If you sync your passwords using google so that all devices have the same saved passwords, realize that your google account password now needs to be the most secure. Someone just needs that one password to

Midwest IT asks: Why is Managed Services is the right answer for your network?

If you’re a traditional small to medium sized company, the idea of managed services provided by a vendor may seem an unlikely solution. But then how do you explain the trend toward outsourcing pieces of IT and in some cases, all of IT?

It has become obvious that some companies in the SMB market have nobody on staff that really knows or understands the technology they are using, even though they are running mission critical business applications.  Businesses end up spending money needlessly on things they do not fully understand.  Many times a break fix IT vendor may have a customer implement technologies that make more sense for them to sell($$$), than it does for your company to buy.  The other issue can be the “IT guy” that wants to use your business network to test cool new technologies. Either way, it is not smart spending. In some cases they have very skilled operations people, but they are ready to retire. Those soon-to-retire staffers understand their network environment well, however replacing these people is difficult. The MSP generally does not have a large financial interest in a solution that you are attempting to implement, which gives you an unbiased staff of professionals the assist your company in making smart IT decisions for your business.

In the world of MSP’s or Managed Service Providers, there is a flexibility that companies can benefit from. In most cases with an MSP, there is a general “Flat Rate” cost for your IT Services.  The best ones are able to package together their “best practices” and provide the client with a number to budget for their IT costs that allows them to stay close to their budget.  This is a major benefit to the customer, as they do not have all of the peaks in spending that comes with non-budgeted break/fix IT. With companies that are using break/fix, you gain an engineer/account manager that makes decisions in YOUR best interest. In the case of having an employee that is soon to retire, an MSP can implement tools to get the clients network onto an MSP platform, while allowing the current IT person to continue their day to day tasks.  Then, when the retirement happens, the customer’s network has a seamless transfer over.  The users have a new help desk to contact for issues, but the environment stays the same.  No large headaches or expenses.

In other cases, some companies are employing a full time IT person when they really do not need it.  I have seen companies with 25 to 50 users pay $60,000 – $100,000 for salaries + benefits. Sample MSP pricing would be  $40,000-$50,000 range for 25 users and 50 users would be $75,000-$85,000.  These numbers usually also include software the client is also paying for.  (Backups, spam filtering, offsite storage, etc)  This means that companies are paying $20,000 to $30,000 more to have someone onsite every year. Owners and managers of companies this size should really look at this.  With many of these companies, the owners or decision makers are made to believe that their network is “special” or more “complex” than most.  In a few rare cases, there is a justified reason for having someone on staff, however, most times, this is not the case.   Given that the MSP can provide a quality level of service, how much better would the company be doing investing that money back into their technology, instead of paying labor costs.

Business owners should at the very least do the research and see. Usually at no cost you can have an MSP come out and evaluate your current IT situation.

Ubiquiti Networks Receives $31.67 Average Target Price from Analysts

Midwest IT has been using Ubiquiti Networks hardware recently for things such as Wireless Access Points, Security Cameras, Point to Point Wireless, and POE Switches.  Their pricing to this point has been great and the equipment has held up to the standards that we expect.  The Security Cameras that they offer have been very nice.  The camera equipment is affordable and the interface is easy to manage and very powerful.  Look for future writings on their products soon!

 

Here is the article…

Ubiquiti Stock Analsys

Should your business have its own “APP”?

I recently began researching the pros and cons of having an app for Midwest IT.  As I ventured out into Googleland to find a decent development platform, I began to think about possible functions that we could implement that would improve our customer service and make things easier for our end users.  What I found out was that some of the development tools were pretty powerful, giving many more options than I had first anticipated.  So I began a trial run to build our first app.  Lets see how this thing will work!

First I started a list of what it should do,

  • Submit support tickets
  • Easily call us
  • Easily refer someone to us

Then as I went into deeper thought, I came up with a few other great ideas

  • Easily email pictures (error screens, flashy lights, etc)
  • Sign up for a newsletter
  • Get info on our referral program
  • Find our website
  • Connect to our Social Media
  • Let people know about upcoming events
  • Send people notifications

I wanted to start with a basic, clean and functional main screen that would not be confusing.

app1

Then I added additional items to the More menu.

app2

The process was not overly difficult and the test app seems to function fast and easy.  Overall, I was very impressed.

When I analyzed having an app as a value add from a business perspective, it really seemed like a no-brainer.

  • The cost is relatively cheap.
  • It is very easy to maintain.
  • You have an additional direct point of contact to your customers.
  • Additional resource for announcing items to all customers.  (New products, deals, service alerts, industry notifications, etc)
  • Presents a additional professional service level to prospects.

If this seems like something you would be interested in, please let us know!

Keep your focus!!

Running a business is a 365 day a year job. While you focus on running your business let Midwest IT Solutions focus on keeping you up to date on the latest developments in information technology. In the 4th quarter of 2015 Microsoft launched Exchange Server 2016 and implemented updates to its Office 365 service and software suite. While both feature improved security, there are several key differences, which is crucial to understand when making the appropriate choice for your business.

Office 365 is Microsoft’s cloud based subscription service and therefore is no need to purchase any additional hardware. The low monthly subscription structure makes it a cost effective option for many small to mid-sized businesses in industries who need to comply with all current privacy and regulatory guidelines. Many business owners do not realize that free email services, such as Gmail, yahoo, and AOL are not compliant with certain security and privacy regulations. Any company that is found to be non-compliant in regulated industries may face a government fine, as well as have to pay a service to get them back in industry compliance.

In addition to meeting confidentiality requirements, the email service in Office 365 has an added feature called “Clutter.” Clutter utilizes smart technology to learn patterns in users email. If it sees that emails from a specific sender are consistently never opened or immediately delated it will send those messages to the Clutter folder rather than the inbox.

Unlike Office 365, Exchange Server 2016 is Microsoft’s most up to date and secure email software for on premise options. Some business owners prefer to keep their email server on premises rather than Office 365 due to a higher level of internal control. Depending on your particular business’ needs, it can offer higher performance than Microsoft’s cloud based service. There are some cases where an on premises server is the best, such as businesses that require large capacity file shares (50GB in size or more) or operations that would be bandwidth-prohibitive in a cloud scenario. Offices that have less infrastructure access to the internet would be wise to take this into account during their decision making process.

Exchange 2016 offers all of the same security features as Office 365 and is fully compliant with all privacy guidelines. However, it does not have the Clutter feature that Office 365 users are able to utilize. If you are currently using a now unsupported, or soon to be unsupported version of Exchange, it is past time to upgrade; preparing to move to Exchange 2016 is a must. Any business currently running a version of Exchange Server earlier than 2010 will need to perform an additional step as they upgrade. Files must be moved to Exchange Server 2010 as an interim step as newer versions cannot co-exist with any framework developed prior to 2010. It is important to remember that Microsoft will be terminating all support of any version of Exchange prior to 2010 on April 11, 2017. If your internal IT department has their hands full managing your day to day operations or if you do not have an internal IT department, Midwest can help you ensure a smooth transition as you migrate to the Exchange 2016 environment.

How do you know which option is the right choice for your business? Midwest can help you navigate the confusing world of information technology. You focus on what you do best and let Midwest handle the IT. Contact Us…