Microsoft Azure

Everything You Need to Know About Microsoft Azure

What is Microsoft Azure?

Microsoft Azure helps small and midsize businesses grow with greater efficiency and be more responsive to change. It is a flexible cloud platform that enables you to quickly build, deploy, and manage applications across a global network of Microsoft-managed data centers. You can build applications using any language, tool, or framework. You can integrate your public cloud applications with your existing IT environment. With Azure, you can be up and running fast, scale up or down as needed, and avoid high capital costs-paying only for what you use.

What are the benefits of Microsoft Azure?
  • win_win_checks.jpg Back up your files and data to the cloud, simply and affordably
  • Ensure continuous uptime with Azure’s 99.95% monthly SLA
  • Host apps on Azure to deploy quickly and pay only for resources you use
  • Scale solutions up or down as needed
  • Access cloud-hosted applications from anywhere

Microsoft Azure Backup
  • Recover data in case of disasters (server destroyed/stolen, disk crash)
  • Recover data in case of data loss scenarios such as data accidentally deleted, volume deleted, viruses
  • Simple installation and configuration
  • Reduced cost for backup storage and management
  • Ideal for small businesses, branch offices, and departmental needs
  • Use either the Microsoft Online Backup Service Agent or the Online Backup Windows Powershell cmdlets

Backup your on-site SQL Server Database to the cloud
  • Automate database backups to minimize data loss
  • Encrypt your backup files for added protection
  • Restore to the cloud if on-site servers are down

  • Manual or automatic backups
  • Enable backup directly to Microsoft Azure storage
  • All you need is the URL and storage key
  • At an instance level with point in time restore
  • Measures DB usage patterns to set backup frequency

Hosting Apps on Microsoft Azure

 You can host apps in the cloud by moving them to a VM on Microsoft Azure. Running VMs in Azure offer the following benefits:
  • On-demand laaS for any VM workload
  • Cost Effective Provisioning – no need to buy new hardware
  • Familiar Hyper-V VHD format for easy deployment
  • 99.95% up time
  • No need for remote access solutions
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So Long, Farewell, Goodbye 2016

As 2016 comes to an end, PC Professional will be here for you.

  • PC Professional can fill in for staff and provide coverage.
  • PC Professional will continue to monitor your network so that your work can go on.
  • Need to finish off that year end budget? Call your account manager to speak about your options.
  • Already thinking about 2017? We are happy to meet with you to start planning for the new year.

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7 Questions to Ask When Creating A Disaster Recovery Plan

7 Questions to Ask When Creating A Disaster Recovery Plan
  1. What is the likely cost of downtime and data loss to my company?
    • The cost of downtime varies per industry and the specific applications that go offline.
    • To accurately determine cost of downtime, conduct a business impact analysis and a risk assessment for each business-critical application.
  2. What are my recovery objectives?
    • Recovery Point Objective (RPO): How much time can I afford to lose?
    • Recovery Time Objective (RTO): How quickly do I need this application to be back up and running post the disaster?
    • Recovery Capacity Objective (RCO): How much computing capacity do I need to recover and by when?
  3. What are my application and system dependencies?
    • Most applications rely on many other applications and services, within and beyond IT infrastructure, and an application cannot be recovered without recovering all that it depends on.
    • These dependencies must be understood and included in the disaster recovery plan to know exactly what has to be recovered and in what order to meet RPOs and RTOs.
  4. Where should my disaster recovery site be located?
    • Out of range of the same disaster
    • Within reach of recovery staff
    • Close enough to meet RPOs
  5. What connection size (bandwidth) do I need between my product and disaster recovery sites?
    • It’s likely that connection size will need to be varied depending on what is being done:
      • Seeding
      • Transmitting/Replicating Changes
      • Reseeding
      • Failing Over
      • Coming Back
  6. What compliance and security measures have to be in place at my disaster recovery site?
    • Disaster does not excuse from HIPAA, Sarbanes-Oxley, or other regulatory compliance requirements.
    • Disaster recovery sites may also  need to meet security, data privacy, or monitoring standards or requirements specific to each industry.
  7. How often do we need to exercise our disaster recovery strategy?
    • Exercise twice per year at a minimum to ensure recovery strategy accounts for likely changes such as changed infrastructure or different staff.

Source: Disaster Recovery Journal, Summer 2016, pages 42-44.

Year-End Planning

How many to-do’s have you checked off before the year-end?

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  • Update Password Security
  • Back-Up Data
  • Staff Augmentation
  • Reassess Disaster Planning
  • Document Changes to the Network
  • Achieve IT Goals
  • Monitor Expenditures
Not quite where you want to be? Don’t fear, PC Professional is here.

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Call now to schedule an appointment to meet with your account manager to address any concerns.
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Office 365 Recent & Upcoming Updates

Here are some of the latest updates to Office 365. Click the news item to read more about that specific update. Check the bullet point note to see if the update affects you depending on which Office 365 plan you have.

  1. Clutter in Email: New users will no longer have the Clutter feature auto-enabled so they may have a different Outlook experience than existing users.
    • Applicable to Office 365 ProPlus, E1, E3, E5 plans
    • Applicable to Office 365 ProPlus, E1, E3, E5 plans
    • Applicable to Office 365 ProPlus, E3, E5 plans
    • Applicable to Office 365 ProPlus, E1, E3, E5 plans
    • In progress, applicable to Office 365 E5
    • Applicable to Office 365 ProPlus, E3, E5 plans
    • Upcoming in 2017 available in Windows 10 Creators Update
    • Applicable to active Office 365 users
    • Preview available to Office 365 commercial customers
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Quick Cyber Security Tips to Integrate into Your Daily Routine

Just because October – National Cyber Security Awareness Month – is over, does not mean we should forget what we have learned. Here are some quick reminders to continue to stay cyber secure in your day to day life.
How many can you check off?
  • Always lock or turn off your screen when you walk away from your computer.
  • Create strong, complicated, long passwords, and do not share them.
  • Do not click links, attachments, or emails from strangers. Disable automatic downloading of attachments.
  • Enable two-step (or more) authentication.
  • Always actively install updates to your computer and keep software up to date. Use antivirus software.
  • Do not give out personal information in an email or text.
  • Check for https to ensure safe and secure websites. Always double check the URL because even one character off could entrap you in a phishing scam.
  • Back up any important data.
  • Report any suspicious activity.
Tips Courtesy of the Department of Homeland Security
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Maximizing Your Dollar, OPEX Your Productivity Needs

In the perfect world, every company would have a never ending bucket of money for technology and marketing so you always have the latest and greatest tools and streams to promote your business. Wake up call; in reality this is usually never the case even within the most profitable organizations around the world. So how do we maximize every dollar and creatively and strategically use every penny in the smartest way possible to have maximum business impact?

 

Our strategy at PC Professional is quite simple. Taking a vCIO approach in analyzing all your business needs and process helps us not only consolidate down processes that might be adding “more fat” to your workflow but we also take what would be traditional CAPEX costs into a OPEX expense so your initial investment doesn’t cost you an arm and a leg. Having been in business since 1981, we’ve seen just about everything in the unfolding and changing of technology. We can attest to  what works and doesn’t and what the impacts are to your environment. Whether it be cloud, hybrid or on premise, your solution delivery comes with our “34 Years of Business” validation seal.

 

For example, with Microsoft Server 2003 coming end of support July 14th, we are working with small and large companies to properly plan their course of action so they aren’t left vulnerable and out of compliance if their industry has governmental regulations. With that we are helping companies address overall information delivery to minimize manual time consuming workflows and develop more automated and template based processes so you don’t have to repeat the same things over and over again. Whether it’s leveraging Microsoft Sharepoint or other major applications for your industry, our approach has allowed businesses to significantly cut out wasted time in an effort to be more agile and efficient.

 

Our head, heart and hands approach takes into consideration what you the customer “thinks about” in your mind, “wants” in your heart and “tactically do” with your hands to promote bottom line productivity. Many times customers don’t realize they can really have what they want and have been thinking about by just taking a step back and analyzing their workflow to shave down and consolidate processes and/or solutions for that matter.

 

If you’re moving up the wrong productivity ladder, sometimes it makes sense to come down a step to move to the correct ladder. The road to productivity is easier said than done, we understand this, but sometimes you need a little downtime to gain more uptime.

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Leveraging Technology to Boost Business Productivity

Aligning a company’s strategic objectives with productive employees successfully executing their business goals is what most people would measure productivity against. Many times it’s easier said than done. Execution and the ability to deliver results is key but what technology empowerment and resources would help maximize business productivity and therefore result in overall company success? Many times we run into situations where a client is looking for one solution to bandage their one problem area. This in result creates a sort of “build as you go” environment that lacks standardization, manageability and overall controllability. Due to the lack of resources, budget, and time technology rollouts these days often result in tactical engagements versus long term impactful strategic decisions.

Many VAR’s still lead with their “Core Services” and/or “Strategic Manufacturer Solutions.” PC Professional is changing our overall strategy and with every inquiry into our organization, we are taking a step back to take leaps forward in helping your organization make the right decisions in achieving increased business productivity across all your business units. Our dedicated team of account managers and technicians sit at the table as an acting vCIO and not as a traditional reseller. We ask questions to be disruptive to help our clients plan out how to maximize business productivity from all technology layers to help every single person in the organization achieve their goals. This is how a business measures success and ultimately becomes a leader in their industry.

Here are some of the key areas of conversation we often have in attacking the vCIO wheel to measure not only our effectiveness in the relationship but also in helping client’s optimize their business productivity needs:

Technology Assessment: What does your business look like today and what areas of strength/weakness is there? This is where we often find the bottlenecks and areas requiring attention to make an organization more lean and agile in their resource delivery. Whether this entails cleaning up an old Active Directory structure or understanding what systems and applications are running on your bandwidth, having visibility into your activity and resources is key in starting the move to a more agile environment. PC Professional’s NetDetect Assessment provides multiple modules to meet reporting needs ranging from: Security Assessments, Network Assessment, Compliance reporting to Asset Management Reports.

Technology Acquisition: Are legacy items straining your network? Can bottleneck removals and system upgrades improve overall user productivity and information access? Something as simple as replacing older 10/100 switches with gigabit ones or adding a NextGen firewall for traffic shaping and QoS can provide increased productivity and positive end user experience by leaps and bounds. For example, ,any times we see clients paying expensive ISP costs and throwing Mpbs upon Mpbs into their pipe due to their end users complaining about bandwidth. The reality is, the more bandwidth available, the quicker it will just keep getting consumed. By implementing new technology to help shape, control, monitor and track the bandwidth is a much wiser decision and much cheaper one at that.

Strategic Planning and Budgeting: We can safely say most everyone has a wish list when it comes technology needs. Whether it be getting faster PC’s running the latest operating system or getting a more manageable storage infrastructure that has disaster recovery capabilities, there always exists needs and wants that are never fully met. Proper budgeting and planning can help you achieve those acquisitions and rollouts. Depending on the need and technology available, many clients are surprised to learn that consolidating and strategic planning can actually deliver more for less. For example, existing Microsoft Office365 clients or ones who are exploring going there can leverage solutions like Skype of Business or Microsoft Sharepoint to foster streamlined communication and resource sharing and collaboration not just provide hosted Exchange email.

Security: I know we’ve hit this topic all throughout this year but we can’t stress enough how important it is to secure all layers of your network. Many people think that having a firewall as your perimeter defense is enough. What about the other windows and doors to your network? Playing defense is key with all the vulnerabilities and attacks hitting networks these days. Whether it’s the typical malware or ransomware, phishing, spam or direct network hacks, nothing impacts productivity more than a security vulnerability that takes your network down and compromises your data.

Policy and Procedures: Finally, having documented policies and procedures to ensure your data is secure and that employees are operating at maximum effective and efficient levels is prime in the goal to achieve success. Utilizing resources and technology within their approved capacities ensures you are in compliance to not only governmental laws but corporate governance as well. With all the balls moving in their proper direction, your business can make strides toward maximized efficiency and productivity.

Our goal here at PC Professional is to allow your organization to be the leader in your industry. At the end of the day, the success of our customers is a direct fruit of our effective planting. Engage with us today and lets grow together.