Our physical location is situated between the three points of Tampa, St Petersburg, and Clearwater, but Microsoft 365 and Office 365 know no boundaries. Sarasota and Bradenton are just over the bridge to the south. And Orlando is a few exits away on I-4. But your Microsoft data center – the physical location of your stored documents – might be in Atlanta or at another East Coast facility. Microsoft has over 100 of these data centers worldwide. In addition to this primary copy of your data held in the closest proximity to your location, redundant copies of your data might be stored in separate geographical regions.

​Just like any managed IT services provider, at least over 95% of our work is performed on a remote basis. Our helpdesk professionals might be in Clearwater, but they might also be in Toronto. And our high-level technical engineers (that require no personal contact and don’t need to speak perfect North American English) don’t need to be in Saint Petersburg at all. If a server needs such expertise, then we sometimes rely on a pool of outsourced techs from a reputable partner in the Detroit area.

For the remaining 5% of the time that an on-premises service call is absolutely required, we will send a qualified and vetted technician to your business. But do we keep plenty of trained staff on the payroll and waiting for that fraction of the time that it is critical? No, instead we use WorkMarket’s cloud-based software to find the appropriate skills at the precise time that these tasks are required. This method can not only provide prequalified experts to your door, but we can arrange scheduled or even emergency visits on an as-needed basis. In most cases, this is a cost-saving operation, which can indirectly be passed on to the client. And if the visit is scheduled enough time in advance, then it’s possible that you might see a familiar face and not a different tech each time.

While we are surrounded by prospective business clients within the Tampa Bay region, our reach extends far beyond this area. We currently have clients from Cape Cod to California. But our service environment exists within one interconnected cloud.

My roots are in the construction industry. My maternal grandfather and my father were both home builders of considerable accomplishment. In particular, my grandfather had as many as 15 carpenters working on the payroll. And most of these carpenters did the plumbing, electrical, and painting, too. This was ‘old school’.

But the trend 20-30 years later was for the more successful home builder to hire independent subcontractors, especially for such unique skills as drywall or roofing. Then there were framers, finish and trim subcontractors, landscapers, painters, plumbers, electricians, etc. But the sign on the lawn in front of the new home still displayed the name of the builder with the various subcontractors remaining anonymous. While the subcontractor chose this path of anonymity, they gave up the overall responsibility along with notoriety. That said, they were responsible to their trade and were required to produce consistent workmanship, else they were not hired again.

In real estate 50 years ago, agents worked for a small office and worked alone. Now real estate agencies are mostly franchised, and most agents work as part of team, some split into buyer representatives and perhaps another faction of the team working for the seller. But the agent in charge of it all is the one that gets the notoriety, the monetary rewards, and the upset clients.

In the IT industry, the technician formerly wore every hat just like the early builder and their tradesmen. But now we have printer/copier people, cable specialists, developers, security analysts, web designers, server and network techs, social media experts, website hosts, PowerShell scripters, cloud architects…

But another trend in IT is to subcontract helpdesk and network operations center (NOC) to an independent firm, the Master Managed IT Services Provider (MMSP). While some have disparaged this method, I would argue that this should be the support infrastructure that clients seek when sizing up their next prospective Managed IT Services Provider (MSP). Here’s why:

1.    The client wants the option to pick up the phone and call the IT person in charge.

They might not want to speak to the tech person on night duty, but there is a different phone number for that. Instead, they want to have that one-to-one conversation with someone that they know and trust, someone with whom they’ve established a rapport that is ultimately responsible for the technical duties.

But ultimately, the client has only one ‘throat-to-choke’. And when that client wants to have a conversation with the person who took on the responsibility of maintaining their tech, they do not want a busy signal, be sent to voicemail, or end up with an unintelligible foreign accent on the end of the line.

2.    The Master Managed Services Provider performs under contract.

So does the client, and so does the MSP. Employees can also perform under a contract, but I’ve experienced situations where these types of contracts are practically unenforceable. But the MMSP is bound to the duty of the agreement between them and the MSP. The MSP can dictate the manner in which the independent contractor MMSP performs, which by law and by reputation maintains a steady balance between client expectations and MSP responsibilities.

It’s been debated that the MMSP is the ‘fox in the henhouse’ when considering the mergers and acquisitions happening all over the IT industry. I would argue that the tech(s) are also foxes in the henhouse. With the proper agreement and honor among its participants, a contractual arrangement can keep everyone pleased. Another builder metaphor: When my father was asked for a contract late in his home building career (he never used contracts), he responded to his client by extending his hand and said, “Here is your contract.” It was likely considered a binding contract because there was a meeting of the minds.

But the dynamics between the providers (MSP and MMSP) determine the quality of their relationship, which spills over to the client. To use the builder metaphor again, if (s)he hires a skilled and reputable painter, then the home will be spotless when the home buyer arrives. If the MSP hires the right Master MSP within a proper framework, then the client will be pleased and contribute to a healthy business arrangement.

3.    The MSP with an MMSP solution provides a consistent quality of service.

Some might argue that rapport is lost when helpdesk and NOC are outsourced. On the contrary, a pool of unique technicians from a Master MSP can be assigned to a specific client so that there is a familiar, reliable, and consistent customer experience. More than that, availability and scalability become factors when a client expands or contracts – the MSP can adapt to client size by enlisting more or fewer resources.

For the small business owner considering a new IT firm, they should best consider that the IT firm might be too large or too small. Too large an IT firm means a disconnect between client and provider. Too small a firm could mean a chaotic outcome and service degradation as the IT firm’s clients might grow unexpectedly. But for the IT firm that has a dynamically sized and multiple-skilled human resource pool at their disposal, then growth is scalable while the consistent quality of service is maintained.

4.    SMBs want to do business with SMBs.

If given the choice between Behemoth IT Corporation, Dynamic IT, or Puny & Struggling IT LLC, which would you want as your technology partner? Behemoth IT is represented in today’s IT industry by such giants as All Covered and their parent company, Konica. If you contract with them, will you get the attention to detail that you require? Puny & Struggling IT LLC are trying to grow their staff to meet demand by an initially good reputation, but then one tech jumped ship for a better paying job, another got in a fight with his girlfriend, and yet another tech forgot to back up a client, just before that client was hit with ransomware. An IT firm with a dynamically sized staff can scale to your needs, while still maintaining rapport. The outsourcing of helpdesk and NOC services means that the leader of the IT firm inherently has more time to spend on quality control and sealing that ‘glue’ that holds them invaluable to one another.

5.   A dynamic IT firm can put ‘boots on the ground’ – anywhere at any time.

Any established IT firm will tell you that about 95% of their remediation is performed on a remote basis. The helpdesk and NOC services account for that percentage, but what about the rest? From Wikipedia: “WorkMarket is a New York City-based company that provides an online platform and marketplace for businesses to manage freelancers, contractors, and consultants.” This means that WorkMarket vets the worker in terms of legality, criminality, and certifications. It’s a full-time job, but that’s what they do – find and scrutinize good technicians to qualify them as qualified representatives that would enter your workplace.

In conclusion:

Everything has changed. Again. What worked during former times is not necessarily what works today.

Resolute IT has been 100% cloud-based since 2009. During the prior ten years, we were a small and conventional IT firm on Cape Cod with big servers and big gas bills as we traversed the dunes in a frenzied fashion, putting out technical fires here and there. Today we’re a calm and proactive firm that can provide its services anywhere in the US in a smart, efficient, predictable, and cloud-centric manner.

There has been a paradigm shift to the cloud. It’s been going on for over a decade, but many IT providers and their clients are still mired in dubious beliefs and legacy habits. No, you don’t need a server. No, you don’t need a VPN. No, you don’t need a local IT firm.

One of the most important factors in this dilemma is the protection of your organization’s property – your data. We previously locked down everything within the perimeters of the workplace, but now we use our company desktop and we use personal mobile devices beyond the local area network to access company information as we demand remote work capabilities. Now your data is locked down at the document level.

 Gone are the days of buying software. You never really owned it, but you purchased the right to use that software, that is, until it had to be replaced by a newer version. Now we subscribe to software-as-a-service apps, such as Salesforce, DocuSign, QuickBooks Online, Google Apps (G Suite), and Office 365 (Microsoft 365). Even giants like Adobe (Creative Cloud) and Autodesk (AutoCAD) have embraced the subscription-based model with strong hooks to the cloud. Salesforce has long had integration and Autodesk recently announced  integration  with Office 365.

With the advent of remote tools and AI, most every mundane task is, or will be, automated. The examples are endless here.

Need to get back into your account? No problem, just change the password yourself.

One aspect missing from the lists above would be the mention of teamwork versus individual accomplishment, responsibility, and notoriety. Now those attributes have moved to the team. As a case in point, a milestone metric  released today says that there now 13 million active daily users of Microsoft Teams, which puts Microsoft Teams ahead of Slack’s 10 million. 

Traditionally, an IT company would service a specific geographic area, usually within an hour’s drive of the home base. But as our industry has evolved, so has our reach in regard to whom we would service and where.

With third-party vendors such as WorkMarket, we can dispatch an onsite engineer with the appropriate skills, knowledge, tools, and experience to your location within the same time frame that any local IT firm would.

But even the local IT firm uses remote tools to better service your end-users and their machines. I hear most IT firm owners boast that 95% of their work is performed by remote control or other remote means.

In consideration of these two factors — onsite engineers on-demand; and remote helpdesk (or network operations center) — we can confidently claim that we’re a 100% remote provider. Our only geographic boundary is the United States.

Both our fully-managed Optimum 365 and limited HelpDesk 365 services are available on a national basis.

 

HelpDesk 365 | Annual Remote SupportIn the spirit of Fourth of July sales, we thought this half-price offering might interest you:

As a July special, we’re offering a blend of both training and help desk support at a 50% rate for 3 or more end-users at $174.50 per person over an entire year. Max 9 licenses.

For smaller businesses (normally under five end-users), we offer a limited helpdesk service. Helpdesk 365 is only available during specific hours and incidents are limited to five (5) tickets per user per month, and one should bear in mind that an email message sent to [email protected] initiates a ticket in our system. A chat message sent within the Microsoft Teams support channel is not initially considered a ticket, nor does it create one automatically like an email does, however, a chat message might evolve and eventually attain ticket status.

helpdesk 365 is not a managed services plan. There are no proactive measures, not even monitoring in an ongoing basis, although we will install a remote agent that collects basic system information and alerts us of the most critical events, as well as the agent enables remote control as a reactionary remediation tool.

Regular Price:  $349 per person per year
Sale Price: $349 $174.50 (minimum 3 licenses)

Click here to schedule 1-hour onboarding session 

RIT | Optimum 365 | Managed IT Services | 4 pages | (30 downloads)

According to a 2015 report from the US Small Business Administration, there were over 30 million small businesses (under 500 employees) and the average small business had 10.5 workers. It’s probably safe to say that these numbers haven’t changed much over the past 4 years.

Ten years ago, though, almost all of these businesses with about 5-25 employees had an on-premises server. There was a server rush in the mid-2000s when Microsoft came out with Small Business Server 2003, which included email services, document storage, printer sharing, line of business application hosting, and identity management. It was the Swiss army knife of the small business. I know because I was there – I had an IT practice on Cape Cod in Massachusetts that primarily sold these custom-built servers and maintained them as a ‘managed services provider’ or MSP.

But now Microsoft’s website reveals that not only is Small Business Server a thing of the past, but its replacement, Windows Server Essentials, is deprecated, meaning that its core functionality has been stripped, including one of its endeared features, Remote Web Workplace. There are no more dashboards or wizards to set up your services – this all has to be done manually, just as it has always been done in the plain old version of Windows Server.

The second paragraph of that recently updated web page (June 19, 2019) tells the reader that Microsoft now recommends Microsoft 365 business as a replacement:

“We highly recommend Microsoft 365 for small business customers as a replacement for all versions of Windows Server Essentials. Microsoft 365 is a modern solution for file sharing and collaboration, and includes Office 365, Windows 10, and Enterprise Mobility + Security.”

The article goes on to specifically recommend Microsoft 365 Business, which is good for businesses with up to 300 end-users:

“Evolve your business further with Microsoft 365 Business, which includes even more Office features, like e-mail and calendaring, file storage in the cloud, data protection, and more. Microsoft 365 Business will help your small business achieve new levels of productivity.”

My opinion: It’s about time. I retired my own on-premises servers in 2008 and I’ve never looked back. As I mentioned in a conversation earlier today, if my laptop falls in the drink, then I just buy a new one, log in to Microsoft 365 portal and download my applications along with all of my documents and settings. Done.

microsoft teams live training
Resolute IT has a new branch of business – RIT U

Launch
microsoft teams live trainingThe first course is now offered in triplicate, that is, three identical courses will launch on July 8, 2019. One begins at noon EDT that day, followed by a 2-3pm class, and the last class of the day will happen from 4-5pm. This popularly requested learning topic and buzzing business movement will be Microsoft Teams.

When?
The courses generally run over the last 3 weeks of the month (every month) and take place 3 times per week (Tuesday | Wednesday | Thursday). Just choose your preferred time of day for your class or simply go to any class whenever one is held – students have life access to the courses they purchased. We also have a ‘focus week’ about once per month, where we’ll go through all 9 modules over the course of 3 days (3 classes x 3 afternoons).

Description
This course covers an in-depth overview of Microsoft Teams from its roots in Office 365 to general navigation, terminology, and best practices all the way to Connectors, Bots, Apps, and Services. We cover file sharing, conversation types, meeting types, PSTN calling, guest members, and audio/video settings. Finally, you will learn Microsoft Teams administration through the Microsoft 365 portal or with options using Windows PowerShell.

What It’s Like
Each class consists of about 20 minutes of lecture delivered by PowerPoint and Zoom, then about 10 minutes of live demonstration by sharing the desktop screen in Zoom, which is followed by one-half hour of live lab experience in Microsoft Teams. The first half of each class is held using Zoom for desktop sharing by the instructor, but the lab portion of the class is held within Microsoft Teams itself and monitored by the instructor. Each student is given personalized attention, as needed.

Ongoing
Training continues after the course is over – every student who completes the course is given free access to the RIT U | Graduate Team in Microsoft Teams, where follow-up questions are answered by chat at no additional charge. For those requesting additional and ongoing training, we have an annual subscription called HelpDesk 365, which are help desk services provided per individual.

Customized Group Classes
Unique class schedules are available for you and your firm’s special needs, perhaps as a shorter overall course time and with fewer sessions. And if you have an immediate need for training in another Office application than Teams, then we can talk about that, too.

Discounted Group Rates
We have three pricing tiers above the standard retail rate of $249 per single student (less than five in a group); then we have a 5-9 tier at $175; a 10-19 tier at $150 per student; and $125 per student for 20+ in a prepaid group.

$249 – Retail (per single seat under 5 seats)
$175 > 5 seats
$150 > 10 seats
$125 > 20 seats

Push-back Remedy
Outsourced training puts the onus on another party in regard to ‘learning push-back’. Establish organization integrity by reinforcing the firm’s required best practices through the mouthpiece of a live instructor.

The Instructor’s Mission
As a veteran of the IT managed services provider focus for the Small to Medium-Sized Business (SMB), Scott Abbotts shows his depth and breadth of experience when helping people learn new technologies with the maturity and respect due to fellow professionals. Our mission is to leave a legacy of empowered, productive workers, and conquered challenges.

Scott Abbotts
Resolute IT | RIT U
https://training.resolute-it.com
[email protected]
(727) 300-4940

microsoft teams hub for teamwork

From Microsoft Teams, you can access almost every resource from apps to data.

 

SharePoint: Open Teams and go to the Channel of a Team to find the Files tab, which is a reflection of the Channel’s folder, which resides within that Team’s SharePoint document library.

 

OneDrive: While in a private chat, share a document with a colleague. When you do, then that document stays in your OneDrive with sharing permissions for the colleague.

 

PowerApps: Create a PowerApps app for your mobile team to input data. View that app and its corresponding data on the web, within the mobile PowerApps app, or within a Teams tab as a connected app.

 

Kaizala: Very soon, we’ll see Kaizala as a new addition to Teams. The two will interop especially in terms of chat messages.

 

OneNote: The digital filing cabinet, OneNote, can also become an app for collaboration, especially when OneNote is added to a tab within a Teams Channel.

 

Flow: Microsoft Flow creates workflows that automate repetitive work tasks triggered by your Microsoft Teams data.

 

Planner: Work on your task-related project from within Teams or in Planner on the web, remove or delete your plan, and get notified in Teams when a task is assigned to you in Planner.

 

Scott Abbotts | Resolute IT | (727) 300-4940

 

The top ten technology concerns for the SMB:

1.    Data

2.    Digital Transformation

3.    Cybersecurity

4.    Compliance

5.    Integration

6.    Cost

7.    Talent Scarcity

8.    Scalability

9.    Choice

10. Adoption

========================================================

1.    Data: Management, Analysis, Utilization, & Storage

Where do I put it all? How? What is it doing for me? How do we find it? Do I have capacity to store it all?

OneDrive, SharePoint and Azure Storage are the three storage technologies from Microsoft that can respectively provide personal, team, and organizational data repositories. Power BI can provide greater insight into your data. And connect to a wealth of resources with Microsoft Graph. Use Microsoft Teams as a ‘filing system’ and Azure Information Protection to classify and then share documents without worry for where any company data might be stored or located.

2.    Digital Transformation: Paperless Office | Remote Workforce | Keeping Up with Moore’s Law | Recognizing the Value of New Technologies (IoT, AI, AR, VR)

Everything is happening online. Can I avoid it? How can I determine the best investment?

Scan your paper documents with OneDrive right from your mobile device. Leverage the power of the cloud to speed up processes. AI is built into Windows 10, Microsoft Teams, and every other Microsoft application. Add LTE or 5G redundancy to your current internet access. And include WiFi probes to diagnose network performance and receive alerts to significant events or intrusions.

3.    Cybersecurity: Reducing the Attack Surface | Recognizing the Human Element

Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection helps with Safe Links and Safe Attachments. Multifactor Authentication reduces the risk of infection by a whopping 99%. Windows Defender AV is now a world-class antivirus solution, competing with the rest for the top spot in recent reviews, and now coming the MacOS. The best solution is a holistic one – don’t break up your security defenses into disparate services, but instead use the entire synergistic Microsoft ecosystem of security tools with industry best practices.

4.    Compliance: Abiding by Laws and Regulations | No GDPR in the USA – Not Yet | Govt. and Industry Regs

If you engage in business with any other business under the mandate of GDPR, then your business must comply, as well. And it’s only a matter of time before GDPR (in some form) comes to the US. Already we have HIPAA and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, so we must take measures to comply. If not, then the business can be fined heavily to the extent that it can possibly affect the longevity and integrity of the business.

5.    Integration: Will It Work with Existing Tech? | Connecting Widgets

The biggest mistake is to buy software the old-fashioned way – to supposedly ‘own it’. But these conventional and static versions of Office 2016/2019 do not keep current with continuous upgrades as they do with the Business and Pro Plus versions that come with Office 365 licenses. Keeping within a holistic ecosystem can avoid integration pitfalls. Use Intune and Windows AutoPilot Service to deploy new or existing devices to remote workers.

6.    Cost: Technology Is Not an Option | Average Tech Budget is 40 Percent

In today’s world, a business without technology is not in business. The average spending budget for SMB’s is 40% of overall operating costs. Using the cloud and subscription-based technologies such as Office/Microsoft365 reduce high capital expenses by leveraging lower monthly operating expenses instead.

7.    Talent Scarcity: Finding the Right Provider | Is Your IT Provider Skilled with the New Ways of the Modern Workplace?

This is a topic that confounds me. Too few of my peers are proficient with Office/Microsoft 365 as a single cohesive platform – most only see it as a perpetual expense for the MS Office software suite alone. But an IT provider must understand how to harmonize the entire Office/Microsoft 365 platform.

8.    Scalability: Ability to Grow Up or Down | Seasonal Peaks or Growing Pains

A CPA firm might need more resources during tax time and less afterward, or a new business might experience unexpected and exponential growth. Office/Microsoft 365 licenses can be added or removed, as needed.

9.    Choice: Which Tech to Choose? | So Many Vendors of Similar Tech

Again, it is my best recommendation to stay within the ecosystem of Office/Microsoft 365. In most cases, you will find an integrated solution that works with the rest of your Office applications. For example, build your own PowerApps application to enable your unique mobile force.

10. Adoption: Will My Employees Embrace New Ways? | If I Build It, Will They Come?

It’s got to be fun. It has to become part of your business culture. You can produce a thousand videos or online courses, but if they don’t watch them, then they don’t learn. There has to be a human element of enthusiasm when an engaged champion brings their excitement for apps such as Microsoft Teams to their peers. Who’s the next hero in your firm?

Toward the end of 2008, a bit more than ten years ago, I shut down my previous business on Cape Cod, shut down the old Microsoft Small Business Server 2003, and shut down a few other servers for the last time. Instead, I went to the cloud. Ironically, I became certified with Microsoft as a Small Business Specialist in mid-2008, the same year that I abandoned Small Business Server for myself.

To replace the email functionality of SBS 2003, I went to Microsoft’s Hosted Exchange, actually provided by a Canadian company, SherWeb, who is still very much in business and still a Gold Microsoft Partner. For only a few dollars (I think it was $10-12) a month, I had all the features of the on-premises server-based Exchange, as well as document storage in the cloud with SharePoint, which came with the subscription as part of the packaged bundle.

For my two line-of-business (LOB) IT management tools, I elected each of their cloud-based versions. Same with the phone system – the IP PBX was now placed in the cloud.

I kept running QuickBooks locally for some time, although the data file and the backup file were both stored in SharePoint. Inuit doesn’t recommend this, but I was solo at that point, so there was no sharing of the working QuickBooks file. Eventually, though, I moved to QuickBooks Online.

Microsoft Office 365 was officially launched in late June 2011. I stayed with Microsoft’s Hosted Exchange for about six months but then moved to this new platform in January of 2012. That was over 7 years ago.

Since then, I have been introducing Office 365 to my customers, and no one is left that isn’t subscribed to this cloud-based platform.

When I first started with Office 365, what is now OneDrive for Business was then called SkyDrive Pro. I can’t tell you what improvements I’ve seen since then. What an evolution that I’ve experienced first-hand.

And now I use Microsoft 365 Business, which is a bundle of Office 365 Business Premium, Windows 10 Pro, and Enterprise Mobility + Security (EMS). EMS is the umbrella for several Microsoft technologies, such as Intune for device management, Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection, Azure AD, and Azure Information Protection. My subscription was a break-even upgrade from Office 365 Enterprise E3, which was also $20 per month.

I also have an Office 365 Enterprise E1 account for [email protected], which is more closely related to the Hosted Exchange account I had long ago with SherWeb. But with this Enterprise account, I can associate my Phone System and Calling Plan subscriptions. Unfortunately, Microsoft’s VoIP offering cannot be added to Microsoft 365 Business, but only available as an add-on to an E-level plan. I have to say that after using many VoIP systems in the past, I am very pleased with this Office 365 and Microsoft Teams-integrated phone system.

It’s been a long ride and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.