Within the Outlook ribbon, there’s a big button that says Archive. If you select a message and click that button, the message will be sent to the Archive folder. This is a system folder and cannot be deleted, but it’s really just a folder under your primary Inbox, so this particular Archive still uses up your allotment of space on the mail server.

 

Depending on your Office 365 subscription plan, there are differing capacities for the primary mailbox. But all Office 365 plans that include Exchange Online (basic cloud-based email service) have another Archive location, which is essentially another mailbox, just tied to your own email account.

 

This other Archive location effectively doubles the size of your mailbox. For example, if you have Office 365 Business Premium, then you get 50 GB of storage space for your primary mailbox and 50 GB of storage space for your Online Archive or In-Place Archive – no one seems to agree on which is the most current or correct name. (In the Outlook for Mac email client, this online archive folder shows up as ‘Online Archive’. In Outlook for Windows, it shows up as ‘Online Archive – [email protected]’. In Outlook on the web, it shows up as ‘In-Place Archive – Your Name’.) Whatever you call it, its capacity is also 50 GB, however, it’s an ever-expanding capacity, automatically adjusting at 10 GB intervals, so it’s really an unlimited repository.

 

The way that you offload mail items to this ever-expanding online repository is by way of retention policies. You might have a policy that dictates all mail items under your Inbox older than 1 year will automatically be moved to the Online Archive. When all of these items arrive in the Online archive according to the policy, the sub-folder hierarchy reflects your primary Inbox and its folders. So if you have a folder called News under your Inbox, then a News folder will be created in the Online Archive along with the contents that are older than one year.

 

So similar to Inbox Rules, a Retention Policy is an automatic way to organize your email and take advantage of a vast storage space.

RMM = Remote Monitoring and Management

The RMM software agent runs on desktops, laptops, and servers. While it’s running in the background and invisibly, it collects generic information about your hardware, software, network, updates/patches, security concerns, and user accounts. No confidential data is observed in the process.

Here are the must-haves for any RMM according to the long-standing PSA and RMM vendor, ConnectWise:

  1. Automate any IT process or task
  2. Work on multiple machines at once
  3. Solve issues without interrupting clients
  4. Integrate smoothly into a professional services automation (PSA) tool
  5. Manage everything from one control center

 *I’m using Solarwinds MSP RMM & PSA

Some clients have concerns about possible tech scams, which are valid. There have been too many unsolicited calls from people claiming to represent “Microsoft”, but instead plant malware into your computer and then charge to have them take it out. It’s a big scam and it still happens today.

One key component of the Remote Monitoring and Management solution is remote control software. With a single click, a technician can sit with you virtually to visually examine your problem situation. Other key functions include automated tasks (such as running disk utilities), automatic patching with only approved Microsoft updates, and general network health reporting about your devices and their connectivity.

When the RMM is integrated with a Professional Services and Automation (PSA) tool such as Solarwinds MSP also provides, these tools can powerful insight and capabilities for your IT support team. Sending an email to [email protected] creates a new ticket request to be approved by Resolute IT Support in its ticketing system.

In short, where we’ve been putting out fires as needed (break/fix), we can now be more proactive and take measures to prevent problems that would otherwise be likely for the future (managed services). The RMM agent and its integration with the PSA management module enable us to look at new billing methods that mean a win/win scenario for provider/client.

One of the loudest buzzwords heard these days within the business computing environment is SECURITY. And the number one method to prevent a security breach is the use of multi-factor (MFA) or two-step authentication.

 

The most common practice in the MFA arena is to use SMS texting to receive an authentication code. When prompted, you enter the code into the field provided and voilà! The problem with this is that hackers are now SIM swapping or hijacking your mobile phone. When they’re successful, the hackers can request and receive a security code to access your account, lock you out of your own account, and wreak havoc with your life.

 

The best way around this is to use an authenticator app. Google has one, Microsoft has one, and there are popular third-party authenticator apps, such as Authy. They all work with any of your online accounts, but you should find one and use it!

 

As a Microsoft-centric technician, my preference is to use Microsoft Authenticator. It provides security codes for all Microsoft accounts either free and business, Google/Gmail, Reddit, Facebook, and so on. The easiest account to access with Authenticator is your Office 365 account – a balloon pops up on your mobile device and you simply tap it to authenticate.

 

When your devices are managed through Intune and Enterprise, Mobility + Security (EMS), then you have to have permission to use the app first. In my case, the Touch ID biometric thumb reader on my iPhone provides quick access to the Authenticator app itself, as well as access to any other Microsoft apps on the device.

 

It takes some getting used to, however getting hacked is not an option.

 

Scott Abbotts | https://resolute-it.com | https://office365techguy.com

Hand Shake AgreementWhen an IT services company charges hourly for their work, they have no incentive to accomplish tasks in a timely or even competent manner. Nor are they compelled to innovate or formulate preventive measures. If it breaks, then cha-ching!

On the other hand, if an IT services company is paid to keep everything working, then it behooves them to remain proactive. If they don’t, then they’re not doing their prescribed job, which means dismissal and termination of the agreement = no $$$$. “You’re fired.”

These are the basic tenets of the managed IT services model. When a proactive and preventive agreement is in place, then it is in the mutual benefit of both parties that the Internet is up, the computers are running, data is safely in place, the workers are productive, and the company is compliant with regulatory mandates.

When all is up and running in a stable manner, then costs also become stable. The agreement between the IT services company and their client determines the expected monthly compensation amount. And the agreement defines the set of services provided on behalf of the client. It is understood by both parties that the same payment amount will transpire on a consistent basis, which means no surprises; the IT services company can rely upon payment and the client company can expect to pay the monthly remittance as an ongoing cost of doing business – for stable conditions.

And it’s not just about the network and the machines. The people using the network need ongoing support. They need to resolve problems that arise preventing them from accomplishing the tasks at hand. And they need improved skills to attain their long-term goals, so training is an integral component of the managed IT services support environment. One-on-one coaching is invaluable and providing a responsive helpdesk system is crucial to the holistic health of the system.

The managed services contract is nothing more than a simple agreement. Both parties pledge to perform for their mutual benefit.

Scott Abbotts | https://resolute-it.com | https://office365techguy.com


For many years, we’ve learned to save files to folders. And within folders, we’ve created subfolders as yet another location to store files. And then you might create a folder within 
that subfolder… The result can lead to a complicated collection of nested folders with files stored in disparate locations.

 

Then along came SharePoint where we learned a new way to sort documents – with metadata. Metadata hasn’t gone away at all, but I only see its best value when considering larger document libraries.

 

 

Now we have Microsoft Teams and its filing system! Because each channel within Teams has an associated folder in the Team’s SharePoint document library, we’re starting to consider yet another way of looking at file management. Perhaps we can think of a Teams channel as a folder?

 


 

The General folder for the General channel is seen from the RIT Finance SharePoint team site.

 

 

If we were to add a new channel to a team, then a new folder by that name would appear in addition to the General folder.

 

But now we have to talk about sharing files within Teams.

 

When a file is shared with a colleague while in a private chat, then the file is stored within the OneDrive repository belonging to the person who shared the file. In truth, OneDrive is actually a hidden SharePoint library, but that’s fodder for another conversation.

 

But when you share a file while in a channel’s group conversation, then the file becomes stored within the respective channel’s Files tab, or rather, the channel’s folder within the Team’s SharePoint document library.

 

If you’ve forgotten which channel’s folder contains the file you’re looking for, then you can go to the Files button in the left-hand rail to view and scroll through the collective list of files belonging to all teams and channels. Or you can search all files across all Teams’ channels from the Command bar at the top-center. This search tool is available at all times wherever you are within the Teams app. You can also sort using metadata within the Files view by clicking the column labels, such as Type, Name, Modified, and Location.


 

“Currently, according to Microsoft, more than half of all commercial (business) Office users are using Office 365 rather than standalone/perpetual Office. But during some point in the company’s fiscal 2019 (which kicks off on July 1, 2018), Microsoft is expecting two-thirds of its business Office customers will be using Office 365.“ – Mary Jo Foley  (10/10/2017)

Okay, so let’s just say that we remain just past the halfway point. Somewhere else I picked up another tidbit from Redmond VP, Brad Anderson, who told of Microsoft billing for more than 120 million Office 365 licenses (users) per month. Doing the math, when it hits the 2/3 mark, then there will be an additional 40 million people using Office 365 during this fiscal year topping out at 160 million licensed users per month.

Dollar amounts and corporate earnings aside, this is a massive demographic, especially in consideration of all the servers that will be retired, all the documents that will be uploaded, and all 40 million email accounts along with each account’s respective messages, contacts, calendars and tasks that will migrated from on-premise machines to data centers.

But with the new cloud platform brings new ways of getting things done. You’ll no longer save to the S:\ (shared) drive; instead you’ll save to a SharePoint library, that is, if you’re saving to a common repository of shared documents. Your own documents – those that you’re still getting ready to publish for the rest to view and modify – will be saved to your respective OneDrive, which is actually a hidden SharePoint document library itself.

And now that your original files sit in the cloud, they can be shared with a link, not by attachment to an email. When they’re shared in this manner, then multiple users can co-author the document simultaneously. No more passing around various versions of the same file. The real file gets modified right in front of you as you share it with colleagues.

Not much will change with email, except that you’ll likely spend less time in Outlook. Instead, you’ll be chatting away in Microsoft Teams, either by text in private or within a group chat scenario, perhaps while several are co-authoring a document and tossing ideas back and forth. And if the conversation dictates a meeting, then that can happen in an ad hoc private manner with up to 20 attendees or later on as a scheduled meeting. And the scheduled meeting can be audio only, or it can be a video meeting with up to 250 attendees.

“There is also an option for recordings to have automatic transcription, so that users can play back meeting recordings with closed captions and search for important discussion items in the transcript.” – Microsoft

And more than ever, we will work from anywhere. Teams meetings, for example, can be attended using your mobile device.

40 million more Office 365 users – that’s equivalent to the entire population of California.

Managed ServicesMy first experience with a computer was when I was a building contractor in Connecticut around 1990. The Department of Consumer Protection had mandated that all construction contracts, large and small, contain specifically prescribed content provided by the state, which resulted in a 6-page document, at the least. To remedy the situation, I went out and purchased a DOS computer and a word processor program. I took the computer out of the box and didn’t move until about 4am. When I finally made it into bed and shut the lights, there were two big blue dots (one for each eye) where the monitor had been. I was infatuated.

My career in construction evolved from building to selling real estate. Of course, real estate meant more contracts and eventually a digital MLS system – I found myself immersed in a world of computers again. I always helped the other agents that didn’t ‘get it’ when it came to the computers, so they all said, “Scott, you should become a computer guy!” The rest is history.

In 1998, I went back to school. From seemingly unrelated courses, I created my own curriculum at a community college to study and then pass a new certification offered by the Computer Technology Industry Association (CompTIA). I was among the first to receive the A+ Certification, and my designation is grandfathered and honored to this day.

CompTIA A+ Certified

My first job in the computer-related field was at the 2000 US Census during 1999, of course. My job was to sit at my desk and wait until Friday to change the server backup tapes and then ship the tapes from Cape Cod to Boston by FedEx. I needed more of a challenge – I was bored to death, so I left and went into business for myself.

pleasantbay.NET was the name of the company I launched on January 1st, 2000, the day after the Y2K bug was supposed to end the world. I was doing a lot of web design back then and formed a group called Cape Web Weavers, which eventually merged with the Cape Cod eCommerce Society. Meanwhile, I was volunteering for three Unitarian Universalist churches on Cape Cod, maintaining their computers and training those in need. My reputation got around, parishioners hired me, and the money started flowing.

By 2002, I’d become involved with a local company that primarily performed computer network services for small businesses, specializing in Novell servers and networks. The owner was having health issues and was in the process of retiring, so I was there to learn, substitute, and eventually take over some of his small accounts before he sold the remaining business to a competitor of ours.

I moved into my first office space in 2003. Another member of that web design group I’d formed had leased too much commercial space just for himself, so we split it. Within six months, I’d outgrown his half-office space and moved into another unit in the same commercial complex with 750 square feet all to myself – and my new technician.

First Office

In late 2004, we purchased 250 licenses of Kaseya, the Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM) tool. Kaseya remains today to be one of the most highly respected technologies in the managed services arena. But Kaseya created a problem – not a technical problem, but a business problem. I’d installed the Kaseya software agent on all of our clients’ computers and servers. And it was configured to automatically remediate problems when failures were detected or updates were required, so all of a sudden the phone stopped ringing!

I was able to regroup and put everyone onto monthly Managed Services Provider (MSP) contracts in early 2005 after setting the business up with ConnectWise, the Professional Service Automation (PSA) tool. One of my clients was a semi-retired law professor who felt indebted to me for the good work we’d done for him on his systems, so he put together a legal document for me that went on to become the boilerplate contract for many emerging MSPs during the mid-2000s.

But there was one client that was reluctant to sign on. “Nah,” he said. “Everything works, so I’ll call when I need you.” Of course, everything worked because I’d put Kaseya onto all his machines. But one day, Kaseya sent us an alarm that the single hard drive in his company’s server was about to fail. To make a long story short, the baby died in our arms. We backed up the data (there was no previous backup!) and then the drive kicked over dead. Whew… The workers were able to resume on Monday morning as if nothing had ever happened. After learning what had transpired over the weekend, the client paid the hefty emergency repair costs and subscribed to an ongoing and proactive contract.

Managed services became popular around 2005. In fact, I was on Wikipedia reading about managed services and recognized many of the other pioneers cited in the article, such as Karl Palachuk, Amy Luby and Erick Simpson. I met them all and even bought Karl’s first book about documenting a network for $20.

During this time period, I was attending conferences almost every other month: Intel Roadshows; Microsoft Partner product events and hands-on-labs; ASCII Group Success Summits; Harry Brelsford’s SMB Nation; and the very first ConnectWise Summit that’s now called IT Nation, the premier event in our industry.

After that first ConnectWise shindig, a group of us from the northeastern US formed a peer group called the “New England ConnectWise Users Group” (NECWUG). All of those guys went on to become very successful MSPs and sold their businesses for a handsome price each. I’m proud to say that I was among them at one time.

In 2008, I retired my on-premise servers and moved to the cloud. I also moved to the Caribbean. And then I moved to Sarasota in 2009. Now I’ve become established in the Clearwater St Petersburg area. So working remotely became the norm for me, especially as my Cape Cod flock needed to be tended. They’ve been a loyal bunch and I still service several with annual contracts today.

As much as I’d like to say that we’ve transitioned from MSP to CSP (Cloud Services Provider), I would quote Karl Palachuk who said, “There are still going to be wires in the walls.” True to a point, but the most innovative modern workplaces of today are filled with beanbag chairs, millennials, sofas and wireless Internet. So yes, there are stand-up desks and kiosks and shared co-working spaces, but the network remains. And there’s an enormous mass-migration ahead from traditional on-premise servers, workstations and cubicles to the massive disorder of the mobile world. Migration to the cloud is a present-day exodus. Microsoft now has over 120 million monthly subscribers to Office 365 and this trend is growing exponentially. The servers that were formerly housed in our offices are finding new homes in data centers. And the Windows Server Active Directory that was required to authenticate users within the confines of the workplace has now moved to the Microsoft Azure cloud – Azure Active Directory – to provide the same identity protection anywhere a user opens a file or accesses other company data.

And with this paradigm shift comes innovation from the old vendors, such as Microsoft and Intel. We have Microsoft Teams for anywhere-teamwork and instant collaboration using featherweight laptops powered by Intel chips that have evolved according to Moore’s Law, that is, doubling in power every two years and shrinking in such size that confounds the mind.

And we are still human. Even some computer-weaned millennials are challenged by the latest technology, getting locked out of their social media accounts with multi-step authentication and clicking on anything fearlessly, only to find themselves victim to ransomware. There is still a reason to be called a Managed Services Provider – we still have to protect the data, the privacy and the security of people while enabling them with the technology to remain productive and innovative in their own right.

Scott Abbotts | https://resolute-it.com | https://office365techguy.com

Clearwater | St Petersburg | Tampa | Sarasota | Bradenton | Pinellas Park | Largo | Dunedin | Remote

Cloud Change FactorFor small businesses, moving to the cloud is a frightening, yet inevitable transformation. It means business change, especially in regard to systems, processes, and people.

Just about every software vendor in the SMB space has a cloud-based option. In some cases, the only option ever available was cloud, such as with Salesforce CRM and Clio legal practice management. But there are QuickBooks Online, Sage Business Cloud, Oracle Financials Cloud, Adobe Creative Cloud, Autodesk A360, Abacus Private Cloud, Amicus Online.. The list goes on naming programs that were formerly client-server models requiring a host server for the main application combined with client desktop software, all designed to interconnect within the confines of the office.

Microsoft was also among the list of on-premise, server-based systems. But in 2007, Microsoft began offering BPOS, a precursor to today’s Microsoft Online Services, which put Exchange email services and SharePoint document management into the cloud. After BPOS, Office 365 was born in 2011 and now serves over 120 million subscribed users per month. From personal experience, I shut down my on-premise Exchange/SharePoint server in 2008 and have never looked back.

Systems: This is the easy part. Subscribe to your cloud service of choice and then sign in. The engineers have designed the system and they continually make improvements (included upgrades).

  • Now with so much importance placed upon the ability to connect to the Internet, many companies subscribe to a second ISP for failover.
  • The old client-server system authenticated user identity through its Active Directory, a service found within the Windows Server operating system. But now that more users are logging in from afar, the new authentication system that can manage devices and users beyond the four walls is known as Azure Active Directory.

Processes: Probably the most important aspect of business processes is related to security. Password management and protection from malicious attacks are key to preserving the integrity of business operations.

  • Microsoft has been doing a fine job with authentication by offering a variety of options, including Windows Hello, which is essentially face recognition that performs in an elegant fashion. In addition, there are other biometric systems, as well as Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) using your mobile device as an authenticator.
  • What used to be considered a mediocre antivirus product, Windows Defender has evolved to become an integral part of a collection of security tools all working as a holistic solution across Windows 10 and Office 365. Recent tests by outside parties have found Windows Defender to be 100% effective, especially when combined with other layers of security within the Microsoft ecosystem.

People: Here’s the hardest part because people generally do not like change. They’re afraid of the unknown and frustrated with what they don’t know. It is here that the business has the intrinsic responsibility to properly train its users.

  • With training comes knowledge, and with knowledge comes confidence – confidence to lead others as a champion and confidence to represent the company in all affairs.
  • Without training comes the danger of ignorance.

Scott Abbotts | https://resolute-it.com | https://office365techguy.com

 

Microsoft Teams Collaboration
The Non-Flat Earth

During periods in our human history, some believed that the Earth was flat. And evidently, some still do! But as Pythagoras and others have proved otherwise, we have experienced a paradigm shift in how we perceive our world. We’ve reluctantly let go of long-held myths and adopted a new mode of thought.

In 1992, a group of about 100 scientists sent the first email attachment. Some were aghast, exclaiming what an obscene waste of bandwidth it was. Twenty-six years later, we think nothing of sending a massive file attached to an Outlook message.

But aside from file size and bandwidth concerns, we should consider other worries today. As we’ve adopted email as the primary collaboration vehicle, we continue to swap versions of files back and forth creating dozens, perhaps hundreds, of versions of the file with most iterations slightly different than the other. And of course, we have to find the corresponding message buried within our Inbox and then open that attached file to know how they differ, which is a blatant waste of time and productivity.

 

Now comes along came SharePoint. And OneDrive, too, which is actually a hidden SharePoint library. We can now share a link to a file as it remains in its place. The single file resides in its single location, yet it lives a dynamically unique life. When a link is used to access that file, we will open and view the most current version, sometimes so current that we are viewing a colleague co-author that document in real time right there on the computer screen.

This real-time scenario and unique document sharing is never more evident than when collaborating within Microsoft Teams. If we’ve shared a file while in a 1-to-1 Teams chat, then that file resides within the OneDrive document library of the person that shared the file. If we share a file to a Team or rather to a Teams’ Channel, then the file resides within the SharePoint document library and the sub-folder that corresponds to that particular Channel.

But when an Office document is opened while in Microsoft Teams, the document appears right there within the Teams environment. We can chat with co-workers in the right-hand rail alongside the document. And we can create an impromptu meeting to discuss edits without ever leaving the Teams interface.

Aside from the mechanics of what goes where within SharePoint, files need to remain in their designated online location and not be copied as disparate versions within various emails as attachments. Also, when a file is stored in this manner, then a history of the file remains available – if needs must, then you can revert to a previous iteration.

We have to step outside of our box and look at collaboration from a new perspective. Just because we did it one way for so many years does not make it right today.

Scott Abbotts | https://resolute-it.com | https://office365techguy.com

 

 

In every company, there is a primary decision maker. The leader guides the company with innovation, common sense and wisdom. The leader inspires others with persistent enthusiasm. The leader makes fair decisions and exemplifies honor.

 

Most companies have employees. In some companies there are none. But a company’s value consists of more than the sum of their hired hands. By recognizing and then leveraging the valuable skills of partnering firms, we can harmonize our concerted efforts to entirely satisfy the business needs expressed by our clients.

 

With singular responsibility, our leadership provides integrated products and services with complete responsibility – there is no evasion or dodging of liability. We are small enough to acknowledge problems and we honestly own them.

 

Our mode is always on. We keep multiple avenues of communication open for commerce. Do we always answer the phone? Of course not. But calls are never ignored and every response is promptly returned. Small things matter and timeliness is a graceful courtesy.

 

Too many technicians in the IT world have ‘better than thou’ attitudes. It’s too evident to deny this. But to know humility is to succeed. We have the utmost respect for others, we are openly grateful to serve, and we grasp every opportunity to learn about you and your business.

 

“There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.” ― Ernest Hemingway

 

It is with calm purpose and determination that we remain resolute. But it is with humility that we remain lesser mortals. And it is with steadfast tenacity that we accomplish the tiniest tasks, as well as it is how we conquer seemingly monumental projects.

 

Scott Abbotts | https://resolute-it.com | https://office365techguy.com