The last few times that I bought a new mobile phone, I had the device syncing all emails, contacts, documents, etc. by the time I hit the exit door. The same principle should apply to laptops and even workstations. All of these devices are vessels into which one pours data and applications.

A common scenario is to buy a new computer. But quite often, an existing computer will have hard drive issues. Instead of bothering with expensive recovery methods, just pop a new drive into the machine and boot to a pre-configured USB drive to re-install the Windows 10 operating system.

When you have a pristine computer, the first thing to do is to get it connected to perform updating. Protect the temporarily vulnerable environment by the latest Windows Updates and by the latest virus definitions for Windows Defender.

The next thing is to log into the Office/Microsoft 365 portal to gain access to the Install Software button. This installs your Office applications of course. While in the portal, go to OneDrive and click the Sync button to start getting copies of your documents represented on your machine. The same goes for SharePoint, which also uses the OneDrive sync utility. Depending on your settings, full documents will be downloaded or merely place marker icons will be established as Files On-Demand.

At this point, you’re nearly done. If you have a line-of-business (LOB) application for your industry, then install that. In most cases, though, LOB apps merely tap into the data you need from the web or from an online account. The data storage is cloud-based.

If your managed services provider maintains your computers, then they will have an installation file for you to install the remote monitoring and management (RMM) agent. During the installation of the agent, it communicates with the cloud-based system.

In some cases, your IT organization will manage your device with Intune, Microsoft’s own device management tool included with Microsoft 365 Business. Intune is tied directly to the identity management platform of Office/Microsoft 365, Azure Active Directory (Azure AD), so when you first log on to a pristine installation of Windows, the end-user will enter their work email address and password, which will join the machine and its respective user to Azure AD. The result is that the machine can be maintained remotely by your IT people, as well as the end-user only gains access to their appropriate data and applications.

The time it takes to complete these tasks? 15 minutes to open your machine and insert a new SSD drive, 20 minutes to install the operating system, 20 minutes for updates, 15 minutes to install Office, 10 minutes to establish OneDrive sync for OneDrive and SharePoint, and maybe another 30 minutes for various other installations and settings. In less than two hours, your IT person can have you back up and running as you were before.

Just like when you crack a wine glass and then reach for a new one, so can you do the same with your devices.

 


From Wikipedia: “Form follows function is a principle associated with 20th-century modernist architecture and industrial design which says that the shape of a building or object should primarily relate to its intended function or purpose.”

The form that your IT infrastructure takes on or manifests also relates to the functions of your business. Your company might have frontline workers that share a computer, or you might have people that have a dedicated workstation, as well as they have a mobile device or two.

An aspect to consider here is the trend for organizations to extend their presence beyond the four walls of their primary HQ building, perhaps in the form of branch offices, home offices, or co-working spaces such as WeWork and other office sharing locations offer.

Just like in architecture, many business structures are cookie-cutter in nature, but these generic plans fail to address the unique needs of every business. Likewise, IT managed services are often offered as generic Bronze, Silver, and Gold packages, but not every organization fits perfectly into one slot of the other. And certainly, not every company fits into a one-size-fits-all scenario, such as where your IT provider multiplies the number of your users or devices by a certain amount to determine a monthly fee.

In architecture, before a building is designed there must be a site plan developed to understand the landscape and how a structure might best fit. Similarly, in businesses we see a wide terrain of varying operating systems, differing machine vintages, line-of-business applications that are respective to your industry, and unique end-user abilities. And as email hosting, identity management, and file storage are all moving to the cloud, then less on-premises servers will determine the size and cost of your telco closet.

Culture is another consideration in both architecture and technical solutions. Societal culture can be defined as an evolving set of collective beliefs, values, and attitudes, while business culture is related to behavior, ethics, etiquette, etc. For example, a current trend in new office spaces is for architects to include ‘huddle rooms’ for teams of 3-6 enthusiastic people rather than traditional conference rooms fit for a dozen staid board members. Huddle rooms must be outfitted with technology to fit the smaller collaborative group with WiFi, digital whiteboards, webcams, and multiple or side-by-side displays.

Before you choose a metal-colored package, please consider that your firm is a unique entity and environment. Design your technology to harmonize with your business’s own culture, its own spirit, and its own purpose.

 


This is something that has happened to me both in Mac and in Windows versions of MS Office. I try to open a file and then dialog boxes show an authentication process in progress, but the authentication process eventually fails after several repetitions.

In both cases, this is caused by corrupt login credentials stored in your operating system. In Windows, these credentials are held in the Windows Credential Manager. In Mac OS, these credentials are held in the Keychain Access app.

The cure for this is to simply delete your old credentials. As a best practice, I usually delete every credential that relates to Microsoft, Office, or any of the related services, such as Exchange, OneDrive, etc.

The Windows Credential Manager is found by going to All Control Panel Items > Credential Manager. The Keychain Access app is within the Applications section; go to Finder > Applications > Utilities > KeyChain Access.

Of course, the caveat here is that you are now going to have to log in to your applications as if for the first time, so you must be prepared with proper passwords and perhaps other means of authentication, like app passwords or multifactor authentication prompts.

Maladies such as this are a fact of life – corruption happens.

Now if this were a corruption of a file itself, then what? If it happened recently, then you can always go to OneDrive online and find a previous version to restore. But if you need to restore a corrupt file to a good-working version over a month old or after 500 versions, then I hope you have a backup system in place. That said, you *can* set your data to be governed by a retention policy and thereby held without deletion indefinitely, however, finding and restoring such data can be daunting. This is why we include cloud backup with single-click restore as part of an all-inclusive bundle of products and services when quoting an IT management arrangement for your company.

About 15 years ago, I had another Managed Services Provider (MSP) practice in another state. Our primary offering was Small Business Server 2003. This might sound familiar to you if you were in business then because almost everybody got on that ‘SBS train’.

The server would provide email services, as well as it would act as the file server. It did a lot more, but these two were the most common uses. The client would buy hardware, software, and client-access licenses, and we would be hired as the MSP to maintain all of that on a proactive basis, including an on-premises backup system set up to back up the on-premises data.

All that has changed. The 2019 version of that on-premises server scenario is now a bundle of cloud-based services, mostly consisting of Office 365 or some other version of it, such as Microsoft 365 Business. The email services are still Microsoft Exchange, but the Exchange server sits in a data center somewhere. The company documents still sit on a server, but that also sits in the data center. Backup still happens, but it’s a cloud-based service.

Microsoft is still the big vendor that it was then, but they’ve turned the small business technology paradigm on its head. For example:

  • As mentioned, Exchange is still the king of email services. Just like in the old days, the server synchronizes your email from server to devices. Whatever is deleted on the server gets removed from your devices and vice versa. The same goes for contacts, calendar items and tasks within Outlook.
  • In some cases, you were provided a space on the server for personal documents – those that were ‘works in progress’ before sharing them to the company repository. Now we have OneDrive for Business as our personal document storage and SharePoint as the common library for published documents.
  • Identity and security services were another function of the on-premises solution in the form of Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS). Your password was verified on the local server, which determined your access to specified files or folders.
  • Now it’s Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) that authenticates your identity, but there’s a new kid on the block for data protection, and that is Azure Information Protection (AIP).
  • AIP secures your documents at the document level; each document is unique to its creator and abides by the way that it’s been classified or labeled. It doesn’t matter where your document is stored (OneDrive, SharePoint, DropBox, or thumb drive) because the permissions of the document travel with the document. Whenever there’s an attempt to open a document, it ‘calls home’ to find out who has the rights that have been specified. But ‘calling home’ now means the Azure AD server and the integrated AIP services, not a local AD server.
  • Backup still happens from one disk to another, but now those disks sit in separate data centers. And as much as Office 365 inherently backs itself up, there is purging that happens on a regular basis at Microsoft, so if the version of a document is needed from 11 months ago, then our third-party cloud-backup service can be there for restoration functionality from archives.

In most cases and depending upon your unique needs, we provide a bundle of monthly services that includes your Office 365 licensing, as well as the backup seats. Of course, there is 24/7 helpdesk available and we will manage your devices, too. But ongoing training is also part of the deal.

At Resolute IT, we are resolute – we are not just there for you in the times of emergency, but we are on your side and acting on your behalf to ensure that you’re leveraging your technology most effectively.

 

Business Agility with Teams
One of the buzzwords heard often in business circles is ‘agile’ or more specifically, ‘business agility’.

Its origins lie in a group of software developers from the early 2000’s that strived to innovate with a more dynamic approach. They formed a manifesto that is described by the following concept and quoted here in its entirety:

“We are uncovering better ways of developing software by doing it and helping others do it. Through this work we have come to value:

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  • Working software over comprehensive documentation
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  • Responding to change over following a plan
That is, while there is value in the items on the right, we value the items on the left more.”

Manuel Palachuk describes business agility in today’s world as “highly accountable teams [with] more action than mantra.” He says, “It is managing the work, not the people.” He promises to cover this more in his upcoming book: Agile Service Delivery – The Secret To Making Work Flow

This modality screams of Microsoft Teams to me. What better way to dynamically accomplish tasks for the greater good than when sharing the fun within Teams? As a Teams member of a team, you can collaborate with colleagues on projects by co-authoring Word or Excel documents simultaneously. Communication happens anytime from anywhere by either chat, voice, or video calls. And it’s not just about working within the confines of the organization as Teams allows guest users. As Microsoft describes it, “Microsoft Teams is the hub for teamwork.”

A paradigm shift within the Microsoft Office 365 ecosystem has been the adoption of Microsoft Teams as the new voice platform; Teams is taking over where Skype for Business will eventually leave off. I’m currently using the Phone System and Calling Plan from Office 365 as my business telephone system. I run Teams constantly on my computer, however, I keep it running as an app on my mobile phone, too. When a call comes in, I hear it ringing through my Bluetooth headset that’s connected to my iPhone. But aside from mobile devices, the new IP desktop phones from Poly and AudioCodes are sporting large displays without a physical touchpad – the screen *is* the touchpad, as well as it displays your colleagues’ smiling faces during an online meeting. Put any of these telephony devices in the hands or on the desks of your home-based end-users and they’ll become virtually down the hall, not only to you as the leader, but to other Teams members and yet reachable by the outside world.

But back to agility – I see a trend. I see businesses leaving the concept of even having a building or headquarters any longer. Workers can remain productive from home or they can stake out some co-working space such as offered by WeWork and many others. Hardly a day goes by that I don’t hear of a fellow IT consultant who has been tasked with the challenge to accommodate remote workers due to the downsizing of a company’s workspace. More often than not, I listen to them agonize as they attempt to bring legacy ways to the modern world. But again and with the fundamental need to feel the presence of fellow collaborators, what better way to keep connected with the rest of the team than with Teams?

I might not describe ‘business agility’ with the insight and clarity as Mr. Palachuk might within his upcoming book, but it’s become overwhelmingly evident that Teams will be there as the ideal platform when you want to become an agile company.

policy as change

 

Over the past few years, Microsoft has been conducting a marketing campaign that proposes the “Modern Workplace”. The premise is described as working within teams, but as geographically dispersed groups from anywhere at any time. But it seems that there’s been a bit of metamorphosis as they now refer to this movement by the generic term, “intelligent workplace”, especially with the advent of AI. The Microsoft 365 General Manager, Lori Wright, used this term in her recent blog post in celebration of the two-year anniversary of Microsoft Teams.

The article cites eight new features coming to Microsoft Teams, including:

1.    Customized backgrounds

2.    Content cameras and Intelligent Capture

3.    Microsoft Whiteboard in Teams meetings

4.    Live captions & subtitles

5.    Secure private channels

6.    Information barriers

7.    Data Loss Prevention (DLP) in chats and conversations

8.    Live events in Microsoft 365

 

But no matter the terms or the latest features, I’ve developed a passionate affirmation that Microsoft Teams is rightfully experiencing exponential growth and success as the new platform for collaborative teams. As a matter of fact, I now use Microsoft Teams as my support platform – end-users can break into a one-to-one chat with me at any time (from any device), which might become a 1:1 meeting, which might also include bringing on an additional meeting member whose presence we would find as available within Microsoft Teams by a green presence checkmark within their avatar; and I might share my desktop or an application with both of them to illustrate a point

Unfortunately, there are some organizations that refuse to embrace such pioneering changes as they are truly happening already in today’s intelligent workplaces. So I stand by a new policy – I cannot support any backward notions or static protocols – it goes against my impassioned principles to accept the old ways until the end of time. Without change, there would be no butterflies, only fossils.

And I repeat from my LinkedIn profile:

“To work with me means that you’ve decided to take your business to the next level. You don’t want to purchase, support, or worry about another on-premises server. But keeping your employees securely connected and productive regardless of location is invaluable to you.”

Even Satya Nadella’s “mobile-first, cloud-first” vision has evolved. He recently said, “It’s no longer about being device-first, it’s about putting the human first and it includes all the devices in their lives.” He goes on, “Computing is embedded in our world in every place and in everything,” he said. “There’s computing in every industry – oil and gas, retail, agriculture, financial services. And there’s computing in everything from connected cars to connected refrigerators, smart surgical tools, and even smart coffee machines.” Not a word about the Windows 7 machine on your desk because the computers in our lives have transformed.

 

Resolute IT performs all of its consulting services on a 100% remote basis.

By covering all hardware under a support agreement through the device’s respective vendor, we have no reason to ever set foot inside your door. For example, the copier or multi-function printer is often covered under such an onsite maintenance plan. And Dell (or HP, Lenovo, Apple or Microsoft) have support plans for business and enterprise. Hard drives and operating systems are so much more resilient than in previous times, so support incidents are rare compared to years ago.

As the network has now been extended far beyond the walls of the office, specialized routers, switches, and unified threat management (UTM) devices are less prevalent and far less relevant. Productivity now takes place anywhere and at any time, while the security surface is now located at the managed end-point or document level by policy, not within the office perimeter as defined by tethered cabling.

Remote Control tools are abundant these days. Even Microsoft recognizes remote support services by virtue of its Remote Assistance feature built right into Windows 10.

As a result of this paradigm shift in the way that we can provide support, you have many more choices when deciding upon a consulting firm to manage your technology affairs. ‘The cloud’ means that we can now store documents and messages in a data center, as well as some applications are web-based or delivered via the web. But this also holds true for your support services – we use remote control software, automated remote monitoring and management tools, online support portals, cloud-to-cloud backup services, and of course, chat and voice through conventional means (phone and email), as well as through Microsoft Teams – we now establish a Teams team for ongoing chat, voice and video call support within every client’s Office 365 tenant.

So rather than leaning over your shoulder in your Jackson office, we can all remain in our comfort zones while receiving help and sitting in front of our own device screens within our internet-connected world.

 

Resolute IT performs all of its consulting services on a 100% remote basis.

By covering all hardware under a support agreement through the device’s respective vendor, we have no reason to ever set foot inside your door. For example, the copier or multi-function printer is often covered under such an onsite maintenance plan. And Dell (or HP, Lenovo, Apple or Microsoft) have support plans for business and enterprise. Hard drives and operating systems are so much more resilient than in previous times, so support incidents are rare compared to years ago.

As the network has now been extended far beyond the walls of the office, specialized routers, switches, and unified threat management (UTM) devices are less prevalent and far less relevant. Productivity now takes place anywhere and at any time, while the security surface is now located at the managed end-point or document level by policy, not within the office perimeter as defined by tethered cabling.

Remote Control tools are abundant these days. Even Microsoft recognizes remote support services by virtue of its Remote Assistance feature built right into Windows 10.

As a result of this paradigm shift in the way that we can provide support, you have many more choices when deciding upon a consulting firm to manage your technology affairs. ‘The cloud’ means that we can now store documents and messages in a data center, as well as some applications are web-based or delivered via the web. But this also holds true for your support services – we use remote control software, automated remote monitoring and management tools, online support portals, cloud-to-cloud backup services, and of course, chat and voice through conventional means (phone and email), as well as through Microsoft Teams – we now establish a Teams team for ongoing chat, voice and video call support within every client’s Office 365 tenant.

So rather than leaning over your shoulder in your Bozeman office, we can all remain in our comfort zones while receiving help and sitting in front of our own device screens within our internet-connected world.

 

Resolute IT performs all of its consulting services on a 100% remote basis.

By covering all hardware under a support agreement through the device’s respective vendor, we have no reason to ever set foot inside your door. For example, the copier or multi-function printer is often covered under such an onsite maintenance plan. And Dell (or HP, Lenovo, Apple or Microsoft) have support plans for business and enterprise. Hard drives and operating systems are so much more resilient than in previous times, so support incidents are rare compared to years ago.

As the network has now been extended far beyond the walls of the office, specialized routers, switches, and unified threat management (UTM) devices are less prevalent and far less relevant. Productivity now takes place anywhere and at any time, while the security surface is now located at the managed end-point or document level by policy, not within the office perimeter as defined by tethered cabling.

Remote Control tools are abundant these days. Even Microsoft recognizes remote support services by virtue of its Remote Assistance feature built right into Windows 10.

As a result of this paradigm shift in the way that we can provide support, you have many more choices when deciding upon a consulting firm to manage your technology affairs. ‘The cloud’ means that we can now store documents and messages in a data center, as well as some applications are web-based or delivered via the web. But this also holds true for your support services – we use remote control software, automated remote monitoring and management tools, online support portals, cloud-to-cloud backup services, and of course, chat and voice through conventional means (phone and email), as well as through Microsoft Teams – we now establish a Teams team for ongoing chat, voice and video call support within every client’s Office 365 tenant.

So rather than leaning over your shoulder in your Billings office, we can all remain in our comfort zones while receiving help and sitting in front of our own device screens within our internet-connected world.

 

Resolute IT performs all of its consulting services on a 100% remote basis.

By covering all hardware under a support agreement through the device’s respective vendor, we have no reason to ever set foot inside your door. For example, the copier or multi-function printer is often covered under such an onsite maintenance plan. And Dell (or HP, Lenovo, Apple or Microsoft) have support plans for business and enterprise. Hard drives and operating systems are so much more resilient than in previous times, so support incidents are rare compared to years ago.

As the network has now been extended far beyond the walls of the office, specialized routers, switches, and unified threat management (UTM) devices are less prevalent and far less relevant. Productivity now takes place anywhere and at any time, while the security surface is now located at the managed end-point or document level by policy, not within the office perimeter as defined by tethered cabling.

Remote Control tools are abundant these days. Even Microsoft recognizes remote support services by virtue of its Remote Assistance feature built right into Windows 10.

As a result of this paradigm shift in the way that we can provide support, you have many more choices when deciding upon a consulting firm to manage your technology affairs. ‘The cloud’ means that we can now store documents and messages in a data center, as well as some applications are web-based or delivered via the web. But this also holds true for your support services – we use remote control software, automated remote monitoring and management tools, online support portals, cloud-to-cloud backup services, and of course, chat and voice through conventional means (phone and email), as well as through Microsoft Teams – we now establish a Teams team for ongoing chat, voice and video call support within every client’s Office 365 tenant.

So rather than leaning over your shoulder in your Tucumcari office, we can all remain in our comfort zones while receiving help and sitting in front of our own device screens within our internet-connected world.