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.

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.

 

Microsoft TeamsI posted an article yesterday about the two-year anniversary of Microsoft Teams. My guess was that there were well more than 400,000 organizations using Teams now. This morning, Microsoft posted the infographic above to prove my guess as correct – over 500,000 organizations are onboard with Microsoft Teams.

The graphic also shows that Microsoft Teams has grown to 181 markets using over 44 languages. And it states that 150 organizations have more than 10,000 active users under their respective tenants.

But the one statistic that I would speak to is the 91 of the Fortune 100 companies who are using Teams. And yes, it once again shows that Microsoft Teams has established a massive presence within the enterprise sector of business. But what about small to medium-sized businesses (SMB)?

If the SMB market can learn anything from the enterprise, it must that Microsoft Teams within the Modern Workplace is the new norm. Enterprises still represent a massive hulk when it comes to their ability to adapt to technological change, but smaller businesses are more agile. For example:

  • The nonprofit can now get Microsoft 365 Business for $5 per user per month, as well as they can obtain Office 365 Enterprise E1 licenses for $0. These $0 licenses enable peripheral individuals within the organization to remain involved with improved communications not only with Exchange-based email accounts, but by using Microsoft Teams chat and real-time conversations, one-to-one ad hoc meetings, and scheduled group meetings (such as board meetings). These peripheral members can also access SharePoint and OneDrive documents that pertain to their team within Teams, as well as they can create and store their own data with Office Online (Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, OneDrive, Teams).
  • Many small businesses are consulting organizations with individual consultants located across the US, as well as abroad. They often have little to no staff within their HQ location. But Microsoft Teams enables these associates to remain connected to the parent organization and all of its digital resources. Sales meetings can happen as scheduled events or new agents can be mentored by colleagues as if they were down the hall. And with Phone System and Calling Plan within Teams, they can use traditional IP desk phones or use their mobile devices as softphones with the Microsoft Teams mobile app for Android or iOS.

So it shouldn’t be considered that Microsoft Teams is only for enterprise – there are many ways that the SMB can leverage the power of the cloud.

If we haven’t spoken yet, then please either contact us by the form below, email , text , or schedule for a free 15-30 minute meeting to establish ideal goals and to initiate a preliminary plan.

Professional Services | Fix IT Now

Hourly Remediation and Professional Consulting Services:

          • Per request and approved proposal.
          • Same rate for remote and onsite.
            • Minimum 1 hour for remote control.
            • Minimum 4 hours for on-site visit.

Migrate 365 | Move to the Cloud

One Seat – covers all of the following:

          • Documents & Email transfer from on-premises server or other system
          • Automatically discover email environment and configure a migration plan that’s right for you.
          • Identify the impact of migrating your file server to SharePoint Online with Office 365.
          • Perform identity mapping by scanning SharePoint, Active Directory, and Azure Active Directory.
          • Monitor progress and output files into the Logs directory showing the summary and more detailed insights into the scenarios that could be impacted by migration.
          • Data automatically synced before, during and after migration cutover.
          • Full fidelity sync technology ensures no data loss on final data sync post-cutover.
          • Account provisioning and DNS updates take place during Migration Sync.
          • Desktop readiness and remediation:
            • Outlook configured to work with Office 365.
            • Local data moved as required.
            • User’s previous Outlook experience recreated as closely as possible post-migration.
          • Seat defined:
            • For billing purposes, any migrating top-level Public Folder or Mailbox (Individual, Shared, or Resource Room/Equipment) is considered a seat.

HelpDesk 365 | Remote IT Services

Your technical support on retainer for reactive IT services.

          • Limited to to five (5) incidents or service tickets per month per end-user
            • non-transferable to other end-users.
          • Service tickets initiated by email to [email protected] or via online scheduling calendar .
          • Remote desktop agent installed for quick support sessions.
          • Response time can be anywhere from 5 minutes to 5 hours.
          • Business hours only.
          • Limited monitoring and reporting of critical events.
          • Automated updates and patches
            • No verification.
          • No hardware support.
          • No onsite support, except by pre-paid request apart from this agreement.

Optimum 365 | Fully-Managed IT Services

All-inclusive and proactive IT services (per user per month):

          • 24/7 remote included.
          • Vendor liaison and purchasing agent roles.
          • Network documentation.
          • Network health monitoring & reporting.
          • Customer support ticketing portal and knowledge base.
          • Security hardening with best practices.
          • Microsoft 365 Business subscription included!
          • Complete Cloud Backup included.
          • One license for one user and *all* of their devices to enjoy on-demand support throughout the year.
          • Unlimited support incidents (tickets) per month.
          • Covers Windows 10 Pro, MacOS, iOS, Android, all Office 365 plans (software and services), and cloud-to-cloud backup offered by RIT.
          • Support of Line of Business (LOB) applications included.
            • Must have current maintenance or service plan
            • Must have proper & complete licensing for every user
          • Infrastructure ramp-up project required prior to start of agreement.
            • Computers and servers fully updated and running optimally.
            • Printers under service plan.
            • Mobile devices (phones and tablets) updated to recent model and current operating system.
          • Ongoing training & coaching.
          • Servers and network-attached devices not included.

Backup 365 | Cloud-to-Cloud Every 4 Hours

One User License:

          • 1 year of cloud-to-cloud, unlimited backup with lightning-fast search and one-click restore of Office 365 data:
            • SharePoint, OneDrive, Exchange, Office 365 Groups, and Microsoft Teams.
            • Microsoft Teams conversations, calendar, files, and notebook.
          • Six daily snapshots.
          • Self-service restore.

 

“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.

We’re very careful about choosing our affiliations. Only the highest quality vendors become part of our offerings.

A case in point would be AppRiver, our Microsoft licensing provider for Office 365 and associated services. AppRiver not only provides the software licensing, but they support the product with their award-winning ‘Phenomenal Care’ helpdesk solution, as well.

When you call into AppRiver, they answer within 3 rings and present themselves in a friendly, polite and clear manner. 

This is your second line of support – your first call would be to our primary helpdesk line, but we can scale according to demand by leveraging AppRiver as an option.

Microsoft
Intel
Apple
Cisco Meraki
Dell EMC
HP Enterprise
Lenovo
Android
Plantronics
Polycom
Logitech
BitTitan
SkyKick
Sennheiser
D&H Distributing
AppRiver

 

“On August 17, 1908, the new Bank of Italy (now Bank of America) Headquarters at 552 Montgomery Street (San Francisco) was opened to the public. Here, on the first floor in an open area, A.P. Giannini had his office where all comers were invited to stop and chat about not only financial but family matters as well.” – US Dept. of the Interior, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places.

In this same spirit, I kept my desk near the door when I had an office on Cape Cod. I can’t tell you how rewarding it was to have a steady stream of people dropping in to sit down and chat with me.

And now that I work solely as a remote consultant, I am opening a client-facing portal on an always-open basis in Microsoft Teams.

As Microsoft announced the free offering of Microsoft Teams yesterday, I feel that people are now unencumbered for the lack of this tool – Teams is free to download for desktop and mobile, and very simple to create an account in a matter of seconds.

To become a member of the Resolute IT Client Portal, sign up here.

A recent study predicts that 42% of the global workforce will be mobile by 2020. I wonder if we aren’t already there.. Another finding says that the number will be 75% by 2025.

Who really wants to get up, get ready, and walk into an office by 9am or earlier? We can easily attend a 10am office meeting using Microsoft Teams, so we can remain at home or in a coffee shop using a laptop, tablet or even a phone to share our presence, our Office documents, and our enthusiasm with colleagues. And of course, we don’t even have to be in the same country as the other attendees. 

While in the meeting, we can easily share the document that we’d been creating over the weekend. Teams allows you to present your original document for others to view within the Teams interface and co-author or co-edit it there. While collaborating on this document, team members can exchange chat messages alongside the open document. Or better yet, collaborating members can start an impromptu video meeting, while other members of the team can join the meeting and participate by co-authoring the document. You can even record the meeting for later review.

So the future is here. Where you are is irrelevant. But how you’re able to interact is key.