I used to build boxes. That was what we called the tower portion of the computer systems when 90% of computers like that were all the rage. So, I’m a hardware guy at heart.

But I went 100% mobile in 2008, so I moved to a different hardware form-factor, the laptop.

Again in 2015, I not only bought new hardware for myself, but I moved from a Dell laptop to a MacBook Pro as my daily driver. That said, only a Mac can run both Windows and MacOS, so that’s what I did – I’ve had the best of both worlds.

But now the Mac is getting a little long in the tooth. It still works great for normal use and I’m not giving it up just yet. But I’ve been shopping around for a new machine, looking at the Dell XPS, the Microsoft Surface Book 2 (or forthcoming 3), or even one of those little EliteDesk powerhouses from HP – a box that’s 6.96 x 6.88 x 1.33 in. It’s a tiny little box that you can hook onto the back of your monitor.

But I got to thinking… Why do I need new hardware? I really just want a Windows box around for testing, research, and troubleshooting when working with a client and their own Windows machine. What about a software-based virtual machine?

I’ve already had a virtual machine running directly on the MacBook Pro using Parallels, but running that Windows system alongside the MacOS meant a significant draw on computing resources, so it often caused overheating, especially when I’ve got 20 tabs open in five different browsers on each operating system, while simultaneously running Word, Excel, Outlook, OneNote, Teams, etc.

But there’s another place where I might obtain a spanking new computer – Azure. I might still actually be running a virtual machine on the Mac, but in this case, all the hard work is performed in a data center. The way that you access a virtual machine in Azure is to use a client app called Microsoft Remote Desktop, formerly known as Remote Desktop Connection or the Terminal Services client. There’s a Mac version of Microsoft Remote Desktop, so I can use that client to view my virtual machine in the Azure cloud (data center) with little to no burden on my own hardware resources.

Now I’m addicted. I can’t create enough virtual machines… Seriously, I’ll have to cut it back after the dust settles, but because these hosted machines cost little by the hour – about $0.15 – then I can run this machine or that machine. But because Microsoft licensing only allows for 5 desktop versions of Office to be installed per user, then that’ll be my limit. But this scenario makes for a nice little ‘sandbox’ network. (There’s that ‘box’ word again.)

Yes, there is latency. With any remote or cloud computing situation, we can expect to experience some lag. But in this case, it’s barely noticeable – I often forget that this isn’t a real Windows machine that I’m using (on the Mac). And because the virtual machine resides in a data center with powerful CPUs and tremendously fast internet, that power is gleaned and present within my client view.

Sometimes you just have to think outside of the box.

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.

 

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.