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 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

 

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.

 

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.

 

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 Sarasota 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 Tampa 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 Clearwater 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 St Petersburg 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.

 

SharePoint Description
I’d like to call SharePoint the ‘mother of all file storage’, but that might technically be Azure – we won’t go there. Within SharePoint are hidden document libraries that we know as our personal OneDrive repositories, primarily for ‘works in progress’ by individuals within the organization. But the files kept in SharePoint have been published by individuals from their OneDrive location, and now reside within the shared SharePoint space as commonly available to all members of that particular SharePoint team site.

 

What is a ‘team site’?: A ‘team site’ can be created as opposed to a ‘communications site’ in SharePoint. A ‘communication site’ would be where a company might post news or relevant information for the greater good. A ‘team site’ is more of a collaborative workspace with many features, one of which is a ‘document library’, which is the common document library that we might have synced to our computers for published items.

 

When you create a team in Microsoft Teams, a SharePoint team site is automatically created for members of the team to share their files. So now you would have another team site in SharePoint named after the Team’s name. You can jump to that SharePoint team site while within Teams by going to the Files tab in Teams and clicking on Open in SharePoint.

 

#Office365 was officially launched ‎on June 28, 2011. At the time, I was already (since 2008) working in the Microsoft cloud by subscribing to a Hosted Exchange account, which included Exchange and SharePoint. But as you can see, I jumped on board with the Office 365 platform about 6 months later (over 7 years ago). Back then, OneDrive was called SkyDrive with just 25 GB of storage space.