Thursday, February 23, 2017

The Power of Search - Google Cloud Search

Google sees more than one trillion searches each year and that number is growing rapidly. People around the globe use Google Search to access the world's information. As businesses grow, so does their data, and sorting through this data becomes increasingly complex. Google wants to enable businesses to use the power of search to efficiently explore and access the information that's needed at any given time - easily and quickly.

Earlier this month, Google announced Google Cloud Search (formerly known as Springboard). This new product uses machine intelligence to provide a unified search experience across G Suite. 

Users in today's world compute in many different formats of data; from emails and docs to spreadsheets, slides, forms, and internal sites. It can get complicated to know where files are saved and in what format. According to McKinsey, the average worker spends 20% of the workweek searching for and consolidating information. Essentially, your staff may be wasting a lot of time just trying to find the right information needed to simply do their job!

Google Cloud Search helps businesses save time by allowing their staff to summon data immediately. It not only provides detailed search results but also proactively suggests recommendations to help users throughout the day. For instance, opening up the Cloud Search app instantly displays relevant information organized into cards that help keep the user updated. They can help users prepare for an upcoming meeting or even suggest files that may require attention. With machine learning, these cards are designed to increasingly help users be more productive and efficient over a short amount of time.
Google Cloud Search users can also search for people within the company's directory like colleagues' contact details, events, and shared files. Users can even choose to send an email, make a call, or start a Hangout session with just a tap. With all this ease, privacy is still a priority. Cloud Search respects G Suite's file sharing permissions so people can only search and find files that they specifically have permissions to. 

Google Cloud Search is only available to G Suite Business and Enterprise editions. Google intends to add more capabilities in the near future that will include integration with third-party applications. Incremental, yet useful, improvements like this not only make G Suite a long term solution for businesses but also one that keeps up with the increasing complexity of business data and user demands. 

Not using G Suite? What are you waiting for? Contact InterlockIT today to learn more about Google Cloud Search and G Suite! 

Friday, February 17, 2017

G Suite Series: Google Vault

As cloud computing becomes prevalent in the business world, more and more companies demand a solid archiving/backup solution to protect and easily access their precious data.

In mid 2012 Google announced a new archiving solution, Google Vault. It's the ultimate solution for businesses looking to secure their data and here's why:
Simply put, Google Vault allows businesses to easily retain, hold, search, and export their organization's mail and chat messages. Users can also search and export their organization's files in Google Drive. Like other Google solutions, the system is entirely web-based, so there's no need to install or maintain any software. Google Vault was essentially created for businesses in need of the following eDiscovery services:

Email and chat archiving: Set retention rules to control how long email messages and history-on chats are retained before they are removed from user mailboxes and deleted from Google systems. Here's how retention works.

Legal holds: Place legal holds on users to preserve all their emails and on-the-record chats indefinitely in order to meet legal or other retention obligations. You can place legal holds on all content in a user's account, or even target specific content based on dates and terms. Here is how you can create legal holds.

Drive file search: Search your domain’s Google Drive accounts by user account, organizational unit, date, or keyword. Search results include Google file types as well as non-Google file types such as PDF, DOCX, and JPG. Here is how to search Drive for files.

Email and chat search: Search your domain's email, history-on Hangouts, and on-the-record Google Talk chats by user account, date, or keyword. Here is how to search for email and chat messages.

Export: Export specific email, on-the-record chats, and files from Drive to standard formats for additional processing and review. Here is how to export search results.

Audit Reports: Use Vault audit reports to learn about actions Vault users have taken during a specified period of time. Here is how to run a Vault audit report.

Google is one of the safest places to park your data in the cloud, so you may be wondering, if Google Cloud servers are some of the most secure servers on the planet, why would anyone need an additional backup system like Vault? There are two main reasons; compliance and user error. Some organizations are required to archive data instantly to a place where it can't be deleted or tinkered with - they have compliance regulations to follow. On the other hand, as safe as those cloud servers are, they can't protect you from user error or misbehavior. If an employee accidentally or maliciously deletes data, the window of opportunity to recover this data is 25 days before it's permanently gone. Vault resolves both of these nuances to ensure your data is 100 percent secure.

Solutions like Microsoft Archiving have a competitive disadvantage to Google Vault. With Microsoft Archiving, deleted emails are not retained unless the user's mailbox is put on Legal Hold in advance. This is a huge shortcoming for compliance requirements that often companies don't discover until later when they need to recover, for example, emails of a sales rep who announced to customers where he/she was moving to, which could be a violation of their non-solicitation agreement. With Microsoft Archiving, if an employee deletes emails from their mailbox, the business only has 25 days to recover them. With Google Vault, you can always find them because Vault retains all deleted emails without the need to put users on Legal Hold.

Interlock IT has assisted several hundreds of organizations secure their data with Google Vault. Whether it's financial firms, legal teams, or medical facilities, we have helped establish a safer environment for organizations with compliance and sensitive information. With Vault, our customers know their data is securely stored without risk, and it can easily be retrieved in unpredictable situations. It's the assurance many businesses need for safe and secure cloud computing.

Google Vault is included in G Suite Enterprise and G Suite Business or Education editions. You can also purchase Vault separately for an additional $5 per user, per month. Contact us today to learn more about Vault and how it can benefit your business!

Friday, February 10, 2017

Automated Mileage Tracking

Many a times businesses are too busy doing day to day tasks without actually pausing to think if there's an easier, more efficient way. It's easy to tune out great advice and tools when all we want is to just complete the task at hand. Living in a fast pace business environment consequently hinders our understanding of what it means to work efficiently and save time, energy, and money.

In today's world, it's vital to not only have a good team, but also the right tools. In our many years of IT experience, there are two kinds of tools; efficient tools that automate, and non-efficient tools that simply get the job done, regardless of time and the consumption of valuable resources. It's important to understand that the more efficient our tools, the more time and money we can redirect to other more important aspects of the business. Many software solutions available today are not only smarter, but offer a wide range of functionality that can altogether eliminate manual and tedious tasks.
An example of an efficient tool is timeline for Google Maps. For Transport industries or even small business owners and contractors, mileage is an important factor needed to keep track of business travels, deductions, and claims. One way to do this is via third party applications like DriversNote to save you time and cut out manual logging. That's great, but who has time to actually remember to hit the start and stop buttons? 

A more efficient and greater way to do all this, without remembering to hit the start and stop buttons, is to use timeline for Google Maps. Google Maps with location history can make it simple to fill out mileage reports. Simply log in to your Google account and watch the magic happen. Just review the timeline occasionally to fill in the actual location you visited when it isn't sure - a common and minor hiccup when you arrive at a building complex or plaza. Your timeline in Google Maps helps you find the places you've been and the routes you've traveled - an excellent and automated way for tracking/logging.

Concerned about privacy? You can purge the full location history any time and no record will be retained anywhere of your travels.Your timeline is also private, so only you can see it. Here's how you can view and edit your timeline.

With Google keeping efficiency in mind, you simply can't go wrong with their innovation and array of incredible applications. Make the smart decision for choosing the right tools for your business and go Google today! Contact us for more details about G Suite and other great cloud solutions that can automate and increase your business's efficiency.

Friday, February 3, 2017

G Suite Series - Google Drive

Data - it's everywhere. Files, folders, documents, spreadsheets, presentations and many more kinds of data exists so that we can reference, log, and share our work. There's no doubt that it's what empowers businesses to grow. It's a crucial element of business and takes lots of time to create and gather. We work hard to acquire it, so shouldn't we invest in protecting it and have easy access to it?

As a business grows, it becomes an increasing challenge to scale storage and sync all that data. With this increasing challenge, more and more companies are beginning to understand the value cloud computing has to offer. Whether you're on Dropbox, Box, Microsoft's OneDrive, or even your own Windows file server, you are using a storage system designed to compile your data in one place. Not all storage systems are equal.

Google, the cloud champion, has it's own cloud storage solution to keep all your work in one secure place; Google Drive.

It's one of the most powerful tools available for businesses today to effortlessly store, share, and sync files. If you use G Suite's Docs, Slides, and Sheets, lucky you! You've got the perfect solution for easy collaboration and file/folder management.
Google understands that businesses need efficient, collaborative and scalable tools that will actually make work easier. There's no better example of this than Google Drive. Here are a few incredible ways it can add value to your business:

Get as much storage as you need: With G Suite Basic, 30 GB of storage per user shared across Drive and Gmail means plenty of room for your data, and you can purchase additional space as needed. If you're not sure how much data you'll need, opting for G Suite Business will give you truly unlimited storage. You'll never have to think about low storage problems - use as much as you want! Can't decide which G Suite tier is right for you? Check out our comparison post.

Sync files with your computer automatically: You can choose to sync all or some of your files to a designated folder on your computer. Any changes you make locally are automatically mirrored in Google Drive, and vice versa. I behaves just like your local hard drive but with the piece of mind that everything is replicated securely in the cloud and everyone can see the up to date version.

View files without buying additional software: Need to open a file but don't have the right software installed? That was the old way of doing things. Now Drive lets you view over 40 of the most popular formats including videos, images, Microsoft Office documents, spreadsheets, and PDFs. You can upload any type of file to Google Drive and even convert certain types to a web-based Google document format like Docs, Sheets, or Slides for truly real time collaborative editing.

Google Powered Search: Google is the most popular search engine on the planet, for good reason! Knowing that, you have the most powerful search features built into your data store. Stop the frantic hunt for important documents buried deep in layered folders. Simply enter some keywords to pull up the right file in seconds, even if it's an image or PDF of handwritten notes - that's powerful!

Easy-to-manage sharing controls: Google understands the importance of privacy and ensures your files are only shared with those you want to share with. Keep files private, until you decide to share them. Grant specific permissions to download, edit, comment, or view, avoiding multiple versions and file merging. Google Drive is unrivaled for collaborative document-editing projects.

Third-party applications to extend Drive functionality: There are hundreds of integrated apps available including Pandadoc for quotes/e-signatures,  Slack for enhanced sharing capabilities, and Smartsheet for project management to get things done directly from Drive. You can find more great integrated apps on the Chrome Web Store.

Google Drive is a solid system and many user's will agree that it's possibly the easiest file storage solution to set up and use. Compared to Microsoft, in mobile online storage, "Google Drive bagged nearly 10 times the number of monthly-active users than did Microsoft's OneDrive: 47 million to 4.9 million" according to Computer World.

Already have a G Suite domain but aren't partnered with a Google Cloud Partner? Here's why you should! Contact us today to learn more about how G Suite can improve and add incredible value to your business!

Friday, January 27, 2017

G Suite Series - Google Hangouts


From Google Hangouts to Google Drive, in this series we'll cover all the major applications that simplify business practices and help optimize business efficiency and productivity.

Google Hangouts - if you have ever used Gmail you have definitely heard of Hangout's and know that it's some sort of messaging application from Google. You're right, but there's so much more it can offer, especially for businesses.
Hangout's unifies chats, audio calls, and video meetings across all of your user's devices. Regardless of whether they're in Gmail, on the desktop, or on Andoid/iOS devices, your users won't miss a thing because all their Hangouts are synchronized. Through HD video, voice, and text, it helps connect you with people that make your business run.

Many companies have been able to cut down on travel costs, simply with Hangouts. When you can have face-to-face interactions via technology with your team, your customers, or even your prospects, you don't need to spend valuable time and money on travel. In some cases, Google Hangouts can even help your business save tons of money on phone and conferencing services which can be invested in other, more important aspects of the business.

Hangouts offers many of the advanced unified communications features included in some of the most robust business phone systems. So what are some of these features that Google Hangouts has to offer?

Connect with anyone, individually, or in a group, anytime and anywhere: You can host Hangouts for up to 25 people within or outside of your organization. The screen automatically focuses on whoever is speaking and intelligently mutes others to prevent background noises - it's seamless.

Easy to use from anywhere: Your entire team can join the same Hangout from their desktop, laptop, tablet, or phone with the same easy-to-use experience. Hangouts can be accessed via multiple ways including Gmail from the browser, the desktop app (for Chrome OS and Windows), the browser plugin, the mobile app (Andoid/iOS), the Hangouts website, and Google+.

Built-in screen sharing: Make a live presentation of your latest slides or give a remote tutorial with easy screen sharing, and send useful links with built in chat.

Have external participants join a Hangouts session: Even if they don't have a G Suite account you can invite external participants to join your session. You can even dial out to any telephone number for free in North America to add them to the conference audio. To ensure privacy, you also have the option to restrict Hangouts by default to those only within your organization.

These are a few key features that Google Hangouts has to offer making it an excellent cloud solution for your business communication. If you find Hangouts lacks some important capabilities, there are third-party platforms like Business Hangouts that can significantly expand the functionality of Hangouts to your needs. If that still isn't enough, there are numerous third-party solutions like UberConference - a cloud-based solution that integrates with Hangouts to add true telephone dial-in based audio-conferencing functionality.

With a G Suite subscription, you not only get incredible applications like Hangouts but you also get the latest and greatest features Google continues to improve upon. Go to the G Suite learning center to learn more about Google Hangouts and be sure to contact us at InterlockIT. We'd be happy to assist you in learning how to use G Suite effectively for your specific business needs.

Friday, December 23, 2016

G Suite: Basic or Business?

Having a cloud solution for your business is vital in today's world. You need a place to store all your work, access it from anywhere, share it easily with anyone, and not have to worry about capacity, performance, or safety. These are some of the key features business' look for when considering a cloud solution. Google's G Suite offers all these elements and more.

G Suite is a professional office suite for businesses of all sizes. We at InterlockIT service customer domains with as little as 2 users and as many as 90,000 users. G Suite is a scalable solution that does virtually everything you'd expect from a productivity suite and more. To ensure businesses are only paying for what they need, Google offer 2 tiers for G Suite; G Suite Basic and G Suite Business.
What's the difference?

Here is a comparison chart of the two tiers. We find startups and small to medium sized businesses gravitate towards the low cost $5 per user per month G Suite Basic tier. Larger companies or companies that have a need for the additional features incline towards the G Suite Business tier at $10 per user per month. Compared to other productivity suites, G Suite is an exceptionally low cost economical solution for most businesses and doesn't sacrifice quality and usability. It's a bulletproof platform that's both universal and scalable to meet your specific business needs.

Which tier is right for you?

If you're looking to keep costs low and don't have the need for features like unlimited storage, team drives, and ediscovery/archiving, G Suite Basic will do the job - although in our experience many companies upgrade to Business as they grow. Professional email, shared calendars, online document editing and storage, video meetings, and much more are all available in the Basic model via applications like Gmail, Calendar, Contacts, Drive, and Hangouts. If what you're looking for falls here, then the $5 per user per month plan is sufficient.

For businesses that prefer premium and true business-grade services, G Suite Business is the route. In addition to all the features included in the Basic model, G Suite Business subscribers also get the following:
  • Unlimited storage - Store large sized files and as many as you want without worrying about capacity limits.
  • Google Vault - Manage, retain, search, and export your organization's email and on-the-record chats.
  • Advanced Drive controls - Gain additional insights with audit reporting, custom alerts, and APIs
  • Audit and reporting features - Gain additional insights with mobile audits and alerts, such as when a device is compromised.
  • Mobile features - User's get G Suite on their managed mobile devices and administrators can control Android devices owned by the business
  • Team Drives - Manage content ownership and sharing at a team level with more granular controls
  • Administrative control - Offers a deeper level of administrative control compared to the Basic tier 
Google doesn't allow businesses to pick and choose different tiers. Each G Suite subscription is domain wide, meaning everyone in your domain will have the same tier. You cannot upgrade some users to use G Suite Business while others use G Suite Basic.

Upgrading from G Suite Basic to the Business is simple. Contact your G Suite reseller and ask them to upgrade your domain. The process is quick and is seamless to end users. If you don't have a reseller, give us a call and we can take care of the entire process for you!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Why you should use a Google Cloud Partner!

More than 5 million businesses use Google's collection of productivity apps known as G Suite (formerly known as Google Apps for Work) and over 5,000 businesses sign up every day. With such a large and growing user base, Google relies on partners like Interlock IT to provide customer relationships and expertise, personalized outreach, and a broad range of services to users. Partners like us also provide essential services that allow users to take maximum advantage of G Suite, ease their initial setup and assist with migration, customization, and the general user experience.
Our team at Interlock IT helps companies move to the cloud to streamline productivity, user experience, and cost. As a G Suite reseller we manage hundreds of global G Suite customers and are occasionally asked what the benefits are of partnering up with a reseller. There are many reasons why it's useful--and in many cases better--to have a reseller manage your G Suite domain. Here are just a few:

Data Migration and Deployment
As the first Canadian Premier Google Apps Partner, Interlock IT has a highly experienced and dedicated team to lead your transition to G Suite. Our deployment team addresses all migration needs, including deployment, integration, and adoption. Our team is here to ensure that your business has a smooth and seamless transition without any downtime or data loss. All data from legacy systems are safely transferred with utmost care. In our almost seven years of moving hundreds of customers to G Suite, we have not once experienced a lost email or file - you're in safe hands!

G Suite Integrated Add-ons
With our large customer base we have lots of hands on experience with G Suite integrated add-ons to cover your needs in any situation. Need to manage leads, contacts, and drive sales results with Solve CRM or Prosperworks CRM? Want to replace your on premise accounting solution with Xero? Need time sheets, expense reporting, and online/automated credit card billing with Freshbooks? There is a wealth of 100% web browser based cloud software solutions available that deeply integrate to G Suite, eliminating separate login/passwords, and much more.

Support
Although G Suite includes free Google support, Google support reps are unfamiliar with your company and business needs. Compared to Google support, our smaller and agile team understands and builds rapport with our customers on a deeper level, maintaining a healthy customer relationship to quickly and efficiently resolve tier 2 support issues. We're a simple phone call or email away and can even submit/escalate support requests to Google on your behalf accordingly so you can focus on running your business.

Training
Many businesses don't leverage the full potential of G Suite until their users have received adequate training. With our engaging G Suite training sessions, we can demonstrate the features and best-practices of the Google experience. Our G Suite Certified Deployment Specialists stay up to date with the latest improvements and upgrades to provide a wide range of rich content training for all G Suite applications including Gmail, Calendar, Docs, Sheets, Slides, and Google Drive. For businesses that prefer to maintain their own infrastructure, we also train IT administrators on Google's Admin console for fine-grained admin controls, audit reports, eDiscovery, and custom application development.

Custom App Integration
Every business has its own unique needs, and in some cases the out-of-box solution doesn't cover all the bases. Our team has ample experience with designing and integrating custom applications with G Suite. For example, Blink Reports is a product we created to bridge the gap between Google Sheets and Xero to allow Xero customers to build financial reports, charts, and virtual dashboards connected to their live Xero data. Need standardized signatures? Need to synchronize G Suite users with your school administration system? These are just a few examples of solutions we've custom built for our customers. If there's a cloud application that your business needs to integrate with G Suite, our team is ready to design and deploy it!
Among the many advantages, these are a few key benefits of running your business with a Google Cloud Partner. With a reseller like InterlockIT, you're not only getting powerful world class collaborative G Suite tools, you're also getting many years of experience providing cloud-consulting, on-going technical support, and domain management. Contact us today to purchase your G Suite subscription with InterlockIT! It's quick, simple, and you'll thank yourself later!

Thursday, October 6, 2016

New names & new tricks!

With business demands growing and companies looking to boost productivity, it's equally important for tech tools to evolve and keep up the pace. The digitization of businesses in particular makes it necessary for modern tools to reinvent/improve upon their predecessors. We hear our customers with different requirements calling for more refined products to be offered. So far, Google has delivered and maintains it's superiority over other 'cloud' platforms with its frequent updates.

Google Apps is the backbone of millions of companies across the globe. The cloud apps are not standalone apps, but rather a complete suite of intelligent applications that work harmoniously to provide users with an exceptionally fluid and seamless collaborative experience. Not only does Google continue to improve usability and features, but they've gone so far as to update the name of their applications to better reflect their mission; for technology to live up to its promise for us at work and help us cut through the noise so we can work together and focus on what matters. Just last week Google introduced 'G Suite' (formerly known as Google Apps for Work).

Google Apps is now G Suite Basic
Google Apps Unlimited is now G Suite Business


Since Google frequently introduces new features to their already robust applications, they've introduced yet another great element, and this time to Google Drive; Team Drives.  

In 2012, Google Drive launched to bring all of your work to all of your devices. Today, Drive sits on more than one billion smartphones and as businesses embrace it, a new key need has emerged: teams. We all know that teams need to move fast, be scaleable, and regroup. In order to keep up, Team Drives redefine this model, shifting the focus from individual users to teams. For example, content ownership and sharing can now be managed at the team level, and new roles give more granular control over team content. As the G Suite Updates blog states, "Team Drives help streamline teamwork from end-to-end, from onboarding a new team member (add her to the team and she instantly has access to all of the work in one place) to offboarding a departing team member (remove him from the team and all of his work stays right in place), and everything in-between". Team Drives will be exclusive to G Suite Business users and will begin rolling out to customers through the Early Adoption Program

Although these are incremental updates, they have a profound impact on the way we conduct business in teams. If you're looking for an exceptional suite of business productivity apps, unlimited cloud storage, e-discovery, archiving, Team Drives and much much more, G Suite Business is your solution. Get in touch with us today to assist your ascendance to the tech Cloud. Our G Suite deployment specialists are ready to lead and assist your implementation. 

Friday, September 30, 2016

Pokémon Go Technology

Technology is evolving rapidly and games are no longer restricted to a controller and screen in your living room. They're now physically and socially engaging, like Pokémon GO from nainticlabs.com.
Pokémon GO is an augmented-reality game that blends imagination, exercise, and real-world exploration all around you. The idea of 'catching' Pokémon has never been more realistic. Millions of people of all ages are spending more time outdoors trying to catch the globally scattered virtual critters. Just in the last nine weeks, Pokémon GO surpassed half a billion downloads worldwide and players have collectively walked 4.6 billion kilometers - that's the distance from Earth to Pluto! Pokémon GO continues to grow in popularity as developers expand on its features.

At Interlock IT, we've split into our respective teams and have some serious Pokémon trainers! The game is tons of fun and has us actively participating, but what really interests us is how the game is able to function so well with so much server load and usage. What platform is the game running on and how is it scaling so well? The short answer; Google.

Niantic's job postings require applicants to have experience with Google's Cloud Platform and be "extremely proficient with Google App Engine". It's no surprise, John Hanke's (CEO of Niantic), had previously established a similar and very popular Android-based game known as Ingress. Ingress uses Google's Cloud Platform as its backend. The same technologies and map-points were used to lay the foundations of Pokémon GO which allows for massive scalability and in return, enables a progressively stable gaming experience for users. Check out this Google Cloud Platform blog post to learn about the infrastructure that helped bring Pokémon GO to life for millions of players.

Google allows 'game-changing' games (pun intended), the likes of Pokémon GO and Ingress to have their databases storing massive amounts of geodata for determining where people congregate, how much movement they are doing, and all of the places where Pokémon should regenerate, into highly scalable servers. Google understands the cloud extremely well and knows the future of computing lies in the clouds. The sheer scale and ambition of these games needed Niantic to tap into Google's cloud utilities to make it a reality. With so many people playing the games worldwide, it's another tribute to Google's incredible cloud platform.

What was once a sci-fi dream of having full access to business and pleasure, anywhere at anytime, has now become a reality. Pokémon GO not only illustrates the importance of having a solid backend infrastructure, but testifies the power and reliability of Google's servers. It's fast, scalable, and secure. Contact us today to upgrade your business to Google's cloud platform. It's GO time!

Friday, August 19, 2016

The best cloud accounting solution for small businesses!

Nowadays, having a reliable IT system in place is imperative for an efficient business workflow. As cloud experts, we've found early on that cloud computing is an integral part of having your IT system work for you, and not the other way around. Cloud email, cloud collaboration, cloud storage, and even cloud accounting are what make up a powerful, productive, and efficient IT system.

Although our founder has a deep passion for wielding cloud technology, by trade he is a Chartered Professional Accountant and a Certified Management Accountant. Both technology and accounting overlap in our world and we're often asked this question; what is the best cloud accounting solution for small and medium sized businesses?

The quickest answer; Xero.

As cloud strategists, we find accessibility is key when it comes to data and management. Xero, along with other cloud solutions, is built around the idea of accessibility. Cloud technologies enable everything to work faster and more efficiently. Even large banks and financial institutions are starting to use cloud storage for their data storage needs over their traditional data centers. With cloud accounting software like Xero, small businesses can do everything, including easy invoicing, inventory, multi-currency reconciling, source document attachment, purchase orders, cash-flow management, and much more. The ability to have these features fully accessible, from virtually anywhere, is a huge plus for small and medium sized businesses. Learn more about Xero features here: https://www.xero.com/ca/accounting-software/

Xero has been at the forefront of cloud accounting for a very long time. It's one of the easiest online accounting systems and offers great convenience for its users without compromising on key features that are normally found in legacy accounting software. It has become one of the fastest growing cloud accounting companies in the world, with a subscriber base of over 700,000, contributing a total life-time value of $1.5 billion. Their success is due to their loyal small business customers across 180 countries. Xero intelligently takes advantage of cloud technology which allows them to innovate faster than ever before and pushes them into new geographies.

There's no doubt that Xero is well on it's way to hitting the billion dollar annual revenue mark with it's rapid growth, making it a top choice for those looking for the perfect cloud accounting solution. Interlock IT is a Certified Xero Partner and a Certified Xero Development Partner. We'll make your transition to Xero painless and can even assist you with custom Xero reports and integrations. Give us a call and let us know what you're looking to do with Xero. We're more than happy to assist! We'll even provide a free Xero trial account; just fill out our contact us form and mention this post in the comments.

If you've adopted Google Apps for Work, we've created Blink Reports for Xero. Blink Reports is the only Google Sheets add-on that allows Xero customers to build financial reports, charts, and virtual dashboards connected to your live Xero data. Contact us today to discuss with us your cloud accounting needs!

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Fastest way to login securely (no password needed!) - Google Prompt

Everyone uses passwords, but sometimes even passwords aren't enough to prevent security breaches. Quickly adopted by millions of users, Google introduced an added measure of securing email and data, known as 2-Step Verification. We've written a dedicated post about it here: http://blog.interlockit.com/2015/03/two-step-verification-added-layer-of.html. It's a great way to ensure your emails and documents are safe, but requires you to retrieve a code via text or Google's Authenticator app which you then have to enter, every 30 days if you so choose.

There's an easier way now; Google Prompt. Instead of typing in your password each time you sign in to your Google Account, you can get a prompt sent to your phone. Simply, tap the notification from Google to confirm, and you'll be signed in quickly and securely.

You'll need an iPhone 5S and up or an Android device for Google Prompt to work. Setting it up is a piece of cake:

  1. On your computer or tablet, go to the "Sign in & security" section of My Account. You might need to sign in to your Google Account.
  2. In the "Tired of typing passwords?" box, select Get started.
  3. Select Set it up, then sign in to your account. You'll be taken to a guided setup process.
  4. In the "Your phone" section, choose which phone you want to use to sign in.
  5. Turn on your device's security feature.
    • Android: If there isn't a check next to "Screen lock," select Add a screen lock and follow the onscreen instructions.
    • iPhone: If there isn't a check next to "Touch ID," select How to set it up and follow the onscreen instructions.
  6. Choose Next.
  7. Below your username, select Next to practice how you'll sign in.
  8. On your phone, follow the onscreen instructions to see Google's prompt, then tap Yes.
  9. On your computer or tablet, select Turn on to the finish setup.
That's it! Now whenever you attempt to sign in to your Google Account, you'll get a "Trying to sign in?" prompt sent to your phone, just tap Yes and you're in!

Google understands security doesn't have to be tedious and Google Prompt makes for a quick and effortless way to access your account while maintaining a higher level of security than your average password. Contact our Interlock IT team today to secure your precious data with Google Apps!

Friday, June 24, 2016

The Cloud Powerhouse

We like to think cloud-technology users understand the power and security Google Apps can bring to their daily workflow. As industries evolve, so do the trends in user interaction with technology. Cloud adopters understand that IT systems don't have to be complicated, difficult, and expensive. Solutions like Google Apps empowers companies to grow at unforeseen heights and we find cloud adoption increasing more than ever, especially in fast-growing companies and startups.
Interlock IT recently had the pleasure of leading a Google Apps implementation for Imaginea Energy - a Calgary based oil and gas company. As Imaginea grew, they recognized their legacy storage, productivity, and email tools didn't reflect their open and transparent culture. Their closed environment made it difficult to collaborate together beyond very small teams so they started to look for a solution that was robust and powerful enough to mirror their vision. Google Apps for Work was their answer.

Within as little as four weeks, Interlock IT helped Imaginea Energy migrate email to Google Apps and transform into a highly productive and collaborative workplace. Flexibility to work remotely also allowed their employees maximum autonomy. Collaboration became seamless with Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, and Forms. Working offline became a possibility with immediate syncing upon network connectivity and Google Hangouts saved significant travel costs, enabling teams to spend more time on-site and less time driving. Since the implementation, Imaginea has become unstoppable and continues to grow rapidly.


Interlock IT loves saving customers the headaches and costs that accompany clunky outdated non-cloud platforms, and as anticipated, Imaginea was able to cut their IT costs in half! Interlock IT helped strategize the move of their legacy oil and gas applications from their traditional on-premise Windows servers to virtualized Windows servers on Google's Cloud Platform. Just see what Greg Bennett from Imaginea had to say, "At Imaginea, we defy industry stereotypes by focusing on Planet, People and Profit together. When you set out to reimagine an industry like oil and gas, achieving that vision is only possible with the right people and the right tools. The Interlock IT team led us through a smooth transition to a powerful, cost-effective, and secure collaboration suite. With Google Apps, we’ve set course to truly transform our business and the energy industry." Be sure to check out Greg's full blog post on the official Google for Work blog.

In recent years, the use of Google Apps has been growing steadily and capturing large chunks of the market. Businesses as well as consumers are increasingly considering Google Apps for meeting their productivity and collaboration needs. It's no secret that the markets are flocking to Google Apps and chances are that even your business or organization already uses at least one cloud-based application. Why not give Google Apps a try? As cloud experts, we've witnessed the repeated success of companies that embrace the Google platform. Industries ranging from energy to education and beyond are aware of the potential Google Apps brings to their respective trade. Contact Interlock IT today to learn how Google Apps can revolutionize your business workflow!

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Cliniko to Xero Integration

The Cloud! It's the much needed, efficient, and cost-effective upgrade to your obsolete IT infrastructure. If you're a business that understands the importance of having a solid IT system, you'll definitely appreciate the wonders and advantages of cloud-computing. At Interlock IT we pride ourselves in promoting cloud solutions and even cater to our customers need's for custom integrated solutions. You can think of us as a marriage counselor for your cloud products that need more out of their relationship.

Having a professional accountant (CPA, CMA) as our founder, it's only natural for our team to delve into cloud-based accounting software. Xero, for example, is an accounting software that helps you see your cash flow in real-time, has online accounting, banking, and payroll features.

We think Xero is a superior solution to Quickbooks and Quickbooks Online. Xero's massive growth, adding over 242,000 subscribers over the last year, speaks for itself. As of March 2016 Xero has 717,000 subscribers worldwide. You can learn more about Xero on their website.

Cliniko is another web-based product used by thousands of healthcare practitioners in more than 55 countries worldwide. Cliniko helps manage your schedule, treatment notes, invoices, payments, and much more. It works great for solo practitioners, large teams, and anything in between. You can learn more about Cliniko on their website.
Cliniko and Xero; it's a good combination and Cliniko even offers it's own step-by-step integration guide to Xero. However, the integration falls short in a number of areas. We (Interlock IT) can make up for that! For example, the Cliniko provided integration to Xero Accounting can only map one Cliniko instance to one Xero Accounting organization. It also does not support Xero Tracking Categories for splitting revenue and costs by Cliniko location or business within a Xero organization. We support both situations. We’re flexible and happy to discuss sharing the software development costs of meeting other unique needs such as batching payments by day.

Be sure to contact us! Our team of experts is here to make sure you get the most out of your solutions because we understand it's so much easier when everything is connected!

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Disaster recovery - Secure your email and files!

Interlock IT is cloud-focused and cloud-centric. We believe it's imperative for businesses and organizations to adopt cloud based solutions simply because this is where the future of technology lies. In the second quarter of 2013 more than half of Fortune 500 companies were paying for Google enterprise products, and some 5 million companies were using Google Apps for Work. Since then, it's become an even more powerful tool with even more users! These companies and organizations have thoroughly recognized the potential and security that Google Apps delivers.


What's happened in the last few weeks in Fort McMurray and surrounding areas is unfortunate. As we know, many thousands of people have been displaced and many hundreds of businesses and schools have been destroyed. What's worse is the wildfires continue to rage and thousands of firefighters remain in battle against the inferno after several weeks. Here is the latest: http://www.alberta.ca/release.cfm?xID=41701E7ECBE35-AD48-5793-1642C499FF0DE4CF

A few minutes is all it can take for nature to claim your life's work. Companies using Google Apps and other true cloud-based solutions understand that their data isn't at risk of being stolen or destroyed by natural disasters like we see in Fort McMurray today. All their emails and other invaluable documents are stored in the cloud for easy restoration in the event of a natural disaster. They also worry far less about data breaches and theft. The concept is simple; if you're like most reasonable folks, you don't stash large sums of cash under your mattress. You more than likely use a bank where your hard earned money is secure and easily accessible. Similarly, Gmail is the world's most trusted email solution with over 1 BILLION monthly active users and counting. User's have the peace of mind knowing their precious data is safe and only a click away.

Google has additional ways of safeguarding your data through The Google Analytics security and privacy principles which include operational security and disaster recovery. This is to minimize service interruption due to hardware failure, natural disasters, or other catastrophes. Google also implements a comprehensive disaster-recovery program at all of its data centers which covers data replication, geographical distribution of data centers, resilient and redundant infrastructure, and a continuity plan in the event of a disaster. Google has you covered!

We at Interlock IT take it upon ourselves to educate technology users of the importance of cloud computing. Uploading your data to cloud based services such as Google Apps is a smart way to ensure you are prepared and protected for the unexpected. Email and communication is terribly important in any industry, so destroyed hardware tends to result in major data and productivity loss. Cloud based users however, can jump to any other machine and retrieve all their work instantly from anywhere at anytime. This mitigates the loss of productivity and assures the continued function of the company.

It's always better to be prepared before a disaster strikes than after. Be sure to contact us to learn more about Google Apps and how we can assist your organization seamlessly migrate to the cloud!

Monday, May 30, 2016

No more forged emails! - SPF and DKIM

Secure email is vital to any organization. If you have ever received email from your employee or a company you do business with, but it's actually really from a malicious/unknown source, then you've seen first hand how easy it is to forge emails. Our previous blog post covered how users can prevent important email from landing in their spam folder. This post covers a common question we get from our customer base; why does sent email end up in the recipient's spam folder or isn't delivered at all?


Every recipient is unique and has different spam filtering settings for messages being received. Typically, recipient servers don't provide information about spam filtering to the sender of an email simply because it makes the recipient vulnerable by giving too much information to actual spammers who could then potentially get around the filters. This is where SPF and DKIM authentication come into play. Authentication legitimizes the source of the email to prove it isn't forged and is a thorough way of ensuring your email is delivered to the person you are sending to.

A sender policy framework (SPF) record is a type of DNS (domain name server) record that identifies which mail servers are permitted to send email on behalf of your domain. SPF records are used to prevent spammers from sending email on your behalf. It essentially asks, "is this email coming from an authorized mail server?" If it isn't, the email is likely to be spam.

A DomainKeys identified mail (DKIM) record simply adds a digital signature to emails your organization sends. The email recipient servers check if the signatures match and if so, the email hasn't been tampered with and is from a legitimate sender. Fundamentally, the DKIM check verifies that the message is signed and associated with the correct domain.

Having both SPF and DKIM records in place can greatly reduce the potential of spam email appearing to be sent from your domain and also improves email deliverability. An easy way to check if your domain's SPF and DKIM records are in compliance with Google's recommendation is by going here: https://toolbox.googleapps.com/apps/checkmx/check.
The interlockit.com SPF address declares that Google Apps, Freshbooks, Sendgrid, and MailChimp are all authorized to send email on behalf of our domain. 
Our team at InterlockIT has assisted many hundreds of companies and organizations update and correct their DNS records resulting in very happy customers. Be sure to contact us today to prevent email forgery for good!

Friday, May 6, 2016

Important mail going to spam? Read this!

It happens to a lot of users. Your boss, colleague, or client asks if you've completed the first draft and you look at them with a blank face, with no clue as to what they are referring to. You either missed the email or it somehow landed in your spam folder which you rarely ever check. "Why is important email landing in my spam" you ask? Simple, you get Gmail to stop checking for spam - sort of.

If you're finding that wanted incoming email is landing in spam, here is a way to redirect it to your inbox. Filters are one of the most powerful tools integrated in Gmail. If you understand the power of email filters, you can do quite a lot with them to manage your inbox efficiently and productively. Follow these simple steps to setup a domain filter to automate "spam email" to redirect into your inbox.

1. Click the gear icon in the upper right corner of your inbox and select Settings.





2. Select the Filters and Blocked Addresses tab and at the bottom select Create a new filter.



3. In the resulting popup, place this text (without quotes) “is:spam” into the "Has the Words box", enter the domain name from which wanted mail is landing in spam, and click Create filter with this search.






















4. Check the Never send to Spam box (and any other boxes you'd like a match for) and click Create filter.






That's it! You've now created a filter to prevent wanted mail from that specific domain from going to your spam folder. Technically we haven't stopped Gmail from checking spam, but this filter functions in practically the same way, so no more scavenging through your spam folder to find that lost unread email. Next time you get an important email from that domain in spam, it will automatically pass along to your inbox as a regular piece of mail.

In our next post we'll cover why your sent mail may be going to your recipients spam folder and why having your domain's SPF and DKIM records up to date is crucial to having your email delivered appropriately. To learn more about how Gmail and other Google Apps can make your company more efficient and productive, be sure to contact our InterlockIT team! 

Friday, April 8, 2016

Googlization of Education

Google Apps for Education (GAFE) has taken the K-12 system--and even post-secondary education systems--by storm. It's a core suite of productivity applications that Google offers to education institutions for FREE, allowing them to offer more productive, collaborative, and efficient learning experience. GAFE is more than just Gmail, Calendar, Drive, Docs and Sites. It includes dozens of other collaborative tools supported by Google such as Classroom. Everything is in the cloud which means that creations can be accessed from any device with an internet connection.  


The new generation of students don't install desktop software to check email. In fact, email is barely even used by teenagers. The majority of top 100 educational institutes have already adopted Google Apps which has seeded the next generation of works. GAFE is growing rapidly with currently more than 50 million users, and is anticipated to reach 110 million users by 2020 according to PR Newswire

Here are a few Canadian schools that have already upgraded:
  • Edmonton Schools (roughly 90,000 users)
  • University of Alberta
  • Wilfred Laurier
  • Lakehead University
  • Nipissing University
  • University of Windsor
  • McMaster, Mount Royal, Trent, Ryerson, Prince Edward Island, Saskatchewan, Ottawa-Carleton School Boards, Memorial
  • Calgary Board of Education
  • Greenwood College
  • Upper Canada College
  • Lakefield College
  • York School
  • Royal St. George
Google Apps for Education isn’t just about the core education services, it's a complete suite of communication and collaboration cloud applications. Although collaboration isn’t new to schools, the GAFE approach enables students and teachers to drop legacy desktop software and work together in a much more effective and productive way. For example, teachers don’t have to collect giant stacks of assignments to haul home; everything is online. Furthermore, the teacher’s comments can be placed in-line on the assignment in question, allowing students to quickly and effectively assimilate the feedback.

Google Apps for Education is leading the way for schools who are changing the way they think about education and technology. Chromebooks, for example, are fast, low-cost, easy-to-use notebooks that meet the requirements of most students. With more student-owned devices coming into schools every year, and with the conversion from wired to wireless access, it's vital that students are equipped with a consistent set of learning resources anytime, anywhere. By providing students with access to GAFE, new teaching and learning workflows can be developed and adopted to support student learning anytime, anywhere with single sign on access.

With an already huge and expanding market, coupled with an all-accessible powerful app suite at a low cost, it's easily a winning combination. Google Apps for Education is seeing an explosive surge in user growth, with schools maturing into much more advanced and collaborative learning institutions. Contact our InterlockIT team today to learn how to increase the retention of your staff and prepare for tomorrow's generation of students and teachers with superior technology.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Gmail vs. Outlook - Which one?


We spend a significant amount of the day reading and replying to emails, so using the right email client is imperative for optimized productivity and efficiency. The most prominent and favoured email solutions to date are Google's Gmail and Microsoft's Outlook.

To decide which solution works best for your business, it's crucial to address the kinds of features and functions your users require. Outlook is generally the 'comfort zone' option for a lot of users, and has been for some time; it's a familiar and popular application. However, Gmail has been steadily growing in popularity (surpassing 1 billion active users in Q4 2015) and in our experience, it's taken the throne away from Outlook—but how? While Outlook and Gmail both offer a similar experience with basic send/receive functionality, Gmail has taken a step further with lightning-fast mailbox searching, integrated voice and multi-person video chat, and other productivity enhancements such as Priority Inbox. Furthermore, Gmail integrates Google Hangouts, the communication platform of choice of the next generation. Gmail also includes the ability to easily attach and link files stored in Google Drive. Google Apps Learning Center offers a great overview of Gmail and Google Apps.

Although the majority of Gmail 'converts' really enjoy it, we've come across users who prefer Google Apps but insist on using Outlook because of their familiarity with the old-school interface. Many users may struggle and even dislike the change to conversation view in Gmail, but once trained on the benefits, the majority find it really helps manage large volumes of emails without using time consuming methods like sorting by sender and filing in individuals folders. Placing Outlook on top of Gmail excludes users from many powerful Gmail features that can really boost productivity and efficiency. For example, Gmail can merge emails into a single "conversation," which makes it much easier to navigate messages compared to Outlook. This enables the user to view or hide any related correspondence with a simple mouse click, instead of having to shuffle through multiple messages from the same sender. Gmail also upgrades folders with labels, which means that one email can have as many labels as needed versus Outlook, which only understands folders so users can only file a single email in a single folder - how old school is that?! Despite being able to assign multiple tags to one email, once trained with tips to use Google's powerful email search capabilities, many users stop filing in folders and using labels altogether.

Having instant access to your email and files, along with seamless collaboration, is another big selling point for Google Apps. There is no need to download, install, update, and sync legacy applications like Outlook since Google handles all the related maintenance and automatically updates Gmail, so users always get the latest innovations. This way, when you click open your browser or pick up your tablet or smartphone, it just simply works.

One of the other powerful features of Gmail is it's advanced spam filtering system. Gmail offers superior spam filtering which acts like a funnel through which only legitimate mail can pass. By the time you step into your office in the morning, Google ensures that any email that was collectively marked spam by others across the world does not end up in your inbox. Neat!

Gmail spam filtering
Although Outlook offers a familiar interface, Gmail and Google Apps for Work remain the email service of choice for most of our customers. More than 5 million businesses worldwide have moved to Google Apps, allowing their employees to productively collaborate, wherever and whenever they work. Be sure to check out some of the differences and benefits you'll get by switching to Gmail from Outlook and a legacy Exchange ecosystem. We here at InterlockIT have led many migrations, so contact us to schedule yours!

Friday, March 4, 2016

Hybrid Cloud - Not a permanent solution


InterlockIT - We're a pro-cloud company and proud of being part of a disruptive way to providing cheaper, more convenient, and simpler business solutions that work.

Many cloud prospects over-complicate the process of divorcing their on-premises system by wanting to implement a hybrid cloud architecture as a long-term solution. A hybrid cloud is a combination of private cloud combined with the use of public cloud services where one or several touch points exist between the environments. The purpose of this setup is to conjoin services from a variety of cloud models to create an automated and easy to manage IT infrastructure.

As a cloud strategy company, we can confidently say that hybrid systems are not a permanent solution. CTOs rush to adopt cloud technologies for a number of reasons such as lower costs, increased agility, mobility, and so on, but many fail to understand that embracing a hybrid system is a journey with a final destination - the cloud. It shouldn't be a never-ending journey and for good reason! Each organization's cloud migration is different depending on the company size and infrastructure. Larger companies that rely more heavily on legacy systems may run a hybrid cloud system for a longer period of time than smaller companies that are comfortable moving more quickly. To understand why hybrid systems work better as temporary solutions it's important to recognize a few major misconceptions. Amazon Web Services outlines some of these myths in their post.

A common assumption companies make about hybrid systems is the ease of moving applications between their on-premises and cloud architectures. It's crucial to understand that cloud and on-premises infrastructure are not equally capable. Simply put, companies move to the cloud for features that enable them to have true elasticity, security, fixed costs, and improvement updates. On-premise systems and private clouds don't have this versatility and therefore cannot be permanently unified with the public cloud without drawbacks. Companies that do adopt a hybrid cloud system are often presented with technical, business, and management challenges such as the need for hybrid clouds to have good API compatibility and solid network connectivity. Gartner Inc, a leading technology adviser, polled that 95% of private clouds had encountered problems.

Although a hybrid cloud architecture allows for a "mix and match" approach, there is still the issue of cost. Most companies that have a smaller budget usually can't afford a rollout of a hybrid cloud solution. The initial cost of servers on the private end of the scale is a substantial one, and the needs of smaller businesses can typically be well catered to by cloud providers like Google or Microsoft.

Hybrid/private clouds increase the chances of security issues versus public clouds. Maintaining and ensuring that your public cloud provider and private cloud are in compliance isn't a walk in the park. This includes the means of coordination between the two because hybrid systems allow for information to be transported across a network that can be subject to third-party tapping. Additionally, a hybrid cloud operator won't have a comparable budget to spend monitoring their security that public cloud providers like Google and Microsoft have. It's an unnecessary risk that many companies are unfortunately oblivious to.

It can be tempting to prolong the use of a hybrid solution when your company is so accustomed to legacy applications, but you'll often get much better performance from the public cloud element if you find a solution from a specialist provider like InterlockIT. Be sure to contact us to learn more about cloud migration and what we can do to make your IT infrastructure work efficiently and cost-effectively for you.

Friday, February 5, 2016

The world's most-used Android app may surprise you

You'd expect to see apps such as Twitter, Facebook, and WhatsApp on top of the most used lists for Android, but this isn't the case. According to app analytics tracking firm Drawbridge, the most used app of Q4 2015 was Clean Master by Cheetah Mobile, a Chinese mobile internet company. Clean Master is an app management platform that promises to "improve your device's performance by cleaning junk files, optimizing device memory, providing complete protections against viruses and managing the apps you installed."

The company targets their app directly at the low level of tech know-how of the average consumer. Plain and simple, most users just want their device to perform fast! Without understanding what the application really does, they see a promising illusion of a 'speedier and cleaner' device. It's hard to blame consumers when the appeal is so great and the marketing and design is done exceptionally well.

Apps like Clean Master may have once been useful but Android has progressed far enough that they are now obsolete, unnecessary, and can be harmful. The Android operating system has it's own native handler for assigning RAM to apps and making sure that all of it is being used in the most optimal way. In fact, Android purposely tries to keep apps loaded into RAM for better performance. Remember, RAM is fast, so on mobile devices every bit of speed is crucial for a good user experience. Therefore, keeping apps in RAM is actually a good thing!

Not only does Android handle RAM assignment, but it also keeps track of background apps, automatically closing or hibernating them so that there isn't a noticeable performance hit for leaving apps loaded in RAM.
App killers, memory boosters, performance enhancers and the like, all claim that freeing up your memory will speed up your device. With current versions of Android, this simply isn't true and actually does quite the opposite. Task killer apps kill other apps which use resources to process. When the operating system restarts those tasks, or other apps to fill the memory again, this takes even more resources. The task killer app kills again and the process repeats itself continuously. Essentially, these apps reduce performance and decrease battery life by restarting apps again and again. It's important to understand that dormant apps on your device don't consume any additional resources (for example, CPU time and battery life) in the first place. Additionally, apps like Clean Master barrage your device with unnecessary notifications, like how a certain app is stealing x-amount of RAM and how another app is violating privacy (without any proof), which often hurt productivity and can be quite distracting and annoying for the user.

Beware of apps that claim to instantly 'breathe new life' into your device. Android's RAM and cache management systems are rock solid. Because these task killer apps clear out even the essential processes of the operating system, restarting them is a big drain on system resources. Whatever speed increase the user feels is purely imaginary which makes this probably the best example of a placebo effect in the Android world. Be sure to check out the Lifehacker article to learn more about task killer apps and alternative ways to increase the performance of your device. For expert advice on technology and Google related assistance, be sure to contact our InterlockIT support team!