Monday, February 23, 2015

Automated updates: Making work easier

Why should you choose cloud-based solutions over on-premises systems?

Not too long ago you had to run commands in PowerShell to convert an existing regular mailbox to a shared mailbox in the Office 365 Exchange admin console. This was necessary to migrate data into a shared mailbox, since it's currently not possible to migrate directly into a shared mailbox. The process was a little tedious, boring, and required some valuable time, especially if you have little to no experience with PowerShell.

First, you'd connect to Office 365 from an elevated PowerShell console...
Set-ExecutionPolicy -ExecutionPolicy RemoteSigned
$UserCredential = Get-Credential
$Session = New-PSSession -ConfigurationName Microsoft.Exchange -ConnectionUri -Credential $UserCredential -Authentication Basic -AllowRedirection
Then, convert the mailbox and set size quota. Note that shared and resource mailbox sizes increased from 5GB to 10GB in Q4 2013 and increased from 10GB to 50GB in Q4 2014.
Get-Mailbox -identity | set-mailbox -type “Shared” Set-Mailbox -ProhibitSendReceiveQuota 50GB -ProhibitSendQuota 49.75GB -IssueWarningQuota 49.5GB
Assign permissions to specific group to access shared mailbox…
Add-MailboxPermission -User "Engineering Group" AccessRights FullAccess
Finally, remove the Office 365 license. Shared and resource mailboxes do not require a license in Office 365. To remove an Office 365 license from shared mailbox to prevent from being charged for usage, perform the following commands…
$MSOLSKU = (Get-MSOLUser -UserPrincipalName[0].AccountSkuId
Set-MsolUserLicense -UserPrincipalName -RemoveLicenses $MSOLSKU
This was the procedure to convert a regular mailbox into a shared mailbox. Now, thanks to automated updates through the cloud, you can have this process completed in a few clicks.

Login to your Office 365 account through the Office portal, and navigate to the Exchange Admin Centre. Once you are logged into your dashboard, click on the Recipients button in the menu on the left. You should now see a list of user mailboxes. Highlight the user mailbox you would like to convert to or from a shared mailbox and click on the convert button as shown in the screenshot below. (You should receive a prompt stating, "Are you sure you want to convert this regular mailbox into shared mailbox?" Click Yes.)

You can also convert a shared mailbox to a regular user mailbox following the same kind of steps. You would go into the shared menu at the top of your recipient list screen and "convert to regular mailbox".

There are many benefits of using a cloud-based solution, one of which is vitally important if you want to save yourself the hassle of setting up your own Exchange server and infrastructure, managing and maintaining desktop Office software, and installing patches and updates every month. The cloud allows you to be free of these restrictions and updates automatically as the example shown above in automating mailbox conversion. Microsoft takes care of all the dirty work so you don't have to. It's like having an IT department that maintains your cloud systems and continues to improve for your efficiency and ease.

On-premises systems will have you waiting and configuring things manually and more frequently. You must consider that implementing the same capabilities as cloud-based solutions requires servers, network infrastructure, IT personnel to install, manage, and update it all (not to mention you still have to buy the software). 

These are just a couple compelling reasons to switch your on-premise system to a cloud-based one. You can now see that cloud-computing is a highly attractive and intelligent proposition if you are looking to make the most of technology today at lower costs and lower risks.

If your current IT provider is still recommending on-premise server solutions, you're not getting good advice! Get in touch with our team at Interlock IT and we'll help make your work easier and more efficient.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Go paperless! Lighten your business load

You may start off with bank statements, letters, receipts, business transactions, and inventories only to find that you've collected a stack of folders which eventually turn into a shelf full of boxed paperwork.

Well, what if you could evaporate all that weight up into a cloud and reference it at your fingertips, whenever, and wherever?

Thanks to technologies such as Google Drive, going paperless can really help your business. It not only helps clear cluttered workspace in the office, but also saves money and eases your business' environmental footprint. (Not to mention less trips to the printer too!)

Here are a few practical reasons why you should go paperless with Google Drive:

  • Security and Focus: You no longer have to worry about losing or misplacing your documents. No more distractions on your desk
  • Space: Enables you to save valuable office storage space. 
  • Mobility: Allows you to have access to all your documents in one place even outside the office. 
  • Time: Saves valuable time.
  • Money: Save costs ranging from printing paper, photocopying, and printer maintenance.
  • Recovery: Disaster recovery.
  • Peace of Mind: Ensures security and privacy.

Of course, all you need is Google Drive with an account and a scanner. You can also use Android/iOS smartphones or tablets to upload files as PDFs. Here are some Epson scanners that can scan directly to Google Drive with a couple of button clicks!

Google Drive uses OCR (Optical Character Recognition) for easier search results once documents are uploaded to the Drive. Essentially, Drive turns all your scanned documents into searchable text for easier future referencing. OCR also enables you to save time by dismissing you from specifically naming saved uploaded documents. Instead, all you have to do is search a key word or tag from the document you wish to find and its right there at your fingertips.

Additional storage is cheap at $1.99 per month for an extra 100 GB or $9.99/month for an extra 1 TB or switch your organization to Google Apps Unlimited with Unlimited storage for $10/user/month

Drive also allows you to create and collaborate with others like share documents, spreadsheets, and presentations on the fly with complementary Google Docs, Sheets, Slides and Forms. You can even make files available offline when you are not under cloud connectivity.

You may find Google Drive for Work as one of your most valuable investments once you have made the transition to go paperless. You can work without limits. It is safe, secure reliable, easy, powerful, and built to optimize your individual and team productivity.

We have advanced to communicate paperless with instant messaging and email. Why not do the same with organizing documents and files paperless too. It's still early 2015 and not too late to save time, money, and some trees while your at it.

Going paperless is a great idea and our team here at Interlock IT will help you make paper filing a thing of the past.