Friday, April 12, 2024

Enhancing Employee Engagement through Microsoft Licensing Optimization

The software we give our team directly affects how engaged, productive, and happy they are. Microsoft is a big player in this, but we don't often talk about how choosing the right Microsoft licenses can boost team spirit. Let's break down how picking smart licenses can make your team happier:

Give Power with the Right Tools: When employees have the tools they need, they feel more confident and get more done. By picking the best Microsoft licenses for your team, you make sure they have all the latest features and apps. This can turn frustration into empowerment.

Save Money with the Right Plans: Choosing the right Microsoft licenses can save you money. You can get special deals for buying in bulk or pick plans that match exactly what your team needs. The money you save can be spent on other things to keep your team happy, like training or wellness programs.

Keep Learning with Updates: Microsoft is always updating its software with new features. With the right licenses, your team can keep learning and growing. New tools can help them work smarter, and they can learn about them through things.

Work Together with Microsoft 365: Collaboration is key in today's workplace. Microsoft 365 offers tools like Teams to help teams work together seamlessly. By getting the right licenses, you make sure your team stays connected and productive.

Work Anywhere with Flexibility: Being able to work from anywhere is more important than ever. With the right Microsoft licenses, your team can work from home or anywhere else. This makes work-life balance better and keeps your team happy.

Choosing the right Microsoft licenses isn't just about saving money or following rules—it's about making your team's lives easier and happier. A good licensing plan can boost morale, encourage teamwork, and make everyone happier at work. So, let's start making those smart choices today—with a little help from Interlock IT, of course! Schedule a consultation with us today.


Friday, April 5, 2024

The Expert's Guide to Microsoft 365 License Selection



Microsoft 365 is widely recognized for its user-friendly and powerful productivity tools like Teams, PowerPoint, Excel, Outlook, and Word. But to use these tools within your organization, you'll need to purchase licenses for your team. Choosing the right license ensures you get the most effective tools for your business and the best return on your investment.


Feeling overwhelmed by the options? Don't worry! We've got some tips from IT experts at Interlock IT to guide you in finding the perfect license for your business needs. So, what's the best solution for your company?


Identify Your Needs: Before diving into purchasing Microsoft 365 licenses, take a moment to identify which applications and services your team requires and how many users will need access. Microsoft 365 licenses have user limits, so it's essential to figure out which ones your organization is eligible for. This step helps ensure you're getting the most suitable licenses.


Avoid Over-specifying: It's tempting to go for all the bells and whistles, but consider whether you really need all the features. Sometimes, less is more! Evaluating the needs of each user and choosing the appropriate license level can prevent overspending.


Explore Bundles for Savings: Bundling applications and add-ons can save you both time and money. Look into options like the Microsoft Teams Phone and Calling Plan bundle, which offers better value than purchasing individual licenses separately.


Consider Your Team's IT Skills: While Microsoft 365 is user-friendly, proper configuration is crucial. Seek guidance from experts to ensure your setup is efficient and secure. Investing time in training can also smooth the transition for your team.


Prioritize Security: With cyber threats on the rise, prioritizing security features in your Microsoft 365 licenses is essential. Licenses like Microsoft 365 Business Premium offer robust security features at a reasonable cost. Make sure to implement these features properly to safeguard your business data.

Watch Your Expenses: With changing license options, it's easy to overspend. Carefully review your options, read the fine print, and consider paying annually for cost savings. Additionally, assess if you're maximizing your current licenses or if adjustments can be made to better suit your needs.

Need expert advice?

For expert advice tailored to your requirements, reach out to our team at Interlock IT. Our Microsoft 365 licensing review can help you choose wisely and ensure you're getting the most out of your Microsoft 365 tools. Get in touch with us today for a free consultation!

Sunday, March 31, 2024

Why Your Business Needs Third-Party Backup for Microsoft 365 & Google Workspace

 


Contrary to popular belief, relying solely on Microsoft and Google for data backup is not foolproof. While they offer some level of redundancy to protect against hardware failures, natural disasters, and infrastructure issues, they fall short when it comes to safeguarding against user error, malicious behavior, or software faults.

In reality, these tech giants lack native mechanisms to comprehensively protect user data from all potential threats. This means that crucial files can still be at risk of permanent loss due to accidental deletions, cyber-attacks, or software-related issues. To address this gap in data protection, organizations are turning to third-party backup solutions. These solutions provide an additional layer of security by offering features like automated backups, version history, and granular recovery options.


By implementing third-party backup solutions, businesses can ensure that their data is safe and secure, even in the face of unforeseen challenges. Whether it's recovering from a ransomware attack or retrieving accidentally deleted files, having a sturdy backup solution in place is essential for maintaining business continuity and protecting valuable assets.

Backing Up Mailboxes

Outlook users may be surprised to learn that Microsoft's default data retention policy spans only 30 days. Once this timeframe elapses, the data becomes permanently inaccessible, rendering point-in-time restoration of mailbox items unattainable.

Unfortunately, Microsoft Exchange lacks support for point-in-time mailbox item restoration, leaving users searching for alternative solutions. While some third-party options offer this functionality, they often come at an additional cost, surpassing the expenses incurred by extending the default data retention policy through Microsoft licenses.

Moreover, extending the default data retention policy doesn't guarantee point-in-time recovery or the preservation of data in its original structure. This limitation underscores the importance of exploring other backup solutions.

On the other hand, SharePoint and OneDrive boast an internal backup solution that enables users to restore the entire state of their drive or SharePoint site to a specific point within the 30-day window. However, this approach necessitates restoring the entire site or drive, resulting in the loss of any changes made post-restoration point selection. Thus, while this internal backup solution offers some level of data recovery, it may not be suitable for scenarios requiring selective restoration without sacrificing recent changes.

Microsoft 365 & Google Workspace Data Recovery

Retrieving the state of a folder from three days ago, let alone 31 days ago, can pose a significant challenge. While specific objects can be recovered within a limited timeframe, this process relies on knowing the object's name and owner.

Unfortunately, the default backup solution lacks granular file-level restoration capabilities. This means that restoring specific files or folders can be cumbersome, as it requires restoring the entire SharePoint site or Drive, potentially resulting in data loss for unrelated files or changes.

In contrast, library items in SharePoint and OneDrive benefit from full version history by default. However, if a file goes missing or previous versions are intentionally removed, users must resort to searching through unstructured data in the recycle bin logs.

Once removed from the recycle bin, data becomes irreversibly lost, with a window of only 90 days (approximately three months) to attempt recovery. This underscores the importance of proactive data management and backup strategies to mitigate the risk of permanent data loss.

Choosing the Right Backup Product

When evaluating backup solutions, it's essential to take various factors into account, including cost, user-friendliness, and data retention capabilities. Each of these aspects plays a vital role in determining the suitability of a backup product for your organization's specific requirements and financial constraints.

Cost is a significant consideration, as it directly impacts your budget allocation for backup services. However, it's equally important to balance cost considerations with the effectiveness and comprehensiveness of the backup solution.

Ease of use is another critical factor to consider, especially for organizations with limited technical expertise or resources. A user-friendly backup solution can streamline the implementation process and reduce the need for extensive training or support.

Data retention capabilities dictate how long your backed-up data will be preserved and accessible for recovery. Depending on your organization's compliance requirements or data retention policies, you may need a backup solution that offers flexible retention options to accommodate varying retention periods.

Ultimately, selecting the right backup product involves finding a balance between cost-effectiveness, usability, and data retention capabilities. By carefully evaluating these factors and aligning them with your business's unique needs and budget constraints, you can choose a backup solution that provides optimal protection for your critical data.

Afi.ai’s Approach to Data Protection and Recovery

Managing data retention in the cloud involves more than just storing information—it's about establishing comprehensive strategies for organizing, managing, and ultimately disposing of data in accordance with specific rules and regulations. This entails aligning data storage practices with the unique requirements and guidelines of each cloud platform utilized by an organization, such as Google Workspace and Microsoft 365. By adopting a structured approach to data retention, businesses can effectively adhere to retention policies and regulatory mandates across diverse cloud environments.

Afi offers advanced features to enhance data retention and recovery processes within Google Workspace and Microsoft 365 environments. With Afi, users benefit from robust versioning capabilities for Google Docs and Microsoft files, ensuring that previous iterations of documents are readily accessible when needed. Additionally, Afi facilitates the seamless recovery of permanently deleted items, safeguarding against accidental data loss and enabling swift restoration of critical information. Furthermore, Afi's unlimited data retention capability provides businesses with the flexibility to store data for extended periods, meeting both operational and compliance requirements.

For a comprehensive overview of Afi's extensive data recovery and retention functionalities, refer to the table below. Discover how Afi empowers organizations to effectively manage and protect their data assets in the cloud, ensuring business continuity and regulatory compliance.

 

Afi Backup and Recovery Services

Permanently deleted data

Afi offers a permanent solution, allowing users to customize how long they want to keep their data—whether it's for a few days, a year, or even multiple years. Thanks to Afi's configurable retention rules, achieving infinite data retention becomes effortless and tailored to individual preferences.

Deletion of user account

Data can be retained with Afi.

Folder structure

Afi preserves the folder structure, maintaining it exactly as it was.

Contacts

Afi excels in granular backup, offline export, and recovery for Google Workspace and Microsoft 365 Contacts

Point-in-time recovery and Real-time data preview

Afi empowers users to revisit specific moments in time through snapshots. These snapshots provide a historical view of data, allowing for point-in-time recovery. With Afi's snapshots, users can simply say, "Show me the snapshot from yesterday at 3 pm" and Afi faithfully replicates the exact structure as it was at that moment. This feature enables seamless restoration of the entire structure to its original state.

Ready to explore your backup and data recovery options?

Elevate your business with our comprehensive data recovery and backup solutions. Schedule a consultation call with our experts today. Our tailored options fortify data integrity and cybersecurity, ensuring uninterrupted operations. Don't miss out on enhancing your data security and business continuity. Schedule your call now!



Tuesday, March 19, 2024

How to Prepare for Microsoft 365 Migration

Microsoft 365 Migration

When integrating a new system into your company's workflow, it is essential to recognize that not everyone will respond in the same manner. Enthusiasm levels during this process can vary significantly from department to department and even among individual employees. Understanding how to prepare for Microsoft 365 migration can greatly benefit you.

To effectively prepare for the Microsoft 365 migration, it's best to begin by analyzing the necessary steps well in advance to ensure a smooth and efficient transition. Planning ahead allows for quicker implementation both technically and in terms of employee performance. If you're unsure where to begin, we are here to assist with your Microsoft 365 migration.

How to Prepare for Microsoft 365 Migration

1.     Determine the Project Scope

Prior to commencing migration planning, it is crucial to comprehend your existing environment. This involves identifying the data requiring migration and its current location. Also, take into account other elements like customizations, essential user functionality, and security and compliance considerations to resolve. As you collect this data, you can construct an overview of the volume of data to migrate, the projected duration of the process, and its ramifications on end users.

2. Verify DNS records

Ensuring DNS (Domain Name System) record verification prior to migrating to Microsoft is crucial for maintaining consistent service availability, and reliable email delivery. Well-configured DNS records play a key role in enhancing the security of your organization's online infrastructure and minimizing the risk of disruptions throughout the migration. Conducting DNS record verification in advance allows for proactive issue resolution and facilitates a seamless transition to Microsoft services.

3.     Choose the Right Migration Tool

Businesses transitioning to Microsoft 365 have various options to consider. While Microsoft provides a native migration tool suitable for small, straightforward projects, many companies discover that a third-party migration solution offers superior outcomes and speed for more intricate migrations.

When deciding between a do-it-yourself (DIY) approach or engaging a migration expert, evaluate factors such as the volume of data requiring migration, the complexity of your environment, and the tolerance for potential downtime if complications arise during migration.

Opting for a migration expert? Select a vendor with a track record of successful Microsoft 365 migration projects. The ideal partner possesses extensive technical proficiency and reliable tools to ensure a seamless transition.

4.     Prioritize Old Environment Cleanup

Before initiating the migration process, dedicate time to tidy up and streamline the existing environment. This involves deleting or archiving unused mailboxes and inactive databases while adhering to regulatory guidelines. Additionally, eliminate redundant and obsolete data. Migrating unnecessary data can significantly inflate both the time and cost of the migration process.

5. Provide an Accurate Estimate of Migration Duration

Providing an accurate estimate of migration duration is crucial for effective planning and resource allocation. It helps minimize disruption to business operations by allowing stakeholders to anticipate potential downtime and plan accordingly. Additionally, accurate estimation enhances client satisfaction by setting clear expectations and demonstrating transparency in project delivery.

6. Leave it to the specialists

Once the initial assessments are finished, it's essential to rely on your dedicated IT department or engage external professional consultants specialized in this field to ensure the preservation of your valuable data throughout the process.

Partner with Experts to Prepare and Deploy Microsoft 365 Migration

Trust our seasoned team with your Microsoft 365 migration journey. Whether you're switching from Google or another platform, we've got the tools and know-how for a seamless transition. With over 10 years of migration expertise, we will tackle compliance challenges head-on, ensuring a smooth journey from start to finish. As your trusted Microsoft partner, we'll guide you through selecting and configuring the perfect solution for your Microsoft 365 migration success. Schedule a consultation today.


Tuesday, March 12, 2024

Making the Switch: Transition from Google Workspace to Microsoft 365

Google Workspace to Microsoft 365

Companies are always on the lookout for ways to streamline their operations and foster improved teamwork. Google Workspace and Microsoft Office 365 stand out as popular choices among cloud-based productivity suites. Sometimes, organizations contemplate transitioning from Google Workspace to Microsoft Office 365, driven by a variety of factors.

Embracing cloud technologies can transform any organization, but migrating can raise concerns. Some worry about time or expertise for large data transfers, others fear data loss. Cost is another concern. However, with technology evolving rapidly, transitioning to the cloud is more crucial than ever. This blog will explore data migration and considerations of migrating from Google Workspace to Microsoft 365.

What is Data Migration?

Suppose an organization is currently using Google Workspace for all its documents, emails, and collaboration tools, but they have made the decision to switch to Microsoft 365. In this context, data migration involves the transfer of all existing files, emails, and other critical data from Google Workspace to Microsoft 365.

It is essentially like relocating the entire digital workspace from one platform to another. This process ensures that no important information is lost during the transition and that everything continues to function seamlessly in the new digital environment.

In summary, data migration refers to the process of moving digital information from one platform or system to another, and in this case, it's about transitioning from Google Workspace to Microsoft 365.

Why do we need to transfer Google Workspace to Microsoft 365?

It is crucial to really understand what an organization needs and why are they contemplating the change. Let us explore some common reasons why organizations decide to make this transition. Recognizing the reasons for the migration is essential, as it directs both the planning and execution stages.

Integration with the Microsoft Ecosystem

For organizations that heavily depend on Microsoft applications such as Outlook, SharePoint, and Teams, transitioning to Microsoft 365 offers seamless integration and a cohesive experience across these platforms.

Familiarity with Microsoft Tools

If an organization's users are more accustomed to Microsoft Office applications and workflows, migrating to Microsoft 365 can decrease the learning curve and improve user productivity. 

Collaboration in Microsoft Teams

If an organization favors Microsoft Teams for collaboration, migrating to Microsoft 365 offers a more integrated and unified experience within the Teams environment. 

When to Consider Switching

Contract Negotiation Time

An ideal moment for an organization to consider transitioning to Microsoft 365 is when its current service contract approaches renewal. Contract renewals offer natural opportunities to assess the effectiveness of existing solutions and explore alternatives. This timing also provides the organization with the flexibility to negotiate new terms that better align with its current needs and future expansion plans.


Organizational Change

When organizations are merging, scaling up operations, or undergoing digital transformation, it's crucial to reassess their tools. In such situations, Microsoft 365 stands out for its seamless integration with other Microsoft products and its ability to scale according to their needs. Opting for a platform that can adapt to their new organizational structure or increased demands can facilitate a smoother transition and ensure long-term success.

Security and Compliance

Considering new industry regulations or stricter data protection laws? Microsoft 365 offers robust compliance tools and advanced security features to meet these requirements effortlessly. Stay compliant and safeguard your data against emerging threats with peace of mind.
 

What’s next?

With over a decade of experience as a Microsoft Partner, Interlock IT is your go-to expert for transitioning from Google Workspace to Microsoft 365. Our custom-tailored packages ensure a smooth shift, minimizing disruption while maximizing the perks of your new digital workspace. Reach out today to discover how Microsoft 365 can elevate your business in productivity, security, and collaboration.

Tuesday, February 6, 2024

Afi.ai: Your Trusted Partner in Cloud Data Protection

 

Afi.ai Your Trusted Partner in Cloud Data Protection

When assessing potential threats to business, data loss is one threat that cannot be ignored. Data loss is not only statistically common, but also surprisingly expensive.

According to IBM’s 2023 report:

  • The average cost of a data breach for businesses with fewer than 500 employees was over 3 million USD.
  • As many as 6% of data breaches were initiated by malicious employees.

  • Identifying and containing a data breach took an average of 277 days.

While IBM’s findings focus on malicious data breaches, other risks exist:

  • Accidental deletion by employees or trusted collaborators.

  • Software failures, bugs, and glitches.

  • Failures at the service provider level, e.g. Google or Microsoft facing a natural disaster.

Predictions suggest that by 2025, around 85% of organizations will embrace a cloud-first strategy. As businesses increasingly depend on platforms such as Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace for data storage, they need to confront the potential consequences of hacks, accidents, or unforeseen disasters. With the uptick in ransomware attacks, prioritizing data security has become crucial, as data loss could inflict significant harm on any business.

Almost All Companies Have Cloud Storage; Now, They Need Cloud-to-Cloud Backup

Google Workspace and Microsoft 365 leverage the power of cloud storage, enabling global collaboration and real-time productivity across diverse teams. Yet, with increased accessibility comes a host of security challenges—both internal and external.

Internally, human error poses a threat to data security. Accidental deletions by users, confusion, or malicious intent by those with editing privileges, and occasional IT department errors like deleting accounts without preserving crucial data can compromise sensitive information.

Externally, hacking and phishing attempts target employees, aiming to gain unauthorized access to a company's cloud storage. Even the cloud storage providers themselves are not immune, as viruses, negligence, or physical server damage can still jeopardize critical data.

Given these risks, businesses seeking to prevent the serious repercussions of data loss need to understand the crucial role of backups. This goes beyond safeguarding physical devices and includes securing cloud storage services. Despite the seemingly abstract concept of "cloud storage," the truth is that everyone's data resides on physical servers. Without robust backup copies, businesses open themselves up to the looming threat of data loss or cyberattacks.

Cloud-to-Cloud Services

A widely embraced solution for data loss is cloud-to-cloud (C2C) backup. This is designed to efficiently migrate data from an existing cloud, such as Google Workspace or Microsoft 365, to a private service provider. C2C providers offer proprietary backup software, enabling businesses to tailor their backup plans with ease.

Afi.ai is the Go-To Choice for Reliable Cloud-to-Cloud Services

Afi provides a reliable and scalable data protection service crafted to seamlessly support diverse cloud data sources. Whether it is a small business or a larger enterprise hiring new employees, ensuring comprehensive data backup requires no special steps. With Afi, there are no software installations; a simple setup allows automatic scaling to meet the specific requirements of the business. One can rest assure that Afi seamlessly integrates with various cloud products, including Google Workspace and Microsoft 365, eliminating concerns about compatibility with different data sources.

Enjoy Multiple Benefits by Choosing Afi for Cloud-Based Backup Services

Numerous companies are turning to cloud backup solutions to address data protection challenges. Why the shift? Solutions like Afi seamlessly integrate advanced backup techniques with secure cloud technologies, ensuring organizations enjoy prompt and dependable recovery of essential enterprise data. Explore these three compelling reasons to make the move to the cloud for efficient data backup and storage:

  1. Ransomware Protection

Ransomware has the potential to infiltrate users' devices, encrypting stored information, including Google Drive and OneDrive files and other data within Google Workspace and Microsoft 365. Afi incorporates an integrated ransomware protection engine designed to identify ransomware attacks, triggering proactive backup procedures before the ransomware can propagate throughout the infrastructure. The resulting recovery points from these backup processes are immutable, ensuring it cannot be encrypted or altered. This functionality enables the recovery of Google Workspace or Microsoft 365 data post-attack.

What Afi can accomplish:

  • Detect ransomware and promptly alert your Google Workspace/Microsoft 365 administrator.

  • Conduct preemptive backups of Google Workspace/Microsoft 365 before data is compromised.

  • Apply labels to recovery points, indicating changes between versions and highlighting the last unaffected version of data before encryption.

  • Restore data from the last or any previous recovery points preceding ransomware incidents.

  1. Disaster Recovery

Disaster recovery refers to the set of strategies and processes a business adopts to resume its critical operations after a disruptive event, such as a natural disaster, cyberattack, equipment failure, or any unforeseen incident that severely impacts regular business functions. The goal is to restore data, applications, and systems swiftly, ensuring minimal downtime and preserving business continuity.

How Afi can help:

  • Quick Data Recovery: Afi offers fast and efficient data recovery mechanisms. In the aftermath of a disaster, companies can swiftly retrieve their data from the cloud, minimizing downtime and ensuring business continuity.

  • Instant Offline Data Export: Unlike some backup solutions that prioritize cost savings by storing data in locations with delayed accessibility, Afi takes a different approach. With Afi, one can access the data in an instant. Afi ensures that cost-effective storage does not compromise quick access. It is designed to provide immediate data retrieval, eliminating the delays associated with storing data offline or in resources that hinder swift accessibility.

  • Off-Site Storage: Storing backups in the cloud provides geographical separation from the primary business location. Supported Afi regions include the USA, Canada, the EU, the United Kingdom, and Australia. This geographical diversity ensures that even if a local disaster impacts the company's physical infrastructure, the data stored in the cloud remains unaffected.

  1. Data Retention

Data retention in the cloud is about keeping and organizing data and figuring out the rules for storing, managing, and eventually getting rid of it. It ensures that data is stored within the specific rules and needs of each cloud platform used by a company. This approach helps meet retention policies and comply with the requirements of various cloud environments, like Google Workspace and Microsoft 365.

Afi enables versioning for Google Docs and Microsoft files, allows the recovery of permanently deleted items, and provides unlimited data retention. Refer to the table below to understand the extensive capabilities of Afi in recovering and retaining lost data.

 

Afi Backup and Recovery Services



Permanently deleted data

Afi offers a permanent solution, allowing users to customize how long they want to keep their data—whether it's for a few days, a year, or even multiple years. Thanks to Afi's configurable retention rules, achieving infinite data retention becomes effortless and tailored to individual preferences.

Deletion of user account

Data can be retained with Afi.

Folder structure

Afi preserves the folder structure, maintaining it exactly as it was.

Contacts

Afi excels in granular backup, offline export, and recovery for Google Workspace and Microsoft 365 Contacts



Point-in-time recovery and Real-time data preview

Afi empowers users to revisit specific moments in time through snapshots. These snapshots provide a historical view of data, allowing for point-in-time recovery. With Afi's snapshots, users can simply say, "Show me the snapshot from yesterday at 3 pm" and Afi faithfully replicates the exact structure as it was at that moment. This feature enables seamless restoration of the entire structure to its original state.



Final Thoughts

As data concerns and the risk of losing it are on the rise, having a good cloud backup solution is crucial. Afi offers top-notch features like easy backup and recovery, ensuring one's data stays secure. For more information on how Afi can further enhance data protection journey, feel free to reach out to our team for a demo.