I have been either installing, maintaining, or consulting on email systems for over 15 years. During those 15 years, if you wanted a truly integrated email system with calendar sharing and workflow, the best system was hosted onsite.
In the past 3 years that has changed. With Microsoft releasing Office 365 and other vendors offering hosted Microsoft Exchange, having an internal email system might not make as much sense.
The first benefit you will get by moving to a cloud based email system is no more backups. The provider will do the backups for you. You will need to make sure that you discuss how they backup and how often they test this backup.
The second benefit you will get is getting out of costly hardware and software upgrades. Most upgrades will cost at least $5,000 – $20,000 or more. With hosted email, you will move to a monthly fee structure. You will still be outlaying money, but it will be an expense budget item and not a capital budget item.
The third benefit you will get is the email system will be more disaster recovery read. Since it is hosted offsite, damage to your location should not affect your email system.
You will also not have to worry about running out of storage for your email system. Most hosted providers offer 25 GB of space for each user. Most environments I consult with the biggest concern is space for email.
By moving to the cloud, you can also free up some of your administrator’s time as they do not need to monitor disk space and resource utilization of the email server. You can utilize their time more effectively.
I have been running on Office 365 for about 2 years already and I really like it. I did not have to purchase a costly server and software. Since I can do month to month I can cancel the service at any time.
If you want to learn more about cloud based email systems, feel free to give me a call…
Do Internet Banking on a Secure Machine
If you do Internet banking, make sure you are doing it on a secure machine. What is a secure machine? It is a machine that has the latest security patches. It has virus scanning and a firewall enabled. You should also only go to sites that you need to. Avoid news sites and other sites that could contain malware and spyware. Your kids should also not use the machine. You will avoid spyware and nasty surprises.
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Recently I have had numerous education clients start to use Chromebooks. Since I am going to have to start supporting them, I purchased one.
The first thing you will have to have to use the Chromebook is a Google account and Internet access to set it up. Once you have it connected to Google, you can use it offline.
It gives you GMAIL, Google apps and the Google drive. I gave it to my Children to test out and they seemed to really like it. If you need something with just a web browser and simple office document editing, the Chromebook looks promising. It is fairly cheap ($250 dollars) and it is a portable notebook.
A very common misconception is that Apple products cannot get viruses. That is not true! Devices running OS X, Windows, and Linux, Android or any other operating system are all capable of being infected with a virus or other malware.
Apple Macintosh has a lower change of getting a virus than a Windows users. Many Apple users don’t run antivirus software on their computers. Whether that is a smart or not is debated and discussed by IT professionals.
There are a few reasons why Apple Mac’s are less likely to get a virus than a Windows PC
Mac OS X is based on the UNIX operating system, which is one of the oldest and one of the most secure operating systems when configured properly.
Windows has a larger installed based and it makes it a much bigger and easier target.
Numerous Toolkits exist that are written for windows that make it easy to attack the Windows Operating system.
Windows Threats For Apple Macs
Many Mac users find themselves having to use Parallels or other virtual machine software to run Windows programs such as Microsoft Publisher. Because these Macs are now running a Windows operating system, they are now susceptible to Windows viruses. In addition, an Apple computer can certain become a “carrier” of a Windows-based virus. This virus would not infect the Apple machine, but could infect other Windows machines on your network if it were to send that virus via email or across the office computer network.
And Even More Threats…
Any software, plug-in or other 3rd party add-on that is installed onto any computer that connects to the internet can introduce its own security risks. One of the most common ways that the “bad guys” are able to attack a Mac is through browser applications and browser plug-ins such as Adobe Flash, Adobe Reader, Java and others. Just about every Mac user has all three of these plug-ins installed on their computers (and many more). These are a necessary part of business, but do introduce additional security risks for all computers.
The Human Factor
Although Apple Macs are less vulnerable to viruses, they are still operated by flawed humans who can still be the victim of Trojan Horses, phishing and other online fraud. Your best bet is to keep everyone informed about online security risks in your business, no matter the computer they’re using.
Final Thought of the Month – Are You Planning for BYOD???
I have numerous clients that are looking at BYOD with one in the initial deployment stages. Before you get too far down the BYOD path, a few things to consider.
Policies and Procedures – You need to define what type of devices are going to be supported. You also need to define who is responsible for supporting what; you do not want your IT staff fixing the hardware of BYOD. You also need to define if you are going to reimburse your employees for bringing their own device. There are numerous items to consider when creating your policies, but this needs to be the first step of any BYOD program.
Wireless – Most wireless networks were not designed for a capacity model, it was more for a coverage model. So if you are planning on going heavily into BYOD, you will need to review your wireless network. You will want to make sure it can handle devices in the 2.4 GHZ range and the 5 GHZ range. You will also want to make sure your wireless network can ensure air time fairness, ensuring that everyone has equal time on the wireless network.
Applications – How are you going to get people to Applications is an important question? Devices such as iPad/Android tablets do not support Windows Applications natively. You will need to either have Virtual Desktops or use an application delivery service such as Citrix or 2X software. Either one of these tools will work well for you.
MDM – Are you going to deploy a Mobile Device Management software? With devices such as Apple iPads and iPhones getting easy access to corporate email, you will want something to secure that corporate data. Some of the Mobile Device management software programs give you the ability to secure the corporate data part of the device while allowing for the user to continue to use his/her personal applications. You can even wipe the corporate data while leaving the personal data alone.
BYOD can be a great way to allow people to bring their own device and allow them to work from anywhere with that device. But the planning part of BYOD is very important and make sure that you are not forgetting about it.