MS SolutionsWe recently visited a Microsoft roadshow in Bellevue and got a first-hand demo of some of the newer Microsoft products that offer pretty amazing benefits for small and midsize businesses. Microsoft is making ever-increasing investments in their relationship with “the channel”. The channel is comprised of managed IT Services companies like Upward Technology, who have been hired to manage technology functions on behalf of other companies. The following is a brief explanation of the 3 up and coming Microsoft products that we foresee having a big impact in improving a lot of businesses.

Here is a little backstory on how we got to where we are. In order to understand why this all matters, you have to have a brief understanding of Microsoft Office 365 and Azure.

For the uninitiated, Microsoft Office 365 is their ubiquitous cloud platform. It has been the fastest selling product in Microsoft history, and has cemented Microsoft as the continuing gold standard for businesses of all sizes. At its core, Office 365 provides very robust email, communications tools and Microsoft Office licensing (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.). It is a convenient, inexpensive, scalable and powerful business solution.

Microsoft Azure is Microsoft’s cloud platform. It is really the underpinning behind Office 365, but it includes so much more and can replace your servers or other on-premise devices, data storage, databases, websites and on and on. It is an enormous network of state-of-the-art data centers around the world providing a huge gamut of state of the art services and resources.

So what are the 3 up and coming Microsoft Products that we believe will change your business forever?

Azure AD:

As dry as this sounds like it is, it is actually one of the most important services you’ve never heard of. In the past, all of your corporate credentials were stored locally, so when you logged into your computer it checked with the server in your data closet to provide you permissions and access to the network. Azure AD means that all of this is now in the cloud. So why is this a benefit to your business? Because Microsoft has looped in over 2500 (and growing) other applications to the mix, whose access can be managed all from one central portal.

This means that you could log into your computer using one very strong password, and then get permissions to all of the other programs you need to get your job done: SalesForce, NetSuite, QuickBooks Online, Facebook, Survey Monkey, Office 365 and on and on. On the flip side, if a user quits an administrator can negate their access to all those programs from one portal as well.

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Enterprise Mobility Suite (EMS):

EMS is software built for the BYOD world. Nowadays, more and more workers are using multiple devices, many of them personal devices, to get work done. A user may work from a laptop during the day, their iPhone while at lunch and on the bus ride home, then switch to their tablet to catch up on emails before bed. The challenge for employers is to allow them access to what they need to get their work done without allowing them to have unfettered access to company data. For instance, whats to stop a user from forwarding an important spreadsheet to their personal email, or copying a work file to their personal DropBox account?

EMS solves this problem by allowing employers to make broad policies on what can be accessed, then pass those down to all users. For example, a user could copy data out of a Word document for work and paste it into a work email, but couldn’t paste it into an email in Gmail. If the user quit, management could cancel their access to all work functions from one kill switch.

Azure Backups

For years, Backup & Disaster Recovery companies have offered solutions that allowed your server to (semi) automatically fail over to a backup server. This backup server was generally onsite or within your network for the less sophisticated solutions and offsite in a hosted or cloud scenario for the more sophisticated solutions. However, the sophisticated solutions were expensive! Companies could easily spend several thousand dollars for the recovery device, then $.40/GB for the recovery service. So a smallish environment with 1TB of data could end up with a solution that cost them close to $10k in the first year and $5k every year after that.

Microsoft has leveraged the Azure cloud to create a solution that will back a companies data up to the Microsoft cloud, and then automatically fail-over to a virtualized Azure server in the case of a failure. This capability is not in itself exceptional, there have been solutions providing this for years. What is exceptional is that leveraging Microsoft’s scale the same 1TB listed above would cost closer to $100-$150/month. Not only is the pricing competitive but the features are on par with some of the best solutions and the reliability of Azure as a platform is excellent.

Technology is getting more sophisticated, and the interconnected pieces now intertwine with our lives inside and outside of work more than ever before. Tools like Azure AD, Enterprise Mobility Suite and Azure Backups provide solutions that help businesses to improve productivity and security.

Please reach out to Upward Technology, the best IT Service Provider in Portland, if you are interested in understanding how any of these solutions could help your business.