San Diego Managed Services that Unleash Business Potential 

San Diego managed services providers Specializing in Microsoft Technologies

 

In today’s rapidly evolving business landscape, technology isn't just an asset—it's the cornerstone of success. For businesses in San Diego, partnering with a managed service provider (MSP) specializing in Microsoft technologies can be transformative.

Let's delve into why collaborating with a local San Diego MSP proficient in Microsoft solutions is pivotal for enhancing productivity, fortifying security, and propelling business growth.

 

Why Choose a Local San Diego MSP?

 

Local Expertise and Rapid Response Times

Managing IT infrastructure demands prompt action and a deep understanding of the local business ecosystem. San Diego MSPs offer the advantage of proximity alongside unparalleled expertise, ensuring swift resolution of issues with minimal disruption to operations.

 

Tailored Solutions for Diverse Needs

San Diego boasts a diverse business landscape—from burgeoning tech startups to established biotech enterprises—each with unique IT requirements.

An MSP specializing in Microsoft technologies can craft bespoke solutions tailored to the distinct needs of these industries, aligning IT infrastructure seamlessly with overarching business objectives.

 

The Microsoft Edge

 

Comprehensive Product Suite

Microsoft's suite of offerings—from Azure and Office 365 to Dynamics 365 and SharePoint—comprises robust solutions capable of revolutionizing business operations.

MSPs well-versed in these products can facilitate seamless integration and optimization, enabling businesses to harness their full potential.

 

Scalability and Flexibility

As businesses evolve, so do their IT needs. Microsoft technologies, renowned for their scalability, can grow in tandem with enterprises.

A proficient MSP ensures seamless scalability, empowering businesses to adapt to market dynamics without the hassle of frequent hardware upgrades or software license changes.

 

Enhanced Security and Compliance

In an era of escalating cyber threats, security is paramount. Microsoft's formidable security features, complemented by local MSP oversight, provide robust protection for data and IT systems.

Moreover, adherence to industry regulations is streamlined as Microsoft products inherently meet many standards—an aspect efficiently managed and maintained by knowledgeable MSPs.

 

 

What to Look for in a San Diego MSP

 

Certified Microsoft Partnership

Prioritize MSPs with Microsoft certification. This credential underscores their expertise, guaranteeing quality service, access to the latest technology updates, and adept management of your IT infrastructure.

 

Proactive Support and Maintenance

Opt for MSPs offering proactive support with stringent service level agreements (SLAs). Round-the-clock monitoring services and minimal downtime assurances ensure swift issue identification and resolution, safeguarding uninterrupted business operations.

 

Strong Customer Focus and Transparent Communication

Exceptional MSPs prioritize customer service and uphold transparent communication channels. Regular network status updates, prompt IT issue resolutions, and transparent pricing devoid of hidden charges are hallmarks of reliable MSP-client relationships.

 

Choosing the right MSP in San Diego specializing in Microsoft technologies is paramount for unlocking advanced IT solutions that drive efficiency and growth. Such collaborations empower businesses to focus on core competencies while entrusting the intricate realm of IT to seasoned professionals.

 

Whether enhancing IT infrastructure, fortifying security, or driving innovation through technology, Managed Solution stands as a steadfast ally in navigating the digital landscape.

For businesses poised to elevate their technology strategy, selecting a San Diego managed service provider steeped in Microsoft technologies marks the inaugural step toward transforming IT operations into a strategic business asset.

 

Here at Managed Solution we’re proud to say that we are able to meet these criterium and more to maximize the success of each and every client we work with.

Click the links below to learn more about our Managed Services and Microsoft Consulting services or click here chat with one of our experts here to begin your Digital Transformation journey with a provider who cares about your goals and has the resources and expertise to deliver.

 

Managed IT Services - Managed Solution

Microsoft Consulting Services - Managed Solution

Expanding Copilot for Microsoft 365 to businesses of all sizes

 

Our vision for Microsoft Copilot is to bring the power of generative AI to everyone across work and life. Customers like Visa, BP, Honda, and Pfizer, and partners like Accenture, KPMG, and PwC are already using Copilot to transform the way they work, and 40% of the Fortune 100 participated in the Copilot Early Access Program.

We are updating our Microsoft Copilot product line-up with a new Copilot Pro subscription for individuals; expanding Copilot for Microsoft 365 availability to small and medium-sized businesses; and announcing no seat minimum for commercial plans—making Copilot generally available to individuals, enterprises, and everyone in between.

Read on for all the details.

Copilot for Microsoft 365

Copilot for Microsoft 365 enables users to enhance their creativity, productivity, and skills.

Updates to our Copilot product line-up

First, we are announcing an update to our Copilot product line-up: Copilot Pro—a new Copilot subscription for individuals priced at $20 per individual per month.

Copilot Pro has foundational capabilities in a single experience that runs across your devices and understands your context on the web, on your PC, across your apps, and soon on your phone to bring the right skills to you when you need them. And it has web grounding, so it always has access to the latest information. When you’re signed into Copilot with your Microsoft Entra ID, you get commercial data protection for free—which means chat data isn’t saved, Microsoft has no eyes-on access, and your data isn’t used to train the models.

Copilot Pro provides priority access to the very latest models—starting with OpenAI’s GPT-4 Turbo. You’ll have access to GPT-4 Turbo during peak times for faster performance and, coming soon, the ability to toggle between models to optimize your experience how you choose. Microsoft 365 Personal and Family subscribers can use Copilot in Word, Excel (currently in Preview and English only), PowerPoint, Outlook, OneNote on PC, and soon on Mac and iPad. It includes enhanced AI image creation with Designer (formerly Bing Image Creator) for faster, more detailed image quality as well as landscape image format. And Copilot Pro gives you the ability to build your own Copilot GPT—a pre-customized Copilot tailored for a specific topic—in our new Copilot GPT Builder (coming soon) with just a simple set of prompts.

MICROSOFT COPILOT STUDIO

Sign up for a free trial 

While Copilot Pro is our best experience for individuals, Copilot for Microsoft 365 is our best experience for organizations. Copilot for Microsoft 365 gives you the same priority access to the very latest models. You get Copilot in Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneNote, and Microsoft Teams—combined with your universe of data in the Microsoft Graph. It has enterprise-grade data protection which means it inherits your existing Microsoft 365 security, privacy, identity, and compliance policies. And it also includes Copilot Studio, so organizations can customize Copilot for Microsoft 365 and build their own custom copilots and plugins as well as manage and secure their customizations and standalone copilots with the right access, data, user controls, and analytics.

Here’s a summary of the updated Copilot product line-up:

There are 9 rows of text: Foundational Capabilities, Web Grounding, Commercial Data Protection, Priority Model Access, Copilot in Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote, Copilot in Teams, Microsoft Graph Grounding, Enterprise-Grade Data Protection, and Customization.
Click the image above to make it larger.

No seat minimum and expanded availability of Copilot for Microsoft 365—including small and medium-sized businesses

THE COPILOT SYSTEM

Watch the video 

To empower every organization to become AI-powered, we are making three changes. First, we are removing the 300-seat purchase minimum for Copilot for Microsoft 365 commercial plans. Second, we are removing the Microsoft 365 prerequisite for Copilot—so now, Office 365 E3 and E5 customers are eligible to purchase. We’re also extending Semantic Index for Copilot to Office 365 users with a paid Copilot license. Semantic Index works with the Copilot System and the Microsoft Graph to create a sophisticated map of all the data and content in your organization—enabling Microsoft 365 Copilot to deliver personalized, relevant, and actionable responses. Third, we are excited to announce that Copilot for Microsoft 365 is now generally available for small and medium-sized businesses—from solopreneurs running and launching their first business to 300-person fast-growing startups. If you are using either Microsoft 365 Business Standard or Microsoft 365 Business Premium, you can now purchase Copilot for Microsoft 365 for $30 per user per month.1

Small and medium-sized businesses are the heart of every community and the lifeblood of local economies. They have an outsized impact on the world and markets they support—in the United States, this category accounts for 99.9% of business and employs nearly half of the workforce.2

These businesses stand to gain the most from this era of generative AI—and Copilot is uniquely suited to meet their needs. Small and medium-sized business owners report that communicating with customers takes up most of their time (66%), with managing budgets (50%) and administrative tasks (48%) not far behind.3 Copilot for Microsoft 365 can help reduce this daily grind, giving business owners valuable time back to focus on what matters most: growing their business. And with the Microsoft Copilot Copyright Commitment, small business owners can trust that they are working with a reliable partner. Small and medium-sized business customers that have Microsoft 365 Business Standard or Business Premium can learn how to purchase Copilot for Microsoft 365 via our website or by contacting a partner.

We have been learning alongside small and medium-sized business customers in our Copilot Early Access Program. Here’s what they’re saying about how Copilot for Microsoft 365 is already transforming their work.

“I love that it’s in our environment. It’s able to cross-pollinate and gather information from all of the data we’ve got in Microsoft 365. As a business owner, that’s really important to me because it keeps our people working inside our systems.”

James Hawley, CEO and Founder at NextPath Career Partners

“I do believe that there isn’t a single job position in the company that won’t benefit in some way from Copilot being available to them.”

Alex Wood, Senior Cloud Engineer at Floww

“Copilot accurately summarizes the call and meeting notes in minutes. That’s not just faster, it means callers can add more value to the discussion rather than just take notes.”

Philip Burridge, Director, Operations and Strategy at Morula Health

Empowering partners to help every customer become AI-powered

Commercial customers—including small and medium-sized businesses—can now purchase Copilot for Microsoft 365 through our network Cloud Solution Provider partners (CSPs). This means Copilot for Microsoft 365 is now available across all our sales channels. CSPs have served as trusted advisors to their customers, unlocking profitability for businesses and expanding their own capabilities. Learn more about Cloud Solution Provider partners.

Next steps for Microsoft 365

These announcements come just one month after we announced that we are making Copilot for Microsoft 365 generally available to education customers with Microsoft 365 A3 or A5 faculty, and we’re expanding that to include Office 365 A3 or A5 faculty with no seat minimum. While education licenses are not yet included in the CSP expansion announced today, we will share updates in the coming months. It’s all part of our vision to empower everyone—from individuals to global enterprises—for an AI-powered world.

Learn more about Microsoft Copilot and visit the Copilot for Work site for actionable guidance on how you can start transforming work with Copilot today.

Learn more about how Copilot for Microsoft 365 for small and medium-sized businesses, including next steps licensing and technical requirements, and get familiar with Copilot capabilities.

Visit WorkLab for critical research and insights on how generative AI is transforming work.

a close up of an umbrella

Microsoft Copilot

Copilot helps you achieve things like never before using the power of AI.


1Copilot for Microsoft 365 may not be available for all markets and languages. To purchase, enterprise customers must have a license for Microsoft 365 E3 or E5 or Office 365 E3 or E5, and business customers must have a license for Microsoft 365 Business Standard or Business Premium.

Copilot is currently supported in the following languages: English (US, GB, AU, CA, IN), Spanish (ES, MX), Japanese, French (FR, CA), German, Portuguese (BR), Italian, and Chinese Simplified. We plan to support the following languages (in alphabetical order) over the first half of 2024: Arabic, Chinese Traditional, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Hebrew, Hungarian, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese (PT), Russian, Swedish, Thai, Turkish, and Ukrainian.

2U.S. Small Business Administration. (2023). Frequently Asked Questions.

3Wakefield Research. (2023). Microsoft study: Small businesses intrigued by AI and the opportunities it brings.

The Era of AI-Powered Productivity

How is your business preparing for AI?

The way we now work—defined by an era of digital transformation—is evolving at such a pace that keeping up has become a challenge for many organizations. Business leaders are recognizing the enormous opportunity that modern work solutions like AI tools present and are now exploring ways to use them to their best advantage.

That means implementing AI in a way that allows employees to be more engaged and productive, focusing on the work that matters most.

AI helps your employees offload time-consuming tasks by jumpstarting the creative process, analyzing trends, and summarizing email threads and key discussion points from meetings. Less time spent on more tedious tasks grants employees the freedom to focus on the work that matters most.

Organizations that made employee engagement a top priority have performed twice as well financially as businesses that deprioritized an engaged workforce (2). And AI is poised to empower employees to be more engaged through opportunities for creativity, skill building, and increased productivity.

Discover What’s Possible with AI

Imagine a workforce driven by the powerful combination of irreplaceable human ingenuity and skill with the innovative capabilities of a secure, user-friendly AI system. With the right tools and mindset, any organization can embrace the transformation to an AI-powered workforce.

 

Responsible AI Practices

With all the potential that working with AI holds, it’s critical to remember to take an approach of preparing for AI that prioritizes fairness, transparency, and accountability. Microsoft is a leader in the development and implementation of AI systems, which includes creating guidance on principles and best practices for responsible AI use—and ensuring those principles are at the foundation of Microsoft’s AI technology. Only with responsible AI implementation can your organization unlock the full potential of what’s possible with AI.

 

preparing for AI Microsoft copilot blog image

Credit: Microsoft

AI Readiness

How do you know your organization is prepared for AI?

The platform shift to AI isn’t one that can be made without clear leadership and focused investment. Implementing AI technology can be complex, especially without a well-defined plan in place. It requires a culture of productivity and collaboration, a secure foundation for endpoint management, and the willingness to embrace change in order to outpace it.

What does AI readiness look like? An organization ready to embrace AI understands its potential as a strategic asset, how it can be used to benefit the business, and the ability to guide employees and customers in responsible AI practices.

Assessing your readiness level is the first step toward transforming your organization into one that can outpace the changes and challenges of this new era of working with next-generation technologies like AI.

 

Assessment: Evaluating Your AI readiness

To help you begin the transformation to an AI-powered organization, we’ve compiled a quiz with questions aimed at evaluating readiness level.

The quiz is in five parts and assesses your organization's:

  • Relationship to change and productivity
  • Relationship to AI
  • Willingness to use AI
  • Investment and funding abilities
  • Endpoint management and security capabilities

Choose the answer that sounds most like where your organization currently stands and keep a tally of your answers as you go. At the end of the quiz, you’ll be able to estimate whether your organization is Very Ready, Almost Ready, or Needs More Guidance in preparing for AI to begin the transformation to an AI-powered workforce.

 

Part 1: Your organization’s relationship to change and productivity

Rate your organization’s openness to change and innovation.

  1. Very open: We welcome and seek out opportunities for change and innovation.
  2. Somewhat open: We approach opportunities for change and innovation with caution.
  3. Not very open: We don’t take on many opportunities for change and innovation.

How confident are you that your current technology empowers your employees to be productive?

  1. Very confident: Our technology greatly improves employee productivity
  2. Somewhat confident: Our technology somewhat improves employee productivity.
  3. Not very confident: Our technology does not support employee productivity

 

Part 2: Your organization’s relationship to AI

How fundamental is AI to the success of your business?

  1. Very important: AI will greatly improve the success of our business.
  2. Somewhat important: AI will support the success of our business, but it isn’t necessary.
  3. Not very important: AI would be beneficial in other ways but won’t affect the success of our business.

Rate your employees’ current willingness to adopt new technologies, including AI

  1. Very willing: Employees are excited to learn about and use new technologies like AI.
  2. Somewhat willing: Employees are cautiously optimistic about new technologies.
  3. Not very willing: Employees are resistant to new technologies, including AI.

 

Part 3: Your organization’s willingness to use AI

How important is it to provide secure, user-friendly AI systems to your workforce?

  1. Very important: We want our employees to be able to learn and use AI as soon as possible.
  2. Somewhat important: We’re interested in adopting user-friendly AI but want to learn more first.
  3. Not very important: User-friendly AI systems are a “nice-to-have” but not currently a priority.

How much, if at all, has your organization’s leadership bought into the business value of AI-powered tools?

  1. All in: Our leadership is ready and willing to begin transitioning to AI-powered tools.
  2. Somewhat in: Leadership understands the importance of AI but needs some convincing on the business value of adopting it.
  3. Not at all in: Our leadership doesn’t understand the importance or value of AI just yet

 

Part 4: Investment and funding

How strong is your investment in change management and training to support the transition to AI-powered processes and systems?

  1. Very strong: We could begin the transition immediately.
  2. Somewhat strong: We could begin the transition soon but have some challenges to overcome first.
  3. Not very strong: We need a lot of support and training in preparing for AI before we can begin the transition.

Does your organization have funding for deploying and implementing a secure, user-friendly AI system?

  1. Fully funded: Our organization is ready and able to invest in AI technologies.
  2. Some funding: Our organization can afford to transition, but leadership is unsure the benefit outweighs the cost.
  3. No funding: We’re working toward a place where we can invest in AI technologies, but we’re not quite there yet.

 

Part 5: Endpoint management and security capabilities

How confident are you in your organization’s current endpoint management capabilities to enable employees that are preparing for AI to help them do their best work, regardless of where they work and what device they use?

  1. Very confident: Our endpoint management capabilities allow employees to work where and how they feel they can be most successful.
  2. Somewhat confident: Our endpoint management capabilities are stable for certain experiences but could be improved.
  3. Not very confident: We need a better system to support endpoint management for employees working anywhere and from any device.

Rate your organization’s current security foundation for enabling AI-powered work from any endpoint.

  1. Very secure: Our systems are built on a robust security foundation and support our strong endpoint management capabilities.
  2. Somewhat secure: We have strong security systems but aren’t confident they can support the additional requirements of using AI-powered tools.
  3. Not very secure: We need a more secure system to protect our organization’s data and ensure our employees can confidently work from anywhere.

 

Results

 

Mostly A’s: Very Ready (GREAT NEWS)

Your organization has put the work in preparing for AI and true transformation is underway. The Microsoft 365 team is excited to help you move forward. A couple of key notes for Very Ready organizations:

  • If you already have Microsoft 365, your organization has a head start, as it’s required to implement Copilot.
  • If you haven't deployed Microsoft 365 yet, we can help make that happen so your organization is set up with a Zero Trust foundation and strong endpoint management capabilities.

Having that baseline productivity in place will enable your employees to start exploring the benefits of Copilot as soon as possible. You can find a link to get started at the end of this blog.

 

Mostly B’s: Almost Ready (GOOD NEWS)

Your organization is nearly there. Like Very Ready organizations, your Almost Ready business should consider deploying Microsoft 365, if you haven’t already. Help your employees learn their way around Microsoft 365 now so that it's easier for them to adopt the AI integrations down the road.

A couple of notes for Almost Ready organizations:

  • As you continue preparing for AI, there is a wealth of guidance online to help you familiarize your teams with Microsoft AI capabilities before deploying the tools.
  • Microsoft 365 representatives are available to help you understand what steps specific to your organization will take you from Almost Ready to Very Ready

 

Mostly C’s: Need More Guidance (IT'S OKAY)

It sounds like your organization could benefit from personalized guidance on implementing AI tools. For more information on the requirements and benefits of a secure, user-friendly AI system, Microsoft can help!

A couple of notes to get organizations that Need More Guidance started:

  • Speak to a Microsoft 365 representative to learn more about the benefits of adopting Microsoft 365 so your organization can build a foundation that will get you Very Ready for AI transformation.
  • Visit the Microsoft AI homepage for a number of resources on responsible AI principles, specific AI capabilities, and guidance on how to build an AI ready organization.

 

Next steps

Unlock the potential of AI with Microsoft 365 and Copilot

An organization that is preparing for AI and ready to unlock all that's possible, has a strong foundation in security, streamlined endpoint management, and an openness to innovation that improves productivity. With Microsoft 365, your organization can achieve those checkpoints with one complete solution.

With Microsoft 365, your organization's technology landscape will be grounded in Zero Trust, ensuring a secure foundation for all of your endpoints, no matter where access is coming from. A Zero Trust security foundation in turn makes endpoint management safer and less complex, so you can efficiently grant employees access to all the tools they need to be more productive than ever.

Microsoft offers decades in future forward technology expertise, and that experience is built into the features that make Microsoft 365 so powerful. Now, with Copilot, your organization can extend the capabilities of Microsoft 365 even further.

Microsoft 365 delivers a secure, productive working experience. With Copilot, it becomes an intuitive, next-generation productivity partner that works alongside your employees, empowering them to collaborate and work more efficiently to become more productive contributors to business outcomes.

Copilot can empower your team to tap into the rich functionality available throughout Microsoft 365, making employees better at what they’re already good at and mastering what they’ve yet to learn. It integrates seamlessly with the apps your teams already use and is designed to unlock their untapped potential.

Ultimately, Copilot elevates the powerful capabilities of Microsoft 365 to enhance your workforce’s productivity, creativity, and skills—benefits your organization can experience when you make the transformation to AI.

 

What can Microsoft 365 with Copilot do for your organization?

  • Secure any endpoint with robust protocols grounded in Zero Trust
  • Automate time-consuming, repetitive tasks so employees can focus on more meaningful work
  • Reduce your organization’s software footprint
  • Lower costs of deployment and implementation
  • Improve employee productivity and engagement
  • Drive higher financial performance and positive business outcomes

 

Ready to see what Microsoft 365 Copilot can do for your organization? Learn more.

 

 

Sources: 1 “Will AI Fix Work?” Work Trend Index, May 9, 2023. Microsoft. https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/worklab/ work-trend-index/will-ai-fix-work. 2 “The New Performance Equation in the Age of AI.” Work Trend Index, April 20, 2023. Microsoft. https://www. microsoft.com/en-us/worklab/work-trend-index/the-new-performance-equation-in-the-age-of-ai. 3 “A Whole New Way of Working.” Work Trend Index. Microsoft. https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/worklab/ai[1]a-whole-new-way-of-working.

©2023 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved. This document is provided “as-is.” Information and views expressed in this document, including URL and other Internet website references, may change without notice.

Azure Migration: Harvesting the Full Power of Azure 

Companies are constantly on the lookout for creative solutions to optimize their processes, enhance productivity, and foster expansion. 

One such transformative avenue is through a Microsoft Azure migration. Azure is a leading cloud computing platform that offers an abundance of tools and benefits for businesses of all sizes.  

In today’s blog, we'll explore the myriad of ways in which migrating to Azure empowers businesses to streamline their existing operations and what a successful migration strategy looks like.  

 

Benefits of Cloud Migration and Modernization 

While application and data modernization offer numerous advantages, organizations are predominantly driven by the following objectives: 

 

More Time to Innovate 

Embracing cloud-native technologies enables organizations to redirect their focus from maintaining legacy infrastructure to fostering innovation. By leveraging the cloud, businesses can streamline operations and dedicate more resources to creative and strategic endeavors. 

 

Agile and Scalable Applications 

Implementing a microservices architecture empowers organizations to construct applications that are not only resilient and highly scalable, but also independently deployable and adaptable.  

This approach ensures that applications can swiftly evolve to meet changing demands, providing businesses with the agility needed to thrive in dynamic market landscapes. 

 

Azure’s Abundance of Tools and Services: A Business Playground 

 

Azure offers an extensive suite of tools and services. From artificial intelligence and machine learning to data analytics, Azure provides businesses with the necessary resources to stay competitive.  

With a Microsoft Azure migration, businesses can harness the power of tools like: 

  • Azure Machine Learning 
  • Azure AI 
  • Azure Databricks 

These are just a few of the tools that allow businesses to gain valuable insights from their data, enabling smarter decision-making and strategic planning. 

 

Cost-Efficiency, Scalability, and Security 

 Azure's pay-as-you-go model ensures that businesses pay only for the services they use, making it a cost-effective solution, especially for small and medium-sized enterprises. Additionally, Azure's scalability allows businesses to adapt to changing demands seamlessly.  

Whether your business experiences sudden growth or requires additional resources for a specific project, Azure scales up or down according to your needs, ensuring optimal resource utilization and cost efficiency. 

 

Enhanced Security 

Security is paramount in the digital age, and Azure takes this concern seriously. It is estimated by most top cybersecurity firms that a breach will occur as frequently as every 7 seconds by 2024, and the overall cost impact of cybersecurity breaches have exceeded $20 billion (about $62 per person in the US) this year alone and is expected to be much higher in 2024.  

Microsoft invests heavily in ensuring the security and compliance of its cloud services. That is why Azure offers robust security features, including:  

  • Identity and Access Management 
  • Threat Detection 
  • Encryption Services 

These critical security features empower organizations to protect their sensitive data and digital assets effectively. By migrating to Azure, businesses can enhance their security posture, build customer trust, and comply with industry regulations effortlessly. 

 

Choosing the right Migration Strategy 

 

Lift-and-Shift: Seamlessly Transition Your Operations 

Azure's Lift-and-Shift strategy is a migration approach that involves transferring existing applications, data, and workloads from on-premises or other cloud environments to Microsoft Azure without making significant changes to the underlying code or architecture.  

This method enables businesses to quickly transition to Azure's cloud platform, minimizing downtime and disruptions. The benefits of Lift-and-Shift include rapid migration, reduced costs associated with redevelopment, and streamlined deployment.  

This strategy is ideal for businesses with tight migration timelines, or those looking for a straightforward, cost-effective way to move their existing infrastructure to the cloud. It suits organizations seeking a quick and efficient migration solution without the complexities of re-engineering their applications, making it a popular choice for various industries and enterprises of different sizes. 

With tools like Azure Migrate, businesses can assess their on-premises infrastructure, identify dependencies, and migrate applications and data to Azure with minimal disruption. However, due to the sophisticated nature of Azure and its migration process, many companies benefit from employing a managed IT service provider to ensure a secure, seamless, expert led migration.

Azure migration platform visual example

credit: Microsoft

 

Key Benefits: 

  • Minimizes downtime 
  • Reduces operational costs 
  • Ensures business continuity 

 

Move-and-Improve: Innovate and Transform Your Business 

Azure's Move-and-Improve strategy represents a comprehensive approach to cloud migration, enabling businesses to not only transfer their existing applications and data to Microsoft Azure but also enhance and optimize them for maximum efficiency.  

This innovative strategy involves leveraging Azure's vast array of services and tools to modernize applications, making them more agile, scalable, and resilient in the cloud environment.  

The key benefits of this strategy include increased operational efficiency, enhanced security, and the ability to innovate rapidly. Businesses with legacy systems, outdated applications, or those seeking to adapt to changing market demands can significantly benefit from Azure's Move-and-Improve strategy.  

Key Benefits: 

  • Streamline processes 
  • Roadmap improvements 
  • Effectively transform operations 
  • Gain competitive edge in digital landscape 

By combining migration with optimization, businesses can ensure a seamless transition to the cloud while positioning themselves for sustained growth and innovation. 

 

Whether it's building innovative applications, implementing DevOps practices, or adopting serverless computing, Azure provides the foundation for businesses to explore new horizons, drive digital transformation, and deliver exceptional customer experiences. 

Microsoft Azure opens the door to a world of possibilities for businesses. The abundance of tools and benefits, coupled with the flexibility to lift-and-shift existing operations and move-and-improve strategies, positions Azure as a game-changer in the business realm.  

By embracing Azure, businesses can enhance their efficiency, boost innovation, and pave the way for sustainable growth in the digital age.  

 

Dive Deeper 

If you’re ready to take the next step and learn more about Azure migration, you can chat with one of our experts, you can also save your seat for our upcoming webinar that dives deep into Azure migration to help you learn more about strategies, benefits, and the platform as a whole. 

Check out our previous Azure webinars:

New Microsoft Teams Essentials is built for small businesses

While the past 20 months have been challenging for all organizations, I don’t know any that have been hit harder than small businesses. They’ve had to adapt nearly every aspect of how they operate and work with customers, often without access to critical tools and technologies. The world isn’t going back to the “old” way of working, so small businesses need solutions that are designed specifically for their unique needs to thrive in this new normal.

Today we’re excited to introduce Microsoft Teams Essentials. It’s the first standalone offering of Microsoft Teams designed specifically with small businesses in mind. It brings together features small businesses need to serve customers, including unlimited group video calls for up to 30 hours, group chat, file sharing, and calendaring. And at only $4 USD per user per month, it’s the most affordable all-in-one solution in the market today.

Teams Essentials is built for small businesses

With Teams Essentials, small businesses from restaurants to retailers to professional services can easily meet, collaborate, communicate, and serve customers in new ways. Take Bristol Dental Specialists, a United Kingdom-based practice that began using Teams last year. From virtual consultations to collaboration with colleagues, the Bristol team delivers faster, friendlier, and more cost-effective patient care with Teams.

“Communication is so important, and with Teams, we’re working together better than ever to provide patients with a standard of care that sets us apart.”—Rebecca Metcalfe, Senior Treatment Coordinator, Bristol Dental Specialists

The need for affordable communications tools isn’t limited to traditional for-profit small businesses. Nonprofits, religious organizations, schools, and community groups also struggle to connect and collaborate effectively. These organizations and small businesses need to get up and running fast, and Teams Essentials makes it possible with no IT expertise necessary. Teams Essentials enables those with and without a Teams account to participate easily and effectively. While the free version of Microsoft Teams is still available, Teams Essentials offers extended limits like longer meetings and more storage. Let’s take a closer look at how Teams Essentials can support your needs.

Expansive meeting limits and easy-to-use features let you host professional meetings

Meeting up to 300 participants on a group call
Shared default Google calendar integration.

Working closely with customers and partners can be a challenge for any business without the right communication tools. Teams Essentials brings existing Teams capabilities together with features specifically designed for small businesses and community groups:

  •  Extended meeting times—With meetings that can last up to 30 hours, there’s no need to worry about your Teams Essentials meeting running over its time limit, whether you’re meeting one-on-one or in a group.
  •  Large meeting capacity—With the ability to host up to 300 people at once, Teams Essentials offers the ability to bring everyone into the same virtual room.
  • Calendar integration—In addition to integration with Outlook Calendar, the new Google Calendar integration in Microsoft Teams means you can use your existing calendaring tool to stay on top of schedules and manage your meetings. *Google Calendar integration coming soon.
  • Simple, easy invitations—Inviting people to a meeting is easy. Simply add them to the Teams meeting invitation using their email address. They will receive a meeting invitation with a link to join. And if they don’t have Teams, the meeting will open directly in their browser. No sign-up, sign-in, or installation required.
  • Interactive meetings—Professional meeting tools and capabilities like meeting lobby, virtual backgrounds, Together mode, live closed captions, live reactions, and more allow any organization to host engaging meetings.

With the ability to connect existing tools and store content in one place, it’s easy to stay organized

Easily share files on any Teams chat
Edit and co-author files in Office web apps

Teams Essentials simplifies communications for small businesses and community groups with a single solution for chat and meetings—saving time, and most importantly, keeping meetings and conversations in context. It includes tools to work effectively with anyone, including Office web apps, file sharing, group chats, task management, and more.

  •  Additional cloud storage—Don’t worry about running out of storage or wasting time searching for documents. Easily co-author, view, edit, and store Office 365 files. Teams Essentials offers a total of 10 gigabytes (GB) file storage, which is twice the amount of storage available in the free version of Teams.
  • Ongoing chat—All conversations in Teams are persistent, helping you to keep the conversation going so you never lose context or continuity. The conversation doesn’t end when the meeting ends.
  • Small business group chat template—Quickly start a group project and host meetings with anyone, assign tasks to teammates, and create polls to receive feedback quickly all in one hub, taking productivity to the next level. *Coming soon to desktop and web.
  • Chat, meet, and collaborate with anyone—Whether you are working with someone within or outside your organization, using the Teams app or dialing in, your chat and collaboration experience is kept in one place. There’s no need to jump between app experiences when you’re working on a project with an outside company.
  • Mobile chat dashboard—Just click on dashboard view in any one-on-one or group chat to conveniently access all shared content neatly organized into categories such as locations, photos, files, task lists, upcoming events, weblinks, and more. *Available for customers purchasing directly from Microsoft.

Teams Essentials offers the value and support small businesses need

Costs are top of mind for every business and community. Microsoft Teams Essentials offers the most value at the best price. And with a simplified interface that is easy to learn, it is straightforward and easy for employees to quickly be productive.

  • Get the most from your technology tools—With rich communications features at the lowest cost in the market, at $4 per user per month, Teams Essentials offers outstanding value for small companies and community groups.
  • Support from Microsoft—Teams Essentials is backed by Microsoft and runs in the Azure cloud. This means security, reliability, performance, and support. Microsoft is here to help with the technology you need—within your budget.

How to buy Teams Essentials

Microsoft Teams Essentials is available from a variety of Microsoft Cloud Partners including some of the most recognized names in the industry:

ALSOCrayonIngramPax8RhipeTD SynnexTelefonica (ES)Deutsche TelekomVodafone (IT)Wortmann AG.

Microsoft Cloud Partner logos

Customers worldwide can also purchase Teams Essentials direct from Microsoft.

Customers looking to use Microsoft Teams for personal use can get access to these same features and extended meeting limits with a Microsoft 365 Family and Microsoft 365 Personal subscription.

Microsoft is committed to providing small businesses with technologies that power their core needs. That’s why we built Teams Essentials and recently announced expanded security offerings for small and medium businesses with Microsoft Defender for Business, designed to help small businesses protect against ransomware and other cyberthreats. With Teams Essentials, we are excited to take another step in our commitment and enable small businesses to collaborate securely from virtually anywhere.

Get started with Microsoft 365

Help people and teams do their best work with the apps and experiences they rely on every day to connect, collaborate, and get work done from anywhere. Chat with one of our Microsoft Specialized experts today to get started.

Upcoming Free Microsoft 365 Workshops for SMBs

Be sure to register for one of our upcoming workshops to dive into Microsoft 365 and unleash its full potential to boost your ROI in all of your operational endeavors.

Join us Oct. 25th or November 15th

REGISTER HERE

Cloud computing has emerged as a game-changer for businesses, enabling companies to scale, secure, and streamline their operations more efficiently than ever. Among the cloud giants, Microsoft Azure has risen to prominence as a go-to platform for organizations worldwide. In this blog, we'll delve into what Azure is, to help users and companies looking for cloud opportunities understand how it can benefit them.

 

What is Microsoft Azure?Microsoft Azure logo

Azure is Microsoft's cloud computing platform and infrastructure. It provides a vast array of cloud services, including computing, analytics, databases, networking, storage, and more through global data centers. It also empowers organizations with the flexibility to build, deploy, and manage applications and services through Microsoft-managed data centers globally.

Key Features and Services

Azure Virtual Machines

Azure offers virtual machines that allow businesses to run applications in the cloud, providing scalable and flexible computing power without the need for physical hardware.

Hybrid Cloud Capabilities

Azure's hybrid cloud solutions enable seamless integration between on-premises and cloud environments. This flexibility allows MSPs to cater to clients with varied infrastructure requirements, ensuring a smooth transition to the cloud.

Single-pane Operations

Microsoft Azure's single-pane operations via the Operation Management Suite (OMS) offer seamless monitoring and management of hybrid environments, including virtual machines, storage, network services, logs, and insights. OMS prioritizes security, providing comprehensive solutions for hybrid infrastructure challenges.

Computational services

  1. Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS): Azure offers virtual machines, storage, and networking resources, allowing businesses to migrate their existing on-premises infrastructure to the cloud, reducing hardware costs, and enhancing scalability.
  2. Platform as a Service (PaaS): Developers can leverage Azure's PaaS offerings to build, deploy, and manage applications without worrying about the underlying infrastructure. This enables quicker development cycles and enhanced collaboration.
  3. Software as a Service (SaaS): Azure hosts a variety of SaaS solutions, including Office 365, Dynamics 365, and more, which simplify application access and management.

Azure Blob Storage

This service enables secure and cost-effective storage of large amounts of unstructured data, ideal for backups, media files, and application data.

Azure SQL Database

A fully managed relational database service, Azure SQL Database offers high-performance, secure, and scalable database solutions for various applications.

Azure AI and Machine Learning

Businesses can leverage Azure’s artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities to gain valuable insights, automate processes, and create intelligent applications.

Azure IoT Hub

For companies delving into the realm of IoT, Azure IoT Hub facilitates seamless communication between IoT applications and devices, enabling real-time monitoring and control.

 

Why Azure Matters for Businesses: Key Benefits

key benefits

Scalability

Azure's elasticity allows businesses to scale resources up or down on-demand. It caters to the dynamic needs of companies without forcing them to invest in expensive hardware. Whether it's handling a sudden surge in web traffic or expanding storage capabilities, Azure provides the necessary scalability to support business growth.

Global Reach and Reliability

Azure boasts a global network of data centers, ensuring high availability and redundancy (i.e. ensures that accounts meet their durability targets). This infrastructure minimizes downtime and data loss, which is crucial for businesses in the digital age where loss of data can cost millions.

Not to mention that with Azure’s world-wide distribution of data centers, businesses can expand into global markets with more ease. This can greatly advance growth opportunities for a number of businesses and therein lead to greater innovation when competing in new markets.

Security and Compliance

Security is paramount in the digital age, and Azure prioritizes it. Azure's robust security features include threat detection, identity and access management, encryption, and compliance certifications like ISO 27001 and SOC 2. With Azure, organizations can rest assured that their data is secure and compliant with industry standards.

Cost Effectiveness

With a variety of licensing and pricing models, organizations have the option to leverage Azure’s revenue-boosting productivity enhancements while paying only for the resources they consume. It also provides flexibility in allowing businesses to scale their resources up or down based on demand.

compare cost of Azure to AWS

credit: Microsoft

Furthermore, Azure offers an array of tools and services designed to assist businesses in maximizing their cloud expenditure, such as cost management and resource optimization tools. These resources empower organizations to supervise and manage their Azure expenses.

With flexibility and cost-management features, Azure enables companies to optimize their IT budgets, minimizing wastage while providing the resources necessary to meet their specific needs.

Check out this in-depth forum post that demonstrates how Azure is one of the most cost-effective cloud infrastructures.

Analytics and Business Intelligence

Microsoft Azure offers powerful analytics and business intelligence tools for data-driven insights. Services like Azure Machine Learning and Power BI enable businesses to analyze data, enhancing decision-making processes. Furthermore, Azure seamlessly integrates with Microsoft products like Dynamics 365 and Office, ensuring a smooth user experience and boosting productivity.

Collaboration and Productivity

Microsoft Azure offers diverse tools and services aimed at enhancing business collaboration and productivity. Azure Active Directory enables streamlined management of user accounts and access control for cloud applications, enhancing security measures and simplifying user administration.

Additionally, Azure provides a suite of collaboration tools, such as Microsoft Teams and SharePoint. These platforms facilitate real-time collaboration on documents and projects, fostering increased productivity and teamwork among employees.

Innovation and Integration

Azure continuously evolves, offering cutting-edge technologies such as AI, machine learning, and IoT. For businesses, this means they can stay ahead of the curve by integrating these innovative technologies into their operations, driving efficiency and competitiveness.

 

More than Just a Cloud Platform

Microsoft Azure is more than just a cloud platform; it's a catalyst for innovation and transformation in the modern business landscape. Businesses have a unique opportunity to leverage Azure's capabilities to meet their dynamic IT needs. Namely, because Azure offers scalability, reliability, security, cost-efficiency, and access to cutting-edge technologies.

As businesses continue to navigate the digital frontier, Azure stands as a powerful ally, helping them achieve their goals and thrive in the digital age. Embracing Azure is not just a choice; it's a strategic imperative for all businesses.

 


Learn More + Free upcoming webinar

If you're ready to talk more about Microsoft Azure with a qualified expert, send us a contact request here and we'll set up a time to chat with you. For a deeper dive into the platform, join us on October 25th for part two of our free Azure Webinar series.

| Kevin Peesker, Worldwide President for Small, Medium and Corporate and Digital

Women and men in an office

Eighty percent of businesses expect to be hybrid – four tips for data security and compliance.

Sustainability is the #1 ESG priority for Small and Medium Businesses – how to reduce your carbon footprint.

Early adopters of technology grow faster – practical steps to accelerate your digital journey.

Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are the cornerstone of every community. With an estimated 400 million SMBs operating worldwide, they account for 99% of global organizations. SMBs are the main source of job creation, making up between 60%-85% of employment. [1] [2]  And according to the International Labor Organization, by some estimates, SMBs contribute up to 70% of GDP.[3]

With that kind of scale and impact, SMBs need the ability to innovate to be successful and thrive in a digitally enabled economy.

During the pandemic, we saw that businesses able to accelerate their digital transformation fared better than those that did not. Many reported growth through their focus on tech intensity.

Under such unprecedented circumstances, Microsoft was curious to learn how SMBs view the current realities of their businesses, to understand their goals and priorities, and to assess whether technology is seen as a catalyst to future success.

Analysys Mason was commissioned to conduct research with over 3,000 SMBs from 10 different areas of the world, representing the global footprint of SMBs.

Today, we are releasing our findings with the Microsoft SMB Voice and Attitudes to Technology Study 2022.

Top insights

Digital technology adoption contributes to faster growth

SMB chart primary business objectivesThe study confirms that nearly 70% of businesses consider growth as their primary driver, and technology “early adopters” saw faster and higher growth.  Businesses identified as early adopters are twice as likely to have achieved their past business objectives plus higher revenue growth over the past year and are also four times more likely to be highly confident in their future business success. Today, businesses are focusing on sustaining growth despite geopolitical uncertainty, high inflation and energy prices. For 51% of businesses, the ongoing impact of COVID-19 remains a concern.

Security and reliability form the foundation

More than two-thirds of SMBs plan to increase their IT budgets in the next year, prioritizing investments in the following ways:SMB graphic about technology

Eighty percent of businesses expect to have a hybrid workforce for at least the next two years and require the technology to support their business goals in a reliable and secure way.

Partners help drive strategy and SMB growth

While the majority of SMBs recognize the importance of technology in reaching business goals, 16% see it as essential. However, many SMBs need partners to map the right technology to their business strategy.  Almost half choose technology partners, with 33% favoring Managed Service Providers or Cloud Solution Providers whom they expect to proactively recommend technology solutions to accelerate companies’ business goals.

Two women hold business meeting

The millennial factor

Millennials hold 41% of technology decision-making roles. They tend to work for newer companies and 13% are more likely to see technology as important or essential to business success. Nearly one-third of millennials identify as technophiles in their personal lives, carrying some of their consumer traits into how they research and purchase technology, placing high value on peer ratings and reviews when making purchasing decisions. In 2016, Gallup flagged that millennials favor purpose over paycheck in their How Millennials Work and Live report. Millennials as business owners apply those values to their business and technology priorities.

Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) goals – no longer just for the enterprise

Two-thirds of SMBs in the study report having ESG assessment and monitoring frameworks in place. Millennials are leading the way, being the most likely to have an annual report dedicated to their ESG progress. In terms of focus areas, 37% cited lowering their environmental impact, 30% wanted to improve their diversity and inclusion, while 30% were focused on job creation.  The study points to a link between an ESG focus and attainment of business objectives – with both these traits being most prevalent among early adopters.

Ninety-nine percent of the world’s businesses are actively seeking solutions to address current challenges and generate new opportunities. This community impacts economies worldwide and the livelihoods of billions. They do this not to just be resilient and survive, but to thrive and bring innovation to their industries and value to their customers. Microsoft continues to listen to and learn from our SMB customers, aligning to what is their top of mind.

Together, the possibilities are endless, and opportunity abounds for all.

(more…)

Featured image for Managed Solution blog titled "Microsoft 365 vs. Google workspace. Image of work team members gathered around a tablet.

Microsoft 365 vs. Google Workspace: The Best Option for Your Business

Choosing the right productivity platform for your business is no easy feat, especially when it comes to Microsoft 365 vs. Google Workspace. Unlike personal use, there are many aspects to consider beyond user-preference and comfortability. You want a platform that can not only meet your needs of today but grow with you as your company expands. There’s also the matter of efficiency, compatibility, pricing and more to weigh out.

Between Google and Microsoft, there is truly no obvious answer. There are, however, some key unique differences that may help you decide which option is ultimately best for your business.

As an MSP, Managed solution has worked with hundreds of businesses and helped them navigate the world of digital workspaces to find the right fit for them. In this article we’ll walk you through the two suites and clarify the differences so that you can move forward with the best option for you.

Products Overview

Let’s start with the basics. Below is a concise list of some of the more prominent products from both Google and Microsoft offices:

google workspace image featuring the key tools included in google workspace

Google:

Gmail, Calendar, Meet, Chat, Drive, Docs, Sheets, Slides, Forms, Sites, etc…

       

Microsoft:

Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, OneDrive, Planner, Viva, etc…

Of these products and applications, the work-based apps tend to be the first things businesses look at when faced with the great Microsoft v. Google dilemma. Between Docs and Word, Sheets and Excel, or Slides and PowerPoint – the general understanding is that Google’s offerings are more collaborative and user-friendly, while Microsoft tends to be the best choice for users needing powerful and robust solutions. For a more in-depth comparison of these applications, see what the experts at computerworld.com have to say!

Something else to consider here is that Microsoft’s Office Packages have the advantage of longevity. Therefore, if you utilize Google workplace, you will still likely work with other companies who utilize Microsoft Office Applications – to solve for this many companies on Google Workplace make separate local purchases of non-cloud-based Microsoft applications to be able to share and convert files with other Microsoft users.

To further consider which option will work better for you, consider your company-size and level of B2B communications. Do you need a more powerful, streamlined process provided by Microsoft 365 applications? Or will your team be able to work better with the more collaborative and accessible Google Workplace browser-based apps?

Email

Both Outlook and Gmail are renowned email applications. Here, the distinguishing factors boil down to simplicity vs. utility.

Gmail is the simpler option. To begin, it has much less tools on its interface compared to Outlook’s which some users prefer for easier navigation. However, with its new simplified Ribbon, Outlook has certainly made headway in becoming more user-friendly.

Outlook has all the email, contact and calendar features you can imagine. Microsoft has built-in capabilities you’ve likely never even thought of into this program. Whatever you need to accomplish within your email system, you can do it with Outlook.

The choice therefore mainly depends on how you and your team use email, and how much time you’re willing to spend learning new features. If you don’t have extensive or complex needs for your emailing service, Gmail will suit you just fine. Alternatively, if you and your team need more tools and utility for email, or if people in your organization have varying needs, consider opting for Outlook.

Data Security and Management

A key decision-making aspect that is often missed is the management and protection of your data. With the global increase in remote workers, cyber security is more important than ever. In fact, we have seen unprecedented increases in phishing attacks since 2020[link to data].

Security should therefore be top-of-mind in your decision-making process. Even the best user-features can’t make up for insufficient security. The golden rule here is that finding the right security resources for your business means finding the best security resources.

Here's what the experts at Computerworld.com had to say on the topic of security:

“…The simplified view in the Microsoft 365 admin center beats anything in Google Workspace because of how easily it lets you accomplish the most common tasks, including and editing new and existing users, changing licenses, paying bills, and installing Office on devices.

Interfaces aside, Microsoft 365 offers better admin account security, superior mobile administration, and more management controls. Both suites protect your data with enterprise-grade security and offer a central security center for managing user permissions and protections…”.

Because security is such a critical feature, we’ve got to stick with the experts here and agree that Microsoft is the reigning champion of security and safety. However, we have plenty of resources to help you take a deeper look at security between google and Microsoft.

Collaboration and Productivity

Another huge factor for many businesses is collaboration, especially in today’s digital age where so many employees are working from home. Both Google and Microsoft offer popular solutions, so the question here really boils down to your team's needs and preferences.

Microsoft Teams offers a virtually all-in-one solution that combines chats, digital meetings, and custom workspaces, while also offering seamless integration with other products like Outlook, SharePoint, and OneDrive. This makes Microsoft the best choice for users who prefer a more robust chat-centered solution to focus their collaborative efforts around.

Google, on the other hand, their communication applications focus on intuitive functionality and real-time collaboration. Because of the simplicity and user-friendly quality behind the interface, many people feel that Google ranks higher for collaboration.

Although Google is initially more effective for collaboration, productivity is ultimately hindered businesses begin to scale and find themselves needing more detailed work practices. Not to mention, storage of data and information becomes one of the key issues Google users face. Collaboration and productivity become hard to maintain when you can’t access lost or disorganized information.

Summary

Although so much of the great Microsoft 365 vs. Google Workspace debate boils down to personal preference of functionality – there are also certain aspects from each solution that cater better to certain demographics. Typically, many start-up/small businesses find that Google is an easier and cheaper fit for their needs due to its accessibility and collaborative capabilities.

However, as these businesses scale to more mid-market and even enterprise-level sizes – Microsoft’s robust solution packages streamline storage and communication processes better – while also providing a higher level of security and support.

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